Sunday, May 30, 2010

The Cold That Roared!

My last few colds were not too bad, and only lasted a few days. This one, however, is different. It is now in its seventh day, with no signs of ending anytime soon. It has now been nine days since I last ran, covering nine miles with seemingly little effort on that cool morning. The Zicam, usually so effective, did not do the trick this time.

A few days ago, my cold entered a new stage, punctuated by a runny nose and by sneezing. You may have noticed the short upward climb in the stock market the other day. Yep, that was caused by me. I single-handedly caused the stocks of the manufacturers of tissues to soar. Unfortunately, investors decided at some point that an economy based to the astronomical sale of boxes of tissues was not sustainable, and the market on the whole went down. Tragic, surely, but there is only so much I can do on my own.

By the time all this happened, my nose was so sore, it looked and felt like I had had some kind of strange accident with sandpaper, or more likely, a sanding disk on a rotary drill. Every day, I got up thinking that the runny nose stage had to be over, and every day, I’ve been proved wrong as I ripped open another box of tissues.

Then there is the sneezing. Some people sneeze so quietly, you can barely detect it, like a tiny, much suppressed “ah-choo.” Not me. When I sneeze, there is no mistaking it. Well, actually there is. The other day, one of my sneezes fooled the geologists. Their seismic devices registered an earthquake of force 6.2 on the Richter scale, with an epicenter in Southeast Virginia. CNN was going nuts for a while. They never did figure out that I was (inadvertently) responsible, thank goodness, but they finally did realize there was no earthquake.

I’ve been down at the beach. The other day, I sneezed so forcefully that it upended beach umbrellas all over the place. They went cart-wheeling down the beach in large numbers. It was actually a pretty comical sight, with all the dozens of people chasing their errant umbrellas. One poor guy was nearly skewered by the point of the umbrella as is tumbled towards him. Fortunately, he dove into a large sand castle just in the nick of time. Of course, all the kids who had spent hours building the castle got really upset, and many of them started crying and screaming. Then their moms got into it with the guy as I quietly slunk away. A pacific day at the beach was turned discordant and ugly, all because of my sneezing.

A little while later, I was responsible for a near-disaster at sea. A large sailboat was cruising along a few miles out when an uncontrollable sneeze erupted from my lungs. The effects of the blast were startling, with the wind not only creating huge whitecaps, but its force causing a knock-down. For you non-sailors, this is when a gust of wind is so strong that it knocks a sailboat over on its side, a position from which it often cannot recover. Fortunately, our wonderful Coast Guard lived up to their motto of “Semper Paratus” and arrived in minutes, saving not only everyone of board but managing to right the boat as well. A maritime disaster was averted by these brave men and women, no thanks to me.

You may ask why I didn’t just remain inside. Well, I tried that, but after a sneeze blew out all the windows not just of my place but the one next door, it just seemed less damaging to be outdoors as much as possible where the effects of the blast could dissipate to a large extent. As you can see from my tales of near tragedy, this has had mixed success.

I hope to be over this cold, and its damaging effects, soon and back to running. But that is not going to happen today.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Someone is Waiting

This coming weekend, Team in Traning athletes from Richmond, all across Virginia, and from all over the United States and Canada will head to San Diego, California to run or walk 13.1 or 26.2 miles, and to Fletcher, North Carolina, and Lake Tahoe, California / Nevada to cycle 100 miles. All of them are racing for a cure. In deep gratitude, I dedicate this to them, their coaches, mentors, and the LLS staff that supports them with such dedication. In particular, I dedicate it to my seven mentees running and walking in San Diego: Beth, Lauren, Lelia, Lisa, Nancy, Stephanie, and Stephie, and to Nicole - my mentee last year who came back this year to cycle 100 miles in Tahoe.

"Someone is Waiting"

Someone is waiting, but it’s not looking great
For their cancer does not yet have a cure
They tremble a bit as they ponder their fate
As they hope and they pray and endure.

Someone is running, or walking quite fast,
‘Neath a California sun, so brilliant and hot
After months of hard work their event’s nearly past
And they’re giving it all that they got

Some mother’s watching her sweet, young child die
There’s no cure in time for her daughter
All she can do is hold her and cry
In despair from the pain cancer brought her

Somebody’s climbing, deftly shifting the gears
They ascend, viewing Tahoe’s forests and lakes
For 100 miles, they have conquered their fears
And they found that they have what it takes.

Some researcher is observing the minutes tick by
Because science must be patient and slow
But every ten minutes one more person will die -
And their research has reached a plateau

Some athlete is peddling beneath a sky of bright blue
Past Carolina’s mountains and pastoral fields
The money they raised might just find one more clue
For a cure as cancer’s dark secrets it yields

Someone has donated, inspired by your grit
And their dollars join millions like a river
Because you kept going, refusing to quit,
More cures scientists will deliver

Someone is surviving, and to you they give thanks
Just as future survivors will do
To their list of heroes you’ve now joined the ranks
For commitment and seeing things through

Art Ritter
May 28, 2010

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The Lucky Guy

This was my fundraising note tonight to potential donors to my 2010 Campaign.


Almost exactly eight years ago to the day, I was sitting on a table in a doctor’s office, anxiously waiting to learn my biopsy results. I knew by that point that I had some kind of lymphoma, but which type? The news I got in the next few minutes would determine in part whether I would be likely to survive this, or be faced with the possible prospect of a pretty awful death in the next year or so. The surgeon strode in, looked at me, and tossed a lab report on the table next to me. “Hodgkin’s, you lucky guy!” he said. I felt like I had won the lottery, because Hodgkin lymphoma is 80% survivable at stage 3. Some of the other lymphomas have much lower survivorship rates, or were even considered incurable. I knew it wouldn’t be easy to go through chemotherapy, and was rather dreading that part of this big adventure, but I also knew now that I would probably live.

I’ll continue in that vein in a moment, but first want to give a campaign and training update. With just a few weeks of fundraising to go, I am only about $1,400 away from my fundraising goal and from having purple hair on June 26 in the Seattle Half Marathon. Want to help get me there? You can do so by getting me a check payable to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, or by donating on my Team in Training secure webpage:

Thanks again, very much, to the 99 people who have donated so far to my “Survivor in Seattle” Cancer Kickin’ Campaign!

The half-marathon is exactly one month away, and I am slowly getting ready, having run as far as 12 miles a couple of weeks ago. It was a very hot morning, and by the last few miles, I was dragging. Towards the end, I walked as much as I ran, but I still did it! This week, I have a nasty cold and am taking it easy, and it feels very strange not to be working out or running. Hopefully, I can pick up some running this weekend and be fully back into it by next week.

In my last update, I talked about waiting for the cavalry, how so many people with cancer are barely hanging in there, waiting for the next breakthrough in cancer treatments – a development that will perhaps save their life in the nick of time. My surgeon’s news to me eight years ago meant that I didn’t have to wait for the cavalry. While no one’s survival from any disease is assured, researchers and clinical trials in the 1970’s and 80’s led directly to effective treatments for Hodgkin lymphoma. No cavalry rescue was needed. All I had to do was to endure the highly effective chemotherapy regime for six months and I had a great chance to survive. There were some bumps along the way, but here I am, eight years later and getting ready for my fifth marathon or half-marathon.

We have made great progress in the treatments of blood cancers. Five year survivorship for leukemia has climbed from 14% in 1960 to 54% by 2005. For non-Hodgkin lymphoma, the survivorship rate has gone from 31% in 1960 to 69% in 2005. Myeloma survivorship, while still low, has gone from 12% in 1960 to 37% in 2005. But you can still see that there is a long way to go with these diseases to reach the survivorship rate of 86% for Hodgkin lymphoma – and to improve on this. One more fact: every 10 minutes in the USA, someone dies of a blood cancer.

It was a great feeling to hear those words: “Hodgkin’s, you lucky guy!” I had something that could be treated, something that I was likely to survive. That knowledge gave me tremendous hope, and also a desire to make a difference for future cancer patients, which I have attempted to do over these past years with my campaigns for Team in Training. Anything I have accomplished with TNT is really your accomplishment, for without your generosity, all I would be doing is participating in a foot race. It is your donations that will lead to cures and to the support of cancer patients. If you have not donated yet and want to add to the donations of the 99 folks so far, there are still a few weeks left to do so.

From my “Survivor in Seattle” Campaign, with just one month to go, a Big Thank You!

Monday, May 24, 2010

An Ill-Timed Cold

I had big plans for this week. I am not carpooling for the week, and thus have more flexibility than usual with my schedule. I was going to meet a friend after work today and go for a four mile run together. I was going to meet a friend for a beer tomorrow after work, but could go in a little late (and work a little late) so I could get in a five mile run in the morning without having to get up at an insane hour. I was planning a short hike Wednesday morning, getting to work by about 9:30 and working until 6PM, then going to San Diego send-off.

Oh, the best laid plans, seemingly derailed by something so unimaginably small that even several thousands of them clustered together would likely be invisible to the human eye – a rhinovirus. My throat felt a little sore last evening, and I wondered if I was coming down with a cold. By this morning, there was no doubt. I reluctantly decided to cancel my run plans and my beer for tomorrow night. I am still hoping to make it to send-off, but any running tomorrow and a hike Wednesday morning are almost certainly history.

It is frustrating, but little specks of protein really don’t care about our plans. They just do their thing, and in this case, I am feeling pretty crummy as a result. I am pumping Zicam, sucking cough drops, and trying not to infect the office. I made it through work today, but feel much worse tonight than I did this morning. I think my running plans are on ice for most, if not all, of the week, which is really frustrating. But at least there is still a month to go to get over this thing and pick up training again. It is ill-timed but not worse-case timed.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Trying Something Different

I am at the beach today and could have run my miles down here, but decided to run yesterday morning so I could get in at least a little hill work. The race in Seattle will have some elevation, and so far, I have not run a lot of it. My favorite local 4 mile route has at least a few hills, short but steep.

The team is doing 8 miles this morning, but I decided to go for 9 yesterday. The route I run near my home has a 1.25 mile route through neighborhoods, a 1.3 mile circuit through woods on trails and past the school's ball fields, tennis courts, and track, and then the repeat of the 1.25 start to get home. That is 3.8 miles, but if you repeat that 1.3 mile circuit 4 times, it totals 9 miles. So that is what I did. Here is a map of my training route, tracked by the new DeLorme PN-60 GPS that I am Beta Testing. You can clearly see the out and back part, and the circuit part:
I’ve struggled with running lately. I’ve been doing a 2:1 run to walk ratio, time-wise, 5 minutes run, 2.5 minute walk. But I’ve been tiring. So I decided to keep that 2:1 ratio but do 3 minutes run, 1.5 minutes walk. I want to see how that goes, and maybe use it on race day. I was fairly pleased with it. The day was nice and cool when I started out at 5:40, and still dark, but it was dawn by the time I got to the woods. I loved hearing all the birds sing: wood thrushes, oven birds, cardinals, robins, blue birds. I saw three rabbits along the way, one of them a baby the size of my fist. It is amazing they know how to survive at a young age with no instruction from their parents. Their mom weans them and then has nothing more to do with them. “Good luck, son! Have a good life! Stay away from foxes? Oh, you don’t know what a fox is? Well, you’ll learn. Goodbye!”

So here are some statistics: 9 miles run in 101.5 minutes. Average pace: 11.28 minutes per mile. But every time I stopped (once for a pee break, three times to get stones out of one or both shoes, I stopped my interval timer but left my stopwatch running. So I was stopped 3.5 minutes and moving 98 minutes, for an average moving pace of 10.89 minutes per mile.

I did 21 full 4.5 minute intervals, and on the 22nd, I ran the three minutes and walked 0.5 minutes to finish the training. So that makes it 21.78 intervals to go 9 miles, or 0.41 miles covered for each interval. Given a walk pace of 14 minutes per mile, for each 1.5 minutes walked, I covered 0.11 miles, meaning I was running 0.3 miles for each 3 minutes walked, an average pace of 10 minutes per mile. Of the 9 miles, I ran 6.6 of it and walked 2.4, so 73% of my distance was running. You can tell I like to analyze things and figure them out.

So with only 3 more long runs to go before my race, it is getting late to still be working on a pace and strategy, but I am thinking that this might work well for me. Maybe as race day approaches, I can add 15-30 seconds to my run interval, or lengthen the run interval the back side of the course, and try to get under that 2:30 goal in my second half marathon! I actually felt like yesterday was one of my better runs – the cool weather helped, but I also think that this new interval helped as well. And today, I have hardly any soreness. I wish I had a few more weeks than I do to work things out, but since I don’t, this gives me more information to mull over before race day on June 26.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Busy Week

This week has flown by with too many things to do. Here I am, finally updating my blog. I am not getting a ton of blog readers, so updating my blog was low on the priority list this week.

One thing keeping me busy in my “free time” is beta testing this cool DeLorme GPS. I took a couple of short hikes Sunday to test some of its features.

I managed to get in a 4.5 mile run Wednesday with my teammate Lelia. We met after work and ran through Maymont, which is beautiful most times of year and especially in the spring and fall. Few of the animals were out, although we did see a bison and some deer. The rhododendrons were in bloom, and were gorgeous.

This morning, I got up early and did my long run for the week: nine miles. It actually felt pretty good most of the time. I have Saturday plans and so at least I still got in a long run for the week. I only have three more long runs and a weekend taper before heading to Seattle. That seems unreal.

I know that next week will be busy, too. For one thing, I need to get a fundraising campaign update out, and also a donation request letter. I need to get into running. And, unless I win the lottery, I have to go to work. We also have the San Diego team kickoff Wednesday night. And I have to continue Beta Testing the DeLorme GPS. I’ll be lucky if I have time to breathe!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Fundraising Progress Report

My race, the Seattle Half Marathon, is only six weeks away. Consequently, I realistically have only about five weeks left to hit my fundraising goal of $8,500. Here is where things stand right now:

Money posted to date: $6,780
Checks in hand but not posted: $150
Corporate matches waiting to happen: $525

Total of all money collected and pending collection: $7,455

Now that being said, there is no guarantee that the corporate matches will arrive in time to count, but ultimately, LLS will get those funds - which is what really counts, not fundraising credit for them. So I guess I am somewhere between $1,000 and $1,500 from my goal, depending on what happens with those matches.

Fundraising is hard this time around, for most people, it seems. This is my fifth time doing this. People are really generous, but times are tight and the economy is still struggling. Bad news makes people skittish, even if they are not affected directly - because they think "that could happen to me." So all I can do is to keep asking and try to think of new things to try.

On the plus side, I am now a Rock Star, meaning I have raised at least $1,000 more than the minimum amount I recommitted to, which was $4,700. I am now $2,000 past that minimum amount, and that feels really good because when I first did Team in Training, raising this kind of money seemed like it would be impossible, or nearly so. Thanks solely to the generosity of so many people that I know (and some that I don't), it has turned out not to be so.

I had money arriving so quickly in the past 10 days that I had to update my Purpleometer twice! On April 16, I had raised 64% of my goal, and it took until May 9 to reach 73%, mostly when the funds from my International House of Pancakes Fundraiser arrived. Then, less than a week later, people responded very generously to my latest note, and my total shot up to 80%, where it now stands. This only accounts for money actually posted by LLS.

I don't know if I will reach my goal or not, but I believe I will. I believe my hair will be purple come race day. The next five or six weeks will determine whether this is so or not, but regardless, I am very grateful for the generosity of everyone who has donated to my "Survivor in Seattle" Campaign.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Last Training with the San Diego Ladies

Because I will have to miss the next two Saturday trainings, today was the last time I will train with the crew going to San Diego. Although we had a small team to begin with, and only few of them have regularly come out to train, they have been a good group. Today, my running buddy Lelia couldn’t make it, which was too bad. But we are planning on running together this coming Wednesday after work. Today, our team consisted of coaches Chuck, Kristi, and Walter, and summer teammates Lauren, Nancy, and Ann Marie. Several of the other ladies are recovering from injuries or surgeries, or work Saturdays. Some of the worst injured are going to have a tough time of it in San Diego in just three weeks.

Today, a very hot and humid morning, I traveled 12.25 miles on foot. I also did a lap walking around the lake with Lauren and Kristi before hand, which is about .45 miles. The first little bit of our formal training was some slow walking and dynamic stretching. So my actual run was about 12.1 miles and it took me 143 minutes, or an average pace just under 12 minutes per mile. This included at least 6-7 minutes at four badly needed water stops. I ran the first mile and a half so I could spend a little more time with the others, then I took about a 6 minute walk break. From there, I went into run / walk intervals, with the run interval double the walk in length. So I would guess I ran about 9 miles and walked about 3 miles of the distance traveled. As the morning went on and the heat and especially the sun got more pronounced, my intervals shortened. I started at 5 and 2.5 minutes, went to 4 and 2 minutes about five miles in, and finally ended up with 3 minutes running and 1.5 minutes walking after 7.5 miles. A few times, I wore out and stopped running a bit early, but mostly I stuck to the schedule and a 2:1 run – walk ratio.

I missed having Lelia to run with and talk to. But after starting the walking, I would catch the other runners at the each of the water stops and run with them for a few minutes. And about 8 miles in Coach Walter ran with me the rest of the way which was good, because I had him to run with and to ask questions of. He is an experienced racer at many levels, and a Richmond Marathon pacer, so has lots of good information. He also does trail running an ultra-marathons, and I enjoy hearing about those.

The course was maybe 50:50 shade and sun, and the sunny parts felt like you were being roasted on a spit. At the end, my clothing would not have been more wet had I just taken a shower fully clothed. Oh, but the breeze back at the lake – so miserable in the winter – felt wonderful! Coach Chuck, who also coaches the fall team, was waiting at the lake. Once we got back, he started running to meet Kristi and Nancy who were walking. I did a bunch of stretching, and then decided to wait around and see the walkers in. I’ve been on several walk teams and it is always nice to see someone there waiting when you are coming in all tired. So I found a shady tree near the end of the course and just took a load off for a bit. They all came in about 35-40 minutes after I arrived, and moving along so well. I used to walk fast but could not keep up with them the last few minutes coming back to the lake!

From there, I went home, dumped a bunch of ice in a tub of cold water, and soaked my lower body for 15 minutes while drinking a mug of hot tea. That actually felt pretty good, as did the hot shower afterwards. But even so, my legs feel a bit tired and heavy six hours after finishing running!

Here are a few photos:

This was the team today, plus me. From left: Chuck, Ann Marie, Walter, Lauren, Nancy, Kristi.

Ann Marie, Lauren, and I running near the lakes at the start.

Walter and Lauren running along through the Windor Farms neighborhood. I would have gotten pretty sunburned if I had run without a shirt, but it was tempting at times.

Lock Lane is a pretty street.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Lottery Dreaming

There is a group of us at work, about 15 of us, who go on a fool's errand twice a week. We each throw a buck into a pool and buy 15 lottery tickets, the winnings (usually 0) to be shared equally. I usually buy the tickets, and I will often write a little something in the note I send with the tickets. Here is what I wrote last Friday, a little verse just for fun. The PWA I refer to is the system we have to dilligently log our time in each day. You can imagine it is not much liked - very difficult to use. The verse is to the tune of “When I Was a Lad” from “HMS Pinafore” by Gilbert and Sullivan. That song is one of the funniest I have ever heard, by the way.

When I was young, just out of school
I attempted to be guided by this golden rule:
Get up each day and go to work
And your official duties you shall not shirk

(Chorus): And his official duties he did not shirk

But I now yearn for more time free
And so I am a player in the lottery

(Chorus): But he now yearns for more time free
And so he is a player in the lottery

I rise each day, go for a run
Then come to work although it’s not much fun
Get home at night with no free time
And I dream of soon retiring, hey, that’s no crime!

(Chorus): And he dreams of soon retiring, hey, that’s no crime!

But retirement’s far away for me
And so I am a player in the lottery

(Chorus): But retirement’s far away for he
And so he is a player in the lottery

If I had cash, I’d do what I like
Read a great book, go for a hike
Sit with a drink on a beach of sand
Or give free time to others, oh that would be so grand

(Chorus): He would give free time to others, oh that would be so grand

For it’s those things I would like, you see
And so I am a player in the lottery

(Chorus): For it’s those things he would like, you see
And so he is a player in the lottery

So along with you, I work each day
And account for all my hours in Pee-Dubyah-Ay
But twice each week, I risk a buck
And hope with all my hoping that we have good luck

(Chorus): Oh he hopes with all his hoping that he has good luck

For with great luck, oh how rich we’ll be
If we all keep on a-playing in the lottery!

(Chorus): If his ship comes in, how rich he’ll be
And so he keeps on playing in the lottery!

(And if I do hit the lottery tonight, a whole bunch of folks doing Team in Training are going to get some great contributions!)

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Fox, the Pheasant, and the Furrybunny

During my five mile run early this morning, I actually saw wildlife: a fox, a pheasant, and a furrybunny. OK, OK, I know there is not an animal called a furrybunny, but it just sounds better with the “f” sound of fox and pheasant. Cut me some slack! No? OK, it was a cottontail rabbit, for Pete’s sake! There! Happy?

The gray fox was in my neighborhood. It was walking down a driveway. In the early morning darkness, I thought it was a cat. It showed little fear as I ran down the street towards it, closer and closer. As I neared it, I realized it was a fox and slowed to walk towards it for a better look. It pretty much stood its ground, and I decided not to force the issue.

My five mile course runs through part of our neighborhood and then into another one. After 1.25 miles, there is a 1.3 mile loop that goes through some woods on a path, past a park, along a deeply wooded path on a gravel trail for about .4 miles, then a section past a baseball field, tennis courts, a track, and a basketball court, all at a middle school. Repeat that 1.3 mile loop a second time, then head home, and it translates to 5.1 miles.

The first time around the loop, I heard a pheasant call near the ball field. I have not heard or seen a pheasant in this area in years if ever. It was still quite dark. But on my second loop, going past this same area in some more light 13-14 minutes later, I saw the male ring-necked pheasant near the tall fence right by my path. He started running like crazy. They run just like a chicken, and it is funny to watch. I imagine he was thinking something like this: “What’s that running towards me? Holy crap! That thing is huge! And fast! And it’s coming to get me! I had better run for my life!”

I saw the furrybunny, er cottontail, back in the zone between the two neighborhoods. After seeing one animal that seemed to have too little fear, and another that seemed crazed with fear, the rabbit was somewhere in the middle. He moved into some bushes as I passed within feet of him before I saw him.

Running felt pretty good again, this time in the cool and dark of morning. My pace was a little slower than yesterday, but I think that is mainly because I walked the first 3-4 minutes to warm up. My knees are a bit sore, and may require me to take it a little easy tomorrow, because I don’t want to miss my 11 miler Saturday. Can he do it?

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Waiting for the Cavalry

This was tonight's campaign update message to potential donors....


We’ve all seen this kind of movie…. A coyote's howl, as mournful and lonely as a graveyard at midnight, echoes faintly off the canyon walls. The pitiless midday sun beats down on a scene of desperation and devastation as vultures circle overhead, eagerly anticipating the feast to come. Our hero, Slim, squints into the sun over the barrel of his trusty Winchester and pulls the trigger. A bad guy drops from the rim of the canyon like he was kicked by a mule, cart-wheeling in slow motion down the slope. “Thanks, Pardner,” says Shorty. “I thought fer shor I was a gonner. Good shootin’!” Slim loads his final three cartridges into the Winchester, and glances sorrowfully over at Red, who stares sightlessly at the Western sky, his blood creating psychedelic vermillion patterns in the sand. “There’s just too danged many of ‘em, Shorty,” Slim says. “Yup. If the cavalry don’t get here soon, we’re done fer,” Shorty says haltingly. “Well, the cavalry ain’t coming this time, but I’m a-gonna turn three more of them fellers into buzzard chow afore I’m done,” Slim says as he grimly sights his rifle once again.

Suddenly, so faint at first as to be almost imagined, the martial sound of a bugle tiptoes along the canyon. Quickly, the now unmistakable sound of the bugle is rapidly drowned out by the thunder of hooves and the shouts of men, as the cavalry comes sweeping through, flushing the bad guys out like sand before the tide. Once again, the cavalry has arrived just in the nick of time and saved the day.

In real life, the arrival of the cavalry is not nearly so assured. Day after day, cancer patients are told to just keep hanging on. They are told: “The next breakthrough is just around the corner. Just hang on. Hang on one more day, one more week, one more month, one more year, five more years. Help is on the way. All you have to do is hang on.” But every 10 minutes of every day in the USA, the cavalry arrives too late for someone with a blood cancer. They can’t hang on any longer, and their agonizing and devastating fight comes to an end. Their family is left to wonder “what if?”

You and I are not the cavalry, although there are weeks I spend enough miles on my feet I that feel like I could be a cavalry scout. But your donation to LLS is helping to buy the “cavalry” – medical researchers, doctors, nurses – the things they need to take the fight to blood cancers, and to ultimately prevail over the bad guys of cancer. So if you haven’t made a donation to LLS through my Cancer Kickin’ Campaign, please consider doing so with a check or by way of my web page:

To the many of you who have donated, my sincere and deep thanks.

Let’s get the “cavalry” to arrive in time for so many people who are suffering from cancers around the world. As I write these words, every four minutes a new blood cancer diagnosis occurs in America. Every one of these people and their loved ones will ponder if they will survive. So for the parents of the three year old who wonder if their daughter with leukemia will blow out the candles on her next birthday cake; for the young woman with lymphoma wondering if she will live to dance at her wedding; for the young man with leukemia who prays he will survive long enough to attend his high school graduation; for the man with myeloma who wonders if he will ever get to hold his grandchild: I say, let’s do what we can now so that these things have a better chance of happening.

Thanks for your support and for your consideration of a donation. In the process, maybe you will help turn my hair purple for the half-marathon in Seattle in less than seven weeks. If so, I am pretty sure I will be the first “cavalry scout” ever with purple hair! Now that’s something you won’t see in a Western flick! What would Slim think about that?

Thank you very much from my “Survivor in Seattle” Campaign!

Monday, May 10, 2010

A Little More Like It

My last few posts about training have been whining about how my pace sucks, my endurance sucks, and my general ability to run sucks. So tonight, although it was only four miles (3.8 actually), things went a lot better. For one thing, it was a lot cooler today, and I took advantage of it to run on a cross training day. I can cross train tomorrow or Wednesday, I figure.

So how did I do better? For one think, I stuck to my intervals. I didn't cheat by skipping a run interval or by walking longer. Even a few times when I was tired, when my watch beeped at me, I would start running.

For another thing, my pace was better. My last couple of long runs (8 and 10 miles) were at an average run - walk pace of about 13 minutes a mile. Today was at 10.4 minutes per mile (3.8 miles in 39 minutes and 32 seconds), and to achieve that, I had to run a lot of it, and keep my pace up. I ran holding a new DeLorme (hiking) GPS that I am beta testing. It has a hard time getting the speed (it was showing running speeds of 5.0 to 9.0 mph even though my pace was fairly steady) exactly right, because it is not designed for runners. But it does measure distance extremely accurately, and in one of my 4.5 minute run intervals, I traveled more than a half mile. So my running pace was at least some of the time better than a 9 minute mile.

Even the garden snail that normally keeps up with me was impressed. I heard him whisper to a turtle "Man, look at that guy run!" as I lumbered past them. So while I am sure I will have future crummy workouts, tonight's was pretty good and I am happy with it. To make my time goal of under 2 hours and 30 minutes means averaging less than 11.4 minutes per mile, including any water breaks and bathroom breaks (the porta-john lines can be murder). So this qualifies. I just need to keep it up for 13.1 miles rather than 3.8. But it is a start.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Double Digit Day

Today, for the first time since the Country Music Half Marathon in April 2009, I ran and walked 10 miles. It was a warm day, and a bit of an odd training schedule for me. I'd agreed to come at 8AM to talk to the newly formed Fall Team and do a mission moment. But our team meets at 7:15, and that would really delay my training. However, my friend Lelia wanted to start at 6:30 because she had things to do. So I met her at 6:30, and we ran and walked 4 miles together. At times, I was really lagging, and at others, was moving right along. No rhyme or reason to it.

We ran back to the lake, where its constant wind actually felt great on a warm and muggy morning. I gave a mission moment to our team, reading a note from my friend Michelle about here dad developing acute myloid leukemia. Then I ran with Lelia for a mile, and came back on my own. Six down, four to go! I gave a mission moment to the Fall Team, talking about my experience with cancer and how it is important to figure out cures for the remaining diseases. Then they took off on their initial run, and I took off on my last four miles.

I was really dragging, and after a couple of miles, my run - walk intervals became totally haphazard. The last mile, I mostly walked, and was really tired. Not good, with the race in just seven weeks. But I did it! Here are a few photos:

I was still feeling cocky just a mile or so into our run, at the Carillon.

The owners of this house have spent months trying to grow azaleas the exact color of Lelia's shirt, and they are almost there.

A few of the new Fall Team run a lap around the lake.

I was really tired by the time I reached this trail late in my training, but the shade felt great.

This section has the Kanawa Canal on the right, and Maymont on the left, just past the fence. I tred carefully all along the trail, because there was tons of poison ivy.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

A Cool Morning Run

After yesterday's tiring and hot five miler, I felt I needed a cooler run today. So I set the alarm early for the first time in a long time, and got out there well before daylight, taking my first step about 5:15AM. I also decided to take it a little easier, and changed my walk intervals to 3 minutes (from 2) and my run intervals to 3.5 minutes (from 4.75). I did run the last five minutes to make sure I finished in under 48 minutes.

It was a nice, cool morning, with temperatures in the upper fifties. Even so, I was sweating up a storm by the time I got back from running and walking 4.15 miles. I still don't know my exact run pace, but I did a lap around the track at the middle school in about 2 minutes 22 seconds, which translates to about a 9.5 minute mile running pace. I know for sure that my walking pace is slower than my normal pace when I am purely walking. You use your muscles differently running, and I am walking fast no more than a couple minutes at a time now. So I would guess my normal 13.25 minute mile walking pace is about a minute off that when I am operating as a runalker. I actually kind of hate to lose that walking speed, and think that after the race in Seattle, I may try to just walk 4-6 miles at a time a day a week and see if I can build back up to my normal fast pace at some point.

Even though my overall pace was slower this morning than yesterday because my run interval was much shorter and my walk interval longer, it was much more comfortable. For one thing, it felt great to be cruising along in the cool darkness, listening to all the birds singing: robins, cardinals, mockingbirds, and rufous-sided towhees. No sun beating down on you. Gliding along the dark trail in the wooded area, running on the gravel in the dark. I still have a long ways to go to figure out my pace and stick to it, but I don't want to stress too much over it. I do envy runners who manage to glide along, enjoying every step with seemingly little effort. As mentioned yesterday, the book I am reading says not only that we are born to run, but it (long distance running) is the one aspect physically that we are superior to other species. I sure am not there, but would like get better at it.

Today, I have a sore left knee. The last time I had this soreness, it was the right knee. So I am going to take it easy for the next two days and see how it feels for Saturday's 10 mile run. Since I hate to miss that, hopefully the pain will go away. I've trained hard the last three days: 50 minutes eliptical and an hour of water aerobics Monday, 5 miles yesterday, and 4 today only 11 hours later. So even though I should ideally run tomorrow, I want to rest that knee.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The Race for a Pace

My pace sucks! I just can’t figure it out! I ran and walked 5.25 miles tonight, in very warm conditions, and just could not find a pace that worked. Everything seemed too fast in that I ran out of steam, starting out fairly strong and feeling good, but running out of stamina and feeling so hot towards the end.

This is two runs in a row where it just seemed like too much. Both of these were under very warm conditions. When I got back tonight, I was literally dripping with sweat. I took off my training shirt and put on a cotton tee, and within minutes, it was soaked.

I started off running nearly five minutes at a time and walking two. By the last 1.5 miles, I was walking about 3 or 4 and running 3 or 4. The route took me about 59 minutes, which is about an 11.25 minute mile pace for running and walking combined. This translates to just under a 2:30 half marathon, which is my goal. But there is no way I would have sustained this pace for a half marathon the way I felt tonight.

I just have no sense of how fast I run, or how slow. Clearly it is better than an 11 minute mile. But is it 10.5? 10? 9.5? 9? Faster? I have no idea. And what is the best pace for me to sustain it without getting out of breath and tired after 5 minutes? With my race in less than eight weeks, I should know all this. Maybe I should try some miles on a treadmill again where I can just run at a set pace and see how it feels. Clearly if I am to get serious about this, I need to figure this out, and probably ultimately buy a runners GPS receiver.

A few weeks ago, running and walking 4 miles seemed so easy at about a 10:30 pace overall. A week ago, my friend Kathy and I ran for about 55 minutes together, with just a few walk short breaks and a minute here or there to look at something interesting, or to figure out where we were going. But both times, I was with someone and the weather was about 15-20 degrees cooler. Running with someone always seems easier for me to match a pace, I guess because they know what they are doing and I just have to run along with them.

I am reading a book that I am really enjoying: “Born to Run.” But right now, I sure don’t feel born to run. I know I can do better, but I need to learn how to pace myself at a speed that is not too fast or too slow, but is just right.

Monday, May 3, 2010

April Progress on My 2010 Goals

At the end of 2009, I identified ten goals for myself for the upcoming year. I decided to do a little progress report at the end of each month to see how I am doing on each of these. Here is where things stand after four months into the New Year!

1. Do my fifth Team in Training event. I am on the Summer Team to run the Seattle half marathon. Training has been going on for almost three months. Less than 8 weeks to go.

2. Get a bike. Initially, this means saving money for a bike. This takes money I don't have right now, and I have finally made some tiny progress on this goal by setting aside a little money for this purpose.

3. Eclipse $50,000 (cumulative) in fund raising for Team in Training. I need to raise $8,500 this season to hit this target. I've raised just 66% of this amount so far, and the last few weeks has been very slow where fundraising is concerned.

4. Lose my extra 10 pounds. It is slow going, but I have lost about four pounds of it so far, a pound or two more than a month ago.

5. Practice swimming. I’ve made no progress on this goal.

6. Write something, get it published, and get paid for it. I’ve made no progress on this goal.

7. Run the Ukrops Monument Avenue 10K this March. Accomplished!

8. Hike more, and try to backpack again. I’ve managed a few more short hikes in the past month. This is a longer term goal for spring, summer, and fall.

9. Do something about my work situation. No progress on this at all.

10. Continue this blog, as well as my blog “Oh, to be Hiking,” through 2010. I’ve written 97 posts on this blog and 12 posts on my hiking blog through April of 2010. So I am doing well on this goal.

Summary – mixed. After four months, I have accomplished one goal, made good progress on three of my goals, some progress on two others, tiny progress on one more, and no progress on the other three. But the year is now 1/3 over. I need to pick one of those neglected goals and at least get started in May. So that is my goal for this month. Check back!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Just Didn't Have It!

There are days when the miles slip by, and days when you feel like you are stuck on a treadmill, never moving. Yesterday was one of those latter days. Lelia and I both just had one of those days. We were slow. We were tired. We were happy to be done our eight miles. We felt like wimps when all our teammates did 10 miles. But we also didn't quit (we were scheduled for 8 miles not 10 - the others were over-achievers!) It was the first day of May, with temps climbing eventually well into the 80's and while it was not that warm in the morning, it was probably about 80 by the time we finished running. Later in the day, down at the beach, I threw myself into the cold Atlantic, and it felt refreshing. Here are a few photos from training:

Lexi was on last year's spring team, and is now a mom. She came all the way up to say hi to the summer team and to bake us delicious muffins. Nicki enjoys holding little Mason.

The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts has been closed for like a year, but had its grand reopening in the morning. It is now the 10th largest art museum in the country in terms of space.

Our route took us northside past the pleasant campus of the Virginia Union University Panthers.

This flower shows its Team in Training colors.

JEB Stuart guards Stuart Circle and Monument Avenue.