So very close

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Here’s the latest news at Celebrating Perseverance:

Fundraising: We are achingly close to our first milestone of $1,000, only $14 away! Who will be the first to put us over the top? Thanks to kind donations from some anonymous folks, we are doing very well. Thanks to everyone who has contributed so far!

CP news: March is National Cerebral Palsy Awareness month. Check out this amazing organization that is doing something to help design better living facilities for CP kids.

Facebook: More and more people are sharing the Celebrating Perseverance page in their own networks, and we are nearing our next goal of 150 likes. It’s easy to Share the CP page with your friends with one click and helps us with our reach.

Blog: Several new stories are up: Robotics for CP kids at the SXSW festival, a post and video of some of Pete’s training escapades in Tennessee, and some info on his goal race in September.

Jason: Our hero had an incredible week–swimming, bowling, casting for sorely-needed lower leg braces, a great walk in the park and at the corner to say hi to all of his friends on our first warm spring day, and a fun-filled visit to a Hibachi restaurant. Check out his exciting reaction to the chef’s master entrance here. You can see his enjoyment on his face:

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It is possible

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Yesterday, I was extremely fortunate to help represent Cincinnati Children’s Impact Pediatric Health team at the SXSW festival in Austin. This was a shark tank-like event, where 10 innovative start-ups pitched to the four leading children’s hospitals. There were many cool and creative ideas, several of which were motivated by parents who had struggled with their own personal stories for their children. Mark Cuban presided over the event and was very cool alongside his whip-smart business savvy–he is quite impressive. Best of all was his spontaneous offer to help fund the last entry, which turned out to be the winner: CareAline, a simple idea from a mom to create fitted and stylish garments to put over central line ports and avoid allergies and rashes. Here’s a few photos:

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What was best was later somehow stumbling into a talk named “Not Impossible: Crowd-Solving a Human Future“. This amazing non-profit solicits requests from around the world from people needing help, and their team of engineers and developers tries to solve challenging problems with the help of corporate partners looking to market their solutions. Here’s what they did for cerebral palsy: they empowered a team of teens to create a robot walking device for kids with CP.

Check out all the other inspiring things the company is doing to assist those with physical challenges at NotImpossibleNow.com.

The Ultimate Challenge

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This weekend, I had the dual opportunity to seriously ramp up my training for the Superior 100 and to get a faint whiff of one of the most unique events in all sports, the Barkley Marathons.

The Barkley is almost indescribable–it is a race that is designed to be at the limit of human capability. Set in the wild mountains of Tennessee, it is a combination of running event, hiking challenge, and adventure race so difficult that there have only been 15 finishes out of nearly 1000 attempts. It is also extremely creative and filled with rich, colorful characters and Appalachian humor. Here are some descriptions that are well worth reading:

For years, I was fascinated by this race and wanted to visit just to see the event, but I never thought I’d make it down there. Upon moving to Cincinnati last summer, I realized I was close enough that this might be possible. Then, while running with some new friends a few months ago, a miracle happened–one of the runners, Joe Kowalski, casually mentioned that he was training for a race in Tennessee that he thought no one had probably heard of. It turned out to be the Barkley, and he had been going for years. What’s more, he eagerly invited me to come down and help him train on the rugged course at Frozen Head State Park. Sold!

IMG_1486We headed down on Friday, and hit the trails Saturday morning, to discover almost perfect conditions–clear and cool but not cold. As we approached, the mountains got closer and more intimidating by the mile, and they were making me increasingly nervous:

As we parked in the lot at the base of the mountains, we unexpectedly met two more folks who were training for the race, Dusty Hardman and Hiram Rogers. Dusty was confirmed to run and had driven up all the way from Florida just to check out the course (the race is March 28th this year) and wanted to get some course tips from long-time “Barker” Hiram.

We jogged up the road to the famous Yellow Gate where the race starts:IMG_1498Then we went up, up, up Bird Mountain, 1500 feet in 1.5 miles. This is known as the easiest section of the race, but it wasn’t runnable (at least not for me), and it went up a long time. From there, we hit snow, ice, sloping trails that headed almost straight down,. After Hiram and I each slipped off the “trails” and down the steep slopes before sliding into trees below, we quickly changed our route and took some “easier” trails. You are not allowed on any of the off-trail portions of the course except during the race, but these were more than hard enough for me, and at times made me wonder how much more I could handle. We managed only 21 miles in 9+ hours of running and mostly hiking. Here’s what the harder off-trail sections are like, luckily we had to do very little of this:

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What we did paled by comparison to the race itself, but my calves and quads were aching by the end. Best of all was getting a flavor of the race from the stories told throughout the day by Joe, Dusty, and the extremely gracious Hiram. Thanks all for an epic day!

Here are a few more pictures that only partly demonstrate the amazing beauty that is Frozen Head:

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Here is our route:

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13 quite sore miles this morning, and I made it through my toughest training weekend so far! Then a delightful but very slow walk with Jason around Sharon Woods Lake, where he shouted “hi”, “good job”, and “peace out!” to every walker and jogger he saw. What an inspiration, and what a weekend!

Biggest challenge ahead

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Here’s the latest news at Celebrating Perseverance:

Fundraising: The wonderful donations keep coming, and we are nearing the $1,000 mark already. Shout outs to our newest supporters: Crissy D., Richard S., Lisa W., Pepper K., Billy S., Thea S., and Steve B.–you all rock!

Facebook: The Celebrating Perseverance page has skyrocketed in popularity to 126 likes. Next goal: 150. Can we do it? Be sure to Share the CP page with your friends, it’s an easy click.

CP news: Here is an awesome video of a CP kid determined to finish a race, and all the help he received as a result of his determination.

Jason: Jason turned 17 today! Check him out on the phone to his buddy Mr. Pete:

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Training: 4 miles in the rain this morning, and 4 more in the snow expected tomorrow. And then: Saturday, heading down to Frozen Head State Park in Tennessee with running buddy Joe K. to tackle parts of the Barkley Marathons course–the race is next month, and Joe is entered. If you haven’t heard about it, Barkley is the toughest race in the world. This short video about the race will amaze you and is well worth watching:

We are only allowed to run on the trails there, whereas Barkley is mostly off-trail. Still, the terrain is daunting and it will take all I have just to get up a few of the hills. Stay tuned!

A great first week!

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What a first week after launch it has been! Here’s what’s happening:

Fundraising: Still more kind donations have come in, with nearly $500 in already. Latest all-star supporters: Susan G., “Anonymous”, Janet R., and Sophorn C.–thanks so much!

Facebook: The Celebrating Perseverance page now has 47 likes. Let’s try to get to 50 by the end of the day. An easy and very important contribution that would mean a lot to us is to just Share the page with your friends.

CP news: Here is a new post that describes cerebral palsy and some of the challenges that kids with CP face. They are true endurance athletes that face life with endless smiles and usually a joyful view of their different realities.

The Cincinnati Children’s CP program is hosting its annual Aaron W. Perlman Memorial Symposium for Cerebral Palsy on April 24th. The organizers have put together a tremendous program

Jason: Our Jason will be celebrating his 17th birthday on March 4th! Yesterday he started the celebration with attending a Chinese Dance concert. He was easy to recognize as he was the only one shouting “Bravo” after every dance, and as usual saying “Hi” and “Peace Out!” to everyone who passed by. Also, he started shaving today, shedding his peach fuzz moustache. We had recently been calling him Pedro after the character in Napoleon Dynamite.

Training: A rest week this week, just 10 flat miles in the light and sloppy snow this morning. Thursday’s early morning run turns out to be a comical disaster. After convincing the group that it would be great fun to run on the cleared but still snowy paved trails in the park and in the dark, I slip on an unexpected ice patch and go down instantly on the first step of the trail! Here’s the impressive-looking result:

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It was actually much worse looking than the actual scrape, luckily no pain and no problems except a bruised ego. Gotta be more careful!

Off to a great start!

Latest update to our fledgling effort:

  • Fundraising: More donations already, so much appreciation for the generosity. Super shout outs to Jason M., Paige M., and Mindy K. for their support. We are over 4% to our first goal in just one day.
  • Facebook: Jason already has 28 friends, and the Celebrating Perseverance page is up to 14 likes. Let’s make it 100–spread the word!
  • Training: Four early morning miles in, yes, you heard right, minus 12° weather! That’s the coldest temperature Pete’s ever run in, but it was actually okay after a few minutes. Thanks to neighborhood running buddies Jill and Melanie for the motivation
  • Jason: Last night, first ever Sled Hockey experience! Check out the picture:

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