First things first, I walked with my friend Susan. We walked together last year as well and I was thrilled and honored to have her as my teammate and walking buddy for 60 miles again. My sister, Courtney, did not walk. It was the worst walk ever for that reason. This was the first time in 5 year that we didn't walk together and it just wasn't the same without her. I'm so proud of her for following her dream of becoming a nurse and know she will come back to walking as soon as her schedule allows. Nursing school is HARD!
The weather was insanely gorgeous all weekend. I got some serious sun and Sunday morning was bitter cold, but other than that, I could not have ordered better weather. I thank God each year for such incredible weather. This year was the best I've ever experienced. Walking was delightful. It was a challenge, for sure, but I felt strong and capable nearly every single mile.
Opening Ceremony was awesome. It was very cold, very early, and a little chaotic for my family (wake an almost 3 year old up at 5am, strap him in the car for an hour, and let him out without freedom in the freezing cold...) but it was gorgeous. They've switched things up this year and I really loved all of the changes.
We arrived back to camp around 2:30pm, after finishing just about 22 miles. My family was there and it was great to see them again!
We relaxed, visited the chiropractors, and enjoyed delicious cupcakes and snacks (a new addition to camp this year!). We left camp before dinner because the kids were just about done. We went back to the hotel, checked in, and got things situated. We cleaned up and Jarrod picked up dinner. After dinner, we began the fight of going to bed. We were all exhausted, but someone needed to stay up to feed sister and Wesley wasn't interested in going to sleep in the hotel room. Too bad he couldn't feed sister! :-) Eventually, after a lot of screaming, we all went to sleep around 9:30pm - alarms set for early early the next morning!
Our alarms went off, Wes woke up in a great mood, and we were off to camp! Our hotel was about 2.5 miles from camp, so Jarrod drove us back and forth...because he's awesome. It was much warmer on Saturday morning than we expected, so we left our jackets in the car. It was 50 degrees, not the 40 degrees we expected! We got breakfast and waited in line for the route to open.
While we waited, something delightful happened. One of my favorite parts of the 3-day is meeting new people and sharing stories.
On Saturday morning I was standing at the very front of the line with a delightful older woman. As we are chatting, I notice a button on her lanyard that says, "Everyone deserves a grandma!" I comment that I love that, thinking to myself how appropriate that is as I walk for a grandma I never met. As I'm looking at her button I catch her credential, the barcode we wear all weekend. It shows her name. Shirley. Tears well up in my eyes. My grandma's name was Shirley. I tell her this, share a picture of my Grandma Shirley, and we hug. We talk about her own battle with cancer and celebrate her two year cancer-anniversary, just two days prior. It was a holy moment. It was inspirational and all the reason I needed to keep walking all 21 miles that day. It reminded me that I walk so that I can be someone's grandma. And so that my daughter can know her grandbabies.
We hit the trail and enjoyed a delightful morning walk. Jarrod and the kids met us at the first cheering station...with Aunt Courtney and Uncle Philip! It was seriously exciting to se my sister cheering and I know my kids loved having them around... I know Jarrod appreciated the help too! They followed us from cheering stations to lunch and it was great to look forward to seeing them again. We walked through a gorgeous park with a lake. The weather couldn't have been better. We were hurting, but it was gorgeous. We just kept walking.
Again we arrived back to camp around 2:30pm and rested. The chiropractor tent was absolutely incredible on Day 2. My hips were hurting and I wasn't sure how to make them better. I had a lot of trouble with my hips the year before (and every year since I walked when I was pregnant!) but hadn't found a good solution. This chiropractor was a miracle worker! He worked my my hips and neck and I left feeling better than I had all day!
We visited with Courtney and Philip at camp before they took off and went back home. Jarrod and the kids met up with us and we ate dinner. After a delicious dinner, it was time to go back to the hotel. Once we got back, it was time for everyone to get cleaned up. Jarrod had to go to a party, so he left the kids with Susan and I. Thanks to technology, we were able to worship with my church family online. After that and a little Veggie Tales, we were off to bed! Daddy got home just in time to put to bed a very tired Wesley, feed a sleepy sister, and go to bed himself!
Sunday morning we took our things down to the car to help Jarrod out. He dropped us at camp and we grabbed breakfast before getting in line for the bus. On day 3 we are bused to a different location to begin the walk. It was incredibly cold and not very pleasant waiting for the bus. But we did it, got on the first bus, and got in line again to wait for the trail to open.
Once we were off, I walked fast. I was so cold that walking faster felt better than keeping a slower, more appropriate pace for 40+ miles in! After an hour or so I began to warm up and slow down. We were both hurting, but nothing compared to previous years, so we kept up a good pace. We stuck at 30-60 people from the front for the majority of the weekend. It was a great pace and we met some wonderful people. It also was fantastic because things weren't as crowded as they can be further back in the crowd.
We walked through North Dallas and into Downtown Dallas. The route changed slightly this year and I enjoyed the changes. We got to lunch and enjoyed time resting our feet. We were just about 5 miles to closing at lunch and knew we could make it!
Right around 1pm, we arrived at Fair Park, the location of closing ceremony! 60 miles DONE! We felt good - sore but really good. We rested, cheered in walkers, and even got to witness a proposal!
I'm already signed up to walk again next year. Team Walkin' Sista-tas is registered and ready to go. If you've ever considered walking, I encourage you to sign up today. Registration is just $35 until 12/4/14. If you register today, you'll have a whole year to fundraise the minimum $2,300 - that's less than $200/month! Don't want to walk? Consider making a donation today to help me meet my fundraising goal. Every little bit helps. I'll continue to walk so that everyone can have a grandma.