WALKING FOR A CAUSE...AND SOMETIMES JUST BECAUSE

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Atlanta 3 Day, Part Five: Homeward Bound


According to the 3 Day website, buried in the information about the Atlanta leg of the event, there is a hotel “on site” at Turner Field. This appealed to me; I knew that after the closing ceremonies we would be tired (or for sure I would be) and the idea of just grabbing my bag and walking across a parking lot was appealing.

So, yeah, I reserved a room for DKM and myself for post-walk crashing. No paying for a shuttle to get to the host hotel a good 20 miles away, no waiting in line to get on the shuttle and then wait in a long line to check in. Just drag the bags a little way, and there we would be.

But.

I sure as hell didn’t see the hotel from where we were at in the Turner Field parking lot. I could see a Holiday Inn just up the road—uphill, because I don’t think there are any downhills in Atlanta—but there was no Country Inn to be seen. According to the iPhone GPS it was only half a mile away…which was about 90% farther than I cared to walk at that point, especially since we couldn’t see it and had no idea in which direction to go.

Michelle is resourceful; she called the hotel and asked if they had a shuttle. They did not, but they would send a town car for us. She told them to look for the woman with pink pair, and we sat on a retaining wall to wait.

And we waited.

The parking lot cleared out; she called again and was assured the car was on its way.

We waited some more.

She called again; the car was stuck in traffic, but was on its way. She waved off a couple of cabs because, hey, we had a car coming.

Yeah.

Four phone calls later, the car was still stuck in traffic (which was by this point non-existent around us) so she told them to cancel and we’d get a cab. Less than five minutes later we were in a cab on the way to the hotel…which was indeed about half a mile, but around the backside of Turner Field. Half a mile, and $12 plus tip.

At that point, I didn’t care. I would have paid the guy $50. And as we got out of the car I made an offhand comment that with our luck, the hotel would have lost our reservation.

I should shut the phck up sometimes.

The clerk couldn’t find my name in the system. I had to laugh, because it just figured. I also had no idea what the hell we would do if they really didn’t have us in there and had no open rooms. I doubt either one of us was in the mood to call around and find another hotel, then find a way to get there.

But…she was just spelling my name wrong. We got the room, and thanks to a bunch of menus the clerk gave us Michelle called for food delivery, and we collapsed.

View from the front of the hotel
One of the smarter things we did, I think, was not schedule an early flight back home. We slept in, took advantage of the free breakfast (and the hotel gets bonus points; they were just about to shut it down when we went downstairs, but left it open for us) and left for the airport (this time, the town car was waiting) in plenty of time to get through security and onto the flight.

On the way back, DKM didn’t have to make me eat; we hit DFW and I was starving. With an hour between flights, we had plenty of time to walk (hobble) the length of 30 gates and get food and then board the plane.

Advice: never ever ever sit in the very last row of seats, because you will be right next to an engine, and your hearing may never be the same again. Not that mine was very good before…

Landing was almost anticlimactic; I was tired and my feet were swollen and hurt, but the 3 Day was officially over. We were home, and one of us (heh, not me) had to go to work on Tuesday.

Instead of work, I went to the doctor to get my right foot looked at, the one that snapped painfully on Day Two. The verdict: torn ligament, something my doc feels is a little outside his scope of expertise, so he’s sending me to a podiatrist. He refrained from saying anything about me having walked on it after the initial pain—too late, bub—but he nixed the idea of walking in San Diego at the end of November.

The Spouse Thingy and I have reservations for Disneyland in December, and that looks a little iffy, too. But we’ll see what the podiatrist says when I see him on the 10th.

Still…overall I’m happy with the 3 Day for 2011. I walked San Francisco with a broken toe, and if I hadn’t gotten sick I would have done all 3 days with it broken. I willingly took a few steps out of my comfort zone and went to Atlanta, snapped a ligament, and kept walking. I did some stupid, stupid things on this walk—day three I should have bowed out early—but I finished and got my freaking t-shirt.

Next year I’m not sure where I’ll be walking, other than San Diego with DKM. I registered to crew in San Francisco so that I could experience the 3 Day from that side of it, but I haven’t decided yet if I want to do another walk toward the beginning of the season. I’m tempted to pick some place new and go alone and push myself a little further outside my comfort zone, but we’ll see.

It’s a hell of a lot of fun with people you like. I’m not sure I can beat the experience of being part of a team and camping with a treasured friend.

I have time to decide.

And y’all have time to figure out what you’re going to make me do for donations. Though I’m not sure the pink spandex on the bike and around San Francisco, and the pink hair and camo pants for the Walk can be beat.

Saturday, October 29, 2011

Atlanta 3 Day, Part Four: Day Three

Morning in the crew area of camp starts at approximately 3:30 a.m. While the walkers catch a few more Zzzs, the crew gets up to get everything ready so that the walkers have an easier time. Being on the food crew, Michelle was up a little earlier than most, because those crew members need to eat before hitting the road to set up for the oncoming horde of people in pink.

On Day 3, things get rolling a little earlier because everyone has to pack up and take down the tents before leaving the campsite. By 4 a.m. the crew area was buzzing with voices kept low for the sake of those who were still sleeping and zippers on tents being pulled up and down. I tried to lie there and snooze a while longer, but between the noise of people trying to be quiet and my bladder screaming at me to get up…I was up.

At least I didn’t have to stumble through cold, dew-wet grass to get to a port-a-potty. We were pretty close to the REAL TOILETS so I got to stumble over cool concrete, only considering after I was already in the restroom that I probably should have put some shoes on. Cooties and all that.

Pink Slips, ready to take on Day 3
Breakfast, packed up, bag dropped off with the luggage crew…we lined up to leave, ready to tackle the Just 15 Miles we had to go.

That was a comforting thought. JUST 15. I needed it to be JUST because my feet? Not so happy with me. The blisters on the left foot, while looking all right, were poking at me, and my right foot was throwing a temper tantrum. I had a nasty feeling something was afoot (hahaha) but I’d gone this far, so a few more miles couldn’t hurt any worse.

Besides, I got to see stuff like this. Piedmont Park and its amazing view of the city skyline.




Luckily, the terrain was flatish and other than one section, doable. My feet, though, they were protesting even the flatness to which they were being treated, and as I got to the lunch area—by now separated from my team—I formulated the stellar plan of sitting down and checking my feet, changing socks and Moleskin, getting food, resting for a few, then hitting the road for those last few miles.

There weren’t many more to go, after all. Lunch was at 10.2 and the end was at 15.2. Two hours, given my slow pace. Two hours is easy.

But.

My brain was not fully engaged at this point. I took care of my feet, rested a few minutes…then left without lunch. Granted, I was hungry, but with this many miles chewed up and spit out, I’m always hungry, even after eating. It wasn’t until I was far enough away to know that going back was a bad idea that I realized I was irritable because =DUH= I didn’t have enough fuel on board.

I grabbed almost all the candy offered to me, but after a while that just makes you feel queasy. With 1 mile to go to the next grab-n-go I nearly grabbed a sweep van; in fact, I sat down at an intersection and the route safety guy was going to flag one down for me, but after 15 minutes I felt like I could get up and go on.

So I did.

And like an idiot, when I got to the grab-n-go, where there were chips and fruit and fresh water…I passed it. It was up an incline and I didn’t think I could get up there, and I decided that since the next pit stop was just a mile away I’d go there.

Moron.

Over the next mile I was asked by no fewer than 20 people if I was all right—I was limping horribly at this point and probably not walking a straight line—and if I needed them to find a sweep for me. I was not all right—low on fuel, hurting, not thinking straight—but I said I was. Boys and girls, when you participate in a 3 Day (and I know you will) DON’T say you’re all right when you clearly are not. I should have stopped. I should have asked someone to get a van for me. But I didn’t, because I am 4 different kinds of stupid.

I got to the pit stop and among the cheering crew at the entrance was a medical guy dressed like a bunny…who recognized that no matter what I SAID, I was not all right. He steered me towards the food, told me to eat some chips and fruit and to drink, both water and sports drink, and to sit.

I did what I was told. I grabbed some orange pieces and sucked them down, then chewed through a bag of potato chips, and sucked down some sports drink.

Why dwell on this? Because somewhere out there might be someone who has never done a 3 Day and is going to and I want this to be the message:

DON’T BE STUPID.
DON’T TAKE UNNECESSARY RISKS.
IF 20 PEOPLE ASK IF YOU’RE ALL RIGHT…YOU ARE NOT ALL RIGHT.

Ok.

Lecture part over.

Michelle and me in holding
The next stop was holding, and we got to “hold” at Turner Field in the concession area. I wish I had explored more of it, but after getting my Victory t-shirt (clearly, my real reason for walking) I plopped down and didn’t want to move. I did get up after a while to cheer incoming walkers and slap out some high fives, but after 30-40 minutes of that I had to sit back down, because my foot? Not happy.

Survivors gathering for closing
After all the walking, closing comes rushing at you. With all the walkers in, it’s time to line up and head out for closing ceremonies. I don’t know about everyone else, but I feel two things during closing: overwhelming awe and a want of being done. The wanting to be done feels a bit disrespectful, but pain sometimes overrides the want of being respectful, and , well….I kinda wanted to be done.

People lining the wall to watch
Community participation didn’t end at the cheering stations. As we moved into the closing ceremony area I looked up…hundreds of people lined the wall around us. Families and friends were crowded around us, and community surrounded us all.

It was amazing.

But I still kinda wanted to be done.

But I also wanted the survivors to have their due. As they come in and take the center stage, everyone takes a shoe off and holds it up in a salute…but my feet were so swollen that I realized if I took a shoe off, it was not going back on. If I took a shoe off and set my foot down, I would have no support for that foot, and down I would go.

I felt like a troll, but I didn’t take a shoe off. I may have been the only walker there with both shoes on.

My sincere apologies to the survivors.

And then just like that, it was over. I hugged the teammates I could, because I knew as we made our way to bag retrieval I would probably lose sight of them, and we weren’t staying at the same hotel…and I’m glad I did because the last I saw of any of them besides Michelle was as they headed for the line where their bags were.

We did it, though. We walked the walk and Michelle not only crewed but had my back the whole way (including a few ARE YOU DRINKING texts LOL) and all that was left was getting to the hotel.

The hotel that was supposed to be “on site.”

Yeah.

Not quite.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Atlanta 3 Day, Part Three: Day Two


This is what I started out Day 2 with.

The wonder blisters.

It actually didn’t hurt as much as it looks like it would; liberal applications of 2nd Skin and triple layers of Moleskin and it was good to go. I got dressed, headed for breakfast and DKM’s food line, forced myself to eat, and then waited for the rest of the team (I intentionally ate early, knowing me + food + walking = ugly, ugly things.)

Now, today was supposed to be flat, right? I begged the Walking Fairies; I can handle 20 miles of flat. Flat is good. I worship the flat when it’s ground that’s involved.

Yeah. About that…

It didn’t take long for the Walking Fairies to sprinkle me with Disappointment Dust. Granted, the hills we encountered early weren’t horrible and not even whine-worthy, but…

But.

Around 4-5 miles in, halfway up a not too steep incline, I felt a sharp snap in my right foot, followed by searing paid that raced along the outside edge of the sole of my foot, with a white-hot trajectory up through the bottom heading towards the ankle bone. It was sudden and surprising, and lingered for a while…and I kept walking. I probably shouldn’t have but I assumed it would ease up; after all, that hill had a peak I could see and the terrain was not the greatest (Atlanta…y’all need to work on your sidewalks, you really do…) so I didn’t see how it would hurt to get to the top and see.

And ease up it did. For a while, anyway. For the rest of the day it poked at me off and on, sometimes making me limp, sometimes just ticking me off. It hated the inclines more than the flat, which just gave me a reason to grumble with every new hill we headed towards. And eventually it never quite got to the off position, but that was later in the day and not a horrible issue before lunch.

But something I couldn’t grumble about…the people out cheering for us. We headed into this one, and from a distance I could see there were a ton of people so I stopped to snap the picture, but I had no idea.

The people I could see were just the ones up front. It went on for a couple of blocks at least, people lined up 3 and 4 deep, cheering and shouting, handing out candy and stickers. Hundreds and hundreds of people there to give the walkers a shout out.

People, let me tell you: it works. When you’re at the end of your rope and you walk into a crowd that exists just to bolster you up, it makes it a little easier to reach up and pull harder. Crowds like that are renewed energy. They’re worth miles of effort. They make a walker smile and cry all at once.

Overall, the community support in Atlanta was incredible. There weren’t many areas where there weren’t people out with signs of support, and there was a lot of handing out of candy, cookies, fresh bread, coffee…and Coke. On Day 2 we passed a family sitting there with a couple of coolers, offering Coke and Diet Coke to walkers.

I am a diet soda addict. I told the kid handing me the soda I loved him and I think it freaked him out a little.

I ambled along, enjoying the cold Diet Coke, a lull in the pain in my foot, and the flatness of land ahead.

But then the ugly thing happened.

A hill.

And not just any hill. I don’t think it was “cardiac hill” but it might as well have been because that sucker went on for-freaking-ever.

My foot finally rebelled, and didn’t stop screaming at me until the end of the day, when I treated it to a nice long hot shower and then sat my ass down to do nothing for a while.

Day 2 was hills. Not the flat I’d begged for. Hills.

Granted, they were not San Francisco type hills, and if not for the foot I think—other than the one hill that turned out to be about 5 miles long—none of them would have bothered me much, at least not physically.

Hills are a mental thing, and by next year I fully intend to make them my bitch.

After treating my foot to a nice hot shower I treated myself to dinner…and man, the food was awesome.

I didn’t even wait for the rest of my team. I ate, then hung around the dining area and talked to other people until I spotted them filtering in, and then wandered over to sit with them.

If I hadn’t been so stuffed, I might have snuck back into the food line; it still smelled awesome.

Have I mentioned that DKM took really good care of me? Lights out was at 9:30, right after the end of the camp show (and some day I’ll stick around and see the entire thing; I was happy enough to see half of it before exhaustion sent me to head for bed)…and right about that time the people in the tent next to us decided to pack up as much of their stuff as they could, to avoid having to get up a little early in the morning to do it then.

We were in the crew area; crew gets up earlier than the walkers for the most part, so I kind of get where they were coming from, BUT…I was trying to sleep and the line of tents across from us was also walkers trying to sleep, and they were freaking noisy.

At 9:45 DKM stuck her head out the tent and read them the riot act. And when they tried to defend what they were doing she said sharply, “There’s a WALKER in here and SHE NEEDS TO SLEEP!”

Yeah…they quieted down after that.

And I slept like a rock for the most part, and I’d need it heading into Day 3. We only had 15 miles left to walk, but with blisters on one foot and aching pain in the other…yeah, sleep was my friend.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Atlanta 3 Day, Part Two: Day One

Really, I farking hate morning.

Day One for DKM started at OMG! O’Clock; she had to be up and outside for the 4 a.m. shuttle; I got to lie there and soak in a few more warms, since the rest of the team wasn’t meeting for breakfast until 5 a.m., after which we were going to try to be on a 5:30 shuttle (they said the last one was leaving at 6:00…since there were a whole bunch of other walkers with the same idea, I’m thinking the shuttles ran well after six…)

Now, here’s the thing about breakfast. At the host hotel in San Francisco, there’s a free buffet with cereal and bagels and muffins and other breakfasty type things. I gather from talking to other walkers, it’s been the same in other cities. This hotel opened a buffet at 3:45 and we hit the buffet line and got our scrambled eggs and grits or oatmeal and fruit…and man we were all surprised when it turned out to be $13 per person.

Yeah. I had like 2 scrambled eggs on my plate. I drank ice water. For $13.

But, whatever. We had to eat.

It was a quick shoveling of food into mouths, and we headed for our luggage and the shuttles. And man, when you think of Atlanta you think “warm,” not nipply, but it was kinda chilly outside. I was very grateful for my long pink camo pants—I almost went in shorts—and my pink 3 Day sweatshirt. Still, when we got to Stone Mountain, site of the opening ceremony, I was wishing for triple players because it wasn’t just nipply, it was cold. Very very very cold. Still dark out, and frigid.

Did I mention that it was cold?

Atlanta, next time I’m there, please make sure it’s a constant 73 degrees with low humidity 24/7. Thank you.

Once the ceremony started, the cold seemed to slip away. Sure, the temperature was still low, but we had moved en masse toward the stage and 2400 people trying to occupy one space creates a little heat. And we were getting amped up; we wanted to begin, even though we wanted to savor that moment. The Pink Slips were pretty close to the exit point, which meant we would be among the first to hit the route.

I took my spiffy walking sticks, BTW. And I quickly learned that 2400 people pushing to get to a particular area, even in an orderly fashion, is not a good time to be using spiffy walking sticks. I didn’t trip anyone, but still… they got in the way pretty fast.

The route out of Stone Mountain was beautiful. It was still freaking cold, but…beautiful. And I learned within minutes that I’ve lost some speed; my teammates hit stride easily and were off, and I kept getting passed by walker after walker, until I realized I’d probably been passed by about 600 people.

It’s not a race, but still…I was way behind my team. And it set the tone; this was not going to be a speedy walk. That was all right; I fell in with several other people and talked to them. Some were first time 3 Day walkers who had tons of questions, some were pros who totally understood the concept of walking your own walk. They had teammates who were already ahead, too, and some were behind. In the grand scheme of things, it’s no big deal.

While I wanted to walk with my team, this part of it was just as important for me. The whole trip out there was important; it was an exercise in taking myself far outside of my comfort zone. I just don’t go places without the Spouse Thingy often, especially trips. I’m shy; initiating conversations is not my forte. But when I overheard newbies contemplating what was ahead, what to expect, talking about how nervous they were, was it even possible to do this, I jumped in.

I spent some time with a couple of people who had kids who wanted to walk but were too young; they were happy to hear about the Youth Crew opportunities. I walked with some people concerned over a teammate who was walking at 5 months pregnant. I was amused over some ROTC cadets running beside us with full ruck sacks, complaining about blisters after just a mile or so.

I caught up with some of the team at the first pit stop and we headed out together and towards the first cheering station. And that’s when I realized this was going to be a little different than San Francisco. We got cheered in SF. We got cheered in Georgia. The sidewalk was lined with people waving and shouting, offering candy and snacks, pink balloons floating overhead and offerings of signs we could carry and ribbons to wear. It was emotional, and a sign that this walk might have a different tone.

Now, remember that I said I was taking my Camelbak because with it I tend to drink more? I did take it. And I was drinking more. I also—I don’t know why—took a spare water bottle and clipped it to the outside of the pack. At the second pit stop I was grateful for the spare, because as I got up, Roberta pointed out the water running from the bottom of my Camelbak.

The bladder tore.

One of my helpful teammates took the leaking bladder from me to throw away as I went to fill my thank-god-I-had-it water bottle, and Roberta took my sticks so that I could deal with the wet Camelbak pack. I wound up carrying it with the backside out, awkwardly, hoping it would dry enough to use as a backpack.

Somewhere along the way, the sticks became toys and were passed around to try. And at some point a spring was sprung, and the lock on one couldn’t be tightened anymore. I was left with a walking stick that I couldn’t put weight on, and I couldn’t really carry because it kept sliding out and hitting people.

But ya know what? Those things were getting in the way and annoying the snot out of me, so tossing them into a nearby trash can was not upsetting at all. I really couldn’t use them in the crush of walkers, and carrying them was a pain in the ass, and with over 12 miles to go…yeah, dumping them was a relief.

Not even halfway through the day I’d lost my Camelbak bladder, broken the sticks…surely everything else was going to be smooth as silk, right?

Sure.

I was really starting to slow down in the afternoon. I had blisters on my feet, but those weren’t too bad. They didn’t scream nasty things at me with each step, they simply muttered “ouch…ouch…ouch” every once in a while. But my back? My back was increasingly unhappy with me. Those vertebra that went on strike last December and sent me to physical therapy started whispering to me around mile 13, were yelling at me around mile 14, and at close to 15 started screaming Bitch, sit yo’ fat ass down now or we gonna cut you a new one!

Sandra was walking with me, not complaining at all about my snail’s pace, and when I said I thought I needed a sweep van, she flagged one down.

Hell, yeah, I took one. I could have sat there at the side of the road for an hour while I rested, but the vans are there for a reason, and dammit, I was taking one. It cut about a mile and a half off my day, but so what? And ya know why I think it was a good idea?

Because I struggled to pull myself into the van. It hurt so much to get up that step—they had a stepstool but it still took 3 tries to get inside—that I thought my day was over. I enjoyed the ride (along with 7 other people) and presumed I’d be getting on the bus back to camp at the next pit stop. But…after taking the van and getting something to eat and drink at the pit stop, I’d had enough time for the screaming to stop.

There were only a couple more miles to go, anyway.

At the final pit stop there were buses waiting to take us to camp, which was held at the Georgia World Congress Center. Indoor camp! Instead of sleeping in tents in the great outdoors where we would shiver our nipples off, we would be sleeping in tents inside, where we would enjoy REAL TOILETS instead of port-a-potties AND we would get to keep our nipples.

It was an awesome sight, all the pink tents going up. In the next room was the 3 Day Shop, Post Office, Treat Pickup (thank you for sending me candy, Leslie and Susan!), New Balance, the 3 Day lounge…and food.

Holy crap, the food was good. Or I was really hungry. But I think it was pretty damned good.

Food was a slight concern going into Atlanta; I got sick in San Francisco, remember? One of the theories was that the meatballs I’d eaten had a mushroom base. No meatballs = no protein in the meal for me…which is fine, I can live one meal without it, but those were damned tasty meatballs and I kinda wanted a couple of them.

Michelle was there crewing on food services, and she grilled TPTB about what was in the food being served, looking for the things she knows I can’t eat. I made sure to go through her line so she could tell me what I could eat and what I needed to avoid. And yay! I could eat anything I wanted, except the macaroni and cheese, and that I avoided because dairy on a 3 day would not be I my best interests. Or Michelle’s, since we were sharing a tent.

There was no huddling near a single heater in the dining tent. Inside…yes, yes, yes. We still had to go outside to shower in the semi trucks, but overall, the idea of being inside made me happy, and I went to sleep really looking forward to Day 2.

Because day 2 was going to be nothing but flat.

Right?

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Atlanta 3 Day, Part One

I am tired, the kind of tired that seeps into your bones and sends tendrils of fatigue shooting through your body, threading through every muscle and nerve, pulling at your eyelids with whispers of lie down and sleep for a week. I am achy and raw, injured and blistered, and I wouldn’t change a thing.

I have to get up HOW early??!?!?!?
This 3 Day started on Wednesday as DKM and I boarded a plane at Frak O’Clock in the morning. I don’t do morning well; I didn’t sleep at all on Tuesday night, and let me tell you, I am not a happy wabbit when I start getting fatigued. My body ran on adrenaline and Diet Cherry Dr. Pepper for a while, until we hit the Dallas airport and the tiredness combined with hunger turned me into a twitchy, nauseated wabbit, and probably had Michelle wondering what the hell she’d gotten herself into, traveling with this cranky oversized furball. We found food I thought I could keep down, I started feeling a little better, and then it was off to Atlanta.

(But hey, I actually spared her the worst of my crankiness. No one has actually said it to my face, but when I let my blood sugar get that low—and I’m pretty sure it was really low—I can be a little bitchy. Just a little. I didn’t stomp my feet and start screaming, crying, and throwing things, so I think I get bonus points for that. But DKM gets +5 for not hurling her giant produce bag at me and telling me to shut the fark up.)

Less than three hours later, we landed.

Now, we’ve both ridden BART in San Francisco. Atlanta has their version, MARTA. We rode MARTA (heh, that sounds kinda dirty. Riding Marta.) from the airport to a station close to the hotel, and holy pizza bites, MARTA does it right. People, their trains don’t smell like pee! They don’t smell at all! They’re bright and clean and sparkly! You can hear what’s being said on the speaker overhead, and if you miss hearing what’s being said, there’s an LED screen on the wall telling you what station you’re pulling into. And did I mention, MARTA doesn’t smell like pee?

Once off the train Michelle arranged a shuttle to get us to the hotel (it’s nice to have friends who can hear on the damned phone, really it is) and that was a nice place. I figure if you have a dude taking your bags to your room and feel obligated to tip, you’re in a spiffy hotel.

The room was really nice. Spacious, comfy beds, and lotsa pillows. I loves me a hotel bed with lotsa pillows, especially comfy pillows. If I’d been alone, I might have rolled naked all over the comfy pillows while purring about my great love for them and how I was going to pound them with my sweet, sweet, sleeping love later. But I refrained, because I’m classy sometimes.

(Oh, and Michelle got another taste of my post-travel fatigue and nausea Thursday morning. She made me eat eggs ((really, I swear, she MADE ME EAT THEM)) and then I crashed the rest of the day. That’s one reason I wanted to go a day early…I was afraid of the exhaustion that comes with FMS and adrenaline. And it hit…I was very tired. Curl up on the bed all day and play with the iPad while wearing pink camo crankypants tired.)

Roberta (ya know, Jeter’s Mom), Beth, and Faye arrived later on Wednesday, and the rest of the team (go Pink Slips!) had dinner together on Thursday night.

The Pink Slips

Boys and girls, my team mates were educational. I now know how to make a napkin penis. We made boobies, too, but I remember the weenie. And I may have made a few rude gestures with mine. Just a few. And there might be pictures online somewhere of me waggling my napkin weenie.

Captain Beth
As we got to know each other, Captain Beth had us each speak a bit about why we were doing the walk. Everyone was eloquent and had some amazing things to say. But me? I lost it. I started to talk about Anne, and I choked. This is why I prefer writing to speaking; the words that get drowned in tears can still come out on virtual paper. Out loud, they get swallowed whole, and all I could really do was say that I miss her.

I have a plethora of reasons for doing the 3 Day. Some are personal; I need to know that I can. I’ve done it because I wanted to go play with my friends. The challenge. The community. I do it for all the selfish gifts it’s given me and insight I’ve gotten. But the foundation of all that is the people I’ve lost to breast cancer, and the people I never want it to ever touch.

Every 8 seconds, a woman is diagnosed with breast cancer.

Every year, we lose 450-500 men to breast cancer.

This has to stop; we need a cure. We need money to fund the research, to pay for mammograms for those who can't afford one, to educate those who are getting inaccurate information about the disease.

The Pink Slips walked in Atlanta with 2400 other people and with the support of nearly 450 crew members, because this has to end.

Part two coming soon...

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Exhausted still, but look at this while I try to engage my brain enough to blog...

...and keep in mind, this is after most of these people either walked 60 miles, or spent 3 days working 12-14 hours a day...




They know how to rock the walk and find the fun in the 3 Day...

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

My bag is packed...

...well, mostly. I have a couple things to stick in it still, but essentially it's loaded, probably overweight, and ready to go.

I haz an excited.

Oh, and pink hair.

I haz pink hair.


I'm ready for Atlanta. I hope it's ready for me...

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Hmmm...

It started with this, a science experiment in the bathroom...


...and we moved onto this, which is not helped by having gotten one of the worst haircuts ever...


...and we ended up with this. Way too much red in there...


I kinda dig the color and if I was just going for blond I'd leave it, but I don't think that's going to hold the pink, so we'll be touching up later.

And that's the Royal We. As in Me. No kitties will be harmed or dyed during this process...

And I really did get a really bad, too short, weird laying hair cut :/

Saturday, October 15, 2011

We leave in 4 days!

Yep, in four days DKM is going to be dragging me onto an airplane at o-fark-thirty in the freaking morning (6 am...TAKEOFF AT SIX IN THE MORNING...WTF were we thinking???) so I'm kind of babying the feet and not pushing too hard.

I headed out at 11:15 thinking I'd do 10 miles; not so much as to cause muscle strain, but not too little to be beneficial at this stage. Now, I displayed a couple kinds of stupid by not paying attention to the outside temps and wore a black t-shirt and black shorts...it wasn't miserable because it wasn't hot-hot, but I did have a moment of "I need a new brain" going on.

At close to four miles I decided to stop at McD's for a drink (yes I had a ton of water with me, but I am addicted to diet soda, and it's cheap there.)

This is the stellar view I have when rounding the corner from Pitt School Road (a "major" street in Dixon) on the way to McDs.

Lots of semis...I really do think the street was designed with them in mind since it's easy access to food right off the Interstate.

In any case, my shoe was rubbing my heel funny, and it was also an excuse to stop and check my laces, see if I needed to tighten them.

Something very cool...there was a line of pre-teen boys in line when I walked into McD's, 9 or 10 of the getting-hairy-very-squeaky things, and when I took my place in line behind the last kid, one in the middle of their line said "Ma'am, you can go ahead of us, not all of us have decided what we want."

Now, I expected to hear grumbling because the kids at the head of the line obviously had made up their minds, but they all started chirping their agreement with a lot of "Yes, please go ahead."

Seriously. They were grubby but very polite and I hope their parents know they've got some good kids there.

It also made me glad I was only getting a drink.

After a few minutes of sitting I decided I'd head home after that; I wasn't going to get 10 in, just 6, but I'm erring on the side of no blisters right now.

I may wish I'd gone ahead and bought new shoes a couple weeks ago...

The walk home was nice even if it was warm.

One foot in front of the other...

Four days! And only six until the Walk!

And...there will be pink hair...yes, there will...

Thursday, October 13, 2011

I have priorities, yo...


Come on..why else would I do it, if not for the free t-shirt at the end?

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Camp shoes

You know, shoes to wear in camp...


No, not gonna walk in them, but I need to be stylin' while wandering from the showers to the dining tent and stuff.

Plus, they will totally match my pink camo pants.

And oh yeah, I am totally inflicting those pants on DKM while we fly from Sacramento to Atlanta...Hat, too, I think!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Training hard...very hard...

Getting ready to invade Atlanta...

Can you guess how hard?
WE WILL WIN THIS WAR!!!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Ya, I guess it does...

More than once I heard (and read online) that participating in a SGK 3 Day is a life changing event. "It will literally change your life."

And because I am sheep, I've parroted the line a few times myself, but it really hit home today.

You should know, I've always had a visceral reaction to the color pink. It's always been a deep down disgust, bordering on stupid it's been so bad. Neon pink, I've been fine with and learned to like. But pink-pink?

Ugh.

No thank you.

But today a box of t-shirts came in the mail; a week or so ago Woot had packs of 5 t-shirts at an abnormally low price, and I ordered some for the Spouse Thingy. The thing is, one did not get to choose the colors of the t-shirts one would receive.

One of the shirts in the Woot box was a light pink t-shirt.

He looked at them and said I could have the pink one if I wanted, and instead groaning and sticking my tongue out at it, I grabbed it.

I wanted it.

If that's not a major change for me, nothing is.

In other news, my spiffy Vibram funky 5 finger shoes do not provide a cushion against banging a toe against a heavy metal object.

You know, that toe.

The one that I broke a month ago.

The one that has a bump on it and still hurts.

Yeah. Not my brightest move to date, and is proof that housework--I was sweeping--is evil and best left to professionals.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

I keep thinking "Cardiac Hill..."

You know if a city with a 3 Day Walk has a street known locally as "Cardiac Hill," that whomever is in charge of mapping the route is going to make sure that said street will be smack dab in the middle of one of the days' routes.

Probably Day 2, since that seems to be the hardest day.

I'm also convinced that there is no such thing as a mostly flat 3 Day route and each and every hill that's accessible will be part of the typical 3 Day Walk.

That's not a complaint. not really... Well, maybe it's a tiny one. I'd like to walk in a mostly flat city someday.

Still, with that in mind, and with the weather not exactly terrific for heading to walk in San Francisco, we headed for UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento, where the Spouse Thingy spends an inordinate amount of time passing gas, because they have what amounts to indoor hills.

Standing outside, looking up, it's almost intimidating. That just looks a lot higher up than it actually is.

It looked worse last year, when he first took me to walk the ramps inside.

In fact, I remember looking at the ramps last year and thinking there was no way in hell I would make it all the way up without barfing all over everything.  And seeing the ramps was intimidating. I think I figured I'd go up once, come down, and be done with it.

I made it up and down three times, and then we headed for the cafeteria for burgers we didn't eat because they were cold, and drinks we guzzled down because they were also cold.

With Cardiac Hill in my head, we headed inside the building and went straight for the ramps, and oddly enough, they weren't half as intimidating as they were last year. I didn't exactly squeal with joy at the sight of them, but I didn't feel a sense of dread either.

I'll take that as progress.

We went up and down 5 times, further than we went last year. We stopped after that, not because going back up again would have been too hard--I was quite happy to know that I could have--but we had other things we needed to do, and we fully intend to hit the gym tomorrow, and I want to not be too sore to go.

Because the gym...it has this thing.

An incline trainer.

I've never tried it before, because up until now it has seemed intimidating. It has freaking handles to hang on! You wouldn't need to hold on for dear life unless it was a total bitch to use, right?

I'm not sure what the max incline on it is, but I've seen some online with as much as 30% and with 6% declines.

I need to try this just to try it. And I'm not worried about falling off it now. Only worried about running out of steam after a few minutes in front of all those women who are so thing that their heads make them look like walking lollipops.

I think from here on out, until DKM and I leave for Atlanta, my short days are going to be focused on getting more prepared for hills. I'm not worried about distance; I can do 20 miles. It's the hills that make me unhappy on the 3 Day, and that's just because I get winded and nauseated if they go on too long.

And since we'll be at the gym, I'll probably swim, because hey...swimming is fun.

As long as there aren't any creepy old guys in the pool.

Sunday, October 2, 2011

It started with this...

...and if you take anything from this, what's on this little image is the most important part in my verbosity.


As soon as Michelle posted that on Facebook, I was filled with excitement, joy, more excitement, and keen sense of want. I wanted to be there, to get pictures of her carrying the flag and pictures of her dad in the survivor's circle... because trust me, this is a big deal. If you've ever been to opening and closing in a 3 day, you know it's a big deal.

At the opening, you're pumped and ready to go, and there's that small part of you that just wants to get going already. And I think they know it, because that's when the beachballs come out and they get bopped around for 10-15 minutes before the ceremony starts (and for the record, my head is a beach ball magnet, as evidenced by how many times I got popped on the head by them in San Francisco.) You go along with it while Stretching Dude gets you warmed up, and you really start feeling like you want to get going.

But then it really starts. People bearing giant pink flags come streaming out--a bit slowly--from behind the stage, and those flags say "MY MOTHER," "MY SISTER," "MY FRIEND," and "MY FATHER," among others.

Memorial flagYou still want to get going, but the meaning of what you're about to do really starts to sink in again. And then the survivors come out, and they raise the flag bearing names of those who didn't make it...and it really sinks it.

If you don't get at least a little choked up, you have a cold, dark soul...

So yeah, I got very excited that Michelle is going to be a flag bearer, and her dad is going to be in that survivor's circle.

It's a big deal.

Since I was so far from my goal for Atlanta, I shoved the idea of being there to the back of my head. At that point I was nearly $800 from goal, and I knew that if I didn't hit it with fundraising, I'd be covering the cost.

And that's fine; I signed up knowing I might cover most of it.

Then comes today, where instead of getting outside and taking a nice, long walk, I sat here most of the day texting with a friend. There was a lot of "I have to go in just a minute" which never quite turned into actually getting up and doing anything. She's bored; her spouse thingy isn't home and her kids are with their grandpa today, and I was just engaging in some professional procrastination. I didn't feel pushed to get up at any given moment, because the weather is turning and it's cool out, so there was no heat to beat by getting out the door early. And I only planned on 6-8 miles anyway.

We started talking about the 3 Day, about Michelle carrying the flag, about Atlanta and fundraising and--admittedly--not liking the idea of asking people for more. There's such a thing as compassion fatigue and once people start feeling it, they stop donating.

And I get that. You can only do so much.

But then she offered something: if I hit my goal this weekend, would I consider going to San Diego?

Considering something is always an option. Following through? That's something else. I told her I'd think about it. I thanked her (because I'm not totally backwards) but I'd think about it.

I'd been thinking for about 10 minutes when she sent another text message.

I had to go look, to make sure she was saying what I thought she was saying.

She covered the difference between what I've raised and my goal.

Not necessarily to go to San Diego for a third walk, but as a buffer for the Thumper-Patented-Guilt that would follow any need to take a sweep van or even skip part of the Atlanta walk.

For the record, it would still feel like failure--and that doesn't have to make sense, it just is--but at least it would be a donor-approved failure.

Fine. Point and laugh at me. I can take it.

It also opens the door for one last walk this year. One which will likely be mostly self-funded, which does chip away at the idea that I need to walk it all. It would be just for me, no expectations on anyone else's part.

Hate the idea of tenting with a stranger.

Still...

The only real thing standing in my way is knowing that about 3.5 weeks after that walk the Spouse Thingy and I have plans to take the first real vacation we've taken...ever. And the things we're planning on will require a lot of walking.

I think I'll have recovered by then, but...

Lots to think about.