Thursday, July 3, 2008

Avon Breast Walk Colorado '08

This is from my sister Brigid McClaire in Colorado. She and another sister, Angel Eder just finished the marathon and a half for the Avon Breast Cancer Walk in Colorado.

These ladies are an inspiration! 39 miles is one heck of a walk in the Colorado mountains!

We left Friday after work and arrived about 6:30, in time to check in, find Angel’s boyfriend
Paul, and go find something to eat. Most of the restaurants were jam packed, and though we
were all craving Italian, ended up with Mexican food.

Only 3 of the 4 of us that originally
signed up to walk made it up there. My friend Janet, who actually raised over $5,000 did not go, as she began having heel problems in March during her training.

So Angel, a girl named Kathleen, and I stayed in a beautiful condo overlooking Keystone Lake Friday night, and not one of us slept well.

We had to get up about 5:30 to get our gear loaded onto the trucks, then get into the starting area for the walk, which started at 7:00 a.m.

You can see Angel with the brown hat on, and me with the white shirt and the ski lifts and runs
of Keystone in the background. The first part of the day was a little cool, and the walk was 13.3
miles from Keystone to Frisco.

It was beautiful, all around Lake Dillon, and we chattered on. It went really fast! With the mountains in the background and the lake right next to us, it was just like a beautiful walk with 1,800 of our closest friends.

Kathleen is a girl from work that is about 43 and has a close friend with Breast cancer. She had done the 3-day walk out in San Diego a couple of years ago. Later in the walk, she developed some really sore hips, as she has scoliosis. But she persevered!

After those 13 miles, they set up an altitude checkpoint where they checked pulse/oxygen content and actually turned a few people back. A lot of people came in from out of state and
weren’t acclimated. A lot of people also just opted to do only half that day.

We were the bussed from the town of Frisco up to Breckenridge, where we walked from Breck to Frisco. That course was along a bike trail, through woods and along a creek. There were some pretty crabby bikers, too, at having to share the trail with us! As I said, Kathleen started to hurt, and about mile 21, my right knee started to hurt, too. But we slowed down quite a bit and Angel was kind enough to wait for us when necessary, and all 3 of us walked into the Wellness Village together, after 8 hours of walking, 26.6 miles, and 9 hours total on the trail.

Angel and Kathleen went into the medical tent to get a little treatment for blisters, and while there, after sitting down, I immediately got pretty sick—queasy and dizzy.

Upon big sister’s advice, I acquiesced and decided to forego the tent and went with her and Paul to the condo so I could recover there, under her compassionate care. By then both of our knees were paining us! Angel put me right to bed and brought me tea and toast. Thank the good Lord for good sisters!

I think all three of us seriously questioned whether or not we would be able, and would want to complete the walk the next day. But we agreed to meet at 6:15 a.m. to head back to the wellness village.

Kathleen came up with a knee brace for me and an ace bandage for Angel, not to mention moleskin for the blisters. I have to say, those damn toe socks recommended by Tim O’Grady saved my life again this year, and nary a blister was had by me!

Throughout both days, Angel’s good friend Paul cruised up and down the bike trail with us, meeting up at certain specified ‘cheering’ stations. He was on his bike and served as pack mule, support crew, coach, and friend to all of us. We never knew when he would pop around a corner to take our picture or provide a hug, or shoulder to lean on to tie shoes, etc.

I initially forgot my hat, and he immediately jumped on his bike and toured 17 parking lots and 89,000 cars to find mine with my hat in it. All that for the privilege of hanging with thousands of beautiful women!

He wasn’t the only man out there, though. There were husbands, significant others, friends, dads that came along to cheer and a few of them walked. There were motorcycle brigades that stopped traffic for us, and a youth cheering station that sang banana songs, and songs encouraging us to hydrate, urinate, and ……... You fill in the blank!!!

I liked this guy with the red bra and panties! They weren’t my size, though!

And so on Day two we started out from Frisco to head to the town of Breckenridge, limping,
sore, and bandaged. We were now officially feeling like the Crips and the Bloods! Sunday’s
walk was a bit warmer than Saturday, and we got half an hour reprieve on the start time,
leaving at 7:30.

As we went down Main Street of Frisco, I heard my name called out, and lo and behold, there was Peggy (Roanhouse) Wolfe from Waterford, Wisconsin, come out to walk, too. I went all through St. Thomas and high school with her, and Angel went to school with her older brother Jim.

A few minutes later, a car going down the street started waving money out the window and wanted to give a donation. Of course, Angel was the one to grab it (now we know what she was doing when I crashed at 7:30 the night before!). So she had an extra $20 to put into her fund raising efforts!

Although we ached, and only 1200 people started on Sunday compared to Saturday, we felt we could make it.

It seemed that about the time we’d get overwhelmed, cars would drive by and wave and beep, the scenery would get even more spectacular, and we also saw a guy leading a llama on the trail.

Toward the end, when the trail became open and hot, we saw a fox kit that just sat and watched us all walk by, scratching his little whiskers and yawning. There was always just that little bit of motivation to keep you going. And we had each other.

So you can see, that despite the challenge, the frustration of trying to fit in training, the fear of not finishing, and of becoming injured, we carried on through 2 days, 39 miles. Through it all,
the three of us were always in the top third of people passing the checkpoints, and we stayed together nearly all the time.

Will we do it again next year? I think yes. And the year after that? And the year after that?

I don’t know, but one of the sayings said, I’d rather have blisters than chemo. And survivors walked with us, and so did people currently undergoing treatment.

There were those that mourned their friends, their mothers, sisters, brothers, aunts and uncles that have been lost to breast cancer.

I thank God that you and Rae Jean are still here, and I still mourn Gael. When it’s all over, I know that Angel, Kathleen and I made a difference.

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