Susan G Komen Walk for the Cure 3 Day Event

Trip Start Mar 02, 2008
Trip End Dec 03, 2008

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Flag of United States  , California
Monday, September 8, 2008

Amazing Inspiring Rewarding Grueling Difficult Emotional Hilarious

There are too many adjectives and too many emotions to describe the indescribable 3 day adventure. Laughter and tears are both part of this journey. I drove to Sacramento on Thursday night to spend the night with Bo and was in bed by 10:15... something I never do but found myself exhausted. I'd made a mistake by requesting a day of wine tasting on Tuesday with Pele and did it on an empty tummy. That night's supper didn't stay with me and in the morning, I awoke with intestinal distress and started my Wednesday with 3 Imodium. I only mention this as it's a precursor of things to come. I had set myself up for dehydration. Friday, Bo and I arrived in SF in the hotel lobby at exactly the same time as Sunny and after checking in, the 3 of went to dinner. We were back and in bed at shortly after 10pm with a 3:30 alarm clock set. I also got a 4:30 wake up call from Twyla but by then, we were dressed, eating breakfast and ready to board the 4:45 bus taking us to the Cow Palace for the event opening ceremony.

We arrived in the dark to what started and ended as the most organized event I've ever participated in. We took our luggage to a bus that was marked with our tent row D for us to pick up at camp that night. Immediately, we noticed all of the joy and costumes and festivities happening around us. As newbies, we felt somewhat under-dressed. Bo and I quickly said yes to temporary "pink ribbon" tatto's for our faces. Around us were butterflies, sparkles, flowers, bees, lot's of boobies and across the parking lot, I saw a man dressed as an angel. Somewhere over the rainbow was playing and I called over my shoulder to Sunny and Bo that I'd be back. Without asking permission, I took his hand and wrapped my arm around him and began dancing and yes, he joined me. It was an opportunity that I couldn't pass up; dancing with an angel to "Somewhere over the rainbow".
Opening ceremonies began and the keynote speaker was phenomenal. A realization struck me. I had signed up for this walk mostly for my own health as motivation. The truth that it touched Wendy and Micky and Fruit and Renee was part of the deciding factor of this walk versus any other walk. As I stood there listening and the survivors all came out and formed a circle, tears began to well up. Suddenly, I was in something that was so much bigger than me and my health and my friends. My teammates had similar experiences.

And the walk begins...

We marched out and our badges were bar scanned and about 2500 people were off and walking. Friday's walk was listed as 20.4 miles. (we grew to call these Komen miles as a few personal pedometers marked them at 24 miles that first day). There were pit stops and cheering stations all along the route as well as a lunch break and medics. The pick up or sweep vans were on the alert for any distressed walker and were brightly decorated and some of our greatest cheerleaders. As they drove along the route, they would tap the horn and wave and cheer. I can't even tell you how encouraging that was when traffic was all cheering for us and clapping and holding up signs of support and thanks. We totally fell in love with 2 men, father and son, with pink pom pom's on their shoes that met us at least 5 times that first day. Each time we saw them, their energy was fresh and new as if we were the very first walkers they saw that day. Love flowed from them directly into my heart. They came out all three days! We were also tickled by a car and a van that traveled with us all decorated with "Hookers for Hooters" slogans. These costumed gals would pull of the road and do a dance routine and cheer and they kept music blasting for us. They were so much fun. I suppose there are costumes in every city, yet as I look at my pictures, I think perhaps San Francisco is some of the most outrageous and fun as "anything goes" seemed to be the motto.

The walk was organized so that you had to be at each check point by a specific time. If you missed the closing time, you were automatically put in a bus and moved to either lunch or camp depending on where you were in the walk. With 2200-2500 walkers, they gave us an hour and a half window to leave in the morning which spread out the walkers and supported keeping us all on sidewalks and in some cases single file.
All along the route were signs with arrows pointing the way as well as encouraging messages and our beloved safety marshals and crossing guards. The ones on motorcycles were also brightly decorated. They were also our cheerleaders... "looking good" "doing great" "go walkers" and so very appreciated.

The first day, mile 16-18 was the hardest for me. It was steep, it was hot. Sunny was in her zone walking ahead of us and I found myself getting angry that I was carrying 50 lbs more than she was. Tears were just beneath the surface and still one foot kept going in front of the other. After the last pit stop, it was some steep, steep, steep downhill climbs that are very hard on the toes and knees.

I can't tell you everywhere we walked on day one, but we ended up at Crissy Field under the Golden Gate Bridge. What a sight to come home too!!! Our badges were scanned and we collected our luggage and given a tent to set up. A staff person walked over to assist me as I didn't have a tent mate. Suddenly, the nausea struck. I looked around for a trashcan to puke in and saw none close. We were standing in thick turf grass. I gave out. At the point, I laid down in the grass and it eased the nausea. When the staffer and teammates realized they lost me, Bo and Sunny then took me to medic's tent where I was promptly put on a cot and gatoraid was poured into me and vital's taken. While an IV was threatened, I was a good patient and drank 4 bottles of gatoraid instead. There were air coolers blowing in the tent and I was shivering from head to toe and wrapped in a blanket as my teeth chattered. After an hour and a potty, they thought they would send me back to my tent, but the getting up and down caused the nausea to return and the vitals were too low. It was more laying down and more gatoraid for me. They rechecked vitals every 15 min and finally released me when my bottom number got up to 74-it was 55 at first check. With instructions to eat, sleep and make no decisions yet about tomorrow, I was sent to bed. The most painful moment of the three days came at 10:00 pm when all of the gatoraid finally hit and I had to pee so bad and my body ached so bad I didn't have any idea how I was going to make it out of the tent and in the dark to a porta potty. I found my flashlight and though tears, I did it. I awoke again at 3am but held it at bay until 5am when again, I ventured out.

At 6 am, Bo and Sunny asked me about breakfast. I came out of my tent to see the most magical world. I was standing in a field of green covered with pink tents and the ocean was in front of me and I could clearly see the golden gate bridge. It was misty and the sunrise was pink and orange. I stood and looked around as if I had landed in OZ. I saw all the tents I missed the night before; there was a mailbox, a tv lounge, a company store, foot massages, and Pepperidge Farm sitting room. There were 4 trucks of showers, a table of towels (we bought towel service for $12) and a large dining tent.

I managed breakfast, shower and visit to the medic to self-treat my feet and the team, "Manifesting Courage" was off that morning. I wouldn't have missed it for anything; we walked across the Golden Gate Bridge. (We had to sign waivers first stating we would not jump....I seriously wondered who would have had the energy to climb over the ledge for it.) At the first pit stop, the medic foot care resembled a MASH unit full of wounded feet. It was there that a conversation with my medic and team-mates resulted in the decision that I would get on the bus and wait for my teammates at lunch. I had walked the first 3.4 and would catch them at mile 12 and finish the day with them. I was sad by the choice but I knew that I was pale and tired and that it was important to me to be able to walk back over the bridge in the afternoon. At lunch, someone offered me one of the signs to carry (there were banners that many walkers carried). It worked out great for me as in my morning confusion, I left without a hat, the banner blocked the sun!! I carried "Celebrations" until I saw the "Courage" flag and traded flags as I have an affinity for "Courage". Sunny and Bo were glad to see my color restored and Sunny noted my vitality. That day was over 22 miles for Sunny and Bo and I put in all about 13. Walking back over the GGB, Sunny described as sensory overload. The sounds, the strong wind, the beauty, the people, the way your body felt after walking all day knowing this took you back to camp.

Since my bed already stunk from the night before, I again declined the shower until morning. Sunny and Bo stood in long lines waiting for it and I choose not too. After dinner, I sat for a bit and went on to bed, putting biofreeze on all the aching parts before going down.

In the morning, we were up at 5am packing our bags and reloading them into trucks, tearing down our tents, I did shower and eat and medic my feet.... And realized that I'd made yet another mistake... When I packed the shoes I wore the first two days, I'd packed the inserts with them. I walked in my spare bigger pair without any inserts on day 3. I tried to go back, but my luggage was now too deeply buried. I think the fall-out from this mistake was the knee. At pit stop 3, we iced my knee and wrapped it in an ace bandage. At the same time, Bo's old foot injury had surfaced and she was having both arches wrapped.

Coming out, there was a phenomenal cheering section. I felt like I'd just won an Olympic Gold, it felt so good! The cheers seemed to shift the mental energy and give us strength to keep going and persevere. This day we saw so many different parts of the city; City Hall, the De Young, Chinatown, Little Italy and ended at the Marina Green Park. We walked into a crowd of supporters. Families had shown up with bouquets of flowers for their walkers and thunderous applause. We walked through a tunnel of high 5's and did our final bar scan to say we made it and picked up our team shirt. Then we joined the crowd and cheered the next two hours for those behind us still coming home. When all arrived in, we honored our staff and medic's and safety crew and then we were asked to form lines of 8 women and again we walked, arm in arm to closing ceremonies a half mile away. In this place, the survivors had been held to the end of the line and they walked through us while the crowd saluted by a raised shoe from the walk. Again, it was a powerful ceremony.

The staff did an exception job with laying out our luggage by tent assignment so the three of us found our together and took it to the bus for the what then seemed long ride back to the hotel. Eating out was out of the question, and we ordered in food for the night. This time, I was first in the shower. Morning started at 7 am and we got Sunny off to the train station before Bo and I returned to Sacramento to laundry and download pictures.
There is talk of doing it again in 2010!

Amazing Inspiring Rewarding Grueling Difficult Emotional Hilarious
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mire on

Susan G. Komen
Great, inspiring pictures!!! It looks like SOOO much fun!
I thought I would share with you a great site I found: who is featuring Susan G. Komen for the Cure this month. You can do all of your usual shopping through the site AND have a percent of your sale go to Susan G. Komen.

ENJOY and keep up the great work:)

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