Sunday, November 7, 2010

My Official Recap - Day 3

Well, quite a bit of time has passed since we did the DC 3-day in early October, and I'm just now getting around to finishing up the recap.  Sorry about that, for those who are following the saga. I'm not going to be able to remember details now, oh well.

Day 3 we awoke before dawn again.  I got dressed and headed over to the medical tent to have my blisters treated.  At this point I knew that the day was going to be painful - not only because of the blisters, but also I had developed very painful tendonitis in my feet (Plantar Fasciitis) and behind my left knee.  But I wasn't going to let this stop me from walking the course today.  We had approximately 15 miles to do, and I was determined to do them all!

Went back to the tent to pack up and take the tent down.  This was a challenge in the cold, dark, dewey morning, but we managed.  I headed over for breakfast.  Eventually the rest of our team finished their morning chores as well, and we got in line for the bus to the start of the route.   At the beginning of the walking route, we sang a quick song or two, then started out walking.

Today the plan was to stay ahead of the middle of the pack.  We all felt that the trick is to shorten our time in the pit stops and lunch - that was where we lost a lot of time in the first two days.  We did NOT want to be in any threat of being swept by the van.

Pretty soon after starting out, our team of 9 found ourselves spread out into pairs, triples, and a few singles walking each at our own pace.  I enjoyed walking with Lori C for a while, then I walked alone for a while.  As I was walking alone, I pushed myself to keep a rapid pace - frankly, I felt like I was speed-walking.  However, in reality, I was just keeping a 3 mph pace, which should have been a piece of cake, but by Day 3 was a real challenge.

So here is a list of all the ways I was in physical pain:   My blisters all over both my feet hurt.  The tendonitis throughout my feet, shins and knees hurt like crazy.  I was limping, favoring my right foot due to the Plantar Fasciitis, which caused extra stress on my left knee and caused huge blisters to form on my left foot.  My muscles from hip to toe were aching and tight no matter how much stretching I did. I was developing a head ache and I was exhausted.  All this before the first pit stop at mile 3.  This was going to be a long, challenging day.

OK, whining over.  The fact was, the pain was not getting worse, it was just staying constant.  And so it was something that was going to either make me stop now, or I could live with it and over come it.  This was, I would recognize later, the most powerful lesson for me of the whole walk.  I could deal with pain, and I did not have to let it scare me or stop me.

After the first pit stop, I paired up and walked with Lori D for the entire rest of the day.  Lori and I chatted about all kinds of things throughout the day.  She kept pace with me and helped keep my mind off of the reality of how my body felt.  Sometimes our other team mates were with us, sometimes it was just the two of us. She was wonderful - I'm so thankful to her for staying with me!

The route on Day 3 was once again a beautiful one - we went through lovely neighborhoods in Bethesda and Chevy Chase, and then down Connecticut Avenue, past the National Zoo, and to Dupont Circle.  Once we go there, Dave and Mike were there cheering for us again.  I was never so happy to see them as I was that day, in that moment.  They gave me a big morale boost and bit hugs, and then we were off again.

Later, they were are the next cheering station too.  Oh.  My.  Goodness.  Thank you for being there!

Toward the end of the route we were once again in the heart of downtown DC. We walked right in front of the White House, where Dave and Mike made a surprise appearance and walked a few blocks with us.  Then it was just a couple more miles to the end.

Finally we were at holding.  The 3-day organizers have everyone gather about a 1/2 mile before the closing ceremonies, so that everyone can march into the ceremonies together. We waited for all of our team members to arrive, and then had this great photo taken.  What a team!

Once all the walkers arrived from the route, we all lined up and marched en masse over to the Washington Monument for closing ceremonies.

The ceremonies were wonderful - so moving, so rewarding.  Words really can't describe the emotions that I felt - pride in my accomplishment, happiness for all the survivors, sadness for the victims.  I was exhausted, and overwhelmed.  What a moment!

After the ceremonies, Dave and Mike met up with us and together we walked over to the Metro station to take a train out to where they had parked the car.

Soon we were home, and it was all over.

What an experience this was.  I'm so grateful for all the support that I received, from my husband and kids, to my friends, to my extended family.  And I'm so grateful for all the donors who contributed the fundraising efforts.

Thank you all so much!

Saturday, October 16, 2010

My Official Recap - Day 2

Day 2 - Sat October 9 - The Longest (Shortest?) Day

Good Morning!

Woke up at 5:15am, was a bit chilly at about 52 degrees. Headed to the shower truck.  Really impressed by the facilities – a tractor trailer held 8 or 10 individual shower stalls, each with its own dressing stall.  There was lots of hot water, good water pressure, and it was nice and clean.  Enjoyed the shower, it really was nice to start the day off with a hot shower, it kept me warm the rest of the morning,   Also took advantage of the towel service.  For $12, I got the use of two fresh hotel-style white towels.  Saved me from having to bring them and worrying about drying them, etc.

After the shower, I headed to medical and spent some time fixing up my feet with fresh bandaids on the blisters.  I had blisters on both pinkie toes, the instep of my left foot in three plces.  Over the rest of the day, they got worse and worse – ouch!

Off to breakfast.  Very impressed by camp meal services, both at dinner and breakfast.  Good hot food, well organized, no lines. Breakfast today included scrambled eggs, sausage patties, fried potato rounds, fresh fruit salad, Yoplait yogurts, oatmeal, and pre-packaged muffins.  They also offered coffee, juices, milk and sodas.

After eating, I realized that it was already time to grab my waist pack and head over to get in line for the start of the day’s walk.  The walk on this day left directly from the camp and headed out into suburban Germantown and Gaithersburg.

Jen, Lori D, Sharon and me
Some of our team members decided to head out a little later, so I was starting off the day with Jen, Lori D, and Sharon.  The morning was chilly, but sunny and clear.  It was going to be a beautiful day!

Walked to Pit 1, again pairing off with different team members here and there. I was really worried about my blisters – they were very uncomfortable, and I wasn’t sure what would happen if they got worse.  I spent quite a bit of time at Pit 1 trying to re-bandage them, but wasn’t really able to make them feel any better.

Walked some more, blistered some more.  Walked alone a little, walked with team members a lot. Really enjoyed the company of my team mates to try to keep my mind off of my feet.

Came in to Pit 2 (or was it 3?  I can’t remember), where our friend from Harbor City Music Company chorus was there to cheer us on as an unexpected surprise.  Thought the New Balance Cheerleaders were really fun – very encouraging and cool to be welcomed into the pit stop that way.  “No skateboards, no scooters, you’re walking for our hooters!”

Took a shorter pit stop here, just potty and refill on drinks, then kept going.  I knew that Dave and Mike would be at the Cheering Station just down the road and I wanted to get there.  By this time, I was really hurting, from big, angry blisters and from tendonitis that I felt gaining hold in both shins, my right foot, and behind my left knee.  I called Dave and thanked him for being there.  If he wasn’t there, I might have grabbed the Sweep van to lunch by now.

On the way to the Cheering Station, I looked up ahead of me and saw a man walking with an artificial leg from the knee down.  I decided to stop complaining about my sore legs and feet, and tried to keep that attitude the rest of the weekend. (not sure I achieved the no-complaining goal, but I tried,)

Mike and Dave
Got to the Cheering Station and found Dave and Mike holding up some great signs – very funny!  It was so great to have their support all weekend, I appreciated that so much!

Next, kept walking on into lunch.  My pace was really dragging at this point, and by the time I had just finished eating, the last walker had arrived at lunch and we had to get a move on.  We had spent the majority of the day at the back of the pack on Friday, and once again we found ourselves in the back of the pack on Saturday.  Darn it!

Headed out again, enjoying a nice walk and chat with my friend Jen.  Got to the second (and last) Cheering Station and again Mike and Dave were there.  Yay!  They asked us how far we’d come so far, and we said 12.5 miles.  When Dave said “only 11 more to go,” Jen and I looked at each other like “OMG!!!!” .  It was already after 1:30pm and we still had just under half way to go!  Ugh!

Thank goodness for supporters!
We walked a little more, hit another pit stop, and then walked a little more.  As we walked, the sun was high and hot, my blisters and tendonitis were really yelling at me, and I just couldn’t figure out how we could possibly finish all 23 miles that day. At the 13 mile mark,  Jen and I decided to take a sweep van to the next pit stop to give ourselves a fighting chance of finishing before they closed the route.

Once on the van, we learned that they would be taking us to the second stop, since the next stop was not a full pit stop an the van wasn’t allowed to pull in.  As the van drove along the route, we saw Lori D and Sharon walking a few miles ahead of us already.  How had they gotten so far up there????

Once we got to the pit stop, I hopped off the van and my feet just screamed at me! I felt like there was no way I would be able to walk any more that day.  We were at the 5-miles-to-go point, and debated resting just a minute then walking the rest of the way back to camp.  But the soreness and heat and fatigue were just overwhelming, and Jen and I decided to join our other team mates who were at this stop and hop on the bus back to camp.

Me and Jen back at camp
Immediately after arriving at camp, I began to regret that choice – I had wanted so much to walk all the miles on this weekend, just to prove to myself that I could do it.  So I was disappointed in myself for letting my pain get in the way of that.  But, I have to admit, there is no way I could have walked all the Saturday miles without being forced off the route by the sweep van, my pace was just too slow.

So we spent the afternoon enjoying the camp.  We visited the sponsor tents and the Remembrance tent.  We took our showers.  We relaxed.  I checked email and facebook.  Generally rested.  Hung out in the dining tent, listened to Candy Coburn’s concert, which was fun.  Visited medical again – they lanced my blisters and wrapped me up again.  The old dogs were not looking too good!

Sharon and Lori finish Day 2 
Around 6:00 we began to wonder about Sharon and Lori – how were they doing? Would they make it all the way?  Around 6:15 we got the text from them that said they had one mile to go.  We went down to the camp entrance and began cheering for walkers who were coming in for the day.  Soon we saw Sharon and Lori – wow!  They walked the entire day!  They looked really tired, but really beautifully proud as they walked into the camp! Congratulations girls!

We all grabbed dinner together – chicken, rice, mixed veggies, breadstick, salad, and pre-packaged chocolate brownie/cake.  Again, very good!

We enjoyed the camp show, including a motivational speech by Nancy Brinker, the sister of Susan Komen, and the founder of the Susan G. Komen for the Cure foundation. 

Last but not least, enjoyed the camp dance party.  I didn’t do too much dancing, but enjoyed the fun atmosphere and the opportunity to stretch out my muscles. (Wrote about the dance party here.)

I called Dave to say goodnight, then headed to bed.  Again, loved the air mattress!  Slept ok, though not as well as the night before.  I guess walking fewer miles made me less exhausted on this night.  But still, a good night’s rest.

Up next:  Determined to walk all day Sunday!

Monday, October 11, 2010

My Official Recap - Day 1

Here begins my official recap of the Washington DC Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure, from start to finish.  Nothing but the facts, ma'am.

Day 1:  Friday Oct 8 - Opening Ceremonies
Lori C, Dave and I got up early and headed out by 5:00am. Picked up Lori D and Sharon by 5:15am. Drove to Nationals Stadium and were dropped off by 6:20am.  Bye Dave!  Thanks for the ride! Opening Ceremonies started at 7:00am - very moving, energizing, ready to go! Waited a while to file out of the ceremony area. Met up with the rest of our team, took a picture. We got underway roughly 7:45am - we were trailing near the very end of the pack at this point.

Walked up to Botanical Gardens - beautiful views. Walked up Capitol Hill, between Capitol Bldg and Supreme Court Bldgs. Tried to stay together as a team, but we all had different walking paces, and we ended up splitting up. Headed west and zig-zagged across the National Mall a few times, great views! Arrived at Pit Stop 1 just a few minutes before it was scheduled to close, still late in the pack

Pit 1 was jammed, people crowding the food tables like it was a supply truck in a war zone! Headed out for more walking through DC. Hit Pit 2, more pleasant, less grabbing for food.  :-)  Still trailing the pack, pits are closing late because the walkers are arriving late, us included.  Feeling great!  Called Dave - he's waiting for us at the first Cheering Station.

Walked through beautiful Georgetown, very pretty.  Brick sidewalks made for some very unstable footing, though.  And it was hilly.  Getting a little tired, and a little warm.  Pit 3 was civilized, as all Pits were from here on.  I guess the first one was an anomaly.  On to the first Cheering Station, where we found Dave waiting for us.  Yay!  Thanks for coming out!

On to more walking - through Adams-Morgan, across a pretty bridge (don't know where we were).  Onto Wisconsin Ave for quite some time.  I'm getting all mixed up on where we were at this point, it's all a blur.  Sometime in there we had lunch in a pretty park behind the Scottish Rite temple.  We passed some beautiful sights like the National Cathedral, beautiful neighborhoods in Chevy Chase.  The DC route was really beautiful for the walkers, very well planned and picturesque.

Throughout the day, our team would split off in different groupings, taking turns being with each other.  Some of our team took advantage of the sweep vans, others didn't.  We would meet each other at Pit Stops, and use them as opportunities to pick different walking partners.

In the final few miles of the day, it seemed we were headed up hill all the time!  Whew!  Finally made it into the last Pit Stop of the day around 5:30 or 5:45pm.  Walked 20.5 miles today. Very tired!  Physically, my main issue was blisters and pain in my right foot.  Others were talking about their hips, knees, ankles, muscles, etc.  Funny how everyone felt the 20 miles differently.
We made it!

Caught a bus to go to camp, which was about 15 or 20 miles away in suburban Germantown, MD.  Arrived at camp around 6:40pm.   Met up with team mates, found our gear and set up our tents.  Didn't take long, wasn't too bad, though we were rushing to beat the sunset.  Dinner was steak, steamed red potatoes, green beans, salad, dinner rolls, apple pie, and sodas/coffee/milk.  Yum!

Bathrooms = Port-a-Pots on the 3-day, and washing your hands = moist towelettes.  This was true at camp, and at all the Pit Stops.  As we walked, we'd see folks stopping in to fast food places, mostly to use their facilities!

Chilled out in the dining tent, which is the only place you could sit on a chair all day.  The "camp show" was a bit corny, but hey, it's camp, so what.  They had a karaoke/talent portion, where folks could sign up to sing.  The Harbor City Titty Committee got a chance to sing "Help is On the Way", an inspirational song that we sing in chorus.  It was really fun to do that, and folks were talking about it (in a good way!) all weekend.

Wanted to shower before bed. Showers at camp were in tractor trailers, very nice private stalls with hot, full-pressure water.  Very acceptable!  But unfortunately the lines were really long, so I opted to shower in the morning.  I dosed up on my Advil, hit the port-a-pots one last time and headed to bed.  Two people to each tent, in a 6'5"x6'5" tent left not much room but we made it work.  We had an air mattress, which was just as comfortable as my bed at home, so I have no complaints about the tent accommodations!

Once I fell asleep, I slept like a log.  Unfortunately, my team mates reported that I slept like I was sawing logs.  Sorry Lori and Lori!

Soon to come, Day 2 recap.

The DC 3-Day Experience: Choosing Life

As I sit here on Day 4 of the DC 3-Day, I am overwhelmed by this past weekend.  The enormity of it is astounding.  Over 2000 walkers and 350 volunteer crew members participated, and over $5.3 million was raised just by the DC event alone.  How will I begin to capture all that happened in the pages of this blog?

For me, the weekend was all about choosing life.  "Choosing", as in, making a conscious, active decision and sticking with it.  Not letting things happen to you, but making things happen for yourself.  Not being a victim, but accepting the circumstance with grace, and finding the good in even the worst situation.

I saw women with gaunt faces and bandana-covered bald heads pushing themselves forward with determination to complete another leg in the journey, this walk a metaphor for the day-to-day, step-by-step battles they are facing at home with their disease.

I was moved to tears as I was being passed by women who were chatting with each other in such a matter-of-fact way about how they manage to keep the family rhythms moving along even as they make it to all their oncology and chemo appointments.  I know what a busy family calendar looks like.  How in the world do you manage any semblance of family life while you're trying to save your own life?  These women knew, all too well.

I loved talking to survivors on this walk.  One women was wearing a pin that said "20 year survivor".  But when I got further into the conversation, I learned that she's actually a 21 year survivor, and a 13 year survivor, and a 4 year survivor, because she has been diagnosed not once, but three times.  And she has been here walking, year after year, to show that she might have cancer, but cancer doesn't have her.

One of my favorite memories from the weekend is from the Saturday night dance party in camp.  My team mates might wonder why I say that, since I didn't really participate in the dancing so much as I sat in my chair and watched everyone else dance.  But the thing I loved the most about it was watching my friend, Nancy, and her sister and our other team mates get up there.  It was just one big celebration.  A celebration of life.  Of surviving - surviving the day's walk, surviving this stinking cancer.  It was letting go of everything negative, just enjoying the moment, enjoying the music, enjoying each other's company and laughter.

Everyone told me that this would be a life-changing event, and as I went through the weekend, it became more and more true for me.  This was a really inspirational weekend, in many ways.  I'll try to limit the syrup-y goopy drama in my future posts, but for now, this is my current state of mind and state of heart, so this is what I'm writing.  

Life is good.  Choose it!

Thank you Dave!

I am home now from completing the Washington DC 3-Day for the Cure walk.  It was wonderful.  It was impossible.  It was the hardest thing I've ever asked my body to do.  It was an emotional roller coaster.  It was a weekend full of touching moments.  It was amazing.

I have a lot of stories to tell, a lot of special memories, and I will write about them in due time.  But the first thing I need to do is say THANK YOU to my husband, Dave.

This guy was amazing.  He was at the dinner table one night in March with my friends Lori and Lori, when I decided I was going to do this crazy thing, and his encouragement began right then and there.

All spring and summer, he was right there by my side for my longest and hardest training sessions: on his birthday, in the rain, fighting off wild dogs and tame geese, and on the hottest day of the year.

He helped me raise funds: he kicked off my donations by seeding the pot, he volunteered his time and energy at the treasure sale fund raiser, he came to support me at our sing-out fund raiser.

He gave me the moral support I needed all along the way to preparing for this event.

He woke up on Day 1 at oh-dark-hundred to drive me and my team mates down to the Opening Ceremonies.  And then he showed up on Day 1 at Cheering Station #1, even when our team was at the back of the pack and almost all the other cheering folks had already left.

He showed up on Day 2 at Cheering Station #1 with my son Mike, with one of the funniest signs of the day.

He and Mike showed up on Day 2 at Cheering Station #2, giving me the encouragement I needed to get that far, and to go a little further.

He took my phone call on Saturday night, when I was feeling down about having stopped walking before the end, and he helped me feel proud of my accomplishments.

He sent me encouragement all weekend via text messages.

He and Mike showed up on Day 3 at Cheering Station #1, and gave me the huge hugs that I needed to keep going even though I was really hurting.

Then he and Mike were there again at Cheering Station #2, telling me I could do it, and giving me the boost I needed.

He and Mike popped up out of nowhere at the White House on Day 3, and walked with me for a few minutes, then sent me on to the last few miles with his encouragement.

He kept texting me to keep me going.

He picked up my bags, and my friends' bags, at the closing ceremonies.

He and Mike carried our bags through the subway and to the car for us, and drove us home.

And when we got home, he made me dinner and brought me new band-aids.

All the way through this crazy journey, he was there for me, encouraging me and supporting me.  I could not have done it without him.

I love you, Dave!

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

One thing I don't like about the 3-day...

... is having to ask people for money. 

I have never been good at soliciting donations.  I have never felt comfortable doing it. In fact, I have never liked for people to ask *me* for donations, and so turning the tables on them is really something I have a hard time doing. 

So as I approach these last few days before the Washington D.C. 3-day, I find myself short of my minimum by $145.   Partly because I didn't get a couple of fundraising events underway that I had in mind back when I signed up for the walk, but mostly because I was very poor at asking people to make donations.

I did not send out any hard copy letters.   I sent only one email letter to my address book full of contacts, way back in April.  I did not solicit from any local businesses.  I didn't even ask all of my friends, because my team mates and I have the same friends and I did not want to pressure those same folks into donating to all of the team members.

I am very grateful that I have received the donations I've received. Don't get me wrong - many of those donations came in as a direct response to my first email plea.  So I'm aware that solicitations do work.  But many of the donations I've received have come in because I've simply put the word out that I'm doing this walk, and people have volunteered to be generous.   I got the word out via this blog, via a tag line on my email signature block, and via facebook.  These media are much more comfortable to me than the direct "sales pitch".  

But now that I'm close to the walk itself, and I'm short on funds, I've had to bite the bullet and send more pleas for donations.  I spent quite a bit of time tonight composing and sending email letters to folks that I contacted way back but who had not yet responded.  It took a lot of nerve to send those out - and if you received one, I hope you understand that it's not in my nature to "beg for money".  

But this is, after all, a fundraising event.  And so I did it. But I didn't like doing it.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Ready or not, here I come!

What happened to August and September?  It seems like I blinked and all of a sudden it is October.

When I signed up for the Susan G. Komen 3-Day Walk last March, I thought I would have all the time in the world to prepare.  I thought I would gradually build up not only my walking endurance, but more importantly, my exercise discipline and habit, so that by the time October rolled around I would be well prepared physically and mentally for this event.  I thought that I'd end the event with a new habit of walking on a day to day basis incorporated into my lifestyle, so that I could enjoy a new healthier me.  In fact, this was the primary motivator for joining the walk in the first place - to get into a new habit for the long term.

In reality, as you've perhaps noticed here on my blog, I never really got into the groove of a new habit.   I did get a lot of good training walking in, and I found myself out on a walk way more often than I would have if I had not signed up for the event.  But a regular habit? Not!  Through the early half of the summer, I fit in training as best I could.  But then late summer hit, and with it all the stuff that happens to our family calendar.  School started, I traveled for work, then the fall football season started at our two kid's schools.  My chorus, the Harbor City Music Company, had a busy schedule with our annual show, and my quartet, Lustre, had a busy schedule with coaching and new music.  My work pace picked up.  Etc. etc. etc.  Blah, blah, blah.

Through all of this busy-ness in August and September, I was totally unprepared for the impact this would have on my training. Because I did not have a good habit of fitting training walks into my daily life, my training really suffered.  As my weekends and evenings filled up with other activities, I did not have a plan for setting aside time for walking.    The result?   I've trained for a grand total of 3 miles since September 1st.

This is not good.  This is very not good.

The Washington D.C. Susan G. Koman 3-Day for the Cure begins this Friday.  Like, five days from now. I am so unprepared.

I am anxious about how I'll do, how far will I be able to go.  I am angry with myself for not keeping my promise to myself about the training.  I am disappointed in myself - and oh how I hate that feeling!  That old familiar feeling.   Do you know the one I'm talking about?

I'm counting on the hope that during the event later this week, I'll kick that feeling in the butt, and replace it with feelings of accomplishment and pride.  That I'll push myself past the aches and pains and give it everything I've got.

I honestly don't know if I'll be able to walk all 60 miles.  I had hoped that I would, but the reality of my lack of training might get in the way of that goal.  I know that I will do my very best, and more.  I owe it to my sponsors and donators, I owe it to the cancer patients, survivors and victims - but most of all I owe it to myself - to give wholly and completely.

So, ready or not, here comes the 3-Day.  And 3-Day:  Ready or not, here I come!