The most incredible experience of my life!
Monday, November 06, 2006
Well, I am back from walking in the Breast Cancer 3-day walk, and I can tell you that it was the most incredible experience in my life. There are no words to describe how it feels to accomplish such a thing.
The Opening ceremonies were held at sunrise. It was cold, and we were expectant. We didn't know where we were walking to, or how far we would go that day. We knew that the average we would walk a day would be 20 miles. We had trained for it, we were ready. I had a bruised metatarsal joint, a training injury, so my goal was just to go as far as I could. After opening ceremonies, they let us out of the enclosure in a steady stream of walkers. The path wove up the hill, and it was like a line of ants going up the hill. We walked from Mesa to Tempe, a total of 18.3 miles. I got 12.5 in. When I caught the sweep van to rest and ice my foot, I got so much congratulations for doing that many miles, and thanks from the crew. The medical crew checked my foot, dressed a blister, and once I had iced my foot, I was off to complete my 12.5 miles.
Camp was in Tempe. It is hard to describe. There were semi trailers parked in a quadrangle that were our showers. With UNLIMITED hot water. There was a huge dining tent and kitchen area. The medical area was well staffed with doctors and nurses who could help with any issues you had. They had an ice pool where you could soak your feet each night. During dinner, there was a wide variety of entertainment from Mexican folk dancing, to singers and groups, to a Native American shaman that came and did a prayer song and the tribal ladies that did some dances for us.
I accomplished 14.5 miles the next day. We walked from Mesa up to Scottsdale and back. The walk was through some wonderfully scenic areas, including one park where the path crossed the water in such a way that it looked like the walkers in front of us were walking on water. There was a long period of time where we were out of reach of the sweep vans, but it was beautiful next to the water.
Day 3 we walked from Mesa up to downtown Phoenix. Unfortunately, after the first rest stop, about 4 miles into the walk, my foot felt like someone had snapped it with a rubber band on the bruised joint, and I had to quit. Luckily, we know it is not a stress fracture, but I cannot do any walk training for 3 weeks! They pampered me in ther medical tent, making sure I had ice for my foot, and food to eat (way too much now that I wasn't walking much (4 miles not much??) and water and gatorade to rehydrate. I caught a van to lunch, then a bus to closing ceremonies.
I can't describe the end of the trail and closing ceremonies without getting teary. As each walker came in, you walked throught a corridor of volunteers, families, other walkers all cheering you. They didn't care that you hadn't done the whole 60 miles, they just cared that you had tried. The noise as each walker came in was deafening. Closing ceremonies opened up without us in the knoll where it was held. After a bit we walked in, holding hands in the air, 10 abreast. This took a while as there were 2,200 walkers! Then came the volunteer crew, and we cheered them as hard or harder than they had cheered for us all weekend. Then came the breast cancer survivors who had either volunteered or walked. We each held up one shoe in salute of them and everyone they represented as they walked in. They were the reason that we did what we did.
As you can see, it will be hard now to get back into the "real" world. I have been cheered for just walking across the street, I have been patted on the back as I walk to the shower. I have been greeted like I was the queen of everything rather than just one of 2,000.
Will I do it again? Yes, I think so. Maybe as a part of the crew. Not next year, it will be too much to ask of everyone that contributed this year to do it again next, and it is my goal for next year to ride in the state championships with my horse.
It was all very moving and life changing.