Thursday, August 26, 2010

Please Send Good Vibes to Steve

Okay, once I got some news today about my friend Michelle’s dad, Steve, I decided to delay my blogger holiday by a day.

I met Michelle last year when she was doing Team in Training in honor of her dad. He had a serious pre-leukemia condition, the name of which I cannot pronounce. He went through a lot of chemo to, futilely, hold it in check. This spring, it progressed to full-blown leukemia, and he was give a couple weeks to live without intensive chemotherapy leading to a bone marrow transplant.

Since that time, Steve has suffered immensely trying to beat the leukemia. I can’t list all of the terrible things he went through during something like two months at Duke – where he reported great medical care but terrible waffles (how can a place cure cancer but ruin waffles – the world’s easiest thing to make?) But things did not go well there. Despite everything, 100% of the leukemia cells could not be killed off, and without this, a bone marrow transplant will fail. To make things worse, he had a terrible bout with fungal pneumonia and they had to remove a big piece of a lung. They finally sent him home to regain strength and gain weight in preparation to try the whole thing over again.

I just learned today that Steve is back at Duke, after he lost the feeling in his right side. It turns out that the leukemia spread to his spinal fluid and also caused tumors on his skin. The doctors are afraid it will get to his brain so they started giving him chemo directly in his spinal fluid. In addition to all that, the he recently developed pneumonia in the remaining lung and that has recently worsened.

I am not sure how much more this poor guy and his family will have to go through, and things don’t sound good – as positive as we like to stay. But I do know it is a vivid reminder of why we need to continue to race for a cure. Please say a prayer for Steve and/or send him positive vibrations.

Okay - Now my blogger holiday officially (re)starts!

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Taking a Blogger Holiday

No, I am not stopping my blog, but I am taking a little holiday until about mid-September, both from this blog and my other one: Oh, To Be Hiking. That will also give folks a chance to vote on the poll if they wish.

And after 2.25 years of steady blogging, it will give me a little time to think about what to write about next, now that my Seattle event is in the rear view mirror. For one thing, I need to start thinking about my next event. When will I have the courage to try fundraising again, and what event should I do? As written earlier, I pretty much spent the money I was saving for a bike (and then some) in Washington State, so if I do an event with the spring or summer team, it would almost certainly be a foot race.

It’s possible I will post something before September 15, but I doubt it. I wanted people who come here to know so they don’t see anything new for a while and assume that I gave up on this blog.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Thinking About My Blog

So I have now been blogging here for over two years. I’ve been pretty faithful about it, posting my 500th post last night. I’ve fully recorded two full Team in Training fundraising and training campaigns, Nashville in 2009 and Seattle this year. In addition, I put all of my information from the Arizona Marathon in 2008 on my blog, albeit retroactively.

I generally enjoy writing this blog. But it is not widely read. I probably average about 6 hits a day. Since writers want to be read, I am not really accomplishing that goal with my blog. I am accomplishing a nice recording of a major component of my life these last few years, though. So I am trying to decide what to do going forward, especially since I am in between TNT events.

I’ll start with an anonymous poll, and leave it up for a month. What would it mean to you if I stopped blogging here? I may not base the decision of whether to keep blogging on the responses to the poll, but it could be a factor. The choices are:

If you shut down this blog, I will jump off a cliff. I love your blog and would miss it terribly, and cannot imagine not being able to come here from time to time and read all about it.

If you shut down this blog, I will cry myself to sleep for a week, but would eventually get over it. I really like your blog and would miss it a lot, at least for a while. But life moves on.

If you shut down this blog, there will be a hole in my life for a few days, but then I will forget about it. I like your blog and would miss it at least for a little while. But there is lots of other stuff to read.

I don’t much care one way or another if you shut down this blog. It is OK but I don’t follow it that regularly. I just don’t – sorry!

If you shut down this blog, I will throw a big party. I don’t like your blog and would be happy to see it gone. In fact, don’t ask me why I am even here answering this poll.

If you don’t shut down this blog, I will jump off a cliff. I really, really, really hate your blog and think it should go the way of the dodo, passenger pigeon, and polyester leisure suits.

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Purple Runner

I am offering this, the 500th post on my blog, as thanks to members of Team in Training - from Richmond, from all over Virginia, and from all over the USA and Canada - who will be competing in the Rock 'N' Roll Half Marathon in Virginia Beach on September 5 and in the Nation's Triathlon in Washington DC on September 12. You guys rock, and anyone who has dealt with cancer who learns what you are doing will give thanks for your sacrifice and hard work. Here is my humble offering, as a cancer survivor, in appreciation and recognition of your efforts:

"The Purple Runner"

In pre-dawn darkness, she stumbles from bed
She splashes cold water all over her face
She tries to remember the things her coach said
As she goes out to train for her upcoming race

The house is all quiet in the dead of the night
But he tosses and turns, wide awake in his bed
For he’ll receive chemo just after first light
And the pit of his stomach is filled with deep dread

It’s already hot as she runs down the street
Sweat flows down slowly and drips off of her nose
Lately she has had lots of pain in her feet
And she dislikes the feel of skin sticking to clothes

The poison flows in with a slow drip-drip-drip
His cancer is proving elusive to treat
Sometimes he's afraid that he is losing his grip
And he's feeling worn out and so totally beat

As the distance piles up she runs with a slight limp
"Just have hang in there a mile or two more"
Thoughts of ill people make her feel like a wimp
As she remembers who she is doing this for

The doc grimly walks in, expressing his fears
But he says “There’s more cures just ‘round the bend
So keep hanging on, maybe one or two years
And try to stay calm – that’s what I recommend.”

She runs past the sign for the medical center
Ignoring tired legs, she presses on and endures
She thinks of ideas to discuss with her mentor
To raise some more money for much needed cures

He gets in his car and moves slowly along
And drives by a young runner in her drenched purple shirt
"Will I run once again? Will I ever feel strong?
Or will I end up under six feet of dirt?"

Her sore feet have gotten her to her last mile
She is struggling a bit so she drops down her pace
She’s exhausted and hot, but she thinks with a smile
This is not about running – for a cure I race!

As he passes her by, he gives one last glance
On the front of her shirt, he reads “TNT”
He smiles as he thinks “I still have a chance!
That runner is racing for a cure for me!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

The Iron Woman

One week from today, my good friend Susan will be in Louisville, Kentucky participating in her first Ironman Triathlon. She has done too many marathons and triathlons to count, as well as a couple of century rides. But this is her first Ironman: 2.4 miles swimming in the Ohio River, 112 miles on a bike, and 26.2 miles on foot. I cannot imagine it, and I am so proud of her.

I wanted to write her a little something to send her off, but I was pressed for time and the words wouldn't come. So I started to write a note about how I could not find the right words for her, and suddenly, the words came to me!

I'll be cheering for you from afar on the 29th, Susan! I want to see that Ironman tattoo after this is all done. You rock!

"The Iron Woman"

From me this time, no clever rhyme
(Though I think of you no less)
But there is insufficient time
To properly express

The admiration that I feel for you
As you chase down your quest -
The Ironman Tri you now pursue
While you strive to give your best

Though you will be both hot and tired
With little chance for rest
Think of us who’ll be inspired
‘Cause to the end you pressed

So whether swim or bike or run
Go strong, like one possessed
You’ll end your day in August sun
Ironman metal on your chest

With these last words, my verse I’ll end
Now to send you on your quest:
Go make us proud, my Iron Girl friend
To know you, I’ve been blessed

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Brett Drama

Well, it is almost time for another football season, so of course that means will Brett or won't Brett (Favre)? Pretty sly to get out of two-a-days in the summer heat by stating that you are retiring for sure and then end up playing afterall.

So since Brett can keep waffling year after year, I can at least point readers to last year's post about me retiring from Team in Training forever once again.

All joking aside, Brett Favre is an incredible athlete to still be doing this at, what, 40? My hat is off to him. Wish he was playing for the Eagles.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

July 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 seven and a half months into the New Year! Diligent followers of Racing for a Cure will no doubt note that didn't do a summary at the end of June (I was in Seattle) and actually here we are halfway through August. Oh well!

1. Do my fifth Team in Training event. On June 26th, I ran and walked the Seattle Half Marathon. Mission Accomplished!

2. Get a bike. Initially, this means saving money for a bike. Last time I reported that I set aside some money for this. Well, that was before the credit card bills from Seattle came due. That money is long gone!

3. Eclipse $50,000 (cumulative) in fund raising for Team in Training. I needed to raise $8,500 this season to hit this target. And I surpassed this, people so generously donating over $11,000 to my cause. Mission Accomplished!

4. Lose my extra 10 pounds. I had lost this weight by the time of the race but have gained about four pounds back, but I am still marking this as progress made.

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

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

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

8. Hike more, and try to backpack again. I have gotten in some decent hikes this year, including three great days of hiking in Mount Rainier National Park. With the recent hot weather, and a lot going on, I have not been hiking lately. But I am satisfied with progress to date.

9. Do something about my work situation. Well, given the economy, I am just going to hold pat. Things have improved, including my attitude. So maybe that is what I am doing about my work situation - improving my outlook.

10. Continue this blog, as well as my blog “Oh, to be Hiking,” through 2010. I’ve written about 140 posts on this blog and 30 posts on my hiking blog through mid-Augustof 2010. So I am doing well on this goal.

Summary – mixed. After seven and a half months months, I have accomplished three goals, made good progress on three of my goals, no progress on three more, and kind of abandoned one goal. But the year is now nearly two thirds over. I still need to pick one of those neglected goals and at least get started by the end of September. So that is my goal for this month. Check back! I keep saying I will do this, and so far, it has not happened.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Hot Weather, Cold Computer

I guess I am going to have to take the computer to an expert, a true geek. The other day, in addition to everything else, I took a drastic step: I removed iTunes and deleted all my music! It freed disk space from 14% to 29% in one fell swoop. Then I defragmented the disk one more time. Ever the optimist, I rebooted and, drum roll please, same result. Slower than tar running uphill at 20 below zero. The disk activity light just stays on for hours at a time, and everything is ridiculously slow so as to almost make the computer unusable. Tonight, after I let it run for almost three hours, I did a simple Mapquest. It took almost a half hour.

As cold as the computer is, the weather is hot. I think I heard that both June and July were the hottest on record here, and August is picking up where they left off. It has hovered near 100 degrees day after day, with a pleasant exception now and then. And it is so humid. I did run four miles on Sunday morning, in relative coolness, and it felt pretty good. But the other day, I walked 2 miles at 5:30 AM, and I felt like I was in a sauna. I know I should be getting back into running, but it is just too miserable. And at lunch at work, where I normally walk at least a mile or two, if I do that now, I get back to the office looking like I was caught in a downpour. So I have just been walking a few blocks, sitting on a bench in the shade, and reading Backpacker Magazine. Oh, all the places it makes me want to hike to!

On the plus side, I have been trying to do upper body workouts again after a long absence from them. It feels good. I have only managed to do it a time or two a week for the past few weeks, but that is better than nothing. More about that later. Right now, I am going to see if I can actually post this to my blog!

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Why Hasn't Art Been Blogging?

Maybe you have wondered, or maybe not, why my blog has been so poorly updated recently. There are a number of reasons - competing demands for time, the natural post-TNT event letdown - but the biggest reason has been my computer, which has essentially gone on strike.

The computer is old, coming up on six years old. In fact, I need to enroll it in First Grade soon. And as time has gone on, it gets slower and slower. But for some reason, it has gone from very slow to glacial in the last few weeks. This week in particular has been terrible. The other day, it took an hour to open one page document in Word, make a half dozen minor changes, open Outlook, write a two sentence note, attach the document and a couple of photos, and send it. As I typed this prior sentence, everything froze up for about five minutes or so mid-sentence, and I just had to wait to continue.

I have done everything I can think of. I defragmented the disk, checked virtual memory, freed up disk space from 2% to 15%, run Spybot, and last night I downloaded and ran Malwarebyte free anti-malware software, which found and corrected about 10 problems that Norton overlooked. Whoops, just did it again - locked up for about 5-6 minutes. I've also knocked a couple of things out of the startup menu, and checked the swap space, because the disk activity light stays on almost all the time. Then only thing I have not done is taken a sledge hammer to the laptop, and that has been tempting.

I am kind of at the end of ideas, but hope to figure it out and get back to blogging soon. By the way, opening Internet Explorer, logging into Blogger, and writing this short post took me about a half hour.