The Stacey Report

August 25: Report from the 3Day, Part the Second

Posted in Uncategorized by dbancroft on August 25, 2007

OK, first day of the Susan B. Komen walk, and I am up at 4:00, otherwise known as the butt crack of dawn. The lovely Brenda picked me up in her most excellent Toyota camper van (that thing rocks, I want to camp in their driveway it’s so cool).  We gathered up Christina and Jen, and all met up with Stalker Bob, Vicki and Judi in the Shaw’s parking lot.

Just a word about Stalker Bob: he’s not a real stalker.  Or, heck, he might be… but I really don’t think so.  Anyway, a “stalker” is sort of a team babysitter, someone who goes up and down the route to make sure everyone is ok, bring things you might need, etc.  This is not to say that the walk crew were anything less than fantastic, attentive, and wonderfully competent — they were that and more.  But is a member of the crew going to meet you a mile up the road with a medium Dunkin Donuts iced coffee with just a little cream and three sugars? Most decidedly not.

Right, so Bob drove those of us with the least luggage to the opening ceremonies while the camper went on to luggage drop off (a complex process of which I know nothing). The cermony site would have been pretty hard to miss: Big pink blown up… I dunno, monolith-y looking things with inspiring sayings and advertising slogans. There was an enormous free-standing stage with a booming sound system. Most of all, there were women everywhere. A swarm, a flood, an avalanche of women, all wearing essentially the same costume: Camelbaks, fanny packs, big ol’ sneakers, and something pink.  I think it was against the rules to be pinkless.

We all gathered in a holding pen in front of the stage for the opening ceremonies, which consisted of speeches clearly intended to make us cry (Stacey will be glad to know that I did not cry, mostly because I was busy analyzing the rhetorical structure of the speeches) and tributes to breast cancer survivors, who did make me well up. A little.  (One of the women up on the stage was our team leader, Vikki. Go Vikki!)

I realize that this is all sounding a bit dismissive, and I really wish I could wax rhapsodic about this thrilling moment, but truly, I just kept thinking: “How much does all of this cost?” I understand that you can’t raise money without spending some money, and that getting people excited about a cause is really important. I don’t know, I don’t have an answer to that, it ust seemed really incongruous, obvious, the kind of problem that the many, many people smarter than I should have been able to solve.

And before I shake off my completely unwarranted snarkiness, I just want to tell you one more thing so I can get it out of my system. Woo. Woooo. “WOOOOOOOOOOO!” This is what we say, we… Americans?  Western Worlders? when we wish to approve or encourage en masse. We say “WOOOOOOOOOOO!” And when we are, or are watching, a large group of women walking 60 miles we say, and hear, it A LOT. By the end of the second day I was completely over “WOOOOOOOOOOO!” and by the middle of the third day I was praying for a slingshot. 

Right, I banish all snarkiness to describe the rest of day 1, which began with the opening ceremonies crowd leaving the holding area and starting the walk.  I was near the front of the stage so I was one of the first ones out, but I hadn’t been able to find my team at the ceremonies, so I waited at the end of the guide ropes so I’d see them when they came by. It was really gratifying to see how happy they were to see me (aw, shucks…) and we all set off together. 

We didn’t stay together for long, though.  Vikki, our fearless leader, has asthma and doesn’t walk as fast as many of the others of us.  Christina and Jen are… insane, that’s what they are.  Zhoomp! Zhoomp! Zhoomp! and they are gone, daddy, gone. I managed to keep up with the middle pack until…

OK, I was originally going to leave this out. Because it is incredibly embarassing, and a whole bunch or people spent time helping me who could have been being useful to someone else, etc. But here we go.

Backstory: On my first actual Mother’s Day, after our daughter was born, Chris gave be a necklace, an abstract of a mother and child, you’ve probably seen them around but thought to yourself “pretty, but it seems to be missing a certain resonance, a certain incandescence, a certain… je ne sais quois. ” Yes, well, that’s because MINE has all of that. I wear it every day, I only take it off when I have to, and so I made a reasonable assumption on that day that it would be there. 

As we were walking along, I pulled out my sunscreen to reapply it to my neck and shoulders. As I went to put it on my neck, I did what I always do, I ran my fingers up along the chain of the necklace to push it around to the back of my neck so I wouldn’t get sunblock goo all over it.

About 50 yards later, I reached up to pull my necklace back down — and it wasn’t there. I stopped and started looking frantically around, my teammates came back and asked what was up.  I said they should keep going, that I needed to look. Which I did, explaining my predicament to other women along the way, all of whom were amazingly kind and very sympathetic to the loss of a special “Mommy” necklace. If that’s not enough, two of the safety bikers (who ride up and down the route, help us through tricky intersections, make sure we’re ok, etc.) were riding up and down this 50-yard span looking for my mythical necklace.

The rest of the day, this is on my mind. I’m bothering people at the pit stops, I’m making people check lost n’ founds, blah blah blah. (I think you see where this is going…)

Anyway, I have now lost my girls, and I show up at lunch at just about the time everyone else is packing up to leave.  I do manage to find Stalker Bob and Vikki. Vikki is lying on her back with one leg up — there is some injury.  Bob mentions that everyone else had gong on ahead and Vikki has no one to walk with, so I of course said “Oh, I’ll walk with Vikki.” And Bob said “You don’t mind?” Which didn’t seem unusual at the time; “no, of course not!”

So this is a tricky subject, because it has not one thing to do with walking with Vikki, a lovely experience in and of itself. It has only to do with walking at a pace that is not your own, which is a difficult thing to do.  If you’re going too fast, after a while your body adjusts, or it says, “Hey! Piss off!” and drops back.  If you’re walking too slowly, you lose your momentum, that little push that keeps you going. It’s discouraging. Again, lest anyone misunderstand, none of this has anything to do with the lovely Vikki, who was wonderful company throughout.

So I was really dragging when we hit about 14 miles — we were told by the safety sweeps that we were NOT the last walkers on the route.  There were two others behind us. We decided not to be demoralized by the fact that they were part of an Extreme Ironing team trying to press 10 shirts per mile.

Well, Vikki got to feeling pretty shaky.  She kept saying “Well, I’ll make it to the next grab n’ Go, I’ll just make it to the next pit stop.”  This was my first walk with Vikki, so I didn’t know how unbelievable it was when she leaned against a lamppost and said, “OK, that’s it.” 

The safety gal called a sweep van, and Stalker Bob followed. We said we’d meet at camp (SB had offered to give me a ride home.) I struck off on my own, feeling full of vim and/or vigor… for about another mile or so.

I had been getting chills off and on since lunchtime, thinking nothing or them because so many many kind people along the route set up their sprinklers so that we could walk through the spray, so I was frequently wet.  But as I went along this next bit, I started to feel chilled all the time. The heat (which at some points hit 100 degrees) started to feel good. I started politely refusing shots from peoples’ hoses.  At a crosswalk, I asked one of the safety bikers: “Uh, I feel cold, What does that mean?” And she said “That means you’re going to sit down in the shade over there while I call a van to take you back to camp.”  Oh. I see.

While we waited for the van, we talked about what this possibly could be. It wasn’t dehydration, as I’d drunk more water than there was in Noah’s Floody Floody. It wasn’t all the way to heat stroke, because at that point I’d be incoherent or something.  It was just heat exhaustion, which sounds like a really lame reason to miss the last 5.something miles of the race. So, sorry, complete failure.

 Next installation: Day 2, way much more fun


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