Day 1 started with Opening Ceremonies. All of us (2,400) squashed into a big holding pen with a stage up front. Before they opened the gate, however, we dropped off bags, met with friends, got coffee (at least I did), and signed the names of those we'd lost to be lifted up on a flag. It was early, it was dark, and I was rather nervous. I was going with veterans, and I wanted to hold up my end of the team. We strategically made it up towards the front of the pen, so we could start walking soon after the ceremonies were over. The ceremony was very inspiring and loud, with music, and more flags, and honored survivors. It put us in the mood to remember everyone touched by breast cancer, and get ready to give it our all with our feet. As we left the pen we were scanned out, so they would know where each one left and how many were really there. And we started walking. And walking. And walking. A river of pink through Minneapolis suburbs.
|2,400 is a hard number to grasp.|
|Just think big.|
On day One we quickly made it to the Minneapolis "Lakes", and had a lovely morning of breezes and lake homes. The going was not tough, and I quickly settled in to enjoy the walk. I have never been much for super huge events, usually sticking to off beat individual and small group situations. This was different, but very cool. Our team had trained on the Lakes, so I was in familiar territory. I still had some paranoia because Jen had been felled by dehydration on our biggest training weekend, the morning of day two after 21 miles the previous day. I figured if it could happen to her, it could certainly happen to me. So I drank my water, and Gatorade too. If you have never experienced the stuff, you might not know that it makes you pee like a race horse. I was almost always in need when the next pit stop came into view, especially with my morning coffee habit. I had tried one big training day without it, and the resulting headache made extra bathroom time seem worth it.
|It really wasn't as bad as this looks (and a good time to stretch).|
After the Lakes we made it to our first big Cheering Station. These are set up by the event as places for your family and friends to come, to reduce too many people stalking the whole event and running over people in the process. There had been plenty of cheering people anyways, but the station was intense. People lined both sides of the path with cow bells, signs, clappers, clapping, and candy, candy, candy. Some were one stop supporters, others we would see again and again. It was great. They were a real boost, and the sugar was nice too. I had been advised to carry very little because the 60 mile buffet would provide, and provide it did. We got to lunch next, and I should have saved more room. Too bad they would not let us eat in the Sculpture Garden, but we crossed an artsy bridge and lunch was set at the very nice Loring Park. Sue's husband Jim brought us an extra special lunch from their home just a few blocks away. Holly and Pamela joined us and we had a real team lunch. The innocent looking clouds cut things a bit short by unexpectedly down pouring on us, and all the event walkers got drenched. There was just no way to keep feet dry, so it was going to be a good test of their toughness. We got moving in the rain, after many quick thanks to Jim. It rained all through downtown, and we were splashing through small lakes at times. Then the clouds rolled away and it got HOT. Into the 90's with blazing sun. We squished our way in soggy shoes through downtown, across the U of M campus where Jen and I had been roommates, and on up the Mississippi river. Memory lane and best forgotten stories kept us all amused, as some around us started limping. It was a long road along the river, and seemed to all be uphill. The Pedi-Cure van was kept busy with those needing a lift, and we started looking very forward to the finish of the day. By the time we hit it at Macalester College in St. Paul, and were scanned once again, we were very ready for the air conditioned buses that whisked us away to camp. I had a bad brush with pain on the bus when I tried to stretch my quads, and came up with a hamstring cramp that nearly dropped me to my knees. I drank lots more water and went very slowly before trying that again. That was the worst of the day, and not a single blister had visited any of our team.
Camp was a trip. Just imagine well over 2,000 walkers and volunteers bunking for the night. Showers were set up in the backs of semis. The dining tent sat thousands. The line for free massage was way too long, but at least the yoga mats were accessible. Everyone was just giddy, except the sizable percentage still limping, but they still had many smiles.
|This was only a portion of the tents.|
|After a long day on the road both Jen and Holly were a little goofy.|
20 miles down, 40 to go... Nothing much to think about except, eat, drink, sleep, and smile.