Monday, October 4, 2010

"That was walking on water, baby"

"That was like walking on water, baby." Aubrey Huff, after the Giants cinched
the NL Western Division, Oct 3, 2010

Here it is, October 4th. That means the Susan G Komen 3day -60 miles walk has come and gone in SF. Now as I sit down to write about it, I find one significant moment is blending into the next. The lines are blurred between the silly and the serious. The vision of the bridge is morphed into the sight of the cheerers in Mill Valley. The hills have neither ups or downs, they are simply hills, and the flat land seems to have faded from memory. The one thing that stands out clear as day is the past three days were unlike any other and throughout the next 50 years moments, will surface these moments replaying their significance with loud and thrilling vividness. For now, though, you will have to indulged me as I try to tell you about the walk, one day at a time. Certainly, the depth will be lost in the effort, but at least you will get the basic drift.

Let's start with day 1. No, ok let's start the night before.

Allison and Katie both arrived at different times. I picked up Katie early in the morning on Thursday and Glenn picked up Allison in the evening. That night with our whole family together (one thing that gives me amazing joy) we had our carb-loaded pasta dinner. Patti and John joined us. We went over our packing lists to make sure we had everything we could possibly need. I do believe we could have gone on a month long journey with the snacks we had packed, the heat pads, the instant cold pack, the blister care and the other paraphernalia. I shooed everyone off to bed at around 9pm. After all... we were supposed to meet at the Cow Palace at 6:30 the latest!

The morning came soon enough and I am certain one or two of Team:Are We There Yet? had a little difficulty sleeping. That anxious feeling you get before something you have been waiting for is about to happen is hard to sleep through, and we all have been waiting and training and looking forward to this walk for a LONG time.

The Marin contingent piled into two cars packed to the brim with rolling duffel bags, boas, and mardi gras beads and off we went.

We arrived at the Cow Palace and pulled up to the waiting trucks to off load our bags. Standing by Truck "A" we waited for the rest of the team to arrive. They came one by one until 7 brave souls stood ready to come into the "opening ceremonies" area.

PINK was in evidence EVERYwhere.

I asked our team to all wear our team shirts and had Glenn snap a picture of the back so eventually I can send our business sponsors THANK yous from the team.

It has been a long time since I could put my arms around our two daughters.

It did my soul good.

I thought standing in front of the "Stay Positive" lantern was a great idea, but.... The glow in the dawning light, makes the team picture a little... bright?

But there we are, in a cool and foggy morning, waiting for the sun to rise over the Cow Palace.

Some people may call these events hokey. I can only tell you as a survivor of Breast Cancer, there is nothing hokey about it. You stand in the midst of people who "get it". Throughout your training and your fundraising you have met people who don't "get it". They will donate to save the whales, or buy a triple decaf grande latte, but somehow donating to a something like BREAST CANCER is foreign. Is it because it strikes to close to home? Is it because 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast Cancer and of those 1 in 8 will die... Does that scare some people so much that they would rather not think about it? Are they like me, after I finished my treatment? Do they think saying the word might invite it back? I don't really know, but what I do know is there is something so affirming to stand among people who "get it."

Those people whose lives were changed by Breast Cancer, either by having it, or having someone they love battle it. You stand among people who lost their parent, their child their friend. And on another side there could be someone just finishing chemo. All you know is that the people standing there, as crew, walkers or support all have been moved to end this terrible disease. AND they will walk the walk to do it.

Dear friends who fought the same battle and won.

Other survivors with their own stories. "What stage were you?" When it comes to Cancer, it doesn't matter, any stage could kill you if treatments are not found.

Throughout the walk there are incredible people who move you. Like the San Jose police bike unit who are the walkers protectors on the walk. They joke, they dance, they smile and wear pink. THEY are heroes.

Who was it that was the spark, that lit the fire in you to walk in the 3 day. Was it your sister, your mother, your friend. Who are you walking for? For me the list is long... but certainly as significant as my friends and my daughters, is myself.

What weapons do you need to fight and beat Cancer? Hope, Healing, Courage, Belief, Commitment, Patience, Optimism?

And a determination to stare it in the eye until it backs down.

To stand hand in hand with others who have fought this beast makes you feel part of something BIG and something very powerful.

And off we go on the road. They scan your credentials on the way out. You meet the first of many volunteer crew eager to help make this... the walk of a lifetime...

We asked that Glenn hold on to our boas until after the walk.

Somehow he looks like a king in all those feathers. If he had a better tan I would say King Kamehameha

Taking off from Brisbane we head into Daly City into the fog along the route marked with signs and arrows and encouragement.

It was still dark enough for auto lights on cars!

Our team, all smiles... what would it be like at mile 50?

In the beginning of the walk, until the first pitstop you walk as one solid line of braveness... Like soldiers into battle.

By the time you reach Pit one, there is more distance between groups of walkers as some linger longer at the stops.

Patti wore her Toad Hollow Winery hat with a button for JUDY.

She wore another button for SUE.

Allison wore a button for KATHI who is battling cancer in Ohio.

On day one the walkers wear the most creative outfits. This pair had amazing vests with pictures of people they were walking in honor or memory of.

This pair had "boob" hats, which I mistook for Asian straw hats.

One of our favorite safety monitors had a special message on his vest.

Some SF Firemen posed for pictures near Lake Merced.

And all along the way our SJ cops entertained us.

Some teams from other cities came to sell things to help make their fundraising goals.

The girls truly loved these cops. We found each one very photogenic, which you will get by the time you read all three days!

But by far the best guy on the route for me was my honey in a pink boa. He wore this the entire time. He said it made him happy to do it. It made such a difference to the walkers. But it made the WORLD of difference to me. Just like he has throughout our life together, this amazing man has always had my back.

Cathy Shea bravely walked along. She hadn't nearly the amount of training that we had done. But she as a 7 year surivior walked tall and proud.

What can I say about the Manbulance??? This sweep van was driven by two guys who would dance along the way. I swore if I needed a sweep van I would have to find this one. I couldn't help but smile whenever I saw them.

"Oh yea, Oh yea!"

Your heart skips a beat wherever you see someone cheering for you. But when a child with a bright smile and a little sign looks out at you from a window... you melt. Like this little sign that says "Good Job"

Each sweep van had its own special decorations and great volunteers manning them.

Our walk took us to Stern Grove. I have driven by this park many times, but I have never ever walked through the gate. Although we didn't walk down into the grove we did walk into the gates and along the upper portion of tall Eucalpytus trees.

Happy Team Are We there Yets....

Chuck and Glenn in their chase vehicle.

We walked down Ocean Avenue toward the... duh...Ocean.

Allison's pack proudly carried Kathi's pin (aka Mama Bear).

At the next pitstop people were visiting medical to attend to blisters.

Stretching and eating...

Your basic pitting.

LUNCH consisted of Veggie or Turkey sandwiches, one slice of tomato, an apple, Sun Chips...

Of course the standard gatorade and water are always available.

Finally we found the Hookers for Hooters....

Dana, only somewhat reluctantly posed with one of the fine ladies.

On that note, I don't remember which day it was, but a homeless man along the route looked at Dana and said "You must be a pimp with all those fine looking ladies."

Hey I did notice Dana smiling alot on this walk.

At the zoo there was a cheering station and some people came out. I cannot stress this enough. Each and everyone who did come, THANK you. You aren't the reason why these people are walking, but you give these people the courage to go the distance. If you have never come out to cheer for the Susan G Komen 3-Day please make a resolution now, to get your kids and friends and family to go out, wear some pink, make somes signs and what a difference you can make by simply showing up. Come on wouldn't YOU want to see someone like this cute little girl?

Or these people with their thunder sticks?

Or happy kids with bunny ears?

Or signs that make you smile.

Or socks that make you want to snap a picture?

Looking up along the great highway I even saw a dog out to cheer the walkers.

AND there he is... Glenn... handing out pink beads to the walkers, making their next mile that much easier.

Along the sea wall, to take a breather before heading up to the Cliff house and out to Lands End, we took some pictures...

Could be one of my new favorite pictures....

There were cheerers along the way as well....

AND the sun started to come out at the final pitstop of the day...

The SJ police started to put more and more pink on... Come on shake that thing!

Cathy Shea had walked a brave 12 miles and headed off to camp to meet us. The rest of the team posed on the top of the Cliff House hill before heading to Lands End.

And finally the bridge.

Oh... and those stairs...

Did you know this was 17 or so miles into the walk? Tell me if that is hard... You betcha.

But off we went...

And each and everyone of us DID IT!

But... when we finally made it to Baker's Beach we were pretty exhausted.

One of us had a small "hot spot..."

And even if it was daunting, we took that last hill...

Climbing up to camp.

Until finally there it was, our camp for the next two nights. Fort Scott at the Presidio.

1400 walkers found their home for the night in their little pink tents... under blue skies... It wouldn't stay that way....

And then there was Dana's tent on the 1st base line!

And now.... a look back at one of my favorite moments. A San Jose Policeman was coming down the row of portapotties knocking in a police like way on the doors. One woman came out with her pants down... Well most of her pants anyway. Then he began singing and I started to take a video on my phone. The next thing I knew he was reaching out and grabbed me to dance... Oh yea... now that was fun!