Monday, September 20, 2010

Holy Cow - Part 2

60 miles.  What exactly does it take to walk 60 miles?  #1, training: if you want to feel good.  #2, friends: if you want to feel happy.  #3, water, Gatorade, and snacks, snacks, snacks: if you want to finish.  #4, sunscreen and a big hat: if you are pasty and paranoid like me.  And it sure helps to have a never ending cheering section, and toilets every hour.  Plus camp at the end of every day for showers, food, and lots of company.  Plus the fact that everyone was on an event high didn't hurt at all.  We were all in it together, and we tried our darnedest to make it a good time.  Follow the jump cut for photos and more....

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.  

Pamela too.
 20 miles down, 40 to go...  Nothing much to think about except, eat, drink, sleep, and smile.

Holy Cow- 60 Miles is a Long Way

One month ago I was at the start of a grand adventure.  60 miles of walking in 3 days.  60 Miles!  It was an incredible.  First off, I have to thank all the people who donated to the cause.  Breast Cancer is an awful, terrible, horrible illness, and it is on the rise.  The whole point of this walk is to save lives.  Period.  "Because everyone deserves a lifetime" is the official motto, and that is so true.  The money raised goes in two directions, breast cancer research and breast cancer awareness.  We raised a ton of cash, and that rocks.   We also raised awareness, and inspiration, which are not measurable but key to the whole deal.  Women power is an awesome thing!  Each woman participating was required to raise over $2,000, and there were well over 2,000 of us.  There were a few men walking too, and boy did they have fun.  They were celebrities.  I think the coolest thing about the whole event was the attitudes of each and every person.  Personal differences were put on hold, the every day grind was forgotten, there was no competition to look good or be the best, no judgment, we were one. And the focus was intense.  One foot in front of the other, and give everyone else all the support you can.  The positive vibe kept us walking on air.  And it was all personal determination, because there was no external pressure to finish.  There were sweep vans cruising the course constantly to help anyone out who was in trouble, and no shame in finishing early.  Because of that we all pushed harder.  Complaints were the exception, not the rule.  And the volunteers and supporters ROCKED.  There were many sad stories, of course, but it wasn't a bummer of an event.  Everyone was remembered and held up, no one was forgotten.

So, what was it like?  Well, let's start with my team.  First there was Jen.  Jen was my college roommate, in my wedding, and my son's god mother.  She lost her mom to breast cancer 15 years ago, and she has done this event every year.  60 miles, seven years in a row.  Amazingly inspiring.  Next there was Sue.  She is friends with Jen, has lost several dear ones to cancer, and is determined to walk as long as there is no true cure.  She started the year after Jen, but then did two walks in one summer a few years back so also had seven walks under her belt.  How could I not do well with such a power house team??  As for me, Jen inspired me to join the team, as well as all the women in my life who are survivors, and those I have known who didn't make it. All together, the walkers and the inspiring, we went together.  Our team also had two crew members who put in countless hours preparing and fund raising, as well as tireless event support over four days.  Pamela was a walker, then was diagnosed herself just before her wedding last year.  She is currently in treatment and I have no idea how she has so much energy.  Holly is a fantastic supporter who has crewed every year that Jen has walked.  There is also a strong support network in the Cities of friends, family, and spouses, who helped fund raise, trained with us, brought food, were drivers for the weekend, and did countless things to help make it all happen.  Thank you all!
Sue, myself, and Jen, all geared up and ready to go.

Holly and Pamela, with their Pedi-Cure Cab.  Prepared to cruise the course and picking up anyone needing a lift.

We were ready.  We had each trained over 250 miles over the summer, we had our gear dialed, we were well hydrated and supplied.  The Pedi-cure van had it's snacks, water for any riders, and the perfect attitude.   And then we started walking!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

What I Did With My Summer Vacation

I am busy remembering how to blog.  T'was a crazy summer and the hit list will just have to wait.  Just wanted to jump onto the blog to prime the pump a bit.  I get overwhelmed sometimes (all the time?) and get myself into a tizzy thinking I will be stuck forever going in circles.  I don't have to do it all at once, and everything could be much worse.  Life is actually excellent, everyone is healthy, employed, and moving forward.  I spent my summer vacation in pursuit of a goal, and I accomplished that.  I walked my 60 miles and compiled and gave away over $3,300 in the fight against breast cancer.  Now, as I return to my regularly scheduled life, I can re-organize and prioritize.  Right?