Friday, March 7, 2008

ATLANTA 3-DAY Breast Cancer Walk 2008!!!
Could we possibly WALK 60 MILES WITH NO TRAINING WHATSOEVER? Could the two people in the picture below be ANY MORE CLUELESS AS TO WHAT LIES AHEAD??? In a word? No.
There we were, smiling to cover the sheer panic of what we were getting ourselves into. We hit the road at 5:15pm, leaving Cincinnati on Thursday for a late day drive to Atlanta. Being expected to walk 20 miles the following day (and 20 the next, and 20 the next), I suggested a "Power Dinner" that only a rugby player could appreciate:
Could we stall this event at all? When the gas ran low, we stopped and refueled. That HAD to be a good sign, right?
We arrived in Buckhead (downtown/uptown/midtown ATL, I dont really know) at 1 am and quickly tried to get to bed, only to be awakened at 5:15am Friday morning. The cab would be there at 5:45am to deliver us to Alpharetta to begin our journey. Our team also included my fellow OU ruggers, Sisters Shannon (Kerr) and Julie Krause. Shannon and I once drank a record SIX aqariums at The Pub in Athens. To date, it was our greatest feat....until now. 5:30 am and they're smiling like they're hiding the fear too. Its all you can do, really.
We arrived at the mall in Alpharetta and quickly got situated. Mom and I were totally confused with what in the hell we were supposed to be doing, and quickly learned how amazing the all-volunteer crew of the 3-Day was. I was approached by no less than 5 crew members who smiled and said, "You look confused." They were right. Everytime. Here we are, with our 3Day head gear. Shannon looks more fearful. Maybe its because she's the only pictured who had done this before.
You know the routine....get a bunch of impressive stage equipment, play loud music, get everyone to do a five minute jazzercize routine, and bring out the lady who weeps to the sad, sad, music to kill everyone's adrenaline. Sorry, thats just me. No emotion here. Its all business.
On our way down, mom had some serious reservations about BOTH our chances of finishing this thing...."Now, you know if you want to stop, I WILL STOP WITH YOU. Dont feel like you have to do all SIXTY MILEs"...that sort of thing was peppered in all of our 7.5 hour drive to Atlanta. I made it clear that not only was I going to finish this, but she was too, and if we crossed the finish line on bloody knuckles, so be it.

No doubt I got scared, when .02 miles in the walk (we had just walked out of the mall parking lot about 38 seconds before), mom trips and falls to concrete. I was hoping the bloody knuckles/hands wouldnt happen, but you know Pam, she never fails to deliver. Thankfully she was up en' atem in no time and medical attention was not needed. Nice try Pam, keep walking.

Silly me, I thought Id be Chatty Cathy all the way and as we walked out of the mall, I decided to make a "Scavenger Hunt" list of all the people we wanted to find on the trip. Every helped pitch in. We didnt find all of them, but here were a few that we managed to find:

AN OU ALUMNI!!! - We werent 2 minutes into the walk when someone says, "Hey! Did you guys go to Ohio U??" Uh, YEAH! Check. Thanks Kathy! Go Bobcats!

TALLEST PERSON IN THE WALK - Ok, I kind of cheated on this one. I saw this guy at the opening ceremonies in the packed crowd of all the walkers and THEN added "tallest walker" to the scavenger hunt...We stalked him at Pit Stop 1 & he was a sport about it. CHECK!
FUNNIEST SHIRT - There were a lot of funny shirts, but for me, the ChestNuts took the cake. I mean, Chest Nuts! Its HILAROUS! I had made my decision early on, but wanted to wait a few days to see what was out there....then, Day 2 and 3 - NO CHESTNUTS SHIRTS!!! Then, finally, at the very end, my teammates (who were instructed to be on the lookout for the shirts)start screaming..."FORT! CHESTNUTS!"....this lady had no idea I took her picture, and I damn near ran to get it...not an easy feat when you're on mile 58. But it was worth it
SOMEONE FROM CALIFORNIA - Thanks mom for chatting with Laura from California! We learned that one of Laura's fellow walkers had an injury (this was on the last day) and had to be bussed up to the end. Nobody wants this. About five minutes after we took this picture, I see Laura approach a group of fans that had been waiting for her team all day....and had to watch her tell them that her girl was out. Not a happy moment.
COOLEST SHOES - We saw a lot of really cool shoes, but lets face it. We were the coolest Be-otches on this walk so I nominated OUR SHOES as winners, hands down:
So day 1 is over, twenty miles done, and we're all SORE SORE SORE! I dont think any of us had blisters at this point, which was good. But we (at least mom and I) arent real limber, and didnt train, so we may have been a little more achy than others. Below is the painful walk down to camp - and once we get to that big white dining tent? We're another 1/4 mile from our tent...ouch.

We arrive to the most majestic view of cheap pink pup tents the world has ever seen. Tents as far as the eye could see. How did this many people beat us here? Oh who the fudge cares. Let get our tents up, eat, shower, and hit the hay.....

I pop a mean tent. We set up kinda away from all the others. Because we're outcasts, and becuase Shannon likes sqatting in bushes to pee. Had we been in the middle of that mess of tents, somebody would have had one smelly street of tents.

Once we came back to camp, it was the same thing each time....look pissed off, try to stretch but stop because it hurts so bad, call your husband, eat all the food you hoarded at the pit stops, REPEAT.
Nitey-Nite! I learned that a pretty sunset looses some of its charm when you feel like someone is trying to stab a steak knife in your hip everytime you take a step. Just the way things go I guess.

Dusting off the timer on my camera....our smiles hide the sincere pain. Gotta get to bed...another early morning Saturday....

Day 2 was a long everyone gets a start to a new day...of pain.

So about this all-volunteer crew, you've got 300 some people who bust their asses for three straight days (Maybe more?) drving vans to pickup tired walkers, serving food, picking up trash, working tables, but lets face it, the celebrity crew members are without question, the ZANY folks who make up the traffic crew....they dress up, they're at EVERY SINGLE STREET CROSSING, they cheer you on, they give you high fives, they play their music loud, they dance, they sing, they try to pimp out the cops helping them out. (this happened on numerous occasions...) HATS OFF TO THE MOST AMAZING STREET WORKERS!!! :)
Time for's the rules to a (mostly) blister free 60miles. Change your SYNTHETIC (not cotton) socks AT LEAST ONCE during the day, and rub plenty of blister block all over your feet when you can. Mom will demonstrate:
YES! More crazy street crew!
And more.....
There was a woman at the walk who, in the last 14 months has walked TWENTY of these 3-Day's all over the country. She was nice, hard core, and went by too fast for us to find out what inspired her to do such a thing....but check out her fanny pack. Awesome.
Ok, lets get to the good stuff - 2 designated cheering stations each day, sometimes what seemed to be a quarter mile of family, friends & supporters lined up along the sidewalks, holding signs, cheering you on, passing out popsicles, water, candy, beads, shouting encouragement every step of the way. How do you express the gratitude for such random acts of kindness? The best I can do is honor them here. And you know Id just HAVE to lead off with what was one of the funniest signs - (This little girl FREAKED out when me - and about 10 other walkers started laughing hysterically and busted out our cameras to take her picture. 5 seconds after I took this picture, she threw the poster down and ran to hide behind her mom's legs...too cute!)
Here, we approach a long stream of supporters. Simply unbeliveable.
More signs....
.And nothing short of an arsenal of Girl Scouts in support, handing out candy and giving high fives..FORTY MILES DOWN, TWENTY TO GO!!!

Sleepy Time! We forced a smile for and I both were still blister free at this point, but were both having the SAME hip pain in the SAME PLACE. It was cold, and painful to lay on our sides. But we got through the night....

SUNDAY MORNING 6am - A painful rise to the last day. Would we finish? We still werent sure. But we were fairly confident at this point. We packed up our bags and took them back to the trucks, rolled up our tents, (which we found out were going to be donated to the Girls Scouts - nice!) and tossed them onto the pile'o'tents:

Although it seemed we were always the very last ones out, (we started to referring to ourselves as part of the "Bronze Group") there were still quite a few who still hadnt put their tents away......and probably more who were still snoozing!
Ahhhh! And you thought you were going to get through this post without a circle shot- NO WAY! Twenty more miles to go - BRING. IT. ON.

....but not before a quick stop at the portapotties....see in the background? Those were our showers - about 8 semi trailers - 16 showers with about 6 stalls each....for 2600 WOMEN! (and like 15 men) Here's a funny side story...if you click on this picture you can kind of see it - all the trucks said "MOBILE SHOWERS". While mom and I were sitting and waiting to take our showers, she nudges me. "Ew." She says, "I dont want to go in that shower." and she points to one of the trailers where the door as been open, covering part of the side of it, and the trailer read: "BILE SHOWER"....we laughed for 20 minutes.
Shannon pensively regrets that the only thing she checked off on the 3-Day training schedule were "Days of Rest".....
Walking up the hill for the last time....bye-bye Tent City!

Ok, this guy was great - we were always walking so I never got his name, but he was there to cheer us on at what I can remember was at least 4-5 different stops. Sometimes he was playing the guitar, sometimes he was passing out candy, sometimes holding a sign, sometimes clapping. On the last day, I gave him a hug, took his picture, and told him to find my blog - he would be featured and be famous among the TENS of PEOPLE who read this blog. SIR, you have ARRIVED!!!! post a message if you find this! :)

Another pit stop....lots of tired walkers greeted to a sign keeping them updated of their progress....Mom had a serious blister pop with about five miles to go. She was almost totally convinced she wasnt going to make it. But she trudged through to lunch, where she covered it with some mole skin and whatever else they were doing for blisters (I didnt have any-YAY) and decided she couldnt quit now...

Wow....finally make it downtown, and we think its just about over. But its not. This was painfully decieving, as they were city miles....much harder on the feet than country miles...just seemed to go on and on and on.....


They coralled us into a "Holding Station" where we waited an hour or so for the rest of the walkers - (and where everyone else had been waiting HOURS for us) so we took some pictures before the closing ceremonies - Here's me & mom:
And here they are.....YOUR!!!! O!! U!!! RUGGERS!!! FOR!!! THE!!! CUUUURRRREEEE!!!!!
(A.K.A. "The 7 Boobs")
(as I explained to inquiring passerbys as - Pointing to my teammates, "Two, Four, Six (then pointing to me) SEVEN!!!"

Now it was time for the closing ceremonies - My teammates walked in with all the other walkers, and I was directed to the group of surviors who walked the sixty miles - maybe 100-150 of us? I cant be sure. We waited patiently as everyone else walked in first....

We walked in to crowd of probably 5000+ people (both walkers and spectators) for a quick but inspiring and emotional closing ceremony. I took this picture as I was walking in with the surviors, an experience paralled only by what you see at the Olympics - it was intense!!!!
Here's another shot as I got closer. As the surviors walked in, all of the walkers took a shoe up and held it up. It was pretty incredible.

You can see behind us is the crowd....thousands of people there to support the walkers. Ive never seen anything like it.

Here are a few shots Shannon took from the crowd - GREAT PICS!

It's too late right now and Im too tired to wax philosophic with you all right now, but I just really wanted to share as many pics as I could - Maybe later this week Ill delve into some of the topics mom and I discussed on the ride home. We still, today, in mid conversation, will say, "CAN YOU BELIVE WHAT WE JUST DID? I still dont.
It was time to hit that northbound 75 route through GA/TN/KY that you're all so famillar with. No more dancing crossing guards, no more high fives for taking a walk, no more physical pain........
UNTIL NEXT YEAR!!!!! ......WHO's WITH ME??? New York? Chicago? Cleveland? San Diego?? Let me know, wussies!
Have a great week - Hope you enjoyed the pictures......