Tuesday, November 5, 2013

DFW 3-day for the Cure 2013

About 24 hours ago I completed my 7th 3-day for the Cure event in 6 years. Each year I walk 60 miles over the course of 3 days in order to raise funds and awareness for breast cancer and Susan G. Komen for the Cure. You can read about my first walk, Courtney's first walk, the year I walked in Atlanta and DFW, the year I walked pregnant, and the year I walked while breast feeding.

This year was just as incredible as the last. It was awesome because Courtney and I recruited our friend Susan to walk with us this year. Susan is our friend from Louisiana and she raised the necessary funds in record time! We were excited to have her with us...especially because it's always exciting to see the 3-day through new eyes!

Day 0
Let's start from the beginning. The 3-day always begins a little early around here. This year I was carrying a flag at opening and closing ceremonies so I went to rehearsal on Thursday afternoon. Going to the ceremony site is so exciting! Everything is pink and it reminds me of how wonderful this weekend is! I feel like I'm with my people. I practiced carrying my flag and raced over to the airport to pick up Susan!

The day before the 3-day began was also halloween, so we took a little break from all things pink and went trick-or-treating with Wesley. Courtney and Philip arrived late that evening, so before they arrived we packed up and relaxed. Once they arrived, we all went straight to bed. Friday comes very early!

Day 1
The alarms started going off all around my house beginning at 4:30am. We packed the car and began the drive to opening ceremony! It was dark, cold, and early, but we were excited! We arrived early and hung out in the pink city.
Wesley loved seeing all of the people. He was such a champ! We also tried out his new backpack buddy. We got it for him specifically for the 3-day because of the large crowds and busy streets. Thankfully, he thought the puppy was awesome!
Aunt Courtney captured some beautiful photos of my sweet little man! He played around with family while I made my way to the stage. The ceremony is about to begin!
My fabulous sorority sister captured this awesome photo of me speaking at opening ceremony. It was an incredible experience! Opening ceremony is always moving, but this year was especially special. There were 6 speakers given an opportunity to share their own breast cancer story. There were a lot of tears, but it was empowering to know we were about to take to the streets and join the fight!

I met up with Courtney and Susan and we started walking! It was a very chilly morning but we were excited! We were near the front of the pack and walked at a decent pace. We talked, shared, cried and walked! We introduced Susan to graham cracker peanut butter sandwiches, visited the porta potty, and eventually made it to lunch! 10 miles down on day 1 and still feeling great! We had lunch in a beautiful park, rested our feet, and shared some time with Jarrod, Philip, and Wesley. They were with us each step of the way!

Following lunch, we kept walking! The second half of the day was tough, but we made it. Our legs started hurting more, there were less stops than the morning, but the route was beautiful and the weather was perfect! We were in the sun for most of the afternoon, but it wasn't too hot. We continued walking.

There was a lot of laughter before making it to our tent city! We arrived to camp sometime around 3:30pm. Someone earlier in the day had suggested we see the chiropractors at the medical tent. Fabulous idea! My hip was hurting a lot and seeing a chiropractor was great. I left the tent feeling much more human. After that, we shared dinner. It was delicious! We ate pasta, mac & cheese, salad, and dessert. Following dinner, Philip helped Susan and I set up our tent and get settled before taking Courtney back to the hotel. Once we were settled, we got our stuff together and took showers. A hot shower was awesome! Clean and fed, Susan and I were ready for bed! It was only 6pm, so we decided to hit up the Remembrance Tent.
The Remembrance Tent is a beautiful place where you can celebrate former walkers and crew members who have lost their battle with breast cancer. I cried while looking at pictures of women, many who died in their 30s. I cried at Bridget's beautiful wedding picture. She was born in 1983. 
As we left the Remembrance Tent, the final walker was just arriving to camp! We celebrated with the final walkers, checked out some of the shops, and went to bed! I took a Tylenol PM, put my ear plugs in, and was in bed by 7:30pm. My hip pain kept me from falling to sleep, but eventually I was out! We woke at 2am to go to the bathroom, but went right back to sleep! Alarms started going off at 6am...And day 2 begins!

Day 2
We knew it would be cold at camp, but it was very cold! We bundled up and went to breakfast! We had bacon, sausage, eggs, and pastries for breakfast. It definitely helped me warm up. After breakfast, cleaning up, and meeting up with Courtney (who was warm, rested, and clean!), we went to wait in line for the route to open! We were very early, so we got right to the front of the line. While we waited, we made friends and shared stories. We were sore from the day before. I was especially scared of my sore hip. But we were ready to tackle day 2!

We walked fast at the beginning of the day because it was cold. Walking fast helped us stay warm. Before long we were at the first cheering station of the day. It was awesome to see our family.
Cheering stations are one of my favorite parts of the walk. Kids, dogs, and people old and young cheer for us. They remind us why we walk - for mothers, sisters, grandmothers, and friends. I saw a sign that said, "Thank you for walking for my mom." I saw a woman wearing a shirt that said, "I am here because of you." 
On day 2 there were two cheering stations back to back. It was a great morning! Before long, we made it to lunch and were 11 miles in! 33 miles down with 27 miles to go is a great place to be. We saw family at lunch, changed our socks, and were off again. We knew the second half of day 2 would be rough. We were really hurting and were struggling to make it through. We were still very close to the front of the pack and that gave us the ability to slow down a lot. We kept going, but it was hard.

Because there weren't any cheering stations, we relied on people cheering on their own. Honks, thank yous from crew, and random folks on the route really made it possible for us to keep going. The weather was absolutely gorgeous, which also helped. We listened to some music to keep ourselves motivated as well. Candy on the route was also helpful. I ate a lot of vanilla tootsie rolls!

Finally we were at camp! We made it around 3pm. Susan and I decided to crash at the hotel with Courtney and Philip, which was also a great motivator! We made it back to camp in time to see the chiropractor tent again. After getting adjusted and meeting up with Susan (she was about 10 minutes behind us) we got ready for dinner. I had the vegetarian option of mexican veggies with roasted potatoes and the most delicious chocolate chip cookie bar. Incredible.

After dinner, Philip helped us pack up our things, tear down the tent, and head to the car. We were moving incredibly slow. My hip was so sore, but I was holding it together. Courtney and Susan were in rough shape too - their feet were blistered and swollen. But we made it back to the hotel to rest. By 7:30pm I was clean and comfy in bed!

We got an "extra hour" this night, which really just meant that it was easier to get up with the 4:45am alarm!

Day 3
We were very sore, but knew it was going to be a great day. Philip brought us back to camp and we were in line for the buses by 6am. The first bus arrived at 7am and we were on our way! While we waited, we ate breakfast and made new friends. We were the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th people on the bus to the start of the route.

After the 15 minute bus ride down the street, we waited in line for the route to open. It opened at 7:30am and we were on our way! It was very cold, but we made it! We could see a light at the end of the tunnel.

The route today took us through beautiful and ritzy neighborhoods at the first part of the day. Very few people were out, so we occupied ourselves with stories. We were all in pretty serious pain, but determined to make it through the day. We focused on the next stop, rather than the mileage until the end. 2.1 miles? I can do that!

We limped, hobbled, and laughed our way through fancy neighborhoods before making it to a more urban area of Dallas. Lunch seemed incredibly far away and it felt like it took us forever to get there. I kept thinking about my loved ones who battled cancer. They couldn't quit. They kept going even when it was hard. They continued fighting even when they couldn't see the end. I kept walking, just putting one foot in front of the other.

Finally, we made it to lunch. We stopped to rest our feet, feed our bellies, and focus on the end. We were just 4 miles from the end with a few stops in between. We can do this!

The last few miles we focused on just putting one foot in front of the other. We visualized walking into the closing ceremony site and being down. We put all of our energy on finishing! And finally, we were done.

Once we made it, we cried, got our t-shirts, and took our final picture together. Then we sat down, took our shoes off, and rested. We were beat! After resting, we began cheering other people in. Because we were back to early, we had plenty of time to rest and watch people walk in at the end. It was awesome.

At 3:30pm or so it was time for me to go to the stage for closing ceremony. I was a little sad that I wouldn't be able to walk in with my friends, but I was excited to participate in closing ceremony. It was nice to catch up with my fellow flag holders and hear how their weekend was!

Closing ceremony was gorgeous and incredibly moving. Many folks had their loved ones join them on stage. I opted not to have Wesley join me. Jarrod had a big meeting that he couldn't miss and I didn't want to manage Wesley alone back stage. But anyway, it was gorgeous. I sobbed. I can't believe we did it again.

Together we raised $3.3 million dollars for Susan G. Komen for the Cure!
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