Wednesday, October 22, 2008

3 Days, 60 Miles, 3157 Walkers, $8.1 Million Dollars

My 3-Day Adventure in the Philadelphia Breast Cancer Walk is over. I spent 3 Days living in a world the way it should be - filled with kindness and caring, filled with people cheering you on and cheering you up. The support from the Crew, Volunteers, and just spectators along the way re-established my faith in humanKIND. I'm not really much of a "joiner" so I didn't talk to a lot of people and I didn't learn everyone's personal connection to breast cancer. It was more than enough for me to know that each one of the 3100 people I was walking with had either suffered personally or knew someone who had and that here was a group of 3100 people who were willing to put their body and soul into making a difference so that the next generation might know a WORLD WITHOUT BREAST CANCER. It was powerful, it was affirming, it was exhausting. Click on the Link above for a short video of the media coverage.

How did I do? I survived freezing cold weather, leaky tents, bad food, a couple of extremely rude Philadelphians, sore feet, porta-potties, aching muscles and my own lack of faith in myself. If I told you that I walked the entire route (23 miles) on Day 1, roughly half the route (10 miles) on Day 2, and the entire route (16 miles) on Day 3, would you be impressed with my accomplishment or disappointed that I didn't complete the full 60?

Lessons Learned:

It doesn't matter what anyone else thinks. I didn't walk the entire 60 miles, but I did walk most of it and I make no apologies for those times that I couldn't walk. I crossed the finish line absolutely elated and with a sense of personal accomplishment and respect for myself that no one can ever take away from me.

I am NOT a "happy camper". I think I knew this going in, but one night in a teeny tiny leaky nylon pup tent in 37 degree weather confirmed it beyond all doubt. And did you know that sleeping in the cold causes your muscles to cramp?

I have Hip Flexors - who knew?: In human anatomy, the hip flexors are a group of skeletal muscles that act to flex the femur onto the lumbo-pelvic complex, i.e. "pull the knee upward". I had never heard of this particular group of muscles and certainly didn't know the importance of stretching them until I got to the point (upon waking up on Day 2) of not being able to take a single step without pain and not being able to step up onto a curb without excruciating pain.

Visiting the Medical Tent is a GOOD Thing. I should have done it on Day 1. I thought I could sleep off the muscle soreness - hah! Thank you Dr. Keith for putting me back together on Day 2 so that I could continue walking!

Cheering People and Music Help You Push Through the Pain. Probably the BEST thing about the 3Day was all the people who came out to cheer the walkers on - who stood on the sidelines and clapped and high-fived and told us we could do it - who handed out water, candy, homemade cookies, and hot coffee, who blared their radios to give us a beat to walk to. Just about every time that we thought we couldn't take another step, we would turn a corner and find someone cheering us on - some of these people reappeared multiple times on the route all 3 days. Special shout-outs to "High Five" and "Woo" - a couple of crazy guys wearing pink and green striped knee highs and tees to match their names who seemed to always be there and to the "Boobalicious Girls" who also reappeared in multiple places through-out the walk and told us all how boobalicious we all were. And thanks to the family in Haverford who was handing out hot cider on freezing Sunday morning. I needed that! If you ever have the opportunity to go out and cheer for a group of walkers, bikers, runners, whatever - I highly recommend it - it makes a WORLD of difference!

There is no shame in taking a sweep van. When your body can't take it another minute, taking a ride is okay. There were so many times on Day 2 that I was ready to quit. I was in tears, depressed, tired, and felt like a grey cloud was just hanging over me. I wanted to call Jay to come pick us up. But the ladies driving the sweep van were awesome. They didn't make us feel ashamed for taking a ride. The point of the 3Day Walk isn't to kill yourself, but to push yourself to your outer limits, recognizing the pain that your friends and family members who have suffered from breast cancer endured. I can honestly say I pushed myself to that limit and beyond.

It is amazing what a warm bed and flushing toilet will do for your spirits. After a particularly rough Day 2, Deanna and I checked out of camp and into a hotel. Waking up Sunday morning in a warm bed made a world of difference. Not only had we given those hip flexors a chance to relax a little, but our spirits were lightened as well. I can't say walking on Day 3 didn't hurt (it did), but it was much easier to push through without that grey cloud hanging around.

I am grateful for good shoes, body glide(yeah - no blisters!), cheering people, motrin, chiropractors, cheering people, music, cheering kids, sweep vans, awesome crew, running water, flush toilets, warm beds, hot food, hot cider, cheering people, my ability to endure, the kindness of others, the community of walkers, oh - and did I mention? - cheering people!

8 comments:

Krystal K. Grant said...

That is so awesome, Cheri, I am SO PROUD of you for doing this! Thanks for sharing a detailed account. You rock!!!

Jan said...

You should definitely be proud!!!! Sounds like quite an experience.... something we should all try to do. I hope you got my letter. : )

Congratulations for crossing the finish line!!!

gscookie said...

You summed things up well and nicely stated the lessons learned. I've often said that if the world were run by 3-Day participants, it would be a far kinder, gentler place! Thanks for the shout-out to my amazing daughters, the Boobilicious Girls; they made me so proud! Will you walk again next year?

Cheri said...

Thanks guys! Jan - I DID get your letter - it was awesome of you to take the time. gscookie - not next year - that's too soon for me - but I wouldn't rule out something in the next few years.

gscookie said...

Hey, you could always Crew (I both Crewed & walked this year)... no fundraising required, and you can still feel the love...

Shelley Moore said...

Cheri - that is amazing! I am really inspired - I have been wanting to participate in something like that - can you tell me where I might find something like that closer to me? You are AWESOME!!!!

Cheri said...

Shelley - go to www.the3day.org. The 2009 sign ups are open. There is one in Denver - is that close enough? August 28-30. You can also check out the Komen site for "Race for the Cure" (usually 3 or 5 mile run, jog, walk events) or Avon for their 2 day 40 mile format.

Izzy said...

WTG Cheri! What an amazing accomplishment...