Monday, October 31, 2011
I am not sure what caused it. My wife says it must have been the Komen 3-Day. I guess that is possible, because I can't remember when it started. I just remember it was mild at first, and that the first really bad day of it was Monday, October 10. It has come and gone since then. I've applied ice and had a few chiropractic adjustments, and sometimes done some stretching. A few times, my stretches - especially side planks - has made it a lot worse.
I ran and walked a 5K the other day - more about that when I can get some photos downloaded - and my back wasn't too bad. Maybe I felt around 50 or 55. So like everything else, I will take it a day at a time and see what develops with it. For now, I'll just hope that how I feel is no older than 60 most of the time.
Saturday, October 22, 2011
So what should I do now? Should I take next year off? 2012 is the 10 year anniversary for me of surviving Hodgkin's lymphoma, so I feel like I should be preparing for something. Should I start thinking seriously about (and saving my dollars seriously for) the Honolulu Marathon on December 9, 2012 - my exact 10 year remission date? Should I fundraise for another Team in Training event, or help in some other capacity - like maybe as a coach's assistant? And until any of that happens, what, if anything should I write about in this blog? I don't have a ton of readership from what I can tell. If I stopped blogging for a while, would anyone but me notice?
My plantar fasciitis still continues. It is a fraction of where it was even two or three months ago, but I still have pain in that left heel, especially if I start walking. I have to somehow get that completely over with, but I don't want to be a lazy couch potato - that is not me, and it would drive me crazy. I know that I want to do a lot more hiking between now and the spring. There is a lot to think about right now, as I mull things over. Any thoughts?
Oh - I am in a 5K Zombie run next Saturday - just for fun. More about that later!
Thursday, October 20, 2011
They had a professional photographer there, and I found these two photos of me on the internet. The first one is a few meters from the finish of the 10K, and I look like I am enjoying myself - which I was. The second one was me being presented my dolphin trophy for finishing second place in my age cohort by the Livestrong representative. Never mind that there were not very many people in my age group. If some other old geezer had wanted my little dolphin, he should have been out there running instead of sitting on the couch watching TV and stuffing his face, or sleeping in on a beautiful October day. Don't you agree? Now, the only way he is getting that dolphin is to pry it out of my cold, stiff, dead fingers!
By the way, I had gone for a workout with a friend last night after work, and I was still wearing my Livestrong shirt when I hit the super market on the way home. On the back of the shirt, it asks "We Fight Cancer. What do You do?" A man in line asked me what it meant, and I explained. He said "My wife and I just came from the MCV Oncology Center. She has two months to live." It turns out that she has liver cancer that has metastasized all over. It is so sad. What can you even say to something like that that doesn't sound trite?
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
How did I get interested in walking the 3-Day in the first place? Well, my walk this September was the culmination of several years of wanting to do this event. The terminal breast cancer of my sister made it imperative to do it this year.
Poised to race for a cure again, I display photos of my special honoree race shirt.
What should I do the day before walking for three days? Well, near Washington DC, I took a hike on Theodore Roosevelt Island, a bit of wilderness in the big city.
Like numbers? My account of my 3-Day walk by the numbers will scratch that itch!
Everyone deserves a lifetime! For some, it is too late, but the fact that it is not too late for so many others kept our feet moving for three days. Inspired by the grit of the walkers and the courage, hope, and strength of the survivors as they marched by the end, I just had to create a short verse to commemorate the 3-Day walk experience.
In pre-dawn darkness at Nationals Stadium, we gathered together to walk for three days for this cause.
The Opening Ceremony of the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure was a moving start to our walk.
Do you enjoy listening to the sound of rain? Well, you would have loved the first long day of our walk!
To camp out in a pink tent as a manly-man is a challenge, but what about in a whole sea of pink tents?
There was lots of joy in Mudville as we camped out together without complaining about it. And while wet and muddy, it was nowhere as bad as my imagination had been about it!
A freak injury in camp to my previously undamaged foot was going to make the second day of the walk a challenge.
Walking along that second day through Maryland carrying a little bag of dripping ice, I am sure that I presented a sight!
Visiting the Remembrance Tent in camp and reflecting on my sister's recent death was an emotional experience.
Time to break camp, but I lucked out when young women from a local college field hockey team offered to strike my tent for me.
On the third and final day of the walk, I got a lot of inspiration from talking to survivors along the way.
When I crossed the finish line at the National Mall, I fulfilled the promise that I had made my sister in April - that I would walk this walk in her honor.
A special sign for me was somewhere at the finish, but I didn't see it. Even so, I deeply appreciate the gesture.
The last walker arriving each day was a very big deal, and at no time bigger than on the third day of the walk.
Did you ever tell someone that they fight like a girl? Well, in my mind, I think you paid them a complement without meaning to.
Our incredibly hard-working Three Day Crew was not important, unless you like safety, great meals, a well run camp, and good first aid care. Then, they become vital.
The Closing Ceremony was about as inspirational as you can get, seeing all of the breast cancer survivors marching along together at the end, decked out in pink!
60 Miles, Three Days, One Goal - to cure breast cancer! That pretty much sums up the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure in a few words.
Monday, October 17, 2011
So I dedicate this humble offering to all breast cancer survivors and victims, especially those whose names were on my shirt and those who walked along with me for nearly 60 miles on September 23-25. The inspiration that I received from them during the three days and at the closing ceremony was immense.
"Everyone Deserves a Lifetime"
Together we walked across our Capital City
Through aches, pains, and blisters, and a cool driving rain
We kept our feet moving, determined and gritty;
"We walk for a cure!" was our proud refrain.
About Maryland we tromped, past parks and through towns
People decked out in pink as we strode down the street
We were focused and upbeat; you never saw frowns
We'll stamp out breast cancer with thousands of feet!
For three days we walked, as sisters and brothers
Among footsore ranks, cheer and broad smiles were rife
We walked united to support many others
In their fight with breast cancer: a fight for their life
We walked for your sister, your mother, your friend,
Your daughter, granddaughter, your cousin, your wife,
Your grandma - and you, because in the end,
Each one deserves more good times in their life
And on that third day, quite worn out and tired
We watched fellow walkers - survivors in pink -
Take their victory lap, and I felt so inspired
When I reflected how close they had been to the brink
They had faced radiation with all that it gives,
And chemo, and cuts from the surgical knife;
But deep in their heart, their survival will lives:
The desire to have more time in their life
Cancer has certain limits to what it can do
Though with these survivors, it gave its best try.
"Take one of my breasts, or even take two,
But you can't crush my spirit!" was their battle cry.
I gazed at their faces, so strong and so proud,
Engendering feelings intense and sublime
"We will find a cure!" I silently vowed,
"Because everyone deserves a lifetime!"
October 16, 2011
Sunday, October 16, 2011
Are we any closer to attaining this long-dreamed of goal? It is too late for my sister, my immense inspiration for me to walk this walk in the first place. But it is not too late for many others. Consider this fact that I learned during the closing ceremony: that the five year survival rate for newly diagnosed breast cancer patients in the United States stands at 98%! That is astounding! Just in the last week, I read about two amazing progress reports in the fight against breast cancer. In one, scientists at Penn State had discovered a virus that was annihilating breast cancer cells in the lab. It was so effective that they assumed that all the samples were contaminated, and redid all the work - and got the same results. In the other study, making an antibody from breast cancer cells in a person that was tailored to that person's proteins and cells was really effective if the cancer occurred again, and especially so it if was used early in the reoccurrance.
We are closer than we have ever been, but it is still not enough. For example, if you are 40 or 50 with breast cancer and have a 98% chance of living five years, but then die after six or seven, that is entirely too much of your lifetime to lose. The goal has to be to either make these cancers totally curable, or at least make them a chronic disease that people can survive for decades with minimal misery or impact on their lives. And with someone dying every 69 seconds somewhere in the world from breast cancer, we still have a long way to go.
Sixty Miles, Three Days, One Goal! It felt great to be a part of this in 2011, and I am really glad I did it. But I will be even more glad when they report, hopefully in the next 10 years: "You know that elusive goal we've been striving for? Mission accomplished! Thanks, everyone, for helping!" Won't that be amazing news? I hope I am here to hear it, but if not, I hope my granddaughter knows that her grandpa helped make it happen in his own tiny way.
Friday, October 14, 2011
When we completed the walk today, we were asked if we were a breast cancer survivor. If not, we got a white shirt, if so, it was pink. Most of the survivors had put on their pink shirt for this final walk. I looked out on the pink mass, seeming to be several hundred strong. They had all survived breast cancer and all of the awful things that happen as a result: disfiguring and painful surgery, chemotherapy, burning radiation. And now they had all walked nearly 60 miles for this great cause, so that one day, others would have an easier time of it. I gazed at the line of pink women, feeling so inspired and so fortunate to be here, a cancer survivor myself, yet still on God's green earth. As I studied the women in pink, and cheered for them, I wished so that my sister Ann could be among the survivors. She was for more than four years, but her cancer was just too relentless, too remorseless.Look at them! Look at their faces! Sometime in the last year, two years, five years, or more, each of these women were given horrible news by a doctor, four words that changed their lives forever: "You have breast cancer!" Their hearts probably nearly stopped with terror. Yet here they are now, strong survivors to inspire us all.As the surviving women stopped before us, speeches were made from the platform about this cause, and about the Susan G. Komen for the Cure organization. Many of the walkers took off a shoe and raised in in tribute. As a rookie, I didn't know about this, but I, too, removed my right shoe and held it aloft.Then the women in pink continued their walk towards the stage, moving between the two sides of the large crowd. Some of the survivors carried the banners that had inspired us for three days, since the opening ceremony:Just before leaving to grab my duffle and walk to a Metro stop for the trip back to my car, I took one final look around - at the crowd, the banners, all the pink, and to the surviving women on the stage. Doing this walk, being part of this cause these three days, will always be with me as a great memory.
Thursday, October 13, 2011
Well, for starters, they were safety monitors. This walk had only minor police support. At every major, and many minor, intersections was a volunteer to make sure walkers obeyed traffic rules and didn't become roadkill. Many of them were in pink, including the men. They joked with us as we waited to cross. They were out all day in the rain on that first day. They also operated the vans that drove around all day in case someone needed a ride.
Along the route, there were lots of pit stops and "grab and go" stops. Every one of these had a staff to pass out food and drink, and a good sized volunteer medical crew - doctors and nurses. At the lunch stops, the crew served lunch, like these guys on the first day serving us in a driving rain. And at all of the stops, they collected trash and recyclables. In camp, the crew transported our luggage from the start (and back to the finish). They staffed the shower area, cooked and cleaned up from two great meals a day. The organized the lines to the buses, and manned the camp post office. They put up and took down all of the Remembrance Tents. They worked incredibly hard putting down mulch pathways in our pink tent city so that after the first muddy day, there were relatively dry areas to walk. They also camped out, like the rest of us, in their own camping area. Yesterday, I talked about how tough "girls"are. Well, the crew was plenty tough, too. One "lucky guy" had the job of patrolling the stinky porta-potty area all night while everyone else slept. He was a kind of security to make sure that women were safe in camp. Talk about a tough job!
At the end, during the closing ceremony, the crew walked through a double line of us walkers as we cheered them. Thank you, 3-Day Crew, for a difficult job well done!
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
So I rejoiced each time I saw this tee shirt, and for each survivor. It was inspirational. They proved how tough they were by surviving, by being out here walking, by giving back. By fighting like a girl.
I'm guessing that some of the women were not cancer survivors, but just liked the shirt, and that's OK too. Because they went through a lot to do this walk, not even counting the hundreds of miles of training that most of us did. I saw much suffering over the three days. The wet day Friday (September 23) raised hell with people's feet, causing many, many blisters. I saw people with tape all over their feet. I saw a woman on the third day walking in flip flops, carrying her running shoes! At each pit stop, there was a medical tent, and every one of them after the first few miles of the walk had lots of people getting treatment - most of them for blisters. Walking on bad blisters mile after mile is pretty painful, yet I saw people doing it over and over. Because of my own injury Friday night, I had plenty of opportunity on Saturday each time I iced my foot to study what people were having treated. It wasn't pretty. There are some tough people out there, women - and some men - that just kept on going, determined to finish.
I also saw some people that if you saw them, you would think that no way this person could walk even five miles. Maybe they were overweight or looked out of shape. Yet they walked nearly 60 miles, found a way to do it, found a way to take that next step over and over again until it was time to take the last step. It was amazing to see such toughness and determination. Because when you get to those last few miles, every moving part from the hips down to the toes hurts with every step. And I am going to guess if you are carrying an extra 30 or 40 pounds, then that pain is greatly magnified.
The one thing I did not see was any whining or complaining. People knew this would not be easy ahead of time, and they sucked it up. I hear a little complaining about nasty porta-potties, but not pain.
So guys, if you are ever tempted to insult someone by saying they fight like a girl or run like a girl, be advised. That girl may be tougher than you are.
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
So on Sunday, September 25, we got an announcement at the National Mall about 4:30: "Attention everybody! The last walker is arriving!" Everyone, thousands of people, walkers and spectators, got to their feet and started cheering her as she walked those last few hundred meters. It was pretty neat! We celebrated this person who, although slower than everyone else, never quit, never gave up, just kept on plugging away until she finished. And at the end, everyone cheered her and her persistence.
Monday, October 10, 2011
As it turned out, Donna wasn't the only one there cheering for me. The US Government also put out two signs for me. Much appreciated, people of the United States of America!
I asked the three friends if they wanted a photo of them at the finish, which of course they did. After that, I passed through the finish gate and, and was overwhelmed by the noise of the people lined up on both sides cheering. It was very moving. The doctor who was the master of ceremonies was there - she is a breast cancer survivor and one of the most dynamic people I'd ever met. She cheered me and gave me a hug. Being there by myself, it felt good to have someone to celebrate with, if only for a second. Then, I got my 3-Day shirt and walked through a narrow area where I stopped for a few seconds. I looked down at the photo of Ann on my shirt and touched her face. "I did it, Ann. I did it, just the way I told you would." I was fighting back tears, and so badly wished I could call my sister and give her the news. But since I could not, I lined up to have a photo taken in front of the Day Three poster instead:
I went back around to the finish to look for someone who was supposed to be there to cheer for me - more about that later - and cheered for some of the finishers for a while.
Then I asked a man to take a picture of me with my new 3-Day shirt and the finish in the background.
After that, I wandered back around to the Mall to wait for the closing ceremony.
Sunday, October 9, 2011
As I waited for the bus, I asked a lady to snap a photo of me wearing the special shirt that I had had made for today.
While waiting in the bus line, everyone seemed happy that the earlier rain had stopped.
This banner was at the bus line. As I had lost my sister in May, so had my nephew lost his mom.
At the start of the walk, these two women were honoring a loved one in the US Marine Corps. Semper Fi!
There were a number of support vans that continually drove by us. This one had really cool decorations.
We were all moving along pretty good, happy to be here, happy to have a second dry day in a row.
Of all the sentaments and emotions of the three day, I think that nothing trumps love.
I had followed this woman and her lemur for many miles in the rain on the first day of the walk, and finally got a photo of them in dry weather. I told her to keep an eye on the lemur once we got near the zoo.
We had passed this same restaurant in Bethesda, Maryland yesterday on the second day of the walk, and I thought it looked beautiful. I would love to come back and try it another day.
I had conversations with many survivors during the three days - including several on the third day. But this lady was the most inspirational. 28 years ago, she had metastasized breast cancer in her bones, always lethal. She was pregnant, and doctors refused to treat her until she got an abortion. The lady to her right is her 28 year old daughter, so you can see that she refused to follow that advice. How amazing to survive something like that, and walk 60 miles with that daughter 28 years later as a survivor.
We saw this girl several times doing the hula-hoop to entertain us.
As we walked up a steep hill in Washington, this little girl in pink blew bubbles for us.
I am indicating that I am on my third day of this little adventure, one that I am honored to have.
Our lunch spot today was comfortable and dry, unlike the first day. Everyone was in a festive mood.
We had supporters showing their pink all over the place.I love going to the National Zoo, and would have enjoyed a little stop here, but still had miles to go at this point. Another time...
One of our many supporters along the way.
I love Mozart's music, and couldn't resist snapping a picture of a cafe named after him in a city that didn't even exist at the time of this musical genius's life.
Here I am just a mile or so from the finish near the White House. It would have been so cool to see the President. It was feeling more and more emotional with each step, realizing that I was close to fulfilling my promise to my sister.
Saturday, October 8, 2011
Snug in my sleeping bag, renewed sleep would not come. I could hear the women all around starting to stir about 5AM, and about 5:30, I decided to get up. I walked the third of a mile in a light rain to the shower area, and used one of the outdoor sinks to shave and brush my teeth. A woman at the sink next to me was applying makeup in the rain, which seemed fruitless. I took my gear back to my tent, and went to breakfast. I had some great conversations at breakfast with several women about the walk and why we were doing this - really nice people, as were the folks I'd eaten dinner with the night before. It is tough to be totally by yourself at something like this. Most of the people, all but a handful, were there with a team. But I had found most people to be open and friendly.
After breakfast, I grabbed a couple of napkins and walked back to the sink area. There, I wet the napkins and used them to apply the temporary 3-Day tatoos I had bought at the Komen store last night. I wanted to do something a little special for this last day, the culmination of following through with what I told my sister Ann I would do in her honor - and now her memory. Now, it was time to pack up my stuff and strike the tent. I was not looking forward to packing a wet tent in the rain and somehow stuffing it back in the ridiculously small pink bag. But again, I lucked out. Several young women from a local college field hockey team had volunteered to take down and pack up the tents. I changed into my walking clothes for the day, including my special shirt with my sister's photo on it. I packed my duffle, and stepped outside. "Anyone need help packing their tent?" called out one of the college women. "Sure!" I said. I introduced myself and we shook hands. She peered at my shirt in the pre-dawn darkness. "Ah, your sister," she said. "Oh, and she died just a few months ago. I am so sorry. She's beautiful." I told her a few things about my sister, and could feel tears welling up. I thanked the two young women, and hoped that their field hockey team goes undefeated. I grabbed my duffle and started the walk towards the bus that would transport us to the starting point of the day's walk. What a huge help not having to pack up my tent!
I took my duffle to a truck for loading, and walked slowly to the line of people waiting to get on a bus. It was now about 6:40AM, still pretty dark, and I looked around fondly at the camp that had been my home for two nights, bustling with activity as people ate, packed, cleaned up, and worked (our hard-working and dedicated crew, that is). But it was time to move on, to complete my tribute to my sister using my feet and legs. It was time to complete the 3-Day!
Friday, October 7, 2011
Wednesday, October 5, 2011
While I feel like I am walking this walk for anyone with breast cancer, or any type of cancer, there is one person in particular I am doing this for:
As I left the camp, I turned and snapped a shot of walkers coming through the row of banners.
A lot of the route went along parks and other open areas on paved paths. It was a very pleasant walk, with nice scenery a lot of the way. Plus, even though it got warm, it was not raining, which put everyone in a festive mood.
I saw more interesting decorations about and depictions of breasts today than I think I'd ever seen, including this truck:
These two buxom gals were at one of the pit stops. I wanted a photo and they insisted I get in the picture with them, at boob level. It would have been rude not to comply, don't you think?
Part of our route went through downtown Bethesda, where I had never been before. It seemed like a nice city, with some great looking restaurants and pubs. It was also the one spot on the route this day with a lot of people cheering, which made us move our tired legs just a bit faster.
I walked with this group for a few minutes and decided to take a photo of them.
At the end of the walk, I decided to pose with the day's poster back in camp. I'd survived 21 miles, my longest distance since the Arizona Marathon in 2008, with plantar fasciitis in one foot and bashed toes on the other. I knew that I could get through another day.
Tuesday, October 4, 2011
I had eaten dinner and returned to my pink tent to rest a bit and read. After a while, I decided to go back to the main tent to watch the camp show. It turned out that I was too late, but as I walked down the mulch path that the crew had put down, my left heel stepped on a large chuck of mulch, like a piece of a branch. The force lifted the opposite end into the air and pivoted it backwards. A fraction of a second later, my right foot swung, toes first, into the piece of wood made immobile by my weight. I was wearing my open toes crocs because of the muddy conditions, and I drove two toes right into the wood. The pain was such that I nearly said a very bad word. Maybe I did. In any event, I knew I had done some damage.
I got up a couple of times during the night to take a pee, and each time, my right foot hurt a good bit as I limped along. In the morning, I could see that my toes were bruised and there was a slight cut. Then I worried about getting an infection from having mud all over my feet and tried to remember when my last tetanus shot had been. I washed my feet using my water bottle and put on my running shoes. I could walk okay, although the 21 miles that day would not be pain-free. But I decided that at the first aid station of the day, I would stop and see if they had any antibiotic.
Sunday, October 2, 2011
That being said, there was a lot of mud. I had two pairs of running shoes with me, one of which could not have been wetter. I had a pair of crocs, which I wore as shower shoes. I also wore them around the camp that night rather than risk coating my remaining pair of shoes with mud. But as a consequence, my feet got coated in mud over and over. There was no way to get them clean. The race crew did yeoman's duty putting down paths of mulch (more on that later) so we could walk in relative dryness in parts of the camp. But other areas, especially the low area between our tents and the latrines, were like walking through a swamp. You would litterally sink several inches into the mud. Mud would ooze between my toes. The floors of the portapotties were coated in mud and slimy water. It was like the beginning of my thoughts on the worst thing that could happen on the walk. I stuffed napkins into my wet pair of shoes, and they helped to dry them over the next 24 hours so that I could wear them Saturday night instead of my crocs. Thus my feet didn't get muddy the next night.
When I would get back to the tent after a trip to the portapotties or the dining area, I would use one of the towels left behind to wipe the worst of the mud off my feet. Even so, my feet were coated in mud by morning. It stopped raining about 7PM Friday, and so at least the mud didn't get worse. On Saturday morning, I walked to the sink area with one of the muddy towels and my water bottle. I also took some napkins. I would fill the water bottle over and over and squirt my feet with it, then wipe my feet with the towel. Eventually they got clean enough that I could wipe my feet with the napkins and finally dry my feet pretty well. Then I put on my socks and running shoes for the day's long walk, and was good to go.
Would I, and everyone else, have preferred dry conditions and no mud? Absolutely! Did we let the muddy conditions dampen our spirits? Absolutely not! There was no lack of joy in Mudville.
After a very wet and tiring day of walking the bus dropped us off at our camp. The rain was still coming down, and I was not looking forward to setting up my tent. This is when I got two lucky breaks. I walked around camp getting oriented, and found the area of camp where my row of tents - Row I - would be. I walked down the row, and lo and behold, my tent was up. A young man came up to me, and said "Are you Art?" "Sure am," I said, extending my hand. His name was Devon, my tent mate, and he had already put up our tent. Then I got my second stroke of luck for the day.
The two women who had the tent next to us had decided they had had enough rain and discomfort, and had decided staying in a hotel would be better for them. They had told Devon that he could use their tent. Thus, we each had a tent to ourselves, which given all the wet geat to spread out, was great. As a third stroke of luck, there was water in the tent, and they had left two towels in there - towels I used over and over to mop up water and semi-clean mud off my feet.
I located my gear - very lucky because it was in the middle of the pile for "Row I" and thus not wet and muddy like some of the bags towards the edges of the pile - and lugged it up the rise to my tent. I crawled in and unpacked some of my stuff, sopping up water with the towels. The rain beat down on the tent and it was stuffy in there, so I didn't linger long. I grabbed some clean (and dry) clothing and headed down for a shower. It was about a third of a mile each way. The smartest thing I have ever done is pay $12 for two days of towel service. I got two big towels for each shower and didn't have a wet towel to use the next day stinking up my tent. The showers were set up in these big portable shower trucks, one for men, the rest for women. The water was piping hot and felt great. There were also some outdoor sinks for brushing one's teeth, shaving, and so forth.The camp was very comfortable, even in the rain and mud. There were banks of portapotties, two big tenting areas on rises so they were fairly dry, and a huge dining tent. There was also a food serving area, and a bank of smaller tents for getting messages, relaxing, and checking out displays. A Komen 3-Day store was also set up, and a Bank of America area where you could sit in a massage chair for a few minutes. There was also a remembrance area, which I will discuss later. This is a view of the food serving area (right) and a small part of the huge dining tent (left).Here I am on Saturday evening outside my tent. Inside, it looks like a running store and an REI store had a couple of sticks of dynamite go off. And it smelled like something crawled into the tent, vomited, and died! I couldn't figure it out until I got home and got a good whiff of my Friday running shoes! OMG!