WEGO Health

I’ve been nominated for three different WEGO Health Activist awards. WEGO is a network of over 100,000 of the most influential members of the online health community. They consist of bloggers, tweeters, pinners, and leaders of Facebook pages who are empowered patients that drive the healthcare conversation online, across virtually every health topic and condition.

My nominations include Health Activist Hero, Best in Show: Blog, and Lifetime Achievement. Nominees can be “endorsed” by anyone through January 31st. At the conclusion of the endorsement period, a robust judging period takes place with health Activists, WEGO Health team members, and industry leaders serving as judges.

Visit WEGO Health to endorse me or learn more.

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Happy Holiday Check Up

Greetings and Happy Holidays. Just a quick oncology check up report for you today. I had my routine visit and blood draw yesterday. My white count was slightly elevated and skewed a little to a higher lymphocyte %. I also have a couple of enlarged lymph nodes.

 I otherwise feel great and the rest of my blood work was spot on. No cause for any alarm, but we will treat the symptoms with a few doses of steroid therapy and I will check back again in 6 weeks. To reiterate, I feel great and am not concerned. I’m also typing this while riding on my trainer.

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This World

This world is spending entirely too much energy fighting about what is, what was, and what might have been, and not enough energy on creating what it needs to be. Sometimes the solutions are simple if we just shut up and do the right thing even if it’s not the easy thing.

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When Great Men Pass

I read the news last night that the father of a good childhood friend passed away early in the morning of December 6th. Ray Edelman, a WWII war veteran, lived a life filled with joy, love, and amazing experiences which were all shared with an incredible family that I am honored to know.

Ray Edelman was sports. Ray Edelman defined basketball and was one of the best, most sought after, and most decorated coaches in the country. He was a fountain of basketball fundamentals and he shared that wisdom with an immeasurable number of student athletes through the years.

Nobody understood Ray’s passion for basketball as well as his wife Millie and six children, Ray, Cindy, Jimmy, Linda, Mike, and Patty. The Edelman household was a who’s who of basketball for a couple of decades and at the heart of it all was Big Ray.

I grew up on Malvern Road in Ardmore Pennsylvania and the Edelman’s lived behind me on Georges Lane. From first through seventh grade I was close with Mike Edelman (the second youngest of the six kids if you are keeping score at home). A small group of us would roam from house to house and playground to playground looking for the next place to play a quick game of something. Sometimes it was touch football, sometimes it was “Kick the Can”, but we always had basketballs with us, so we often ended up at Elwell playground or my house and the game de jour usually ended up being hoops.

All the while, we had our eyes on what was happening in the rest of the Edelman household. My earliest memories are of Big Ray thriving as a coach at the University of Pennsylvania and attending those late 1960s and early 1970s Big 5 basketball games at the legendary Palestra. I learned what it meant to be a basketball fan in that old gym. Mike’s brothers and sisters were also making names for themselves both at Haverford High School and later at Kentucky. We had role models a block away and we looked up to all of them.

Ray’s coaching career took him to the University of Oregon when I was in eighth grade. It was rough having a good friend move across the country but two very meaningful things came out of that move. First, it was Mike who introduced me to the name of the legendary running phenomenon Steve Prefontaine who was on the cusp of becoming a household name. I had no idea who PRE was but Oregon sure did. PRE and his story would later become very influential to me. And second, the Edelman’s came back year or two later. So balance was restored in the universe.

Through the decades Big Ray Edelman coached at a number of schools and colleges and was a go to mentor for many coaches and basketball programs. While it’s true that he was a basketball genius, he also turned boys into men and coached the skills that don’t show up on the scoreboard, like integrity, sportsmanship, class, dignity, and grace. All of which are evident in the Edelman children and their families.

I’m saddened by the loss of Ray Edelman, but I am so blessed to have known him and fortunate to remain in touch with many of the kids. My thoughts and prayers go out to the extended Edelman clan in the loss of this great man, father, and legendary coach.

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GRS NYC Marathon Team Empowers 13,200 Girls

On Nov. 2nd, 41 passionate Team GRS runners participated in the 2014 TCS New York City Marathon. They ran an epic, cold and windy 26.2 miles through the streets of New York — with smiles on their faces. GRS is incredibly grateful to the wonderful team members who donated their sweat, fortitude, and positivity to our cause.

Our goal for the 2014 NYC Marathon was to engage 6,000 African girls in a unique program that educates and empowers them to live healthy lives, access critical health services, combat gender-based violence, stop the spread of HIV in their communities, and gain self esteem through playing soccer. We are thrilled to share that we more than doubled our goal, and will be able to engage 13,200 girls!

To date, the 2014 GRS NYC Marathon Team has raised over $660,000. Grassroot Soccer was one of the top fundraising charity partners for the TCS New York City Marathon, and Founder & CEO Tommy Clark was the top individual fundraiser on the marathon’s official charity fundraising site, CrowdRise. Additionally, one of our runners, GRS Ambassadors Council member Josh Elkes, was featured in a blog post from our funding partner Positive Tracks. Positive Tracks generously matched the funds raised by three young people on Team GRS, including Josh. This was also a special year for Team GRS as two of our founders, Tommy Clark and Kirk Friedrich, ran the race for GRS, along with several staff members. We also had a great combination of returning team members and new members of the GRS family.

Thank you to everyone who supported this true team effort!

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Grassroot Soccer Zambia Wins Charity of the Year Award

Recently GRS Zambia was named the Charity of the Year in the inaugural Greatest Zambian Awards! The Awards, an initiative spearheaded by news website Open Zambia and the Foundation for Democratic Process (FODEP), asked the public to vote on a shortlist for each of the ten categories.

“It is gratifying and rewarding to be the recipient of the Charity of the Year award in Zambia. This recognition is a true reflection of our commitment and dedication to serving youths and adolescents in Zambia through our work. This award has rejuvenated our resolve to continue serving the young population of our country with much needed access to HIV and AIDS prevention, care ,treatment and support,” said Nalucha Nganga-Ziba, GRS Zambia Managing Director. 

GRS Zambia was launched in 2005 as the second official GRS affiliate, and has been a leader in comprehensive HIV prevention, including piloting successful referral and support programs for HIV positive youth that are now integral parts of GRS programming.

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Philly Marathon

Congrats to all of today’s finishers, volunteers, supporters, race staff, Philly cops, spectators, and everyone else who had anything to do with this amazing event. I can’t say it enough, I love this event. It never disappoints. It always has and always will be a special place for.

It was my first marathon in 1994 and I have been back every year since. This race always seems to symbolize the end of the racing season and the beginning of the holidays. I love it. For the last six years, my wife and sister in law have joined in on the fun, walking the half, and making the experience that much more fun. And this year my younger daughter joined the party as well.

And of course, race morning always culminates with a killer brunch at the legendary Llanarch Diner. It’s been a very busy year for us which also included the Marine Corp Marathon, and NYC Marathon leading up to today’s Phila Marathon and half marathon.

It’s time to relax a little (maybe till January) and just enjoy everything and everybody around me.

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2014 Marine Corp Marathon – I Teared Up at That

Those marines sure know how to throw a party. I will try to keep this brief as I know nobody likes getting lulled to sleep with long drawn out race reports. While my effort at this year’s Marine Corp Marathon was a slow run/walk, it was nothing short of moving and inspirational. This was my first MCM and I now see what all the fuss is about and what makes this “the people’s marathon”. I feel like we got in a week’s worth of marathon “vacation” activity in about 30 hours. Including a great dinner in Crystal City with Team Inspiration where we shared stories of survivorship and remembrance and why we do what we do. It was great catching up with teammates Roseann Dougherty and BethAnn Telford and meeting some new faces as well. I even survived the DC Metro system which for a guy who isn’t the most mass transit savvy, and who is also a bit (ok … very) directionally challenged, is an accomplishment equal to that of the marathon…or close to it.  

Race morning started off with some great energy and karma as I just happened to bump into our Eastern PA Team in Training marathon team exiting the metro station. Had I planned a rendezvous like that, it never would have come to fruition. We just “found” each other, which is telling of my relationship with TNT. The race start was one of the most moving things I have ever witnessed. The sky was filled with marine skydivers carrying American Flags descending to the start area. All eyes were fixed skyward as we watched these guys (& girls?!) circle their drop zone with their flags waving in the wind beneath them then hit their mark with laser precision. We were also treated to the impressive sights of two Osprey helicopters flying low overhead and of course the race started with the signature and ceremonious blast of a Howitzer cannon. Truly, truly moving.  And yeah, I have no problem admitting, I teared up at that.

The entire rest of the day was more of the same. The weather conditions were perfect although a little seasonably warm for late October in the Mid Atlantic region. I made a few friends along the way, including two marines who were running the same pace as I and employing the same walk/run interval. I only made two social stops along the way. The first was to jump onto the grass to say hi to Runner’s World editor Bart Yasso. It was great seeing Bart at mile 10-ish. I also pulled over to help a guy who I had been running with because his right hamstring went on strike and completely seized up around mile 20. After getting him on his back and helping him stretch it out, he was back on his feet and on his way. And yeah, I have no problem admitting, I teared up at that. I also ran by a marine with a note pinned to his back that read “I run for my fellow marines and fallen brothers”. He was walking, and obviously hurting. As I came up behind him I put my hand on the note on his back and just said “let’s go”. He replied with a “thank you sir” and ran with me for a bit. Nothing else needed to be said. And yeah, I have no problem admitting, I teared up at that.

The sights and sounds of running through the metro DC area are pretty awe inspiring. You pass by so many symbols that represent this country and its freedom. Add to that camouflaged marines EVERYWHERE cheering you on with an abundance of “oorahs” and “sirs” and, well, I have no problem admitting, I teared up at that. The finish was more of the same. I have been through my share of finish line chutes. I am not being critical of anyone who volunteers time to help out anywhere, but let’s be honest some volunteers are a little more spirited than others in some races. At the MCM, we were greeted by a receiving line of marines that you passed through as you crossed the finish line. Each one wanting to not just high five you, put firmly shake your hand, congratulate you and thank you for being there. And as I reached the last marine in the receiving line he shook my hand, congratulated me and asked me how I felt as he donned the most bad ass and stealth finisher medal I have ever received around my neck. And yeah, I have no problem admitting, I teared up at that.

A few thank yous are in order. First to my wife MG. We drove a lot of miles this weekend, and she drove them all. Her love and support is unwavering and I truly don’t deserve that or her. Also to my college buddy Andy Zipfel and his beautiful family who not only opened their doors for us this weekend, but made sure I had everything I needed pre and post race. We were welcomed with open arms and felt right at home. And lastly, to the MCM staff and volunteer nation of many, OORAH. You guys do it right. Thank you.

Next up, the New York City Marathon next weekend with Ethan Zohn and Grassroot Soccer.

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Healing, Regrouping, and Ducks

OK. I’m not sure where to begin this post so bear with me. Many of you know that I was all set to race Ironman Maryland last weekend.  Without dwelling too much on what went wrong or feeling too sorry for myself, I wanted to at least get the word out to people that I am ok. I’m a little emotionally bruised but this shall pass. The short version of the story is that I became uncontrollably sick during the race and was picked up and taken to medical for a brief visit then released.

After a little bit of down time back at the hotel room, we eventually made our way back into town to see and cheer the masses making their Ironman trek. We managed to make the most of our remaining time in Cambridge and enjoyed that magical little town to the fullest. This isn’t an easy thing to reconcile, but I will reconcile it. MG and I spent a few hours along the river drives yesterday playing with the ducks and geese after a therapeutic run loop. Nothing like a good fall Philly run and an outdoor lunch at the Cosmic Café to cure what ails you.

I am all registered for Ironman Maryland 2015 and am very much looking forward to going back. In the meantime, I have little doubt that the Marine Corp Marathon, NYC Marathon, and Philly Half Marathon will be just what the doctor ordered to straighten me out.

photo 2Many thanks to my always supportive family who not only supports me but encourages my every step of the way. And kudos to all who had successful races this weekend. I was a little too stuck in my own shadows to give you proper real time congratulations over the weekend. But you all deserve it. Job well done to all of you.

I’m a firm believer in taking something away from every experience, even if that something is learning to deal with disappointment, and keeping it in its proper perspective. At the end of the day, I am reminded of the wise realization that a really bad day on the race course is still better than a really great day in chemo. I remain one of the luckiest people I know.

Train safe, race smart, and thank the volunteers.

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To Endure

Ironman Maryland is now a week away and the usual pre ultra distance race thoughts are dancing through my mind. Did I train enough? What do I need to pack? What does the event schedule look like? What about nutrition? What am I wearing? Did I train enough? How many more swims can I squeeze in before next Saturday? What’s the water temperature? What’s the air temperature? What are the winds doing? What’s the extended forecast look like? And DID I TRAIN ENOUGH?

I’ve raced this distance enough to at least understand the inability to understand all of the messages and questions that are colliding into one another and competing for my attention. I’ve learned that I don’t really need to answer all of them. I just need to be able to hush them into a quiet lull of background white noise.

Some of these questions require a little bit of thought and planning. But the answers to many of these questions just don’t matter. What’s done is done at this point. Did I train enough? Who knows? I’ve learned that this race is always going to be painful. We don’t train in hopes of having a pain free race. We train to be able to endure pain for an extended period of time. We train to be comfortable being uncomfortable. We train so we know what race day pain will feel like.

I certainly haven’t trained as much as I did when I trained for my first Ironman 15 years ago. But I’m also 15 years older and hopefully a little bit wiser. I’ve learned the value of rest and the importance of taking care of my body. I’ve also been through a leukemia diagnosis, remission, two relapses, and two more remissions since my first ironman. So perhaps my perspective is different than that of others.

My cancer mindset is much like my endurance sports mindset. Control the things that I can control. Take things in small bite sized chunks. Understand that everything will be cyclical and I will run the gamut from elation to exhaustion in frequent boomerang fashion. The mind is capable of steering very large objects; like my physical body. Patience and positivity are crucial.

While I am a little nervous, I’m more excited than anything else. I know Cambridge Maryland. Between racing ChesapeakeMan and EagleMan numerous times I have created some wonderful memories there for me and my family. For me this race and this life are about creating experiences to look back on with satisfaction and fulfillment. It’s about doing something that you can be (quietly and humbly) proud of. Times mean nothing to me. Assuming of course that I make all of the required cut offs!

While this will be my 12th Ironman, it’s no more, easier, harder, better, or more important than my or anyone else’s first. I don’t proclaim to be any kind of expert. I’m just weathered, but I’ve persevered, I’ve endured. The same questions arise each and every time I race this distance. The only difference is that with the first couple of Ironman races there tends to be a sense of panic and uncertainty that scares you. Ironman consumes you. It is the focal point of your every thought and action. That never really goes away over the years. But over time, you learn that panic and uncertainty are just part of the game. So you figure out ways of loosening your grip a little to handle the anxiety with more of a quiet resolve. You learn how to temporarily tame the beast. You also learn that Ironman will be just one of many significant events in your life so you eventually find that balance and perspective as well. (And if you are lucky, it won’t be the most significant accomplishment in your life).

steve and mgIronman is huge. It’s an amazing accomplishment requiring an incredible amount of commitment and dedication. But at the end of it all, Ironman is just a race. It won’t define you. It won’t make you any better or worse than your neighbor. It can’t rob you of your soul or control or own you. It’s just a race. But it’s one long ass painfully blissful race that you will both love and hate a million times before midnight. And one that you will remember for the rest of your life and hopefully end up loving forever.

Train safe, race smart, and thank the volunteers.

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