Sunday, August 29, 2010

more epic than an andrew lloyd webber musical: my 3day recap


That happened. I did it. I walked 60 miles. Well, I suppose my grand total was about 57.5, due to some nasty blisters and a maybe-sprained foot. But I'm rounding up. And I think that's OK.

I keep describing my first day as "epic." I don't know that there's a better word for it. There were tears, hugs, sleep-talkers, and lots and lots of graham cracker peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

I flew into Chicago Wednesday night after racing to the airport to have my flight delayed 2 hours. Loooove iiiit. Thursday was brunch with friends, packing away the afternoon, and dinner with the other Lady Tatas, my wonderful parents, and my amazing grandmother. We carbo-loaded our brains off at Bucca di Beppo and strategized for the next three days. It's hard to describe how much I miss my family. This year has basically been my first away from home. I rarely went home in college, but just knowing they were in close proximity was...just different. And, guys, my family is awesome. They're just the best. There's no other way to put it. They are the funniest, kindest, smartest people I know, and this entire weekend was a reminder of how freaking lucky I am to have them. And how freaking lucky I am we're related, so they have to put up with me.

OK maybe that was a digression, but I think it's all part of this. Anyway, we ate our faces off then headed home to sleep. We had a few things to do that weekend, I don't know if you've heard. Friday morning, my ever amazing mother drove us to opening ceremonies. It was early. Really really early. Everyone was considerably groggy, but it's hard to be sleepy around that much pink. It's just so...bright. Opening ceremonies were...weird. I feel like you're just thrown into this vat of boiling emotion right's kind of a lot to handle. The ceremonies start with some stretching, some motivational speaking, some inspirational music, then the survivor's circle. That's the part that gets you. That's real. You're instantly reminded of why you're here, why you've raised this money, and why you're about to embark on the craziest of crazy journeys. And all of a sudden you're sobbing. Soooo...great. Happened.

We said goodbye to Donna on our way out and got started. Traffic jam! It's a little hard when 1600 people start walking along the same sidewalk, and I was instantly transported back to the AIDS walk -- er, shuffle -- in Central Park, and I was a liiiittle nervous the entire walk would be one big bottleneck. We turned into the Chicago Botanical Garden, which was just delightful, and got to our first pit stop in no time! After that, the walkers started spreading out and everything came easier. But first. Let me tell you about the most magical part of the Susan G. Komen 3Day Walk for the Cure: The Graham Cracker Peanut Butter and Jelly Sandwich. You guys. These. Things. Are. Ridiculous. They come wrapped up like ice cream sandwiches and they hand them out one half at a time (thank goodness or I would have consumed even more than I did). They're good. I'm hoping to recreate them in my life, but I just know they won't be the same.

One of the most pleasant surprises for me was the theming of each pit stop. I love themes. This is a thing that is true. And every pit stop and meal had one. Complete with decorations, costumes, and stickers. Oh, the stickers. I think the Pit Stop #1 theme was my fav, cause it was pajamas...helloooo. And if there's one thing I love more than themes, it's probably pajamas.

So I just realized that if I walk you through ( pun intended) every step of this walk, it will take longer than it took to walk 60 miles. I'm gonna do some highlights (and lowlights):
  • First and foremost, my highlights were named Sari Fine, Liza Finestack, and Sharon Fine. They were hands down the best part of this entire experience. More on that later.
  • Mount Prospect. You guys. Mount. Prospect. Mount Prospect made custom pink cop shirts that the entire MPPD wore all day Saturday. Every block had at least one house decked out in pink gear, handing out food, and generally just making our lives better. It was absolutely overwhelming and incredible. I'm writing a letter. But I will never be able to thank them enough.
  • Lunch on Saturday was in the field next to Olive Mary Stitt School. Some of you may remember this as the place where I did my first show ever in 1996. It was weirdly full circle. I loved it.
  • Katlin, the volunteer nurse at camp. This woman was amazing. She was there because her mother was a survivor and her stepdaughter's mother passed away from breast cancer. And she literally worked the entire day at camp. She helped me tape up my foot at 6am and gave me second skin before I went to bed at 8pm. What? She was remarkable. And we almost had the same name.
  • Silly bandz. That's right, friends, there were silly bandz. For those of you who are unfamiliar, get familiar. AT&T gave out silly bandz at one pit stop every day, plus a few you could get at camp. Not gonna lie, it kept me going.
  • Mount Prospect in Chicago. As if they hadn't done enough to make us love them, a couple of Mount Prospect cops drove a squad car to Chicago, parked along our route, and cheered us on all day. WHAT?! they were seriously the best. Just the best. It was unreal.
  • Blisters. I got a lot of them. They hurt. And were gross.
  • Did I mention the graham cracker peanut butter and jelly sandwiches? Still amazing.
  • Foot sprain. Happened. Around mile 52ish. Around mile 53ish, Sari noticed I wasn't laughing at one of our (many) fool-proof inside jokes. She turned to me and said, "You OK?" And I shook my head, started crying, and sat down. I felt like a failure in some way, which I realize is a) a product of my overachieving self and b) ridiculous. Sari and Liza got me a sweep van, which took me to lunch. I got taped up and kept going. Was this the smartest decision I've ever made? Not even a little. Was it the most correct decision I've ever made? Absolutely.
Like I said, so much more happened I just...can't fit it all in. Call me. We'll chat.

Closing ceremonies were a different bag than opening. I will never ever forget walking into Soldier Field and walking through the crew, medical team, and walkers...I'm crying just thinking about it. I've never felt so overwhelmed, exhausted, and proud. We did it.

Speaking of "we," I think this is the perfect time to tell you about the three most incredible women ever to exist in the entire world: the Lady Tatas. I'll never forget getting that email from Sari proposing this and thinking, without a pause, "Yes. Yup. This is exactly what I want to do." I knew if Sari was in, so was I. And I was right. It's really hard for me to put into words what she, Liza and Sharon mean to me. I have always looked up to them. They are stunning, brilliant, hilarious, and successful...of course I looked up to them. And, as close as we are, it's always hard to see each other. Because part of being stunning, brilliant, hilarious and successful is also being busy. What can I say, they're just really big deals. So this 3Day journey was a unique experience to spend time together, and one for which I will always always always always be insanely grateful. I'm just so proud of us. And I just love them really so much. UGH THEY'RE JUST AWESOME.

Other things I will always be grateful for: my parents. They were at every cheering station, Starbucks in hand, constantly in awe of what we had done/were doing. Quite seriously would hot have made it through without them. While I was here in NYC freaking out about my new job/apartment/general life craziness in the weeks leading up to the walk, my mom was reading more 3Day blogs than I did and buying every essential item for me. Un. Real.

And (yes I know I said this in my last post) I am so so so so epically grateful for the support I've gotten from all of you during this process. Now on the other side of my 60 miles, I am even more thankful for those who donated their dollars for my fundraising or their ears for my bitching (and celebrating...). Those last few miles (in the rain, with the sprained foot, along the lakefront path where you're just in the way of the runners and bikers...) were not easy, and if I didn't have your support I'm pretty sure I would have given up way earlier. Maybe after the last silly bandz stop. I really love silly bandz.

And I really love you guys.

LOVE and bandz,

P.S. If you're my FB friend, you can see Sari's album here. If not, I'll get them eventually and post here.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

excited AND scared.

Hi all,

I'm sorry I've been the worst blogger ever. I promise I will do a MASSIVE recap after this weekend's walk (AHHHHH.), but for now, this:

In just one week, I’ll be at the closing ceremonies for the 3-Day Walk for the Cure in Chicago. Ahhhh! I can’t believe that. I am excited, terrified, nervous, elated…pretty much running the whole gamut of emotion. But ultimately, I am grateful.

I am grateful for the opportunity to learn my new city in a way not many do. I’ve walked uptown, downtown, east and west. I’ve seen hidden rooms, national landmarks, and every pit stop on the west side from 122nd street to Battery Park. Training has taken me to some of NYC’s most iconic areas, but also hidden gems that lifelong New Yorkers haven’t explored. I can’t think of a better way to spend a spring/summer.

I am grateful for the people I have met on this journey. People like Burt, our training walk leader, who will be walking for the 10th consecutive year. He’s doing not one, but TWO walks this year, and has already raised well over his minimums. And he won’t hang up his pink sneakers until there is a cure. Or Liz, a survivor who has walked in a different city in each of the 7 years since she’s gone into remission. Liz is a badass who is in better shape than I will ever be, and has been a remarkable inspiration and resource for all of my 3Day questions. And Jen, a fellow Midwestern transplant, who has three small kids and still makes time to travel, follow her passions, and train for a 3Day. These people have become a kind of second family here in the city. We check in on each other, celebrate successes, commiserate struggles, and, oh yeah, walk a lot. I don’t know how I would have gotten through these 15-20 mile training walks without them. Let’s be honest, I probably wouldn’t have done them, and then I’d be even more nervous going into this weekend. Maybe the best testament to the group is the fact that I’m planning to continue walking with them after this weekend is over. That’s right, folks, I will continue to spend my Saturdays walking 20+ miles. These people are just that awesome. And I could write an entire different letter about the online 3Day community – the blogs and tweets, etc – it is unreal.

Maybe most of all, though, I’m grateful for you. I can’t believe how phenomenally generous everyone has been. For those of you who have donated in the moolah department – I understand the sacrifices everyone is making right now and I cannot express to you how much it means to me that you’ve deemed this cause worthy of your dough. It’s so easy to be caught up in the training and the gear and the hydration, but ultimately this is about saving lives. Like. Really. Your dineros. Saving lives. Real. Everyone else – there’s still time! Ha. Kidding (kind of). But seriously, thank you for letting me complain about my blisters, brag about my mileage, and talk your ear off about the wonders of the 3Day journey. The moral support is every bit as important as the financial in a journey like this. I’ve always known I was surrounded by wonderful people, but I honestly have never felt luckier. I can never ever thank you enough.

I literally would not be walking without your support, and I will certainly need it this weekend! If you’re in Chicagoland, you can come visit us (see cheering stations here)! And if not, know that any time I’m struggling through my 60 miles, my thoughts will turn to you and I know it will give me the strength to keep a-walkin’.

You guys are the best.

Love and love,

P.S. Still interested in donating? Click here!!