Thursday, December 13, 2007

Day 3

We woke up to a frigid morning. Because the sky the day before had been so clear, there were no clouds to hold in the heat. Someone told me they thought it got down to the low ‘40’s. Sheesh! I got dressed, packed, deflated my mattress and took the tent down, all in the dark. Not an easy task. The tent really didn’t want to go into that little tiny bag. Fortunately, Marvin was out and about, and he helped me pack it up. After I dropped my things off at the gear truck, I headed to the medical tent, knowing it would be packed. Even at 5:30 am! And it was.

I had gotten another big blister, on my right heel this time, and it hadn’t drained on it’s own over night. I needed to have that done, and wrapped, before I could think of having breakfast. The wait was nearly an hour, but finally Leann, one of the nurses (who is absolutely THE BEST) took care of me and sent me on my way. Alas, by the time I got to the food tent, there wasn’t much left. I got a little oatmeal, some milk, and a banana. Oh, and the ever important coffee. I had to hurry because if I wasn’t out on the route by 7:30, I wouldn’t be able to walk and have to be bussed to each pit stop, lunch and then on to PetCo Park. I was out of the gate at 7:20, but there were still so many people behind me! As I was leaving, I looked down to where my tent had been….all but a couple of tents were left….so sad.

It was cooler than the day before, the sun was out a little, and very nice. Walkers were in a better mood, as well, since the “end” was in sight. A lot of walking wounded though: taped shin splints, wrapped knees and ankles, a lot of hobbling and limping. But everyone was generally in a very good mood.

One of the highlights of my day was getting my photo taken with the San Jose Police Department, who were our constant companions during the walk. They ride bikes and kept their eyes on us to keep us safe and out of harm’s way. I also managed to get my picture with Bustin’ Out Billy, a true character who was on the route everyday to cheer us on.

The hard part of my day came when we arrived at Old Town just before lunch. I don’t know if this “hill” was actually worse than Torrey Pines or Sunset Cliffs, but by this time, I was whooped! In addition, when I had packed up in the morning, I had left my other pair of shoes, plus my Crocs, out of my duffle and had stuffed them in my backpack. And since it had been so chilly, I had my jacket and my liner with me…..I had to have had close to 10 pounds, if not more, on my back. I hadn’t gone very far up the hill before I was struggling. I’m sure my face was beat red. I’d go a few yards and stop to catch my breath. Just as I was thinking I needed to find a sweep van to drive me to lunch, two young women came up to me and told me they’d carry my backpack for me! I was so touched. But as I was handing the pack to them, a young man walked up and said he’d carry it. His name was John, a member of our wonderful food crew, and had decided to walk up the hill with his wife in between his duties. John walked all the way up that gosh darn hill with me, carrying that stupidly heavy backpack! We talked about his family, my family, the event and San Diego. I don’t know what I would have done without John. He was my hero of the event. Three cheers for John!

I was so glad I had made it to lunch. Alas, the little sun there had been was now gone, and rain clouds were forming. Looking for a spot to sit down, I ran into some of my teammates, Mary Ann, Tami Jo, Willow and Kathleen. I got my lunch and sat with them for awhile until they got ready to leave. I decided to take a good long rest, and after they left, I went to Medical, changed my moleskin, got new socks, and stretched out.

When it started to sprinkle, I decided it was time to hit the pavement again. Just as I was leaving the park, I ran into sisters-in-law, Ann and Gloria, also on The Breast Defense League team. They had been part of my 3 Day experience since the beginning: I sat with them at our pre-walk dinner, stood with them in the dark at opening ceremonies, and saw them at least once each day on the walk. Two nicer women would be hard to find. We chatted for a few minutes and then I was on my way.

After leaving the park, we headed into downtown. By then it was raining, a fine mist at first which progressively got heavier as we went along. I had forgotten to put a rain poncho in my backpack (I had everything except the kitchen sink in there, but no rain poncho!) so I had to wear my jacket, taking out the lining. Even then it was too hot since the temperature was in the mid ‘60’s. Finally I had to make a decision: get wet or sweat. So I got wet.

Walking through downtown slowed our paced considerably. We had to stop for all the signals. Sometimes the groups were so large we had to wait through 4 changes to get across a street. Occasionally, someone would start singing, and we’d all join in: Singing in the Rain, We’re Off to See the Wizard, and My Favorite Things.

The funniest moment came at one corner that the light to walk was very short. Only a few people were getting across at a time. The SD traffic officers were very conscientious on keeping the walkers safe and moving without tying up traffic. They were very specific about us needing to stay in the crosswalk. Well, after standing (in the rain mind you) at this corner for more than 10 minutes and not getting anywhere the light changed again. Suddenly a voice called out “let’s go everyone!” and everyone did! There were about 100 of us and off the sidewalk we went, running between the cars stopped at the light laughing, cheering and whistling! The officer started to blow his whistle and motioned us to go back but there was no stopping us. Most of the people in the cars were clapping and honking their horns as well.

Another memorable moment occurred as we passed a small store that was closed on Sunday. In the parking, a truck was parked and the driver was passing out cans of cold beer to anyone who wanted one. I don’t know how many cases he had in there. Since SD has a law against open containers, he was also handing out lunch bags for the walkers to put them in. He was definitely a popular guy that day.

And then suddenly we were at the last pit stop at Balboa Park and only 1.3 miles from the end of the walk at Petco Park. That’s when I felt my first tinge of sadness that this awesome experience was drawing to a close. As we walked those last steps to the stadium hundreds people were lined up along the street cheering us on. People started crying, men and women alike, and we all began hugging each other.

Finally it was my turn to cross through the gate at Petco Park. Number 3752. Amazing! On either side of us was a gauntlet of our fellow walkers who’d already finished the event, high-fiving us as we made our way to be officially scanned in and to receive our victory shirt, including team members Bill, and Adrian and Jeff.

I found the rest of my team up on the grassy knoll where we had arranged to meet. I was happy, yet so sad. I had completed my first Cancer 3 Day walk!

Monday, December 10, 2007

Day 2

Writing about Day 2 has really been tough. Everyone had warned me it was the hardest day, not only physically but mentally as well. To be honest, I don’t remember much about the day. It was all I could do to put one foot in front of the other and keep moving.

Day 2 started (for me) at 4:45 am. Someone in one of the nearby tents must have gotten cold during the night and pulled out a Mylar blanket. Every time they moved it sounded like a giant bag of chips was being opened. And it may not rain in Southern California, but the overnight dew can get pretty darn heavy! I thought there had been a downpour during the night, but I was told, no, that’s dew. No wonder Mary Anne told me to make sure to bring a second tarp to go over the tent! The ground was soaked as I stumbled out of my tent and made my way across camp at 5 am to the café to get coffee and breakfast. Even though it was that early, the serving tent was packed with hundreds of other walkers with the same idea of getting an early start on the day.

While Day 1 had been overcast, Day 2 proved to be one of those brilliant, gorgeous days San Diego is famous for. And even though the high was only about 70 degrees, the shining sun made walking a little harder, sapping energy faster and dehydrating everyone. I don’t think I was that sore physically, since I’d been downing the ibuprofen like candy, but exhaustion made me feel like I was 110 years old (no offense is meant to any 110-year-olds out there who might be reading this!). And my feet weren’t feeling so hot, either. I had a pretty big blister on the side of my left heel that, fortunately, had drained during the night. It didn’t so much as hurt as ached. At least, I was aware of it. Within the first mile I was sooooo tempted to head back to camp. I had to keep telling myself, “look at the ocean, clear your mind, take in all the sights and sounds” to keep from thinking about quitting. I can’t tell you how many of the other walkers helped me, just by striking up a conversation.

My only real memory of that day is the hill at Sunset Cliffs. It just about killed me! Yes, the views of the ocean from the cliffs were stunning, but I was so hot, and my feet, legs and butt hurt so much, I was near tears. I just wanted to lie down along the curb and take nap. And at one port-a-potty visit I think I did doze off. Or go unconscious. I don’t know how long I was in there, but someone started pounding on the door asking me if I was ok!

I was delirious with happiness when I finally returned to camp that afternoon! After a much needed shower I crawled into my sleeping bag. I was too spent to go to sleep, but it was so nice not to be walking. I just laid there, listening to the sounds of the camp. Eventually it time to get up and head to the café to get some dinner. I wasn’t the only one who felt bad. Actually, I felt like I was an extra in Night of the Living Dead………
everyone I passed was walking stiffed legged, groaning in pain, with a glazed looked in their eyes, like zombies (but not the “fast” ones!).

I think I missed the rest of my teammates, as I didn’t see anyone I knew. I had the chicken and rice, and several cups of coffee, and watched some of the entertainment, hula dancers. It was all too much for my poor, addled brain to absorb, so I headed “home”. At the media tent I ran into Christine and Marvin and chatted with them for a while before they headed back to their tent. I stayed for a while longer, watching the slideshow of photos taken so far (yes, I was in several of them), talked to a couple of other walkers before heading off to bed. I was fast asleep by 7:30 pm, and didn’t even hear the waste truck empty the port-a-potties! I had survived Day 2!

Monday, November 26, 2007

Day 1

Josh dropped me off at the Del Mar Fairgrounds at 4:45 am on November 9. I was one of the first people to get there. I left my duffel at the gear truck and headed for the "holding" area. Slowly, the rest of my team arrived, as well as 4,700 other walkers. Everyone was anxious to get started, but the walk didn't begin until 7:15. We had a long time to wait. We talked, and laughed and tried to not think about the fact there were no potty facilities available. I finally was able to meet Nik's sister, Danielle and her husband, Terry.

At 6:30 we started stretching, and soon after the opening ceremonies began. So emotional! There were lots of tears as the names of lost loved ones, as well as survivors, were named aloud. The excitement was palpable as the moment drew near to start. And finally! we were moving, out of the fairgrounds and onto the street. The first thing we saw were the "sweep" vans, ready to go into action. Their job was to pick up people who needed help, and took them to the next pit stop.

And the people lining the streets! It was amazing! Drivers honking their horns, waving at us. Everyone was so pumped. The day itself was perfect for walking. Overcast, mid-60's, slight could not have requested a better day for a 21 mile stroll.

Day 1 took us through Del Mar to Torrey Pines State Reverve (and our first "hill), through La Jolla, to Bird Rock, Pacific Beach, and finally to Mission Bay Park (Crown Point) and camp! The scenery was out of this world. San Diego is so gorgeous, and walking by the ocean was certainly a treat.

To my delight, we had a Tent Angel, Mike Taylor, who set up all tents for The Breast Defense League! Yea, Mike! All I had to do was inflate my air mattress and take a nap, which is what I did just as soon as I took a shower in the truck. Now, that was different. After a much needed doze, and a rubdown with Aspercreme, and a handful of Motrin, I headed to the 3 Day Village. There I met up with Danielle and Terry, as well as their good friends, Christine and Marvin. Danielle got me a cup of steaming hot coffee and I have to say it was one of the best cups of coffee ever! We hung out while we waited for Danielle's friend to bring us In-N-Out burgers, read my mail (and I got a bunch! Thank you everyone!) and people watched. After chowing down on the best burgers in the world, I headed for bed, which was about 8:30 pm. Of course that was the exact time the truck came to empty the port-a-potties that were directly across from my tent. It didn't matter, I was out in a matter of minutes.

I had survived the first day, with only one blister on my heel. You can't beat that!

The Villagers Are Getting Restless

Several people have hinted that I need to get busy already and write more about my experiences with the 3 Day. Without my pc working at home it's been a little difficult. So, for this week I will give my lunchtime at work over to writing. Hopefully you will find it worth the wait.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

"We're Not In San Diego Anymore, Toto....."

Yesterday the weather here in Columbus wasn’t that much different than what I had in San Diego, mid ‘60’s. But today, the high may get up to 40 degrees, and it’s been spitting snow. The forecasters are even talking wind chill! But you know the old Ohio saying, if you don’t like the weather just wait a couple of hours, it’ll change. Drastically. And I have a head cold, of course. A lot of passengers on the plane from DFW were sneezing and coughing, and apparently no one is aware you’re supposed to cover your mouth and nose when spewing germs out of your head. Oh well.

Still working on my thoughts about the 3 Day…I should have that done this weekend. I got my photos back and they are ok….I really need a new camera.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Things I've Never Done Before

  • Showered in a semi-truck.
  • Visited a minimum of 40 port-a-potties in 3 days.
  • Hugged a man by the name of Bustin' Out Billy (go to
  • Had a gorgeous young man step in front of me, tears in his eyes and give me a hug and kiss and thank me for walking for the cure, because his mother died from cancer.
  • Attended a slumber party for 4000+ people.

Things I Learned At The 3 Day

  • What Californians call "hills", Ohioans call "mountains".
  • Don't carry more in your backpack than you're willing to carry up a 15 story "hill".
  • Port-A-Potties don't flush, no matter how many times you look for the handle.
  • Antiperspirant is useless when you're walking a 20 mile day.
  • Man! can clothing stink at the end of a 20 mile day.
  • Man! can you stick at the end of a 20 mile day.
  • Camp food is great!
  • An In-N-Out Burger snuck into camp is soooooo much better than camp food.
  • Getting up at 5 am isn't hard at all when you go to bed at 7 pm.
  • A roll of mole skin is only useful when you have a pair of scissors to cut it with.