Wednesday, November 25, 2009

day two - part II: tears of laughter, pain, sorrow and hope

As we continued our 20-mile walk on day two, our muscles began to get stiff and our feet began to ache. Whenever we would make a stop at the well equipped pit stops staged every two to three miles along our route, we could feel our bodies rebel against the walk. At least for me, the only way I could start propelling myself to walk again, would be to pitch my body forward with the hope that my legs would move before I did a face plant.

We would hobble out of one pit stop and in to the next.  When it came time to sit down for lunch, it took every ounce of energy to pull ourselves up from the ground and continue walking - and not say, throw ourselves in front of the shuttles that were cruising alongside us. 


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I cannot stress just how important the crowds of people that were lining the route and cheering were to our psyche. If you have it in your mind that you could never physically complete an event such as this, don't let that stop you from showing your support on the course.  I promise that you will get just as much out of cheering as the people who are out there participating in the event. 

And, most likely, you'll be able to walk the next day without first consuming Motrin.



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When we were about five miles from camp, when all four of us wanted to lay down and call it quits, our teammate, Cheryl, decided that the time was ripe for her to play some motivational music.  Cheryl, the awesome spirit queen that she is, had brought along her iPod and a small speaker that she wore on her fanny pack.  As you watch the clip below, keep in mind that we had walked a total of 35 miles by this point, with 15 of those miles walked within the past eight hours. 

 


Cheryl played that same soundtrack again when we were approximately one mile from camp and both she and Debbie danced across the finish line.  

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We took this obligatory, "Yay I finished the second day of walking, although I think my feet are going to fall off the bottoms of my legs!" photo ...

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And then I crawled in to my tent certain I would NEVER move again. 

This was my view. Notice the silhouettes of doves?



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Once Cheryl and Terrell went back to their hotel room, Debbie and I climbed out of our respective tents with the goal of cleaning up before dinner.  I was so impressed with everything on this 3-Day walk, from the quality of the pit stops that were set up along the route, to the delicious meals that were served three times a day, to the medical and equipment support, to overall presentation, to the facilities that were available for the several thousand walkers to take a piping hot shower at the end of the day.  

Hey gorgeous! Nice headdress!



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(For those interested: there were approximately 10 individual showers - with curtains - within the truck and there were approximately 10 trucks (for a total of ~100 showers). The water came from an approximately 12,000 gallon tanker truck and there were generators that heated the water up before it was plumbed in to the mobile shower truck. Although it might seem like that wasn't enough showers for the number of people at the event, since everyone finished at varying times - and showered at varying times - I never had to wait.)



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To the multiple sinks that had both hot and cold running water.  

(Something like this would be perfect at our house!)



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We no sooner dropped our stuff off in our tents and were making our way in to the main tent for dinner, that we heard cheering and clapping. Those that had gathered were rallying around the camp flag pole and a path was opening up ...


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The people in front of us were pointing to something behind us and when we turned to look, we saw that the last walkers of the day were coming in to camp, proudly holding the 3-Day flag, while everyone cheered them on. 


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And directly behind the last walkers, were all of the police officers that had been escorting us on the course, riding two-by-two. It was an awesome sight.



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Debbie and I wobbled in to the main tent where we had dinner and enjoyed two hours of live entertainment...


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And then we hobbled back to our tents. 

But before turning in for the night, I took the opportunity to go and visit the Remembrance Tent. Luckily, I was the only one there because it was quite an emotional experience for me. 


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The Remembrance Tent is for those walkers who have completed 3-Day events in the past and have since lost their lives to breast cancer.  Inside the Remembrance Tent is a white tent for the host city, flanking the Remembrance Tent are white tents for the other cities where the 3-Day walk is held. On top of each white tent is a pink breast cancer ribbon with the city name and within each tent, a light burns to illuminate it from within. 


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Along the walls of the Remembrance Tent, there are pictures of the various walkers who have passed. And what shocked me is how young and brilliantly vibrant these women were. Beautiful Tamarra was born the same year as me and passed on my husband's 42nd birthday.  She was 37-years old.



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Yvonne was a year younger than me and she really looks like someone I would have liked. Her face is so kind and her little boy is adorable.



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I spent almost two hours looking at all of the pictures lining the walls of the Remembrance Tent, reading the words that were written in the guestbook and various messages that people had written on the white tents from each of the cities. 


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And then I left my own note on the San Diego tent, while realizing that although not all of the people whose names I wrote lost their battles to breast cancer - they lost their battle to cancer. And cancer is cancer is cancer and cancer sucks.



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Then I felt so exhausted from a full day of walking - and laughing - and cheering - and crying - that I decided it was time to go back to my tent and go to sleep. 


Because I still had 20 miles to go. 

And like a dope, I left my roller blades at home.  

12 comments:

  1. That brought tears to my eyes with your rememberences of loved ones. I am proud of you Jen for standing, walking, and collecting, for something so meaningful.
    Now, enjoy your Thanksgiving with your wonderful family.
    Love,
    MOM

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  2. Thank you for sharing your experience. It is inspiring.

    My cousin is a young and vibriant woman (31 years old) battling stage IV breast cancer right now. Cancer sucks!

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  3. Thank you, Jen, from the bottom of my heart.
    And thank you for sharing all the sights, and sounds, from this amazing walk. I am overwhelmed with the outpouring of love and support by so many.

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  4. I shouldn't have read this post. I'm definately not a happy camper -and now I'm a mess all over again. Talk to you soon. Love, Marg.

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  5. Jen, from the bottom of my heart I thank you and your delightful (possibly read crazy) friends for walking, crawling, skipping, dancing all those miles so people like me are still alive.

    Has an addition to feel the boobs and get your mammorgram, make sure you're getting a mammogram on a digital machine. Analog is outdated, doesn't take as good a picture, especially if you have dense breasts and just general fails at it's supposed job.

    It any one reading this does not have a digital mammogram machine in their community it's time to start rabble rousing, raising money and getting yourselves one. Find out the name of the doc that reads the films. Start with him or her, gain their support and let the games begin.

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  6. wow so beautiful. Thank you.

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  7. Thank you for doing this, and posting this, and taking all these pictures.

    Despite the face that I've done literally nothing since the half marathon last month, I'm feeling inspired again. :-)

    You are amazing Jen!

    Sarah

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  8. Thanks so much for sharing your experience. I did a similar walk here in Ottawa, Canada in 2006. It was a 2 day, 60km walk and it was the best experience of my life. My mother lost her battle with breast cancer at the age of 37 (I was 5). I walked those 2 days in memory of her and all of the others that have been touched by cancer. It's such an inspiring 2 days, and I agree, the supporters on the side of the road are the best. I remember seeing guys on Harley's with pink bras attached to their bikes just driving around and following and encouraging us, it was great!

    Lissa

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  9. I walked the 3 Day in KC 4 years ago. The emotions I felt all come streaming back everytime I read one of your posts. I literally cry every time I read your 3 Day posts. Thanks for sharing your incredible experience with us all and for reminding us to keep on fighting the war on cancer.

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  10. Inspirational!
    Though I could barely read through my tears towards the end.
    It is a cruel thing that takes away young old and in between....
    Rest up now and enjoy your precious Loved ones...
    Job well done girl!

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  11. One of many cuzzins!11/27/09, 12:12 PM

    Okay Jen, so I officially LOVE your friend Cheryl. She is totally my type of girl!! What a riot!

    You gals are just amazing! To think you all have such busy lives and lots of little kids at home. What a sacrifice to make your 3 day walk happen. Not just the 3 days you were away from home, but also the training, stress of fundraising, etc, etc. You all deserve a big round of applause and lots of hugs. As a token of our admiration, we welcome them to come on our 3 day walk on the beach with frothy drinks adventure!!

    Your visit to the Rememberance Tent just about did me in. Thank you for spending time there, it really puts a human face on why you did what you did.

    Hope you had a delicious Turkey dinner!

    Lots of mush,
    Regina

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  12. I so want to walk with Debbie next time I walk... what a great spirit! I would be dancing right along side her!

    I am glad you went to the Remembrance Tent and posted about it. I didn't go. I kind of feel bad and I kind of don't. I just couldn't do it... maybe next time.

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