April’s 3-day Experience – The Hard Part

When you walk 52 miles in 3 days, you expect to lose weight.

Before the 3-day breast cancer event began, I recall having a conversation with my sister and our 3-day alumni team mate, Aubrey. As my sister and I joked about how much weight we should lose despite all the snacking we would do, Aubrey sat with a big smile on her face ready to burst our bubbles. “Actually,” Aubrey said, “Unfortunately most people gain weight on the 3-day because it basically is a 3-day buffet.”

Aubrey was so right. After three days of continuous munching mile after mile, I ended up gaining six pounds. SIX POUNDS OF PURE MUSCLE. Hah. Or six pounds of calluses.

While accepting my weight gain and dealing with my calluses were some of the less positive moments revolving around the 3-day event, they certainly were not the hardest part of it.

One of the hardest parts of  being part of  this walk was dealing with the people who chose to use the opportunity of  my eager participation to quickly bash Susan G. Komen for whatever reason they had previously heard before.  From the very moment I started to share my involvement with the 3-day with other people, I constantly found myself in a debate over the controversies that have faced Komen over the past years. Friends and random people I would interact with in public found it easy to quickly turn my attempt at doing something positive into a chance to completely make me feel like crap for what I was doing. Yes, Komen has dealt with some pretty gnarly accusations and on another blog, I might be comfortable enough to open up the debate but my overall feeling is this:

If an organization exists and successfully helps a massive amount of people, then why is it OK for someone to verbally  tear apart a person for being involved?

I also found it interesting that all the people (as far as I knew) had never themselves tried to do some sort of major fundraising challenge. Yet it was so easy for them to instantly bring up all the negativity around something that I was just trying to be optimistic about.

But through all the controversy and debates, the real hard part was the reason I was there.  After losing friends and family over the past few years to an assortment of types of cancer, I was walking because I wanted to walk and honor the people that had been effected by cancer in the past.

I had made a simple banner that said “Always in our heart” and on the last day during lunch, my three teammates and I circled around it armed with a Sharpee and way too many names to write down.

Standing proud.

The Double Chin Divas standing with honor and love.

When we were done we had over 100 names of people we were walking for who had battled cancer.

As Monique, Aubrey, Alyssa and I walked into the closing ceremony at Petco Park in San Diego, we carried the banner with so much love for the names on that pink piece of fabric. It was definitely one of the saddest but most uplifting moments of my life as I walked with my eyes full of tears towards the finish line. Behind the thousands of us in our white-for-walker Komen shirts, a group of beaming breast cancer survivors stood ready in their special pink shirts for their moment to walk across the finish line. Finally, when all of us in our walker-whites were across the line, we were asked to lift one shoe for the “One Shoe Salute” as the survivors crossed the finish line.

As soon as that group of women (and some men) started across that line, a flash of memories stored in my mind came over me as fast as my eyes were pouring out tears. Like every single person there at the event, we all came to honor someone who has faced cancer. The 3-day walk was EASY compared to what people face through cancer. All the pain I was feeling in my feet didn’t matter as my brain shifted into an extreme moment of reflection of why I participated in the first place.

Lucas in the snow of Germany.

Memories of blog posts that my friend Lucas Brooks had written about his colon cancer treatments…Happy smiles of him in the snow in Germany during his last couple months alive…The sunset our town had the night he passed…

Flashes of  my friend Scott Schipper playing his saxophone with one of his favorite bands, Less Than Jake, months before he died… The impact Scott was able to make by starting  the cancer organization “Thrive!”…

The moment my family was told that Alyssa’s mother-in-law Shirley had liver cancer… The way she smiled months later as she told us that her perfect blonde hair was actually a wig during a night we had dinner.. and then the way she was glowing the night I said goodbye to her before she left us for the heavens above.

Smiling Shirley and her son, Matt (Alyssa’s Husband)

The 3-day walk was such an incredibly fun experience and through all the blisters and tears, the absolute hardest past of the event was the overall reason it exists in the first place.

Cancer has taken millions of peoples lives and continues to be the second leading cause of death after heart disease.

According to medicalnewstoday.com, “In 2014, about 585,720 American are expected to die of cancer – almost 1,600 people per day.”

With so many people hurt by cancer, besides hoping and fighting towards a cure, the best we can do for the people we love who are facing cancer today, or to those of you who may be battling cancer right now, is to use every single day as a gift. We are fortunate to be here. We are fortunate to be able to wake up every morning, hopefully in good health, and to be able to see the sky show off its daily sunrise and sunset. We are fortunate to have friends and family to hold our hands and keep the faith strong, even when our own faith has dwindled.

For everyone we have lost, their memory lives on in all of us who are still here today.

 

A gift from Lucas Brooks.

 

With so much love,

AprilSignatur

 

 

 

PS: Special thanks to the awesome people at Chia Warrior for graciously providing us with delicious chia fuel through out our 3-Day journey!

 

 

 

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.

 

Don’t fence me in.

Two weeks from today I’ll be joining the Double Chin Divas (Alyssa, Monique, and Aubrey) in San Diego to spend our last day with all of our toenails, haha! Though maybe we’ll be lucky and none of us will lose any toenails as we attempt to walk sixty miles in three days, but I’m aware that it could happen and accept it.

😉

I’ve been walking A TON and am grateful that my body seems to be handling it mostly pretty well. The most I have done in a day is eleven miles but ideally this weekend I’ll be hitting at least fifteen. I’m taking a risk over whether or not I will be truly prepared for this challenge but after hearing my many other 3-day walkers, they said as long as you can by on at least ten miles then you should be able to do the twenty. Plus, we’ve got practically the whole day to get it done.

I’ll ENDURE.

But if you’d like to send me some mail by MONDAY that I’ll pick up during my walk, I bet your letters will help me get through the walk with a little bit more faith in myself.

Susan G. Komen 3-Day
Attn: April Lofgren
PO Box 4560
Carlsbad, CA 92018
*Must be postmarked by November 10th.*

 

Anyway, the best part of all this walking hasn’t been the weight loss (down twenty pounds!) or the incredibly firm calves or the simple fact in knowing that I CAN walk eleven miles in a day…It has been that I am fortunate enough to be able to do my training in some incredibly gorgeous places. I’ve done some major walking at Crater Lake in Oregon, Yosemite and Mono Lake  in California, Burning Man and the Red Rock Canyon in Nevada… not the mention the more frequent walks through places like the Golden Gate Bridge and Golden Gate Park in San Francisco, the hills of Sonoma and Marin County, and the redwood forests all over the fog-belt of Northern California.

I’m spoiled, I know it. I send gratitude out into the universe every single day that I get to spend my life here. I haven’t walked a mile on a treadmill in over a year and I’m so appreciative that I have been able to prepare for this event outdoors. The song “Don’t fence me in” (the Ella version) is constantly playing in the back of my mind. Sometimes, if I’m completely alone, I’ll sing it as I stroll along happily under the trees. It makes me happy to be free and out in  the open. <3

“Let me wander over yonder till I see the mountains rise.. I want to ride to the ridge where the West commences and gaze at the moon till I lose my senses… And I can’t look at hobbles and I can’t stand fences…. Don’t fence me in”

 

And now for your visual pleasure… a collage of photos taken during some of my walking adventures. <3

Red Rock Canyon - 11 miles... Crater Lake - 3 miles... Alemeda Beach - 1 mile morning walk... Yosemite - 4 miles.... Mono Lake - 2 miles...

Red Rock Canyon – 11 miles… Crater Lake – 3 miles… Alemeda Beach – 1 mile morning walk… Yosemite – 4 miles…. Mono Lake – 2 miles…

 

Burning Man - 10 miles... Redwood Tree in Cotati (next town over) - 10 miles... Golden Gate Bridge - 3.2 miles... Petaluma walking trail - 8 miles

Burning Man – 10 miles… Redwood Tree in Cotati (next town over) – 10 miles… Golden Gate Bridge – 3.2 miles… Petaluma walking trail – 8 miles

 

Oh, and now  that I have hit AND surpassed my $2,300 fundraising goal – I’ve gone ALL PINK! (and a bit of purple) Check it out! If you live in the Bay area, you can hit up my buddy Ashley Blanchard for your own style. 

Colorful at Red Rock Canyon!

Colorful at Red Rock Canyon!

 

Lots of love,

AprilSignatur

10 Miles Training for the 3-Day — This is where it hurts!

Hello!

I’m currently lying in my bed, aching and sunburnt with all sorts of crazy stripes thanks to my roll-on sunscreen, but this is a good thing because today I accomplished a major goal in my 3-Day training — I walked 10 miles! My husband and I had planned on taking a weekend constitutional, but I was thinking maybe an easy five or six miles. We decided to walk from the Santa Monica Pier to Venice Beach, which the interwebz said was about 4.4 miles round trip. Perfect! Our friend Jason came along, and we ended up parking about a mile north of the pier. Somehow, with all of our weaving in and out of little trinket shops and stopping at Muscle Beach, we ended up closing in on about 8.2 miles. Jason and Matt encouraged me to seal the deal.. so we kept going to mile 10, even though my legs were screaming at me to stop.

Now that I have a few long distance walks under my belt, I’m learning a few important things.

1) Thou shalt wear thy compression socks at all times. Today I didn’t, and my dogs are BARKING. In fact, I even took this photo for you at about mile 6 to show you that compression sockless walks are not the business. I have one pair of compression socks, but it’s time to expand my compression sock wardrobe and get another pair, because the difference in foot pain is staggering. Any recommendations on brand?

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2) Thou shalt stretch more and more often. When we were ‘fake done’ at mile 8.2, I took a few minutes to really stretch, and it felt soooo good. It might even be time to get into foam rolling. I need to make time to stretch more often, maybe every three miles or so, if not more frequently. Do my runners/walkers have any thoughts on stretching? I know you do.

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3) Thou shalt continue hydrating. We have a phrase on the 3-Day that is “Drink, Pee, No I.V.” meaning, if you hydrate, you have a good chance of staying away from the medics. This is important for many reasons, and a lesson I learned again today while doing my 10 miles in the 85 degree heat. I stopped at one point to get a Gatorade and was so glad I did. Your body really does need those electrolytes and salts.

4) Thou shalt reapply sunscreen. I use an SPF 70 roll-on sunscreen from Neutrogena. I didn’t do a very nice job applying it today, because I have some pretty wild tiger stripe burns (See above). Also, if you sweat like you’re in a sauna, you probably need to reapply. Lesson learned.

5) Thou shalt push thyself a little bit harder. I was done, like really done, at mile 7. My foot was cramping, there was a stabbing pain all around the edge of the arch of my foot, and I was hot, ornery, and getting grouchy. I kept going because being hot, ornery, and grouchy is better than having cancer. (Obviously, I’m no doctor — if you’re in pain and you don’t think you can keep going, don’t! I just powered through because I knew I could.) My word for 2014 was perspective. If there’s one thing I can thank 2014 for, it’s a huge dose of perspective. My “hard” at that moment was nowhere near the “hard” someone who is sick has to deal with on a daily basis. I can power through it. And I did, with the encouraging praise from my husband and Jason.

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I’m so excited to be getting this far in my journey; and now the hard part is thinking “Um, I have to do that TWICE in one day? Three days in a ROW?!” However — I know that a huge part of my success with the 3-Day is one I’m so close to finishing — getting $2,300 in funds donated to help fund cancer-fighting research. Today I crossed the $2,000 mark, which means I have only $300 to go. If you’d like to support me on my journey, or April or Monique on hers, please click the links in this sentence. Every step of the way, every sunburn, every foot ache, we’re making a difference. <3

Guest Post: Why Aubrey walks the 3-Day

Friends: I’m so excited to introduce you to my friend Aubrey, the co-captain of the Double Chin Divas! I have the pleasure of working with Aubrey on the 3-Day, and she’ll be walking 60 miles with me and April and Monique in San Diego in November. I wanted you to know why this walk matters so much to so many of us. To read more about Aubrey and donate to her fundraising, visit her here. Can’t donate but want to join us? Consider joining the Double Chin Divas team! Take it away, Aubrey!

Aubrey's the one holding the sign!

Aubrey’s the one holding the sign!

I registered for the Susan G. Komen Seattle 3-Day in January of 2010 with the idea of doing something bigger than myself. I had heard about the 3-Day once or twice before in passing. This time I was sitting on the couch watching The Biggest Loser and saw the 3-Day commercial. My mind was made in an instant. I knew that I was going to register to walk 60 miles over the course of three days and raise $2,300. I had never done something like this. And to tell you the truth, I hadn’t done anything in my adult life that was noteworthy.

My grandmother had beaten breast cancer twice by the time I was born, I lost two of my aunts to cancer (breast and ovarian), my great grandmother had passed away from stomach cancer when my grandmother was a small child, and if that wasn’t reason enough, I believed that it was the right thing to do. I’ve always been the type of person to be all in or not at all so I jumped into the biggest, boldest event facing breast cancer out there with both feet.

I remember walking my very first 3-Day anxious to find out what was ahead, and I didn’t mean on the route. I meant with my mom. Just one month before my first 3-Day she had been diagnosed with Stage II breast cancer. All throughout my journey I remember wondering what was to come. Would I lose her? She was my only parent, and she fought long and hard to give my brother and me a good life. My mom’s cancer forced me to look at this event in an entirely new way. I realized there is a difference between the feelings that are conjured up when you hear about a diagnosis. If you’ve never known someone close to you with cancer, you feel badly for the person with cancer. If you’ve ever watched a loved one fight cancer, the word “cancer” chews up your nerves, pulls on your heartstrings and launches you into advocacy.

Aubrey and her team

Aubrey and the San Diego Camp Services Team

So why this event? Why walk 60 miles and raise $2,300? I do it because it is essential. It is the single thing that I can do about breast cancer. When my mom was diagnosed I was called to action. I knew that signing up for this event meant a level of commitment that I had never encountered. And to be completely honest, I had no idea what kind of time would be involved, but I did it knowing I would not give up because cancer patients don’t get to give up. The walking part of this event is important but also symbolic to what a patient goes through. There’s a huge difference between symbolic and the same. We, as able bodied people, have to push ourselves to take every step. We have to force ourselves to get up and train when we don’t feel like it. We have to try out different techniques until we find the right training gear or walking speed. Compare that to what cancer patients go through and you’ll quickly realize you have nothing to complain about. One foot in front of the other.

The money. Why is there a goal? It’s simple.  If the goal is to fund a world without breast cancer then a certain number must be set in place in order to fulfill the purpose of what we are doing. So why $2,300? Because people don’t work for free and cancer research is labor and time intensive. Why $2,300? Because mammograms for uninsured women aren’t free so we need to raise enough to share the hope that a free mammogram can give. Why $2,300? Because there are women losing their hair and can’t afford a wig or a scarf, but if you go to your local cancer resource center you can usually get one for free. Why $2,300? Because families should not have to choose between putting food on the table and paying for treatment.

What about the folks who can’t physically or financially commit to this, but still want to help? Consider joining the 3-Day crew. They are a wonderful and dedicated group of individuals that donate four days of their time working behind the scenes during the event to ensure that the walkers have a seamless event. You can also share posts on social media, or come out to cheer walkers on.

If you have ever had a question about whether you can do this or not, I am here to tell you that YOU CAN! You cannot fail when you put your mind to this. I never once had it in my mind that I couldn’t do this even though I am a plus sized girl who had never done anything physically challenging in my life. The 3-Day is not just about pink ribbons, walking, and fundraising. The 3-Day is about living, dreaming, achieving, and loving in every aspect of your life. The confidence and relationships that you develop within yourself and others because of the 3-Day is only the beginning of what you are capable of.

What’s up, Wednesday?

VROOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOM.

There, that’s better. I just vacuumed up the spider webs and dust from the Double Chin Diary for your viewing pleasure. Oh man, seriously. I’ve been away from the blog for two weeks! April has also been away. Hopefully we’ll get back to a regular schedule soon. Unfortunately, I was away for a sad reason, as I lost a very special family member two weeks ago to cancer. I was in my hometown in Northern California for almost two weeks.  I’ll share more when I feel ready, but I can say that grief has a powerful effect on eating. For some people it causes them to lose their appetite, and for others, it makes them want to eat everything in sight.  This time around, I was the latter. But now I’m back home and back into the routine, having logged a good workout and healthy meals like 15-bean soup. Gotta get back on track! Since I’ve been away for so long I figured I’d just ramble on about a couple different things. Yup!

1) This isn’t my first rodeo with trying to lose weight, but one thing’s for sure: activity is good. It doesn’t have to be an hour long sweat sesh for me to feel the benefits of exercise on my body. I took some long walks (one was 5.36 miles — working my way up to 60 miles for the 3-Day!) while I was away, and all of those walks left me feeling better. My body gets awfully tense and creaky when I’m not keeping it in motion. A good reminder for the future. (Also, how cute is my Katie K. Active  top? Score 15% off and free shipping with code ALYSSA15 — more formal review to come!)

Strolling through Schollenberger Park in Petaluma

Strolling through Schollenberger Park in Petaluma

2) I’m a telecommuter, and I gotta say, dogs make good coworkers. Can you guys help convince my landlord that I need a dog now?! This is Sadie, my inlaw’s beautiful retriever. Apparently she likes lemons.

golden retriever lemons

Pucker up, Sadie!

3) I’m super happy that Summer is almost here! Summer is my favorite season (followed by Fall, then Spring, then Winter). I got to spend the first part of Memorial Day weekend hanging around my friend Susie’s beautiful pool. I’ve gotten a lot more serious now about sunscreen, thanks to a pre-cancerous mole I had to have sheared off not once, but twice. WEAR SUNSCREEN, people! That’s your PSA for the day. Hence my stylish Havana Hat and shades. But beyond sunscreen, summer means that FITBLOGGIN is right around the corner! I’ll be headin’ to Savannah at the end of June, and I can’t wait. Any must-sees in Savannah?

Cover up in the sun!

Cover up in the sun!

4) Being back in Northern California meant I got to spend some time with my awesome boss and coworker who also live in the bay. I stopped on my way home from lunch with them to stretch my legs at Vista Point, a beautiful scenic overlook at the Golden Gate Bridge. How amazing is this? I live in such a beautiful place.

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Vista Point, San Francisco

5) Lastly, I’m thinking about cancelling my Total Woman gym membership. I’ve been doing a ton of walk training lately, and I’m not happy with Total Woman’s super packed classes. They tried to set up a system where you sign in for a class before it starts and that will determine maximum capacity, but tonight was one time to many where I arrived 20 minutes early for a class and it was already past capacity. Then, the classes I do manage to get into are so packed you can’t comfortably move around. Is this a problem I just need to get used to, or does anyone have any other gym suggestions? I want to check out LA Fitness, 24 Hour Fitness, Curves, and my local YMCA. Let me know if you have any suggestions! The most important thing to me are flexible hours and a variety of classes.

That’s all I got. What’s happenin’ with you? 🙂