It’s hard to believe that it’s already been over a week since my latest phenomenal 3-Day for the Cure experience. This year I met more wonderful people, got to walk with people from previous years and had a very busy first day! I’m getting a little bit ahead of myself, to talk about this 3-Day for the Cure, I kind of have to step back to the Wednesday before the walk.
If you have my post on setting goals then you’re probably aware of two lofty goals that I set for myself this year. One was to be the top fund raiser in Dallas and one was to raise over $20,000 this year for the 3-Day for the cure. Wednesday morning it looked like I was probably not going to hit either of those goals, though it was very close. I was pretty sure that I had stretched my fund raising network as far as it would go and I was happy with the amount I had raised. I thought it would have been nice to have reached them but I could definitely be proud of what had been raised.
The family drove up to Dallas on Wednesday evening. My wife was on crew and had to be at crew training on Thursday and I had to be at flag bearer rehearsal as well, more on that later. When we got to my mother-in-law’s house (she’s one of the reasons that I walk, she’s a 10-year survivor!) she asked how close I was to the top fund raiser. When I told her it was about $500 short, she instantly said, “Well, I can make that up for you, no problem.” At first I was taken aback, I wanted to say something, but my mouth just wouldn’t work. My wife said what I wanted to say: That she didn’t need to do that. She had, just a couple of months before, contributed $300 to my sister’s fund raising. She insisted and said, “I know that you do it for me and my girls, I know it would mean a lot to you to be the top fund raiser, I want to do this.”
That was the final word. She made a donation and got me in the lead and then said, “Now, if you need another donation before this closes out, you get me up and I’ll make another donation.” Long story short, I stayed up that night and when it was done I had stayed in the top fund raiser position.
This year I was selected to carry the “Turning Points” flag from the Lifetime flag series during the opening ceremonies of the 3-Day. I have tried several ways to write to explain what the flags are, but I think that Jay Furr’s post, Raise the Flag, does a much better job than I could of explaining the flags and what they mean in an opening ceremony. Thursday was the rehearsal for the flag bearers. I arrived at the opening ceremonies site just before 4. I had always thought about how much work had to go into putting together a 3-Day for the Cure event, but it didn’t really dawn on me how much work was done before a walker arrived at opening ceremonies until then. There were a lot of cars parked there and when you looked around you could see a lot of work being done just about everywhere. Crew meetings on one spot, staff carrying a part for a setup this way and up by the stage, the group of people that I would be carrying a flag with the next morning.
Karen checked me in and congratulated me on achieving the top fund raiser spot and suggested that I go talk to Dan. Dan was one of the two other people that had leap frogged for the top spot throughout the year. I think I mentioned him, but not by name, in an earlier post. He was carrying an honor flag for his wife who had lost hear 18 year battle with breast cancer earlier this year. As we stood there waiting for the rehearsals to start, he was able to tell me about how they met and that they had been married for 43 years. I was very close to tears. You see, I know I have mentioned that I walk for my wife so that she doesn’t have to fight breast cancer, but every year I get more reasons to continue walking. When I hear a story like Dan’s where they fought breast cancer for almost half their marriage it brings a lot of thoughts to the surface. It makes me angry and upset that people still lose their loved ones to breast cancer, but at the same time it renews my determination to stay in the fight to try and get rid of this disease. Thank you so much for sharing your wife’s story with me Dan, I hope that you had a wonderful walk.
When you go to the flag bearer rehearsals, you go through an abbreviated opening ceremony. Jenne Fromme does a shortened version of what she will say so that the staff can make sure that all of the flag bearers know what to do and when to do it. I have to say that even with no one in the audience and her speech shortened, it still makes for a moving experience.
Waking up early is not something I enjoy doing. On a training walk recently I told one of the walkers that was with me that I usually only wake up really early (before 5:30) for training walks and the 3-Day. I’m not even sure what time we got up on Friday, but it was early and after picking my sister up from her hotel and getting some breakfast we got to the opening ceremonies at 6. Huge thanks go out to my niece for getting up early and taking us there.
It was still dark and very cold and I was wearing my Keep Going® Blogger t-shirt and shorts. I had still not decided at what point I would lose the shirt and be in just a bra for the top. With the cold as it was, I wasn’t sure if it was going to happen at all. My sister and I wandered around for a little bit and tried to stay in larger groups of people for a little break from the wind. At 7, I was supposed to report behind the stage to be ready to carry my flag out.
While I was backstage I met up with Sandy Villetti, my contact for the walk with Energizer®. We talked for a little bit and then the ceremony started. It seemed like no time until I was walking across the stage with my flag and next to no time until the opening ceremony was over and I was walking out. One of those things I never really knew about being a flag bearer is that you lead everyone else out to the route. This was the closest to the front that I had EVER been on a 3-Day walk. It actually made it so that we weren’t concerned about time at all for the rest of the day. We would get to pit stops or lunch and have plenty of time left. It made for a very worry free day (I tend to worry a little bit when I get to pit stops and only have 10-15 minutes until they close).
Julie caught up to me and I found out that she had, purely by accident, met up with her tent mate at opening ceremonies. Since my wife was walking with crew and tenting with me, she got a random tent mate and it turns out that they got along really well for the whole walk. I took the shirt of and went in the bra. It was cold, but I adjusted to the cold pretty quickly. For a little while there we didn’t think that we were going to be able to get anywhere because every ten feet or so, someone wanted another picture. Eventually I told Julie and Rachel to go ahead and I would catch up between pictures.
Friday at the Dallas 3-Day for the Cure is always my favorite. There are a couple of reasons. First is that you are fresh and your muscles aren’t tired. That’s pretty minor to the main reason: the schools. We walked by at least two schools that had the kids and teachers out cheering. I won’t go into too much detail since I wrote about this over the weekend in the post titled Community. Go there and check it out because these schools were awesome at keeping us motivated!
When we came into camp around 4, I really felt like the day had just flown by. It was a great day and I felt really good after walking 19.3 miles. When I got back to camp, I found my tent. Now, there’s a few words about the tent that I want to say. Being the top fund raiser, I was given a larger tent with some goodies inside. First, here’s a picture of the tent:
So the first thing to note about it is that it is larger than the pink tents that you normally sleep in. Second, it has a little covered “porch” area that we were able to stow our stuff in without risk of it getting wet. On the inside of the tent we were provided with a queen size air mattress and lots of comfy bedding and it was all on a platform so it was normal bed height. That made it a lot easier to get out of bed in the morning when your muscles were stiff. It had a camp chair and foot rest right outside the door and the final thing it had was a space heater. That’s right, a space heater. If you checked the weather for this past weekend, you may have noticed that the temperatures at night on Friday dipped into the 30s, so a heater was a welcome addition to the tent, but more on that later.
The night was pretty busy. After showering and eating, I got set up in the Energizer tent to start blogging and met most of the 3-Day Tweeps that were in Dallas. Then Sandy and I went in to do the drawing for the Energizer giveaway in the dining tent. I was able to work on my blog a little bit more before heading back to the dining tent for the announcement of the top fund raiser by New Balance. Then I headed back to work on the blog and read some of my camp mail before finally heading to bed. A busy night, but it was a lot of fun.
When we headed back to the tent, it was nice and warm from the heater running. We settled in for the night to sleep until the next day of walking.
Right around midnight on Saturday morning the heater stopped working. More appropriately, the generator stopped working, it was apparently out of fuel. Now, before I go on with Saturday I want to say that later on in the day we talked to Kendra with New Balance about it going out and she was super about getting a resolution in place and a different generator for us to use on Saturday night. Thank you Kendra for all of your help!
With the heater dying, it changed things quite a bit. When we originally came to bed, we didn’t wear hats or long sleeved shirts because the heater kept the tent pretty warm. Once it cut off, it took about 45 seconds for all of that heat to leave the tent. No, I’m not complaining about having heat for half the night when everyone else had no heat, I’m just explaining what happened. We ended up pulling out warmer clothes, cuddling up some more and making it through the night just fine, if a little colder. We got up Saturday morning, had breakfast and were ready to do it all over again.
Walking on Saturday, I felt like I was going considerably slower than I did on Friday. I know what the problem was though, I didn’t start off with the early pack, I started somewhere in the middle to back. We started getting to pit stops 20 minutes before they would close. I tried not to stress out about it, but in the back of my head I was saying to myself that I didn’t want to get swept because I was moving too slowly. We made it through just fine though. The cheering stations on Saturday are always a lot bigger because people don’t have to skip work to make them, so the cheering stations on this day were awesome. The Valley View mall cheering station just seemed to go on forever!
Right when I was done with walking on the Addison suspension bridge, I got a call from Sandy (with Energizer). She wanted to make sure that I was scheduled for one of the chair massages in the tent later that night. What a fantastic surprise! I can honestly say that I have never been able to get a massage at camp in the other walks that I have done simply because I forget to sign up for it until all of the spots are taken. Sandy goes in my awesome book for setting this up!
Got back to camp a little more sore than the first day and really no blisters to speak of. I showered, ate dinner and had my massage. It was great! You use a lot more muscles than just your legs when you walk 20 miles a day. All the muscle groups are involved just to keep you upright and moving in the right direction. The massage was a welcome relief to those muscles that I don’t ever think about when walking.
After the massage, I got to working on my next blog. I know it’s a little silly to write in your blog about writing about your last entry, but there’s a little something that kinda makes me smile now that I look back at this and I feel I should mention it. I wrote the post about checking the mail. Several of the mail items that I got made me tear up a little bit. I should have known before I wrote that post that I would get a little emotional again. As I was writing the post (and quoting one particular letter) I started to cry. In the Energizer tent, especially on Saturday night there is a long line of people waiting to borrow portable phone chargers. Here was this line of people and off to the side of them on my computer I’m sitting there crying. Several asked me if I was alright and I had to explain to them that I was crying from reading letters and then again writing about them. In fact, when Kendra from New Balance came by later to make sure that everything was fine with the tent, she stopped mid sentence and said, “Are you ok? You look really upset.”
Sunday was when some hurt started coming in. I think I bruised my right foot and did something to the tendon or muscle on the back of my left leg. Walking was a bit more painful, but despite that the day seemed to go better. The thing that really sticks out for me on Sunday during the walk was the cheering station at the West End in Dallas. There were tons of people there, it went on for quite awhile and before the end of the cheering station I was in tears. I don’t know why this cheering station hit me more than others, maybe it was because I hadn’t seen my kids since Friday, maybe it was some of the pain I was in, or some other un-thought of reason. Whatever it was, by the end of the cheering station, my sister was looking over at me trying to make sure that I was ok.
We went through some downtown areas and came into Fair Park, the annual site for the State Fair of Texas. This year was a little different than others I had walked in Dallas in that the holding area (the place where walkers go after they are finished, but before closing ceremonies) was indoors. At first I thought this would be great. In Boston when they did this it was nice and cool in the holding area and it was great for after walking in the sun. When we first walked in here, I was actually kind of hot. After I had some time to adjust it was fine, but I didn’t want to put on my victory shirt for awhile.
I checked in, got my shirt and then went to cheer on other walkers that were coming in after me. I really enjoy doing this, you get to see everyone coming in, many who you met over the course of the walk, and you get to see them at their happiest. They did it and they are at the finish line. I didn’t get to cheer many people on in Boston because we were pretty close to the end of the line of walkers when we came in, so it was really good to be able to cheer on so many when we got in on the Dallas walk. I even got to cheer my wife on as she came in with the rest of the crew. When I saw her I gave her the biggest hug I could, and that was one of my favorite 3-Day moments from this year.
I could go on to explain about closing ceremonies, but I like ending on that note. I’ll have videos from throughout the walk to post as soon as I get a little organized and you’ll be able to see some of the closing ceremonies and some cheering school kids, but this is where I want to end now. Thanks to everyone that made this year’s Dallas 3-Day for the Cure walk an amazing event.