Thursday, November 11, 2010

Tampa Bay 2010 3-Day for the Cure Recap ~ Day 1 Walk

Michele and I kissed mom goodbye and were on our walk with 1600 walkers including Julie and Tracey. The cheering as we left the part was only a small sample of what we would experience over the next 3-days, and once again this could be related to labor and the building as the days progressed. First the cheering included family and friends of fellow walkers and crew; then the safety crew, who monitor the roads; and then the gear crew who transport our bags to camp.

After leaving the park, we headed over a flat-land hill better known as a bridge. For the first mile we walked behind Dusty Showers, a 3-Day celebrity known for wearing a bra. But the fact he wears a bra isn’t what makes him so special; it is the unconditional, selfless love that he shares with those around him, especially the Pink Warriors battling breast cancer. Dusty’s contagious spirit was evident when he started cheering and the walkers around joined in. For many this was the encouragement they needed to make it over the bridge.

Our walk then took as by Clearwater Beach. We made it to the first pit stop were we refreshed our drinks, grabbed a snack, and continued on our walk. I still hadn’t had my first 3-Day port-a-potty experience and wasn’t in a hurry ~ we cheated and used the bath at the Clearwater Beach.  While at the pit stop I saw Julie the Energizer Keep Going Blogger. I met Blogger Julie when she came to Atlanta for a convention, and another Julie (Pottery Julie) decided that we get together for a training walk. So again in this big small world, I was now walking with Blogger Julie who lives in Florida, but I trained with her in Atlanta and am now walking with her in Tampa. Confused yet?

Somewhere over the bridge we became separated from the Julies, and as the scenery changed Michele and I were walking solo with 1600 walkers. Yes, this is possible. The change of scenery brought many changes; I am not sure if it was because we were walking in quiet zones now since we were in neighborhoods, but that is when the 3-Day giddiness set in; however, since giddiness is part of my everyday life, I am not exactly sure. As we walked the sweep vans would drive by to see if anyone needed a ride, and Michele and I would give them the thumbs up signal but hold off from cheering. The sweep van occupants would do the actions of cheering without the noise. (Maybe you just had to be there to get it). When the quiet zone ended, Michele and I would leap past the sign and yell woo-hoo! We also started singing the save the boobie song.

Here she comes just a walkin’ down the street
Singin’ save our boobies please oh please
Snappin our fingers and stompin our feet
Singin save our boobies please oh please

The time went by fairly quickly, and using port-a-potties wasn’t as bad as I had imagined. Although it was a little odd walking out and not flushing, so I compensated by making a swooshing noise. I also have to note that all the pit stops had themes and the doors of the port-a-potties often had jokes or facts posted on them like 75% of  people put the toilet tissue on so it goes over the top.  Of course, if a walker is following the 3-Day motto “Drink, pee, no IV,” and hydrating properly the use of port-a-potties can’t be avoided. I think Michele had the port-a-potty thing figured out because I usually went in first and by the time she got out, I had her moist towelette open or staked out the pump sink for her.

During our walk I met many of the women Michele had trained with and surprisingly met up with Pottery Julie from Georgia and her teammate Val of Two Chicks Fo(U)r Boobs. I met Pottery Julie on Twitter and ventured to Alpharetta to attend her and Val’s 3-Day Pottery for the Cure fundraiser. In addition to the fundraiser, I also had the pleasure of going on a training walk with Pottery Julie when Julie Blogger visited Atlanta. Walking with Julie and Val on Day 1 was a pleasure since we shared the same sense of humor, and Julie, Val, Michele, and I jumped out of a quiet zone together and shouted WEEEE! I am so grateful to have met Julie and Val because it was at their fundraiser in May when I realized that the people involved in the 3-Day are like one big happy family, and if you aren't comfortable with hugs, you will soon be since 3-Dayers handshake is a hug.

The hugs we were about to receive would be familiar ones since we were approaching the first cheering station. As we approached the stoplight to cross the street, a radio DJ said to do the Macarena ~ for the life of me I couldn’t remember all the moves, so when Michele and I got the word to cross, we skipped across the road and down the sidewalk into mom’s arms. Jennifer, my niece and Michele’s daughter, was mom’s chauffeur for the afternoon, and mom and Jennifer had met up with long time friends Lil’ Michelle and Linda. The 3-Day magic was at work ~ if I hadn’t participated, I don’t know when I would of seen either one of them. Lil’ Michelle and I were inseparable when we were younger. If I wasn’t staying with her, she was staying with me, and Linda was like another mother growing up, and her hugs were as warm and comforting as they have always been. We soon had to say good bye and continue down the road, and of course, we skipped away by the crowds of people cheering us on this life changing journey.

It is kind of ironic that some of the people standing there cheering us on are survivors, and I feel like I should be cheering for them for their brave and courageous battles. I am also amazed by the numerous survivors who walk. Michele had walked a couple times with a survivor Stacey, and she was honored by a huge sign that said “Stacey You’re Awesome!” The support is absolutely incredible. I had also heard the jokes about the walk being like a 60-mile buffet ~ it is the truth. People hand out water and all sorts of sports drinks, sweet and salty foods, and although not edible ~ even wet wash cloths, which were a blessing because of the temperatures.

With the increasing temps we enjoyed a tasty lunch and met up with Michele’s training walk partners and walked them again to the next cheer station. As we approached the cheer station, I saw a familiar face from earlier in the day ~ the beautiful bald lady was holding a sign ~  A Komen mammogram saved my life. Of course, the eye fanning didn’t work because my thoughts were turned to mom and a mammogram saved her life since they caught her cancer in the early stage ~ Stage 2. But knowing mom and Jennifer were ahead, Michele and I skipped once again to them. While visiting for a bit we were entertained by the Eager Beaver cheerleaders rocking out in their van. After enjoying some laughs and cheers and a few hidden tears, we were on to finish out our day and the first 20 miles.

Just a mile or two down the road, all the walkers were bussed back to camp. The ride on the bus reminded me of the bus ride after spending the day at Disney. Across from us the woman couldn’t keep her eyes open. The girl next to us rode one too many rides and could hardly walk, and of course, we had an energetic one ~ no, I am not describing myself although Michele and I both danced into camp.

When we got back to camp, we were welcomed by the crew with high fives and got a picture in front of the DAY 1 Impressive sign. After that we found our gear and set out for home sweet home ~ our pink tent. Michele and I worked like champs together and had our tent set up in no time. We then moved on to the semi-trailer showers, which weren’t nearly as bad as I had imagined, and I highly recommend the towel service.

After our showers we were ready for some nourishment, and the chicken and rice with marinara and salad was pretty tasty. With yummies in our tummies, we walked around camp and retrieved our 3-Day mail. Again I was overwhelmed by all the support when I pulled out my stack of mail. I received over 32 pieces of mail, including the three from Michele. As we picked up our mail, the last walker made her way into camp and raises the flag “One day closer to end of breast cancer.” Enjoying the activities of camp we went back to the dining tent to enjoy the nightly entertainment ~ 3-Day game show similar to A Minute to Win It and karaoke.

Of course, night life at camp doesn’t last long since it is lights out at nine p.m. Michele and I ventured back to camp, donned our sporty headlamps, and read our  letters of encouragement. Some made me laugh, and some made me cry. Again, I was overwhelmed by the love and support I have received on this journey. With thoughts of 40 more miles in my head, I lay on my sleeping mat and sleeping bag, and tried to visit dreamland…

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