"It’s all about the experience."

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Posted 24 Sep 2008 in cancer sucks, I am awesome

Well, I survived the 3-Day. I walked every single mile of the 60 (or more like, 70, from what I gathered) that were laid in front of us. My feet are blistered, my hips feel arthritic, and I am only today able to form complete thoughts and sentences.

Yes, the experience was awesome. I laughed cried, and writhed in pain with everyone there.

The first day was 21+ miles. I got through the day okay, it was hot and sunny (which I’d take any day over cold and rainy). For lunch we were served chicken sandwiches that were still frozen. Luckily I’d eaten about 2,385 Uncrustables that day so I wasn’t all that hungry. My feet didn’t start to ache until about the 18th mile, but it made walking those last 3 miles unbearable. We got to camp, set up our tent and headed to dinner; spaghetti and meatballs, with a salad and breadsticks – yummy. I checked my “mail” at the 3-Day post office and had gotten a card from my BFF Martini, which made me cry, of course. And then laugh because she’d mentioned eating pixie stix to energize for the walk – which I actually had done that day. Then, off to the showers, and then off to bed…at 8:30. We were so tired, I think we both fell asleep around 9pm.

The next day, we were up bright and early at 6am for breakfast and early morning stretching. I was surprised how good my feet and legs felt after hobbling back to camp the night before. Today’s agenda – 22+ miles. Yuck. The morning flew by – no problems. Lunch was delicious – chicken teriyaki wraps. After lunch, by about mile 15, the feet started to hurt again. My dear friend Leslie showed up at the late afternoon cheering station with her cutie patootie dogs. The rest of the day was a struggle, but I made it back to camp with much cursing and limping. Upon inspection of my feet that evening, I had quite the blister circus on my heel and toe – not to mention my calf muscles wouldn’t de-cramp. So, after another awesome dinner of chicken picatta and wild rice, I showered and then headed to the medical tent. I was told I had to wait in two different lines – the blister line and the sports medicine line. I chose the blister line – I’d rub my calves out myself. After an hour and a half of waiting, I had my toes taped together and my heel taped up – ready to face the next morning. (I also nabbed a couple packets of Biofreeze for my calves – it was AMAZING.)

The next morning – I was up bright and early at like, 5:15. My calves felt better, and the tape on my feet had held up through the night in my sleeping bag. We got up, I put on my shirt honoring Julie, ate one last meal at camp, packed up our things, and hit the road at 7am. Today we had 17+ miles ahead of us. Seemingly easy after the first two days. Boy, was I wrong. After the 6th mile, my feet ached so badly, and my hips and calves were in so much pain. It was another hot day. Leigh and I pressed through the pain and carried on. Lunch was turkey (yay for no more chicken!) and bacon sandwiches. Stopping at the pit stops and lunch felt like it hurt more than it helped. We felt like we just needed to keep walking. Finally we were back in downtown St. Paul. I was limping horribly at this point. (Video to come.) I was trying not to cry from pain and mental & emotional breakdown. Then, the finish. I started walking through the “people tunnel” to the finish and just started sobbing. I’d actually walked every single mile and made it to the end! There were fellow walkers, survivors, crew members I’d befriended along the way cheering me on. I just couldn’t take it – it was like a complete emotional collapse. Right at the end where we’re officially scanned in as having finished, my teammate (and survivor) Marcia was waiting. We both cried and hugged. It was the greatest feeling of all time.

The husband met up with me about an hour after I finished, then he went to the capitol to wait for the closing ceremony. It was very emotional. I somehow managed to be on the same side as the husband, his parents and my other BFF and her BF who were cheering me on. When the survivors came into the ceremony, all of the walkers went down on one knee (not an easy feat at this point) and raised a shoe in the air. A fellow walker whose mother passed in June from the disease was overcome with emotion. It was really hard, but we were there to support her.

And then, it was over. Over 3,000 walkers, and $7.3 million dollars raised – in the Twin Cities alone. I contributed over $3500 to it myself, and my team nearly $20,000.

Again, it was an awesome experience. Will I do it again? Maybe. Certainly not in the near future – physically it was far more demanding than I ever imagined. I will definitely be at a cheering station next year cheering on the walkers. They really helped.

Thank you to anyone who helped me through this – either via a donation or even just a word of encouragement. It was an awesome experience for sure – and an even more awesome cause.

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