Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The 3 Day - Day 3

Sad that it will be the last time I wake up at 5 am in my pink tent. Breakfast was delicious again. A crew leader came over to tell us that they (crew leaders) were allowed to keep their tents, and she didn't want hers, and that we could have it. So guess who is the proud owner of a kick ass pink tent...me :) That made my day. So once we were all packed up we hauled our gear and loaded it in the truck. I filled my water bottle and was our the gate just after 6:30. I got to carry the "optimism" flag that morning. Again I walked alone. But this morning it was at a much slower pace, I was so so sore. The last day we walked from camp in Westlake to Berea which is where I live, so it was a joke that I was walking home.

At pit stop 1 a sharp pain ran through my foot. it hurt so bad. I sat down for a while and did lots of stretching. There was no need to rush today. I grabbed some snack and slowly limped back on to the route. After about 2 miles the pain in my foot was unbearable. So I sadly stepped to the side of the road with my arms over my head in an X to flag down a sweep van. It was a Dr. Seuss theme, and they were very nice. They helped me in the van and drove me to pit stop 2 which was about a mile away, where I hobbled over to medical. They iced my foot, then rubbed in some biofreeze and wrapped it with this cool pink foam tape. After a short break I was on the own again. I didn't tell them how much it actually hurt for the fear of getting red-carded....This by the way is BAD. Shame on me, don't do this future walkers.

As I walking through North Olmsted I was passed a 100 times and that was ok by me. I wanted to be able to walk in Berea, where my friends and family were waiting for me. At lunch I was seen by the sport medicine therapist. He found fluid in the exact spot it hurt. He told me I probably tore the tendon and I should stop walking for the day. But by that time we had just made it to Berea, and I was less than I mile from my street which we would walk down. I begged him to let me walk to the end. He did some fancy tape work and bandaged it up pretty tight. I popped some ibuprofen and was good to go.

I got a second wind of energy and the pain seemed to vanish as I neared my street corner. I could see my sister, grandmother and two sons standing on the corner where we turn with signs and pink Energizer bunny ears. I stopped and gave them all hugs and talked to my boys for a few minutes. My oldest Seth drank all my water, but there were so many people on my block passing out water that it was ok.

As we walked to the last pit stop, we passed a house that spray painted their yard with "Go 3 day walkers" in pink paint. There was lots of signs and balloons, and Jerry one of our best walker stalkers. By the time I reached the last pit stop I was hot, sweaty, exhausted and in pain again. I met up with my mom there and took some more ibuprofen. Soon after that pit stop we passed the Berea fire Department. They were all sitting outside cheering us on, and set up a hose for us to cool off. My kids were the first people we saw at the last cheering station. Which made me smile. My friend from high school and her mom were there, as well as my aunt and cousin. I posed for a picture of the "holding one mile sign" and then made my way there.

We finally arrived at the fairgrounds. It was so hot outside but I didn't care. I was crying coming into the gate because I realized at that moment what I had just accomplished. Jenne Fromm took my picture in front of the day 3 sign and my boys were there waiting for me. I got my victory shirt and had a seat with by kids for the next few hours while we welcomed back all the other walkers. We all cheered in the last walker. Then the crew performed a dance for the walkers as a surprise to us. It was like the "JK wedding dance" video on YouTube. The video of the crew doing it is also on YouTube.

Soon we all lined up wearing our long sleeve victory shirts in the 85+ degree weather for our march into closing. We were greeted by tons and tons of screaming friends and family. Closing ceremonies was very emotional. The survivors raised the flag. We gave our shoe salute and Candy Coburn performed pink warrior. I don't think there was a dry eye in the crowd. When it was all over we grabbed our gear and found my family. A last act of random kindness was from a young teenage boy that offered to carry my bag to the car. When I thanked him he said that he wants to walk next year. I told him he should, and that I would keep a lookout for him, because I am totally hooked and I cant wait to walk again in 2011.

Cleveland had 900 walkers and 300 crew members. We raised more that $2.4 million dollars for breast cancer research and community programs. Thank you for all your donations, and support. Thank you for following my blog, I will continue to write, and I will continue to walk as long as I can.

The 3 Day - Day 2

Day two came, and we were up at 5am. After a quick trip to the oh so wonderful porta-pottys we grabbed a wonderful hot breakfast, changed clothes and filled our water bottles. The route opens at 6:30am and I left at 6:45. The first part of the walk was a quiet zone, which I guess is understandable. After pit stop 1 the cheering began. lots more signs and families passing out treats. Some of the walker stalkers had Starbucks coffee for us. I walked alone this day, and it was nice. It gave me a chance to set my own pace, and I had more opportunities to talk to the other walkers that I passed. Yes I said passed, walking alone I walked so much faster than I did on day 2, by the time I got to lunch it was only like 11am.

I took more time for stretching and foot care. It was overcast all day which was wonderful. At the first cheering station, Monica and Michael were there. Michael was dressed in drag as "Flo" it was hilarious. They brought me more cookies to have at lunch. I refused to use the nasty sunscreen I brought so I made a stop at the first CVS I could find and bought a dry mist sunscreen, which was a 100 times better, I left the bottle of Coppertone sport at the store, it was new but I didn't have room in my pack. I hoped that someone else would find it and take it so it didn't go to waste. I got back on the route and had lunch at Rocky River High school. It started to drizzle but it was short lived and it felt great. Lunch was a chicken sandwich, baby carrots, chips and my cookies.

I was number 149 of 900 at lunch so I was making great time. My mom was at pit stop four and I found out at that point I was walker number 100 woohoo. Its not a race, but I wanted to get back to camp early so I would have more time to see everything I missed the day before. At the last pit stop I found out I was number 89 yikes! but walking that fast came with a price to pay. The outside of my left foot so bad. I took off my shoe and went to the medical tent. There was no swelling at the time or a blister. They said I probably damaged a tendon, so I iced it for a while and promised to walk slower to camp, to avoid being red carded. Which is where you are removed from the route and banned from walking if they think you are too injured or too unhealthy to walk. It happened to a friend of mine in Boston as well as Jenn that I walked with on day 1.

I kept my promise and slowed my pace back to camp. Again I was greeted by the kid crew, the walker stalkers, and the hug lady. I got out of my shoes and switched to flip flops and headed over to the Energizer tent to sit in the massage chair, where I got a chance to go on facebook. I picked up my mail and spent some time in the remembrance tent. I wrote in the journal there about why I walked and wrote a message on Cleveland's tent. I met up with my mom for dinner and a performance by country singer Candy Coburn. Dinner was chicken cacciatore, rice, veggies, salad, breadsticks and a brownie. Candy rocked, and played her song pink warrior.

There is a giant hill at camp that my mom insisted that we walk up to take pictures. I ran up it. Which felt good on my calves so I walked down and ran up again....its a very steep hill. I got some great pictures from up there. Had another shower in the semi, and then listened to a walker named Ed share is story, it was moving and I cried. Jenne the spokesperson for the 3 day, had a demo on how to re-pack your tent, it was cute she had this guy from the crew do it...it was funny to say the least. We took down our decorations and packed our bags leaving out only what we would need in the morning. Then danced at the dance party (yes after 44 miles we dance) I iced my calves and thighs, bandaged my blisters, Then it was lights out.

The 3 Day - Day 1

The 4 am wake up call came too early, we jumped out of bed drank our coffee got dressed and headed out. The hotel we were at was kind enough to have a shuttle for us, even though they normally don't start running till 7 am. When we got to Port Authority it was still dark. We dropped off our gear at the gear truck and was greeted by the overly awake and excited crew. I said bye to my mom and started to make my way where opening ceremony would be. I picked up my lanyard, signed Jeana's name to one of the memorial ribbons on the flag. I wrote my goal on a dot that was a on a big banner, and picked up some last minute things in the shop3day.com store. I was there before most of the walkers were there, because I went with my mom who had to be there at 5am. I took some pictures, and collected stickers at each on of the giant globe lights, and of course got my picture taken in front of the opening ceremonies sign. As the sun came up the sky turned bright pink, it was quite a sight.

Soon all the walkers were led into the circle where the ceremony would take place. Opening ceremonies was beautiful, I cried (again). Soon we were off and walking, we started walking past the Browns stadium and the Rock Hall. Before we realised it we were at pit stop 1. Which seemed to come up so soon. There was a long line for everything, but we got in and out in good time. I finally found Jenn and Julie who I walked with for the rest of the day. There was a really cool bridge we walked over before pit 2. When we arrived at pit 2 the sun was out, so I used the worst sunscreen ever. It was sticky and oily eckkk. I took care of the hot spot I got. I ate a Pb&j graham cracker sandwich....sounds gross but it is so good.

We had lunch in the park, which was nice and shady. Lunch was a turkey sandwich, chips, and apple. I took care of the new hot spots, re-applied body glide to my feet and changed my socks. As we were leaving lunch I had the opportunity to carry the "my children" flag to the next pit stop. That was my only flag I wanted to carry that weekend. We had a huge hill we had to walk up. Julie was in a lot of pain so she took the van to the next stop. A lot of walkers did that and for good reason that hill was steep. Jenn and I walked together for the rest of the day. I got lots of good pictures along the way.

Lots of families had water, Popsicles, candy, coffee and even beer along the way. The signs in yards and on the light posts kept us going. There were 2 cheering stations that day, and they always seemed to be exactly when we needed them.

When I got to camp, I was so sore and hot! I was greeted buy the Kid Crew that drew inspirational sayings on the sidewalk, and played music for us. Some of the walker stalkers were at the finish line too. For anyone that has never walked before, a walker stalker is someone that shows up all along the route everyday cheering you on. There was Jerry...who tells you that you look strong, and that you are doing great. He is always a joy to see. There was also and group of three men that cheered us on all weekend, and the kid crew. Then there is the hug lady, she greets you when you arrive at camp and gives a hug to each one of the 900 walkers.

I grabbed my bag and tent, only to find out that someone took my assigned spot. Grrr so I had to limp over to the gear and tent crew to find out where I should go. I finally got a new spot. I tried to put up my tent, but its not easy to do alone. Some of the camp angels came over and did it for me, I tried to help but they just smiled and told me to rest. I decorated my tent while I waited for dinner and my mom to get back to camp. Dinner that night was steak, potatoes, salad, green beans and apple pie. It was yummy. While I was eating I ran into Michael and Monica from Chicago. I made their logo and designed their tattoos. They brought me homemade chocolate chip cookies and hugs.

I showered in a semi truck for the first time in my life. I have to say that was the best shower ever (or at least it felt like that after being covered in sweat and nasty sunscreen) There was karaoke that night, but I missed it because I was checking out the 3 Day main street. New Balance had a store where I got a new shirt. The 3 day had their store where I got these kick ass pink pajama pants that say kindness rocks. Energiser had massages and massage chairs as well as laptops with Internet access. AT&T had phone charging, so I dropped my phone off for a while. There was so much to do at camp, its a shame I didn't have the chance to do it all. Lights out was at 9pm but we were all so tired it was not a problem to fall asleep.

The night before the walk

Twas the night before the 3 day...and man was I pumped! I had packed my bag, and then checked it about a hundred times. I said goodbye to my kids and I was off to the hotel. We stayed at the Double Tree hotel because the host hotel was full, but it ended up being much closer to opening ceremonies. My mom left for her crew meeting and I was left behind to relax before the big day. But I was too excited to sit around so I decided to go for a walk and check out the sites on the lakefront. It originally was only supposed to be a quick walk to the rock hall to take some pictures, but I decided to take a sneak peak of where opening ceremonies would be held.  My heart started to race when I saw the first of many signs for the 3 day. I walked along the fence taking pictures with my phone, and then decided to step inside and try to find my mom. Yes I crashed the crew meeting.

It was pretty cool to hear all of what they had to say. After the separate crew meetings they introduced each crew one at a time, and they danced their way into the tent for the all crew meeting. My mom was a bus liaison and one of there members was not there, so they pulled me over and I filled in for her when they were introduced. It was a little weird, but fun.

A veteran walker and survivor shared her story, and it was very moving. They crew members were so nice and so full of energy. I got to watch the dress rehearsal for opening ceremonies, which made me cry. I also got my first blisters of the weekend, from wearing brand new flip flops, one giant blister on each foot between my toes. This made me so mad, but it was a dumb move on my part. I ran into Julie a women I met on Facebook, I had already planned on walking with her and her team on day one. So it was nice to meet her ahead of time. My mom bought me a 3 day bandanna to wear on day one and some 3 day pins...the first of many I would collect this weekend.

After the meeting, we enjoyed Starbucks at the hotel, went swimming, took care of my blisters and enjoyed a very nice but ridiculously expensive dinner at the hotel, then went to sleep early with a 4 am wake up call.