jayfurr: (3-Day Ambassador)
I never posted a final Twin Cities 3-Day update.  As you may recall, I happily blogged away before and during the August 2010 Twin Cities Susan G. Komen 3-Day For The Cure.  When I wasn't actually hauling out my netbook to write actual livejournal entries, I was tweeting away happily via my @jayfurr Twitter account.  But then the event came to a close on a very hot, sunny Minnesota summer afternoon and I was mysteriously silent thereafter.  I never sat down and really wrote a final wrap-up for the event.   Okay, frankly I doubt that this broke anyone's heart -- my voice was one of many writing from the route that weekend and if I personally didn't finish with a burst of immortal prose, it was almost certainly lost in the shuffle.  But it was hard to focus on writing a long thoughtful follow-up when I had to get changed out of my 3-Day clothing and cleaned up and to bed in order to catch a 6 am flight the following morning.  And after that... well, first one thing and then the other.

But I've finally got a bit of time this week and I wanted to sit down and put metaphorical pen to paper and finish up my thoughts on the Twin Cities 3-Day.

First off -- I really enjoyed the event.  It was really only my second full 3-Day, since my official second walk, Philadelphia 2009, had gotten essentially rained out by horrible inclement weather.  We'd only gotten to walk one day out of three.  And the walk before that -- my first walk, Washington DC 2008 -- had been marred by massive foot problems.  Blisters and heel fissures caused mostly by wearing absurdly poorly suited hiking boots on the streets of northern Virginia and DC.   (They may have been excellent boots for the hiking trails of Vermont but were not at all appropriate for pounding away on asphalt for sixty miles.)   The Twin Cities 3-Day was everything I had hoped a 3-Day could be in terms of the physical, actual, walking.   When I crossed the finish line each day at camp, I had no blisters.  No stiffness either.  No pain.  No wobbly legs.  Nothing bad at all.  And I hadn't achieved this by walking slowly and deliberately and doing lots of stretching and drinking tons and tons of sport drinks and water.  Quite the contrary: I had essentially race-walked sixty miles... and yet, had no physical ill effects to speak of.   The only sign I had, at the end of sixty miles, of the physical wear and tear of the event, was a slightly disturbing looking purple blood blister under the nail of my right big toe.  I was actually somewhat nervous about the prospects of losing that toe's nail, given how distressed it all looked with that giant eggplant-colored blotch underneath the nail. 

But you know what?  I didn't lose the nail.  The blood blister's actually still there, though it's finally started to fade a bit.  It seems sort of odd, in a way, that I race-walked an entire 3-Day, never really sat down to stretch at any point, and yet, had no blisters, no muscle pain, no joint pain, no nothing except a couple of blood blisters, one large, one small. 

There are other things about the event that also stand out.

For one: the cheering stations were phenomenal.   I can't speak from many years' experience since, after all, my first 3-Day was in DC in 2008 -- and there had not been a 3-Day in DC for several years before that.  The crowds in 2008 were somewhat sparse at some of the cheering stations, though plentiful at others.   In Philadelphia in 2009, we only got to see one day's worth of cheering stations -- and while we definitely did see a lot of people come out to the official cheering stations there were very few people between.   In the Minneapolis/St Paul/Vadnais Heights/Maplewood/North St Paul arc we walked, you could barely sling a sock full of lutefisk without whacking a group of supporters out on the sidewalk in front of their house offering freezer pops and cold water and orange slices.  Just incredible.   I can recall only a few stretches with few supporters out -- notably a long stretch on the St Paul side of the river on Day 1 when I was so far out in front of the pack that there was absolutely no one visible behind me and no one visible in front of me and for most of an hour only a random occasional bicyclist or jogger to relieve the monotony.   I assume that later in the day, when the large main body of walkers came through, the crowds came out there as well; it wasn't their fault that I had rocket jets on my ankles that day.  The cheering stations and community supporters were just incredible. 

For another: I had the rare opportunity provided by my early arrival at camp each day to really see what camp is like when the walkers aren't there, and to cheer in large numbers of walkers as they arrived.   When I arrived at camp on Day 1 I was literally the first walker scanned into camp -- an accident of fate caused by being among the first off the first bus into camp.  (We were all bused to camp at the end of Day 1-- the actual route ended in St Paul but camp was in Maplewood.)  I quickly set up my tent, located my gear bag, changed out of my kilt and kilt hose and into shorts and a clean t-shirt, and then got ready to help walkers with their gear bags and tents... only to find that a huge cadre of football players from a local high school had beaten me to the punch.   No sooner did walkers come off the bus than they were collected by the players, who carried gear bags and tents and pretty much made the life of a lot of tired ladies (and men) much easier.  I won't say that every walker got a player's help but it wasn't for lack of trying on the players' part. 

So, with the arriving walkers well in hand, I wandered around camp passing out Nutter Butter cookies and thanks to the various crewmembers present.  I had walked all twenty miles that day carrying a backpack full of four-packs of Nutter Butter cookies, with the goal of handing them out to walkers in need of a snack and so forth, only to find that walking way out front of the large main body of walkers made it, um, somewhat difficult to carry out that plan.  And when I tried to give cookies to arriving walkers, they didn't want 'em.  They'd been snacking all day and mainly just wanted to get their tents up and rest.  The crew were another matter, though -- the various camp-based crews such as Camp Hydration, Camp Logistics, and Camp Services had little to do until the walkers got to camp and were sitting around boredly waiting for the work to begin when I showed up and began doing my Mr Nutter Butter act.  (My wife, who worked as Camp Services crew in Boston this year, tells me that there's actually not much food around for the crew to snack on during the day... and so that might explain why the crew fell on the Nutter Butters with glad cries.)   I didn't just hand out cookies, though.  Once they were all gone (and I had a lot of cookies to hand out -- besides the ones in my backpack, I had a lot more in my gear bag), I waited near the inflatables and cheered the walkers in.

On Day 2, I got to camp 19th overall -- the result of my trying to walk more slowly and spend more time at pit stops and stuff.  Honestly, I have no idea how I finished so high up - but nonetheless, 19th out of 2,400 meant that I had a lot of opportunities to cheer walkers into camp.  And after all, what else was I going to do?  I got to camp around 1:30 in the afternoon, two and a half hours before dinner would be served, so I could either loll around on the grass near my tent, or I could cheer walkers in.  I cheered walkers in.  And that was a lot of fun. 

On Day 3 -- ah, Day 3... a weird day if there ever was one.  I found myself in a giant mob of walkers leaving camp all at the same time, right at the crack of seven a.m. -- the result of everyone having gotten up early, packed up their tents, and gotten organized and to the start line pronto so they wouldn't wind up getting bused to lunch or anything ignominious like that.  Nonetheless, everyone was walking really slowly.  I can't imagine why, other than possibly having walked 24 miles the previous day and maybe being a bit tired as a result.  And there I was, sorta/kinda intending to walk slowly too... but bit by bit, I found myself out in front again.  Short pit stops, long legs, natural long stride, I don't know.  But then I wound up walking with some fellow walkers who were just as inclined as I was to walk quickly -- and with us walking together, all reinforcing one another's tendencies, we really made time.  A pack of us -- Kendall, Sally, Michelyn, me, Kevin, Chuck, Sue, and a few others -- got to lunch before it opened.  And got held for a half hour as a result along with a lot of the walkers who had been bused directly from camp to lunch as a result of either not being ready when camp closed and the deadline to start walking came, or because they were simply in bad shape with bad feet or bad shin splints or bad something.   The crew and staff simply won't let walkers leave a pit stop or grab 'n' go or lunch before its official opening time and there was a bunch of us waiting at the exit to the pit, all staring at our watches, all trembling with the excitement of skittish racehorses.  It was a classic case of groupthink, if you're familiar with the term -- all us speedwalkers reinforcing one another's urges to be off on the route and moving at good speed, and none of us thinking "um, what difference does it make?"  We had the same thing happen at Pit 4... a scene of high comedy if there ever was one:

See them?  That's the gang I was walking with.  Absolutely lovely people.  Very fit, too.  And fast.   (The kind gentleman at the left in the red shirt was the Medical crew captain for Pit 4 that day -- he was the guy who had to keep telling us "Not yet, guys.")

It was one blistering hot day that Sunday in the Twin Cities.   The legendary "black signs" came out, the ones that remind us that the heat danger is extreme and that we're all supposed to keep eating lots of salty snacks and drink lots of extra drinks.   I actually found the going a bit rough as we headed up some of the hills near the final cheering station and Pit 5.   At that point I was walking with just two other walkers: Kevin, who's visible on the far left in the picture above (some of you may know Kevin -- a Massachusetts resident attempting to walk all fifteen 3-Days this year), and Michelyn, an oncology nurse from a local practice.  We were not the first on the route -- Sue and Chuck and Kendall and Sally were ahead of us for sure, and a couple others whose names I don't recall.  But we were sure enough pretty far out in front that people were still setting up cheering stations as we came through.  And Michelyn, bless her soul, had bad knees -- and found that downhill descents were only tolerable if she half-trotted/half-jogged 'em -- and Kevin and I, not wanting to be poor sports, kept up with her.   That really started to take the fight out of me, jingling along in my kilt and tie-dyed cotton t-shirt and woolen kilt hose in that heat... but then there we were, out of the hills and down through Mounds Park and into the streets of Lowertown... still making good time.  We started to see the signs informing us that we had two miles to go... one mile to go... and then, up ahead of us we could see the pillars of the large veterans memorial or whatever it is to the southeast of the state capitol building proper, and beyond them, the giant inflatable cubes marking the finish line.   I hung back and let Kevin and Michelyn go in ahead of me -- because, frankly, they could have left me behind at any time over the last four miles, and didn't.  When I finally made it to the scanners at the line for the victory t-shirts, I was ninth walker in.

Which meant, of course, that I had a long long long wait for closing.  It was just around noon and closing was not due to happen until 5.  I flopped down on the grass, took off my kilt hose and reorganized all my gear and chatted with the volunteers and crew who were there waiting, with us, for all the walkers to come in... but then I started to feel really guilty for sitting on my tuchus when I could be cheering my fellow walkers in.  So I grabbed my gear, and grabbed my victory t-shirt and the legendary 3-Day Mug that I'd walked all sixty miles holding, and got my butt over where it belonged: right there at the inflatables where I'd be able to see the walkers coming in.  Behind me was a long line of crew with pom-poms lining the path to the scanners and the victory shirts... to my left was the sound booth and the big "Day 3" sign where people could pose for photos.... to the right was the snacks and beverage tents for the tired, thirsty walkers... and in front of me were, arriving a few at a time and then more and more in larger numbers, the heroes of the hour: the 2,400 footsore walkers of the Twin Cities 3-Day.

And I felt awful.

"Wait, what?" you ask.

You read correctly.  I felt awful.  I felt incredibly guilty that afternoon as I stood there for hours that afternoon, enthusiastically clapping, doing my best to welcome all the walkers to the finish line. 

The whole weekend I'd felt sort of bad about speed-walking the event.  The 3-Day is not a race.  And the first to finish aren't the ones that get the biggest round of applause.  Don't believe me?  Hang around at the scanners at a 3-Day some day when the last walker is within sight of camp.  Or at the finish line at closing when word arrives that the last walkers are half a mile down the street.   People go absolutely bananas when the last walkers arrive.  The ones who didn't get swept, didn't catch a bus or a van to camp.  The ones who, despite whatever physical ailments, or age, or infirmity of condition, kept them from going any faster, but never stopped walking.  Sweet Lord, those are the ones you want to be walking with on a 3-Day.  Not the people who breeze through the walk and don't have a blister to show for it, the ones who get to camp and still don't feel challenged enough and decide to go out rock-climbing or kite-surfing or something. 

But on the other hand, it was nice, in a way, to really let myself loose for one 3-Day.  As I've said so many times before, this was the first chance I had on a 3-Day to really just let myself go.  I couldn't walk 90 miles per hour in DC in 2008 because a) I was wearing stupid mountain hiking boots and blistering as a result of all the pounding on pavement, and b) I was walking for part of the way with members of my little four-person team, two of whom were anything but fast movers.  I couldn't walk 90 miles per hour in Philly in 2009 because a) well, the event got shortened to one day by weather, and b) I was with my wife and my friend from college and once again, had to walk at their pace.   No such restrictions existed this time around: I had trained well, I had good shoes and excellent sock liners to protect my feet, and I had no teammates to carp about my long-legged stride.   I found out something I'd idly wondered: what would it be like to absolutely go at my own pace and get to camp and to the finish line really really early? 

And now I know the answer to that question.

And I don't think I need to do that again. 

Closing ceremonies in St Paul were a bit different from what I've seen in Boston, Philly, and DC.  For one, the survivors -- ALL of 'em -- massed backstage at closing and came up and over the stage and down toward the masses of walkers -- in all four other events I've been a part of, the survivors come from the back of the crowd, fill the center ring, and then the members of the survivors circle come from behind them, taking their position on the center ring stage to join hands and raise the flag.  Not so in St Paul -- they came triumphantly onto the stage, across it, and down the steps in full view of everyone.  Not lost in the back of the crowd, hidden from the view of the people up front, as in other cities.  That was pretty dramatic... but it got more dramatic in a hurry.  Just as in other cities, we all raised one shoe in the air as the survivors made their march in --- but unlike the other cities I've been to, everyone simultaneously dropped to one knee as they did so.  I wasn't expecting that at all -- but it's rarely said that I'm slow on the uptake.  Down I went.  (I must have been quite a sight -- pink helmeted, in a kilt, holding a rather large men's running shoe in one hand, holding a pink latte cup in the other, on one knee, right smack at the front of the crowd.)  

Unsurprisingly, a lot of the survivors burst into tears at the sight of 2,400 walkers down on one knee.   A few survivors had a bit of trouble making it down the stage what with all the teary eyes and heaving shoulders, but crew and staff were there to assist them.   There were a few tears being shed by my fellow walkers, too.

Another favorite part of closing was more or less unchanged from other cities.  The honor flagbearers came out, as always, carrying their banners reading "My Wife" and "My Hero" and "My Mother" and so forth.  Most lined up along the back of the stage, but the ones who had their honorees there with them lined up at the front, flanking Jenne' Fromm, the national Komen 3-Day spokesperson.  I was directly in front of the gentleman carrying "My Wife" and had a lump in my throat as she came out to join him.  I was very proud of that guy and the obvious love he felt for his wife.  He looked down; I looked up.  We exchanged nods.  But then I looked to my right at the girl -- I say that because from where I stood she can't have been much over eighteen.  Say 'young woman' if you like.   She was carrying the "My Mother" flag and weeping openly... and I had an inkling of what was about to happen.   Let's put it this way: her mother did not join her on stage.  Her brother did.   She wept through pretty much the whole closing ceremony and I just ached inside at how sad she looked. 

Country music star Candy Coburn then came out to sing 'Pink Warrior' to the assembled walkers, crew, survivors, friends and family.  I honestly wondered how the honor flagbearers would feel, having a full-fledged Nashville production number taking place right there among them on stage at a time when I know some pretty serious emotions were present.  But then, partway through the song, I saw the young woman holding the "My Mother" flag look over at Candy singing right next to her.  The young lady smiled hesitantly, then openly, then reached up to brush away her tears... and I knew it would be all right.

Too many memories of special people lost.  Not enough survivors.  That's why we all walk, right?   I just hope that the day comes soon -- the day we salute with the final part of the closing ceremonies... the raising of the "A World Without Breast Cancer" flag.   And until that day comes...


Say not in grief that 'she is no more'
but say in thankfulness that she was.




jayfurr: (3-Day Ambassador)
I never posted a final Twin Cities 3-Day update.  As you may recall, I happily blogged away before and during the August 2010 Twin Cities Susan G. Komen 3-Day For The Cure.  When I wasn't actually hauling out my netbook to write actual livejournal entries, I was tweeting away happily via my @jayfurr Twitter account.  But then the event came to a close on a very hot, sunny Minnesota summer afternoon and I was mysteriously silent thereafter.  I never sat down and really wrote a final wrap-up for the event.   Okay, frankly I doubt that this broke anyone's heart -- my voice was one of many writing from the route that weekend and if I personally didn't finish with a burst of immortal prose, it was almost certainly lost in the shuffle.  But it was hard to focus on writing a long thoughtful follow-up when I had to get changed out of my 3-Day clothing and cleaned up and to bed in order to catch a 6 am flight the following morning.  And after that... well, first one thing and then the other.

But I've finally got a bit of time this week and I wanted to sit down and put metaphorical pen to paper and finish up my thoughts on the Twin Cities 3-Day.

First off -- I really enjoyed the event.  It was really only my second full 3-Day, since my official second walk, Philadelphia 2009, had gotten essentially rained out by horrible inclement weather.  We'd only gotten to walk one day out of three.  And the walk before that -- my first walk, Washington DC 2008 -- had been marred by massive foot problems.  Blisters and heel fissures caused mostly by wearing absurdly poorly suited hiking boots on the streets of northern Virginia and DC.   (They may have been excellent boots for the hiking trails of Vermont but were not at all appropriate for pounding away on asphalt for sixty miles.)   The Twin Cities 3-Day was everything I had hoped a 3-Day could be in terms of the physical, actual, walking.   When I crossed the finish line each day at camp, I had no blisters.  No stiffness either.  No pain.  No wobbly legs.  Nothing bad at all.  And I hadn't achieved this by walking slowly and deliberately and doing lots of stretching and drinking tons and tons of sport drinks and water.  Quite the contrary: I had essentially race-walked sixty miles... and yet, had no physical ill effects to speak of.   The only sign I had, at the end of sixty miles, of the physical wear and tear of the event, was a slightly disturbing looking purple blood blister under the nail of my right big toe.  I was actually somewhat nervous about the prospects of losing that toe's nail, given how distressed it all looked with that giant eggplant-colored blotch underneath the nail. 

But you know what?  I didn't lose the nail.  The blood blister's actually still there, though it's finally started to fade a bit.  It seems sort of odd, in a way, that I race-walked an entire 3-Day, never really sat down to stretch at any point, and yet, had no blisters, no muscle pain, no joint pain, no nothing except a couple of blood blisters, one large, one small. 

There are other things about the event that also stand out.

For one: the cheering stations were phenomenal.   I can't speak from many years' experience since, after all, my first 3-Day was in DC in 2008 -- and there had not been a 3-Day in DC for several years before that.  The crowds in 2008 were somewhat sparse at some of the cheering stations, though plentiful at others.   In Philadelphia in 2009, we only got to see one day's worth of cheering stations -- and while we definitely did see a lot of people come out to the official cheering stations there were very few people between.   In the Minneapolis/St Paul/Vadnais Heights/Maplewood/North St Paul arc we walked, you could barely sling a sock full of lutefisk without whacking a group of supporters out on the sidewalk in front of their house offering freezer pops and cold water and orange slices.  Just incredible.   I can recall only a few stretches with few supporters out -- notably a long stretch on the St Paul side of the river on Day 1 when I was so far out in front of the pack that there was absolutely no one visible behind me and no one visible in front of me and for most of an hour only a random occasional bicyclist or jogger to relieve the monotony.   I assume that later in the day, when the large main body of walkers came through, the crowds came out there as well; it wasn't their fault that I had rocket jets on my ankles that day.  The cheering stations and community supporters were just incredible. 

For another: I had the rare opportunity provided by my early arrival at camp each day to really see what camp is like when the walkers aren't there, and to cheer in large numbers of walkers as they arrived.   When I arrived at camp on Day 1 I was literally the first walker scanned into camp -- an accident of fate caused by being among the first off the first bus into camp.  (We were all bused to camp at the end of Day 1-- the actual route ended in St Paul but camp was in Maplewood.)  I quickly set up my tent, located my gear bag, changed out of my kilt and kilt hose and into shorts and a clean t-shirt, and then got ready to help walkers with their gear bags and tents... only to find that a huge cadre of football players from a local high school had beaten me to the punch.   No sooner did walkers come off the bus than they were collected by the players, who carried gear bags and tents and pretty much made the life of a lot of tired ladies (and men) much easier.  I won't say that every walker got a player's help but it wasn't for lack of trying on the players' part. 

So, with the arriving walkers well in hand, I wandered around camp passing out Nutter Butter cookies and thanks to the various crewmembers present.  I had walked all twenty miles that day carrying a backpack full of four-packs of Nutter Butter cookies, with the goal of handing them out to walkers in need of a snack and so forth, only to find that walking way out front of the large main body of walkers made it, um, somewhat difficult to carry out that plan.  And when I tried to give cookies to arriving walkers, they didn't want 'em.  They'd been snacking all day and mainly just wanted to get their tents up and rest.  The crew were another matter, though -- the various camp-based crews such as Camp Hydration, Camp Logistics, and Camp Services had little to do until the walkers got to camp and were sitting around boredly waiting for the work to begin when I showed up and began doing my Mr Nutter Butter act.  (My wife, who worked as Camp Services crew in Boston this year, tells me that there's actually not much food around for the crew to snack on during the day... and so that might explain why the crew fell on the Nutter Butters with glad cries.)   I didn't just hand out cookies, though.  Once they were all gone (and I had a lot of cookies to hand out -- besides the ones in my backpack, I had a lot more in my gear bag), I waited near the inflatables and cheered the walkers in.

On Day 2, I got to camp 19th overall -- the result of my trying to walk more slowly and spend more time at pit stops and stuff.  Honestly, I have no idea how I finished so high up - but nonetheless, 19th out of 2,400 meant that I had a lot of opportunities to cheer walkers into camp.  And after all, what else was I going to do?  I got to camp around 1:30 in the afternoon, two and a half hours before dinner would be served, so I could either loll around on the grass near my tent, or I could cheer walkers in.  I cheered walkers in.  And that was a lot of fun. 

On Day 3 -- ah, Day 3... a weird day if there ever was one.  I found myself in a giant mob of walkers leaving camp all at the same time, right at the crack of seven a.m. -- the result of everyone having gotten up early, packed up their tents, and gotten organized and to the start line pronto so they wouldn't wind up getting bused to lunch or anything ignominious like that.  Nonetheless, everyone was walking really slowly.  I can't imagine why, other than possibly having walked 24 miles the previous day and maybe being a bit tired as a result.  And there I was, sorta/kinda intending to walk slowly too... but bit by bit, I found myself out in front again.  Short pit stops, long legs, natural long stride, I don't know.  But then I wound up walking with some fellow walkers who were just as inclined as I was to walk quickly -- and with us walking together, all reinforcing one another's tendencies, we really made time.  A pack of us -- Kendall, Sally, Michelyn, me, Kevin, Chuck, Sue, and a few others -- got to lunch before it opened.  And got held for a half hour as a result along with a lot of the walkers who had been bused directly from camp to lunch as a result of either not being ready when camp closed and the deadline to start walking came, or because they were simply in bad shape with bad feet or bad shin splints or bad something.   The crew and staff simply won't let walkers leave a pit stop or grab 'n' go or lunch before its official opening time and there was a bunch of us waiting at the exit to the pit, all staring at our watches, all trembling with the excitement of skittish racehorses.  It was a classic case of groupthink, if you're familiar with the term -- all us speedwalkers reinforcing one another's urges to be off on the route and moving at good speed, and none of us thinking "um, what difference does it make?"  We had the same thing happen at Pit 4... a scene of high comedy if there ever was one:

See them?  That's the gang I was walking with.  Absolutely lovely people.  Very fit, too.  And fast.   (The kind gentleman at the left in the red shirt was the Medical crew captain for Pit 4 that day -- he was the guy who had to keep telling us "Not yet, guys.")

It was one blistering hot day that Sunday in the Twin Cities.   The legendary "black signs" came out, the ones that remind us that the heat danger is extreme and that we're all supposed to keep eating lots of salty snacks and drink lots of extra drinks.   I actually found the going a bit rough as we headed up some of the hills near the final cheering station and Pit 5.   At that point I was walking with just two other walkers: Kevin, who's visible on the far left in the picture above (some of you may know Kevin -- a Massachusetts resident attempting to walk all fifteen 3-Days this year), and Michelyn, an oncology nurse from a local practice.  We were not the first on the route -- Sue and Chuck and Kendall and Sally were ahead of us for sure, and a couple others whose names I don't recall.  But we were sure enough pretty far out in front that people were still setting up cheering stations as we came through.  And Michelyn, bless her soul, had bad knees -- and found that downhill descents were only tolerable if she half-trotted/half-jogged 'em -- and Kevin and I, not wanting to be poor sports, kept up with her.   That really started to take the fight out of me, jingling along in my kilt and tie-dyed cotton t-shirt and woolen kilt hose in that heat... but then there we were, out of the hills and down through Mounds Park and into the streets of Lowertown... still making good time.  We started to see the signs informing us that we had two miles to go... one mile to go... and then, up ahead of us we could see the pillars of the large veterans memorial or whatever it is to the southeast of the state capitol building proper, and beyond them, the giant inflatable cubes marking the finish line.   I hung back and let Kevin and Michelyn go in ahead of me -- because, frankly, they could have left me behind at any time over the last four miles, and didn't.  When I finally made it to the scanners at the line for the victory t-shirts, I was ninth walker in.

Which meant, of course, that I had a long long long wait for closing.  It was just around noon and closing was not due to happen until 5.  I flopped down on the grass, took off my kilt hose and reorganized all my gear and chatted with the volunteers and crew who were there waiting, with us, for all the walkers to come in... but then I started to feel really guilty for sitting on my tuchus when I could be cheering my fellow walkers in.  So I grabbed my gear, and grabbed my victory t-shirt and the legendary 3-Day Mug that I'd walked all sixty miles holding, and got my butt over where it belonged: right there at the inflatables where I'd be able to see the walkers coming in.  Behind me was a long line of crew with pom-poms lining the path to the scanners and the victory shirts... to my left was the sound booth and the big "Day 3" sign where people could pose for photos.... to the right was the snacks and beverage tents for the tired, thirsty walkers... and in front of me were, arriving a few at a time and then more and more in larger numbers, the heroes of the hour: the 2,400 footsore walkers of the Twin Cities 3-Day.

And I felt awful.

"Wait, what?" you ask.

You read correctly.  I felt awful.  I felt incredibly guilty that afternoon as I stood there for hours that afternoon, enthusiastically clapping, doing my best to welcome all the walkers to the finish line. 

The whole weekend I'd felt sort of bad about speed-walking the event.  The 3-Day is not a race.  And the first to finish aren't the ones that get the biggest round of applause.  Don't believe me?  Hang around at the scanners at a 3-Day some day when the last walker is within sight of camp.  Or at the finish line at closing when word arrives that the last walkers are half a mile down the street.   People go absolutely bananas when the last walkers arrive.  The ones who didn't get swept, didn't catch a bus or a van to camp.  The ones who, despite whatever physical ailments, or age, or infirmity of condition, kept them from going any faster, but never stopped walking.  Sweet Lord, those are the ones you want to be walking with on a 3-Day.  Not the people who breeze through the walk and don't have a blister to show for it, the ones who get to camp and still don't feel challenged enough and decide to go out rock-climbing or kite-surfing or something. 

But on the other hand, it was nice, in a way, to really let myself loose for one 3-Day.  As I've said so many times before, this was the first chance I had on a 3-Day to really just let myself go.  I couldn't walk 90 miles per hour in DC in 2008 because a) I was wearing stupid mountain hiking boots and blistering as a result of all the pounding on pavement, and b) I was walking for part of the way with members of my little four-person team, two of whom were anything but fast movers.  I couldn't walk 90 miles per hour in Philly in 2009 because a) well, the event got shortened to one day by weather, and b) I was with my wife and my friend from college and once again, had to walk at their pace.   No such restrictions existed this time around: I had trained well, I had good shoes and excellent sock liners to protect my feet, and I had no teammates to carp about my long-legged stride.   I found out something I'd idly wondered: what would it be like to absolutely go at my own pace and get to camp and to the finish line really really early? 

And now I know the answer to that question.

And I don't think I need to do that again. 

Closing ceremonies in St Paul were a bit different from what I've seen in Boston, Philly, and DC.  For one, the survivors -- ALL of 'em -- massed backstage at closing and came up and over the stage and down toward the masses of walkers -- in all four other events I've been a part of, the survivors come from the back of the crowd, fill the center ring, and then the members of the survivors circle come from behind them, taking their position on the center ring stage to join hands and raise the flag.  Not so in St Paul -- they came triumphantly onto the stage, across it, and down the steps in full view of everyone.  Not lost in the back of the crowd, hidden from the view of the people up front, as in other cities.  That was pretty dramatic... but it got more dramatic in a hurry.  Just as in other cities, we all raised one shoe in the air as the survivors made their march in --- but unlike the other cities I've been to, everyone simultaneously dropped to one knee as they did so.  I wasn't expecting that at all -- but it's rarely said that I'm slow on the uptake.  Down I went.  (I must have been quite a sight -- pink helmeted, in a kilt, holding a rather large men's running shoe in one hand, holding a pink latte cup in the other, on one knee, right smack at the front of the crowd.)  

Unsurprisingly, a lot of the survivors burst into tears at the sight of 2,400 walkers down on one knee.   A few survivors had a bit of trouble making it down the stage what with all the teary eyes and heaving shoulders, but crew and staff were there to assist them.   There were a few tears being shed by my fellow walkers, too.

Another favorite part of closing was more or less unchanged from other cities.  The honor flagbearers came out, as always, carrying their banners reading "My Wife" and "My Hero" and "My Mother" and so forth.  Most lined up along the back of the stage, but the ones who had their honorees there with them lined up at the front, flanking Jenne' Fromm, the national Komen 3-Day spokesperson.  I was directly in front of the gentleman carrying "My Wife" and had a lump in my throat as she came out to join him.  I was very proud of that guy and the obvious love he felt for his wife.  He looked down; I looked up.  We exchanged nods.  But then I looked to my right at the girl -- I say that because from where I stood she can't have been much over eighteen.  Say 'young woman' if you like.   She was carrying the "My Mother" flag and weeping openly... and I had an inkling of what was about to happen.   Let's put it this way: her mother did not join her on stage.  Her brother did.   She wept through pretty much the whole closing ceremony and I just ached inside at how sad she looked. 

Country music star Candy Coburn then came out to sing 'Pink Warrior' to the assembled walkers, crew, survivors, friends and family.  I honestly wondered how the honor flagbearers would feel, having a full-fledged Nashville production number taking place right there among them on stage at a time when I know some pretty serious emotions were present.  But then, partway through the song, I saw the young woman holding the "My Mother" flag look over at Candy singing right next to her.  The young lady smiled hesitantly, then openly, then reached up to brush away her tears... and I knew it would be all right.

Too many memories of special people lost.  Not enough survivors.  That's why we all walk, right?   I just hope that the day comes soon -- the day we salute with the final part of the closing ceremonies... the raising of the "A World Without Breast Cancer" flag.   And until that day comes...


Say not in grief that 'she is no more'
but say in thankfulness that she was.




jayfurr: (3-Day Ambassador)
I never posted a final Twin Cities 3-Day update.  As you may recall, I happily blogged away before and during the August 2010 Twin Cities Susan G. Komen 3-Day For The Cure.  When I wasn't actually hauling out my netbook to write actual livejournal entries, I was tweeting away happily via my @jayfurr Twitter account.  But then the event came to a close on a very hot, sunny Minnesota summer afternoon and I was mysteriously silent thereafter.  I never sat down and really wrote a final wrap-up for the event.   Okay, frankly I doubt that this broke anyone's heart -- my voice was one of many writing from the route that weekend and if I personally didn't finish with a burst of immortal prose, it was almost certainly lost in the shuffle.  But it was hard to focus on writing a long thoughtful follow-up when I had to get changed out of my 3-Day clothing and cleaned up and to bed in order to catch a 6 am flight the following morning.  And after that... well, first one thing and then the other.

But I've finally got a bit of time this week and I wanted to sit down and put metaphorical pen to paper and finish up my thoughts on the Twin Cities 3-Day.

First off -- I really enjoyed the event.  It was really only my second full 3-Day, since my official second walk, Philadelphia 2009, had gotten essentially rained out by horrible inclement weather.  We'd only gotten to walk one day out of three.  And the walk before that -- my first walk, Washington DC 2008 -- had been marred by massive foot problems.  Blisters and heel fissures caused mostly by wearing absurdly poorly suited hiking boots on the streets of northern Virginia and DC.   (They may have been excellent boots for the hiking trails of Vermont but were not at all appropriate for pounding away on asphalt for sixty miles.)   The Twin Cities 3-Day was everything I had hoped a 3-Day could be in terms of the physical, actual, walking.   When I crossed the finish line each day at camp, I had no blisters.  No stiffness either.  No pain.  No wobbly legs.  Nothing bad at all.  And I hadn't achieved this by walking slowly and deliberately and doing lots of stretching and drinking tons and tons of sport drinks and water.  Quite the contrary: I had essentially race-walked sixty miles... and yet, had no physical ill effects to speak of.   The only sign I had, at the end of sixty miles, of the physical wear and tear of the event, was a slightly disturbing looking purple blood blister under the nail of my right big toe.  I was actually somewhat nervous about the prospects of losing that toe's nail, given how distressed it all looked with that giant eggplant-colored blotch underneath the nail. 

But you know what?  I didn't lose the nail.  The blood blister's actually still there, though it's finally started to fade a bit.  It seems sort of odd, in a way, that I race-walked an entire 3-Day, never really sat down to stretch at any point, and yet, had no blisters, no muscle pain, no joint pain, no nothing except a couple of blood blisters, one large, one small. 

There are other things about the event that also stand out.

For one: the cheering stations were phenomenal.   I can't speak from many years' experience since, after all, my first 3-Day was in DC in 2008 -- and there had not been a 3-Day in DC for several years before that.  The crowds in 2008 were somewhat sparse at some of the cheering stations, though plentiful at others.   In Philadelphia in 2009, we only got to see one day's worth of cheering stations -- and while we definitely did see a lot of people come out to the official cheering stations there were very few people between.   In the Minneapolis/St Paul/Vadnais Heights/Maplewood/North St Paul arc we walked, you could barely sling a sock full of lutefisk without whacking a group of supporters out on the sidewalk in front of their house offering freezer pops and cold water and orange slices.  Just incredible.   I can recall only a few stretches with few supporters out -- notably a long stretch on the St Paul side of the river on Day 1 when I was so far out in front of the pack that there was absolutely no one visible behind me and no one visible in front of me and for most of an hour only a random occasional bicyclist or jogger to relieve the monotony.   I assume that later in the day, when the large main body of walkers came through, the crowds came out there as well; it wasn't their fault that I had rocket jets on my ankles that day.  The cheering stations and community supporters were just incredible. 

For another: I had the rare opportunity provided by my early arrival at camp each day to really see what camp is like when the walkers aren't there, and to cheer in large numbers of walkers as they arrived.   When I arrived at camp on Day 1 I was literally the first walker scanned into camp -- an accident of fate caused by being among the first off the first bus into camp.  (We were all bused to camp at the end of Day 1-- the actual route ended in St Paul but camp was in Maplewood.)  I quickly set up my tent, located my gear bag, changed out of my kilt and kilt hose and into shorts and a clean t-shirt, and then got ready to help walkers with their gear bags and tents... only to find that a huge cadre of football players from a local high school had beaten me to the punch.   No sooner did walkers come off the bus than they were collected by the players, who carried gear bags and tents and pretty much made the life of a lot of tired ladies (and men) much easier.  I won't say that every walker got a player's help but it wasn't for lack of trying on the players' part. 

So, with the arriving walkers well in hand, I wandered around camp passing out Nutter Butter cookies and thanks to the various crewmembers present.  I had walked all twenty miles that day carrying a backpack full of four-packs of Nutter Butter cookies, with the goal of handing them out to walkers in need of a snack and so forth, only to find that walking way out front of the large main body of walkers made it, um, somewhat difficult to carry out that plan.  And when I tried to give cookies to arriving walkers, they didn't want 'em.  They'd been snacking all day and mainly just wanted to get their tents up and rest.  The crew were another matter, though -- the various camp-based crews such as Camp Hydration, Camp Logistics, and Camp Services had little to do until the walkers got to camp and were sitting around boredly waiting for the work to begin when I showed up and began doing my Mr Nutter Butter act.  (My wife, who worked as Camp Services crew in Boston this year, tells me that there's actually not much food around for the crew to snack on during the day... and so that might explain why the crew fell on the Nutter Butters with glad cries.)   I didn't just hand out cookies, though.  Once they were all gone (and I had a lot of cookies to hand out -- besides the ones in my backpack, I had a lot more in my gear bag), I waited near the inflatables and cheered the walkers in.

On Day 2, I got to camp 19th overall -- the result of my trying to walk more slowly and spend more time at pit stops and stuff.  Honestly, I have no idea how I finished so high up - but nonetheless, 19th out of 2,400 meant that I had a lot of opportunities to cheer walkers into camp.  And after all, what else was I going to do?  I got to camp around 1:30 in the afternoon, two and a half hours before dinner would be served, so I could either loll around on the grass near my tent, or I could cheer walkers in.  I cheered walkers in.  And that was a lot of fun. 

On Day 3 -- ah, Day 3... a weird day if there ever was one.  I found myself in a giant mob of walkers leaving camp all at the same time, right at the crack of seven a.m. -- the result of everyone having gotten up early, packed up their tents, and gotten organized and to the start line pronto so they wouldn't wind up getting bused to lunch or anything ignominious like that.  Nonetheless, everyone was walking really slowly.  I can't imagine why, other than possibly having walked 24 miles the previous day and maybe being a bit tired as a result.  And there I was, sorta/kinda intending to walk slowly too... but bit by bit, I found myself out in front again.  Short pit stops, long legs, natural long stride, I don't know.  But then I wound up walking with some fellow walkers who were just as inclined as I was to walk quickly -- and with us walking together, all reinforcing one another's tendencies, we really made time.  A pack of us -- Kendall, Sally, Michelyn, me, Kevin, Chuck, Sue, and a few others -- got to lunch before it opened.  And got held for a half hour as a result along with a lot of the walkers who had been bused directly from camp to lunch as a result of either not being ready when camp closed and the deadline to start walking came, or because they were simply in bad shape with bad feet or bad shin splints or bad something.   The crew and staff simply won't let walkers leave a pit stop or grab 'n' go or lunch before its official opening time and there was a bunch of us waiting at the exit to the pit, all staring at our watches, all trembling with the excitement of skittish racehorses.  It was a classic case of groupthink, if you're familiar with the term -- all us speedwalkers reinforcing one another's urges to be off on the route and moving at good speed, and none of us thinking "um, what difference does it make?"  We had the same thing happen at Pit 4... a scene of high comedy if there ever was one:

See them?  That's the gang I was walking with.  Absolutely lovely people.  Very fit, too.  And fast.   (The kind gentleman at the left in the red shirt was the Medical crew captain for Pit 4 that day -- he was the guy who had to keep telling us "Not yet, guys.")

It was one blistering hot day that Sunday in the Twin Cities.   The legendary "black signs" came out, the ones that remind us that the heat danger is extreme and that we're all supposed to keep eating lots of salty snacks and drink lots of extra drinks.   I actually found the going a bit rough as we headed up some of the hills near the final cheering station and Pit 5.   At that point I was walking with just two other walkers: Kevin, who's visible on the far left in the picture above (some of you may know Kevin -- a Massachusetts resident attempting to walk all fifteen 3-Days this year), and Michelyn, an oncology nurse from a local practice.  We were not the first on the route -- Sue and Chuck and Kendall and Sally were ahead of us for sure, and a couple others whose names I don't recall.  But we were sure enough pretty far out in front that people were still setting up cheering stations as we came through.  And Michelyn, bless her soul, had bad knees -- and found that downhill descents were only tolerable if she half-trotted/half-jogged 'em -- and Kevin and I, not wanting to be poor sports, kept up with her.   That really started to take the fight out of me, jingling along in my kilt and tie-dyed cotton t-shirt and woolen kilt hose in that heat... but then there we were, out of the hills and down through Mounds Park and into the streets of Lowertown... still making good time.  We started to see the signs informing us that we had two miles to go... one mile to go... and then, up ahead of us we could see the pillars of the large veterans memorial or whatever it is to the southeast of the state capitol building proper, and beyond them, the giant inflatable cubes marking the finish line.   I hung back and let Kevin and Michelyn go in ahead of me -- because, frankly, they could have left me behind at any time over the last four miles, and didn't.  When I finally made it to the scanners at the line for the victory t-shirts, I was ninth walker in.

Which meant, of course, that I had a long long long wait for closing.  It was just around noon and closing was not due to happen until 5.  I flopped down on the grass, took off my kilt hose and reorganized all my gear and chatted with the volunteers and crew who were there waiting, with us, for all the walkers to come in... but then I started to feel really guilty for sitting on my tuchus when I could be cheering my fellow walkers in.  So I grabbed my gear, and grabbed my victory t-shirt and the legendary 3-Day Mug that I'd walked all sixty miles holding, and got my butt over where it belonged: right there at the inflatables where I'd be able to see the walkers coming in.  Behind me was a long line of crew with pom-poms lining the path to the scanners and the victory shirts... to my left was the sound booth and the big "Day 3" sign where people could pose for photos.... to the right was the snacks and beverage tents for the tired, thirsty walkers... and in front of me were, arriving a few at a time and then more and more in larger numbers, the heroes of the 3-Day: the 2,400 footsore walkers of the Twin Cities 3-Day.

And I felt awful.

"Wait, what?" you ask.

You read correctly.  I felt awful.  I felt incredibly guilty that afternoon as I stood there for hours that afternoon, enthusiastically clapping, doing my best to welcome all the walkers to the finish line. 

The whole weekend I'd felt sort of bad about speed-walking the event.  The 3-Day is not a race.  And the first to finish aren't the ones that get the biggest round of applause.  Don't believe me?  Hang around at the scanners at a 3-Day some day when the last walker is within sight of camp.  Or at the finish line at closing when word arrives that the last walkers are half a mile down the street.   People go absolutely bananas when the last walkers arrive.  The ones who didn't get swept, didn't catch a bus or a van to camp.  The ones who, despite whatever physical ailments, or age, or infirmity of condition, kept them from going any faster, but never stopped walking.  Sweet Lord, those are the ones you want to be walking with on a 3-Day.  Not the people who breeze through the walk and don't have a blister to show for it, the ones who get to camp and still don't feel challenged enough and decide to go out rock-climbing or kite-surfing or something. 

But on the other hand, it was nice, in a way, to really let myself loose for one 3-Day.  As I've said so many times before, this was the first chance I had on a 3-Day to really just let myself go.  I couldn't walk 90 miles per hour in DC in 2008 because a) I was wearing stupid mountain hiking boots and blistering as a result of all the pounding on pavement, and b) I was walking for part of the way with members of my little four-person team, two of whom were anything but fast movers.  I couldn't walk 90 miles per hour in Philly in 2009 because a) well, the event got shortened to one day by weather, and b) I was with my wife and my friend from college and once again, had to walk at their pace.   No such restrictions existed this time around: I had trained well, I had good shoes and excellent sock liners to protect my feet, and I had no teammates to carp about my long-legged stride.   I found out something I'd idly wondered: what would it be like to absolutely go at my own pace and get to camp and to the finish line really really early? 

And now I know the answer to that question.

And I don't think I need to do that again. 

Closing ceremonies in St Paul were a bit different from what I've seen in Boston, Philly, and DC.  For one, the survivors -- ALL of 'em -- massed backstage at closing and came up and over the stage and down toward the masses of walkers -- in all four other events I've been a part of, the survivors come from the back of the crowd, fill the center ring, and then the members of the survivors circle come from behind them, taking their position on the center ring stage to join hands and raise the flag.  Not so in St Paul -- they came triumphantly onto the stage, across it, and down the steps in full view of everyone.  Not lost in the back of the crowd, hidden from the view of the people up front, as in other cities.  That was pretty dramatic... but it got more dramatic in a hurry.  Just as in other cities, we all raised one shoe in the air as the survivors made their march in --- but unlike the other cities I've been to, everyone simultaneously dropped to one knee as they did so.  I wasn't expecting that at all -- but it's rarely said that I'm slow on the uptake.  Down I went.  (I must have been quite a sight -- pink helmeted, in a kilt, holding a rather large men's running shoe in one hand, holding a pink latte cup in the other, on one knee, right smack at the front of the crowd.)  

Unsurprisingly, a lot of the survivors burst into tears at the sight of 2,400 walkers down on one knee.   A few survivors had a bit of trouble making it down the stage what with all the teary eyes and heaving shoulders, but crew and staff were there to assist them.   There were a few tears being shed by my fellow walkers, too.

Another favorite part of closing was more or less unchanged from other cities.  The honor flagbearers came out, as always, carrying their banners reading "My Wife" and "My Hero" and "My Mother" and so forth.  Most lined up along the back of the stage, but the ones who had their honorees there with them lined up at the front, flanking Jenne' Fromm, the national Komen 3-Day spokesperson.  I was directly in front of the gentleman carrying "My Wife" and had a lump in my throat as she came out to join him.  I was very proud of that guy and the obvious love he felt for his wife.  He looked down; I looked up.  We exchanged nods.  But then I looked to my right at the girl -- I say that because from where I stood she can't have been much over eighteen.  Say 'young woman' if you like.   She was carrying the "My Mother" flag and weeping openly... and I had an inkling of what was about to happen.   Let's put it this way: her mother did not join her on stage.  Her brother did.   She wept through pretty much the whole closing ceremony and I just ached inside at how sad she looked. 

Country music star Candy Coburn then came out to sing 'Pink Warrior' to the assembled walkers, crew, survivors, friends and family.  I honestly wondered how the honor flagbearers would feel, having a full-fledged Nashville production number taking place right there among them on stage at a time when I know some pretty serious emotions were present.  But then, partway through the song, I saw the young woman holding the "My Mother" flag look over at Candy singing right next to her.  The young lady smiled hesitantly, then openly, then reached up to brush away her tears... and I knew it would be all right.

Too many memories of special people lost.  Not enough survivors.  That's why we all walk, right?   I just hope that the day comes soon -- the day we salute with the final part of the closing ceremonies... the raising of the "A World Without Breast Cancer" flag.   And until that day comes...


Say not in grief that 'she is no more'
but say in thankfulness that she was.




jayfurr: (3-Day Ambassador)
Should you be so morbidly inclined, you can view my map and pace and stuff from the Twin Cities 3-Day here:

Twin Cities 3-Day, Day 1 by furrs at Garmin Connect - Details

Twin Cities 3-Day, Day 2 by furrs at Garmin Connect - Details

Twin Cities 3-Day, Day 3 by furrs at Garmin Connect - Details


jayfurr: (3-Day Ambassador)
Depending on how you measure things, today was: either a very, very good day or a not-so-good day at all. After walking a good 4 mph yesterday and finishing Day 1 of the Twin Cities 3-Day in fifth place -- in an event that is NOT a competitive race -- I said this morning that I would NOT racewalk. I would slow down. I would take time to smell the flowers.

And to a certain extent, I succeeded. I managed to shave a whole .5 mph off my walking speed -- instead of walking four miles an hour, I walked three and a half miles an hour. Hey, that's a 12.5% reduction in speed!

And, I, um, finished 19th.

Sigh.

Today was a very overcast, misty day for much of the morning, and even after the mist burned off it remained overcast into the afternoon. It didn't really start to get hot and sunny until, what, 1:30 pm or so? So frankly, the weather was pretty good from a walking point of view. True, it was humid as all get out, and some folks have a lot of trouble with that, but not having the sun beating down sure was nice.

The route opened at 6:30 am and I was probably 200 people back from the lead when I finally got to a crew member armed with a scanner and got scanned out. I found myself walking around the verrrrry slow moving hordes that left camp at the same time as me, but still had many, many, MANY people ahead of me. I found myself walking long stretches with one or two fellow walkers as some separation introduced itself into the pack, generally going our separate ways once we reached a pit stop. When I reached Pit Stop 3, a little while before lunch, I happened to ask the crew member armed with the clicker how I was doing and got told "You're #12."

I stopped in my tracks and stared dumbly at her. HOW I got to 12th, I'll never know. I suppose it's vaguely possible that the crowds I saw in the distance at the start were not all walkers, and it's also possible that some people were in port-o-jons when I passed through the pit stops. Nonetheless, I had been trying to avoid being Jay Furr, Human Cannonball. It is considered almost shameful to be that fast on a 3-Day -- it's not about showing off how fast you can walk.

Yet, there I was. I stopped and sat for a while at lunch, then walked with a couple more fellow walkers to the next pit stop, then walked solo for a bit, then walked with another person to Grab and Go A, and then was solo much of the rest of the way. I even took a break for a good while to take off my wet socks (the result of detouring onto the grass at the beginning and of walking across wet grass at lunch), and STILL didn't wind up with more people in front of me. I think that some of those fellow walkers walked really fast and I simply, unconsciously walked in step with 'em.

The final nail in the coffin of my not finishing way ahead of everyone else came when the route took us onto a long intra-city trail -- not being from around here, I can't say whether the trail was built along a former railroad right-of-way or what, but for very long stretches we had no crossing roads to speak of and a trail that went straight as an arrow through the woods. It was the sort of trail that causes me to just put my head down and ... GO. Nothing to look at but identical trees, and nothing to stop for except occasional rollerbladers and fitness walkers out with their dogs and stuff. And me, zooming along.

And that's how I finished 19th. In my own defense, I did consider sitting down at the final grab and go (Grab and Go B, located along that long forest trail) and waiting until the final walker (the "caboose") came by, but when I realized that I'd probably be waiting FIVE HOURS I thought better of it. I got into camp around 1:30 pm, after 7 hours of walking. It's 6 pm now and there are still walkers out on the route.

This whole journal entry must sound absolutely neurotic and crazy to half the people reading this -- making whiny excuses for why I walked so fast. But I really, really did mean to go more slowly. Really, really I did.

But I guess I'm just in better shape than I thought -- and my HIGHLY TUNED body just didn't WANT to slow down. Or get any blisters at all. I feel like a cheat; I haven't lost a nail or gotten a blister or ANYTHING. I guess that's what training properly for the 3-Day gets you.

jayfurr: (3-Day Ambassador)
It's evening of Day 1 of the Twin Cities 3-Day. I'm posting this from the 3-Day Main Street area of camp and I'll be honest, I'm trying to keep this quick because as night falls, the bugs are coming out something fierce.

I've been here at camp for a WHILE today. Got here around, what, 2 pm? That's what comes of walking 4+ MPH the whole day. Twenty miles flies by if you're walking solo or with random fellow walkers who are similarly inclined to walk fast. I was, as it happens, the first walker scanned into camp today despite being the fifth walker to the finish line at Pit Stop 5... we were held at Pit Stop 5 until there were around twenty of us on a bus and then we were bused a good long ways to the actual camp. Tomorrow we do get to walk out of camp under our own power, no more bus, and do a big loop and eventually (23 miles later) wind back up right where we started.

I'm contemplating trying to walk slower tomorrow but frankly, I don't know what the morning will bring. If I feel really good I may find myself passing the slow-moving herd so I can move at my own pace again. If I'm a bit stiff legged I may hang back and walk with the pack. This event really isn't supposed to be about racing to see who can get done fastest -- it should be more about making friends and meeting people and hearing their stories WHILE you're walking twenty miles. I need to remember that. But on the other hand, I did meet people: my fellow speed walkers, then the crew back at camp, then walkers at the shower lines and at dinner. Trust me: I did not let an opportunity go by to talk and introduce myself and find out why my fellow participants are walking.

It's time for bed -- so I need to get things squared away and get a good night's sleep. Tomorrow will be hot and clear, if the weather forecast is correct. Take care, all, and I'll be in touch again tomorrow.

5 AM

Aug. 20th, 2010 06:21 am
jayfurr: (3-Day Ambassador)
It's that magical hour -- just a bit after 5 am the morning of a Susan G Komen 3-Day For The Cure. I'm stumbling around my hotel room trying to make sure I have everything together, about ready to shoulder my big gear bag and head downstairs and across the street to the complex of pink tractor trailers and rental vans and generators and enough Port-O-Jons to handle an entire amphibious invasion. Except that we'd prefer that the term 'amphibious' not enter into things today. Rain is in the forecast, but a glance at the weather radar shows that several storm cells have already passed over and none are immediately in the offing. The forecast is now calling for between a quarter and a half inch of rain, mainly after 1 pm, with clearing later and nice weather tonight and for the rest of the weekend.

That's the key thing -- it can rain on the course, although obviously in a perfect world that wouldn't be the case, but if we had our druthers it'd be dry by the time we get to camp. Few things in life are more depressing than arriving at the 3-Day camp finding all your stuff drenched because you didn't think to stuff everything INSIDE a big plastic garbage bag before putting it inside your duffel. When I crewed Boston a few weeks ago it just absolutely opened up at the end of Day 1 and there were quite a few walkers who found out the hard way how important it is to waterproof your gear bag; the bags sitting out in front of the gear trucks at camp got totally, completely soaked, even though plastic tarps had been placed over everything.

So anyway: if it has to rain, let's hope the rain is done before we make it to camp tonight.

I feel rested and ready to go - although frankly I wouldn't sneeze at another cup of coffee. It's 6:18 AM by my body's internal clock but only 5:18 Central time, and my brain isn't entirely ticking over yet. I'm quite ocnfident, though, that by the time the opening ceremonies are done and we're hitting the route, I'll be absolutely revved up and ready to zoom.

jayfurr: (3-Day Ambassador)
It is 6:27 in the evening and the skies are gray over the Edina Galleria shopping mall here on the outskirts of the Twin Cities. Tomorrow morning, quite early, two thousand or more Susan G. Komen 3-Day For The Cure walkers will assemble at dawn in the parking lot of the Galleria for the opening ceremonies of the Twin Cities 3-Day... myself among them. I'd have said "bright and early" but the odds are against it being, well, bright. In true 3-Day fashion, the forecast for the first day of the walk calls for rain, and possibly scattered thunderstorms. Rain is one thing -- but if we get actual thunderstorms the organizers will take us off the route, possibly sending out buses to corral us all in some safe location until the threat of lightning passes. While I've had my share of 3-Day misfortune (losing two whole days of the 2009 Philadelphia 3-Day to fall nor'easters), I've never had the experience of being out on the route and getting a hasty EVERYONE OUT OF THE POOL order. I'm keeping my fingers crossed.

This blog entry is my last order of business before retiring for the night, just bringing things up to date before catching some shut-eye.

I got here around 4 pm Central time, checked into my room at the Westin hotel next door to the mall, had a couple of vegetarian burritos (no cheese, no sour cream) at a nearby Chipotle restaurant, and then ran smack into, of all people, Bret Favre. I wouldn't have even noticed him as we passed at the elevators -- I'd done a little semi-circle around him and kept on going -- except that a Vikings fan nearby said, loudly, "Is that Bret Favre?" And it was -- looking rather abashed and "oh no" and all that. I guess being a multimillionaire world-famous athlete can get a little old now and then, especially if he was heading upstairs to meet up with his wife for dinner or something. One doesn't always want to have to put on the public persona, after all.

When I tweeted the news of my passing encounter with the legendary quarterback to the far-flung 3-Day Twitter community many people asked if I'd hit the famous man up for a donation to the 3-Day -- and reminded me that Favre's wife is a breast cancer survivor herself. I must confess, it didn't even occur to me; Favre looked so uncomfortable as heads turned to look in his direction that I just said to myself "Leave the guy alone, you don't need to be a part of the feeding frenzy" and vamoosed.

I've said on a few occasions that I'm walking the Twin Cities walk as a solo walker, but my wife keeps reminding me that I'm forgetting to mention someone. I've actually got a little ... I dunno, "friend" is as good a term as anything else... with me, namely, the 3-Day Mug. It's a pink, hand-painted mug with a breast cancer theme and I'm the latest 2010 3-Day walker to carry it. A pair of 3-Day walkers,Kristen and Julie, came up with the mug as part of a paint-your-own-pottery thing they did. One of them carried it in the Boston walk and posted blog entries and Twitter posts from the mug's point of view and, as these things often do, the whole schtick took on a life of its own. Now there's a whole list of people signed up to be host to Mug over the coming 11 3-Day walks and it's my turn this weekend.

That's why I've got, um, an entire duffel bag full of Nutter Butter peanut butter cookies here in the hotel room with me. Mug apparently got taken to a blood drive at some point and you know how those things go: there're always lots of snacks for people to use to get their blood sugar back up afterwards. Somehow it became part of established canon that Mug loves Nutter Butters. And that's why, a week or two ago, I decided I should have some with me when I walked the Twin Cities walk -- and I promptly got on the Amazon.com website and ordered two boxes of individual four-cookie packs.



Okay, I really misjudged the number of cookies I was ordering, or rather, I misjudged how many cookies 96 four-packs of cookies really is. I'm going to carry a big backpack with as many as I can cram in and the rest will go in a padded bag in my 3-Day duffel, which I'll turn in at a gear truck at opening tomorrow morning and pick up again tomorrow evening at camp after walking twenty miles. The idea, basically, is that each time someone asks me "So what's the deal with the Mug" I'll explain briefly, pose Mug for a photo with the hapless walker, and then hand over a pack of cookies. I don't really know, to be honest, how this is gonna work out. On one hand, perhaps no one will even ask (you see a LOT of weird stuff on the 3-Day) and I'll have to resort to just walking up to people and offering them cookies out of the blue, but on the other hand, maybe word will get around really quickly and I'll have given out half the cookies tomorrow before we even start walking. Neither outcome will really surprise me.

Anyway, you can follow Mug's progress on Twitter at @3daymug while the walk's underway -- and you may also wish to go back and read Mug's back blog entries at http://2ladies1mug.wordpress.com/. To the best of my knowledge Mug won't be blogging during the Twin Cities walk but after it's all over photos and notes from the weekend will be posted there.

I think I've mentioned here and there that I'm going to be costumed rather inanely tomorrow. But in case I didn't mention it here, let me just say that I won't be wearing PANTS during the walk. Instead, I'm going to be wearing a mocha brown men's kilt (a Utilikilt, in case you're familar with them), homemade pink tie-dyed shirts, knee-length kilt hose with pink kilt flashes, and to top it all off, my semi-legendary pink hard hat. I'm really not sure why, but people really seem to like that hard hat. When I crewed the Boston 3-Day this year I lost count of the number of times people said "Hey, nice hard hat". Oddly, they seemed to be speaking entirely without irony. The 3-Day will do that to you -- you start to really celebrate the weird things in life. And as for the kilt... well, I wore a black Utilikilt with pink boxers under it last year when I crewed Boston. Then I lost a lot of weight and it didn't really fit any more, and when I crewed Boston this year a lot of repeat walkers buttonholed me and demanded to know where the kilt was. So, once I got home I sighed and ordered a new kilt in my new semi-svelte size, and I'm gonna wear it all three days this weekend, unless it gets absolutely soaked or something, and if that happens, I have some regular hiking pants and shorts to fall back on.

Yes, I'm going to look absolutely God-awful. But on a 3-Day walk, the Absolutely God-Awful somehow achieves a sort of sublime grace.

So I think that's all the news from Lake Wobegon... and, wow, that phrase actually fits for once. I am in Minnesota, after all... where all the women are strong, all the men are good-looking, and all the children are above-average.

Good night -- and thank you for your support in the fight against breast cancer.
jayfurr: (3-Day Ambassador)
It's finally here: my first Susan G Komen 3-Day For The Cure as a walker.

"Wait," you say, "This is your first 3-Day?"

Technically, yes. As a walker, and under that name, "Susan G. Komen 3-Day For The Cure".

I took part in a Susan G. Komen 3-Day For The Cure earlier this year, in Boston, but I was a member of the crew, providing support services to the legions of pink-clad women and men walking through the July heat. And while I have walked in 3-Day walks before, it was as a participant in the "Breast Cancer 3-Day", an event run by the National Philanthropic Trustin partnership with Susan G. Komen For The Cure. This is my first time ever walking in the new "Susan G. Komen 3-Day For The Cure", which is now 100% run by Susan G. Komen For The Cure directly. So that's a minor distinction, but hey -- it meant that I had to get new t-shirts and stuff if I wanted to be all au courant.

Even if you don't make the distinction vis-a-vis the exact name of the walk, this will still be my first full 3-Day as a walker in almost two years. I walked my legs off in 2009 to get ready for the Philadelphia 3-Day in October, only to have not one, but TWO nor'easter storms hit the city on the same weekend, bringing driving rain and wind and temperatures in the mid-40s. With the safety of the walkers a real concern -- imagine, if you will, a couple thousand hypothermic pink-clad women and men huddling in bus shelters and store entrances, looking for anywhere to get warm -- the organizers called off first the opening day, then the second day of the walk. Many walkers had come packed for seasonably warm, sunny weather, with a light rainjacket or poncho in their gear... but what they'd have needed would have been something closer to the sort of survival gear you see Alaska crab fishermen wearing on "The Deadliest Catch". With the weather slacking up a bit by the third day, the organizers went forward with a severely abbreviated "3-Day", consisting of a 15-mile walk staying carefully away from the swollen rivers and streams and on high ground.

When the news that the event would be severely truncated made its way around the various hotels walkers were staying in, many participants wept openly at the idea of having trained and fund-raised with a sixty-mile endurance walk in mind only to have the event turn into ... well, a moderate-length training walk in absolutely soggy conditions. Then, in classic life-gives-you-lemons-so-make-lemonade spirit, thousands of walkers spent what would have been the first and second days of the walk at local shopping malls, doing dozens of laps indoors while bemused shoppers applauded. When Sunday finally came and we all hit the streets for our one-day 3-Day, spirits were better and the closing ceremony at the Navy Yard was as enthusiastic as any 3-Day closing I've ever attended.

There have already been four 3-Day walks this year: Boston, Cleveland, Chicago, and Michigan. I've been part of a raucously gung-ho community on Twitter, cheering on the walkers and crew heading off to each of those cities, following their walks from afar and reading their blogs with a certain amount of envy. I'm glad to say that it's finally my turn to head off and walk and I'm really looking forward to getting to the land of lutefisk and lefse for this weekend's event.

I'm doing this walk as a solo walker, unaffiliated with any team. My wife Carole is staying behind in Vermont for this walk and the October walk in Washington DC that I'm also signed up for, but she will be joining me in Tampa Bay for the Halloween 2010 3-Day walk down in Floridas's balmy climes.

Now, if only the weather forecast for the Minneapolis/St. Paul area didn't call for a 70% chance of thunderstorms and rain up to 3/4" on Friday. (Saturday ard Sunday are predicted to be warm and sunny, thank heavens.)

Wish us luck!

jayfurr: (3-Day Ambassador)
Today is Thursday, August 12. A week from today I fly to Minneapolis/St Paul to take part in the Twin Cities Susan G. Komen 3-Day For The Cure. As anyone who's come within a light year of my LiveJournal in the last three years knows, the 3-Day is a 60-mile walk spread out over three days. There are 15 such walks each year, spread out in cities across the USA. Most events have around 2,000 walkers, with the Cleveland walk having only 900 participants and the San Diego walk having over 5,000.

This year I've already been involved in one 3-Day: I worked as crew (unpaid volunteer staff) at the Boston 3-Day in late July. And I'm scheduled to take part in three upcoming events as a walker: the Twin Cities 3-Day next week, then the Washington, DC 3-Day in early October, and finally the Tampa Bay 3-Day in late October. I originally planned to walk only the Tampa Bay walk, then added the Washington walk when my fundraising went fairly well and it started to look like I'd have enough funds raised (at $2,300 required per city) to do two... and then I got carried away and announced that I'd also walk in Minnesota. I think a large part of the reason for adding Minnesota was that I didn't want to have to wait until October while all my online acquaintances were off having fun doing their walks. Moreover, I didn't have any particular connection to Minnesota in the same sense that I do to the DC and Tampa Bay walks -- I added the Twin Cities walk solely because it would fit well into my work travel schedule. That changed a bit with the customer training engagement that was supposed to happen immediately BEFORE the Twin Cities 3-Day getting rescheduled to September, so now I'm simply flying from Burlington to Chicago to Minneapolis for the 3-Day and then afterwards going on to a customer training engagement in southern Illinois. It makes it a bit easier for me to pack for the event -- I don't have to worry about taking along all my 3-Day gear in an immense duffel AND enough nice dress clothes for TWO training engagements.

I'm very much looking forward to the walk and I think I'm in good shape for it. I've been doing a lot of solo training walks and have done a few with Carole as well. We did a 19-mile walk on Saturday and I felt absolutely fine the next day, but Carole was stiff-legged and somewhat blistered. I guess she's not as ready as I am. Last night I did an 11-mile walk after work in just over three hours, and if the weather is good I'm going to do something similar tonight. I need to stay loosened up for the walk next week, although the recommendation is that I not try to do any twenty-milers this weekend. Don't want to wear myself out in advance, you know?

I've been to Minneapolis/St Paul enough that I know my way around. I was actually there, staying in the Residence Inn in downtown Minneapolis, the day before the I-35W bridge collapsed a few years ago. I'd driven across it less than 24 hours before it went down... IT COULDA BEEN ME!!!1!! Or not.

I don't know the full details of the route at this point -- they only publish the start and finish locations and the locations of public cheering stations in advance in order to keep the route safe and secure. We're starting at a shopping center in scenic Edina, Minnesota and finishing two days later at the state capitol in St. Paul. If you'd like to see a map of the cheering stations, click here. You'll note that the Day 1 cheering stations are all far to the west of the Day 2 and Day 3 cheering stations. I checked the event information page on the 3-Day website and they explained that we'd be walking 20 miles the first day and then, when we arrive at Pit Stop 5, boarding buses to be taken to camp. The rest of the event will then take place in a fairly compact area more on the St Paul side of the area. I have some reservations about being bused into camp on the first day: it's really cool when you're tired and footsore seeing the big inflatable cubes that mark the finish line looming up in the distance and knowing that you have only a few hundred more feet to go. With a bus trip awaiting you, arrival at camp will seem sort of anti-climatic. Furthermore, there's always a big hullabaloo at the end of each day as the Last Walker on the route arrives in camp. I have no idea how they'll designate the last walker on Day 1: will it be the last person into Pit Stop 5 or simply the last person off the last bus? If you arrive into Pit Stop 5 before 30 or so other walkers and go to the back of the last bus... and are thereby the last off... do YOU become the last walker? It really makes no difference, but it's one of those odd things I tend to wonder about.

I don't think there's any chance of me being the last walker, not walking as fast as I tend to. In fact, on Day 1 I sorta plan to try to go along the route at the head of the pack if at all possible so I can get to camp early, get my tent set up (I'll be assigned a random male tentmate, but I don't know his name yet), and then happily spend the afternoon helping fellow walkers carry their gear bags from the gear trucks to their tent locations, helping them set up tents, and all that stuff that I enjoy so much.

So anyway: I'm really, really looking forward to getting my first 3-Day of the year in. If you read this and you're in the Minnesota area, I hope to see you at the cheering stations -- or better yet, out on the route as a walker or crew member!



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