A Note from Fatty: Today’s post — a report on the 2010 Philadelphia LiveStrong Challenge — is brought to you by Philly Jenn, Co-Captain for Team Fatty Philly. A huge thanks goes out to Philly Jenn for organizing this team, and to all of Team Fatty for raising so much money and using your time and energy in the fight against cancer. Thank you.
This year, Livestrong Philly became a three-day event, with the Livestrong Village opening up on Friday for packet pickup, the 5K/10K Walk/Run taking place on Saturday, and the cycling taking place on Sunday. From an official organizing standpoint, these changes were intended to enable participants to take part in both running and biking events, and also to help ease the traffic and hotel congestion that had plagued the Philadelphia event during the past several years.
At a micro level, what it actually meant was that the Philly Fatties had the chance to spend 50% more time scooping my butt out of the dunk tank of life.
Fortunately for me, when you need a helping hand, you can count on the Fatties — generously, resourcefully, and happily — to come to the rescue.
Witness the efforts of Maggi, Philly Fatty Extraordinaire. First, she was kind enough to come to my house and pick up me (the carless city dweller), my bike, and a big pile of random stuff early Friday afternoon. Then she laughingly elaborated on some of the more vibrant hues in the rainbow of colorful language as we sat snarled in traffic for over an hour, with good cheer and great gusto. And finally, after we walked into the first Starbucks that appeared immediately after exiting the freeway and I discovered to my horror that I had somehow left my cellphone and wallet back at my house, she calmly picked up the tab for the first bite of food I had eaten all day, loaned me her cellphone, and whisked my going-into-meltdown hiney first to registration packet pickup, and then off to the team hotel.
Maggi and I explained my discombobulated state, and the still-pressing need to prep for the following day’s Team Fatty Feed. Ryan uttered the magic words, “I can get us into Costco,” and we were off — me on a commuter train back to the city to salvage my electro-magnetic identity, Maggi and Ryan to Costco to round up provisions for dozens of hungry Fatties.
By the time I managed to get in and back out of Philadelphia, mass quantities of food had been purchased and stored, night had fallen, and everyone was ravenous: Maggi and Ryan, plus fellow Fatties Tommy (Ryan’s roommate, of http://www.24hoursforlivestrong.com fame, fresh off the drive up from Georgia) and Jennie (she of the mighty Pikachu-mobile).
They picked me up from the train station and we rolled into Ray’s, a nearby 24-hour diner-and-malt shop. Between us, I think we put away three milkshakes, over a dozen eggs, and something like a small farmhouse worth of other edibles. Though I could have sworn a tractor was required to haul me away by then, Maggi whisked all five of us back to the hotel in her magically capacious Honda Fit and dropped us off before making her way home.
Before crashing out for the night, I put in a pair of extended-wear contact lenses and donned my running clothes. Puzzled, Ryan asked why I had just gotten dressed before going to sleep. I explained that I was even more incoherent early in the morning than the sorry spectacle he had already witnessed that day, so it was easier to just wake up, throw on my running shoes (with their non-tying, elastic laces), and go. I insisted that sleeping in race-day clothes was a reasonable, even somewhat commonplace practice. After polling dozens of people on Twitter and finding that they were all just as surprised as he was, Ryan gently broke the news to me later in the weekend — I am a freak.
But at least the next morning I would be a freak with 20/20 visibility and socks on both my feet.
Longtime readers of this site will know that the Fatty-In-Chief can knock out a marathon with about six weeks of training. The rest of us mere mortals have to work our way up to running greater distances over longer periods of time, and I needed to log a little over 14 miles of running on Saturday as part of the training plan for my first-ever marathon (Marines Corps! Ooo-rah!) at the end of October. I was hoping to run from the hotel to the starting area of the Livestrong 5K/10K, find the Fatties in the staging area, run the 10K, then run back to the hotel. Given the slow pace at which I was covering ground, this would mean I was MIA for much of the morning.
Which is where super Fatty Penina (who is actually quite petite), stepped in and took charge. Penina’s family, despite having absolutely zero fundraising requirements as walk/run participants, had collectively brought in a huge chunk of change for Team Fatty. On Saturday, Penina was armed with Fatty logo stickers for all everyone to wear, her daughters held up signs to help Fatties gather, and they were able to round up a big brace of Fatties for a group photo before the start — all while Penina was preparing to run her first-ever 10K. Hats off to the Scullion clan for Fattifying the Livestrong Walk/Run!
I made it to the staging area just in time to hear Jessy Kyle, a three-time Hodgkin’s lymphoma survivor, sing a stunning a cappella rendition of the national anthem.
Once they released us through the chute and we were on the gently winding course, I spotted Jennie and ran with her until we reached the point where the 5K and 10K courses split. The 10K course took us past some pleasantly landscaped and well-manicured neighborhoods, and even past some horse farms. When I saw the horses ambling around in their paddock, I imagined that we were having a dialogue about forward locomotion.
Me: I aspire to run like you, so gracefully and effortlessly. What is your secret?
Horses: O, little Clydesdale, it helps if your thighs do not touch.
For much of later part of the course, I ran with Julius, a friend of Maggi’s who was also participating in his first official 10K event. Julius told me about how he had recently taken up running, and how his training schedule was leading next to a half-marathon, then culminating in the Philly Marathon later this fall. We chatted about how our watch readouts compared to the mileage markers on the course, how eagerly we were looking forward to cooler weather, and just how much fun it was to be a newbie runner. Regular, mundane, everyday running stuff.
We didn’t know it then, but Julius’s life was about to take the kind of sudden turn that so many Livestrong participants know all too well. Maggi learned later in the weekend that Julius’s father had been hospitalized and would require emergency heart surgery; before the surgery could be performed, Julius’s father passed away early Monday afternoon. Maggi writes that Julius and his family are stunned and devastated. We ask that you keep them in your thoughts and prayers.
After finishing the 10K, toodle-ing back to the hotel (toodle = the gear between jogging and running), and starting to feel the effects of being mildly underfueled, I was looking forward to lunch. Shortly before noon, Fatties started gathering around the grill area at the back of the team hotel. Through the magic of Fatmosis (a bunch of Fatties transporting a bunch of stuff), we soon had the makings of a full-on feed: Chips, dips, cookies, cheese, burgers, hot dogs, salad, sodapop. Christine made an emergency run down the street to help us fill in gaps in our shopping list (salad minus dressing equals “Not so much,”) and the hotel’s gas grill was manned by Doug, who kept everyone (vegetarians included!) in protein for the duration of the afternoon.
One of the highlights of the afternoon was the arrival of RayRay the Baker with this year’s cake from Cramer’s Bakery. It’s hard to imagine that last year’s cake could be equaled, but feast your eyes on this:
And here’s Ray, showing what he hath done:
And packed in every slice was the wonderful, double-decker chocolately goodness that we have come to know and love.
Jenni brought handmade hula hoops (JenniHoops!) in Team Fatty colors for us to take out on a whirl.
When it was all over, we had made serious inroads into the cake, but the salad was virtually untouched. Draw your own conclusions.
Later in the day, several Fatties drove in a caravan from the team hotel to the Fundraising Appreciation Dinner. Amid the hubbub of a cocktail hour and buffet dinner, one of the big highlights of my evening was having the chance to finally meet Marc Mandeville, who helmed M-Power to this year’s Team Champion Award, as well as meeting several warm, charming members of his family. Marc, a husband and father of three adorable young children who teaches here in the area at Episcopal Academy, was diagnosed with Stage IV colorectal cancer two-and-a-half years ago. He’s been fighting back on all cylinders, and managed to lead his team to victory this year even while he was undergoing a fresh round of treatment this spring and summer. M-Power was Team Fatty’s chief rival this season in Philadelphia, but only in the most positive sense: we brought out the best in each other. Marc exemplifies everything great about the Livestrong Challenge, and I look forward to him and his team spurring us on for seasons to come.
After dinner, the evening was emceed by John “College” Korioth, one of Lance Armstrong’s oldest friends. NFL linebacker and Travel Channel host Dhani Jones spoke with the crowd about how his life changed when his lifelong friend, Kunta Littlejohn, was diagnosed with cancer. Dhani started wearing bow ties to show his support during his friend Kunta’s cancer battle — and not only continued to wear them after Kunta was given a clear bill of health, but even founded his own neckwear line, Five Star Ties. The line includes a special golden bow tie, whose proceeds go to benefit Livestrong. You can see how dapper it looks on Kunta, Carlos (yes, THAT Carlos!), and Dhani:
There was also a Q&A session with Heidi Adams, Livestrong’s Director of Grassroots Engagement, and Lance Armstrong. Amid all the more serious topics they discussed, Lance did manage to share a brief anecdote about what it was like to be friends with College.
While the two of them were out golfing, Lance send a shot into the rough, and couldn’t seem to locate where it had landed. Exasperated, Lance turned to College and said, “Did you take my ball?”
“No,” College deadpanned. “Cancer took your ball.”
The evening closed with the screening of Team Fatty’s video for winning the Team Time Trial Award, the last of the four videos to be shown. See how many Fatties you can spot:
Then it was back to the hotel and waiting to show the video on DVD to the rest of the team. Curiously, only a couple of people showed up at Carlos’s hotel room, which we attributed to everyone’s desire for a full night’s sleep before a long day’s ride. Only when I quickly scanned my email the next morning did I discover that I had sent out an open invitation to the entire team to come see the video…with no viewing time listed. Doh!
Fatties are many wonderful things, but they are not psychic.
Otherwise, they would have known for certain what Sunday’s weather would bring…
– To Be Continued –
PS: If you haven’t entered the contest for the Intense Spider 2, outfitted with the brand-new Shimano XTR group of your choice (grand prize) — not to mention one of two $250 Twin Six shopping sprees (first prize) or a LiveStrong jersey autographed by Lance, Levi, and Bob Roll (second prize), you should go enter now. Find details on the grand prize here, and details on the other prizes here. Or you can just hop on over to my LiveStrong Challenge page and donate now.