I am a bit late on posting this and my teammates have done a wonderful job recapping our AMAZING 3 Day adventure. Here is my list of the Top Ten 3 Day 2009 things for which I was thankful.
- My Teammates, Jennifer Dooley, Jennifer Latino, Meredith Perlman, Michelle Wu, & Lisette Buechner: I cannot tell you how special these 5 ladies are to me. Whether I had known them for years or met them the night before opening ceremonies, we accomplished this feat together. When the stepping got tough (and let me tell you 60 miles isn’t a cake walk), we were there for each other. I am very lucky to have these wonderful, amazing, courageous women in my world! I would be remiss to not include my undying gratitude to my Wonderful Training Partner, number 1 cheerleader, honorary team member and husband, Adam. I am certain I would have never have even made it through the preparation let alone the full 60 miles and my family would never have made it around Atlanta (more on that later) without him and his unconditional support. On Day 3 he had gotten word that my feet were struggling (again more on that later) so he arrived at the cheering station that day in his walking shoes ready to walk by my side the remaining 7 miles if necessary to help me to the finish line. He did not need to jump into action but nonetheless he was ready. I am so lucky, clearly an understatement.
- My Walk Accessories: Walking the 3 Day requires a lot of gear! I don’t think I was quite aware of this when we started this journey. Shoes, hydration backpacks, socks, socks and more socks. I did have 2 favorite accessories that I would not have lived without. First, my fluorescent pink legwarmers. Not only were they chic and stylish, but they were multifunctional. They helped identify the New Kids in the sea of pink. They were used as arm warmers on the bus at the end of rainy Day 1. They blocked the cool wind on Day 2. I love them and so did many fellow walkers. Second, my headlamp. When making your way to use the port-a-potty in the pitch black of the middle of the night, the headlamp was a lifesaver! I never thought I would have so much love for my headlamp, but it is great! Adam is so fond of when I wear it around the house though it can be helpful in sorting laundry without turning on the overhead light.
- Cheering Stations: Jenn Latino gave some great insight into the joy that cheering stations and girl scout cookies bring to 3 Day walkers in her walk recap below so I will be brief. The promise of an upcoming cheering station insured that I would do whatever it took to get to that station! The kindness of strangers (and our amazing family members, but I will get to them later) was motivating in an unexpected way. Each time a community member said “Thank you for walking!” (and we heard that a lot) I was reminded of the bigger picture. We were not simply out there to take on the physical challenge. We were out there to fight a horrible, non-discriminating disease. If you live in a city where a 3 Day occurs, please consider heading out to a cheering station in 2010! The walkers will be forever grateful. I know because I am!
- Family: This includes my own family and the family members of my teammates that became my family over the 3 days. They were up at 5 am to attend and cry alongside us at the Opening Ceremony and proudly stood close to celebrate our triumphant finish at the Closing Ceremony. They came out to brave the rain at the cheering stations on Day 1, the cold on Day 2, and packed the sunscreen for Day 3. They brought snacks, caffeine, sweatshirts, hugs, whatever we needed throughout the experience. We ended the route pretty early on Day 2 so, instead of headed back to camp to hang out in our tents, we joined all our family members for dinner out. It was so nice to get to spend more than 20 minutes with them and was a great break from the intensity of it all. It was perfect.
- Surprises: If you know me, you know that I am not a fan of surprises. I like to know what to expect and be able to anticipate and look forward to the good things that are coming my way. My family however, LOVES to surprise me. So imagine my complete emotional undoing when I approached the first cheering station on Day 2 to find not only team friend Dana, Adam & my mom who had been there throughout Day 1 but also my dad, brother (Brad), sister-in-law (Shannon) and nieces (Sydney & Taylor). I stopped dead in my tracks and burst into tears. My team surrounded me, helped me find my way to my family because they all knew of the coming surprise! I may have walked 60 miles that weekend but my family spent 26 hours in a minivan with 2 kids under 4. If you had to choose, which would you choose?
- Tie – Unauthorized Pit Stops & 3 Day Soundtrack: The 3 Day organizers stress, from the day you register to the last step, HYDRATION!!! This was the only way we would not live out of worst fears of passing out in the shower truck or in the food line. We took hydration VERY seriously. We revisited our college years and made a drinking game of it. Every time a car honked at us (which happened A LOT!!!), we took a swig of water or PowerAde. Because of this, we often needed a restroom before we made it to a pit stop. Plus, near the end of Day 1, we started missing flushing toilets. I would like to take this opportunity to give a shout-out to the Burger King, RiteAid, Subway, Office Depot, and CVS (to which I SPRINTED!) along the way that graciously allowed us to utilize their facilities. I hate to think of what would have happened if they hadn’t.
Our 3 Day soundtrack consisted of songs they played to kick it off at the Opening Ceremony, to get us moving & pumped each morning, to help us unwind at camp in the evening and to keep crossing the street entertaining. Here is our 3 Day Soundtrack. Enjoy!
Beautiful Day – U2
Party in the USA – Miley Cyrus
I Gotta Feeling – Black Eyed Peas
Raindrops Keep Fallin’ on my Head – Barry Manilow
Brown Eyed Girl – Van Morrison
YMCA – Village People
Believe It or Not (Theme from Greatest American Hero)
Cha Cha Slide – Mr. C
Single Ladies – Beyonce
I Will Survive – Gloria Gaynor
It’s Tricky – Run-DMC
Low – Flo Rida
Cupid Shuffle - Cupid
Faith – George Michael
- My Favorite Medic: There was a massive medical team to assist walkers every step of the 60 miles, but I wound up seeing the same medic on both of my visits to the medical tent. This was the “foot doctor” (he called himself that because apparently he thought the word podiatrist is not known by the masses) that told me my favorite joke of the weekend! On the night of day 2, after diagnosing the pain and swelling in the arches of both of my feet as “tendinitis” and excitedly telling the rest of the foot doctors in the area of the diagnosis, he told me to “take it easy tomorrow”. When I laughed at him, knowing that I had 20 more miles to walk the next day, he paused and told me not to speed walk. I told him that clearly he did not know me at all and he could rest assured that I would not be speed anything the next day. He then lanced a large blister on my heel the following day right as we finished lunch. Such a nice foot doc!
- Crew: The Crew does it all throughout the 3 Day. From feeding us to keeping us safe while crossing major roads to filing us onto buses to get to/from the route to coordinating pit stops/lunch breaks to driving the Sweep vans (which we did not use), they encouraged us every step of the way. They were up before we were and went to bed after we did. There was special subset of the Crew that is special to all walkers and those people are the motorcycle crew. These are the folks (mostly men) who directed traffic for us, helped keep us on the route, danced with us as we waited for the lights to change. One in particular wore a different kilt each day. Day 1 was a safety orange kilt, Day 2 was a lovely plaid, and Day 3 was tie-dyed. No one can pull off a kilt quite like this man! For a photo, check out Jenn Latino’s walk wrap up!
- YOU: I would not have been able to walk the 3 Day without your support, both financially and through all of your words of encouragement along the way. Team New Kids on the Walk raised a total of $17,925.75. Isn’t that incredible?! What’s more….the Atlanta 3 Day raised $5.6 MILLION! Really remarkable. Thank you!
- Finishing: To describe the Closing Ceremony with words would really do a disservice to the experience but I will try. The procession began with the walkers' entrance. Rows and rows and rows of walkers walking through the tunnel of loved ones. Once the walkers are in place, the Crew arrives, giving the walkers one last opportunity to express their gratitude for all that the Crew does throughout the 3 Day. Finally, we all turn to welcome the Survivors to the ceremony. These are the women and men who have walked alongside us, worked on the Crew; these are the people for whom we walked. As they arrive, we stand silently, raising one of our worn down sneakers into the air to salute them. The rest was a bit blurry (perhaps due to the amount of tears in my eyes) but consisted of a celebration of our physical and financial accomplishments and an opportunity to remember those who are no longer able to walk with us due to the exact disease they/we walked to fight. I used this time to remember and honor the survivors for whom I walked. Unfortunately when I walk next year (YES! We are registered already for 2010!), I will be walking in memory of one of those survivors. Stefanie Speilman, the woman whose fight prompted me to get active against breast cancer in college, lost her fight on Thursday, November 19th. She was fighting her 5th bout with this disease and had been fighting for 12 year. She was 42 and leaves behind her husband, Chris, and their 4 children, Madison, Noah, Macy, and Audrey. Please keep them in your thoughts and prayers as they surely miss their mom.
With Love, Hope & MORE Walking in 2010!