Thursday, November 25, 2010

Day Three - I Can't Believe I Walked the Whole Thing!

Day Three began at 5am from our warm hotel beds.  We started with inspection of our feet and prep for another day of walking.  One of my staff members had supplied me with what turned into the perfect blister guards....nipple shields.  Cut up and placed on the blister, they provided a waxy barrier when wrapped with Tegaderm.  I wrapped my left foot and Loree's more damaged foot and then we both worked on our opposite feet.  I had developed a blister running across the ball of my right foot, under my toes.  I used a blister bandage, and then a regular bandage and we both finished up our feet duct tape.  We have developed more uses for duct tape than I could ever imagine....Socks, shoes and we were ready to go!

Eric picked us up at 6am and we were off to the camp.  I headed over to help Cyndi pack up while everyone else headed to the breakfast tent.  Cyndi and I  joined and we were soon on the road walking out of the camp.  Sunday turned into the day that we spent the most time together as a team.  We stuck together for the most part and all kept a watchful eye on each other.  We nursed bad knees, blisters and some just plain awkward gaits at times...but we kept on walking.  We were treated to a group of Stalkers making a human bridge for us to walk under.  We waited for one of our party to run to the restroom off the beaten path and were able to witness a group of the PD, walkers and stalkers all dancing together....To the the the right....Very cool!

Sunday was a time to look up and take notice of the single file line going over the bridge of the Spillway - pink abounded. It was still raining but after our second day, this seemed like a breeze.   When we reached Old Town, the rain stopped and one restaurant was passing out Quesadillas.  I don't think I've ever had one taste so good!  One more pit stop at the bottom of Juan Street and we were soon heading uphill again.  Poor Cyndi had to witness my bobbing again at the bottom of the hill.....Can we leave about now...are you ready now?  There was a hill to conquer!  She, of course, was actually being a good nurse and trying to talk a fellow walker into hitting the medical tent.  I didn't actually see the injury...just the bloody gauze next to her foot.  The walker was adamant that she was good so off we went.....

Here we go again....walk and wheeze....up the hill....for the delightful surprise of chips and salsa at the top.  Have I mentioned that there is evidently no way to loose weight on this walk?   I think I gained four pounds! We headed from Old Town towards Balboa Park.  Loree jumped on a Sweep Van a few miles from lunch to have her knee wrapped - little did she know that she was going to tour the entire walk before they dropped her off!  She did make it ahead of us, fortunately, and was walking better when we arrived. 

And then....the rain came again.  We headed out once more towards Downtown knowing that there was only three miles left.   We had a little setback when a walker tried to go around several of us and jump back onto the path - she slipped and came down on her face right in front of us.   I did confirm that none of us tripped her - I promise this was not due to my impatience!  (Although I really couldn't feel my feet at that point so....).  We helped her up to see that she had a split lip - not a ton of blood but we all knew that she had hit hard.  We tried to talk her into sitting down but to no avail.   She clearly stated that she just wanted ice and needed to keep this point, who's going to stop?

 Eric was already on the path at that point and I know Loree and Stacy's families were close by.  We seemed to walk quicker knowing that the end was coming.  The only downside of walking Downtown is the stopping at almost every street corner to allow for traffic.  Once again, however, Komen was well prepared with crossing guards and PD ensuring that everyone was safe.  Cyndi became lost in thought at one point and walked right into the arms of a Police Officer as he kept her from stepping into the street.   Looked like a good hug!  As closing ceremonies were not starting until 4pm, we hit up the first Starbucks that we saw (along with about 50 other walkers!) and tasted marvelous! 

We were able to find Eric, and Loree's kids on the way in.  Loree was in tears as her kids gave her flowers and told them how proud they were of her.  We were all pretty proud of ourselves!  We walked into the holding area doing high fives with a line of hundreds of other walkers, grabbed our shirts and waited for the ceremony to begin.  As we walked in together, amongst cheers and hugs, my favorite moment was when the survivors walked in.   Gloria, our team captain and the one who started this all for us, was wearing her pink survivor shirt among a group of about a hundred others.  As tradition would dictate, we all removed one shoe and held it in the air to welcome them in....

The walk was finished.  Everyone found their loved ones and we headed out  to our car.  Goria and I warily looked at the three flights of stairs before us that would lead us to Eric's car.  I think she almost ran up them, again, cheered on by a few community members beside her!   We headed home, sore, blistered and on a high that can only come from doing something that you weren't sure you could do....only to find that you are much stronger than you thought.  Would I do it bet! 

Love to you all and thank you for your support on this incredible journey!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Day Two - Where's the Ark?

Day two began with Loree confirming that I was delusional.  I know that many of you are asking yourselves why she needed a confirmation….you have known that for years!  I did not sleep well in the tent…or so I thought.  When Loree woke up, I tiredly informed her that I did not sleep at all…It was pouring allllllll night long!  It was horrible…the rain was coming down and I’m surprised that we didn’t blow away!  It may have been the worst storm of all time….except that….as we exited the tent…the ground was dry!  Our little door matt was equally dry leading her to comment…”maybe you slept better than you think you did!”. Hmmmm…..maybe!

Now one of the things that I forgot to tell my team is that I have a little impatience problem.  As everyone was gathering their supplies for the day, my head started to bob.  Then my whole body….can we go now? How about now?  Can we go now?  I decided at that point that this was a character building adventure for me and that God was going to teach me patience if it killed me.  Better to just go along with it!  I';ve tried avoiding lessons like this before....the end result is never pleasant!

We received bad news for Loree – the medical tent advised her (not actually the tent advised her but the medical professionals inside the tent…) to keep her foot dry.  She had some very serious blisters that were tunneling towards her bone.  She decided to start out with a plan to take the Sweep van if needed.  We bundled up and headed out of camp….and the rain began. ..with a vengeance.  Loree made the wise decision to grab the Sweep – there was going to be no way to keep anything dry from the looks of things.  Before she left us however, she made a phone call to her son.  Her son that works for a hotel….her son that could save us from a rain filled night in a tent…and not just the rain from my delusions!

We armed ourselves with our little plastic rain cover and headed out.  I’m not even sure if I can tell you where all we went.  I can only tell you that I felt like I was in a hurricane.  But there again….at every turn….were the Walker Stalkers.  Like dear old friends, they toughed out the rain with us.

Now, this day was particularly bad for me aside from the rain….I had made the mistake of putting on cotton socks over my wicking socks so my feet felt like they were submerged in two little lakes and I was wearing a pair of Capri’s that became low-riders every time I stretched.   Argh!   Why….would I do that to myself, you ask? I guess things just weren’t quite bad enough with just the rain!  So at every opportunity to stretch, I was the one trying to keep one hand on my shorts.   I didn’t want to ruin anyone else’s day by having them yell….My eyes! My eyes! as I flashed them!

Lunch was 13.4 miles in….Komen arranged for us to eat in buses and have a dry place to check our feet and change our socks.  My left foot had a spot running between my toes and a blister on my small toe.  We kept reminding ourselves that this was still nothing like having chemo and charged back into the rain and wind.  At least there was only five miles to go until we got back to the camp.  I phoned my husband, who agreed to pick us up and take us to the hotel.  I don’t think I have ever loved him more!
I was doing great up until the last two miles…then Cyndi saw my dark side.  She cheerfully kept trying to involve me in conversation as I just focused on putting one foot in front of the other.  At one point, she looked over at a young surfer holding a huge kite on the sand.  She looked at me…”what do you think he’s doing?” I answered honestly. “I don’t care.”  I still need to give her a hug and an apology for that one!

We arrived at camp and gathered our bags.  Loree informed us that our tents had blown about ten feet and that many campers were heading out to hotels.  We started hefting bags up to Eric’s car and were immediately surrounded by Camp workers who started grabbing bags to help.  I love them.  They were another highlight to the week – always willing to serve and out in the rain with us.  When we got everything settled, off to the hotel we went. Ahhhhhhhh…..

We drove up to realize that it’s not the walking that causes muscle pain….it’s the stopping!  We all emerged from the car like 90 year old women.  I’m sure people were wondering where we had left our walkers!  Eric asked as he handed us our bags…”how are you getting back to camp tomorrow…?”  “Hmmmm”….I responded…..”about that…… can you be back here at 5:45am tomorrow?”  He didn’t even blink an eye….he’s a saint.

After getting our bags upstairs and realizing that we would each have our own bed, the celebration began.  We headed to the managers reception for a few drinks and hit up PF Changs for dinner.  Thank you Loree for making the walk over there….I think I would have just grabbed the pretzels from my pack if I had to go! During dinner, one of us spilled a drink and I ‘jumped up’ to get a towel.  Several minutes later, as I was still slowly trying to make my way back to the table from the bathroom, Loree called out… “I think it’s dry!”  I can only tell you that I was out when my head hit the pillow.  No delusions…no dreams….just sweet, dry sleep!

Day One – Walk on!

After mooooving out of the bull pen, we headed out of Del Mar and walked through the neighborhood.  We became experts at scouting at bathrooms off the beaten path.  This became increasingly important when we realized that a wait at the Port-a-Potties could waste 30 minutes and potentially cause a very embarrassing accident!  We were soon on our way to Torrey Pines.  Torrey Pines could be considered my arch-nemesis. The Torrey Pines hill is well known for being steep…and long.  Have I mentioned that I have exercise-induced Asthma?  Actually, it should be correctly diagnoses as incline-induced asthma.  I only feel it on the way up a hill.  Flat ground is my friend.  Just as we all develop coping skills to deal with our “issues”, I have developed mine.  On a hill, I am very focused….I don’t talk….I only step and breath or maybe that is step and wheeze…and Lord help anyone that gets in my way.  I heard several times from my teammates…..”Do you want to stop?” Nope…..keep going…. “Did you bring an inhaler? “  Nope…what do I look like….a nurse?  Oh yeah……I am.  But we know from past experience that on the 13.5 mile train walk, I was also the one that forgot the sunscreen, a hat and to drink consistently.  This would be the embarrassing day that I almost passed out on the way to the car.  So is it any surprise that I forgot the inhaler?   Nope!   Did I make it up the hill?   Yep!   Every day…and in the same manner….walk and wheeze all the way, baby!

I could have done the over-40 white woman dance at the top but I was surrounded by 4000 of my best friends and my hips can become a lethal weapon when not controlled effectively.  I have to say that there is something powerful about seeing a solid line of people in front of you and behind you.  It was amazing.  Even more amazing were the people on the side lines….everywhere…and many of them for the full three days.  We picked up chocolate, Twizzlers, mints and other tasty treats from the ever present community members that cheered us on.  People of all ages and cultures were out in packs – we affectionately called them the Walker Stalkers.  God love them!  They yelled, whooped and overall kept the mood happy and light.

We were also surrounded by the San Jose Police and SD Police – all in bunny ears and pink tutu’s. They rode their bikes next to us, playing music and joking with everyone.  Some of them men had baskets full of feminine hygiene products…just in case.  One of my favorite moments was when one officer ran down the row of Port-a-Potties yelling “San Diego PD…Open up!”  We got to see them dance with the Cheering groups and give a struggling walker a hug at a tough moment.  The trip would not have been the same without them. 

We stopped for lunch at La Jolla Shores…11.5 miles in.  A quick sandwich and change of socks and we were back on the trail to see the Seals, the community of Bird Rock and eventually….the camp.  As we drew close, one of our 3Day crossing guards let us know that we were within 2 miles of being done.  I cheerfully stated…”Well, heck….let’s just run it!” Eight faces turned towards me in disbelief!  I wish I would have had a camera!

We returned to camp to pick up our luggage and our little pink tent.  Two boy scouts wandering past offered to help – we kept them within close reach lest they be hijacked by another walker!  Since only one of us was a camper, tent construction promised to be very challenging without some outside help.  We ended up with beach front property at the end of the row!  Fabulous and a wonderful view in the morning.  We grabbed dinner and hit the showers – very interesting, I must add, to shower in a semi-truck.  Hot water and privacy….I would have never thought it was possible!  Bedtime came quickly – fortunately at the same time that the Karaoke ended.  We were very close to the dining tent and I’m assuming that the final singers were just tired….or were only able to sing when alcohol is involved!  Our heads hit the pillow and day 1 was complete!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Komen 3Day - Day One - The Journey Begins!

I survived!  As a matter of fact, just like the Kaiser commercial, I thrived!  I remember thinking last week some time that this would be the one and only time that I would do this.  Apparently, walking the 3-Day is just like having a baby - at the end, you forget the pain, the endorphins kick in and you know that you will, in fact, do this again at some point.  I know now why some people return year after year.  This is an opportunity to see people at their very best....I believe it can be addicting.

Before I talk about the first day, I must talk about the last few weeks.  My biggest stress in this whole experience was the fundraising.  I don't know about you but $2300.00 is a huge chunk of change for me.  To walk, you must guarantee the funds....with your own credit card....EEEEEKKKK!  I went out on faith and gingerly punched in my number.  I must say that people have come out of the woodwork to help.  Gloria's school had a fundraiser and raised $1000.00 that she split between Loree and I.  My amazing staff sold cupcakes and nachos raising an additional $400.00.  I don't think people had the heart to turn them away as the went cubicle to cubicle with cupcakes - many of my coworkers donated $20.00 at a time for a cookie - now that's love!  I am waiting for my company's matching donation and I will be done!  Yeah!  Thank you everyone!

Thursday night, I went home and got my bag packed.  One bag filled with a sleeping bag, sleeping pad, clothes and supplies, all wrapped in plastic.  The weekend held many predictions of rain and we were told that the tents were too small to hold us and our bags so they would need to be outside during the night.  I had two pairs of shoes, nine pairs of socks and lots and lots of pink.  I've never been partial to this color before with my red hair but what the heck - I'm not going to be the one in green in a sea of 4000 pinkies.  Did I have all of the essentials?  Excedrin migraine....check!   500 bandages of various sizes and shapes....check!  A miraculous fanny pack that we have decided could hold a couch if we needed it to.....check!  All ready....4am came very early!

Eric drove the four of us to Del Mar (Gloria, Stacy, Loree and me)....Five adults and four very large bags.  No amount of pushing would allow them to fit in the trunk.  The girls had to hold one of them in their  lap during the drive.  I know know that i should have tried to get it into my fanny pack....It is apparently like the tent in Harry Potter....small on the outside but as big as a palace on the inside.

We realized after talking that we all had various ailments - together we were made up of a UTI, cramps, a bad knee, varicose veins and a blistered foot.  (Eric truly enjoyed that conversation....I think his eyes glazed over and at one point seemed to consider jumping out the window!).  He dropped us off and our bags and drove his warm 5:15am.  We dropped off our bags and immediately headed to the of our teammates let us know that she would most likely need to stop about every ten feet to go again.  And so the day began!

We proudly put on our bunny ears supplied by Energizer and walked into the holding area.  Cyndi, our fifth adopted teammate made her way in as we huddled together.  We were given an inspirational speech and watched the raising of the flags with the names of those taken by Breast Cancer.  Very emotional....very inspiring.  And then.....what we were in became increasing clearer....we were in a cow pen.  As the gate opened, 4000 people moved forward in baby steps for their turn to get into the long gated pathway to begin the walk.  Loree looked at me and very insightfully stated...."Moo".  I was grateful to see that once always....we were on the same page! 

I'll write more tonight - so much to tell and laugh about.  Love to you all!