Here’s the play-by-play of my 3-Day weekend for all interested. It’s very long…
Day 1: At the opening ceremonies I managed to run into my training-walk buddy, Anne and her walking partner, Lisa. As they herded us to the stage for the speeches and kick-off we somehow ended up in the front of the holding area. This meant that we were some of the first walkers on the course around 7 AM. We walked and chatted throughout and got to know Michelle, another single walker from Upstate New York we had met during the opening ceremony. The walk was beautiful through the Eastern Suburbs. It was very hot (about 89 degrees) but there was a good breeze blowing. Pit-stops consisting of toilets, snacks, water/Gatorade fill-ups and medical tents were every 3-4 miles along the route and I drank a full 32 oz. of liquid between each one. I alternated between Gatorade and water, hoping to ward off dehydration and hyponatremia which we had been sternly warned about. I didn’t eat much as the combination of eating, the heat and walking left me feeling sick. The day passed quickly and despite feeling blisters growing on my heels the walk went smoothly and I finished around 2:30 PM, apparently I was one of the first 200 off the course. I had no intention of walking that fast but just walked and chatted with my group.
Camp was impressive. There were food tents, an enormous dining tent (with seats for the nearly 1600 walkers and crew), a “main street” which had sponsor tens, about 4 dozen porta-potties, shower trucks and medical tents. I got my gear and a crew member helped me locate my tent spot and set up my tent. This is when I realize that the tents were SMALL and hot. I was a lone walker who had a stranger as a tent mate. This meant I would be sleeping in a 6×6 area with a stranger. To make matters worse, my tent location was a good 100 yards from the nearest bank of porta-potties. I was not feeling positive about the night ahead. I showered and re-connected with Anne and Lisa in the Pepperidge Farm tent on cushy chairs and couches. I knew Michele had opted out of the tent option and was stating in a local hotel and I started to think that was a good choice. By the time I was done with dinner I was over the camp experience and got the hotel number from Michelle and booked a room – best choice ever! I came to find out about 120 walkers were staying in this hotel, so I was far from the only one. I was a much happier person to have my own bathroom and air conditioning.
Day 2 started shaky after a bout of stomach issues that arose around 3 AM. I was sooooo grateful to have my hotel room at that point. By 6 I was feeling better and had a few bites of breakfast before the walk started at 6:45. It was a chilly morning but I was sweating – not a good sign. I was drinking 32+ oz of water each hour to ward off dehydration. By the first pit stop (3.7 miles) I felt better and had 32 oz of Gatorade before refilling my bottle with water. During the next leg of about 3.2 miles I could feel the blister on my left heel pop. I stopped and re-taped and powered though to lunch (10.9 miles in) and ate a few bites but quickly became nauseas. I re-taped my feet again and downed more Gatorade. My pace was much slower and as I was trying to protect my heels from the pain of the blisters I apparently changed my stride because my knee started to ache and I realized I was walking on the balls of my feet. About half-way between lunch and the next pit stop I felt the other blister pop. A few blocks later I had to admit defeat and flag down a “sweep” van – it was full! Guess I wasn’t the only one struggling on day 2.
I waited for another van and rode to the 13-mile stop where the medical tent checked out my feet and found two gigantic blisters that are the size of my palm. To make matters worse the new blisters were on top of old blisters that had formed underneath calluses on day one. They “red carded” me and I was medically sidelined – not allowed to continue. I hung out in the medical area for a while, icing my sore knee and letting my blisters air out. I was grateful I wasn’t one of the dehydrated walkers hooked up to IVs or the woman who was taken by ambulance to the hospital. Having blisters ground me seemed wimpy but my health wasn’t in danger. Eventually I got on the bus to take me to camp; it was also full by the time we left – 60 seats of those unable to continue; the walking wounded.
After getting back to camp I found Anne and Lisa again and hung around for a bit. I had called Mark to come get me to save on cab-fare to the hotel. I was great to see him and Maggie after such a long and painful day. We went to the hotel and decided it was dumb for me to spend another night there so we gathered my things and went home. There I was able to just sit with my feet up and keep them clean (walking around camp and even the hotel barefoot was pretty gross with open sores on my feet!). I slept very well except for when the sheet hit my poor sore heels.
I was really disappointed and angry at myself for not finishing but the pain when I walked was no joke… I honestly can say that un-medicated childbirth hurt less. A nurse at my final pit stop reminded me that the walk is to raise money and awareness about saving the tatas and not just to walk 60 miles. Every step made me wince and I had already walked 32 miles – that is nothing to scoff at. She told me it wasn’t worth hurting myself in the long run to try to go a few more miles.
On day 3 I walked/hobbled the final mile in flip-flops and took part in the amazing closing ceremony which made it all worth it. They moved it into the convention center due to the threat of rain. It was pretty cool to walk in as 100s of others cheer you on. After assembling and getting our victory shirts we lined up and walked into the main hall, greeted by cheering family and friends. The crew of 275 volunteers came in followed by the 150 survivors who walked. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house. It was pretty amazing. This walk raised $3.1 million for Komen for the Cure and is added to the over $300 million previous walks have raised.
Thank you to all of my donors to helped me along my journey. I will be doing this again with the mission to complete all 60 miles …and maybe they’ll find a cure along the way.
C.TRAC information solutions
Michael Martin/Printing Concepts, Inc.
John & Annette Gaeth
Dick & Mary Lou Sanders
The Sopa Family-John, Sue, Elyse & Alaina
Chris And Gretchen Landes
Bill & Bonnie Gaeth
The Gajewski/Doering Families
The Hughes Family
Tony & Erin Gajewski
Kathleen, Craig & Caroline Niess
Vin & Vinnie Karnik
Heritage Elementary School Staff, Lima OH