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."

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Home of the Spiders

After my training / hike combination at Maymont on Wednesday by myself, it was nice to see a few teammates Thursday night at the University of Richmond, Home of the Spiders!
For several weeks now, our run and walk teams have had informal Thursday night training at U of R, starting at 6:30.  This is when the football team ends their practice.  I've made the last two, barely escaping a huge thunderstorm a week ago.  Thursday is always short miles, about three, so we just chat and go at our own pace.  There were only four of us Thursday, and we all happened to be walkers.  It is a beautiful campus and a wonderful spot to walk.
We did four laps around the track.  Because I ran part of the last two laps, I did the first mile in about 13:15.  Then, the women's lacrosse team began practicing, and everyone has to leave the track so that they don't risk getting hit by a stray ball.
So we headed through the campus and did several laps around a lake.  I think this building is some kind of student center and / or dining hall.

We chatted about fund raising, training, blood cancers, and so forth as we did our laps.  One of my teammates was a bit scared of two aggressive domestic geese, but nothing happened, even though they can bite.  We enjoyed seeing the students, all looking so young with their lives still mostly ahead of them.  I know that college and being young has its own stresses, but that is a pretty good time in one's life.  It costs a lot to go to this school - like $40,000 a year, I think - so I sure hope they are learning a lot while they are here.  We saw a number of young people running.

One of my teammates, Susan, works with a friend that I have on my fundraising list.  She gave Susan a check for me, and this now puts my fundraising just over $5,000.  I am still short of my goal, and of dying my hair purple, but am happy to have reached that threshold.

For the first time all season, we have no Saturday training, so I will take it easy today in anticipation of 12 miles with the team on Sunday.  You know I will be buying some big bags of ice after that!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Update From Art's Cancer Kickin' Campaign: The Rumors Swirl Again!

Hello again from Art's Cancer Kickin' Campaign, coming to you from the marathon trail with the Crawlin' Crab Half Marathon less than three weeks away. After taking a break from Team in Training for three years, I'm back trying to raise money to support the mission of the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Many cancer survivors try to find a way to "pay it forward" for the good fortune we had to survive, and this is my way to do this while honoring the memories of those who were not nearly as fortunate as I have been. If I make my fundraising goal by the day of the race, I will dye my hair purple for the Crawlin' Crab. I am nearly 70% of the way there. Want to help me get the rest of the way? Just go to my web page at this URL to make a donation:

Donations of any amount are appreciated and go toward the mission of LLS. If you prefer writing a check to making an online donation, just contact me and we will work out the mechanics.

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. If you are one of those folks, treat this email as a campaign update, not as a request for another donation.

On the training front, things are going well. My longest training to date has been 12 miles, and I feel like I am nearly ready to do the race. I'm getting in at least four training sessions a week, and the miles are starting to mount up on my fairly new running shoes.

Every time I do Team in Training the rumors start to swirl around me, and once again, I am responding to them. Some of this year's rumors: Art is retiring from TNT (do I have more in common with Brett Favre than just rugged, sexy good looks, incredible athletic ability, and tremendous wealth? Well, okay, only one of us has tremendous wealth.) With his world-class athletic talents, Art clearly has been taking Performance Enhancing Drugs (could it be that my new name should be Lance Artstrong or A-Rit?) Art beat Lindsay Lohan in a drinking contest (I’d have a better chance of beating Usain Bolt in a 100 meter run). Art beat Usain Bolt in a 100 meter run. (I reveal the shocking truth on my blog).

To read the details about these rumors, and more, you can go this link:

You have to be careful with rumors, people! Why, before I could refute the rumor about me retiring from TNT, at least a half dozen women, despairing and inconsolable about no longer seeing my incredible physique lumbering down the race course, threw themselves to their death off of bridges. So let's try to prevent such tragedies in the future, Okay?

One rumor you should never believe is that cancers are all curable now. Yeah, we've made great progress - survival rates for many blood cancers have more than doubled since 1960 - but for all too many people, that is not nearly enough progress. Sunday September 15 was Lymphoma Awareness Day, and was a reminder to me of my experience with this illness 11 years ago. I am blessed and grateful to have survived, and to be a part of this now. But I have five family members and friends who have died from cancer in the last 30 months, and that is far, far too many. So let's keep on reaching for a cure - a total cure! Maybe someday, hearing that all cancers are curable will no longer be a bad rumor.

Thanks again 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 less than three weeks. That's all for now from my Cancer Kickin' Campaign, where I am trying to be one more small part in the war against cancer, and the race for a cure.


PS: A number of you had told me earlier that you plan on donate but wanted a reminder. Consider yourself reminded! My campaign is coming down to the wire.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Rumors About Art and Team in Training

Every time I do Team in Training, rumors seem to swirl around.  Here is my response to the latest batch of 'em.

1. Did you hear that Art has retired from Team in Training and won't even be doing the Crawlin' Crab Half Marathon?  Response - clearly, people are once again confusing Brett Favre and me.  It's an easy and natural mistake to make.  Anyhow, I refute this rumor here.

2. It's pretty clear that, given his incredible athletic performances, Art is taking performance enhancing drugs just like Lance Armstrong did.  Response - I come clean in this candid and tell-all interview with famous TV personality Opera "Bats" Belfry.  Read all about it.

3.  Art is doing the Crawlin' Crab Half Marathon with a walker.  Response - No, I am doing it as a walker, not with a walker.  I may even run a bit if my sore left knee allows it.

4.  Art beat Lindsay Lohan in a drinking contest.  Response - Yeah, like that could happen.

5.  Art beat Usain Bolt in a 100 meter sprint.  Response - Actually, that could happen, and it did.  It is amazing what kind of competitive race this can become when someone distracts Mr. Bolt while I tie his shoe laces together.  I would have beaten him by even more if he hadn't run the last 30 meters barefoot!

6.  Did you know that Art is so old that he ran his first marathon trying to get away from Confederate troops at the Battle of Bull Run in 1861?  Ridiculous!  I'm not that old!  It was at the Battle of Chancellorsville in 1863!  Where do people get these wild rumors from?

7. Did you hear that Art is shaving his head for the race, except for a purple Mohawk?  Response - My, wouldn't that enhance my appearances?  Whoever started this rumor gets a "Pants on Fire" rating.  But true enough, if I hit my fund-raising goal, I will dye my hair purple for the race.

8.  Did you hear that Art has totally given up on hitting his fund-raising goal?  Response - While it looks like a long shot, it ain't over until it is over.  I'll keep plugging away until October 6 and make the call the morning of the race.

Training By the James

With the Crawlin' Crab Half Marathon just three weeks from today, making each training seems more urgent.  Yesterday's training was on a particularly gorgeous day - high 50's when we started, and not a cloud in the sky - a fine contrast with all of the hot and muggy days we have been out there.  And we combined a beautiful day with one of my favorite routes - along the James to the Pony Pasture.  We started near the University of Richmond instead of at our usual place at Byrd Park, so it was just a couple of miles to reach Pony Pasture Park.

Our mission moment Saturday was from Leslie.  She spoke of how it has been 8 months yesterday since her husband Ed died.  The Crawlin' Crab race will be on his birthday, which is why I picked that race.  I cannot even imagine what an emotional day it will be for Leslie when she gets up that morning and puts on the race clothing to run in memory of her husband with his sisters.

One of the pleasures of being out for an early run or walk in Richmond is running into old friends.  A few weeks ago, I saw my friend Nicki, who is training for the Richmond Marathon.  She is one of my "February Miracle Girls."  Yesterday, I ran into Jamal, who I had not seen in a long time.  He was out running with some kind of "SEAL Team" thing.  Jamal spoke at my very first Team in Training informational meeting.  I was hesitant because I didn't think I could raise the money necessary, but he told me "You can, and you will!"  And he was right.

Our route started almost immediately over the new Huguenot Bridge.  It was my first time on foot over the bridge since it was replaced, and is quite an improvement over the old one.

Once over the bridge, the route was along Riverside Drive.  For some reason, I had the least miles of anyone out yesterday, just six miles, which felt pretty good.  I mixed in a good bit of running for the first five miles, and it felt pretty good.  I enjoyed all of the river views.
After about two miles, I reached the Pony Pasture Rapids.  It is part of the James River Park system, and there is a nice park there with hiking trails and a good bit of wildlife right in the city.  I've described hikes there at this link and also here.
At this point in the river, an old dam appears to have had a section dynamited out, I think to allow sturgeon to spawn.  These huge fish (up to 10 feet long) have been seen in the James right in downtown as they try to swim upriver for spawning.
At the three mile point, it was time for me to turn around.  But first, I had to do something.  For each of our routes, we were supposed to do a specific action at our turn around point.  Mine, believe it or not, was to dance a jig.  I happened to arrive at the same time as one of my running teammates, so she caught a video of it.  Do I know how to dance a jig?  No, so I ad-libbed.  She may post the video on the web.  I am not sure that we should subject the world to that.

I had done almost all of my route by myself, so it was nice when, with about a mile to go, I caught up with two teammates who had turned back because they had somewhere to be at 9:30.  They had done three miles at that point and I had done five.  I saw them way ahead of me coming back along Riverside Drive and tried pretty hard to catch them so I could say hello.  Once I caught up with them, I adjusted my pace to walk back to the parking lot with them.  It was a nice way to finish a great day of training by the James.

Friday, September 13, 2013

Keeping Up With Training

For the first time since training began in, what, May, I've been keeping right up with it for the past two weeks, and it feels good.  At the time, the race was only five weeks away, and I really wanted to nail the last full four weeks of training (the week before the race, we really take it easy, just doing a few miles here and there to rest up).  So my goal was to do 90% of the scheduled trainings for the last full four weeks.  And two weeks in, I'm at 100%.

Because of Labor Day last week, I've been on eight hour days for last week and this one, and the extra hour has really helped.  I've hit everyone of the eight training workouts needed, walking something like 47 miles in the process during the training walks.  Typically, I've missed one or two of the three mid-week trainings, so it was a good time to get fully on track.  I'm still not running, although I hope to do some of the race running.

Last night, two of my coaches and my mentor organized a training run / walk at the University of Richmond, and I went.  It was another hot and humid night, and we did laps around the track at the football stadium, which is a really nice facility on their beautiful campus.  It is home of the Richmond Spiders. After eight laps we could see dark clouds moving in.  After 10, there were huge thunderstorms building.  At that point, half the group left, and the other four of us decided to do one more lap, then one more.  Near the end of that lap, having gone around the track almost 12 times, it was clear we all needed to clear out.  All the students were gone, including the women's lacrosse team, which had been doing some drills.  The wind had picked up and was blowing.  As I reached my car, the first drops fell.  Within minutes, it was pouring, and the lightening was nearly continuous and blinding.  I was glad to arrive home 25 minutes later.  But I had enjoyed getting together with some of the team during the week to get in my workout.  I'll do it again next week.

Next week, back on nine hour days, it will be a challenge to do all the miles, but that will be my goal once again.

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Gorgeous Day for a 12 Mile Workout

Today dawned as a gorgeous day for this time of year in Eastern Virginia.  The temperature was about 58 at the start of training at 6:30.  Starting a half hour later was really nice, too.  We still got there early enough to see a nice sunrise over Boat Lake in Byrd Park.

After today, I only have one more long mileage training day before the Crawlin' Crab Half Marathon.  This is hard to believe.  But anyhow, I wanted to get in a good workout today, going 12 miles.  My friend Lelia came out and walked with me.  She is also going to the race, just not with Team in Training.  Our route was two file mile loops through Windsor Farms, with its beautiful homes, like this pink house:
the up to Monument Avenue and east to Boulevard, and down to the park.  I couldn't resist another photo, just like last week, of some of the detail around the Maury statue.
At the end of our second five mile loop, Lelia snapped this photo of me with the Christopher Columbus statue.  Do I look like I just fast-walked 10 miles?
At this point, Lelia left and I did two more miles, walking around the one mile VITA course twice.  There are still the flowers of late summer,
and the VITA course trail is level and nicely graveled.
After 12 miles, I found I had averaged a shade over a 14 minute per mile walking pace, which is not too shabby.  I stretched a bit, went home, stretched some more, drank a bottle of coconut water, brewed a mug of tea, and climbed into a refreshing ice water bath.  It is not fun but takes out some of the leg soreness.  Next Saturday, just six miles are called for!  Yay!

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Glamorous Rockfish!

The alarm went off at 5:10 yesterday and I jumped out of bed as quickly as I could.  I shaved and pulled on my workout clothes - no point taking a shower just yet - and wolfed down a bagel.  I left the house at 5:45 and got to training a few minutes late, but we always have a little grace period.  It would be a big day - my first "double digit" mile day (other than some hikes) since I ran the Shamrock Half Marathon in March 2012.

I decided that I was only going to walk the 11 miles and see how my knees do.  My friend Lelia came out to walk with me.  She is also training for the Crawlin' Crab, doing a run - walk combination.  We joined my teammate Nancy, who has active CLL (chronic lymphocytic leukemia).  Isn't that amazing - to be out walking a half marathon with an active cancer?  CLL is one of those slow, slow growing cancers.  It makes it good because it isn't going to end your life in a matter of months or a couple of years.  But the bad news is that it is very difficult to treat and there is no cure for it.  Nancy's counts keep going up and are now something like five times normal.  Eventually, they will give her chemo which will slow things down for a while until the counts come up and they have to repeat it.  But maybe, through our efforts and that of so many others, a cure will be found for her.  That is my fervent hope, because there has been some really great progress on CLL lately.

Our 11 mile route yesterday was like a big cross - north from the park to Monument, west to Chantilly, back to Boulevard, then north to Westwood, then turn back Monument, east to Harrison, turn around back to Boulevard, then south to park.  I liked the route because we kept encountering slower and faster teammates, and those with different distances.Yesterday, our team was doing eight to 14 miles.  My 11 was right in the middle.

It was a scenic walk in Richmond and I took a lot of photos.  My two co-walkers kept shaking their heads, and my only running was to catch them after taking pictures.  Monument Avenue is a beautiful street, with six great monuments and lovely homes and landscaping.  We passed every one of the monuments.  I am not repeating the photos of "Stonewall" Jackson and Arthur Ashe from last week, but have included the others.

A few weeks ago, I had photos of the Matthew Fontaine Maury statue, which I really like.  Here is a close up of some of the shipwreck victims, including a cow and a dog.  Maury's work as a US Naval officer made travel by sea safer, and he is known as the "Pathfinder of the Seas."

This big spider went to a lot of work to build this huge web.  It was more than a meter across.  I would guess someone will wreck it at some point, but I snapped a photo and left it be.  I am glad not to be a fly.
So now you can see where the title for the post came from.  Maybe about 8-10 years ago, Richmond put big fiberglass rockfish all over the city and artists painted them.  After the public display, I imagine they were sold to people for use in their yards.  Isn't this one cool?
Once we were back on Boulevard and heading north, we passed the Diamond, home to our local Double A baseball team, the Richmond Flying Squirrels!
Now, we are back on Monument Avenue, heading east before turning around and Harrison and heading back to Boulevard to head south to the park.  I really liked this brick portico....
.... and the flowers in front of the home next to it.
"... 'Tis the Star Spangled Banner! Oh, long may it wave
O'er the land of the free, and the home of the brave!"
Wouldn't it be an amazing cow that could jump over the moon?  I loved this banner.
Confederate General James Ewell Brown "JEB" Stuart patrols the eastern end of Monument Avenue near VCU.
Two of my teammates take a quick walk break in the last few miles of their 14 miler.  Makes me glad I am not training for a full marathon again.  13.1 seems long enough, and there is no need to double it.  One of them is dealing with plantar fasciitis, which is so miserable.  How she can do 14 miles with it active is beyond me.  It took me eight months to get past mine two years ago.
Confederate General Robert E. Lee on Traveler is the tallest of the monuments.
Confederate President Jefferson Davis is the third of the six monuments when one starts at the eastern end of Monument Avenue.

Our walking pace was not really fast, maybe just over 15 minutes per mile.  But that includes stopping numerous times for a water break and a few times to wait for traffic.  Speaking of water breaks, the other day on my lunch break, a company was passing out free bottles of their energy drink, so I grabbed one, thinking it would be a nice thing to take along on the walk yesterday.  It was called "raspberry - lemonade."  One sip of it convinced me that its original flavor name had been "camel urine," but a focus group told them that wouldn't sell as well!  It was awful, and the taste stayed in my mouth for a long time.  I dumped it out.

When I got home, I stretched out, enjoyed a mug of hot tea and a couple of donuts that I bought from the Westhampton Pastry shop, and read a little of the paper.  Then I brewed another mug of tea, dumped 20 pounds of ice in a tub of cold water, and clambered in for 15 minutes.  Miserable at the time, but I am not sore at all today.