Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Did I Meet My 2013 Fitness Goals?

2013 is almost history.  I wanted to compare how I did against my fitness goals for the past year.  You know, those goals I posted in my blog a year ago and then never looked at?

I missed my first goal by a mile.  Remember, I was going to fit into all three of my pairs of jeans, not just the one pair?  Sure I will.  Well, in the upcoming year, I will either accomplish this mission or have to buy new jeans, because my one pair that fits (barely) is wearing out.

My second big fitness goal was to continue to walk and hike, and average at least 13,000 steps a day for the entire year, with bonus points for averaging 14,000 and whipped cream and a cherry on top for hitting 15,000 a day.  How'd I do?  Well, for the year, I took nearly 5,111,000 steps, which averages out to 14,002 per day.  In miles, that amounts to over 2,000 miles on foot.  So I crushed that one.

My third goal was to figure out what is going on with the left knee, and take actions to heal it.  Well, I guess I get partial credit for this.  My knee has hurt for two years now, ever since training for the Shamrock Half Marathon in 2012.  I did get medical attention this year, and did stretching and physical therapy religiously for several months.  I also largely gave up running.  The net result is that the pain is much less, although I never did really figure out the exact cause.  I do need to resume the PT work, however.

The fourth goal was to participate in Team in Training again.  And (proof in the photo at the top) so I did, walking with just enough running to finish under three hours the Crawlin' Crab Half Marathon in Hampton, Virginia on October 6.  The race was on what would have been my friend Ed Stone's 44th birthday, and was a special moment.

Regarding my fifth fitness goal, I didn't do very well.  That one was to get a regular upper body workout going.  Unless the definition of "regular" has changed, I missed the mark pretty widely on this one.

And finally, although not strictly a fitness goal, I wanted to keep this blog updated with at least a post a week. I am going to claim success with this one, have posted about 70 times for the year, even though I know that there were some weeks that didn't get anything written.

So with six goals, I hit three right on, partially hit a fourth, and missed the other two.  I am sure I will have some fitness goals for 2014 soon, and this time, I will write them down outside of this blog, too.


Friday, December 27, 2013

Battered Shoes

For the first time ever that I can remember, I've done a really good job with my latest New Balance shoes in reserving them for "formal" walks and runs - where I go out to do specific miles rather than just taking a walk.  I used my older and worn pair of New Balance shoes for the latter.  I got the newer shoes in late June, and used them to finish my training for the Crawlin' Crab Half Marathon.  I carefully kept track of the miles on them in a spreadsheet.  And since the half marathon, I have pretty slack about "formal" walks.  I still do plenty of walking, mostly on breaks at work and short walks around my neighborhood, and for all of those, I used my older and increasingly battered shoes.

Until recently, that is!  About a month after the race, I realized that the old shoes were actually hurting my feet, they were so worn out.  So I stopped wearing the old shoes and I stopped keeping track of the miles on the new ones at the 211 mile point.  To show you how worn the old ones were, the newer ones with over 200 miles on them felt brand new by comparison!  But now, they have many more miles on them from all of the incidental walking, and I will have to replace them soon.

Buying shoes is a major purchase, costing about $150 with inserts.  It is money I don't want to spend right now.  But I also know that I need to walk more, not less, than I have recently.  For the next five weeks, I am back on 8 hour days at work, which means I will have a hour for lunch.  In the cooler weather, that is a perfect time to get in a 3 or 4 mile walk right in the middle of the day.

So I guess my strategy is something like this: buy a new pair of New Balance shoes as soon as I set $150 aside.  Wear them only for walks where I go out for a predetermined distance.  Use my current shoes for all incidental walking, including walks at lunch.  They will wear out quickly with all of that use.  At that point, I will look for a less expensive pair of just walking shoes, and try them without inserts.  I'll use those shoes for any incidental walking, of which I do a lot.  In a given day, I probably average 8,000 - 10,000 steps a day between the time I get up and come home from work, and more than that if I have an hour for lunch and it is not really hot or pouring rain.

I have been walking about 5 million steps a year, which translates to over 2,000 miles in a year.  That is a lot for anyone who is working full time (which is how I can afford shoes).  But it also means that I wear out shoes.  A good pair of walking / running shoes should last about 400 miles, but I wear mine longer.

So that is my latest shoe saga.  For any serious runner or walker, there is always something going on with shoes.  And it usually involves money!

Monday, December 9, 2013

The Things I Missed

Wow, today marks 11 years in remission for me from Hodgkin's lymphoma!  Here is a picture of me on chemo in 2002!  ;^)
This past Saturday, Team in Training did the Silent Mile ceremony for the Spring Team.  I was out of town, and so wrote something for Kate to read to the gathering.  Here is what I wrote for the team: "The Things I Missed."

Dear 2014 Spring TNT participants:

I was thinking about all the things I missed these last 11 years because of lymphoma. I never got to hike up Tumbledown Mountain in Maine with my wife and good friends, a trip we had planned to do together. I missed my friend’s fiftieth birthday party on the same excursion.

I would have loved to have been present at the birth of my granddaughter, to hold this sweet little bundle that day, filled with instant love for her. But I couldn’t, nor could I celebrate her birthday each year, watching her grow a little bigger each time.

I never got to go to Alaska to do that incredible marathon for Team in Training. I also never got to do marathons in San Diego and Arizona, and half-marathons in Nashville, Seattle, and Hampton for the same great cause – to raise money to help find and fund a cure.

My wife and I always wanted to go to Glacier, Grand Tetons, and Yellowstone National Parks, and also to Alaska. But we never got to any of those places together, all because of that lousy Hodgkin’s lymphoma diagnosis in 2002. Too bad, because it would have been amazing!

In 2007, my sister was diagnosed with breast cancer, and she died in May of 2011 from this awful disease. I wish I could have been there to give her some support and comfort. Likewise, I wish I had been around to celebrate her 60th birthday along with the rest of the family.

Speaking of birthdays, it would have been nice to have been around to celebrate my wife’s birthdays, and our wedding anniversaries, and Christmases. It must have been lonely for her.

And, it would have been amazing to have walked in the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure 60 mile walk to honor my sister’s memory – and to sleep in a pink tent! I hated to miss that!

Those are just a few of the big moments that I missed in the last 11 years. And when I think of all of the little day-to-day moments of joy that I missed as well, it is almost overwhelming. These little moments may not be earth-shaking, but they still help to weave the rich and colorful fabric of our lives. I missed so many things!

Now, the statements about the things that I missed are false. I actually did do all those things, and many, many more as well. But had my 2002 cancer diagnosis turned out differently, I easily could have missed all of them. Because of effective research on my type of cancer, conducted years before, I had such a great chance to survive. However, many others don’t have that same chance. You, by your sacrifice and hard work, are giving hope to others who don’t have much now: giving them the chance to build their own great memories, just as I was able to do!

I want to thank you for all you are doing for this cause, and for tackling such a tough challenge. I wish I could have been here with you today at the Silent Mile, my 11 year remission anniversary weekend. But up in Pennsylvania, I will be (silently) cheering for you and thinking of your efforts and sacrifice. Thank you so much!


Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving!

Well, another Thanksgiving is here!  For anyone reading this blog, a very Happy Thanksgiving!

Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday, at least since becoming an adult.  (Certainly as a kid, Christmas was the best!)  And since surviving cancer, Thanksgiving is even more important for me.  For one thing, anyone surviving something like that tends to give thanks a lot and feel a lot of gratitude.  For another, it was a few days before Thanksgiving in 2002 that I had my very last chemo - talk about feeling grateful!  The exact date was Monday, November 25, 2002.  The way the calendars came out this year, the dates are on the same days of the weeks.  So Thanksgiving that year was also on November 28.  I felt too sick to eat a lot but at the same time, I was overjoyed to know that in another week or so I would start to feel pretty good, and that this time, I would not have to go back into the chemotherapy room for more poisoning.  It was such a joyous feeling!

This year, there is thankfully no such drama, but the memories of dealing with cancer, getting more distant each year, are still there.  It is good to be alive, although I am sobered by the remembrance of people I knew who are no longer here starting about 3 years ago.  Today is the first Thanksgiving that my friend (and Crawlin' Crab teammate) Leslie will not have her husband Ed by her side.  Ed is just the latest in an all too long list of recently departed friends and family members.  So while I give thanks for all that I have, including life, I remember those less fortunate than I who did not survive.  They are gone all too soon.

Well, enough of that!  Have a Happy Thanksgiving!  Enjoy some good food!  Kiss a grandchild!  Tell someone that you love them!  Watch a football game!  Have an extra piece of pumpkin pie!  Say a prayer of thanks! Take a nice, long walk! And give thanks for what you have.  Even if it doesn't seem like a lot, it is.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Cheering for Teammates!

Yesterday, I got up early to go cheer at "America's Friendliest Marathon," the Richmond Marathon.  I had a number of friends and teammates running and walking it, some for Team in Training, and others just because.  There was supposed to be a slight chance of showers early and then clearing, but it rained pretty steadily off and on while I was out there, and I got pretty wet.  The good news: I don't melt, and I dried off later.

I saw everyone in both races (plus several thousand people in the 8K) go by, starting with the fastest runners and ending with the slowest walkers.  I was standing at the 2 mile point just before the half and full marathon split, cheering and ringing my cowbell ("Hate the bell!" one runner said).  It was very hard to pick people out of the huge mass of humanity constantly going by at 6 - 15 feet per second.  But some friends saw me and yelled my name, and I did pick a few out.  There were 51 people from Team in Training in the races, but I didn't see them all.  Maybe some of them wore jackets over their purple shirts.

Anyhow, I had a great time cheering, and appreciated seeing so many friends out there in the rain.  Here are a few photos....

I always choke up a bit as the people pushing severely disabled kids go by at the start of the race.
At the two mile point, these two were the lead runners in the half marathon.
This guy was skipping rope the whole way!  Impressive!
At the two mile point, these two guys were flying along and leading the marathon pack.  I could not sustain their pace for .26 miles, much less for 26.2.
One of the marathoners was carrying "Old Glory."
Coach Sue (in the green) carried the sweep balloon for the half marathon.
Sharing a laugh and a smile with three teammates out doing 26.2 miles that rainy day.  Sorry about the raindrops on the camera lens, but it was pretty wet out there.
"Go Team!" Tracy was saying with a high kick!

Friday, November 8, 2013

Richmond Send Off

My Team in Training event for this year, the Crawlin' Crab Half Marathon, is now more than a month in the past.  But the people I trained with were not all doing that event.  A few of them ran the Nike marathon in San Francisco, but the largest number of my teammates are running and walking the Richmond Half and Full Marathons next weekend.  This is billed as "America's Friendliest Marathon," and from what I hear, it is a great one to do.

Last night was the send off for the Richmond Marathon Team, held at Capital Ale House not two blocks from where I work.  All of us were invited, so I went, of course.  It was great to look around at the excited and happy faces.  For many of them, this is there first half marathon or marathon.  There were a few nervous faces, too.  But they will be just fine once they cross the start on November 16.  They are racing for whatever their personal reasons to run or walk this race are, but they are also racing for a cure, and I am very proud of them!  They are a great group of women and men!

Saturday, November 2, 2013

My Mentors' Gift

Every Team in Training participant gets a mentor to help them with fundraising.  This year, I got two: Kristina and Bryan Babbitt.  I have been involved with Team in Training for eight years now, and this couple were the best - bar none - mentors I have encountered!  And I include myself in that mix, as I mentored people at least three or four seasons over the years.

I could write a lot about all the things they did to keep the participants involved and motivated, but I won't.  I will mention that every week, they put out an amazingly well done newsletter for us.  That alone is a ton of work. 

The final touch was the race weekend.  They drove all the way down from Richmond to see us off at the start and be there at the TNT finisher tent, sitting out for hours in the hot sun.  And when we came up to the tent, they gave each of us a handmade gift - a medal holder.  Isn't it cool?  That is my medal from the race under it.
Kristina and Bryan are running the Richmond marathon together in two weeks, and I plan on being there to cheer them on.  And they are coming back for their third season in a row to mentor once again.  Can they top this season?  I don't know, but if anyone can, they can.

Saturday, October 26, 2013

Taking the Road Less Traveled

I am sure that you know Robert Frost's poem, "The Road Not Taken." "Two roads diverged in a yellow wood..."  I used this theme a few nights ago when I spoke, as a cancer survivor and multiple-time marathoner, at a Team in Training information meeting.  If you know me, you know that I love to hike and take walks.  Put me down on a path where I have never been, with a good pair of boots or shoes, and I will be as happy as a clam.  When I come to a junction, I want to take both paths, because I am sure I will see interesting things on both.  But, I have to choose.  Which path shall I take?

And that is life, right?  We make choices all of the time.  Some are of little consequence, but a few result in a major change - for good or for bad - in one's life.  For these choices, for these roads that we choose to walk on, there is no going back.  My choice in 2005 to believe in myself enough to commit to training for a marathon while raising a minimum of $5,000 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society in order to participate in the Midnight Sun Marathon in Anchorage certainly fits in that category!  After Anchorage, one of the most incredible experiences of my whole life, that path led to the San Diego Marathon, then to the Arizona Marathon, and eventually to the Country Music, Seattle, Shamrock, and Crawlin' Crab Half Marathons.  It led to the Komen 3-Day in 2011, just 4 months after my beloved sister's death from breast cancer.  There was nothing I could do for her except cross that finish line 60 miles after starting out, shed a tear, and whisper "I did it, Ann!  I did what I told you I would."

Taking that road, the road less traveled, has allowed me to experience amazing things and meet incredible and inspirational people.  If I had taken the easy way out, veered away from that road and taken the more comfortable and predictable one, then I never would have had those experiences or met those people.  It would have been my loss, and much of the money that I raised for LLS (nearly $60,000, I think) and Komen (about $9,000) would not have gone to those groups that are doing good works.

Last weekend, I did a water stop for Team in Training, getting out early Saturday morning to see my teammates who are still training for the Richmond Marathon and serve them water and Gator Aide.  As I waited for them, I watched, with a little envy, the Richmond Marathon Training Team participants running by in a seemingly endless parade.  It was almost like watching a race, there were so many of them.  I was thinking, "Oh man, if we could get 1/10th or even just 1/20th of these guys to sign up for Team in Training, how great would that be?"

Then, two nights later while speaking at the informational meeting, it hit me.  Those folks are on the road more commonly traveled.  There is nothing wrong with that road and with running a marathon just for the experience.  But what the many doing the Training Team don't have that the few of us doing Team in Training do have is the knowledge and feeling that we are doing something bigger than ourselves, something much bigger than just running a marathon.  We are helping in the fight to cure cancer, and to support people facing cancer.  We are walking and running on the road less traveled.

Frost's poem ends thus:

"I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I -
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference."

What will you do when you come to those two roads that diverge in a yellow wood?  Will you also take the more uncertain road, the road less traveled?  If so, that will make all the difference - in the lives of cancer patients now and to come, and in your own life!

Thursday, October 10, 2013

"A Shell of a Good Time!"

When last I left you, I was seconds away from starting my sixth event for Team in Training, the Crawlin' Crab Half Marathon in Hampton, Virginia on October 6.  It was going to be a tough day to walk or run 13.1 miles in just a few hours.  While the sun was out, temperatures would climb into the 80's.  This is the second year of the Crawlin' Crab.  Last year, temperatures were in the 40's with heavy rain, I am told.  So we sure can't control the weather.

This is a really well done race.  J & A does a great job with events, in my experience.  The course is really nice with some fantastic views, and a great tour of Hampton, Virginia, the oldest English speaking city in North America.  Everything was well organized, and the volunteers were wonderful.  If you want to try a new half marathon, I think that you will have a "Shell of a Good Time" at the Crawlin' Crab.  I wish the crowds had been better to cheer, but you know, that is outside anyone's control.

I thought I would show a few photos from the race course, the first one of the Hampton University Band providing some excellent music just after the start.

And here is a view of the people just ahead of me.  We all started in the fifth and final gate. I walked for a minute with my teammate Nancy, and went into running intervals to alternate with walking.  I passed some of my other teammates, including mother and daughter Bev and Ashley, and the Sisters Stone.
Right around the time I passed these "crab heads" - pretty cool - I passed my friend Lelia and her sister Amy.  Amy was doing her first half marathon.  Lelia and I try to train together every week or two when our schedules allow, so it was great to see her.
One of our cheer squad snapped a photo of me running at around mile 3:

After maybe five miles, we reached the Virginia Air and Space Museum, which is well worth a visit.
Some time later, running through a neighborhood, these girls were out watching the race in front of their home, which was all decked out for Halloween.
A couple of miles of the course went along the Hampton Roads, where the USS Monitor fought the CSS Virginia in 1862.  It was one of the most historic naval engagements ever, and wooden warships have been obsolete ever since.
Here is a view of the Hampton Roads from the race.  This entire part of Virginia is called "Hampton Roads," that actually is a specific body of water.
Up to this point of the course, I had been mixing running and walking intervals.  At the nine mile mark, I realized that I could come in under three hours if I walked the last 4.1 miles, so that is essentially what I did.  My legs, not used to running, just felt shot.

Here is Coach Michelle with her purplish - pinkish parasol and red cowbell cheering for me.  It was always wonderful to see one of our green-clad coaches.  I had less than two miles left at this point, and was pretty tired.
With less than a mile to go, here was one last water view.
A little while later, I crossed the finish line.  Here I am with my crabby medal and pulling my shirt out a bit so you can see the photos of Ed and Judy.  It was a great feeling to complete this race for a great cause and in memory of Ed, a great guy, on his birthday!  Enough "greats" in there?

About a minute after the race, drenched with sweat and so hot and tired, I am also pretty happy!

It was wonderful to race for a cure once again.  At just under two hours and 57 minutes, this was my slowest (of four) half marathons so far, about 30 minutes slower than my fastest.  But that is okay with me.  I have not been running much, and this was not about my time in the race.  It was about my time AT the race, racing for a cure, and the cause and people I ran and walked for.

To all who trusted me to carry their loved ones on my shirt for 13.1 miles, I did my best to honor them and their memories.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Pre-Race, Crawlin' Crab

If you have ever been in a long distance race, anything from a 5K to an ultra-marathon, you know what a nervous yet exciting time the pre-race period  is.  This is especially true for your first race for a particular distance, but even semi-veterans like myself get some butterflies.  So when we gathered early Sunday morning, October 6, to step out and do 13.1 miles together, there was definite excitement and camaraderie in the air.  I thought I would share some photos of this time before the Crawlin' Crab Half Marathon - a time to reflect on what brought us here, to wish each other a good race, and to mentally prepare a bit, all while trying to get a little rest.

As races go, this had an easy start.  We did not have to gather until 6AM (I've been to races when we staged at 4AM, so 6AM was downright civilized.)  We had a short 10 minute drive to the start.  It was relatively cool and still dark for a while.  The LLS crew set up a little purple tent so we would know where to check in after the race, and even got a coffee pot going over a camp stove!

I was joking with Coach Tim before the race.  "I hope this is the last time I see you today, Tim, before the end of the race!"  Why, you ask?  Well, Tim was our "sweep." His one and only job was to stick with the very last purple clad cancer warrior until they crossed the finish line.  He carried a big blue whale balloon so he would be obvious.  "Fear the whale!" I said.  Someone has to be last, and they get a ton of support out there.  Because one of the really cool things about Team in Training is that all the coaches at the very end will escort the last TNT participant over the finish line.  Then, their tiring and difficult job is done.
Here are our five coaches for the race, from left: Cheryl, Bob, Chuck, Michelle, and Tim.  What a great group, and they would magically appear all morning out of nowhere to check in with us and to walk or run with us for a while.
Our whole team lined up for a group photo before the race:

Here is the "Sister's Stone," in purple, along with Susan, my "Triple Crown Friend."  The "Sister's Stone" formed a team in honor of Ed Stone, their husband (to Leslie) and brother (to Meg and Lorri).  This amazing trio of women raised over $15,000 for this cause to run this race.  I think Ed must be so proud!  From left: Meg (who did 13.1 miles with a broken toe), Susan (who drove all the way down from Richmond that morning to cheer for us), Leslie, and Lorri.
And here I am, just before the race starts, with the "Sister's Stone," on Ed's birthday.  We are all in purple, but I think you can tell which one is me.
On the back of her shirt, Leslie has written "Happy Birthday, Ed."  Nasty, terrible, cruel cancer cost this loving couple decades of happiness together.
My teammate and cancer survivor Nancy.  During training when I walked, Nancy and I walked together a lot.  She is a great gal!
Mother and daughter in their first half marathon!  How cool is that? Ashley is on the left, and Bev - who celebrated her big 6-0 last week - is on the right.
My fabulous mentors, Kristina and Bryan, stopped by to help out for the day, and snapped this photo of me minutes before my start.  My hair was not purple, because I had not hit my fundraising goal (I since have done so), but I did wear my purple headband!

I was in the fifth and last gate.  Here we are, a moment from the start of the race.  All of us could not wait to get moving, even though the race was only about six minutes old at this point.  The small number of participants moved fast.
"Coach Bob," known to every TNT person in Virginia and a great guy, was the announcer in the race.  He wore a crab suit the whole time on this very hot day!  A few years ago, he won the Team in Training Service Award!
At this point, we were moving to the start of the race, just seconds from racing 13.1 for a cure!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Inspiration Dinner

One of the biggest things about race weekend with Team in Training is the inspiration dinner the night before.  At all my other events, these have been huge, with hundreds or even thousands of participants and their guests.  Our dinner last Saturday was tiny by comparison, but just as important.  First, before dinner, we walked around a bit and enjoyed views of the downtown Hampton, Virginia waterfront.

 After having a nice Legend Brown Ale draft - and toasting the memory of my friend Ed Stone - in the hotel bar, I went to the Inspiration Dinner.  First, I ran into some of the coaches and mentors waiting to escort us in and cheer for us.  Here is me with Coach Cheryl, who I wrote about the other day.
Then, there was Coach Chuck, our surprise guest coach from Richmond.  I was thrilled to learn Saturday that he would be making the trip down.  Coach Chuck is the best!  I wrote this ode to him after he coached our excellent team in Nashville, TN back in 2009.
Then there was a mini-gauntlet of clappers and cowbells, which is always cool.  The first time you experience this, at a huge TNT dinner, it is almost overwhelming.  This group was small but enthusiastic.
After this, the dinner went on, with recognition for our five fundraising "Rock Stars" (people who raised at least $2,700 for the event), a slide show of our honorees (all too many of which are no longer with us), the dinner, and our guest speaker, Chris.  Chris was the lifelong friend of Ed Stone, who we are especially trying to honor with this race, to be held on his birthday, October 6.  It is still hard to believe that this strong and determined young man is no longer here.  Chris gave a great speech about some of this memories of Ed, and of why the raising of funds for cancer research as we are doing is so vital.  Ed was a huge champion of LLS and Team in Training, having done over 20 events, I think.  We also got a handout with photos of Ed, and on this, I am honored to say, was the poem I wrote about Ed a few days after his death, "When I Think of You, Ed."

Our mini-team, Sisters Stone, consisting of Ed's widow Leslie and his two sisters Lorri and Meg, raised over $16,000 collectively for this event.  What a way to honor Ed's memory and his devotion to this cause!  Leslie also rang Ed's special cowbell to cheer us on!

After some information about the race and a reminder to meet in the morning at 5:45, our dinner broke up.  I went back to the room and finished getting my gear ready.  I snapped photos of the front and back of my race shirt, honored with the names of so many people who have suffered from cancers.

Then, I relaxed and read for a while, then hit the sack.  As is my tradition, I would get a terrible night's sleep before my race - never fails!

Made My Goal!

I reported yesterday that I missed my fundraising goal by race time, so my hair was not purple on Sunday.  But today, a very generous coworker stroked a check to LLS for $250, which puts me over my goal (I was $176 short).  The ironic thing was that she called my desk Friday about 5 minutes after I left work to tell me she wanted to donate and close the gap.  So I just missed by minutes running with purple hair.

But here I am - half marathon accomplished, and now, I have accomplished my fundraising mission as well!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

So Close to Purple, but Gray it is!

Some months back, when I signed up to walk and run the Crawlin' Crab Half Marathon for Team in Training on what would have been my friend Ed's birthday, I set my fundraising goal.  The amount I came up with was $6,511 - my sixth Team in Training event, five family members and friends who died from cancer since I did my last event in June 2010, and 11 years since having cancer myself.  And I declared that if I reached that goal, I would dye my hair purple for the race today.

Dang!  I came so close!  Counting $75 in checks I got Friday, I made it to $6,335, or 97% of my goal.  A week ago, it looked impossible to get anywhere close.  But I sent out a final fundraising note Wednesday night, and the money came in fast and furious over the next 24 hours.  I almost made it to purple hair, but not quite.  Even as late as Friday, I felt like I would reach my goal.  But things slowed down, and I didn't quite get there, so my hair remained gray for the race.  I was less than $200 away from that purple!  I am not going to second guess myself and think of the things I could have done to get an addition 200 bucks.  It is done, and my hair remained gray.  Probably, purple would be more becoming than my drab gray hair!

It was sure fun trying to get there, though, and I appreciate my many, many very generous donors who almost turned my hair purple.  I am not sure exactly how much money I have raised for these causes, but something like $68,000, counting Light the Night last year and the Komen 3-Day two years ago.  So you can see that people are really, really generous.

To all who donated, and especially to those who entrusted me with the name of a loved one to write on my shirt, THANK YOU VERY MUCH!

Happy Birthday, Ed!

Happy Birthday, Ed.  Today, you would have been 44.  You are missed, but still seen as an inspiration, by so many of us.  So when I heard last February that the Crawlin' Crab was on your birthday, I knew I had to do this race and raise money again for this cause we both held dear.  After all, you did something like 19 different events for Team in Training in your young life.

So I will be thinking of you today while I walk and run 13.1 miles.  And I will be there for Leslie and your sisters if they need support.  So look down on us, and cheer us on!

When I think of you, Ed, I still see your smile and get infused by your upbeat spirit.  You were a great guy, and I wish you could be at this race today.  But we are in it for you, and your spirit is with us!

Your TNT pal,

Saturday, October 5, 2013

More Cowbell!

At send-off Monday, we were given our race shirts.  They are always purple, and there is always a symbol on the front that identifies the team.  For example, Philadelphia would have a Liberty Bell, New York City would have an apple, the Bay Area would have the Golden Gate Bridge, and so forth.  Virginia always has a heart ("Virginia is for lovers!")

But this year, ours are different.  Instead of a heart, we have a cowbell, and it says "Go Team" on it.
And on the back of the shirt, near the bottom,  it says "MORE COWBELL," and "In Memory of Ed Stone."  Ed was one of our most beloved teammates, and such an inspirational guy.  He was the guest speaker a few years back at the large team dinner at the Rock 'N Roll Half Marathon, and I guess during his speech, he said "We need more cowbell!"
It is really good to be wearing this shirt on the race, held on Ed's birthday.  It is hard to believe that he has been gone nine months now.  He tried so hard, fought so strongly to beat his final bout with cancer.  It will be fun to do this race tomorrow - it always is - but it will be emotional, too.

On the top photo of my shirt, I've arranged the photos I'll be wearing tomorrow during the race: my sister Ann, and my friends Ed, Judy, and Faith.  How I miss them all!  But they are at peace, and their suffering is long over, and always will be.

Friday, October 4, 2013

Coach Cheryl!

I first met Cheryl in my first marathon (and first Team in Training event), up in rainy Anchorage, Alaska on June 18, 2005.  We were both on Virginia's team, about 16 of us in total.  Cheryl was with the Tidewater group, and I was from Richmond's.  We were the only two walkers, so we walked together for the first 16 or 17 miles.  Here we are around mile 7, I think.
Since we never walked or trained together, we were not used to each other's paces, and at some point, I was just a bit faster, so I went ahead for the last 10 miles and waited for her at the finish line.

Fast forward a few years.  Cheryl would be the one waiting for me.  She has done many events - raising lots of money for this cause - become a runner, and also completed a triathlon.  I find the latter particularly impressive, since it involves swimming in a river.  So, she is quite the athlete!  If she completes a century (100 mile bike ride), she will earn the coveted Team in Training "Triple Crown."

Cheryl has also become a coach on our Tidewater Team, and for some time now, has helped others attain their athletic goals.  She has supported my LLS fundraising quests very generously whenever I have asked, including during my current "Crabby" campaign.  And, to top it off, she is simply a great person.

But best of all, I learned that she is going to be our team coach for the Crawlin' Crab Half Marathon Sunday!  I am really excited to be participating in an event with Cheryl as our coach, and can't wait to see her.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Final Pre-Race Update Note

Hello one last time before the Crawlin' Crab Half Marathon in Hampton, Virginia, just four days away now. I want to thank everyone who has donated to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society in support of my efforts. Your generosity never fails to amaze me. If you have been meaning to make a donation, or if you just want to read about why I am crabby about cancer, or if you want to see the list of names I will be wearing on my shirt, then my Team in Training web site is the place to start:


As of right now, my hair will be its normal color come Sunday, the day of the Crawlin' Crab. But I am 81% of the way to dye it purple, so who knows? With some final donations, I could be walking and running with purple hair for 13.1 miles on October 6th!

Purple hair may be in doubt, but wearing a purple shirt is not! I got my purple TNT shirt the other night at our team send off, and now I need to start writing dozens of names of cancer survivors, and those that were not fortunate enough to survive, on my shirt. When I am finished, it will be covered in names, and I will also pin four photos on my shirt for race day: Ed Stone, Judy Zettel, Faith Eury, and Ann Ritter. Ed's birthday is Sunday, and that is the reason that I chose this particular race. He died earlier this year at age 43 after battling various cancers for over half his life, starting with leukemia at age 19. He is a constant inspiration. His widow and sisters will be running in the race with me on Ed's birthday. Judy, a very good friend, died far too young from multiple myeloma and leukemia in 2011. Faith, who I met about four years ago through our mutual adventures with Hodgkin's lymphoma, was just as determined to live as I was. But she was not as fortunate, and died from this often curable disease last year at age 43. Ann was my sister, and she died two years ago from breast cancer. There is not a day that goes by that I don't miss her or wish I could just pick up the phone and say "hello."

Losing my sister and these three friends from cancer in less than two and a half years is a very good reason for me to feel crabby about cancer! And they are a constant reminder of the fact that, while there are many more cancer survivors these days than there were 20 or 30 years ago, there are too many people that do not survive. Despite the best medical care based on the advanced understanding of cancers that we now have, despite having the same grit and determination and spirit that cancer survivors everywhere have, despite all the new drugs with their awful side effects, there are so many people that just will not survive their cancer experience. So, there is still plenty left to do in understanding and curing cancer.

That is why I am doing Team in Training again. I know that I will not personally cure cancer, nor will any one donation of any amount made on behalf of my efforts cure it by itself. But cumulatively, all the donations I receive, added to those of thousands of others doing this, will make a combine to be a force for good, just as raindrops combine to form a river. LLS is one of the groups on the forefront of making a difference in the war against cancer. And understanding of blood cancers seems to be crucial in understanding other cancers as well. I once heard a researcher describe lymphoma as the "Rosetta Stone" of cancers: figure that group of cancers out, and clues to many other cancers will fall into place. It’s a daunting task, but it needs to be done!

11 years ago, I was down to my last two months of chemotherapy for Hodgkin's lymphoma, and feeling totally ill and worn out. Now, I'm getting ready to complete my seventh long distance event racing for a cure! Given time and good luck, our bodies have an amazing and inate ability to heal themselves from the damage caused by things like chemotherapy. But they do not have the ability to defeat cancers, once they get established, without assistance. For that, some external response - surgery, chemotherapy, or radiation - is needed. And that external response is usually pretty brutal to our bodies, and often of limited success. We don’t just need more effective cures, we need more effective cures that don’t partially destroy people’s bodies in the process. So if it feels right to you, join my seventh Cancer Kickin’ Campaign and make a donation to pinch Cancer the Crab where it hurts! It’s one for the money, two for the show, three to get ready, and on Sunday, it will be four to go - in the Crawlin' Carab Half Marathon, racing for a cure in purple! The time is now!

Thanks for the support and interest.

PS: If I do end up racing with purple hair, I will post some photos and send out a post-race email next week to let you all know! And even if I don’t end up with purple hair, my TNT site will have a link to photos from the race event by a week from Thursday if you are interested.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013


Well, I am down to the last few days of my latest Cancer Kickin' Campaign!  We had our team send-off last night at Legend Brewing Company, a place I don't get to often enough but enjoy when I do.  I like having a mug of their brown ale while sitting out on their deck with the great view of the Richmond skyline.

Send-off is where our team gathers to get our race shirts and last minute instructions from our coaches prior to the event.  It is also a nice chance to socialize.  Everyone looks different to be in regular clothing instead of running clothes, their heads not covered by hats.  We have a really small team, and not everyone showed up, but those that did had a good time.

It felt sad to see Ed Stone's name memorialized on our purple shirts.  It will be his birthday Sunday and that is the whole reason that I picked this race.  Otherwise, I would have done the Nike in San Francisco.  Ed fought cancer so hard, did everything he could to live.  It was just not meant to be.  On Sunday, his widow Leslie and two of Ed's sisters will be racing together in his memory.  I know that it will be a really tough day for them.

I did my final training yesterday, getting in four miles before work.  It was the last running I will do before Sunday, because my knee felt pretty good and I want to take it easy.  I will do some walking of course, just a few miles here and there.  Mostly, it is important to rest the week before a marathon or half marathon.  I still plan on trying to run some of the race, although I've not trained enough with running to make more than a token running effort.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Sunday Miles and Sore Quads

We don't usually do training as a team on Sunday, but today was an exception.  I had 12 miles to do, and it seemed like plenty.  I walked 95% of it, trying to stick with my walking teammates, especially Nancy, who had the same distance as me.  Our route went east through the Fan, the downtown (right past my office, and no, I was not tempted to go in there), past Shockoe Bottom, and then up to the top of Libby Hill, with its great view of downtown.  Then we returned to the park where we started, and that was good for nine mile.  So then, we repeated the first three mile portion of the route.  Along the way, we passed portions of a number of walks that I have documented:  the Richmond Liberty Trail, the Richmond Slave Trail, and the walk up Libby Hill from the downtown.

In the Fan District, I always enjoy seeing the flags and decorations.  Clearly, people who like the Great State of Maryland live here.
Next to the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart,
is a statue that never fails to move me, "Rachel Weeping for Her Children."  It is dedicated to the victims of the Nazis in the Holocaust.  On the base of the statue is the word "Remember" in Hebrew and English.
From the top of Libby Hill, there is a great view of the downtown.  Also, a kind soul put a check for $100 payable to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society in our water basket with a nice note thanking us for what we are doing.  It asked that if the person who found it is doing well with their fundraising, then they should pass it on to someone who was not doing as well.  As fate would have it, the lady who found it is struggling with her fundraising, so it was perfect!  I was really touched that someone would do that.
On the way back, we could see "Connecticut" looking out over the river.  He used to grace the Diamond when the Richmond Braves played there.  Now that it is the Flying Squirrels, I guess he needed to find a new home.
Back in the Fan, you can see that people are already getting ready for Halloween.
We all really liked this huge painting on a building, whatever it is supposed to represent.
I'll tell you, I was tired after the 12 miles.  I went home and added 50 pounds of ice to a tub of water, and climbed in.  It was too much ice, though.  I only lasted 13 minutes before I couldn't stand it anymore and got out.  It helped with the soreness but my quads are still a little sore.  Tomorrow will definitely be a "take it easy day."