Edward C. Kondrot, 63, Dade City
GOAL: To raise awareness for the alternative treatments of macular degeneration with a 335-mile bike ride through the Great Allegheny Passage.
WHY I DID IT: As an opthalmologist , it is very disheartening to me to see so many patients who are losing their vision from macular degeneration and who have given up all hope. I have researched and been incorporating many alternative modalities to help patients with macular degeneration. I have observed very good results and have much personal satisfaction seeing people who have been told nothing else can be done have an improvement of their vision and quality of life. In addition to presenting my results at major meetings, publishing articles and lecturing, I felt participating in a challenge to illustrate my passion and desire to help people would be a fun endurance event. Part of my goal was to get people to pledge their support.
HOW I DID IT: Our travels included Pittsburgh to Connellsville, Pa., 59 miles; Connellsville to Rockwood, Pa., 47 miles; Rockwood to Cumberland, Md., 44 miles; Cumberland to Hancock, Md., 60 miles; Hancock, Md., to Shephardstown, W.V., 50 miles; Shephardstown to Leesburg, Va., 39 miles; Leesburg to Washington, D.C., 36 miles.
In order to reach this goal I focused on three areas:
Nutrition: I shifted my diet more toward healthy organic fruits and vegetables to decrease my unnecessary weight, which I didn’t want to drag over 335 miles!
Cardiovascular conditioning: This began three months before the big event and consisted of alternating days of running and cycling early in the morning five days a week. Each week, I gradually increased my mileage both for running and cycling. My goal was to be able to comfortably cycle 50 miles and a have a good recovery. The tough aspect of the trip, from Pittsburgh to Washington, D.C., was to cycle 40 to 50 miles every day with no day off for recovery.
I was doing the event with my wife, Ly, so we trained together. Since Florida is so flat, we needed to find a steep road for bike climbs. We discovered Clay Hill Road near our home was more than enough challenge! Cycling up that hill several times got our legs in shape for a climb from Pittsburgh at 720 feet to Eastern Continental Divide at 2392 feet.
Mental conditioning: I prepared for the Great Allegheny Passage through mental conditioning. I focused on meditation and inner energy rather than over-worrying about the distractions and potential conditions. I think it’s important to remain confident about your abilities and potential to psych yourself up for the trail.
HURDLES: One of the major hurdles was that initial climb from Pittsburgh to the Eastern Continental Divide. My wife decided she would do the trip, but I had to carry all of her gear! And I had added weight because I always take my fiddle along to practice and relax each evening
The second major hurdle was the rain. For the first three days it rained constantly, which made the journey very slow and treacherous.
The last hurdle was the fatigue that took place during the last couple of days. My passion for helping people and my goal of bringing awareness to people of the alternative treatments kept me going!
GOING THE DISTANCE: I enjoy daily exercise — either running, cycling or swimming. I have completed numerous marathons and triathlons, including the Boston Marathon and the Hawaii Ironman competition. I emphasis in my book, “The 10 Essentials to Save your Sight,” that daily exercise is a key to good health and clear vision.
BEST ADVICE: We stayed at several bed and breakfasts along the way, and it amazed me how many people were very interested in how alternative treatments could help their eye problems. I made many friends along the way and promised to send a copy of my latest book to help them in their quest for better vision.
I Made It is a regular feature highlighting individual health success stories. To share your story, visit TBO.com, search Lost It; or email email@example.com; or mail to 4you, The Tampa Tribune, 200 S. Parker St., Tampa FL 33606.