Monday, October 5, 2009

Ready...Set...Go!

I have debated how to go about telling the story of this incredible weekend, knowing that words will certainly fail me. When there is a profound experience to relate, sometimes, words will just not do. Those people who walked in, crewed for, cheered for this SF 3-day 60 mile walk for the cure, know exactly what I say when I say, this weekend was .... see I really can't find the words yet. I think it may be too early to even try. But since so many of you are waiting to hear how it went, day by day... let's start with Day One. I will try over the course of the next couple of days to get the details out there... Then, when I find the words, I will tell you what these days have meant to me.
On Thursday night, 4/5th of Team:Are We There Yet? came to our house for a Pasta Feed. Knowing the next morning we would have to be up and out by 5 ish to be to the Cow Palace by 6-6:30, the dinner was early so we could hit the hay, try to calm our excitement and sleep.

During dinner Glenn clinked his glass to make an announcement. "Cathy, as you know" he said, "starts going and keeps on going, kind of like the rest of you. I wanted to give you all a gift that would do the same..." Then he pulled out a big cardboard box and opened it...inside were five pairs of energizer bunny slippers. (I don't think he realized at the time he bought these, Energizer is a sponsor of the 3 day walk!)
The four of us were, of course, delighted and immediately modeled our apres walk attire.

Patti brought us all pink crowns. Please note how lovely our hair and makeup is... It will not be the same for 3 days.... At least mine!

O dark hundred and we are up and grabbing our whole wheat and Mahogany smoked bacon sandwiches. It's time to head 'em up and move em out. We stopped by to pick up Patti in Sausalito and off we went, our hearts beating, our eyes still half mast.

When we got to the Cow Palace we looked everywhere for Jill. People were arriving by the car, bus and taxi full. Never having walked in this walk, I didn't really know what to expect. As groups arrived there were some pretty darn cute outfits... like these gals with their pink and white striped skirts. Some outfits were pretty elaborate and I wondered how the heck they thought they could walk 20 miles in so much fabric, fur, and donned with pink wigs and other paraphernalia. Luckily we found our Jill in a pansy hat and Tri delta shirt... and we were ready.
With cameras clicking wildly... we felt like rock stars...in pink.

Then we knew we had arrived when the San Jose bicycle police came riding in. This was going to be FUN!!! Cute guys on bikes what's not to like?

The announcement was made to head "inside the white fences..." code for this time we are serious.....

While we were waiting we saw KGO interviewing people on the sidelines. Both Patti and I talked to them as survivors. (When we got back and looked online, it appears...we made it... to the cutting room floor!)
Things started to get a little emotional. The reality of six months of training ,being next to your best friends and the beginning of a great challenge set in. This of course was all trumped by the memory of being told you have Breast Cancer and the helpless feeling that follows that moment. Now...now... you can start to take back your power. Now you can do something about it...

During the open ceremony 8 survivors form a circle. The each represent some of the qualities that survival entails. Hope, Courage, endurance, heathy, optimism, committment, Love, Patience. This was the beginning of a quest and we would need these qualities as we face this new challenge. You could feel the emotion of all those around you as if the air had been charged with electricity.
Walkers, you may begin. 3 days, 60 miles for a cure.

Can you tell we are a little excited???

A long line of volunteers, families and supporters formed a passageway that led us from the Cow Palace parking lot out onto the streets of Daly City. It had begun.



If you want to feel what support feels like, walk through this. Nothing was going to stop us now.
Through the first part of the walk the streets began to come alive with different people who would follow us throughout the walk. I had heard tales of long lines of community support in other 3 day walks. I came to find out how important these people are. In SF in this walk, the people who did come and cheer meant the world. There should be more of them. I worry that somehow people have become desensitized to Breast Cancer. We are far from done.
The cars full of people who followed our walk and screamed and yelled support were like little shots of adrenaline each time we saw them.


Here are Hookers for Hooters. They played GREAT music that always made me want to dance!

Along the way we met Elizabeth from Los Gatos. She walked with us for a good part of Day 1 since she didn't have a team. I think in the end our measured pace was a little slow for her, and we saw her only briefly on the remainder of the walk.

But her line...was one of the best. Jill and she were both staying at the Marriott instead of sleeping in little pink tents at Crissy Field. Jill said, " I don't camp." to which Elizabeth said "I don't even know how to spell camp."

One of our favorite supporters was the lady with the Bunny Bike. Bunny, the lady told us has been to 16 3-day walks. The bike is covered with pink flowers , with Bunny riding shotgun.

Along Lake Merced.

Allison and I strike a pose. That is Park Merced Towers in the background.
These fine supporters were by the firehouse.
Arriving at the cheer station at the Zoo, there were several groups cheering us on. Some handed out mardi gras beads, some candy. All handed out a wee bit more energy.
Even these guys. Dana and Chris.
The teamHere is Allison standing at Glenn's old neighborhood, where he grew up. His house one block up and about 1/4 of the way around to the left. Well...it was close.

At an early pit stop a few people were already at the medical tent getting blister aide.
On to the Great Hiway for a short stroll .
The pack was still pretty together, but as time went on the distance stretched out between people. We walked a little further along the great hiway and headed up Ocean Avenue. I kept thinking, this is not towards the bridge. Geez... I bet this is longer than I thought.

We meandered back to the Highway and...

Looking for our cheer group we find them there.
I guess we are glad to see them!


Off we go while...They head to the beach chalet for lunch. Dana, Curtiss and Chris. Glenn is the cameraman, probably is ordering a nice cold frosty beer.


Off to the east for a while, up hill to a school field for lunch. The person checking us into lunch counted me as #1000. Don't I get a prize? Can I just say, even if you're hungry some sandwiches are not meant to be eaten.

But the cookies and people and sunshine were nice.

After lunch we walked back down to the Great Hiway to a pitstop where "Playland at the Beach" used to be. Elivs was there...it was a 50's theme.

And our cute cops too! The wall made a good photo op. Here with Allison and IWe walked up past the Cliff house, by Sutro Baths and made the turn toward Lands End trail. Barbara and Patti took the opportunity to pose.

Off we go... on dirt, up hill...

Is my daughter pretty or what?

Most the team. Jill was reading the informational signs.


These steps, all 150 of them are called Russian Stairs. Heading up them on the left is a San Jose cop carrying his bike. Ok...I won't whine, even if these steps were killing me!

At the top of the Lands End trail we emerged into Seacliff, with their beautiful yards, roses and views. Robin Williams wasn't home (or he sold the house... or he was hiding from pink) when we walked by his house. Then our journey took us through the Presidio by old batteries closer and closer to the camp.
Making the turn toward the east you can see the walkers making their way toward the bridge.

And finally, thumbs up we can see camp. The good news is, we weren't last! But we weren't first either. Allison and I arrive as the 681st and 682nd walkers.
It was a beautiful sight. The blaze of pink shimmering in the afternoon sun. I don't think there could possibly be a pretty place to camp on any other 3 day. This was a sunny magical camp.


As we got near the entrance to camp a street musician performed for us.
Our boys had taken the boat over to the St Francis after dropping us off at the Cow Palace. When they weren't having a brew at the Beach Chalet or cheering us on, they were napping here so they could welcome us back to camp.

After arriving at camp, immediately the slippers came out and boy did they feel good. We all put ours on and went over to sit with the guys "just" outside the camp boundaries.

They brought wine, which at the time I thought was a terrible idea, but then again.... It was a great way to wind down after the 20 mile walk. Just one glass though. I definately would have been a "cheap" drunk if I had more.

Throughout the weekend the camp was blessed with a full moon, new moon... whatever. It was up early at night. A full moon as the sun was setting. Don't you think that is amazing?
Beautiful....
As we waiting in line for dinner, Patti got us some hot chocolate. We needed it, because as the sun disppeared from the sky so did the warmth.
The dinner was passable, but I would argue, pretty poor. I do believe there must be some great store in the Bay Area who would be willing to coop with a caterer or fine chef to really present exceptional food to a cause like this. But the people serving were delightful. Those volunteers who would pick up your dirty dishes were very much appreciated. But if you know of anyone, say Gordon Ramsey, Tyler Florence, Wolfgang Puck who would be inclined to take on a meaningful challenge... have them call me, or Susan G Komen, we'll hook them up!
And as we retired to our sleeping tents, the party continued in the big white tent. Karaoke and lots of fun I am sure, but for we five, it was time to try and sleep, despite the wind. The pink nylon whapped and shook while the buses caused Doyle Drive to beat like a drum.

The whole day had been such an adventure I found my heart beating triple time. But finally, sleep came, and I would need it... 22.5 miles on the schedule for tomorrow.