Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Minneapolis 3-Day 60 mile Wrap Up

Hi Everyone,

We just finished up another fantastic event. August 20-22, Team Tittsburgh took on 60 miles of walking through the Twin Cities and won! The weather was mostly cooperative and we had a great time together. Team Tittsburgh had 11 walkers this year, Nicky, Stephanie, Mary, Joanne, Maggie, Cathy, Bev, Kerry, Paula and me and JR, Zach and Chris were our team gophers. What a good looking team!

Day 1:
Friday was a little moist, a little drizzle with a shower in the afternoon. All in all the temperature wasn’t too bad. We got back to camp early enough to have the Rosemount high school football team help us get our hot pink tents up. We love them! After some much needed showers and food, we enjoyed some camp entertainment, karaoke, and collected our mail from you all. Thank you! Fortunately lights out is around 9PM so we headed back to our tents and crashed hard. 

Mary and Joanne pushed themselves too hard on day 1. Joanne came into the event with a torn meniscus and made it worse, and Mary reinjured her stress fracture in her foot from the year before. Joanne was red carded and sent home, Mary begged and pleaded to NOT get red carded and that worked but she also had to go home for the night.

They actually were the lucky ones since it was really warm that night. 3 of us ended up with tents to ourselves, Maggie, Paula and I were only children, so that was quite nice. As it turned out, Nicky and Steph’s mattress would not stay blown up and neither would Crea and Cath’s. Night one sounds pretty rough doesn’t it?

Day 2:
We got up before the crack of dawn because the weather was calling for heat and humidity so we wanted to get walking as soon as possible. 6:30 was the earliest we could go, and we were walking by then. The weather was really good; it stayed cool, over cast and a little moist. All in all it was a good day.

Joanne and Mary came back in the morning and the Dr. “un-red tagged” Joanne because she had her brace and Mary had her boot to walk in so they let her stay too.  Team Tittsburgh was back on track!

For those of you who have not witnessed an event like this, let me describe what it’s like for walkers. All along the route are people cheering. Some are just sitting in lawn chairs outside of their homes. A lot of them decorate their houses or yards to support us. Kids are passing out candy or popsicles, some pass out beaded bracelets and necklaces they’ve made for us. Random families will be sitting on the side of the road with a truck load of bottled water to pass out to the walkers, music blaring. There are so many signs you can’t read them all. People drive by and honk their horns, as we cross bridges over highways, the truckers blast their horns for us. The cheer stations are packed with people; the fire houses we walk past have their trucks and fire fighters clapping and cheering and set up little spray stations if we want to walk through them to cool off. People dress up so we can stop along the route and get pictures taken with them. Cheerleading teams greet us at pit stops and have “boob” cheers they’ve made up. People dress their dogs in pink outfits. There is a group of bikers who wear pink and grey camouflage shirts with pink bras on their heads and follow the walkers around all weekend on their Harleys.


 And then there is Jody’s Couch. Jody lost her battle with breast cancer some years ago, but when she was still living and going through treatment, the only place she was truly comfortable was on her couch. This really is a comfortable couch. Her brother in law still has that couch and he brings it out to every Twin City 3-day event. He moves it from place to place throughout the route so walkers can have their pictures taken, have a rest and hear a story about a courageous young woman who lost her battle with breast cancer.

Family members and friends go ahead of the walkers on the route and write encouraging messages on the sidewalks in chalk. There are so many more examples of support that I can’t possibly write them all here. And every single person we pass thanks us for walking. It’s an amazing experience and keeps us moving our feet when we really have very little energy left. 

By the time I had gotten to the last cheer station on day 2, 18 miles in, I still had 5 miles left to walk. It was really hot by now, I was running out of energy and my back was hurting. We ran into one of the gals on our list that has been fighting breast cancer as long as I have and recently had brain surgery to remove a tumor that spread to her brain. She was very tired and weak; she had been waiting for us for 4 hours and was ready to go home. And who could blame her? Bethany has been my inspiration. I’d like to tell you that was the motivation I needed to finish those last 5 miles. Could I have done it? Yes, I could have. But I decided to rest my back and enjoy a cocktail with JR and friends at the Chalet across the street. It was the best Bloody Mary I’ve ever had in my life and I really needed the break. I think Bethany would approve.

My sneaky little team mates have been petitioning the 3-day for over a month to have me speak at camp this year. Out of the 270 survivors, they chose me to speak on Saturday night, which was a great honor. I had JR bring me home to get ready; I really wanted some dry clothes, dry hair and makeup for the talk.  JR and Chris brought me back to camp and stayed so they could experience camp life and watch my speech.

The temperature was nice by this time, cool and breezy and dinner was pleasant. I got up to do my speech at about 7:45. The time allotted was 3 minutes. On a good day I couldn’t tell my story in 3 minutes but I did get it down to 5. The speech went well, it was 9 minutes long, I hadn’t taken into account all the places applause could break out. But I got through it and it was good.  After the speech, it was time to dance! They had a dance party for about an hour and it was lights out. 
All our tent mates were back that night and Team Tittsburgh crashed hard that night too.

(Guest Author J.R. Says:  When Jen says "camp", it is really a small tent city with stores, a large medical center, Dinner / Entertainment area and of course all the pink tents.  

Jen's speech was amazing. Those of you who regularly read Jen's blog know the medical detail Jen chooses as she shares her story, and have laughed and cried along with her anecdotes.  Jen basically captured the spirit of her blog in a nine minute speech.  At the end of her speech with a strong voice and with much conviction she looked 3,500 listeners in the eye and announced; ".......Cancer is strong but so am I.  Someday cancer may take my body, but I absolutely refuse to give it my life.  I have a life worth living.  My name is Jen Anderson and I walk because everyone deserves a lifetime."  

I am so proud of Jen. Most of you get a part of Jen through friendship, a blog update, work, or family.  I am lucky and blessed to have Jen in my life every day.)

Day 3:
17.3 miles to go! Most of us started out together because we were in pretty good shape and could keep pace. Mary decided not to push it and only walk the last 5 miles (her foot was really bothering her). Joanne should have done the same but because she’s stubborn as hell, she kept walking with a bad knee the size of a small watermelon. Joanne and Cath got a late start because Cath’s feet were blisters with feet attached and she was still in medical when we left at 7:00 am.

Paula and Bev were making quick work of things and pulled ahead of the rest of us and was just cooking along! Steph, Nicky, Crea, Maggie and I were moving along at a good pace. Kerry’s little legs were trying to keep up but she fell behind for a while. At lunch (10 miles) we all caught up with each other. My back was killing me again but I had good energy otherwise. After lunch I decided to jump in the truck with JR, rest my back for the next 4 miles and hook up with the girls at the last cheer station and walk the last 3 miles in. 

Mary and I met up and went on our way since she’s a gimp in her boot and we figured the others would catch up to us. The last 3 miles were great! Looking out at St Paul and getting cheered in, amazing. Fortunately for Team Tittsburgh there is a bar less than a mile away from the state capital who loves pouring cocktails for walkers. Hard to believe I know. As it turns out, lots of walkers know where this place is and we hooked up with many fun teams. The bikers were there too!
 We have to be into the closing ceremony area by 4 pm so we had about 90 minutes to spend at the bar. As we headed out, Joanne and Cathy were trucking along with the most amount of determination I have ever seen. Team Tittsburgh was back together again with our support team and we finished the walk crossing over into victory lane together.

While we were having team pictures taken, one of the local news stations took an interest in us and interviewed me for the evening news. That was lots of fun. If you would like to see the interview, please click in the link here:

Closing ceremony was really emotional and very well done. I was happy that I didn’t have to go into the survivor circle by myself, Bev who is also a survivor went in with me. After the ceremony we went to Mancini’s for a delicious steak dinner and champagne toast. A great ending to a great weekend.
Out of the 11 walkers on Team Tittsburgh, 7 made it all 60 miles. Nicky, Stephanie, Maggie, Crea, Bev, Paula and Cath. Everyone was a rock star this weekend but I would like to award Cath the MVP of the team. If you knew what she physically did to herself to get all 60 miles walked, you’d be sending her co- pay money and gift certificates for a masseuse and pedicure. Mary, Kerry, Joanne and I did not make all 60 miles but we managed 40+ miles each.

Team Tittsburgh rose close to $27,000 and donations are still coming in.  The Susan G Komen for the Cure event raised $6.2 million dollars this weekend! Thank you to everyone who contributed to the cause, we could not have done it without you. Thank you to my team, I am honored that you walked with me and called yourself Team Tittsburgh!

Lastly, I got my tumor markers back last Tuesday and I am pleased to tell you that my markers are in the normal range two months in a row. Yeah!

Thank you again for your love and support, I really appreciate it. Have a great day!

Love to you all,


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Okay, let me clear the tears streaming down my face (neck and chest) before I drown my keyboard. What a story to be inspired by. There were so many story's to tell along this adventure and team Tittsburgh raised SO MUCH money. Wow, what a great accomplishment. Love to you both.

Rob and Lydia