We may be a small team, but we are mighty! This past week we all traveled to Seattle, Washington to do something HUGE! Over the weekend, 750 of my closest friends took to the streets, trails, parks, and hills of Seattle and it’s suburbs to help bring awareness to fighting breast cancer –by walking 60 miles (really it was closer to 65 miles, but what’s a few extra miles when you are walking that far, right?) in the Susan G. Komen 3-Day. What follows is a recap of our weekend. It is a journey that every man and woman who has ever been affected by breast cancer (and even those that haven’t) should experience.
These signs are the reasons we walk. This picture tells more of a story than the words in this post could ever express. This picture is worth more than a multitude of a thousand words. This picture is why we walked those 60 miles this past weekend, raised thousands of dollars, and why we will continue to fight the fight against breast cancer. This picture is only part of the story…
Some of you may know Beth from the Sisterhood’s Running Page –the is a badass marathon and half-marathon runner, as well as a wonderful friend. I know her as one of my sisters.
The 2015 Seattle 3-Day for the Cure was my third such event. I had participated in the Dallas event in 2012 and 2013; taking a break in 2014 to concentrate on pursuing my first marathon finish. That was a whole other story. Anyway, coming back to 2015, the event itself was wonderful and difficult all at the same time. The support was great from all of the staff and volunteers. The crew that support the event are all volunteers and are super friendly, encouraging and just the nicest people you’d ever want to meet. The other walkers were kind and supportive. My team’s support volunteers, or ‘walker stalkers’, are the most wonderful people and were one of the reasons we were able to keep on going. They are the fetch and carry backbone of the teams and the unsung heroes of the 3-Day events.
Folks, 60 miles in 3 days is no joke. Honestly I think the training for this event is just as hard as training for a marathon. And as I have done both I can say for me it was just as challenging. It may not be as hard on your joints but my feet still feel very sore and I’m still limping. Seattle’s route has some serious hills. Hills exceeding a 10% grade. The Dallas area where I live is fairly flat. A 2 to 5 % grade is about what you’d find. I trained on ramps in parking garages by running up and down. I trained on the stair master for 20-30 minutes. I was unprepared for the hills we walked in Seattle. Period. I should have done stair master for hours. Maybe it would have been easy after that.
That all being said, I loved it. If not every minute, then for the vast majority of it. Even when I was severely foot sore and moaning and groaning over every hill, curb, and bump in the sidewalk. It was beautiful scenery for most of the walk. The weather was very nearly perfect, autumn temps and mostly light winds (except on bridges where it tended to be a lot stronger- like holding down your hats strong). I loved the hills, the scenery and most importantly the people. They helped you to remember the reason you were doing this event. It wasn’t just a physical challenge, which this definitely is, but also that this is to raise awareness and money towards ending breast cancer forever!
When I first did the 3-Day back in 2012, I didn’t think I knew anyone who had died from breast cancer. Or anyone that had it. Now I know dozens of women and yes, a few men that are survivors. And I’m sad to say that since I became involved and more aware, I have also known several beautiful women that did not survive their battles. People in their prime cut down and gone forever because we could not cure them with current treatments. In a couple of cases, it wasn’t detected early enough to do something about it. In a few cases the treatment just didn’t work or the disease had spread systemically.
When people ask me why I walk, my answer is complicated. But mainly it’s because I truly want to help end this disease. The world can do without breast cancer, but we can’t do without the smiles from our survivors! I wish we could still see the smiles of those that have fallen.
Please remember to get your annual screening and do your monthly self exam. Women AND Men!
Karena was a first-time walker and did AMAZING! Since Oregon has a whole lot more hills than Dallas, she was well-trained and owned those hills! Some of you may remember her from her days as a writer for the Sisterhood of the Shrinking Jeans. Others of you may know her as “the lady from Belgium that moved back to America last year”. I know her as another one of my sisters.
Walking the Susan G. Komen 3-Day event in Seattle fulfilled a promise I made to myself (and Ann!) many years ago. It was everything I expected and so much more.
I expected there to be a lot of women, a sea of pink as far as the eye could see. But I hadn’t expected to feel like I was walking with 750 of my closest friends. The smiles, the stories, the laughter – the camaraderie along the route made this event for me. In particular, Ann and her team from Dallas went above and beyond to make me a part of their group. They took me in and treated me like one of their own. They fed me, drove me, laughed with me. They told me their stories. They doctored my blisters. Gave me presents. One of them even lent me compression socks for my flight home! I don’t have the words to express how welcome they made me feel and how much I look forward to seeing them again some day. I am truly humbled by their generosity.
I expected to work hard. Train for hills, the Seattle advisors said. I trained for hills. I am so very, very, very glad I took their advice. Because Seattle? Is extremely hilly! And I’m pretty sure the people who designed the route wanted to make sure we saw the top of every single one of them. Next time I’ll double the hill work. (Yes, next time!)
I expected to be moved. But I didn’t expect the near-constant rush of emotion. Every time I saw a walker with a “survivor” sash, I felt it. Every shirt emblazoned with the names of people gone but not forgotten, I felt it. Every time someone thanked me for walking, my eyes would prick. When we stood gathered at the finish, waiting to cheer in the final walker, I could feel it flooding through me. It was an incredibly emotionally-charged, emotionally- draining experience.
I could ramble on and on. I could write a post every week for the next year and still not cover everything I learned this past weekend in Seattle.
But I can sum it up for you: this was one of the most rewarding things I have ever done in my life. And I can’t wait to do it again next year.
I could ramble on and on for the rest of forever about walking this event with these wonderful people, but I will simply say we will never be the same because we stepped out of our comfort zones and did something huge!!
If you would like to walk next year’s Susan G. Komen 3-Day, go online right now and sign up to walk! Start fundraising (you will need to raise $2300) and start getting out there to bring awareness to the fight against breast cancer! I will also repeat what Beth said earlier, “Go get a mammogram!” It could save your life! I’m in total agreement with Karena when she says, “It’s one of the most rewarding things I have ever done!”
I can’t have the whole 3-Day experience again with these wonderful women!