Friday, August 30, 2013

Mid-Week Training

During Team in Training, our longest mileage day is scheduled for Saturday, but we are supposed to do at least three other runs or walks during the week, plus a day of cross training.  These, for a half marathon, are typically 3-6 miles each.  And I have had a really hard time keeping up with them.  I've been trying to figure out why.

With my nine hour work day, I would have to get up about 4:30 to walk 4 miles before work.  In the past, I was able to do that, sometimes even being out at 3:45AM to get out and do 10 miles.  Not this year.  I've done very few early morning walks.  It just feels too early.  So I've relied on workouts after work, and that can be tough, too.  I've been inconsistent at best.  But I did get in 4 miles after work yesterday, then went to water aerobics for an hour.  I tried running yesterday, but unlike Saturday, when it felt pretty good, yesterday, I got a shot of pain in my left knee every time that foot landed.  And I thought, "Even for a guy, this is stupid.  The world will not come to an end if I have to walk the Crawlin' Crab and if it takes me longer than three hours."  So, I stopped running after a couple of hundred feet, and walked.  My route went by a high school and I timed myself walking a quarter mile on their track.  It took three minutes and 35 seconds, which translates to a 14:20 pace to walk a mile.  Not slow, by any means, but much too slow to walk 13.1 miles in under three hours.  Ah well!  Tomorrow will be a good test, with an 11 mile walk on the schedule.

I have today off and had hoped to hike the Rip Rap Hollow Trail, a moderately tough 9.6 mile hike with lots of elevation.  But it was not meant to be.  As fate had it, I needed to be at home for an electrical inspection, then I ended up with errands to do.  So no hike for me today, but I will shortly go to the gym and the pool.  I need to do upper body workouts more often, and a soak in the pool will do me good.  I may do a half hour of elliptical, too.  This is supposed to be a rest day, but some cross-training counts.  And with a long morning of training tomorrow, maybe it is best that I didn't get to hike today.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Something that Works Well Together

Wow! How quickly a few weeks can vanish, making it time once again for one of my Cancer Kickin' Campaign's updates. The Crawlin' Crab Half Marathon is less than six weeks away. Before I know it, my sixth Team in Training event will be in the past. But right now, I am continuing to train and to see if I can raise money for a cure - turning my hair temporarily purple in the process! Exactly 11 years ago from today, I was so sick from chemotherapy side effects that I ended up in the hospital for a while, feeling as awful as I ever had in my life. And yet, here I am 11 years later, getting ready to compete in my seventh marathon or half marathon as a cancer survivor, racing for a cure! I’m trying to pay it forward for my good fortune, and you can help if you choose to!

So what's the answer to "something that works well together?" (Hint - it's not Congress). I'll discuss that shortly, but before then, here are some updates. On the fund-raising side of things, I am 58% of the way to having purple hair on race day October 6. Whether or not I am prepared to travel 13.1 miles by foot on race day is almost totally within my control, barring an injury. But whether or not my hair is purple instead of gray? Well, that is up to the people getting this email! And here is how you can help turn my hair purple: (1) go to my web page at this URL:

(2) Make a donation of any amount. Or if you prefer, contact me about a check payable to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. My Team in Training web page is also the place to start to see my honoree list or just learn more about what I am doing, and why I am feeling so crabby about cancer. By the way, thanks to the many people who have already donated so generously. That includes a number of anonymous donors. Since I don't know who you are, I can only thank you en masse. So, thank you - very much - to all of my generous donors, anonymous or not!

On the training front, my back is back to feeling pretty good! I still have some knee pain, but it is very tolerable. I did slack off for a couple of weeks, including a trip out of state, and that really cut into my training. But I got back on track this past Saturday, walking and running nine miles. This coming Saturday, I'll go for double-digit miles for the first time since my last half-marathon. So I am confident that one way or another, I'll complete my mission of doing another half-marathon and racing for a cure once again.

Now, I know the suspense is killing you - what works well together? Well, a number of things. One would be crazy people like me, training for rigorous long distance endurance events with our legs and feet, collaborating with generous people like you supporting us with your fingers to write a check or enter a credit card donation. Another would be the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society working well with medical researchers to hunt down elusive and difficult cures. A third would be LLS working with cancer patients to support them in many ways. And your donation helps make the work LLS does in these wonderful areas happen.

I mentioned Congress earlier. Isn't it a good thing that most things work better than Congress? My goodness - can they cooperate on anything without worrying about how to make the other party look bad? What if cancer research worked that way? How many cures would there be? What if our bodies worked as poorly as the body politic does? How chaotic would that be? A year and a half ago, suffering from some knee pain during a 12 mile run, I started thinking about this. What if the various parts of our body worked as dis-functionally together as Congress does? What might that be like? To read my thinking on this subject, you can go to this post that I wrote:

So let's keep working together to accomplish great things! Thanks to all of you who have already donated in support, and thanks to all who are considering a donation before I wrap up my campaign in just under six weeks.


Sunday, August 25, 2013

Back at Training

After missing two straight weeks of training to travel to and from Michigan, it felt good to be back yesterday.  My schedule was a down week, calling for just five miles.  But since I have done minimal training - and not running at all since my back pain - I decided I needed more miles.  The Crawlin' Crab race is just six weeks away now - or is it five? - and I am not feeling ready to go 13.1 in any kind of respectable time.

So I set my alarm yesterday for 5:10 - ugh! - so I could be at the park by 6AM.  We had a fairly small turnout and people were doing a huge range of miles, from 4 to 19!  So a lot of folks tended to train alone.  I did a mile or so with some others, then took off on my own route, playing leapfrog a few times with the runners.  I might pass them when I would run, then they would pass me when I switched to a walk.  It was a delightful August morning to be alive and out and about.  My route went up the Boulevard, out Monument Avenue, down to Grove, then out the Westhampton Theater - about 4.5 miles each way.

After seven miles of alternating running and walking, I decided that I had run enough for not having done any for three weeks, and resolved to walk only for the last two miles back.  At that point, I reached a cross street and two people called my name.  There, coming up the street and just yards away, were Lelia and Michal, friends from my very first Team in Training experience - and several since.  It was great to see them, and to walk with them, as they were also heading back to the park at that point.  I see Lelia reasonably often, as we sometimes walk together after work, but had not seen Michal in years.  It felt like true serendipity!  If my pace had been just seconds different, had I stopped longer to take a drink, then I would have passed the street at a different time.  So that was very cool!

After training, several of us went to brunch at Panera, then to a clinic on Rock Tape, which was interesting.  I got some tape put on my knee and back.

I took a few photos along the way.  Our route passed the wonderful Virginia Museum of Fine Arts,
then passed by the Daughters of the Confederacy building and the Virginia Historical Society.
At the intersection of Boulevard and Monument, General Thomas J. "Stonewall" Jackson is forever on the alert.
Monument Avenue is one of the most beautiful streets in Richmond and has so many interesting homes, like this one with the state roof.
The westernmost statue on Monument Avenue is of Arthur Ashe, Richmond native, tennis star, and all-around good guy.  Believe it or not, this statue was so controversial when first erected, but now everyone is pretty calm about it.
As I prepare for the Crawlin' Crab Half Marathon, I felt as if this crab flag were a good omen.
I wanted to take a photo of Lelia, Michal, and me together but they respectfully declined.

I am happy to report that - knock on wood - so far today, my back feels fine after the running.  I do have some leg soreness so will take it easy for a few days and try to get back to my stretching routine.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Team Soup's Message

I've blogged about young Campbell, AKA "Soup," in my last couple of posts.  She is a local girl, soon to turn eight, who has leukemia.  I have no doubt that she has endured some awful things in the last year and has gone through a lot of misery.  But she seems strong and upbeat.

About a month or so ago, she posted a short video message to Team in Training participants.  I wanted to embed the video but since I don't have a Facebook account, I cannot.  But I can provide the link to the video.

When I watched it last month, I found it inspirational, and it brought tears to my eyes.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Pain Relief!

After five days of moderate to mild lower back pain - at its worst Sunday and especially Monday - I went to see an excellent chiropractor after work, and he did some major adjusting.  I took a short walk tonight, the first time to walk normally and pain free since Saturday.  What a joy that is!  I take it for granted that I can walk with little effort, and when something goes wrong, it is a real eye-opener.

I am not sure what caused the pain.  I had some back pain after a week in California - four different beds in eight nights and hours in airports and in jets.  But it never got too bad and faded after a while.  I wonder if trying to run more messed something up?  The chiropractor said that running, and especially long-distance running, is not good for one's back.  I told him I had a like - dislike relationship with running.  He replied that his relationship with running is more dislike - dislike.

So having decided to try to run some of the half-marathon, will this mean putting my back at some risk?  It sure is complicated.  All I know is that I love walking and can live without running as long as I can walk and hike.  So maybe I need to play it safe and just walk all 13.1 miles of the Crawlin' Crab.  It's not like I am going to win the race, or even my age group.  I think I know the sensible thing to do.  The question is, as a male, will I do the sensible thing or not?

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Update From Art's Cancer Kickin' Campaign: Soup!

Hey again, it is I, with one of my Cancer Kickin' Campaign's tri-weekly updates. The Crawlin' Crab Half Marathon is just two months away now, which seems unreal, and a bit scary, given that I just started adding some running to the mix but am dealing with a sore back. It is hard to walk normally right now, much less try to run.

So what's with the subject line: "Soup!"? More about that in just a bit, but first, here are some updates. On the fund-raising side of things, I am just over halfway to having purple hair on race day. Come on - help make that happen! You know you want to see me with purple hair! And here is how you can help turn my hair purple: (1) go to my web page at this URL:

(2) Make a donation of any amount. Or if you prefer, contact me about a check payable to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. My Team in Training web page is also the place to start to see my honoree list or just learn more about what I am doing, and why I am feeling so crabby about cancer.

On the training front, that was going pretty well until this back pain. Hopefully, that will soon be behind me. Well, actually - that is the problem, it is behind me: right in the small of my back! Anyway, I have now trained up to eight miles, which is still a long way off from a half marathon at 13.1 miles - but I am getting there.

Now, about the Soup... What's this soup? She-crab soup, perhaps, in honor of the race? The soupy, hot, steamy summer weather that we train in? Nope, neither of those. "Soup" is the nickname of a little girl I met after training Saturday. Her real name is Campbell, and she is almost eight. A year ago this month, Campbell was diagnosed with leukemia and has had a really rough year. She came out to meet our team, thank us for doing Team in Training, and give us cupcakes and homemade cards and her orange "Team Soup" wristband. It was great to meet her, although it makes me sad to see a child who must go through this. She is just a bit older than my granddaughter. Seeing Campbell reminded me of a young girl I saw in Nashville four years ago when I was there to run a half marathon for Team in Training. I still think of that girl often and hope that she is doing well. If you want to read my account of what happened, you can go to my TNT page and click the link near the top of the page about the Nashville girl:

I told Campbell's mom Saturday that I am an 11 year survivor. She told me how much she loves hearing from survivors because it gives her hope. And I told her how much I appreciated them coming out so that we could meet Campbell, and be inspired by her.

There is very little that I, or you, can do to help Campbell directly. But I fervantly hope that through using my feet to motivate people to donate whatever amount they feel is appropriate to this cause will ultimately mean that more Campbell's and more little Nashville girls go on to survive these awful diseases - an ordeal that no child should have to face.

So thanks to all of you who have already donated in support, and thanks to all who are considering a donation before I wrap up my campaign in two more months.


Saturday, August 3, 2013

Back with the Team!

After missing two Saturday's to travel to California, it was nice to train with the team today.  This was my first Saturday trying to mix in some running with the walking.  I was supposed to go for nine miles but only did eight so that I could see a special guest.  Our route was, once again, the hills along Riverside Drive, on this muggy Saturday.  Here, a couple teammates walk across the Nickel Bridge.

Every time we go by the house, I like it.  It reminds me of a cottage in the woods.
One of my very crafty teammates says that this is a "yarn bomb."  Whatever it is, I thought it was clever and pretty.  Virginia is for lovers!
Campbell (the third from the left in the red shirt and orange ribbon) is out special guest today.  She is coming up on 8 and has been dealing with leukemia for the last year.  Her story is a poignant reminder about why we do this - why getting up at 5:30 on a Saturday to travel for miles on foot is so doable to our team.
Campbell passed out cupcakes and cards that she made.  Here is mine.  It says thank you but when I tucked it under my arm to eat my cupcake, my soaking wet shirt kind of erased the "thank."

Friday, August 2, 2013

Is This Fair?

As we get older, it is harder and harder to keep the weight off.  No matter how much we walk, run, work-out, avoid all of the tempting things that food industry makes available to us, it is a very difficult - and often losing battle.

So that being true, does it seem fair that as we age, we lose the fat pads in our feet?  I say no!  I am fairly lean, and I am sure that I still have enough fat around my middle to give everyone in my zip code fat pads for their feet.  But that one area of fat is disappearing on me, and apparently it is vanishing fast.

The podiatrist that I went to the other day told me that I don't have a plantars wart after all.  Instead, I have a pencil eraser sized but very deep callus, and it is now deep enough to cause some pain as I walk or run.  So he took out his trusty scalpel, and shaved it down, and it is a lot more comfortable.  He told me that I will have to suck it up or get extra thick forefoot pads - because those comfortable fat pads that used to be in my feet are disappearing.

That is so unfair that I am a little depressed about it - pass the French fries, won't you?