Walk the Walk: My Komen 3-Day Experience, Day 2

Day 2 started at 5:50 a.m., with the alarm clock blaring and my feet begging me to just stay in bed. But, all four of us got up and headed to camp, where we’d start day 2 of our 60-mile journey. Monique and I used a photo opp as a chance stay in bed for another couple seconds!

Monique and Alyssa press snooze.

Monique and Alyssa press snooze.

We got to camp, joined the moving sea of pink, and started walking! We walked past Sea World, and got to see a cool pink bird of some kind posing for pictures, as well as Sea World staff in wet suits cheering us on. We all remarked about why there wasn’t a whale jumping out of the water to greet us, but ya know, budget and stuff. A few miles in is when the problems started. Aubrey and I had been initiated as the blister sisters on Friday, and sure enough, our blisters began popping and throbbing. We opted to hitch a ride to the next Pit Stop, where we caught some amazing ocean views and then headed to lunch.

Team DCD started Day 2 PUMPED UP!

Team DCD started Day 2 PUMPED UP!

We ended up getting lunch with one of our awesome coworkers from a taco shop called Roberto’s. Holy cow. Mexican food is up there in my top three favorite kinds of food (Thai and Italian round out the list, if you’re wondering), and I eat a lot of great Mexican food living in LA County. But – this carnitas taco was off the chain! So flavorful, so simple, so fresh, so perfect on my tired tootsies and hungry belly. I also had a potato taco, which was so yummy, and basically like a fried shell of mashed potatoes. Perfect walking fuel!

It's Taco Time!

It’s Taco Time!

As we strolled out of the lunch stop, we walked by some amazing beach front apartments, and even better, DOGS! A therapy dog group had come out to cheer us on, and all of the pooches were decked out in pink bows, vests, or tutus. I fell in love with this fellow, a Great Pyrenese. He was so fluffy! After lots of head pets and scratches, we kept on walking.

I wanted to steal him.

I wanted to steal him.

I made it to Pit Stop 3, where I decided to go to the medical tent again and get fixed up. At that point I was having some random dizziness (dehydration), so I decided to hang out and wait for Monique and April, who were a little bit behind us since we had taken the van earlier. I caught up with them, and after surveying all of our various states of ailment, we decided to grab a ride back to camp. While I initially struggled with not walking close to a full day, I quickly decided that making myself feel crummy, either mentally or physically, wouldn’t change the fact that the money I raised would be making an impact. So, I looked on the sunny side, which was making it to camp before dark and having more time to explore. Once I got to camp, I was greeted by a beaming husband and smiling father-in-law with the coolest signs ever!

MEOW!

MEOW!

Once we caught up about the adventures of the day, we headed into the Remembrance Tent. The Remembrance Tent is a very special place on the 3-Day. It’s set apart from the hustle and bustle of camp, and is a beautiful, private white tent with soft music, soft lighting, and framed photos of those we’ve lost to breast cancer. In the center is an illuminated white tent that you can sign and write messages on for your loved ones. Outside of the tent are the white tents from every other city the 3-Day is, a traveling tribute to the lives lost. While difficult to be in the Remembrance Tent, it’s also cathartic. We all wrote my mother in law Shirley’s name on the tent, sniffled, and hugged. I know she was with me that weekend.

Photo Via Susan G. Komen 3-Day Facebook Page

Photo Via Susan G. Komen 3-Day Facebook Page

Later that day, I was exploring posts on the official 3-Day Facebook page when I saw the above photo. Coincidentally, the man standing directly in front of the tent is my father in law. It’s amazing to think that out of 2,000+ people at this event, he happened to be the one captured in this photo, right before our family had a very touching moment inside that tent. Call it hocus pocus, but I like to think that was Shirley’s way of saying, “Hey guys, I’m here, too.” 🙂 My mom and dad came down to San Diego to cheer us on too, so it was great to show the family what the 3-Day is like.

We wrapped up at camp, and then the very tired Double Chin Divas crawled into bed for another 5:50 AM wake up call (Ugh!). I had been warned several times that Day 2 was the hardest day of the walk, and I found it to be true. You have the exhaustion and soreness from Day 1, and the adrenaline surge you had in Day 1 has come down a bit. While initially I was disappointed that I wasn’t able to walk all 20 on Day 2, I decided that feeling crummy mentally or physically wasn’t going to change the fact that we raised lots of money, money that changes lives. Every step I took was a step toward victory; for myself and embracing fitness, and for the thousands of women and men fighting breast cancer.

 

Walk the walk: My Komen 3-Day Experience, Day 1

When I signed up to do the 3-Day, I had two big hurdles to clear; the first, fundraising $2,300, and the second, preparing my body and mind to walk 20 miles three days in a row. While the fundraising initially made me nervous, I was so grateful to see there were plenty of people who were willing to support me. I surpassed $2,300, and today, am hovering at an incredible $3,300 — a number that I KNOW is making a difference for those diagnosed with breast cancer. The next big challenge? Walking. Plenty of people will say, “Oh, it’s just walking.” Sure, it’s just walking, but this isn’t a quick walk through the super market or around the local park. The average person walks less than two miles a day after all their steps have added up. If you’re active, you walk maybe five miles a day. But to walk 10 miles? Amazing. Make it 20? Incredible.

I started adding small daily walks to my routine. I’d walk on my lunch break to the grocery store to buy myself a turkey sandwich, or things to make dinner. I’d walk to the post office with a stack of Thank You notes ready to mail to my donors. I’d walk the block at night, dodging spiderwebs as my husband ran circles around me, laughing as we exchanged sweaty high fives. Slowly, walking became easier. I remember very clearly a 5k I walked last November. During the final mile, my feet were hurting, I was out of breath, and I wanted to quit. My first big accomplishment with training this year was a 6.2 mile walk I did with my friend Jason, and then later, a ten mile walk I did with Jason and Matt. I started tackling longer distances, at one point walking from my house to Michael’s Crafts, five miles up and three towns north. The longest walk I ended up doing was 12 miles, which was a few short of what the 3-Day training program recommends, but I felt confident that I could do at least ten miles each day. So I took that confidence and ran with it (errr, walked with it), and before I knew it, me and my team were boarding a bus in the rain to go to the Opening Ceremony in Del Mar.

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The Opening Ceremony of the Susan G. Komen 3-Day San Diego at Del Mar Fairgrounds

The rain stopped just in time for the sun to burst through the clouds, and as my team stood in a sea of pink, we listened to people share their reasons for doing the walk. People walked for their mothers. Their sisters. Their aunts. Their daughters. As I held up a picture of my mother-in-law surrounded by thousands of other people holding pictures of loved ones lost, I was overcome with a sense of grief and anger. This was too many people. Too many lives cut short. However, that anger fueled reminders of why I was here; to make a difference for somebody else facing cancer, and to honor the memory of so many wonderful people that have since moved on. Our first steps out of Del Mar, we were greeted with a magnificent rainbow, glistening in the sky. I felt in that moment that everybody had just received a special reminder that loss is physical, but memories will always live on.

Photo via Susan G. Komen 3-Day Facebook

Photo via Susan G. Komen 3-Day Facebook

We walked along the coast, marveling at the waves lapping the shore, the sea breeze crisp on our cheeks. Soon, we made it to the first pit stop, where we used the glamorous porta-potties and prepared for the first major hill up Torrey Pines, a nature reserve. I had been hearing about this hill all year long, so I was nervous. However, as I put one foot in front of the other, I realized my body could do a lot more than I thought it could. We climbed up slowly but steadily, turning every now and then to see the San Diego valley in birds eye view. When we made it to the top, we posed for this picture, feeling victorious. Our first major hill: DONE!

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Alyssa, Monique and April victorious after Torrey Pines!

From there, we walked through neighborhoods and business parks, and we began to scatter a little bit as we talked with the women and men around us. I met a 76-year-old woman who had walked eight times, and walked for her husband and son she had lost to cancer in the same year. I met a girl my age from Wisconsin, and twin sisters from Arizona who walked for their mom. Everybody at the 3-Day is there for the same reason; cancer. It’s an unpleasant thing to bond over, but at the same time, something pretty special to realize you’re part of a community of people dedicated to making a change. We arrived at the mile 10 marker for lunch, and we were all pretty darn excited to sit and take off our shoes! One thing really cool about the 3-Day is that each official stop, be it Lunch or a Pit Stop, is themed. Lunch was pirate themed, and all the Crew volunteers were in full costume. It’s things like these that made my first 3-Day experience so special: being handed a turkey sandwich by Jack Sparrow, walking past men in bras with miniature watermelons in them with signs that said “Squeeze my melons”, the people that come out to cheer you on as you walk by. I laid on the grass for what felt like a good, long 10 minutes, and then hobbled over to the medical tent. I felt some hot spots and blisters popping up on the fleshy pad of my foot right beneath my toes, and I wanted those suckers wrapped up before they progressed further.

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Cookie as big as my head? Don’t mind if I do!

Then, we were off again, and before I knew it, it was back to the glorious coast. At one point we walked through a patch of coast that smelled awful — garbage-like and just rank, when one of the walkers ahead of us said we were nearing a sea lion colony. Sure enough, we came down a hill to see a big rock formation covered in velvety sea lions, barking and frolicking in the water. It was so cool! We ended up meeting my parents along the route shortly after, and it was super fun to see them and get hugs and support at mile 15.

The Double Chin Diary in front of Sea Lion rock!

The Double Chin Diary in front of Sea Lion rock!

It was shortly after we met up with my parents that I encountered my first big hurdle: an exploding blister. Now, I’ve had plenty of blisters in my adult life. However, the experience of a blister exploding from the sheer weight of all your body, on the fleshy pad of your foot, at mile 16? Totally new and not so awesome experience. At first I didn’t know what it was, other than the fact that my foot suddenly had this searing pain ripping through it. Then as my sock felt squishy, I realized with horror that my giant foot pad blister had popped. GROSS! I ripped off my sock with the enthusiasm of a kid at Christmas, both grossed out and fascinated, and confirmed that sure enough, my blister had called it quits. I decided I’d flag down a sweep van (the 3-Day has nifty themed vans that drive the route to pick up anyone who’s tired, not feeling well, or just wants a break). I hobbled along tentatively, until I got a second wind. Blister? Who cares! That attitude served me well for two more miles, until the broken skin started to feel raw. This was around mile 17, so I took a van for another mile and waited at the pit stop for my sister and Monique to arrive.

The kind medical volunteers tending to my nasty Texas sized blister.

The kind medical volunteers tending to my nasty Texas sized blister. (Don’t worry, you can’t see it here. I’d like to keep some of my readers!)

Once they showed up, we got more Gatorade and continued our trek. It was dusk and those last few miles were feeling like they would never end, and we were teased along the way by chalk notes on the sidewalk of what the Garmin miles were. Toward the end we saw a Garmin 22 mile mark, so I decided right then and there that despite my quick van ride, I had very much walked 20 miles that day! Finally, we walked into camp — exhausted and stinky, and very much wanting to SIT and never move, ever again. We got dinner, enjoyed the plushy bean bags, massage chairs, trail mix bar, and snacks, and then collected our camp mail. Camp mail is an awesome invention where your loved ones can send you snail mail to pick up during your 60 mile journey. After our relaxation time, we watched an amazing show in the giant dining tent, where we got to hear from moving speakers and hear updates about the day on the route and the next day to come.

20 MILES!

20 MILES!

Even though at this point I was too exhausted to process anything more than “Macaroni and cheese. Hungry. Tired. Stink. Sleep,” I was able to process the fact that this girl had damn near walked 20 miles in one day. 20 frickin’ miles. That’s no small beans. That’s no laughing matter. That’s a HUGE, GINORMOUS, MASSIVE, LONG distance to walk. That’s only 6.2 less than a marathon, and granted, I wasn’t running (if you see me running, you better run too, ‘cuz something’s chasing me), but ain’t no thang. I walked 20 miles. That’s a lot.

I went to bed that night thinking about some of the things people had sent to me in so many wonderful cards, letters, and notes. Things like, “When it gets hard, remember… your body can do amazing things. Your legs are strong, your hips are flexing, and your heart will carry through.” Or, “Thank you for walking, thank you for making a difference, thank you for being my friend.” Or, “You inspire me every day to love myself just as I am.” With sentiments like that, how could I not close my teary eyes and glow with gratitude?

I drifted into a deep sleep, heart full of the amazing things I had seen and felt that day. Vibrant. Alive. Proud. Thankful. These feelings carry you far and wide, as beautiful and inspiring as the rainbow, as vivid and real as the blister, as simple and profound as the smile of a survivor cheering from the sidelines. These things were Day 1 of the 3-Day.

We walk.

We walk.