Motivation Monday: The Susan G. Komen San Diego 3-Day


Where do I even start?

Last year one of my closest friends/co-worker/cubicle neighbor walked the 2012 Susan G. Komen 3-Day 60 mile Walk for the Cure. She was a team of one during that walk, under the team name "Tit for Tat" that she has used for breast cancer fundraisers over the years, ever since her mom won a battle with the disease. This year, when she announced that she was going to do it again, I secretly considered signing up with her. But I kept that a secret for months because I wasn't sure I really wanted to commit.

Then I started reading a blog written by someone younger than me who was currently battling breast cancer. At the time she was having to drop out of a half marathon because of her diagnosis. Meanwhile, I was training for my first full marathon, so her situation hit just a little too close to home. And breast cancer does run in my family after all: I never got the chance to know my maternal grandmother or great-grandmother who both died because of it. I was inspired by her attitude and her story and decided then and there to register for the walk. As a proud new member of Team Tit for Tat, I would have to raise $2,300 to participate and walk 60 miles through San Diego over the course of one weekend.

Flash forward through 8 months of fundraising, including selling ads on this blog and crocheting beanies to raise money: the 3-Day finally arrived this past weekend. Our adorable Team Captain, Marisa (who somehow tricked 5 other people to join the team too) made us pins and Team Tit for Tat tank tops that we proudly modeled on Day 1.

Up at 5:30am at the Del Mar Fairgrounds for Opening Ceremonies

During the opening ceremony, I started to get an idea of just how emotional this weekend was going to get. Several men and women took the stage to read their reasons for walking and before long, I was bawling uncontrollably. Sometimes when you're fundraising for an event instead of doing service-related charity, it can be hard to understand the impact of what you're doing. Listening to these supporters and survivors, I started to understand what the Susan G. Komen foundation is actually able to do for people with the money we raise and that was a great way to start the weekend.

We started the walk at the Fairgrounds and walked through Del Mar on our way to Torrey Pines and La Jolla. As soon as we got into the downtown Del Mar area, I was overwhelmed with how huge this event really is. I could see a river of pink walking behind me and ahead of me and the sidewalks were lined with supporters, cheering us on, handing us snacks and beverages (one guy joked that it's called the 3-Day buffet), and doing whatever they could to make us laugh or thank us. And honestly? It all felt a little bit undeserved until we came across breast cancer survivors who told us via signs or cheers just how much our efforts meant to them (cue: more bawling on my part).

The lovely ladies of Team Tit for Tat at the top of our first big hill, Torrey Pines

Outside of Del Mar, our super sweet co-worker Kelli met us at the base of Torrey Pines hill and walked it with us. Kelli is one of those women who just lives life to the fullest. Whenever I talk to her she tells me about some awesome thing she's doing, like playing the uke in a meetup group or stand-up paddle-boarding. It was so great of her to come out and support us during our first major hill.

The course map said we walked 20 miles that first day but a lot of Walkers said their GPS's and apps read that we walked 25-27 miles. It sure felt like it. We started at 7:30am and crossed the Day 1 finish line into Mission Bay park around 5:30pm. My lovely bestie Bonnie came out to pick me up and give me a ride and after catching up on Scandal at her house (priorities), I headed home and went to sleep around 7pm.

One of the amazing groups of supporters who showed up every couple of miles to make us laugh - The Melon Men

We made it! The end of Day 1

At 6am on Day 2, I was hurting. Even though I am a runner, my running training did not prepare me for 8+ straight hours of physical activity, no matter how low impact it was. Yet, there I was, riding shotgun in Ryan's car on Day 2 at the crack of dawn, ready to do it all over again.

I met the team at Mission Bay and we headed through SeaWorld and along the San Diego River over to Ocean Beach where we spent the day walking amidst beautiful views in OB, Point Loma, Sunset Cliffs and Mission Beach. While Day 2 was the toughest on all of us physically, it was also the most fun. Our teammate Ashley's parents met us in OB with hot chocolate and Bailey's and between them, the SeaWorld employees, and the other supporters who cheered us on at Robb Field, we were really starting to feel the love - and understand why it was somewhat necessary to keep us going.

My favorite Walker Stalker, thanks to Team Hula Hooters

In fact, whenever my feet hurt or my back hurt or I started to get tired, I didn't have to look far for motivation. There were my beautiful and hilarious teammates, first and foremost, who were trucking on alongside me, there were Girl Scouts who were so excited to cheer us on with their chants and the pins they made us, there were the dancing SDPD bike cops cracking us up, there were survivors thanking us everywhere we went and just amazingly warm-hearted people rooting us on at every turn. Most of all, all I had to do was think about how insignificant my 3 days of achy, self-inflicted "suffering" was in comparison to that of the women and men who battle breast cancer. The outpouring of support and love and humor and generosity that you experience during an event like this is just unlike anything you could get anywhere else.

Still... the pain.

Motivation was constant, but so was the ache in my feet. Which is when we decided to call in reinforcements in the form of my favorite cinnamon flavored beverage, Fireball. The Fireball got us through all of our various ailments during the last few hours of Day 2 and left us finishing Mile 40 with happy, smiling faces.

Very discrete

More Fireball to get us through the "last 3 miles" of Day 2

Don't worry, contrary to what it may look like, I didn't actually lose a leg in a Fireball-induced haze

Day 3 was the final day that my amazing boyfriend had to cart my exhausted body over to the Starting Line at dawn. This time though, I had Brewer with me to pull me along for the first 5 miles. He made a pretty cute Walker in his pink bandanna and made my morning infinitely easier, even after he crapped all over my leg (much to my embarrassment, I didn't even notice until another Walker pointed it out). Ryan and Banjo met back up with us around Mile 45 in Mission Beach to relieve Brewer of his walking duties and I took advantage of the puppy photo op. 

Once Brewer left, it was a blur of nonstop pain and thorough exhaustion that neither Fireball nor cheerleading could really alleviate. We marched on though, putting one foot in front of the other, back around the San Diego River on our way to Old Town and the major hill (Juan Street) that awaited us there. Which is why we were so thankful to see Marisa's mom (a survivor herself) and mother-in-law and my dear friend Raina show us up to walk with us for what was arguably the most brutally boring part of the whole walk. Their presence came at a pretty crucial time during the day.

As we hobbled on through Hillcrest towards the finish line at Petco Park, none of us could really talk or think or feel our legs. I had shin splints and there was a surplus of bum knees and achy feet and painful backs. And this is where I started to get really emotional. The last five miles were just a flood of emotions for every reason you can think of. Finally, one Komen mile (the kind of mile that is actually anywhere from 1.1 to 5 miles long) away from Petco Park, a choir of singing children led by a survivor, absolutely annihilated me. In case you were wondering, I cried a lot this weekend. 

Then suddenly we were done. We crossed the finish line and picked up our t-shirts and stumbled over to South Paw to meet up with our family and friends and beer. Ryan and Bonnie and Ian and Anjali and Pre were waiting for me there and I could not have been happier to see them. I am always grateful to have such wonderful friends in my life. We managed to get a few beers in before the equally emotional closing ceremonies where everyone took off a shoe and raised it high in the sky in support of all those who couldn't walk with us and those we were walking for. It was a beautiful end to a beautiful weekend. 

There is so much that I'm forgetting and so many wonderful mammaries (sorry, my new breast friends and I have been speaking in boob jokes for days...) that I wish I could share. The thing is though, you just have to be there for this one. It's an unbelievable 3 days of camaraderie and love and strength and support. And while I don't think I'll walk another 3-Day, I will forever try to support the Walkers through cheering and Fireball stations and of course, donations. And now I'd like to thank those who donated to me, without whom, I wouldn't have had the privilege to experience this weekend firsthand:

My father and brother
My fantastic co-workers and company
Gayle Talabay - a beautiful and inspiring previvor and blogger
The Long Family
Peter Barker-Homek
My lovely friends Keri, Kemi, Anj and Pretesh
My Aunt Micki and Uncle Ed
One of my oldest friends Ashley and her mom, Grace
Devon DeMint - one of my favorite bloggers and whose cousin is the survivor who inspired me to commit!
Andie Lee

Thank you, thank you, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

11/4/13 - 11/10/13 Health and Fitness Stats:
  • ran 1 day for a total of 4 miles (31 miles below target) 
11/11/13 - 11/17/13 Health and Fitness Stats:
  • walked 3 days for a total of 60 miles (20 miles over target)