WOW! That's the best word to describe the Susan G. Komen 3 Day experience. It was amazing, tiring, emotional... everything I hoped it would be and more. Being surrounded by over 2000 people who dedicated this past year to fundraising and awareness was an indescribable feeling. We were all strangers with one goal... and WE DID IT!
Bright and early on Friday, my cousin and I headed into D.C. to Nationals Stadium and we could feel the energy. People were decked out in pink handing in their luggage, getting water, and moving toward the stage for the opening ceremony. We were able to make our way up front and as expected the opening ceremony was filled with cheers and tears.
Then we headed out for our 20 (or so) mile journey around D.C. I say 'or so' because 3 Day miles are known as 'komen miles' because there are times when a sign will say "1 mile to pit stop" and that mile feels like way more than 1 mile. Either my body was tired or they lie... not sure which it is but a 'komen mile' can take forever! As we left Nationals Stadium, crew members and supporters were there to cheer us on. The cheering stations were absolutely amazing and our fans got all dolled up to help us stay motivated!
My goal was to finish Day 1 and I did it! It ended with a mile up hill, which was pure torture! I saw so much of D.C., most of which I had never seen before like the capital building (yes, I had to walk Capital Hill) and the National Cathedral (which is also on a HUGE hill). We ended up in Bethesda, MD (or was it Chevy Chase?) which still sounds crazy to me. I never would have imagined walking from D.C. to anywhere in Maryland but I DID IT!
Day 2 was tough. My feet were already blistered and the medical line was way too long in the morning so I decided to try to walk to the first pit stop. Did I mention how awesome the pit stops are? Every 2 to 3 miles they have snacks, gatorade, water, and bathrooms (port o potties, but you don't care after a few hours!). By the time I made it to Pit Stop 1, 2.7 miles, my feet were ready to fall off so I decided to give them a rest and take a van to the next Pit Stop to get some medical attention. Unfortunately, there was a mix up and after 2.5 hours I finally made it to lunch. By then my muscles were tight and my feet were screaming at me with every step I took. After some medical treatment and lunch, I walked another 2 miles but decided to call it a day at that point. I needed to give my pigs a break if I wanted to walk Day 3.
Back at camp, I was able to shower and relax. I played some BINGO and won a new pair of socks... WOO HOO!!! I also got to visit the Remembrance Tents which was a very emotional experience. Every city has one and people write about who they are walking in memory of. They set the tents up in every city. Our tent was under a large canopy and around the walls were photos of walkers and crew members who lost their battle. As if this wasn't emotional enough, 4 young kids walked in with their dad or grandpa to remember someone who had passed. It was a heart breaking reminder of why I chose to walk.
On Day 3 my energy and determination was back! I walked the 14.9 miles back into D.C., cheered at the cheering stations, danced to the music played by our crazy crossing guards and ignored my achy muscles (with the help of bio freeze) and my tired, sore toes. When we finally made it to the holding station, I was overjoyed! From there, we lined up to walk to the closing ceremonies about a half mile away. Again, I was in awe of the thousands of people who were alongside of me.
The closing ceremony was just as emotional as the opening but their was a feeling of victory. We saluted the survivors who walked alongside of us, one of them was only 21 years old when she was diagnosed and thanks to Susan G. Komen research grants she still has treatment options 7 years later. Her story is so moving and full of hope. I can't believe that I was one of the people who helped contribute to the grand total of 5.3 million dollars that was raised! AMAZING!!!
Oh, and in case anyone is wondering... Abby made it back in one piece and surprised me in D.C.! She had an awesome time with her Nonno, who misses her already. She even learned to say his name!