Walk, walk, walk, walk

From November 9-11, 2007, I walked in the Breast Cancer 3-Day Walk in San Diego, CA. This was my 3rd year participating. In 2005, I walked in Tampa, Florida and in 2006, I volunteered in Boston as part of the Camp Services team.

This year, I raised over $5000.00 for the walk from yarn stash sales, a yarn raffle, multiple bake sales at work, and donations from friends and family. The weather in San Diego was mild and the route was mostly pleasant. In the end, I only got two blisters. Many, many thanks to everyone who supported me, with money, with baking, with eating, and with on-route care and feeding. All of your help was essential and greatly appreciated.

Below are some photos and stories:

Day 1:

Here I am bright and early in the starting pen. My socks are clean, my body is fresh, and I’m smiling and ready to go. The pink ribbons hanging behind me are honor ribbons, listing the names of everyone I was walking for (when people donated to my walk, they could enter names they were donating for, all those names are on those ribbons). Because I’m a speedy walker, and I was walking alone, I positioned myself near the front of the pen so that I could be near the chute when they finally let us go. Despite that effort, it still took me 20 minutes to actually start walking.

Here is the course behind me after about a mile in. At this point, we were walking in a big arc out and around the starting area. We looked down into it as we passed. Still lots of people who hadn’t even started yet.

This is the sign coming into the first pit stop, 2 miles into the day. There is a volunteer crew for each stop and they come up with a theme and decorate everything. This one was 80s music, and there were a lot of “Frankie Say” signs posted. The 3-Day is pretty good about taking care of most of your needs and reducing you to an entity that just has to walk and eat and drink and pee and stretch. And they make sure to remind you to do all of them. The rule they repeat is that if you don’t have to pee at a pit stop, you aren’t drinking enough.

After I left that pit stop, we climbed a huge hill in the Torrey Pines reserve. Here’s a view of the pit stop as I went up. Miles of pink and a giant row of porta-potties. Another benefit to being a fast walker - if you hit pit stops early, the potties are relatively clean.

Here’s a shot of the walkers ahead of me as I headed down the final stretch toward lunch on Day 1. The clouds have cleared and it was a beautiful day.

Every 3-Day walk has thousands of walkers (4600 in San Diego this year) and they have a huge crew of volunteers to keep us safe. One of the most popular crews is the motorcycle safety team. These guys set up in major intersections and act as crossing guards. They also dress up and have a lot of fun with it. Here are a couple in action:

The San Diego Walk has additional support from the San Jose, CA police department, which sends a crew of bicycle-mounted officers to help out. These guys ride up and down the route with the walkers, encouraging us and making sure we’re all safe and healthy. They also dress up and have fun. The department provides them official pink t-shirts and they take it from there. One officer had a large boom box and would play music for us as they rode by. This officer called himself the “boob fairy”:

On Day 1, we walked 20.1 miles according to the route card (my GPS pedometer said it was a little further). We started at the Del Mar Fairgrounds in Del Mar, walked through La Jolla, and ended up at the campsite in Mission Bay Park in San Diego. I did not camp at the campground. I did that the first two years and decided that this year, I would camp at a hotel. I had friends come out to support me, and they shuttled me around between the hotel and the walk. I really didn’t miss the shower truck or the tents.

Day 2:

As I mentioned above, some of the money I raised for my walk was through bake sales. Actually, it was over $2400. I’d done some for the walk in 2005 with my group at work, but this year I decided to broaden and try for a larger audience. Instead of keeping the goodies in my group office, I set up right outside my own office in a rather busy corridor of a research lab employing 2500 people. I put up signs at major intersections and got a lot of word of mouth traffic. Overall, I had 6 bake sales (some with themes - all brownies, all breakfast goodies) each with about a dozen offerings (some I made, but I had a team of helpers who baked too). The bake sales took on a life of their own. When I put up signs for the one a week before my walk, I said that it was the last one. My customers informed me that I could not stop. So, I guess I’ll have to sign up for another walk.

Since donating to my bake sales was rather informal (a simple cash bin), there was no opportunity for honor ribbons. So for the last one, I had this t-shirt made and put out fabric pens. People added the names of people in their lives who had been touched by cancer. The slogan was one of the things I’d post on the wall when I had the bake sales.

Each 3-Day Walk has tons of supporters that come out to cheer us on. I was astounded at how many of them there were in San Diego. Everyone was dressed in costume, they were all handing out snacks and stickers and pins and other pink bling. They’d play music and dance and hold up signs for us. Once the walkers had passed wherever they set up, they’d move a few miles up the road and we’d see them again.

This dad and daughter team showed up every day with lots of enthusiasm, calling themselves “The Smile Guy and the Little Grin”. They had a team of walkers they were out cheering for. Grin gave us smiley face stickers.

Here’s a canine supporter:

Here are a couple of future walkers. Several people have commented to me on the “language” on their sign. But really, that sign was rather tame. Every slang word for “breast” that you can think of was on display on some sign or t-shirt along the way. It was really a celebration of boobs.

Here’s Smile and Grin again, along with a guy named Billy who gets dressed up like this every year.

Here I am walking through Ocean Beach. You can see that my lanyard has picked up quite a bit of bling. On the right is a supporter passing out gum.

On Day 2, we officially walked 21.1 miles, but again, my GPS said more. It was a big loop that ended up back at the campsite. And I got picked up and deposited in a hot tub.

Day 3:
By Day 3, I was worn out, but I kept pushing on with my fast pace. When you come into pit stops, they often tell you the headcount. I just kept leap frogging ahead. Here I am walking along a park:

The pit stops all have snacks and water and sports drinks. This year it was Gatorade. Behold, the Gatorade Buffet:

Here I am again, caught walking (you can make out a temporary tattoo on my arm, just near my sleeve):

Lunches are a longer break. There are sack lunches for everyone, with a sandwich, some chips, some fruit, and cookie. I take the opportunity to sit down and rest a bit. I also take my shoes off, let my feet air out a bit, and put on new socks. This is the lunch stop on the last day:

Finally, after another 16 miles on the last day, we were done walking. Here are different opinions I had of that:

Once again, big thank yous to everyone for all of their support in so many ways. I will likely be walking again this year, I just haven’t picked a city and signed up yet. I’m thinking I might try Michigan this year, to let my family come out and cheer.