Sunday, November 30, 2014

Some times you have to dig deep....

November 21st through the 23rd, I completed the Susan G. Komen 3 Day walk in San Diego. Let me say that it was an event like no other. It was an exhilarating and it was emotionally, mentally, and physically exhausting. It was a time of crowds of people and a time of solitude. It was a time of being way out of my comfort zone and a time of personal discovery. It was time of memories of the past and a time of looking forward to the future. It was a time of laughter and a time of tears. It was a time of conversation and a time of few words.

Let me see if I can recap it.  The event started with the opening ceremony early on Friday morning...a rainy morning. Once we finally got on the road, we were thrilled to see a rainbow arching across the sky.

During the first few miles, we had our first view of the ocean. Walking along the ocean over much of the first day, I realized just how much I miss it from living in San Juan and the east coast. But I also realized that I'm happy where I am now too. I am truly enjoying discovering who I am through the adventures in Colorado.

There were pit stops on the way. I carried most of my own snacks as the foods that were available from the event just do not fit into my lifestyle. I also had plenty of ultima replenisher, an electrolyte replacement with better than most ingredients.

I will say that the number of supporters and "walker stalkers" along the route simply amazed me. I had no idea that there would be so much support from spectators like this. They had so many things available to walkers -- water, coffee, various food items, sunscreen, etc. The best part to me was the people that brought their dogs to event. I took every opportunity to stop and pet the dogs along the way.

Each day there was a hill. I am very grateful that I live in Colorado and did some hill training and hiking this summer. Although not a breeze by any means, the hills were very doable.

Honestly, the downhill that we hit right before lunch was definitely more difficult than this hill was. BUT the reward was lunch on the beach. It was a good break. I changed sock and felt refreshed. After a short talk with my friend, I hit the road again. Most of the first day, I walked alone by choice. I needed the time to think.

After twenty plus miles (over 63,000 steps), I reached camp. Again I was astounded by the helpful volunteers, helping put up tents, etc. After a snack, a much needed shower, and dinner, I found that several friends had sent me cards and letters to the camp. It was quite a boost to read them. I must say that I have the BEST support system. I often do not feel worthy of the immense support I get from them. After reading my letters, stretching, rolling out my hamstrings and talking to my husband, I collapsed in my sleeping bag.

The next day we would leave camp and walk about another 20 miles. We would however return to same campsite that night. This day was interesting for me. It actually took me out of my comfort zone in a couple of ways. First, there were the bridges...lots and lots of bridges. I am no a fan at heights like this but I managed over each one of them. It was also in the first few miles that my shoes were bothering me. I had replaced the shoe laces and just couldn't get them tied appropriately. I stopped many times to relace them and try various ways of tying them.

Then, I was walking behind a woman and noticed her stride looked strange. I asked her if she was okay. It turned out that she was hurting. Her knee was really bothering her. I promised her that I would stay with her until we could get to a medical tent, where they could wrap her knee. We walked to the next stop, but it turned out to be one without medical help. After that stop, was the hill for the day. I asked her if she wanted to get the sweep van but she really wanted to finish the day. I so could understand that so we started up the hill. As we walked along the hill, she had to stop several times. I found myself encouraging her, giving her milestones to reach. She did well, even though she was in a lot of pain. We finally reached a medical tent and I bid her well.

I then walked alone again. It was during the downhill that I realized just how bad my right foot, in particular, was doing. Reaching the lunch break, I decided to go to self care for blisters. I spoke to the people there about the hot spot. Taking off my foot, I was dismayed to discover a huge blister on my right outer heel. In addition to that, I had an annoying hot spot just below my big toe on the sole of my right foot. They helped me with nu skin and moleskin. I set off.

This is where I almost gave in. The moleskin was making my hot spot worse. The walk took us along the board walk, where it was loud and filled with people that were drunk, supportive but drunk. I considered taking the sweep van....but if you know anything about me, I just couldn't do it. I had to finish the full walk. Finally I reached the next pit stop and talked to the medical crew. Here, we decided to remove the moleskin and see if it was any better. I would stop at the next pit stop if I needed help....and I was in tears by the time I reached the last stop. It was only a bit more than two miles to the finish of day 2. I just had to finish. The medical crew helped me by putting a new moleskin on in a slightly different position.

I then struggled through the last two plus miles, fortunately it was along the beach so I was a bit distracted. I finally made it. My friend was waiting for me at the finish as was one of the medical guys. I was so very happy to have made it. Again, a snack, shower, and dinner, followed by a walk around the camp and lots of stretching, I was in my sleeping bag by 7:30. Yep, I was sleeping as the camp partied. I am getting old.

The third day started with a beautiful sunrise and a visit to the medical tent, where they drained the big blister and put more moleskin on the hot spot. It felt okay and I knew the day was going to be somewhat shorter than the other days so I felt good about it.
So, we started off. At the first pit stop, I had to stop and have them check out my foot. Here they tried to drain the spot on the sole of my foot. Man, that hurt but honestly it felt somewhat better and I walked on. I was again boosted by all the dogs along the route and of course the palm trees and views of the water. I had to stop again and have the large blister drained again and now my little toe on my right foot was cramping up. I know part of it was because my stride was slightly off due to the blister  and hot spot (which now seemed to be a blood blister). The medical crew fixed me up and I walked on.

A word about the safety crews and the San Diego bike, the support and encouragement from them all was amazing. One guy would not let you go by him without a smile. It was his way of making sure you were doing okay. It was good thing. And of course the walker stalkers continued to be there. Amazing support from people.

After the hill for the day, which was not much of a hill compared to the ones from the prior days, we stopped for lunch. My foot was holding out but I was worried if it was going to be downhill I could be in trouble. I was assured that it was pretty much flat from there to the finish and the next and last medical stop was about three miles away. I decided that I would go on without a check in on my foot and stop at the next one if I needed to do so.

This part of the walk was not the most scenic part of the walk as we were in the city. It was a struggle but I carried on. I was limping horribly by the time I got to the final pit stop. I begged the medical crew to do whatever they had to do to get me to finish the final three or so miles. The hot spot was rewrapped. The blister was touched up. There was no way I was not going to finish when I was so close. I got myself together and hit the road.

After what seemed to be much more than three miles, I was finally just blocks from the finish. I couldn't help but tear up...okay, cry. At one point, we walked through a group of the bike patrol. They were high fiving walkers as they passed. I guess my tears made them think I needed hugs, because I got hug after hug. Others along the way were just as emotional. So many of us were reflecting on who and/or why we were doing the walk. What we went through on a 60 mile walk around San Diego paled in comparison to the fight for life that so many went through or are currently dealing with.

At the finish, I joined the group of people that were cheering others as they entered the stadium. At one point, I saw a woman just crying as she went through the crowd. I didn't know her but I felt compelled to hug her. I did and she clunged to me. I saw the medical guy that helped me on that second day. Then I saw my friend and the group she was with. I joined them as they celebrated the finish.

The closing ceremony was emotional and one of hope. I am very happy that I did this event. My recap cannot even began to describe what I learned about myself during this time. It cannot describe the emotional journey I went through on the walk. It cannot describe how deep I had to dig to finish with the foot pain. It cannot describe how much I thought about my sister and how much I missed her as I walk along the routes. She would have loved the beaches and the palm trees. She would have laughed at the dogs as the lined the route. I think she would be proud of me for taking on the challenge. She would have been happy that I found that I have a lot of "SISU" in me.


  1. " I think she would be proud of me for taking on the challenge. She would have been happy that I found that I have a lot of "SISU" in me."

    I found your post inspirational reading ...thanks for sharing this special journey.

    All the best Jan

  2. Another awesome story - so glad you shared it w/us.
    I've been trying to get back into jogging (very slowly on my bad feet) but don't know if I'll ever be able to complete another half. But walking will get ya there too, won't it??!!??