Aug 23 2011
This past weekend I travelled to the Twin Cities for the 3-Day. This was my fifth year walking. This year we had a team of 10 signed up but three of our teammates had some things come up and were not able to join us this weekend. We missed them but we still had an amazing weekend. Getting to this 3-Day was a little different than years past too. When I have walked in Chicago it was an easy hour drive and I was at pre walk hotel. When I walked San Diego, I flew and that was pretty much a solo travel day. This year I had a six hour drive to get to the pre walk hotel and I was picking up four teammates along the way. It was a fun ride. We stopped for Lunch and spent quite a bit talking about previous walks. One of the teammates that was with us was a first time walker so we had plenty of tips and advice for her. Once we got to our Hotel we had time to relax and wait for the other two members of our team to arrive since they were flying in from Southern Illinois. Once we were all together we had a great dinner and then headed off to bed since 4:30 AM comes way too fast.
The team headed down to the bus to opening at 5:30. It was still dark when the bus picked us up and would be for a little while longer. Once we dropped our gear off it was time to take a couple pictures and wait for Opening Ceremonies so we could get out and get walking,
We had our team picture taken at Opening so everyone can see what we look like before we spend the weekend sleeping in tents and walking all day.
The morning of Day 1 is usually the hardest day to get going just because you have so many people heading out of Opening at once.
We had something like 2100 walkers starting out. Add to that we were in a somewhat urban area and we had to wait for traffic in some places and that makes for a slow start to the day. Once you get past the first pit stop then it tends to spread out a little bit. By Lunch on Day 1 we had set a pretty comfortable pace. I was really impressed by the number of people that turned out to support the walkers on Day 1. Usually Friday is a little quieter since a lot of people still have to work. Walking along the chain of lakes was cool. The longest stretch we had on Day 1 was 3.7 miles. It seemed a lot longer. You would be amazed at how much you look forward to getting to the pit stops when you have been drinking lots of water and gatroaide all day. The scenery on Day 1 was awesome. Loved walking across the Mississippi river. Once we got back to camp we got a chance to sit down and relax for a little. As many cities had done in the past, we had a local High School groups that had volunteered to haul baggage and setup tents for the walkers when they arrive at camp. We really appreciate that. After a shower and some dinner it was time to hit the hay. Lights out in camp is 9:00 and pretty much everyone goes right to sleep as many of us like to hit the route when it opens at 6:30 so that means being up by 5:30 to have breakfast and get ready to go.
Day 2 had us headed out of camp on some local walking/biking trails. It was a nice change to the urban scenery of the day before. The route was much less crowded as some people start a litle later. Everyone has to be out of camp before 8 but not everyone leaves as early as we do. As usually happens with groups of more than a couple people, our team split up for most of Day 2. People walk at different rates so you usually end up walking with someone at about your pace. We usually meet up to see how everyone is doing at the pit stops or at lunch. I felt bad for our new walker. She had some really bad foot pains Saturday morning and ended up having to take the bus to camp from Lunch so that she could try to recover for Day 3. She was really disappointed about it but we told her not to be. Many of us had been there ourselves including me. I did not complete the walk my first year as I had bad leg pains on Day 2. It does not make it any easier on you when you are there though. It’s really disappointing to fund raise and train and not be able to complete everything that you set out to. Day 2 was the longest of the three days. We walked 22.6 miles. That’s a pretty good deal of walking. We set out about 6:30 in the morning and got back into camp just before 4:00 in the afternoon. The weather was beautiful again on Day 2 and the community support was outstanding.
Day 3 started just as early as the rest even though the route did not open until 7:00. That’s because on Day 3 you have to pack up your gear and take down your tent before you start out on the route. Getting all that stuff back into your luggage is not always as easy as you would think. Often our pace is a little slower on Day 3 as well. The weather was a non-factor all weekend as it was awesome again on Sunday. We started out walking together again but ended up in three differnt groups today. We had fast, medium, and slow walkers. None of that matters as long as you are walking. Our new walker was able to make it through Day 3 at a reduced pace but she can say she finished. We always tell walkers that if you have to miss part of the walk, the most important thing is to be able to cross the finish line and walk into Closing. I am glad that as a team we were able to walk most of the way with other members of the team that had a similar pace. I sometimes feel bad for other walkers that are not part of a team and are walking by themselves. You are never really walking by yourself during the 3-Day as it is an outstanding community that supports each other well. Solo walkers are often asked how they are doing by others and more than once this weekend I walked by myself for a time and had some really good conversations with others doing the same. By the time we got to lunch on Day 3 I was slowing down myself a bit. I had blisters developing under both big toes and pain in the my left shin. We didn’t spend much time at lunch as we really wanted to get going. The walk from lunch into the city was really nice. The trails that they had us on were very scenic. There was some grumbling as much of the afternoon was uphill and that is a little more of an effort at this point. I was pretty happy with myself at this point though. After walking the last two years in San Diego, I really didn’t have any problems with any of the hills in the Twin Cities. At least my body is used to those now. It was a relief to finally get to the Capital and get into closing. There are times during each weekend that you may be hurting and don’t feel like walking but once you make it past lunch on Day 3 and especially after you leave the last pit stop before holding, you just can’t stop. It’s amazing to arrive and have all these people waiting there you welcome you. The reality that you are really finished hits you when they scan your credential for the last time and you are off the route. Closing is just a formality. I didn’t have as much time to wait this year as once I got to holding, I had to get back to our pre-walk hotel to get my car so that we could head home right after closing. This actually worked out pretty good and I have to say a BIG Thank You to my cousin Mark who lives in the Twin Cities. He picked me up at holding and took me back to get my car. This saved my team about an hour in travel time and allowed us to get back home at a fairly reasonable hour. Thanks again Mark.
Once I had my car I went back to join the rest of the team for closing. They did things a little differently in each City and I was curious how the Twin Cities would handle it. We had an awesome backdrop of the State Capital for Closing. It takes a little time to assemble for closing. First we have to get all of the familes and friends out of holding and over to closing. Then they line us up to process into closing together. It’s kind of ordered Chaos. The walkers are the first ones into closing and are the largest group. I think I mentioned it earlier but we had about 2100 walkers in the Twin Cities this weekend. That’s a pretty good group. Once the walkers have mad it into Closing then comes the Crew. It’s fitting that the walkers are there to help greet the Crew as they are outstanding. The members of the crew doing everything to support the walkers and they are all volunteers. They are up before the walkers and are in bed after the walkers. The crew really makes the event and I can’t stress enough how much we appreciate them. Finally the last group that comes into Closing is the Survivors. It is traditiional for the walkers to hold one of their walking shoes up in tribute to the Survivors as they comes into Closing. Closing is just a way to cap off the weekend. A reminder of why we were there and what the community has accomplished. With the support of all of our sponsors, the Twin Cities raised $5.3 Million this weekend. That money will help to continue the figth against Breast Cancer. It will be used to fund research, to aid in education and prevention. Closing is also kind of a sad time since the weekend is over. The 3-Day is such a positive weekend that you don’t want it to be over. It would be great if people could be that positive and caring for others all the time. All we can do is try to bring a little of that spirit into our day to day lives.
After closing it was time to get our gear and head home. We were all tired and sore and sitting and were not looking forward to that 5 hour drive back to our homes. It actually went by faster than I expected. It was quiet at times but funny at others. Our team had a great weekend. Now I am on to making plans for next year. I hope to be able to see some members of my team wherever we decide to walk. So far it is looking like it wil be San Francisco. It’s always fun to see a new city in a different way. Thanks again to everyone that supported me in getting to this weekend. God Bless.