Saturday, August 22, 2009

Everyone Deserves a Lifetime

Several people asked me if I was going to write a recap of my experience walking in the Breast Cancer 3-Day. I've been putting it off, because it's going to be virtually impossible to sum up such an incredible event in a few words. But I can't let down my legion of adoring fans, so here goes:
Day One started bright and early... the day before. I like to think there was a Day Zero. I picked up Little Sister Meggie from the airport (and almost got hit by a bus in the process) and went straight to Target to purchase a fine selection of travel size toiletries. They're so wee! Meg and I had a delicious protein-and-carb filled dinner at the Melting Pot, then went home and finished packing. The 3-Day tries to limit the amount of stuff you bring with you: no bags over 35 pounds, including your sleeping bag (more about the sleeping bag later). Meggie and I worked out a deal: I'd carry the sleeping bags and a few other things in my gigantic duffel bag, and she'd carry the majority of the clothes and toiletries. I love it when a plan comes together.
Day One really started at 3:45 AM Friday, when Meg and I woke up, slammed down breakfast, and got in OUR LIMO! One of my training walk buddies set up a limo to drive us to opening ceremonies so that we could leave our cars very close to the closing ceremonies. This, too, was a brilliant plan - bravo, Spencer. We ate our second breakfast on the limo and arrived at opening in style. We met up with the rest of our team, the Bodacious Tatas, resplendent in our bright purple shirts, and braced ourselves for the onslaught of emotions that accompanies opening. Let me tell you, the 3-Day is not for the emotionally weak or unevolved. There are LOTS of tears. The opening ceremony is really beautiful, and it gets the walkers very pumped for the task at hand - 60 miles is no easy feat.
Day One continued through the mean streets of Dearborn and Dearborn Heights, with a multitude of pit stops and a lovely lunch break at a big park. Meggie and I did all the right things in terms of stretching, hydrating and foot care - but I still ended up with two gigantic blisters on my heels (more on those blisters later, too). We arrived at camp on Day One after walking 19.9 miles, and only about two miles of Meggie complaining about needing to pee. The wonderful young men of the Romeo High School football team helped us carry our luggage and set up... our tents! That's right, tents - cute little pink tents, but tents they were. You walk 20 miles a day, then collapse to sleepo on the ground (hence the sleeping bags). But we came prepared with a tarp to help keep out ground water, so we were good.
What else happened on Day One? Well, kids, I competed in the 3-Day Rockstar competition. Yee-haw! When I walked in 2006, they had the first ever 3-Day Rockstar, but it wasn't a competition, it was basically a karaoke night, and I was too mentally and physically drained to even fathom singing. But not this year! I'd been PRACTICING! So I got on the stage, did my little shtick with host Janae, and sang my little heart out... and the crowd went wild! But there were six other very good entrants in the contest, so I thought my chances of making the top three and competing in the final the next day were limited.
So imagine my glee when I got this:

I was a finalist! YAY!!!

Day Two also dawned bright and early. Meggie and I checked in at the medical tent to work on those blisters (and for Meg to get her subluxed patellas wrapped) before we hit the route. I covered both heels with Second Skin (a gel pad with the consistency of a Jell-o Jiggler) and moleskin, and felt good about how the day would shape up. But alas, those effin' blisters got the better of me. Meggie and I walked very slowly all morning and arrived at lunch only half-an-hour before it closed. See, along the 3-Day route, pit stops and lunch only stay open for a certain length of time. If you don't make it to the stop before it closes, or if you're still there when it closes, you get "swept," 3-Day lingo for taking a van to the next stop or back to camp. I really, really didn't want to get swept this year, since in 2006 I had to shave off about 7 miles and head back to camp early on Day Two, but when I took off my shoes at lunch and saw that the blisters were visible through my socks (as in, pushing my socks out away from by body), I knew I needed to get medical attention. Like I said, we were really behind in our timing, so I gulped down my chicken caesar wrap and limped over to medical... ten minutes before they closed. They didn't turn me away right away, but at 11:55 and lunch closing in five minutes, it was suggested that I get swept to the next pit stop, only 1.8 miles away. I sucked it up and said OK, bid Meggie farewell, and flagged down a sweep van. I thought that I could just get the blisters lanced and be on my merry way, down less than two miles in total 3-Day mileage; but again, not the case. When the very nice nurse lanced just one of my blisters, she left me with these words: "If you can't walk on it without limping, don't walk." Limping to take pressure off my heel would very easily have resulted in hurting my back, knees and hips, putting my out of commission for the rest of the walk or the rest of the week. Right about that time, Meggie showed up at the pit stop, needing some attention to those knees, so we stayed at medical a little bit longer. I finally re-latched my fanny pack and tried to set off for the last 11 miles - and that first step I took was a limping step. I was done for the day. I don't think there's anything I could have done to prevent those blisters, and it won't do me any good to think about those socks I shouldn't have worn, or the Bodyglide I should have used more frequently on my feet... I got on the bus back to camp, accepted my "sagged and proud" pin with grace, and headed back to camp. Yes, I was feeling low, so I thought I'd stop at the 3-Day post office to see if anyone had sent me any mail. And, WOW. I didn't count, because that would be tacky, but I must have gotten close to twenty cards and letters, from as far away as Nashville and Sacramento and as nearby as the office across the hall. I think my dad and Nate's mom must have had an unofficial contest to see who could shower me with more cards. To tell the truth, I only scanned some of them, because I was CRYING. I love my people.
And I also love my dog. Check out what he left for me in my suitcase (no, it's not poop):
I went back to the medical tent to get the other, now bigger, blister lanced, and was so pleased to be seen by the Marquise de Sade. Seriously, this lady should not be allowed to work at the 3-Day again. OK, OK, I have to cut her a little slack. These doctors and nurses and sports trainers probably see people with REAL injuries all the time, and then volunteer to take care of people walking on this amazing journey and get stuck lancing blisters. I'm sure they LOOOVE that.

But she was a little mean, and very terse, and then she injected my blister holes (both of 'em, 'cause she re-lanced the first one) with zinc oxide. Again, benefit of the doubt: she's the professional, and the outcome was really positive, because the blisters didn't get infected and were almost totally better by Sunday. But it would have been nice if she had told me that it would HURT. Like, a LOT. I would be happy to never have her touch my feet again.
Day Two ended a lot like Day One: nice cool shower, hearty dinner, back on stage singing in the 3-Day Rockstar competition. I didn't say before that the prelim round had three judges - so now you know. The final round was judged by audience applause, so I tried to get all my teammates and training walk buddies riled up before I sang. I did get lots of applause - the most applause, in fact - but I think that the host was maybe trying to not hurt anyone's feelings, because it ended up a three-way tie. But seriously, I'm pretty sure I won. That's me all the way to the right, in the purple shirt, tearing it up.

I told you I couldn't do it in a few words, right? Everybody hangin' in there? Anyone need a snack? Stay with me.

Day Three began with a bus ride to Ann Arbor - good times. There was more walking, lunch in beautiful Burns Park, lots of pretty neighborhoods and rolling hills. Oh yeah, we also walked right by my place of employment. I'll pause to let you all pat me on the back for this sweet marquee message. But it was a scorcher, and people were dropping like flies. Meggie and I played lots of fun celebrity games while we walked, and managed to keep our spirits up for the first twelve miles (this was just a 15 mile day, since all the walkers needed to be at the closing ceremonies). We got a little loopy around mile 12, though:

Did I mention it was ungodly hot?

We made it to closing with about forty-five minutes to spare, plenty of time to take of our shoes and give each other little footrubs, which ended up being a little slice of heaven. We met up with the rest of our team and walked into closing together, proud, tired, emotionally raw, but holding our heads high at what we accomplished.

And that, my friends, is my story of the 3-Day.

The Breast Cancer 3-Day - A- (c'mon, I had to take points off for the blisters)


Monte said...

I am proud of you Beeb and I love being your dad.

Jenny Jackson said...

Awesome recap! Sounds like such an amazing experience. Way to go, girl!

Senor Fuerte said...

Bloody well done! Put some kind of salve on those blisters, and enjoy this accomplishment!

Also, your legion of fans is dying to know: what did you sing?


Erin said...

We were actually down in Dearborn for a wedding and rehearsal that weekend, so I saw the pit stop at the Henry Ford all set up Thursday night. I hoped I might run into you, but of course we were both busy and that didn't happen.

And you're right - it was unbelievably hot that weekend - I can only imagine walking 60 miles in it! (or close) Go you!!!

Senora Fuerte said...

Congratulations! I am totally bummed at myself for not getting a card to you myself. In a former life, that was who I was, the person who sends cards. I don't know what happened to her...

I'm so proud of you and your team. Good work.

amanda said...

Well, fans, for the prelim I sang My Funny Valentine. And I pretty much spanked it.
For the final, I sang Gloria by Laura Branigan. It got away from me a little bit, but it's a crowd pleaser.