Thursday, August 23, 2012

Komen 3-Day, Day 3 recap

Sunday, August 5
Day 3: The End of the Journey

After the night of too much chaos and too little sleep, I woke up early on Day 3 to the sounds of the neighbor’s ringing alarm clock. And I woke up with another headache. I tried the “mind over matter” method and tried to talk myself out of feeling sick. It was working just fine until I took a drink from my water bottle - warm, left-over from the day before tri-berry nuun – not pleasant. (I used to like tri-berry nuun; but now, unfortunately, I’ll never look at it in the same way again.)

Becca and I packed all our stuff back into our lovely pink duffle bags. (Why is it that the stuff never fits back in the same way?) As we started to attempt to figure out how to take the tent down, some of the youth corps came by to help us, so we got that taken care of way faster than we would have on our own. We headed off to grab some breakfast (I opted for OJ and cereal to eat on the route). We dropped off our bags so they could go on the truck to be transported to the closing, and headed out onto the route. Unlike the day before, when we were some of the last people to leave camp, this time we were some of the first, heading out just after they opened it.

Woo hoo! We were off and ready to walk! I was feeling a bit tired and a little weak, but was determined that I was going to walk as much as I could. Becca’s foot was still a little sore, but she was also determined. It was kind of a cloudy morning, with skies threatening rain, which was ok – without the sun, it didn’t seem quite so hot. Not long after leaving camp, we found Jerry, still yelling out encouragement. It was great to see him; poor guy was starting to lose his voice, but he was still out there doing his best to put a spring in our steps and help us along.

As we walked, we noticed that some of our fellow walkers were out there with their feet bandaged almost completely, wearing flip flops and hobbling along. We decided if they could walk, we could walk. We got to talking about all the support and community involvement we were experiencing and how unexpected and overwhelming it could be. We had no idea just how overwhelming until we got to the Cheering Station…

We could hear them before we could see them – clapping, shouting, thanking the walkers for walking. And then we could see them. We paused in awe for a moment - ok so, we had to wait for the light before we could cross the street – but the sight of all those people was still awe-inspiring:

There must have been 100 people – families with small children, elderly people in wheelchairs, even a few dogs. It was incredible. All of the “thank yous” and the cheers and the encouragement brought tears to my eyes. It was too much. I didn’t deserve all of this; all I was doing was walking (and not even walking the whole way); there were so many more people who did (and do) so much more…

As we walked, we kept hearing rumors of a big storm heading our way. One guy said the rain was 10 minutes; the next guy said 30 minutes away. We didn’t know who to believe. We got to Pit Stop #2 and sat down to rest. I grabbed a couple of snacks because I knew I needed to eat something, but nothing tasted right. It wasn’t sunny, but it was humid and I was feeling really hot. So I suggested to Becca that we go sit in the air conditioned bus for a while so I could cool down. Not long after we got on the bus, it started to rain. And then they tell us that they were shutting down the course, making everybody get on the bus, and bussing us all to lunch (it was only about 10am). I did not want to ride the bus again. I wanted to walk, goshdarnit. But they kept saying how they were closing the course and we had to ride the bus. So we did.

We got to the high school where they were having lunch and before they let us off the bus, a 3-Day Staff member come on with an announcement. Because of the weather, they were closing the route and keeping us all at lunch for an hour and a half to two hours. I lost it. All the emotions and the frustration in myself that I had been trying to hold in just exploded. I wanted to be walking. No, I NEEDED to be walking. I needed the physical outlet to clear my head and deal with all the emotions and chaos in my head. I knew that being closed up in a building with all those people (again) was not going to be good. Poor Becca. Here I was bawling my eyes out; I was sure she didn’t have the faintest idea what to do with me.

But I was wrong. She called Keira. And Keira came to the rescue with a nice comfy couch for a nap and a pizza for lunch. I hadn’t eaten much of anything for almost 2 days, and the only thing I thought sounded good was pizza. And let me tell you, that was the best tasting pizza I’ve ever had. After eating, I curled up under a blanket on the couch and promptly fell asleep. I don’t know how long I was out, but it was long enough for the movie that we started watching on TV to be over and the next one to be well into the story. I woke up feeling refreshed, hungry again (I ate another piece of the yummy pizza), and ready to finish the walk. Becca had also napped a bit (but not as long as me) and had taken a shower, so she too was ready to walk.

We checked out the map and the route cards and tried to figure out the best place for Keira to drop us off. We followed the route markers (a little different experience in a car ;-) ) and rejoined the walkers a little way past Pit 3. The sun was out again, I was back in mental control, I was rested, I had food in my system; it was now a great afternoon and those last miles went by way too fast. We passed a couple houses that were handing out water and beer. Yep, they had beer. A little further on, they had wine. Yep, wine. Hey, it was the end of a long, hard weekend, it was time to celebrate.

Before we knew it, we were done – the finish line was in sight. Well, not really. What as in sight was the gauntlet of the Safety Crew, Youth Corp, Crew members, and staff (and I’m pretty sure Jerry was in there too).

High fives everywhere, so many that I didn’t have enough hands to get everybody. More cheers and congratulations and “thank you for walking”s. It was pretty awesome.

We got through all of that part of the celebration and continued on to the finish line. All of a sudden, Becca lets out a gasp and an emotional “oh my gosh!” I wasn’t quite sure what she saw, but looked where she was pointed as she said, “My family…” Then I see them. Her Mom and Dad had driven up to see us finish the journey. What an awesome surprise! (Way to go, Mom & Dad Burton!!)

We were still reeling from the surprise of seeing them, when we realized we still hadn’t crossed the finish line! So we went on crossed the line – WE DID IT!

Maybe we didn’t walk every single step of the 60 miles, but it was still an incredible journey. Maybe we didn’t find a cure, but, if the “thank you’s” we received over the weekend in all their various forms are any indication, we made an impact.

I know it made an impact on me. It was an emotional, awe-inspiring, overwhelming, faith-in-humanity-restoring 3 days. And even after writing, all these blog posts about it, I'm still trying to process the experience. It’s kind of funny, because if you look back at the first post I wrote not long after the event, I said I didn’t think I’d do it again. But now, only 3 weeks later, I’m thinking that I might want to. Maybe not for a couple of years, but I think I just might want to do it again…. We shall see.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Komen 3-Day, Night 2 Recap: It was a dark and stormy night

Night 2: It was a dark and stormy night
Saturday August 4 to Sunday August 5

I don’t know how many of you have spent any time in a tent, but if you have, you know that a tent that is closed up in the hot sun is not a pleasant environment. It gets miserably hot, stuffy, and just yuck. Those little vents are not near sufficient to keep the thing cool. Even stripping off the rain fly and leaving the thing open to air out for couple of hours didn’t do much to cool it down before bedtime. And with the forecast calling for severe storms, we had to not only put the rain fly back on, we had to add a tarp over top to make sure we stayed nice and dry. Unfortunately, keeping out rain also means keeping out air. We did leave the door open so there was a little bit of airflow, but not enough. Needless to say, it was a struggle to fall asleep. At some point I had to strip out of my t-shirt and try to sleep in just my sports bra.

I just about fallen back to sleep after my wardrobe change when I heard the pitter patter of rain hitting the roof. So we zipped up the door and laid back down in our pink sauna and tried to sleep some more. It may have just been minutes, it may have been over an hour, not sure, but it didn’t seem like long before thunder started to roll. And following close behind was the blast of the air horn and the words, “Get up leave your tent and head for the Rec Center. Do not bring your stuff, you will be coming back” repeated over and over. We scavenged around our tent for our shoes, raincoats and flashlights and headed out to join the midnight mass exodus from the sea of pink.

We headed all the way across the camp to the Westlake Rec Center. I walked in the door and my first thought was air conditioning! Yay!! And seeing the line for the bathroom, my second thought was “toilets that flush! Must use them!” Since the majority of people around were women, and the line to the men’s room seemed non-existent, Becca was like “let’s just use the men’s”. So we did. Upon opening the door, we discovered that we weren’t the first to have that idea, because there was a line there too (just way shorter than for the women’s room). As we came out, some poor guy was asking, “how many people are in there?” Oops.

We entered the gym, which seems like a fairly large room, but with close to 700 people inside, it’s not so much. It was loud. Every noise seemed to echo. Becca and I found a spot on the floor at the far end near an emergency exit and tried to get comfortable. We sat with our backs against the window for a bit. But gym floors are hard on the poor tail bone. So I laid down, switching between my back and my side when the floor got too hard and uncomfortable. 

There were sounds of conversations all around.  I could hear people telling their experiences from the day, the stories of why they were walking, and about the people they were walking for.  I lay there thinking about the 3 women in my family who have had breast cancer - my grandmother is a survivor, a great aunt is a survivor, and a cousin passed away after a long battle that began with breast cancer.  Sitting in the gym and throughout the weekend, listening to the people tell their stories of how breast cancer has affected their families - multiple family members battling it multiple times - I couldn't help but feel oddly blessed that my family has been left relatively unscathed.  I know that seems weird to say (and I'm having trouble putting my thoughts into words here) given that my 3 went through the hardship and pain and struggling and fear of the disease, and 3 people having to deal with that is 3 too many.  But it has been only 3.  And God-willing, it will remain only 3.  I don't want someone at some future walk to be talking about someone in my family when they're telling the story of a mother of 3 children under 8 who fought and won a hard battle with breast cancer, only to be told a couple of years later that she had it again.  I don't want my brother, or one of my cousins, to be the guy in the pink bodysuit and tutu walking for his wife.  I want my cousin's 8 month old daughter to not have to ever, ever worry about breast cancer.  With those heavy thoughts running through my mind, I think I may have dozed a bit.

But not for long, because I was soon awakened by the annoying squeak of shoes on the floor, people cheering, and an out-of-tune version of the National Anthem. The safety crew was killing time by putting on the “the 3-day Olympics.” Amusing for some, slightly annoying for others – I just wanted to get some sleep.

At about 2am, after almost 2 hours in the gym, we got the all clear to head back to our tents. It was still raining but supposedly the storm was over. We took another opportunity to use the lovely indoor plumbing, and headed out into the rain to our tent. There were a few tent casualties in the form of some empty ones blown over by the wind. Thankfully our tarp stayed on and seemed to have served its purpose. As we unzipped the door, there was a really spectacular flash of lightning and another roll of thunder. We tried to pretend we didn’t hear it, and Becca was sure they were going to make us go back to the gym. But supposedly, it was just “cloud lightning” and was staying high enough in the air that it wasn’t a threat.

So we climbed into the tent to find it mostly dry and cooler. Yay! We climbed back onto our pool float air mattresses that felt as soft and comfy as feather beds, and were soon sleeping the rest of the very short night away.

Friday, August 17, 2012

A house full of books and "nothing" to read....

"Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink"
          - Rime of the Ancient Mariner, Samuel Taylor Coleridge

"Books, books everywhere and not a word to read"
          - Lament of a Book Lover, Melissa Schwarz Fuentes

I have a definite First World dilemma this evening.  I can't find anything to read.  I have a box full of new books I'm taking to the beach with me, 2 bookcases full of books, a big plastic tub full of books, and who knows how many books stashed away in other locations.  But I can't find anything that I want to read.

Or that I want to read right now.  The books in the box I'm saving for the beach, so I don't want to read any of them now.  The big tub is full of books that have been previously read and are waiting to find a way to a new home; some of them I enjoyed, others not so much, and I don't feel like re-reading any of them.  The bookcase in the office is full of books I read and enjoyed and may someday read again. But none seem appealling today.  The bookcase in the family room is full of my much loved favorites. Here's where you find the books with the broken spines, the dog-eared pages, the wear and tear of multipe readings.  I could read some of them again.  However...

My brain is going through an attention deficit phase right now.  I can't seem to stay focused  (Look!  Squirrel!!) on anything for very long.  (the above paragraph took way longer to write than it should have).  So while I love and adore you Diana Gabaldon, George R.R. Martin, Stephen R. Lawhead, J.K. Rowling and company, you all write very long books that are parts of rather long series.  And it's impossible to stop with just one of the series; you read the first and you're sucked into the story (I really need to vacuum) and have to read them all.  And my brain is not in any position (the dog is snoring, while laying on her back) to fully appreciate any of your fine works.

oh oh oh, I just rememberd, hanging around here somewhere is a compilation of short stories, edited by Mr. Martin, and containing a story by Ms. Gabaldon.  Short stories may just be the thing...  Now if I can only find it....

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Komen 3-Day, Day 2 Recap

Saturday, August 4
Day 2 – “One Bad Day”:

Saturday morning I woke up to the sounds of fellow walkers stirring, that and a really annoying, old-fashioned ringing alarm clock (the kind with bells) from a nearby tent. I had been fighting a headache all night, and unfortunately, my hopes that it would be gone by morning were quickly dashed. I took some advil and headed off to the lovely port-a-potty line. Now we all know port-a-potties are never pleasant, but with my headache, this trip was just too much. I held my breath and fought off the nausea as best as I could. I remember heading back to the tent, and telling Becca that my trip to the potty was not a good idea. Then fortunately there was an empty Ziploc baggy next to me, because the next thing I know, I was using it as a barf bag. Sorry for the image, but it is what it is.

Again, I was playing the hoping game and hoping that it was a one time thing, so I took a drink of my water and laid back down. And once again, hope was not on my side. Ziploc baggy #2 was put into use. And not long after, baggy #3. (Thank you to our tent neighbors for giving us a couple of bags!). At this point, we decided that I should probably head over to the medical tent.

As we walked over, I couldn’t help but start to cry because here I was, sick, maybe not able to walk, and ruining Becca’s weekend. Being the great friend that she is, Becca of course reassured me that I wasn’t ruining her weekend and that everything was going to work out. We got to the medical tent, and the lady doing triage (all those years of my mom’s nursing career I picked up a few terms ;-) ) took one look at me and said “Are you ok?” I shook my head at the same time Becca said, “no, that why we’re here.”

She took me back, took my vitals, asked a whole bunch of questions, and told me to lie down on the cot while she got a doctor. The doctor came over, asked me a bunch more questions, took my vitals again, and gave me “the look” when I told him I hadn’t eaten yet. (ok here’s the deal – if I had eaten, I would’ve just thrown it up anyway, so it would’ve been pointless at that point.) He then proceeded to tell me that I looked “uncomfortable, but not toxic.” Which I suppose was a good thing. He said I was probably slightly dehydrated and that I should lay down for as long as needed to. He offered me some medicine for the nausea, but at first I didn’t want it. I eventually ended up taking it, and it did wonders. After about 20 more minutes I was feeling better and ready to give the day a new start. So with the instructions to “drink, drink, drink, and when you feel like you’ve had enough, drink some more.” I headed off with Becca to the breakfast tent. Still not sure of how my stomach would react to food, I drank some orange juice and took a bowl of Trix cereal with me as we started to walk.

In addition to my issues, Becca was fighting a sore foot, so the day wasn’t starting out well for either of us. As we exited camp Becca told me the story of her friend Pam, who had passed away from breast cancer. Pam’s philosophy on life was you’re allowed to have “one bad day.” You can scream, you can cry, you can feel sorry for yourself, but only for one day. And this was our “One Bad Day”.

After spending so much time in the medical tent, we were some of the last people to leave camp. The last walker into camp in the evening gets special treatment, but apparently the last to leave in the morning gets nothing. Oh well. One of the drawbacks to being at the far back of the pack is you miss out on all the fun support from the sweep buses, the music, the motivation from the crowds… Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t bad, there were other walkers around, the safety crew was still there, and there were still plenty of signs and support from the community around:

It just didn’t have quite the same vibe as the first day. But it could’ve just been me. Could be I was having trouble because I still wasn’t feeling all that great and my head wasn’t in the game where it needed to be. We walked to Pit 1, grabbed some snacks, filled our water bottles (yes I was drinking), and sat down to rest for a bit. We didn’t get to stay long, because the pit stop was close to closing and they were encouraging us to move on or get on the bus. Since we weren’t quite ready to give up, we didn’t want to get on the bus, so we hit the route again.

I don’t remember much about the walk from Pit 1 to Pit 2 other than it seemed endless. Pit 2 was supposed to be at mile 7.something, and only 3 or so miles from Pit 1. But that was the longest 3-ish miles I’ve ever encountered. Another group we passed were tracking the miles somehow and when we supposedly had 2 miles to go until the pit stop, we had already gone 7.5 miles for the day. So somewhere, somebody’s miles were wacky. Now I know what the pin I saw the day before meant – it said “are those real miles, or Komen miles?” These were definitely some Komen miles. And they were tough. Mentally and physically.

We got to Pit 2 and Becca went to medical to see what they recommended for her foot. But there was only one “medical professional” (for lack of a better term) there and she was pretty backed up. So we decided that we would take the bus to the lunch stop and get her foot looked at there. And since it was hot we thought a nice break in some air conditioning would feel really good. I definitely needed a rest in cool spot because, while I felt better than earlier in the day, I still didn’t feel all that great.

We got the lunch stop, grabbed our lunches, and looked for a shady spot to camp out and eat. I tried to eat my sandwich, but the bread just wasn’t appealing (neither was the swiss cheese or the slightly wilted lettuce.) So I ended up just eating the ham out of it and a bag of potato chips, which equals not enough food, but it was the best I could make my stomach do. Again, the medical peeps were kind of backlogged so Becca still didn’t get her foot looked at. As we were sitting there, me feeling slightly sick, Becca with a sore foot, we decided that maybe our best course of action would be to get back on the bus and ride it to camp instead of walking the rest of the day’s miles. That way we could rest, get something better to eat, she could get her foot taken care of, and we could start again fresh the next day. We would rather miss some miles on Day 2 then not be able to walk at all on Day 3 and miss out on the closing ceremony and the awesomeness of the end.

As we sat on the bus waiting for it to get the “ok” to head to the camp, I started feeling like I was letting everybody down. I felt like all the people who had given me donations and who were rooting for me expected me to walk the 60 miles, not wimp out and ride a bus. This was the 3-Day WALK, not the 3-Day RIDE. People were counting on me to walk the whole way for their friends and family members who had fought the hard fight of breast cancer. I was counting on me to walk the whole way. And here I was, being a wimp and sitting in a bus. I cried. I didn’t want to let anybody down, but as much as I might want to walk, I knew deep down it was a bad idea for me to try. Even though I knew I needed to take care of me, I was still so disappointed in myself. I was definitely not a happy camper.

As we got off the bus at camp, I expected the camp workers to check us in with little fanfare and head back over to the real walkers, to the ones who deserved the congratulations. But no. As we stepped off the bus we were greeted with the same cheers and smiles and shouts as the walkers. We were given the same hero’s welcome as everybody else. I was surprised and it definitely brightened my spirits and made me feel better. I even managed to not feel like an imposter as we posed for our picture with the day 2 banner.

We spent the rest of the afternoon hanging out in the massage chairs; since there was no one else waiting, there was no 7 minute time limit and we sat there so long, the chairs ran through their whole cycle and turned themselves off. Nice. Then we moved into some other not quite as comfy camp chairs, talked with one of the crew members about some running races, and took a few little cat naps. Also nice. It’s been a long time since I’ve been able to just sit and do nothing without having to worry about what wasn’t getting done. I had nobody who needed anything from me, nothing that I had to do, nowhere I had to be. I was free to just sit and be. Ahhhh…. Felt good.

Eventually we headed to the dining tent to get some dinner. The choices were slightly better this time – grilled chicken, roasted potatoes and some kind of vegetable (I can’t remember what it was now). I actually managed to eat. (ok so maybe not the whole plate, but I did eat all the chicken and some of the potatoes and veggie (now that I think about it, I think it was a salad)).

After dinner we hit the showers, which once again were nice and cool and refreshing. We were hanging out in our super hot tent, when we hear a crew member outside saying: “The weather report for the night is calling for severe storms. Be prepared; if you hear an air horn, leave your tent and your stuff and go to the Rec Center.”

And that warning was just the start of an interesting night; a night so interesting that it deserves its own recap post. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Komen 3-Day Day 1 Recap

Friday, August 3, Day 1:

The day started bright and early. Ok, that’s a lie. It wasn’t bright; it was still dark, since Becca and I had to get up at O’dark thirty (as in 3:30am.) And considering we didn’t get to bed until 12:30 the night before, it was a little tough. But excitement won the day and we were both up and ready to go. For some reason, we decided we needed to be at the opening ceremony location by 5:00am, which turned out to be way early, but ended up being ok.
We're so happy we glow. ;-)
We hung around and watched the people while waiting for the opening ceremony.

And what an opening ceremony it was. I think I started to cry as soon as it started. Dr. Sheri Phillips (check her out here) is the spokeswoman for the 3-day and just the sound of her voice (not to mention the things she said) had the tears flowing. Her voice and the banners indicating all the reasons we walk made for quite the emotional ceremony.

The banners
And then, right before we started to walk, they raised a flag. A flag that contained the names of all the walkers’ friends and loved ones who have been lost to breast cancer. Yep, you guessed it, more tears.

The flag
And then we were off, walking along the lake shore and past (and under) the Rock ‘N’ Roll Hall of Fame and out into downtown Cleveland. The first miles seemed to go by really quickly. And without our trusty Garmin watches to track our mileage (and the lack of mile markers) we had to rely on the route cards to tell us how far we’d gone. Which to be honest, drove both of us nuts. I, and from the sounds of things, Becca does, too, really like to know how far I’ve gone and how long it’s taken me to do it. But I digress. Before we knew it, we were at Pit Stop #1, where I ate my bagel breakfast and topped off the water bottle before heading out to walk some more.

We walked through some really pretty sections of Cleveland’s metro parks, along the shores of the lake.
The Cleveland skyline
And we walked through some really gorgeous neighborhoods with some totally awesome houses. One of the parks held Pit Stop 2 where we grabbed a snack, refilled our water bottles, took a potty stop, and headed back out on the route, where we walked, and walked, and walked some more.

Lunch was in a pretty little park with plenty of trees for shade. It felt really good to sit down for a bit and rest the sore feet and legs. I was starting to get a little tired, but not too bad. We relaxed for a while and then decided it was time to head out again. We were in yet another pretty Cleveland park, with a pretty little creek. Since I take after my Dad, I tend to take pictures of creeks, so here it is:

The creek in the park where we had lunch
After lunch we started to move a little slower. Except for the big hill that had everybody scared. They were offering rides to the top, but we decided we would walk it. And it was just the push we needed to put the pep back into our steps for a bit. We charged up that hill, and managed to keep the momentum up for a little while after.

But then, we started feeling the heat again, and the pain and stiffness in our joints started to catch up to us. We slowed down a bit. Thankfully there was a lot of roadside support in the form of sprinklers, popsicles (Koolaid brand, Grape flavor, won the prize for the favorite with Becca and me), sweep vans driving by with music and bells, safety crew with bad pirate jokes, and Jerry.

Jerry was a Walker Stalker Extraordinaire. You never knew where he would show up along the route. But he was always somewhere with a big smile and encouraging words.
Me and Jerry
We hit Pit 3 and were really excited that we only had 4 miles to go. Little did we know that that 4 miles was longest 4 miles ever. We had another conversation about not having our Garmins, or some way to measure the miles. I suggested we could count our steps, but that was quickly shot down. So we just kept putting one foot in front of the other. Then we saw this:
Westlake was where camp was, so we knew we had to be close to the end!

We walked a bit more, saw the arrow that pointed the way to camp, followed it, and the crowd of walkers ahead of us, and headed into our home away from home.

We did it! The hard part of Day 1 was done! Now all we had to do was find our bags and our tent. Finding the bag was easy. The tent was a little more difficult.

We told the lovely lady handing out the tents our tent number and she says “our tent angels have been putting up tents in section B all day, so yours is probably already up.” So we take her word for it, don’t grab a tent, and head off to find our spot. After roaming through a sea of pink tents for a while, we get to the marker that says B64, where our tent was supposed to be. The lady was right. Most of the tents in section B were set up. There were only 2 empty spots. It was just our luck that ours was one of the empty ones. Sigh. Becca grabbed a “tent angel” and asked if he could get us a tent. He said “sure” and promptly disappeared. He was gone for quite a while, and just as I was about to give up on him and go get a tent on my own, he showed back up with a tent that he kindly set up for us. We got our stuff situated in the tent and then headed off to explore the camp and get our phones charged.

I was starting to feel really crummy from the heat – the sun was really beating down. So at this point, all I really wanted to do was sit down somewhere and rest. We found the Bank of America tent and found a place to sit. In some totally awesome massage chairs. They massaged your back, they had foot/leg massagers that worked all the soreness out of your feet and calves. They were 7 minutes of heaven on earth – so nice that we waited around to get another 7 minutes. I think I need to buy one, they were that good.

At this point, it was dinner time, and we were starting to get a bit hungry. Unfortunately for me, dinner consisted of spaghetti with tomato sauce or “macaroni & cheese” which was more like an alfredo sauce. Tomato sauce and heavy creamy cheese sauce - two things that my stomach cannot handle when it’s hot. I tried to eat, but knew if I pushed it I’d end up sick. So I grabbed a can of coke and a couple bags of potato chips and decided to hope that breakfast had some better options.

By this time, we were ready for the showers. We grabbed our stuff and headed off for the shower line. Thankfully, the sun was starting to go down, and it was cooling off a bit. I was kind of afraid that I’d up having to take a cold shower because of all the people. But as hot as I had been all day, a cold shower really didn’t sound all that bad. Turns out the shower was refreshingly cool and was rejuvenating. I left the shower feeling better than I had all day.

We headed back through the sea of tents to our little home away from home, checked in with family, and laid down on our sleeping bags. I spent a few minutes listening to the entire life story and medical history of the lady in the tent behind ours, but was soon falling asleep. Before 9pm. It had been a long, long day.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

The one where i walk for 3 days...

I have so much to say about the Susan G. Komen 3-Day that I don't know where to start.  I don't know if i should do one big post or a bunch of little posts.  I did a little "cheater" post over on my 3-day blog to give readers a teeny tiny view of some of the support that went along with the weekend.  You can read it here. But that post in no way gives an accurate portrait of the event.  It was bigger.  Way bigger.  So very big.  Huge. (Did I mention it was big?)

The weekend as a whole:
It was a weekend of some pretty strong emotions in a volatile environment.  By that I mean you could switch from smiles and laughter to tears in 2.7 seconds.  Case in point:
This guy is wearing a pink bodysuit and a tutu.  Pretty funny.  And then you read the banner - he's walking for his wife.  Didn't get his story so I don't know if he was walking to honor her as a survivor or in her memory.  Either way, you smile and then you start start to imagine the hurt, the sorrow, and the pain that he experienced and the tears start to flow.  There were approximately 650 walkers, each, like the pink bodysuit guy, had a story - a family member, a friend, a neighbor, a co-worker who fought the disease; some won; some lost; some still fighting.  Everywhere you turned, you would run an emotional gauntlet. Smiles, tears, laughter, tears, laughter, smiles, and tears.

I was once again struck by the prevalence of breast cancer.  Yeah, I know, it was the whole point and the purpose of the walk. But still it hit me.  Each walker had a story. So did the people living along the route - we passed so many houses with posters saying "a 4 year survivor lives here" or "My grandma is smiling down on you from heaven" or something along those lines.  Seeing that brought home the reason why I was walking - for my friends and family and all of the people who have struggled with, fought, and won or lost the battle with breast cancer; for those we know, and for those we don't; I walked for everyone.

And everyone (almost literally) went out of their way to give support to the walkers.  As I mentioned in my other post, random people on twitter would post encouragement.  Random houses along the route would have pink ribbons hanging from the trees. At least once a block, a sprinkler would be strategically placed to provide a nice cool spray to walk under.  More often than the sprinklers, there would be coolers of water, baskets of candy, kids handing out popsicles, people with an encouraging word.  Random cars would toot their horns and give a wave.  Support vans and safety crew would have great peppy upbeat tunes to quicken our steps.  

And then there were the cheering stations, the first one on day 3 in particular.  I swear there were 150 people lined up along the sidewalk, clapping and cheering and saying "thank you" for walking. 
I think this was the beginning of my emotional breakdown (more on that in another post).
It was just so totally incredible that these people would go out of their way on Sunday morning to come down to cheer for us.  Families with small children.  Elderly people in wheelchairs.  Even a couple of puppy dogs.  It was great, but at the same time it was overwhelming and made me cry.  (another example of how the weekend was an emotional roller coaster.)
So to sum up:
Do I feel like the bad ass hero rock star people say I am?
Not really.

Let's break that down into sections. 
1.  Do I feel like a bad ass?  I would feel more like one if I had walked all 60 miles.  Don't get me wrong, I don't regret choosing to not walk all the miles on days 2 and 3 - circumstances dictated that it was the right decision to make at the time; continuing to walk would  not have been good for either of us, and I feel we made the right choice. Yeah, I admit, I wanted to walk more of it than I did. But in looking at the parts that we did walk, Becca and I have concluded that we walked between 40 and 50 of the 60 miles. Not too shabby. Farther than I've ever gone in a week, let alone in 3 days.  And while this wasn't about setting a mileage record for me, it was one. And the runner/athlete in me can't turn off the part of my brain that remembers stuff like that.  So in that regard, maybe I do feel a teeny tiny bit bad ass. ;o)

2. Do I feel like a hero rock star?  Nope.  I just feel like me.  I'm just a regular, ordinary girl who decided to try to help solve a big problem.  I'm just a small small drop in a big big bucket.

Would I do it again?
Right now, I'm thinking no.  Walking it was definitely (at least at this point in time) a once in a lifetime thing for me.  It's a big commitment that I'm not ready to make again for a while, if at all.

If I did, what would I do differently?
I'd go about fundraising in a different way.  I'd leave some room in my bag and take along some food and drinks that my body could actually eat, drink, and process so I'd be healthier and better fueled.  I'd take music with me, because when there was music involved, we forgot the pain and discomfort and walked just a little bit faster, a little bit livelier.

Pay it forward
While I feel like I don't want to walk the 3 day again, I do think it would be fun to go and be a "walker stalker", repaying some of the wonderful and amazing support I felt to future walkers.  It would be cool to follow the course, stopping at strategic points to provide encouragement.  Something to think about.

Stay tuned for a day by day recap.  :o)