Tuesday, November 24, 2009

day one: stand for something, then walk towards it

My neighbor and teammate Debbie and her husband, Michael, arrived at my house at 4:30 Friday morning. Michael, being the awesome team player that he is, volunteered to get up three hours before sun rise and drive our team of walkers to the starting line. What I didn't expect was that we'd all nearly FREEZE once we arrived.


Climbing out of that nice warm van, before the sun had completely cleared the horizon and knowing that I had 60 long miles of walking before me, was a tough pill to swallow. Especially since I was sick. And cold. And tired. And would be sleeping in a tent for the next two nights. And wah!

What did I sign up for?

Our fifth teammate, Jessica, had come down with a virus earlier in the week and since she was still not fully recovered, had decided late Thursday night not to walk. Our teammates Terrell and Cheryl had decided that there was no way they could sleep in a tent. So it was just Debbie and I dropping off our camping supplies and luggage at the appropriate locations, while questioning if we were totally out of our minds to be sleeping outside, on the verge of winter, when we were both sick, after full days of walking.

(Answer: Yes, we are out of our minds.)

We rejoined our two teammates and although we were all chattering, we were soon warmed by the sea of pink that surrounded us and the inspiring messages that were everywhere.


When the motivational opening ceremonies concluded, we were ready to join the pink force of 4,000 people that would sweep 60 miles through San Diego over the next three days.


We were ready to walk.


But unfortunately, we wouldn't be able to leave the start for almost an hour, because unbeknown to us, when we filed in to the staging area, we were at the absolute back of the crowd.


So instead of hitting the pavement, we stood and high-fived at least two-thirds of the 3,800 walkers that slowly filed past us.


While we waited and waited (and waited and waited and waited) for our turn to walk down the chute and under the "Hoofin it for the High Beams" sign.


We saw all kinds of people ...


Dressed in all kinds of garb...


And wearing t-shirts that made us laugh... (this one reads: "Help Save 2nd Base")


And t-shirts that made us cry.


After what seemed like an eternity, we were finally out walking and we received our first dose of what would come over the next three days. There was this man, who turned up several times along our walk and would later be referred to as the "Brown Jeep Guy."


We were escorted by the most amazing people, including this sweet woman on her mountain bike. She was with us for the entire duration of the course - all sixty miles - and she never once stopped smiling or giving us words of encouragement.


We were escorted by bikers on Harleys wearing pink chaps and hot pink safety vests.


And we were escorted by pink-shoe-laced and pink-bandana-wearing police officers who had traveled down from San Jose, to not only provide us with security, but to show their support for a loved one.


We walked down the coast.


And past the hospital where my dear friend Deana was admitted last year.


We walked past people who made us laugh out loud at their costumes...


And we walked past people who made us laugh out loud at their slogans.

(Notice, it's the Brown Jeep Guy!)


We walked with people who had on hilarious hats...


And we posed with people who had hilariously large ... uh, tats?


We continued our walk down the beautiful coast and I wondered, aloud, if I was out of my mind to ever consider leaving this place.


While we walked, we were overcome by how many people turned up to show their support. There were people everywhere handing out snacks and drinks and knick knacks to all of the walkers, as a show of their appreciation for our efforts.

We walked past an assisted living facility and were touched by the sight of seniors that were lining the sidewalk in wheelchairs and holding up signs to encourage us. And that little lady in the purple pants to the right, was busting out dance moves that would make J-Lo blush.


But perhaps the best sight of all...


Was seeing our very own family members...


That had set up camp along the route and waited HOURS for us to arrive.

It's no easy task to wait for hours along a walking course. Especially when you have a two-year-old named Henry that likes to run off in various directions and bolt particularly fast in the direction of traffic and jagged cliffs. Let me tell you, walking 60 miles is a whole lot easier than keeping track of that little spit fire.

All told, that first day was a tremendous success.


Even though it took us 11 hours to walk 20 miles and we didn't arrive in to camp until dark.


We were blister free, our legs felt good and since I had totally lost my voice by mile 10, I was able to hear a lot of good stories.

Next up: Day Two.

It gets even better.

(Edit: So awesome that the font changes text and size throughout this entire post. If I wasn't feeling totally zapped of all energy, I might actually go back and fix it. So let's just pretend I was going for an eclectic look. OK?)


  1. Wow! Thanks for posting your journey, can't wait to hear more! My sister participated in the walk and even knocked on your tent to get me one of your bracelets :)

  2. Sounds like an awesome start!
    GREAT pics and stories -- looking forward to part two!

  3. Wow Jen. Nothing else.Just Wow.


  4. Tears pouring down my face.. so proud to 'Know' you.. and all the wonderful ladies and men, and family's that did this.. thank you!

  5. That was a wonderful post! And I hope your feet are on the mend

  6. Congratulations! So proud of your achievement, and can't wait to hear about the next 2 days!

  7. I did the March for Women's Lives in 2004 and I remember it took hours just to start walking (there were over 1 million people). But it was so amazing.

  8. I've got goosebumps just reading, how.very.AWESOME!

  9. I can't wait to read more! I was teary as I read through this, it's so inspiring. I'm walking in "The Weekend to End Women's Cancers" in Toronto next fall, because of YOU, and I'm so thrilled to read about your experiences in this walk and see your amazing pictures. Also: that's one stunning backdrop to walk through! I'll be walking through the streets of Toronto, LOL. Houses and office buildings, HUZZUH! lol.

  10. Wow - 11 hours? In that hat? With those ears? ;-)

    How cool that your families met you on the journey. Ya'll are awesome! Love, Marg.

    Great pictures.

  11. Awesome! Thanks for sharing- look forward to hearing more!

  12. I just don't know how you did it. And that business about being sick---you just must be the Lance Armstrong of endurance races.

    Just a measly little marathon 9 years ago brought me so close to death that I switchd to wimpy halves!!!!

    I bow to your excellence!

  13. One of many cuzzins!11/25/09, 3:21 PM

    Good Golly...what an unbelievable journey Jen. The pictures are wonderful and it looks like it was a fun experience. The onlookers who came out to cheer you on were hilarious. Free breast exams? Hopefully you'll never see "brown jeep guy" in the real world!

    I once mentioned "considering" a future walk, but after reading your post, I don't think I have what it takes. I'd be whining and swearing the whole 60 miles. BUT, I do love Margaret's idea of 3 days away, with frothy drinks, as we walk for miles on a sunny beach. Without any hesitation, you can count me in on that sacrificial trip. And since you love fundraising, we'll even let you hit us up for an attendance fee that you can donate to a worthy charity. What'd ya think?

    Great job to you and your team! We are all proud of you!


  14. Ok. Let me start by apologizing. I read this when you first posted it but couldn't bring myself to comment... even as more posts came. Reading your post and seeing your pictures reminded me of losing my camera (we would have taken very similar pictures... which is to say a picture of everything!)

    Now that I am over my pity party, I am checking out your posts.

    I can't wait to read all about it!