Wugga Part II

Filed under: @ 3:06 pm

Okay, so where were we?

Oh yes, dead in bed in a room in the Redmond Mariott. Gotta give my props to the Redmond Mariott. Nice room, quiet floor (actually they’d given over the entire floor to walkers), plenty of HOT water, and no one minded half a dozen or so of us contorting ourselves into pretzels on the lobby floor and stretching while we waited for the shuttle bus to show up. And, I didn’t realize this until Sunday morning, all the driveway lights were pink. A class act. I appreciate corporate behemoths that have a sense of humor.

The shuttle cometh.
They rent out these *nice* busses for transport to and from camp. Reclining plush seats, individual vents for the air conditioning, soft ride, the whole nine yards.
I just hope that the bus company can get the smell of Ben Gay out of the busses we were using. I climbed up into the bus on Saturday morning and was met by a wave of camphor and peppermint. Somewhere around thirty sleepy women smeared in sore muscle cream and clutching cups of coffee. It was awesome!
Basically stuff a generous portion of Tiger Balm up your nose then look at this.

Now you’ve got the idea.

They took us directly to camp where we all bumbled off the bus. I bumbled into the dining tent to get some breakfast. At 0615 the idea of scrambled eggs, sausage, bacon, hash browns, oatmeal, pastries, and fruit is usually quite nausea inducing.
And it was that day too. At least until I started eating, at which point my visceral reactions took over and my stomach didn’t care that my brain had been protesting the idea of eating anything that complicated at that hour. It is really quite wrong to eat like that at any hour before about 10 a.m., but, as I said, working that hard for that long does really weird things to your metabolism.

Found Kathryn and we wandered off into the mists to wait at the point where the route was going to open. Got ourselves scanned out, got our route cards, and we were off.
Marymoor park at 0700 in mid-September is misty and cold. Lovely, but misty and cold. I could sympathize with the people in the tents and I was really glad I hadn’t been one. 800 pink two person tents makes a much smaller camp than 2000, but it’s still pretty impressive.

So Saturday we knew was going to be spent walking in a bigass circle through Redmond and Kirkland. We started the day walking up through some or another municipal trail which did provide a nice break from street walking. Forest floor is irregular and cushy which was really nice for those of us with sore feet, even though we were going pretty steeply up, but it was providing a bit of a challenge to the dude that won the toughest bastard of the weekend award. I had noticed on Friday that one of the Breastie Boys was missing his right arm. I did not realize that he was also walking on a prosthetic right leg. Map hang!
The ATV pathway was proving a bit difficult for him, I think, but he was also managing to keep ahead of me. Like I said, toughest bastard of the weekend. My hat is perpetually off to that dude!

Through Redmond and the first pit stop of the day….did you know that PortaPotties that have sat all night are DAMN COLD first thing in the morning? A lot of other people know that now too.
I am pleased to note that I spent a good deal of Saturday totally lost. No idea of where I was or where I needed to be to get to somewhere where I knew where I was and, the best part was, that I really didn’t care! It’s a very peaceful thing to be exerting yourself mightily in getting to a destination of which you have no knowledge with the absolute faith that eventually you’ll end up back where you belong with no effort on your part whatsoever. Okay, at least with no mental effort.
It is with that in mind that I present you a photo that I took somewhere on the route on Saturday morning.

It’s a municipal sign, that is to say, it’s not a sign that someone had made and put up just as a lark. And it’s obviously indicating that some sort of waterfowl use that area as a crossing. But gus? I’m going to assume that it translates into “goose” or possibly “duck”, but in what language? And for heaven’s sake why THAT sign somewhere in the middle of suburban Redmond? (or Kirkland. Like I said, I was pretty lost for much of Saturday).

Oh, and Kirkland was the first place we saw the Hello Titty guy. Dude hanging out along the route with tables full of Tylenol, ibuprofen, aspirin, Tums, Ben Gay, hand sanitizer, Kleenex, Pepcid etc. that he was handing out for free, and selling buttons. I don’t care that he was gouging us, Kathryn pointed out that it probably cost him about 50 cents apiece to make the buttons and he was selling them at $2.50 apiece. If you can come up with something like this

it’s worth a little price gouging.

Snarf! Saturday morning was when we first encountered the cheerleaders too. They need no other explanation or introduction:


Pretty little park on Lake Washington somewhere in Kirkland. And a paddle boarder?

I know, it’s not very obvious, but way back in the background on the left you’ll see him. Who the heck paddle boards in Lake Washington?
Those cheerleaders absolutely took the cake. In the long run, they may be the only thing I remember about Saturday.

Kirkland. And more Kirkland. And still more Kirkland. Lunch at Juanita Beach Park. And up and blessed down through Kirkland. Kirkland is very hilly, did you know that?
It was in Kirkland that I started noticing the back of my right knee hurting. As it turns out, the back of my right knee was hurting because I was walking funny trying to avoid stepping on what turned into a particularly obnoxious blister on the sole of my foot just under my toes. It’s a bad spot for a blister. And it makes you walk funny so you tweak your gastrocnemius and your soelus muscles. Up hills turned into my nemesis for the rest of the weekend.

Meeting at Grasslawn Park on the outskirts of Bellevue and the inskirts of Redmond with…..well, EVERYone at the cheering station. Mom & Dad, Andrew, Eric, Matt & Shannon, Shawn, Annie, Anastasia, and Della. Cheering stations are fun regardless of whether or not you have people coming to see you, but it’s more fun when you have people to visit you. Stickers, candy, fruit, beads, bubbles, bracelets, hand stamps, spray bottles (the knees! hit the knees!) clapping, popsicles, signs, music. Five walks and 30 odd cheering stations into it, I still get teary about people being so honestly enthusiastic, so honestly grateful for me doing something that seems so small to me.
Sometimes people just don’t suck.

But oof! They fed us! Not so much on Friday as on Saturday and Sunday, but often we couldn’t go more than a block or two before someone was offering food. Mostly candy and gum, but the Parrotheads of Puget Sound were out Saturday and Sunday handing out their signature Gatoritas. There were a lovely couple of groups that were handing out fruit kebabs….and baby wipes about half a block later. Fruit is wonderful, but STICKY when you’re eating and walking. There was a group of pathologically hyperactive Girl Scouts who had sold cases and cases and CASES of cookies for donation back in March who then took said cookies and froze them so they could hand them out to us in September. There was a group of Bakers for Boobies who had spent god knows how many hours baking huge batches of cookies and bars. HUGE batches of hand made yummies.
Then there were the Lil’ Smokies guys. I never stopped for long enough to get the lowdown on these guys, but it seemed like Dad and Dad had been left for the weekend with the kids while Moms were walking and they needed something to do to keep everyone busy.
So they set up their stand near the beginning of the route every day, hooked up the propane, the camp stoves, and the Crock Pots, and spent most of the day handing out lil’ smoky wieners on toothpicks. I didn’t notice the kids, but on Sunday morning the adults were wearing big pink terrycloth bathrobes, curlers, and big pink bras.
I would like to state for the record that you would normally never catch me anywhere near a lil’ smoky wiener. However, when you need a protein hit…… Those guys knew what they were doing. And you could smell them for BLOCKS!

And then we wandered back down through the only part of downtown Redmond that I recognize, back into Marymoor Park, along the slough trail and we were done again. 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Boom. We’re done.
I had the oddest disconnect walking into camp Saturday afternoon. Despite being sore, gritty, sweaty, and sticky, walking back into camp the first thing that crossed my mind was “Oh! We’re finished already? How odd. That didn’t take any time at all!”

And then I sat down. Never, never NEVER sit down.



Filed under: @ 11:57 am

Okay, so I know my feet will forgive me…… some day. And I know my right knee will forgive me…..at least after it gets over being pissed off that I let my massage therapist and my physical therapist beat on it.
But I’m not sure my cat will forgive me. At least not until I break out with the Very Special Treats, the fishie logs, which, since I handed them out liberally last week, probably won’t happen until next week. In the mean time I’m pinned to a chair with a cat on my lap. Pogo gets very insecure when I’m away. However, since I planned on spending most of today and tomorrow on my butt anyway, having a lap warmer for the majority of that time isn’t going to put me out too much. I’ll just have to get the canned air up here so I can blow the cat hair out of my computer keyboard.

Friday morning 3 a.m.
Why 3 a.m. you ask? Well, because they wanted to have the walkers arrive at Century Link field between 5 and 6 a.m. for opening ceremonies at 630.
Which meant that since we were being dropped off we’d want to leave my house no later than about 415.
And neither my sister nor I can be described as being quick on the aufgesprungen first thing in the morning. Hell at 0300 it takes me at least half an hour before I’m able to speak clearly let alone do anything that requires any brain power.

Century Link field is a. very dark and b. pretty chilly at 0515 which is when we got there. I noticed yesterday morning that they had little warming stations in camp right outside the shower vans. Y’know those cool mega space heaters that are set up on poles and radiate heat in a 5-6 foot diameter circle? In camp they had those set up with (very thoughtful) a circle of chairs around the base.
They should have had them at Century Link.
But what they had was a mysterious little elf that was running around with an enormous garbage bag full of pairs of gloves handing them out to chilly people which worked. At least I bagged a really cool pair of lightweight gloves and my fingers thawed out.
Dozens and hundreds of people streaming into a parking lot when it’s still pitch black outside.
People stretching and yawning and clutching cups of coffee and bumping around like demented bumble bees and taking photos and comparing costumes.
It’s a very surreal scene.

For those lacking context, that’s the clock at King Street Station in the background. I thought it was a nicely composed image.
I hate to say it, because there were a lot of pretty good costumes and t-shirts over the weekend, but I think I saw the best shirt of the weekend at 0615 Friday morning.
These ladies started conversations with an awful lot of people that morning.

The back of the Team Eccentrica shirt reads: We walk for Us All which was my attempt both at saying “I stand with Planned Parenthood” and a nod to Melissa Etheridge, but I didn’t quite hit the mark with it. “I have no room in my bra for politics.” definitely hits the mark. And the thing is, there was a rather spirited debate in the immediate group around us about how the furor in February had affected us with regards to both our determination to walk and our fundraising, but women on both sides of the abortion issue were agreeing that what Komen had done was poorly thought out and selfish. I don’t think I’ve ever gotten so precise an example of the process of consensus. (HAH! There’s a good Olympus NW Junior High School word for you!)
Suffice it to say that where there were almost 3500 walkers when I walked in 2008 that raised nearly 15 million dollars, this year there were barely 1300 of us and we only raised $3 million. It’s going to take a while for the Komen Foundation to rehabilitate their reputation.
Enough about that.

Friday morning was also the first morning we saw the firefighters. I thought that the first one I saw was just there as support. He was sitting on the curb talking to a little boy who was just the right age to think that both firemen and big trucks were capital P and capital C Pretty Cool. When we got talking with him after junior had wandered back to his parents the firefighter told us that, no, he wasn’t there in an official capacity, he was a walker.
Say what?
Yup. Full kit, minus the breathing apparatus, but pants, coat, boots, and helmet and he was going to walk in them.
THEN we saw the other three. Pants, coat, boots, and helmets and the woman of this trio was PREGNANT! And walking 60 miles in full kit.
Now, for the record, I didn’t see them walking more than out of the stadium on Friday and across the finish line on Saturday in their kit, but they did do that much. And, for the record, they easily could have walked the whole weekend in their kit. Just because I didn’t see them doing it doesn’t mean that they didn’t. 1300 people is a lot of people after all.
That sort of dedication, especially the pregnant woman, is a kind of hard core crazy that I just don’t have (thank GOD!).
But it was pretty impressive.

So they said some inspirational words at us, we cheered when the bikers left, and we were off. A little more off than was good for most of us, but regardless.
Off through Pioneer Square and in to the south end of the International District. East through the ID, then a quick right and up along Beacon Hill for a short bit until we got to the trail head for the Mountains to Sound trail. Pit Stop 1. Damn, have we walked 3 miles already?

One of the things that I dearly love about doing these events is that I get to see my city, my home, from a perspective that I never get to see otherwise. The view of SoDo and the stadium district from the bridge up by the VA hospital (no, I don’t know what street we were on, I don’t pay attention to street names when I’ve got big arrows to point me in the right direction) was absolutely stunning.

And they shot us off of Beacon Hill and on to the MTS trail across I-90. WHOOPEE! I do love walking across the bridge. It’s LOUD, but again, the best view EVER.
And besides, we were walking east bound on a day when the 520 bridge was closed and on average we were moving faster than the traffic in the east bound lanes. *Smug*.

Across Mercer Island to the second pit stop (YOW! Gotta pee!) and at a crossing before the first cheering station we met Bear Dude.
Now the crew do actually wear credentials with their names on them, but often we’re not in contact with the crew, especially the crossing guards, for long enough to see their credentials or ask their names. Thus, Bear Dude. Bear Dude wore a Utilikilt (there were a lot of those this weekend. I’m happy to say that William, the Utilikilt Guy, was walking this weekend and he was walking on Friday in a PINK Utilikilt. That’s so cool.), a T-shirt of some variety, an orange reflective safety vest with a large, lacy pink bra over the top, and one or another species of bear hat all weekend. Bear Dude had a Fozzie Bear hat, a grizzly bear hat, at one point he was wearing a Bear Hat cam and recording us as we walked past. You get the picture.
And Bear Dude usually had a pair of teddy bears in his bra.
Friday morning I complimented him on the teddy bears and he responded with “Oh, you like my bear breasts?”
Which was so awful that I had to stop at the other side of the crosswalk and shake my finger at him and shame him for a minute or so afterwards. Part of what was so horrid about that was that I’ve seen dudes with bear breasts on several prior events and never caught on. Shame, shame, SHAME on you! That’s AWful! And it’s not only that it’s awful, it’s that I didn’t twig to it and it had to be pointed out to me!

Bear Dude was a hoot.

Through Mercer Island, past the first cheering station and to a brief encounter with Mom & Dad who were on their way to a lecture at the Frye but who were, thank God, willing to take my overshirt so I didn’t have to walk the rest of the day with it tied around my waist. And across the east channel bridge. I LOVE walking across I-90.
Through bits of Bellevue that I’ve not thought about in decades. I also love walking through Bellevue. When I was going to Norwescon regularly we would play a game in the hotel elevators, in the lobby, and wandering around anywhere where the con people weren’t called “Freaking the Mundanes”. It even had its own little song.
Walking through Bellevue in the company of better than a thousand people dressed in pink, with feathers, horns, and bobbles you play a good game of Freaking the Mundanes. It’s a lot of fun to challenge people’s interpretation of what adults should do.

Lunch in Bellevue then stomping through downtown Bellevue, up over and around through the Willburton neighborhood, through the outskirts of Crossroads, sometimes on roads I’d never even known were there, and on to the pit stop being run by…. Well, here.

All the pit crew wearing striped jammies and those striped flat circular hats. Some of them with plastic shackles on their wrists and plastic leg irons on their ankles.
Part of what I cherish about these events is the silliness.
And since that sign was prominently displayed along a major thoroughfare right next door to Interlake High School, I’m sure plenty of people coming or going to the high school got a bit of a shake up in their world view from that too. In fact, I’m strongly hoping that at least one outraged parent of a precious snowflake who attends Interlake writes to someone to vent their outrage regarding how inappropriate it was to place FELONS who are involved in SOMETHING SEXUAL in such close proximity to THEIR CHILDREN.

Then a short swish through the very outskirts of Redmond, down across Lake Sammamish Boulevard, heavens, how long has it been since I’ve been at Idylwood park?, and a sweep along the Sammamish slough to Marymoor.

We started with the crowd at 0700 and with potty stops, stops for snacks, drinks, and lunch, we pulled into camp at 430p.m.
Which is a pretty damn decent day’s walking if you ask me. Especially since I had gone to bed the night before at 10ish and was up at 0300.

I was STUPID tired. I was so tired I could barely keep from lying my head down on the dinner table and crashing out right there. I was so tired my hands were shaking while I was trying to shovel the penne in meat sauce that the lovely kitchen crew had made for us into me. But I was so hungry that if I’d tried to sleep I would have gone searching for food in my sleep.

It’s amazing what working that hard for that long does to your metabolism. I ate dinner with Kathryn at camp and we hopped it to one of the hotel shuttles to get back to the hotel.

Oh, did I mention the hotels? Yeah. Kathryn wasn’t interested in staying in camp since Eric wanted to spend the weekend with her, and, by virtue of my back still being a little hinky, I had been convinced not to try and stay in camp and sleep on the cold ground. So we booked rooms with the host hotels and that was WAY more civilized. I’d definitely go for a hotel if I walk again.

Hitch the shuttle bus (ah, AIR CONDITIONING!) to the hotel for a hot, HOT shower for which I didn’t have to wait. Andrew met me there and, being clean and tired, but hungry again…..we went out so I could have a second dinner. And while Andrew ate his pasta I had a slice of pizza and tried not to fall asleep.

Back to the hotel, collapse with an ice pack on my back then a hot bath (oh yeah, a hotel is the way to go!) and SLEEP.


Day 3

Filed under: @ 11:32 am

On a semi-regular basis Andrew will check his server logs to find out what search terms bring people to this blog. Weirdly, one of the more common search terms is “better Nate than lever”, a title that I used in 2006 for the final post that I wrote about our Great Britain trip. For those who don’t recall it, it’s the punchline of an old joke that my Dad used to tell about a village that couldn’t figure out how to use a lever to move things so they used the village strongman, Nate. Now we have a second post to increase our chances of getting people here on that search term. Better Nate than lever.

Saturday evening I ended up at Medical to get advice on how best to patch up a couple of inconvenient places on my feet that were developing into hot spots. I spent some useful time with a very knowledgeable RN who pasted up my feet with Second Skin and Molefoam then wandered off for dinner and dancing.
Warm, flushed, and happy from the dancing I brushed my teeth and headed for bed.

Keeping in mind the night before, I had decided that I wouldn’t be cold again so I went to bed wearing Polarfleece socks on my glued up feet, thermal tights, a Spandex tank top, and a long sleeved t-shirt. Wrapped up in my flannel sheet and stuffed in my sleeping bag with a towel over my head I figured I’d at least be comfortable if, maybe, not as warm as I usually like when I sleep.
When I first realized that I was too warm I took off my socks. This is a challenge in and of itself in a sleeping bag, made considerably more complicated when one is trying not to brush against damp tent walls, squirm enough to disturb a roommate in a small tent, to say nothing of kinking oneself into permanent leg cramps or pulling the Molefoam off of the bottoms of rather sore feet.
The second time I woke I realized that I had managed to squirm enough in my previous efforts to wad the tank top up under my left arm. I’d been sleeping on my left side and when I woke I realized that I was not only too warm, but I’d a horrendous pinched spot on my side where the wadded up Spandex had squished the flesh along my ribs into a series of folds. Further squirming ensued.
It was not the most restful of nights.

Over several years of experimentation they’ve managed to get the camp for these things down to a science. While I really did enjoy the sense of accomplishment that came from having the camp move with us along the route of the 2002 and 2005 3 Days, I can appreciate that their current strategy of having camp in one place and having the route for the second day be a loop, has got to be a lot, a LOT easier logistically. It also means that we only have to pack and unpack once and (an added benefit) that we only have to take down the tents once. Means you get maybe an extra half hour of sleep on Day 2, which can make a BIG difference.
But on the morning of Day 3 the route opens at 0630 and if you want to be walking when the route opens you have to be up, dressed, packed, fed, and have your tent broken down, folded up and delivered to the gear truck with your gear by then.
Mid-September mornings at 0500 are very dark. And if it’s been clear they’re also very cold and soggy.
I was up, dressed, had eaten, and was back at the tent packing when Anne came back from her breakfast. Anne had somewhat less stuff strewn around or she’s a faster packer than I am because we both managed to finish packing at about the same time. We broke down the tent, trying to avoid getting drenched as we rolled it up into a soggy pink wad and shoved it into its duffel bag.
I was freezing by that time, my fingers gone to ice, and I knew that I’d have a bit of a wait before I could get moving enough to warm up. The way the route worked out this year they had to ship us via school bus from camp in Redmond across Lake Washington via 520, to end at the Washington Park Arboretum. Half an hour or so by bus which, granted, would be heated, but since there were a limited number of busses and close to 3500 of us I knew that it’d be a bit of a wait before I’d get to the bus. The water at the tea making station was fresh out of the cauldron in which it had boiled so it was HOT. Hot enough that I had to hold my water bottle in its insulated holster to keep from singeing my fingers. Standing in line for the bus I was really popular… Or at least my water bottle was.

I don’t know how long I waited for the bus, you’re seeing the line that was in front of me. As my bus pulled out I discovered that I was actually pretty close to the head of the line, the line stretched for a LONG way through the camp. And it turned out that I was also in the first wave of busses since our driver had only the vaguest notion of how to get where we were supposed to be going. Fortunately she had semi-coherent instructions and although we took at least one wrong turn (which was made more inconvenient by the fact that she was trying to thread a full sized school bus down the crowded, narrow, and twisty streets around the Arboretum without driving on the sidewalks) we did eventually get there.
The Japanese garden at the Arboretum has a large and a long parking lot. Three busses at once could fit end to end and the chaos of people getting off, milling around the porta-potties, stretching, and jogging in place to keep warm and fend off leg cramps while waiting for teammates in the potties, was quite something to be seen. I heard a fair number of startled shrieks, only partially suppressed, from the potties as well. We’d been waiting for the busses, freezing in our shorts and t-shirts. We’d gotten on the busses where the combined body heat of 60 or so people mixed with the heat from the bus to thaw us to a relatively reasonable temperature. Then we poured off the busses into a shaded parking lot in the early morning chill and those poor souls who had to stop at the potties were greeted by a remarkably rude shock. Apparently the seats were a wee bit chilly.
Fortunately I didn’t need to stop and so was able to start off at, granted, a brisker pace than I was really interested in, but my bottle had cooled to merely tepid so I had to move to keep from freezing solid again.
Through the Arboretum, absolutely stunning on a cold, quiet, bright morning, and through the neighborhood around the arboretum. Cold, yes. Bright, without a doubt. Quiet? Well sorta.
I really feel for those people who live out there. Sure they have an absolutely gorgeous setting for their (mostly) stunningly maintained early 1900’s era houses, but they live right along the freeway, right next to the UW football stadium (which means absolutely obscene traffic in-season), and everybody and their dog, or Texas Cowbelle as the case may be, is stomping through your neighborhood at all hours of the day and night during the weekends and holidays. Which isn’t to say that we weren’t trying to be quiet. We and the Cowbelles were very aware of the fact that we were in a suburban neighborhood at 0715 on a Sunday morning, but that number of people, mouths shut or no, will make a bit of a ruckus. There were a fair number of people out in their yards waving and I saw more than a few houses with rows of kids’ heads in the living room window.

A quick mile and a half got us across to the north side of 520, into the parking lot of the Museum of History and Industry and the first pit stop. They only had water and Gatorade at the drinks tent, I was hoping for something hot, but didn’t really expect it. Since they had PB & J at the snack tent I did stop though. Stretching and eating peanut butter is somewhat of a challenge, but I didn’t dare stop and stand still. My muscles were still on the border of being too cold to want to work properly and I had to stay in motion to keep myself from dying of the cramp.

North along Montlake Boulevard and across the Montlake cut.

For those who aren’t Seattle natives, you’re looking east along the Montlake cut towards Lake Washington. It was a beautiful sight, one that I’ve seen probably thousands of times before, but one that I’d never seen while on foot.
That’s another part of what makes this so enjoyable for me. I can see parts of my city with which I’ve been familiar for years, in an entirely different way. Details that have been overlooked get noticed and I gain new appreciation for the underlying beauty of this area.

We turned west and started across the University of Washington campus. And if you’re in the mood for quiet, the middle of a large university campus on an early Sunday morning is your spot. Heading vaguely north by northwest along the campus we saw exactly no one. Well, no one except the geese.

We started seeing humans again when we got far enough north to enter The Greek Zone (do do do do…… do do do do………) Apparently we had the bad luck to be walking through the university, and more specifically, through Greek Row, on the first day of rush week. Music was blaring from every house competing most horribly with each other. Hung over frat rats all in matching t-shirts were in the street, jamming the sidewalks, and in many cases without some, shall we say, small physical encouragement, refusing to GET THE HECK OUT OF THE WAY. Literally. We were thousands strong marching along the sidewalks at a fairly decent pace and in a lot of spots we actually had to shove our way through the crowd because the oblivious gits didn’t happen to realize that other people were -gasp- trying to walk in a public space. One of the more pleasant things about being out of veterinary school is that I *never* have to put up with the self important little prats who seek out “the Greek life”.
We did have a lot of fun though freaking the mundanes, as it were. On average we were tricked out in a considerably more bizarre fashion than they were, there were more of us than there were of them, and all of the male safety crew were wearing button down shirts that were open to the navel and pink lacy bras. It was quite a site to see the reaction of a group of sorority chicks to this guy who was not only wearing his pink lacy bra, but was playing catch with us as we crossed his intersection with something that looked not unlike a gigantic blue lychee. Oh, and just for the record, yes, those pink things that are strung on his necklace are latex boobies. *Squeaky* latex boobies. The sorority babes were mightily taken aback when we walked past grabbing at the necklace and squeaking the boobs.

Straight through Greek Row and northeast-ish along Roosevelt. Walking along a side street there was an odd woman tricked out as a gypsy, honestly considering her physiognomy and coloring she could really have been of gypsy descent, dancing in a dreamy sort of fashion in the middle of the sidewalk. As we passed she told us that she was 63 years old and a 20 year breast cancer survivor. Very matter of fact about the whole situation, very straightforward, but never missing a beat in her dance. Seattle is a very odd city.

A wee bit further north we started to walk around Greenlake. Greenlake is a nice walk at any time, but it was stunning that morning. Add to the fact that the whole of the time we were there, probably about 2/3 of the path around the lake, we were in the midst of a cheering station. Literally miles of people feeding us, squirting us, and generally spoiling us rotten. I rather think we were a bit of annoyance to those people who were trying to get their daily exercise, but we really didn’t have much in the way of cyclists or other people on wheels trying to pass us. There were more than a few people going in the other direction, but for the most part the right hand lane (if you’re heading northwest around the lake) was empty of people besides us. I found these folks standing out by one of the tennis courts. I love the fact that even the baby has pink hair. How her mother managed to get just her hair and not the entire child pink is a mystery that will likely never be solved.

Greenlake was lovely, but too it was an irritating place to walk. See, if you don’t know where the public loos are, there’s no place for the 3 Day organizers to put huge banks of porta potties. If you’ve been drinking, pardon me… hydrating, sufficiently, you’re faced with the prospect of continuing to walk along doggedly hoping against all hope to find a sweep van on the road outside the park or evaluating every patch of brush for sufficient available cover.
We finally left the lake trail and headed west to intersect with Aurora just a bit north of Woodland Park Zoo. For those not familiar with Seattle, Aurora is a six lane north/south arterial with delusions of being a freeway, that runs from as far south as our house, through the city, and as far north as Everett. Aurora is busy, noisy and gritty and that, along with my bladder, was spurring me to a turn of speed that I really shouldn’t have maintained for as long as I did. But we were also walking south along the sidewalk on the northbound side and there was absolutely no way for me to catch one of the vans to get to the potties quicker. For a while I walked along with a group of women in a similar quandry. We saw one of the route marking signs that told us how far to the next pit stop. When we discovered that it was just over a mile to the next pit stop there was considerable wailing and tooth gnashing until someone piped up with: “When I see one of these signs I just imagine the spot along my training route that’s only a mile from my house and then imagine myself walking there! It makes it go a lot faster!”
A cheering thought, certainly, and distracting forbye, but for the record it still took me about 20 minutes to walk that damned mile and I was about to burst by the time I got to the pit stop.

It was there that I discovered that it wasn’t only the male safety crew wearing pink bras that day, it appeared that all of the male crew were wearing pink bras.

I love that the guys that attend and volunteer for these things have, for the most part, absolutely no sense of self consciousness.

We’d stopped at one of the play fields that’s attached to Woodland Park (the park, not the zoo) and from there we took a right and started heading south. A few scraggly neighborhoods, then we started into the Freemont neighborhood. Freemont is a very desirable neighborhood. A close knit community with most of the amenities you’d need within close walking distance, there’s even an erotic bakery, what more could you want? Lovely houses and great little funky shops. I couldn’t live there, regardless of whether or not I’m a suburban mouse rather than a city mouse, if for no other reason than the houses, lovely as they are, are so close to one another that you’re in your neighbor’s lap all the time. It’s an entertaining place to walk though. Also since we were coming up on late morning/noonish all of the funky little restaurants were firing up for the day and the smells were tremendous.
South along Greenlake way then a left at 45th, east on 45th for a mile or so then we took another right and headed straight south through the suburban Freemont area towards Lake Union. Interesting homes to look at, gorgeous front gardens, a lot of people cheering and cars blasting back and forth waving and hooting at us. And the people who’d attached signs to poles…..

Finally far enough south to end up at lunch at Gasworks park. I really should get out to Gasworks more often than I do. For while I’m at a point in my life where the primary draw of the park is no longer the fact that one can play on the old cleaned up gas works themselves (although that is still a strong consideration), it’s an absolutely lovely piece of ground on Lake Union that gives you a most stunning view of Seattle and on a sunny day it’s a great place to just sit. Especially if you’ve been on your feet for most of 50 miles.
I found a nice chunk of shade with a convenient wall to sit against and proceeded to engulf my lunch. For all that the breakfasts and dinners that we’re served in camp is actually pretty darned good, the lunches are really lackluster. Every day it’s a variation on sandwich, potato/pasta salad or coleslaw, chips, and cookies. Occasionally there’s fruit. The sandwiches are all pretty uniformly dry, the “salads” are pretty uniformly squashy and tasteless, the chips and cookies are all prepackaged, and the fruit is often overly processed and highly sweetened prepackaged fruit salad, or overly processed (I HATE that nasty waxy crap they put on apples) underwhelming apples. It’s odd, too, since they do manage to get pretty decent fruit for the snack stations at the pit stops.
Of course, mediocre or no, when you get to lunch time you’re ready to eat something more substantial than PB & J and pretzels.
I sat for a while in the shade then I lay back to finish my cookies and gatorade (YUM!) with my head in the sunshine and my legs stretched up against the wall. 10 minutes or so of getting cookie crumbs up my nose and I was ready to approach re-pasting my feet and getting back on the route.

West along Lake Union towards Ballard. A stop at the intersection where, in 2005, the crossing guard had stopped in the middle of the crosswalk and hollered at us “Welcome to Freemont, home of NAKED PEOPLE!” while flashing us her chest. (Again, for the non-natives, the Freemont Solstice Parade every summer is often host to a horde of naked cyclists and other pagans, nude except for body paint). Waiting For The Interurban was tricked out in 3 Day gear this year as it had been then, but we got high school cheerleaders and not flashing crossing guards.

And again, a chunk of Seattle that had never been fit into its place in the puzzle in my mind that represents this city, but a welcome one, we walked across the Freemont bridge.

And then along the west side of Lake Union.
This is where the route started to get a little annoying. Seattle natives will know that the north west end of Lake Union is right next to Seattle Center. Seattle Center is the home of Memorial Stadium, where the walk was due to terminate. As we were walking along Lake Union, we were headed in a gradual southeasterly direction…. which is to say, exactly the OPPOSITE direction that one is supposed to walk if one is heading for Memorial Stadium.
I was starting to be a little annoyed about this, so far as I could tell we were headed straight downtown and I’d bloody well had enough of looping around through the city. I did consider sort of sneaking off the route and heading in the direction I knew we were “supposed” to be going. There was no way I could have gotten lost, so long as I was still able to see the Space Needle I would get to Seattle Center eventually, but herd mentality and the fact that I was having a nice discussion with a number of British and South African women about my t-shirt (last year’s “However Many Boobs You’ve Got” shirt) kept me going with the crowd.
I should have broken ranks and headed for the Center on my own…..
We walked the full length of Lake Union then further south through downtown, then west, then south, then west, then south (sensing a pattern?) until we were dead in the center of the downtown shopping and tourist district. It was hot, it was noisy (even on a Sunday there’s a fair amount of traffic through that section of the city) and we were having to duck and weave our way along the sidewalks trying to keep out of the way of what seemed like millions of tourists. I’m not sure what, outside of being a lovely weekend day in an interesting city, was pulling people downtown that day but it was damned annoying. We had spent 2 1/2 days keeping to the right of public walkways so we could walk without bumping into the people going in the opposite direction, and suddenly we were in the middle of a crowd of people who were window shopping, stopping and chatting, rubbernecking, and paying no attention at all to our perception of what constituted polite sidewalk behavior. Our feet all uniformly hurt, we were at a stage where failing to move at a consistent speed could cause terminal leg cramps, we were tired, smelly, clumsy in trying to avoid people, and we had to stop at every damned intersection because for some reason all the stoplights were conspiring against us to turn red just as we got to the crosswalks (or at least they were all turning red when I approached).
One of the bright spots on this trek, however, was the guy outside one of the downtown pubs with a pressure washer. While we waited for the light to turn in our favor he was pressure washing the sidewalk outside the pub. Once the light turned green and we crossed to his side though, he was blowing a lovely rain of cool water into the air for us. We appreciated that a lot. The two women in skirts and heels with cell phones glued to their ears that were at the tag end of the group of us that crossed the street, did not.
We fought our way southwest to First Avenue and walked past the Pike Place Market where we managed to cause considerable consternation in a group of Japanese tourists who were standing at the intersection of first and Pike. Continuing south we confused some very well dressed people outside the Seattle Art Museum and then we headed west to the waterfront.
The final pit stop was a zoo, with people rushing to pee, get their bottles refilled, and get back walking so we could be done with it. While the walk itself is a helluva rush and the closing ceremonies very moving, the stretch between the last two pit stops and the end of the walk is just plain annoying. At that point you’ve pretty much had it with everything and every one, you’re sick to death of gatorade, nothing that anyone offers as a snack has any appeal, you’re tired of being honked at, you want a flush toilet, a quiet place to sit for a while so you can cool down, and then a long hot shower. This feeling goes away of course. By the time you hit the finish line you’re back to an insane euphoria (else no one would do it more than once, I’m sure), but the last few miles….. sheesh.
Add to this that we were still having to weave our way in and out of everyone and their dog, and to my still smoldering resentment of being shunted southeast from Lake Union when we should have been going northwest… well I was grumpy. We were headed in the right direction at least. From the last pit stop we took a right and started heading straight north again. We got to confuse the bejeesus out of what seemed to be a whole cruise ship worth of German speaking tourists, and we managed to be remarkably, um, outgoing, yeah that’s the word, while walking past the photographer that was taking wedding photos outside the Edgewater (I know that some of us ended up in those wedding photos).
The breeze was nice and the crowd considerably thinner by the time we ended up at the Sculpture Garden, we walked up through the garden (lovely, LOVELY irregular surface of the gravel path that winds through the garden) and then there was….

I know I’ve posted this photo before, but there is just something about it…. Okay, there’s something about Bubba…. This tattooed, Harley riding, butch muscle man willing to publicly bedeck himself in pink and boob associated lunacy for three days… Bubba makes me laugh. And on the tail end of the trek, uphill through the last gasp of Belltown, I needed a laugh.
It helped, too, that Polly was the crossing guard at the last crosswalk of the day. We were crossing Mercer at the terminus of First Avenue near Seattle Center and here’s Polly with her dinosaur cheering us on. I think the people who assign the safety crew stations probably did that on purpose.
North along the very tag end of Belltown to the outskirts of the Queen Anne neighborhood that intermingles with Seattle Center. Past Key Arena, on to the Center grounds proper, and then it was all over again.
The descent into the basement holding area, the crowd of pink and white erupting into applause and cheers, the weirdly frenetic activity as the organizers try to herd 3000 people into some semblance of order for the victory march. It’s relief. It’s grief. It’s triumph. It’s an honor to do it and I know I’ll do it again.


Day 2

Filed under: @ 9:30 am

I sleep cold. At least once every winter Andrew gives me a hard time about being buried in blankets. I also tend to sleep with my head mostly covered and only my nose sticking out. I like to be well covered when I sleep. Also, because of a sketchy neck and shoulder combination I sleep with a lot of pillows. As few as four, sometimes as many as six.
I have two sleeping bags. The first is an ancient relic of my childhood, a sleeping bag that I’ve had since I was old enough to graduate from the miniature “baby bags” to a full adult sized sleeping bag. The second is one of a pair that Andrew and I purchased about 10 years ago just before we flew to Maui to hike Haleakala and stay the night in the crater. This newer bag is, of course, thicker, warmer, and lighter. When packing I debated about which sleeping bag to bring, concerned that if I brought the newer bag I’d be too warm and I’d not have enough space to uncover and cool down enough to sleep well. As a compromise I brought the newer sleeping bag and packed a flannel sheet, figuring that if I got too warm I could always crawl out of my sleeping bag and cover up with the flannel.
We are limited in our luggage to one bag, not to exceed 35 pounds, that must contain or at least encompass all our clothing, personal items, and sleeping gear. I couldn’t pack two full sized pillows, let alone four, so I compromised and packed one real pillow, one travel pillow, and figured that I’d have Andrew bring me a third when he came to see me Friday night.

Let me take you back to Friday evening.
Andrew had just left, taking my laundry and leaving my third pillow, and I went for my shower. It was coming on dark — call it 8:15 or so — and I was in thermal tights, Polarfleece socks, a t-shirt, and sandals. Still grubby, but the only task left for the day was a shower and bed.
I worked my way through the shower line, got my shower which wasn’t as hot as I like them but still a decent temperature, brushed my teeth and headed for bed.
Because I dislike having things on my feet when I sleep I took off the socks before I collapsed into my sleeping bag for the night. This was A MISTAKE.
I have rarely been so cold when sleeping – or trying to as the case may be. Clear night on the end of a row of tents up against a wetland. Heavy dew on the outside of the tent and heavy condensation from Anne’s and my breathing on the inside. The walls of the tent were wet and I was trying like mad not to contact them. So here I am with my damp hair in a towel, a convenient t-shirt covering most of my head, wrapped in a flannel sheet in thermal tights and a t-shirt, stuffed as far down in my sleeping bag as I could manage and I was still *freezing*.
Since I was also exhausted I did, in fact, fall asleep, but it was a tenuous sleep where you’re not really sure that you’ve been asleep until you wake up and realize that you’ve just woken up.

To avoid dehydration and muscle cramps we are instructed to continue to “hydrate” throughout the evening, also that we should expect to have to get up to pee at least once during the night. Having woken up dehydrated with a splitting headache and nausea on the second morning of one of my events, I tend to take these instructions to heart and drink PLENTY with my dinner. At about 1 a.m. I could ignore the urgent commands from my bladder no longer and got up. Dark of course, and with a heavy ground fog that made the moonlight soft and pervasive. The whole camp was glowing as I popped out of my tent and headed for the potties. I was not, by any means, the only stumbling, half asleep walker on my feet. No one was making a sound so all that I heard was the shuffle of feet and the zipping of tents. As I got back to my tent I realized that one upright figure in my tent row was fully dressed and wearing actual shoes, laces tied, instead of sandals. This did not make sense. No walker, woken in the middle of the night by a full bladder, would take the time to dress fully. I thought he was a loon. Then I saw a light flash on his orange “safety” shirt and realized, I’d never known this before, that part of camp services includes having people to patrol the tents at night. I checked later and found that the night wardens are there for security, to help people lost on the way back to their tents from the potties, and to rouse the night shift medical people if they’re needed. Once again I am impressed with the organization that goes into these events. Who would have thought that having someone conscious and coherent to wander the camp all night would be necessary, but I have no doubt that the night wardens are. Attention to details I wouldn’t even have considered.

Woke up at 4:15 when some nitwit’s alarm started to go off. She was either deaf or dead because her alarm kept going off for what must have been 10 minutes before it shut itself off. Or, come to think of it, her tentmate murdered her and shoved the still ringing alarm under her dead body before going back to sleep. It was an option that I considered, but I’d have had to get up again and the inside of my sleeping bag was at least nominally warmer than the outside.
Buried myself back in my sleeping bag until my alarm went of at 5:30. The sun doesn’t rise in mid-September until 6:30 or so. It’s still well dark at 5:30. Managed to get most of my dressing done in my sleeping bag, having forgotten the camp trick of sleeping with one’s underwear in the sleeping bag to avoid the morning nipple freeze. Trying to avoid having my skin in contact with any of my clothes I managed to work my way out of the tent without getting soaked, to get my shoes on without stepping in the wet grass in my socks, and head for breakfast.

They actually feed us very well in camp. For all that what they feed us is mass produced steam tray fare, it’s well cooked and well seasoned. It’s cafeteria food, but it’s good cafeteria food and you don’t have to worry about not getting enough. Saturday morning breakfast is scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, hash browns, biscuits and gravy, oatmeal, fruit, cold cereal and yogurt, and all sorts of juice, milk, and hot drinks. Despite the spaghetti beast having been fed only a few hours before I was STARVED and ate far more breakfast than any normal person should be eating at 6 in the morning. I also managed to fill my stainless steel water bottle with hot water from the tea making station so I could get some feeling back in my fingers before I left camp. Brush the teeth, brush out and re-braid the hair and we’re off!

I had seen the Texas Cowbelles the day before. I’d seen the route peppered with their dumb cow jokes by the dozens but I’d not gotten the chance to actually meet them. The Texas Cowbelles were hanging out in a parking lot in downtown Redmond a short distance after we’d left camp.

I’m not sure whether the Texas Cowbelles were official cheerers that were endorsed and/or funded by The 3 Day or if they were just a pair of cow crazed ladies from Texas who were interested in keeping Seattle 3 Day walkers amused. A pair of older women, mid-50’s to early 60’s I imagine, both dressed, as you can see, as cows driving about in a tricked out PT cruiser waving cowbells, playing music, honking, cheering, and handing out “heifer hugs”. The heifer hugs were dandy, a good way to suck a little more warmth into my body and the fact that the Cowbelles were stationary gave me a good chance to photograph their car which was a work of art. Vaguely obscene from some angles, but a work of art nonetheless.

The back of the car sported a long tail that was want to stream behind them as they drove along. I came to think that it was probably easier to be a walker than it was to be one of the cheer squad. Not having to put that much effort into one’s costume and persona for the weekend is considerably easier I think.
We walked through downtown (as much as there is) Redmond. Walked past McDonalds where a manager was out with a table offering to sell us cups of coffee and hash browns for $1 apiece. I didn’t see anyone take her up on the offer, but a few blocks down the way EVERYONE was taking the Jamba Juice people up on their offers for free smoothies and the Starbucks guy across the street up on his offer for free coffee and croissants. McD’s was the subject of much scorn that morning.

We finally ended up getting back on the Samammish River Trail at the same point where we’d gotten on the afternoon before. Heading north towards Woodinville we were still early enough in the morning that the ground fog hadn’t dissipated yet and the surrounding cow pastures were beautiful in the early morning light.

Walking hard we were all warm enough, but it was welcome when the sun got high enough to burn off the fog in the river valley.

The second pit stop of the morning was along the river trail complete with a team of cheerleaders from the local junior high school. How do you manage to convince teenagers to haul their carcasses out of bed to be at a pit stop on a cold river trail at 7:00 on a Saturday morning to cheer for people who are working towards something that probably has no meaning to you at the time? Granted these kids were probably warmer than we were, standing in one spot and bouncing up and down, but it was still BLOODY early in the morning. When I was that age it was difficult to get me out of bed at that hour with a spatula, let alone expect me to be perky about it. Kids these days………

North towards Woodinville, a sharp left then east northeast through Kirkland. Warm enough now, up hills that weren’t extreme but were awfully LONG and through the sort of scrubby far east end of Kirkland. Lotta strip malls, car dealerships, BO-ring.
Except the people. People in the parking lots, people driving up and down the route, people standing on the sidewalks handing out popsicles at 8:30 in the morning, people with their kids waving flags and giving us high fives and hands full of bubble gum as we walked past.
North again past Evergreen Hospital then up along a pedestrian overpass over 405. LOTS of honking as we went over 405.
I started to recognize some of the territory as we headed west through suburban Kirkland. Susan and I walked some of the same route when we did the 2005 3 Day. One bit in particular that stuck in my head was walking past a vacant lot that had a developer’s sign out front. The chunk of land was going to be developed into 18 new single family town homes. All sorts of fancy doodads mentioned on the sign, but what made me sit up, as it were, and take notice was the dimensions of the homes they were advertising. “Starting at 7000 square feet….” the sign read. Seven. Thousand. STARTING at seven thousand square feet. Eighteen homes on this one parcel of land, all better than seven thousand square feet. I discussed this at length with a woman who had been walking behind me. Our discussion lasted half a mile or more and we came to the conclusion that to fit eighteen homes of that size on that parcel of land they’d have to have basements for their sub-basements and they’d all need to be six or more floors above ground. Foolish.

I was wearing my new Team Eccentrica shirt and as we wound down through Kirkland towards Lake Washington I spent a lot of time talking about shirts with members of the Tough Titties, a large, mostly male mixed team the backs of whose shirts read “Busting our balls for boobs……AGAIN”. For some reason my blue footed booby shirt struck a chord with the guys because later in the day I was passed by a group of Breastie Boys who were absolutely convulsed by it.

We stopped for lunch at Juanita Beach Park. I scored a nice shady patch up against a fence in which to eat my lunch, argued briefly with a seagull about whether or not he could have the tortilla from my teriyaki chicken wrap (which was repulsive by the way) and then moved out to a patch of sunshine to take a nap and dry out my feet (it was lovely shade, but it was a bit damp).

Walking through Kirkland along Lake Washington is lovely. There’s a whole section of wetland walkway that takes you through some of the tail end of Juanita beach. Shade on one side, sun on the other. Lake on one side, wetland on the other. If you are, as I am most passionately, interested in wetlands more than beautiful, but mostly empty lake views, you walk along the boardwalk in the shade looking at the shoreline plants and animals. The boardwalk is softer and more irregular to walk on (soft and irregular is somewhat more comfortable than harder and smoother when you’ve walked 30 plus miles)…. I really think I had the best of the two options, but I did get some odd looks from my fellow walkers.
And for the second time I ran across the “Proud of the Whole Bloomin’ Bunch!” guy. Along with the “Be a Film Star, Have a Mammogram” guy, this is one of the regulars that shows up at least once along the route every day of the Seattle 3 Day. His wife is a team walker and while standing there with his banner (that reads, of course, “Proud of the Whole Bloomin’ Bunch!)he not only hands out candy, he puts out a garbage bin about 50 feet down the road from him so we can empty our pockets of all the junk we’ve been carrying since the last pit stop. It’s very thoughtful of him because you do end up with pockets and waist packs full of random wrappers, baby wipes, kleenex, and other debris that you would prefer not to carry, but you can’t, of course, just dump on the ground. Unless you’re walking right through the downtown core of a city or inside a municipal park, there just aren’t a lot of trash cans around. You learn to appreciate the little trash cans that King County Metro attaches to their bus stops. Or considerate guys with banners and trash bins.

We walked through downtown Kirkland proper, walking along the lake front which was lovely. Some uku expensive real estate down there, sheesh! Waterfront Kirkland has a huge number of up scale boutiques and bistros. A lot of whom were advertising open restrooms for people with walker credentials. One day spa was offering free 5 minute foot massage. I didn’t see anyone take them up on it, though I know we all thought about it. One of the weirdest offerers of a freebie that was out along the sidewalk was a guy that was handing out samples of this super powered antioxidant juice. He was standing right at an intersection with his little table, business cards, books for sale (selling books? To people who have another 10 miles to walk? Weirdo.), and what looked like bottles of red wine. Because he was standing at the intersection and we had to wait for the light to change, he was getting a lot of business with his freebies. He was doling out little paper cups of what looked like grape juice concentrate, all the while explaining to us how wonderful and healthy this stuff was. It certainly may have been healthy and full of antioxidants, but it tasted like nothing on earth and was so sweet at the first taste that when the tangy hit your tongue a second later it was like having someone apply a pipe clamp to your face. There was a Metro bus stop about half a block down the sidewalk in which I saw an awful lot of mostly full cups of purple juice.
Down through suburban Kirkland, absolutely STUNNING lake front homes probably priced, even in this market, at better than 2 million. Walking along a side street there were lots of families out with their kids, spray bottles, candy, signs, balloons, and clapping. Stopping to get a semi-melted Tootsie roll from a kid who can’t have been more than about three, I was nearly bowled over by his probably 5 year old sister who obviously didn’t want to be letting her little brother get all the glory. She put a hand up to stop me, imperiously shoved her pile of candy at me, said “I think that you should have THIS one!” and handed me a chunk of bubble gum. Never let it be said that I don’t obey the promptings of fate. Come to think of it, that was the spot where about a third of the kids were wearing powder pink t-shirts that read “My Daddy is a Breastie Boy!”.

Zigzag through Kirkland. There’s a LOT more Kirkland than I’ve ever known about. Stopping at an elementary school for the final pit stop before the second cheering station for the day. An excruciating 15 minutes on the bench of a picnic table (you wouldn’t believe how many muscle cramps you can get by trying to fold yourself up and look at the soles of your feet when you’ve walked that far) to figure out whether or not I was getting a blister on the ball of my foot (I wasn’t…..quite). Stretching in any number of exotic ways and then someone handed me the tube of Ben Gay. I’d forgotten about Ben Gay! I slathered my legs from knee to ankle in Ben Gay which was a miraculous relief after a second or two then stumbled off past….. Well, you’ll just have to see it.

Understand that the theme for this pit stop was “The Double D Ranch”. The doors of all the potties were decorated with paper cut out stars and moons to make them look like old time outhouses, the crew were wearing cowboy outfits and handing out cowboy stickers. At most pit stops the crew makes an effort to have some sort of thematic backdrop against which people can take photos. This, um, horse? was part of a typical straw bale, lariat, and horse blanket sort of backdrop. The type of thing you see at those campy places that let you take photos in period dress from the old west. Except for the horse. That was one of the more well dressed pieces of stage prop that I’ve ever seen.
I went for my snack and realized that I’d forgotten about Ben Gay.
See, there’s no place to actually wash your hands except at camp. When you come out of the potties there’s bottles of waterless hand sanitizer and buckets full of Sani-wipes.
So when you have something smeared on your hands you tend to wipe it off as best you can with the Sani-wipes, or you rub it in or let it dry off.
Carrots and Ben Gay is a bad combination.

Through the elementary school, around a corner. Up a hill. A left turn and up another hill. Then around a curve and up another hill. And another hill. And smarmy gits standing out in their driveways clapping and encouraging us with “You’re almost to the top!”.
Then we went up another hill.
At the top of the third hill after that, a group of us were standing to blow, catch our breath, and bitch about the sadistic sons of bitches that were the route planners when someone looked up along the route and saw that to get across 405 again we had to use a pedestrian overpass. To get to the pedestrian overpass we had to walk up a tight spiral sidewalk that had to rise better than 20 feet in the air.
We were not amused.

Crossing from west to east across 405 we were considerably less enthusiastic about waving at the people blasting past and honking underneath us.
But we really were at the top at that point. We walked through the Bridle Trails neighborhood and on to the afternoon cheering station.
I am consistently astonished at the sheer bloody number of people that are coming out to cheer. Sure a lot of them are there to see specific people, but not all of them are and I suspect that not even a majority of them are. Too, the outpouring of emotion is very moving. I’ve said it before that I don’t consider doing the walk to be anything particularly spectacular. Having literally hundreds of people standing and applauding, patting my shoulder, high fiving, and thanking me for, well, just for WALKING always brings tears to my eyes.
Andrew, my folks, and my sister were there cheering for me. I couldn’t stop for as long as I liked, because if I stopped moving for too long my legs threatened to cramp. I visited with them for a while, Andrew got photos of me in the booby shirt, and I walked off again.

Down through Bridle Trails and into, as it turns out, Redmond again. I started thinking that I recognized the neighborhood where we were walking and was seriously confused then absolutely floored when the last pit stop of the day turned out to be the same last pit stop of the day from Friday. The route planners may have been sadistic sons of bitches, but they were efficient, I’ll give them that.
At that point, though, I had developed pretty decent blisters on the balls of my feet and remembering the last mile or so of the route along the river trail from the day before (also knowing that a good deal of the approach to the river trail was downhill which is flat murder on blisters), I gave it up. There’s a bus that hangs at the pit stops and at the lunch stop that will take you either to lunch (if you catch the bus before the lunch stop) or straight to camp (if you catch the bus after lunch). My feet hurt and I most emphatically did NOT want to walk that last mile or so of the river trail with a full bladder and blistered feet. I caught the bus which was soft to sit in, had reclining seats, was air conditioned, and moved a hell of a lot faster than I could have at that point.
They drove us back into camp, scanned our credentials, and day 2 was done.

Mom and Dad again went above and beyond by offering to pick me up from camp to drive back to their place for a shower and dinner. At that point a shower to myself that I wouldn’t have to wait upwards of an hour for was a concept that I looked upon with unseemly lust. Mom and Dad came down, picked me up, and I had a simply glorious shower. Hot, decent water pressure, no wait, big towels…. Lovely.
And dinner. Serious amounts of dinner. I was fading fast after dinner and needed to get back to camp before it got too dark for me to find my tent.
Mom and Dad drove me back to camp, I swiftly, or as swiftly as I could under the circumstances, headed for my tent to put on more clothes. Adding tights, a t-shirt, and fuzzy socks on top of my shorts and tank top warmed me up again to the point where I realized that I was hungry. Again or still didn’t seem to make much difference, so I went to the dining tent and had a second dinner. Fully meaning to sit in a quiet corner and start writing I got caught up in the activity and you all have read the narrative I’ve written about that.
Suffice it to say that the dancing was energetic, although there were more than a few people who were only able to rhythmically shift their weight from foot to foot, and it kept all of us quite warm and happy. It is a very surreal thing to be boogie-ing with a group of women in jammies all reeking of Ben Gay.
But a mighty joyful one at that.

Day 3 and the closing ceremonies to follow.


Day 1

Filed under: @ 12:37 pm

Understand that I started writing this, a computer being unavailable and impractical at the time, in a notebook while sitting in the dining tent after dinner last Saturday. It’s not exactly in chronological order, but the flavor of the narrative is so good that I couldn’t stand to discard it.

That having been said…..

So here we are 40 miles into it and there’s loud dance music with better than half the dining tent, the kitchen crew, and free safety and medical personnel of all ages dancing like there’s no tomorrow.
And my shrink wonders why I’m so high after I finish doing one of these.

Thursday night… God I must have dreamed 6 or 8 times that I’d missed the first day. Traditional “sleeping in a strange bed” light and wispy sleep hearing my parents’ clock chime the 15s what seemed like, but couldn’t have been, all freakin’ night.
And over and over and over again dreaming that it was noon Friday and I was only just starting, dreaming that I woke up Saturday morning and had missed Friday entirely. Normal stress/anticipation stuff. I was walking through Kirkland this afternoon and I met someone who had actually missed Friday. Somehow this woman had gotten it in her head that the walk was Saturday/Sunday/Monday and, despite walking with a team and exchanging e-mail from them, to say nothing of having gotten all the official e-mails, she was never corrected. One of her team called her at 0430 on Friday and told her to get packed and get her butt in gear, but she had to work on Friday so she caught up with us this morning.

Now there’s a conga line. No, two.
Sweet Jesus, where did the Glo Stick Hula Hoop come from?
The conga line leader, or one of them, is wearing a giant pair of styrofoam boobs on her chest with giant tassels on the nipples. I may have to join this, they’re playing Abba.
(time passes)
I may dance to Abba, but I DON’T line dance!

Anyway, where was I? Oh right, Friday.
Too early, too chilly, too little sleep, and too excited to have anything other than flash impressions of the early morning.
Two seep van crew in spotted jammies and dog ears helped me haul my bag what turned out to be a shocking distance and even volunteered to take it to the gear van for me. Told me that if I needed a lift at any time during the weekend I was to call on the Paws Van. Weirdly, despite desperately needing, and even once catching, a ride to the nearest porta-potty a few times over the weekend, I didn’t see them again until closing ceremonies.

Hold on – gotta dance again.
A. I was wrong. The boobs aren’t styrofoam, they’re stuffed and covered in synthetic fur.
B. You ain’t seen weird until you’ve sat through almost an hour of slipper and (mostly) flannel jammie clad (mostly) women wearing beads and Glo Stick jewelry dancing to everything from The Village People to a techno remix of Michael Jackson to Garth Brooks while reeking of Ben Gay. Along the lines of Dogbert’s “You haven’t seen ugly until you’ve seen dinosaurs dance.” This isn’t, unless you’re a lousy mean person, in any way ugly but it sure is more surreal than normal.

Okay, back to Friday. The music is ending and I’ve got to get into bed before I freeze my butt straight off.
Another flash, and, in fact, a photo, of the channel 5 news helicopter alone in a patch of wonderfully soft blue sky just as the sun is starting to rise.

And probably almost an hour of standing waiting to get through the gates to the walk out after they officially opened the 2008 Seattle 3 Day. At the time I wasn’t sure how many of us there were, but it seemed like there were a lot more walkers this year than last. (Brief editor’s note: I was right, too. Last year there were only about 2700 of us, this year it’s more like 3300).
Finally walking, finally warming up and the first casualty of the day less than five minutes from the starting gate. Some poor woman sitting in the road crying almost as much as she is bleeding, having tripped, slipped on a manhole cover, and ended up doing a face plant into a curb. The sweep van drivers, fortunately about 50 feet away in a parking lot waving down the Tri Med ambulance that was sitting in the same parking lot. A huge knot, I’ve never seen such a thing, half the size of a tennis ball I swear, on this woman’s forehead and her nose bleeding down her shirt and into her lap. I found out later that she’d broken her nose. We were through the BCC campus and on to 148th when the ambulance came blasting through with her. Since she was sidelined for the whole weekend, and, honestly, is probably only just now getting over the headache, I surely hope that The 3 Day allowed her to transfer her registration and her fundraising to next year.
Walking for a short period of time with William the Utilikilt guy. Pink hair, Utilikilt, knee high pole climbing boots and all. This year William was carrying, in addition to the backpack full of his gear that he usually carries, a pair of wrist and hand weights. BIG wrist and hand weights. Claimed that they kept his hands from swelling and they probably did. I think he’s more than a little crazy though.

Walking off of the BCC campus we were supposed to cross an intersection northbound then funnel on to a pedestrian overpass over 148th and continue northbound on the east side of the street. There were city of Bellevue traffic officers directing traffic at the intersection because there were so damn many of us and it was the middle of the morning rush. It would have worked well, but the approach to the pedestrian overpass would only allow people to walk three abreast. A major traffic jam appeared and we were starting to line the road all the way back through the BCC campus. One traffic cop looks at the other, one standing in the middle of the intersection brings traffic in both directions to a stop. Then they motion us, a hundred or more of us, kitty cornered across the intersection to relieve the congestion. They kept sending us across in batches that way, keeping people moving across the pedestrian bridge at the same time, thus keeping us all in motion as much as possible. Not for the first time were we thankful for the local constabulary.
Through Lake Hills, down Main Street (the suburban one, not the downtown Bellevue one for those who are familiar with Bellevue) and down past Samammish high school. A quick shot past a bus stop where the striking Samammish school teachers were waving signs and shouting for us instead of against the Bellevue school district (one with a sign that read “We’d be here anyway, good luck!”) and down the Lake Hills Connector. LHC is a surface arterial that connects suburban Bellevue with downtown Bellevue running through a beautiful piece of green belt and wetland. I am most intimately familiar with the route since Dad used to drive me to school every morning down that route. I’d never walked it of course, and it is more lovely on foot than it is at 40 miles an hour.
It’s a big inside joke, probably not even most of my family will get it, but Pop, this one’s for you….



Through downtown Bellevue, or at least the southeast skirts thereof. Across 405 for the first of several times that weekend and down and around through the business parks at the south end of Bellevue. A nice place to walk, shady and all but kind of boring until we intersected with 108th and started to head north again. North right past the precincts of Bellevue High School where I spent much stomping time as a teenager. I’d hoped never to walk along there again…. yeesh. Past the bus stop where David Hagen broke both of his shins running from a bully, past the KFC which ain’t one anymore and a swift jaunt west along the downtown Bellevue section of Main. For those who keep track of these things, the Triple Alliance is now (sadly) a pool bar. Another crazy inside joke that very few people will get.
Main Street in downtown Bellevue is at least an interesting place to walk. I’d like to think we offended at least half of the people we walked past, but it may only have been as many as 2/3. We were very noisy, very flamboyant, and NOT very proper upper crust Bellevue.
Lunch at Bellevue’s downtown park, a very respectable piece of green within what has become a rather large small city’s downtown core. Nice place for lunch, but too dang hot, not nearly enough shady bits.

Too I discovered at lunch that massaging hot feet with peppermint foot lotion might feel good, but is likely to cause a wicked itchy rash.
A brief interlude while I sit at medical with an ice bag and 1% hydrocortisone cream on my left foot. Aaaahhhh! Ice bag!
I re-socked and re-shoed but still had the ice bag. Don’t want to carry it, medical won’t take it back. Aha! I tucked the ice bag under my hat and, with a somewhat prolonged break to act as photographer (I got asked to take photos for everyone that weekend. Don’t know why a solo walker is everyone’s automatic choice, but I did get some interesting conversation out of it.) I walked off. North through Bellevue, east again, north again, east again. They had us zig zagging all over freaking creation and while Bellevue is clean and doubtless a safer place to walk than, say, Federal Way, the back and forth got a little dull.
Back over 405, past Overlake hospital and then…. and then…..

Really up.
Not steeply up, just up for a LONG time. Up and hot and cement and lots of strip malls and HOT. GAK!
A pit stop at the little park that’s behind the YMCA where I took swimming lessons as a kid. Nice park, full of bees. Yellow jacket sting for a small fry playing on the playground equipment who had the lung capacity of the entire Mormon Tabernacle Choir. No one, I mean NO ONE can holler like this kid can. Medical forwarded him a cup full of ice and that, combined with several cookies that were donated by those of us in passing, seemed to soothe things.
Oh yeah, the cookies! One of the more organized groups that showed up at the cheering stations all weekend had a table full of home baked cookies. Fantastic cookies, best gingersnaps I’ve had in a long time. The people at the cheering stations were so great.

Finally ended up at the northeastern end of Bellevue just before it turns into Redmond and then we entered THE MICROSOFT ZONE.
I found walking through the Microsoft campus a little creepy.
Clean, sure. Well marked and plenty of controlled intersections, sure.
But everything with that overtone of “You are on corporate property, never forget it!”. Even to the point where, when we started walking past the apartment complexes that are associated with the campus I was forced to wonder whether the complexes are Microsoft property as well, owned by for the express use of employees of Microsoft. No one around could answer that question and plenty of us were asking it. Jaunthie, any comments?
Oh, and I’d forgotten about Ranjit.
I walked with Ranjit for a bit in the morning as we were headed down out of Lake Hills. Ranjit is a Microsofty, an Indian (No! Really?!) import from Bangalore. Ranjit was walking because his wife who had been doing all the fundraising and training, was suddenly unable to walk. The 3 Day allowed them to transfer her registration to him and so Ranjit was walking for his mother, a breast cancer survivor who was visiting from India. As we walked through the Microsoft campus Ranjit’s family, Mom included, was standing outside their apartment all waving signs and cheering. Mom had tears in her eyes when I passed her. It’s cool that The 3 Day let them do that.

Into the depths of Redmond, across 520 for the first of several times, and finally we run across Polly The Dinosaur Lady! I hadn’t seen her all day, was worried that she wouldn’t be crewing this year. I’d seen The Duck Man….

I’d seen Bubba

(and just for the record, this photo of Bubba is from the 3rd day when all of the male safety crew were wearing pink lacy bras. Bubba had stuffed his with a pair of pink fluffy teddy bears and was heard to say that his was the only 3 dollar boob job from Target on the face of the planet.)
But until that point there’d been no Polly.
Polly is special, she’s got more energy, more capacity for improvisation, and a better capability to inspire than just about anyone. Squeaking dinosaur kisses as you pass, “C’mon sugar britches” or something of the sort if you’re lagging or sore… Polly is a character and I was very happy to see her.

One final pit stop at a park in Redmond and I HAD to stop at medical. My right little toe had been sending up gradually more insistent cries for attention and, while I hadn’t planned to take my shoes off until I hit camp (it’s a real pain, literally and figuratively, to have to stuff swollen feet back into your walking shoes), I had to find out what was going on with the toe. It felt like someone had inserted a balloon under the nail and was gradually peeling it off of my toe. There was no blister, the toe was red but nothing obvious. A passing RN in kneepads (there’s a lot of kneeling to look at feet on this event) took a gander and she couldn’t see anything either. The RN went to grab one of the sports medicine people who looked, trans-illuminated my toe with a penlight and told me that the nail was going to fall off. My shoes were a wee bit too tight in the toe box, she said, and that toe had been rubbing. I could cut a hole in my shoe she said, (NOT AT $139 A PAIR I COULDN’T!) or I could take the bus back into camp. It was only three miles and that way I’d be saving my feet for the next day.
Unh huh.
Now understand that I have the greatest respect for the people, especially the medical people, who volunteer for these events. I normally would pay attention to their instructions knowing how irritating it is when I run across people in my professional capacity who think they know better about their pets than I do. I trust implicitly the instructions that these folks give about blisters and foot care, they know far more about people feet than I ever will.
So I lay down in the grass with a bag of ice, my Gatorade bottle and my snack. I elevated my feet, with ice bag in place, against the nearest tree and ate pretzels and my peanut butter and jelly sandwich (Oh those PB&J sandwiches! Nothing you’d catch me dead purchasing or eating in my normal life, but these packaged, refrigerated to partially frozen, crustless, white bread with PB&J smished in between sandwiches are absolute freakin’ AMBROSIA when you’ve been walking hard. Don’t go so well with green Gatorade though, I’d recommend the blue.).
By the time I’d finished with my sammich and pretzels, stretched and re-laced my shoes so they were pretty danged loose… The pinky toe actually felt pretty good. So I walked on. It was, as Sports Medicine Lady said, ONLY 3 miles.
3 miles straight down though. Yeesh!

Down through the tail end of Redmond into the Samammish river valley is a nice walk. Beautiful view, entertaining walking (that is, there’s plenty of traffic to keep you occupied and entertained), but it’s DOWN. And DOWN HURTS! Especially if you’ve got a mashed toe and can either lace your shoes tight so that your toe remains mashed or you can lace them loose and allow your toe to mash with distressing regularity against the end of your shoe.
Finally got down to the Samammish river trail, one final potty stop before we hit the trail and head south towards camp. No access for the sweep vans, once you’re on the trail you’re on the trail until you hit camp, you fall into the river, or you climb up out of the valley in which the trail runs (up the river bank basically) and hitch a ride from a passing car.
Did I mention that it was stinkin’ hot on Friday? The morning was fine, but come about 11 a.m. and it was hot. And we were drinking volumes and volumes of water and Gatorade. The last mile or so of Friday’s route was along the river trail, I had a really sore toe, one empty bottle and a second half full of tepid khaki Gatorade (never mix the orange and the green by the way), a full bladder, and the strap of my waist pack cinching me in two right across my hips.
The last mile or so of the route SUCKED BALLS.
Finally, finally, FINALLY through the west gate at Marymoor park. About a quarter of the way up the driveway there’s a series of baseball fields. Each two fields is equipped with a double porta potty. And they were all full. A line stretched from all of them, but since they were considerably closer than those at camp (about another half mile down the road), I joined the line.

After that it was smooth sailing. I called Andrew, far to early as it turns out, and told him I’d hit camp. We’d arranged that he’d come out to visit me after I got in and so I figured on calling him and getting him on his way while I got my stuff into my tent and got a shower.
Except that his traffic was better than either of us would have predicted and mine was much worse. I checked in at camp, found my tent section and gear then had to drag my bag all the way from tent E 100 (where the sign marking the E section was planted) to my tent site at E 1. Only to find…. no tent.
Damn damn and double damn. I poked my head into the tent across the aisle and found that I was supposed to pick up my tent where I’d picked up my gear. Went back to the gear trucks, I had a shorter route this time since I didn’t have to detour 99 tents to find the gear trucks, only to find that there were no tents.
Pallets with empty tent boxes, but no tents.
Gear monkeys with radios and chairs too, damn them, at the pallets trying to figure out where all the tents had gone, but no tents.
I started to have visions of sleeping in the grass.
3300 walkers plus 400 plus crew and volunteers equals about 2000 pink dome tents. The camp was massive and some of our tents had been mis-routed to the P-Z tent sections. It would take about 20 minutes for them (yes, the camp was that big) to send a tractor over with the tents.
So grouchy, sweaty, sticky, and still fiercely hot, I stood around waiting for my tent.
When the tent finally arrived it was brand new. It was also small and easy enough for one person to pitch. I needed a little help with the rain fly, but managed well, all the time wondering whether or not I’d have a tent mate. I started to have visions of having an entire tent to myself. Not a lot of room, granted, but considerably more than one has sharing a tent.
Anne showed up with the rest of her teammates as I was unpacking my shower gear though so I ended up with a roommate for the weekend.
Anne was a gracious roomie, an older (mid to late 60’s) breast cancer survivor who, when she learned that I was walking solo, made me an official honorary member of her team. I’m now an official member of the Moody Boobs. She and I got along well together especially since both of us were much more interested in showering, eating, and SLEEPING when we were in camp rather than hanging out drinking beer as the “Miller Lite” team in the E 30’s were. How they managed to smuggle in, let alone get away with drinking, Miller Lite in camp (alcohol is strictly verboten) I don’t know but I was glad not to be sleeping next to them. Anne and I were also about four rows away from the porta potties. Far enough not to be bothered by noise or smell, but close enough that stumbling to go and pee in the middle of the night was not a chore. Altogether a decent, if damp, camp experience.

Andrew called to let me know that he was en-route just as I was lining up for my shower. Since a shower in those circumstances can take anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour I went to go meet him. Still dressed in my filthy gritty clothes, dying of hunger and sticky in a number of remarkable places, it was wonderful to see him.
Andrew carried my junk and stood in line for dinner with me. Laughed at me because, and I quote, “I don’t often get to see you eat like this. You’re eating like a lumberjack!” Which was true. Friday is spaghetti dinner night and even though I didn’t think I would eat all of what the dinner lady gave me…. I vacuumed it up. I always forget what that sort of exercise does to your metabolism.
The spaghetti beast tamed, we dropped some things off at my tent, Andrew (wonderful man, I’m not sure what I did to deserve him) took my dirty laundry and I went off for a shower. The shower line took me half an hour, I brushed my teeth then collapsed and died.
Day 2 and Day 3 to follow, but since it’s taken me almost three hours to write this, y’all are going to have to put up with this saga in serial.
Andrew took these two photos on Friday night.

The Spaghetti Monster Tamed

The Spaghetti Monster Tamed

Rising moon from my tent

Rising moon from my tent



Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 1:12 pm

I’ve updated the 2008 3-Day Page with all of the pictures. I hope to distill the video I shot down to a useable length and post that as well.

Margaret is of good cheer and doing well; better than the last time, IMHO. She did a great job of pacing herself this time ’round, and it shows post-walk. I suppose that helping to dig up over 8.6 million dollars for breast cancer research—over 35 percent more than last year—helped a bit. 😉

Go Margaret! Go walkers!


Here I Go Again On My Own

Filed under: @ 6:34 pm

My fourth 3 Day is a little over a month away.
I’ve got two pairs of well broken in walking shoes. I’ve got six pairs of quick drying, heavily cushioned, wicking walking socks. I’ve got high support, wicking sports bras (three crop top, three tank top to be chosen depending on the weather), I’ve got three pairs of elastic waisted, wicking spandex running shorts (the wise wear running shorts as underwear to avoid chafing) as well as three pairs of quick dry elastic waisted over-shorts (I’ve lost some weight in the past three months but not so much that I’m going to parade about in public for three days in spandex). I’ve got light weight, vented, convertible long to short sleeve over shirts. I’ve got sunscreen, a hat, camera, bandannas, bug repellant, sleeping bag, camp mattress, my own blister kit, a folding camp chair…

What I’ve not got is an idea for a t-shirt.

Understand that a t-shirt isn’t a vital part of my equipment, god knows I’ve got plenty of 3 Day related shirts to wear, including last year’s blockbuster which engendered some of the more entertaining conversations I’ve ever had in my life.
But a team t-shirt, even for a team of only one is tradition. And it’s fun. Especially since I know the graphics designer pretty well and we can tart up the shirt as much as the situation, and inspiration, demands.

So any help from any or all of you readers would certainly be welcome. I’m sticking with the “Team Ecccentrica” name, even as a solo walker, mostly because I have yet to have anyone catch on to the Hitchhiker’s reference without prompting and I’m interested in whether or not anyone will.

On a less frivolous note, I know I said it last year and I’ll most likely say it again, and again, and again this year and next year and however many years I end up doing this, but this is a remarkable experience for anyone who cares to participate in it. I’m not, in any way, shape, or form, suggesting that any of you sign up for this year. If you’ve not been doing some pretty serious walking on your own, starting to train a month in advance and expecting that you’ll be able to walk 60 miles without literally terminal muscle cramps and blisters, is foolish.
But if anyone would care to join me in a difficult, painful, and remarkable spiritual journey next year, I’m already planning on doing it again.

I can’t imagine why I keep doing this to myself.

Oh and for those of you who are local and who might wish to show up, I’ll post a list of the cheering stations and times for opening (it’s at 6 a.m. at Bellevue Community College on the 12th of September, don’t bother) and closing ceremonies as soon as I have them.
I promise not to do anything unfortunate to my knees this year.

Donations cheerfully accepted here.


A month later…. the closing ceremonies

Filed under: @ 9:01 pm

You walk through the doors at the top of the stairs and you’re overwhelmed by the vision of a pink and white pulsating crowd some 15-20 feet below you.
A roar of welcome, cheers, shouts, and clapping greets you and on its heels the sudden overwhelming funk of feet (heh….heels….feet…… Sorry, it’s been a long week.)

You walk, limp, or creep down the stairs. If down hill is bad, down stairs is about 10 times worse although you do get a handrail to lean on. You’re met at the bottom by a pair of winged fairies with sparkly magic wands and you walk the gauntlet of clapping hands, cheering faces, and high fives.

The woman in the purple shirt runs her bar code reader over the credential around your neck and you’re escorted into the line of people waiting for their official finisher’s shirts.
And you’re done. You’re really, honest, for good this time really done.
And the closing ceremonies don’t start for several hours and you’re sweaty and your feet hurt like hell and oh god, there’s no real place to sit down but the floor.

I grabbed my shirt and headed for the restroom (praise Zeus! Flush toilets!). Stripped out of my damp and sweaty shirt, splashed a bit of water around, ran a comb through my hair then gave it up for a bad job and stretched my bub over my head and topped it off again with my hat. Everyone had serious hat hair.
A clean dry shirt was nice. It was a shame, I thought, that I’d not planned enough ahead and brought another pair of socks so I could change into dry socks. An even greater shame that I’d not planned ahead and brought a pair of slippers so I could change out of my walking shoes and let my poor demented feet cool off and swell up. Dammit! I knew that I’d want another pair of shoes, why didn’t I just suck it up and carry a pair of slippers with me anyway?!

Wandered out again into the crush of people. I actually finished within the first 500 so the crowd wasn’t too bad at that point. LOUD but.
Grabbed a snack, grabbed my free can of La Croix drink and stumbled over to a corner marked ‘FREE FOOT MASSAGE’. A bunch of people sitting in chairs with either blissful or painful expressions on their faces and their feet encased in these vibrating massage deelies.
Sounded like a good idea to me! And besides it was a place to sit on a chair so I could sit without having to worry about terminal leg cramps when I got up again.

MMMMMMMMmmmmmmmmm! Vibrating foot massage!
Damn that La Croix drink is nasty. Very carbonated, very quinine water-ish with only a teeny splash of fruit flavor.

Sitting and melding with my vibrating foot massager (I was one of the blissful ones once I figured out how to control the speed of the vibrations) I noticed a small stand selling various 3 Day gear in a far corner across the room.
Hm! Wonder if they’d have fresh socks? Or dare I hope, would they have……slippers?

Leaving my shoes unlaced (which was honestly the only way I was able to get them back on my feet at that point), I reluctantly gave up my happy place and went to investigate. Poking around in the wire racks I found, YIPPEEE!, a shelf full of pink-ribboned official 3 Day slippers. Official 3 Day Gear dude wandering around saw me rooting through the piles of slippers and asked: “Can I help you find a particular size?” to which I answered: “Women’s 8 1/2 swollen please!”
They even had a chair where I could sit and strip off my shoes and socks and change into my *brand new slippers*.
Never has there been a foot-gasm like that one. Hot, sweaty, swollen feet suddenly had the opportunity to be cool, dry, unconfined feet. It was MAGICAL. Especially since, to help prevent blisters, I’d kept my shoes laced super tight for the whole weekend. Aaaahhhh! Feet are cool, feet are able to spread out…… Wonderful!

I stood in the crowd at the bottom of the stairs for a while, cheering and hooting as people came in. But it was getting a little chilly and I really wanted somewhere where I could sit and not have to worry about turning into a pretzel when I stood up again. So I snuck around to the other side of the stairwell so I could wander back up into the sun again. Wonderful sunshine, and better yet, a spot to sit on the edge of one of the massive container gardens that is in between the opera house and the PNW Ballet. Cheering, hooting, and wiggling my happy swollen toes.
I watched a lot of teams go past, a lot of flags go past. One guy with his army division flag, a trio of, as it turned out, two daughters and their dad carrying the ‘GENERATIONS’ flag walking in memory of their mother and wife. And lots and lots and lots of people in little furry deely boppers. The Warming Hut Hotties were well represented this year.

An invisible announcer: “Ladies and Gentlemen, the very last 2007 Seattle 3 Day walker is now less than a mile and a half from the closing ceremonies!” and I decided that it was time to go back inside.
Besides I was hungry again and needed another snack. Weird things that sort of exercise does to your metabolism.

I reclaimed my position cuddling a pole at the bottom of the stairs as the crowd got denser and denser. All of us were EXTREMELY solicitous of others’ feet. I don’t think anyone’s feet got stepped on.
People in pink camo, people in all sorts of costumes. People that were obviously the beginnings of the medical stragglers swept up from the last check point or from too far back on the route to finish on time. People in bandages, on crutches, and held together with various types of tape.
And over it all the constant cheering and clapping (and the overwhelming funk of feet).
One of the things that I find most heart warming is that everyone who is physically capable (i.e. everyone who isn’t flat on their back with an IV catheter) to limp across the finish line is a successful walker. Doesn’t matter (no one knows anyway) how often or how far you ride in a sweep van, if you can do it you walk across that finish line and everyone treats you like everyone else. Doesn’t matter if you’ve walked 6 steps or the whole 60 miles. Competition is not a part of this event and in such a success-minded competitive society, where you’re nothing if you can’t compete and win…… If you’ve walked, you’ve won. For once, how fast, how far, and how successfully doesn’t matter.

I was standing with a team of four women, one who was a 3 peater and three who had never walked before. In between hooting and clapping we spent a lot of time chatting about the walk and what a wonderful experience it had been. We spent a lot of time talking about closing ceremonies and the shoe salute. I was responsible for the sale of another three pairs of 3 Day slippers.
The people coming down the stairs were coming more and more slowly and with more and more effort. These folks on the final approach were obviously those who had been picked up from the medical tents along the way.

The invisible announcer: “Ladies and Gentlemen, the very last 2007 Seattle 3 Day walker has arrived!”
A woman at the top of the stairs and the room went absolutely wild.

There was a lot of chaos for quite some time before the closing ceremonies could begin. The crew all needed to be rounded up for debriefing, they had to chivvy and cajole us into some semblance of order as well as get us out of the room without running us all up the stairs again.
A wise decision as it turns out. A walker coming back down the stairs from the porta-potties slipped at the top of the stairs and fell a ways. She managed to catch herself, but couldn’t stand back up again so there was a brief interval while the medics figured out how they were going to get her down the stairs. The medics got a wild round of cheering and applause as they carried her off to the medical station.

They prodded us into groups of five so I latched on to my four (as I was calling them) skinny ladies and we all limped in tandem out the side door and along Mercer Way for a while and then back around the corner of the PNW Ballet building before they let us march our way into Memorial Stadium.

I had arrived about 2 1/2 hours before the closing ceremonies started. At one point I had spoken with Andrew and he told me that he was waiting “in the nosebleed section along the right side of the stadium next to the number 7”.

The music started and despite the fact that we were linked in groups of five, despite the fact that we were all footsore and swollen….. you just have to walk to the music.
Not only do they have the snacks down to a science for this gig, they’ve got the music down to a science as well. You can’t hear this music without falling into step and kicking up your heels a (very) little.

They had us down on the football field. A series of concentric circles with the walkers on the periphery, the crew in the middle, and the survivor’s circle in the very center. I managed a spot right up against the fence separating the walkers from the crew and while we were waiting for the rest of the walkers to work their way in I looked up at the right side of the stadium, found the number 7 and, as promised, standing right next to it was Andrew with the camera on a telephoto lens.
I went a little cuckoo at that point. In a crowd of 2500 walkers with who knows how many family and friends in the stand and loud bouncy music blaring from the stage I was jumping (not very far) up and down and shrieking: “MY SWEETIE! THERE’S MY SWEETIE!” waving like a lunatic and making absolutely no impression whatsoever on Andrew who could not, of course, see or hear me in the crowd.
I was really hoarse for a few days afterwards.

The crew marched in with me screeching like a mad woman, high fiving everyone who walked past, and just about killing myself (and them) reaching over the fence to hug the Princess Van crew.

The whole stadium went quiet. And all of the survivors in their pink shirts with their honor guard and their flags came in to fill the center of the circle. I pulled the slip knot in the laces of my walking shoes loose from the strap on my waist pack, grabbed a shoe and for the first time was part of 3000 people in a silent, sweaty, shoe salute.
It seems a little corny when you’re hearing about it, when I’m writing about it, or when you see photos of it.
But when you’re in the center of it, when you’ve put so much effort into getting there, and when the emotion is so fresh and so palpable it’s an incredibly powerful experience.

Not quite 2500 walkers raised 6.5 million dollars for one weekend’s work.
Whatever the benefit this money may bring I hope I am so lucky as to be able to participate in this event for as long as I so desire. The power of the combined effort is worth more than any amount of money.


Day 3

Filed under: @ 6:53 pm

I was crosseyed and nauseated Sunday morning. My metabolism just simply DOES NOT work at 0500 and forcing myself to eat enough breakfast to get moving is not fun. Shower, HOT shower does help, as does an infusion of triple powered ginger mint tea but I still couldn’t eat much more than half a bagel and a glass of milk.
Having his people getting up at that hour of the morning on a weekend confuses the crap out of Scrum too. Scrum has very quickly adapted to my new work schedule and even though he is usually convinced that I should be up on Thursday and Friday mornings at 0530 (when I usually get up for work on Monday through Wednesday), he is UTTERLY convinced that people shouldn’t be up and about at 0530 on weekends. Much cross blinking and muttering as I stumbled around then, when his metabolism kicked in and he woke up (about 10 minutes after I turned on the light), there was a considerable amount of “GYOW! PROW! NYOW!” at full volume letting me know that there was something not right with the cat’s world and that he wasn’t willing to let it go without comment. He desisted after I bunged a pair of socks at him but it only made him subside into the cross blinking and muttering again. Punk.
I had a long and involved discussion with myself about whether or not I’d be taking a pair of flip flops (note for those not familiar with Hawaiian pidgin: I’ve called them slippers for years and will continue to refer to them as slippers, I only call them flip flops here to clarify what type of shoe I’m talking about) with me. The closing ceremonies usually have a culminating moment in which there is a shoe salute. If you’re not wearing another pair of shoes it is a physical impossibility under the circumstances (the crowd and your physical condition being the limiting factors) to remove one shoe in enough time to participate in the tribute. If you carry a pair of slippers with you on the last day however, you’ve not only got easy access to your walking shoes for the shoe tribute, but you’ve also got a light, moderately supportive, soft, and unconfining pair of shoes to change into when you’re done walking and you can let your feet swell. I was pooped enough Sunday morning that I convinced myself I didn’t want to carry something else with me and so left my slippers at home. A decision I had cause to regret later on which resulted in me becoming way more familiar with all the convenience stores along First Avenue in downtown Seattle than I ever wanted to be.

I wasn’t sure how I would find my sweep van gals to give them their discs. The Princess Girls had given me their tent number, but I couldn’t remember it and although I knew where the vans were parked I didn’t want to take the time to run down to the van park and deliver the CDs before the route opened. I slipped the discs into my pack and went to stand in line for the bus.

Sunday morning they bussed us from camp in Burien to the south parking lot at Lincoln Park in West Seattle. A longer line of school busses I have not seen in a LONG time. Every free bus and bus driver in the city must have been lined up waiting for us. It was chilly and there was considerable rebellious murmuring when one bus was filled up and then for some explicable reason the line stopped again. Stood around for another 15 minutes or so stretching, wishing for a cuppa, and comparing shoes.
On my first 3 Day in 2002 I went to one of the official outfitters, Shoes & Feet in Bellevue. Walked in with the shoes I’d been wearing while walking on the treadmill for the previous 3 years and showed them to the shoe man. Said to him: “I’ve got high arches and bad knees, I’m walking 60 miles this summer, set me up.”
Shoe man trotted out about 15 pairs of walking shoes and, in between telling me how horrid the previous shoes had been, gave me a lot of good information about walking shoes. I spent about half an hour trying pairs of walking shoes and walking on their treadmill before I struck gold. Brooks Avias are now my shoe of choice. Sitting here in my office I can lay eyes on four pairs in various stages of degeneration from brand new (found a pair on sale just before the 3 Day) to geriatric in the extreme, and I have two other pairs. For my feet and my knees, Brooks Avias with Superfeet insoles are IT. One odd quirk of the Avias in general, and the Avias with Superfeet in specific, is that they have a very distinctive creak. I’ve run across one shoe guy at Shoes & Feet who managed to do something mysterious to the insoles to make the shoes NOT creak, but no one else seems to know what he did or how to reproduce it.
So I’m in line for a school bus with a group of women all stretching and I heard that creak. I turned and pinpointed a woman about two back from me and said: “Brooks Avias, right?!” Which set off a general conversation about shoes especially when it turned out that one of the women who was walking with Miriam (remember the little old Amazon woman I was walking with after lunch on Saturday?) had trained in and was walking in a pair of elastic strap shoes with no socks. These shoes are terribly popular for outdoor sports these days, they have some special name which I’m guaranteed not to remember, but they don’t look like they’d be any good at all for walking any distance in especially without socks. Miriam’s teammate swore by them though. Said she had no blisters and her feet were holding up remarkably well. The woman must have no arches at all.

How many years has it been since I’ve been on an actual yellow school bus? Lots of years. The stairs are remarkably steep if you’ve got a knee that doesn’t work well, the aisles are very narrow for a bunch of adult women wearing waist packs, and the leg room in the seats is quite minimal especially if you’ve got a knee that doesn’t work normally. It was, however, a place to sit and be warm. Waiting for the busses to load we’d all temperature regulated to the point where being outside at 0630 on a September morning wasn’t uncomfortable. Getting on the bus we realized how chilly we’d been and by the time they let us out at Lincoln Park we were all warm again which made the porta potties the next vital stop for all of us getting off the bus.
Chilly as I was though, I waited at the sidewalk outside the line of potties because the 18 Hour Lift and Support van was right there. The driver was chatting with a woman who had a sling on her left arm, arranging a pickup after the second pit stop. She was THRILLED to get the new music and I was off.

West Seattle right along Puget Sound. A lovely neighborhood to be walking through at 0645 on a Sunday morning, but frustrating because everyone was still in bed and we had to be extremely QUIET. A few blocks up from the bus stop we ran across the Pimp Van (there’s a photo, you’ll just have to see it) whose crew was out cheering for us…. silently. We wandered through a maze of less populated streets and were able to speak up a little bit, but when we took a sharp turn west and started heading down through the south end of the Alki neighborhood we were under strict orders to shut the heck up. To the point where, when one of the ambulances went past blowing their noxious music on their PA, one of the crossing guards at the crosswalk we were waiting at chased them down and scolded them. It was nice. Nice neighborhood, early morning with everyone cheerful and upbeat, but this extremely quiet undertone conversation. No honking, lots of waving.
The Breast Friends with their decked out Mustang were about a mile or so in, parked along some side street with the four of them on the sidewalk handing out candy. The moms were cheerful of course, but the daughters cracked me up. One of them, maybe as much as 15 or so, has got to be a cheerleader. If she’s not her school is wasting her talent because a more natural extroverted ham I have never seen. Here’s this skinny little blond chick in sweats and a crop top T-shirt with a GINORMOUS lace bra (stuffed) strapped to her chest bouncing and waving for all she’s worth…..absolutely silently. Had to be killing her to hold in the shouting. Fortunately for her she got to let all the cheering out later on that morning, but it was a serious crack up watching her cheer silently.

Pardon me for the odd exclamation, but SHAZAM is Alki a nice place to walk! We walked a winding trail through the neighborhoods above the water and then broke out onto Alki proper. I had managed to get my flag finally. Asked the guy carrying the BELIEF flag what it took to get one and he said: “I’ve only been carrying this for a short while, but you can carry it. Just watch the overhangs, it’s taller than you think!”, handed me the flag and then was off. The weather was beautiful and especially inspiring if one was carrying a flag. Clear blue sky, cool bright sunshine, and a great breeze off the water to keep the flags flying. Someone got a photo of me just after I’d gotten the flag, backdrop of the sky and the water….Damn it was nice. Felt bad about the photo though, because while I was getting snapped I provided enough of a distraction for a woman walking past us that she tripped and skinned her knee. She bounced up off the sidewalk though and was all for walking on without any assistance when a group of us descended on her and bullied her into accepting a cleaning, some triple antibiotic and a bandaid from a passing sweep cycle.

My therapist opines that I find these events to be such a mind blowing experience because they allow me to be an anonymous extrovert. Being involved in such a tremendous group effort with such a tremendous group (as it were) in circumstances under which no one is liable to remember much more than my costume and (maybe) my first name is a wonderfully freeing feeling. For one weekend there are no politics, there is no outside world, there is nothing else but what we are all united in doing. It’s great.
Under normal circumstances I wouldn’t have approached the guy with the flag, wouldn’t have had so many wonderful conversations with so many random strangers and I sure wouldn’t have been such a loudmouth about the woman with the skinned knee. Simple courtesy would have dictated me asking if she was okay and asking if she wanted any help, but I normally wouldn’t have run my mouth to another person running past asking for help for her knee when she had already declined same.

It was 0800 or so by the time we got to, for want of a better term, the Alki strip proper. Enough people were up and about that the cheering started to get loud again. Turning tide with lots of seagulls wheeling and herons stalking around in the shallows. Honking, hooting, and hollering. People along the beach clapping. Someone etched “GREAT JOB WALKERS!” in the sand on the beach. One long, miles long, cheering station. The 18 Hour Lift and Support van stopped abreast the sidewalk and the driver stuck her head out saying: “That disc you gave us is FANTASTIC! And we’re only on the first song!” (another new Melissa Ethridge fan).
The Pirate Pit Stop was in a community sports field and they had a fresh shipment of chilled peanut butter graham crackers. Sat, enjoyed the sunshine on the bleachers while licking peanut butter and jelly from my fingers and then had a great series of supports on which to stretch. Bleachers are about the best stretching buddies a girl with questionable knees can have.

A woman along the sidewalk taking photos for The Renton Reporter and the Highline Times. I’m almost sorry we don’t get the Highline Times anymore because I’d like to see the photos she took. Also it makes great liner for the snake cage, but that’s another story. Another woman about a mile and a half later taking photos of flag bearers and other somewhat out of the ordinary walkers for her website. She owns a bakery that features a Susan G. Komen pink silk pie. Okay, what the heck. She got me and my flag and I walked on just as she was accosting a husband and wife team whom she thought were particularly cute.
Divers suiting up and a conversation about local diving with a woman who was also sporting a knee brace. I’ve spent too many years discussing local diving conditions with Joanne and Ray and so was able to pontificate about the diving conditions along Alki and whether or not one would encounter sharks while diving in Puget Sound. We parted with her utterly convinced that her diving fanatic husband would never dive in the area because I was able to testify that one could, in fact, encounter sharks diving in Puget Sound.
Around a curve and then glory be! The Space Needle! Our first view of the end point! The Super Pit Stop was in a pocket park just past the more urban section of Alki and we were accosted at the opening of the park by a pair of women with stamp pads one of whom was stamping us with Super Stamps and the other giving out “new pairs of feet”. For the rest of the day most of us were walking along looking like someone had been beating on us because we all had super stamps on each shoulder and purple feet along the backs of our calves that looked a lot like bruises.

A power walker powered past me asking if she could carry the BELIEF flag. I got her photo with it before she powered off and was soon out of sight. It was nice to have both hands back, but it was also kind of disappointing to be less obvious again.
The Princess Van finally drove past just after I left the Super Pit Stop. I flagged them down and went hobbling down the road to where they’d stopped. Princess Vicki was just starting her “Welcome to The Princess Van…” spiel when I had to interrupt and apologize for flagging them down under false pretenses, but I was forgiven when I gave them the new CD.

Walk, walk, walk, walk, walk. One of the cheering station people with a baby in a Snugli on her chest. Wrapped up in blankets and buntings and a hat with a t-shirt strapped across her (?) chest reading “MINI-MELONS”. A pair of quarter watermelon slices in a suggestive spot with spaghetti straps up over the shoulders. Kid seemed a little mystified by the attention she was attracting, but we all thought the shirt was a crack up.

Up under the West Seattle Bridge and Admiral Way and along through the Delridge neighborhood, somewhat southeast of West Seattle proper. A little run down, certainly a lot less affluent than West Seattle proper, and entire streets full of people living in housing projects with their kids lining the sidewalks giving us high fives.
Lunch at Delridge Park at 9 miles. I hit the lunch stop just before 1100, not making nearly as good time as I had on day 1 (and who, exactly, is surprised at this point?) but feeling good none the less. I originally found myself a patch of shade under a tree but soon found myself too chilly. It takes a lot of effort to move under those circumstances. I had removed the knee brace, taken off my shoes and socks and pulled a bunch of stuff out of my waist pack to get at my phone so I could call Andrew and give him a progress report. SNORT! Stuff all my loose crap into my lunch bag, clip the knee brace into the strap for my pack, tie my shoes together, and lever myself up off the ground to collapse gracefully in the sunshine and finish my lunch. I had a brisk argument with my phone, trying once again to figure out how to set the alarm for a specific time, and when I’d finally made it see things my way, I lay back in the sunshine for another postprandial nap. But as it turned out the phone had sneakily set itself for a time that I hadn’t approved and when, 15 minutes later, the alarm hadn’t gone off I sat up anyway, rubbed my feet and calves down, changed socks, re-applied my sunscreen and got set to go. The phone, duplicitous little git that it is, started beeping just as I was getting up causing me to trip over my feet. It’s remarkable how clumsy one becomes. It’s not just muscle fatigue, it’s a combination of muscle fatigue and the realization that while your reflexes might be as fast as usual, it’ll really hurt to respond in a normal fashion. It’s a hell of a choice to have to make on the spur of the moment: “Hm! Will it hurt less to save myself from falling than it will to take a face plant in the grass?” I can’t say about the face plant, but stumbling around trying not to step on people was moderately uncomfortable.

We left our southeasterly path and turned straight north for a while, walking back towards the West Seattle Bridge. Kind of irritating to be covering the same territory just several blocks east of where we’d been walking before lunch, but I can forgive them their twists and turns for the sake of having had such a great route otherwise. Under the freeway, under the freeway bridge and across the Duwamish River. I’ll never be able to figure out where precisely we were walking and how we managed to get there, but the river crossing was nice and just across the river were Polly the Dinosaur woman and another of the safety crew escorting us across two rather busy intersections. We were across the intersection safely and Polly was just stepping back up onto the curb when an obviously *very important man* in some sort of zippy expensive car who had been waiting at the red light stomped on his accelerator and came within centimeters of tagging her as he zoomed past.
To put it lightly, Polly was PISSED! What I caught of her tirade was: “YOU MANIAC! I WAS STILL IN THE INTERSECTION!!!” at which point we were far enough away from each other and the traffic was loud enough that I missed the rest. I imagine for the sake of the image of the event, Polly wasn’t going to engage in any profane hollering, but I could see the blue cloud around her head.
Past a fishing terminal along the Duwamish waterway. A really crowded fishing terminal. A really crowded fishing terminal with people with buckets apparently keeping their catch. Yeesh! I’m certain I’d never want to eat anything that came out of that section of the water.
Since we were walking along the approach to the southern freight terminals there were a lot of semi-trucks driving past. All of whom were more than willing to blast their air horns in response to the traditional pumping arm request. It was a noisy day along Marginal Way at Spokane Street.
A zig northwards along Marginal Way, a zag east to First Avenue, past the Parrotheads of Puget Sound stand where they were giving out (yigh!) APPLE flavored sport drink slushies and then we were on final approach northwards along First Avenue south of the stadiums.
Also south of Krispy Kreme.
Dude standing out in the parking lot of the Krispy Kreme with an entire rack of boxes of doughnut holes. Turns out he was the manager and absolutely thrilled that we were walking in front of his store. Enh. Doughnut holes were good, but my favorite was the woman at the card table in front of Starbucks who had fresh veggies and (oh praise Zeus, PROTEIN) a huge plate full of beef jerky.

City walking is a lot of fun because there’s lots to look at and a lot of innocent bystanders to confuse. When I was going to Norwescon (the local science fiction convention) every year we engaged a lot in a game we’d call “Freaking the Mundanes”. Mundanes being those non-con related people staying at the hotels or eating at the restaurants that the con was overwhelming. Freaking being…..well, just being odd, oddly dressed, or prone to breaking into choruses of odd songs at the drop of a hat. Playing Freaking the Mundanes as a 3 Day walker is a lot of fun.
City walking is NOT a lot of fun because every block or so there’s a damned controlled intersection and you have to wait while the light changes. Now granted stopping at the crosswalk is a great time to engage in the continuous stretching that we were instructed to perform, but the stop and go is freakin’ murder.

Just south of Safeco Field (I won’t get started on my rant about publicly funded sports stadia in Seattle) there is an empty lot which, I believe, is the usual site of a beer garden on game days during baseball season. On Sunday it was home to our final pit stop. A lovely place with actual chairs, a snack stop with an actual tent around it so we could sit in the shade, and close enough to Qwest Field that we were starting to mingle with and starting to confuse the bejeesus out of the folks streaming in to the upcoming Seahawks game. I was sitting with my feet up eating a packet of potato chips and drinking orange Gatorade (hey, don’t knock it until you’ve tried it! At least not until you’ve spent 2 1/2 days and 57 miles drinking lemon lime Gatorade) when one of the sweep vans blew past. Standing at the corner waiting for the light were a couple of football fans. The sweep van was decked out in a fight theme with “K-O CANCER” on one side and “FIGHT LIKE A GIRL” on the other with a couple of boxing gloves flapping from the side mirror. The navigator in a bright pink fuzzy hat hanging out the passenger window waving pink pompoms and shrieking at the top of her lungs. Even though I was half a block away or so I could hear the confusion in one guy’s voice when he turned to his buddy and said: “Fight like a girl?!!” It was wonderful.

Leaving the pit stop I hooked up with Miriam and her team. This is a group of four older women, all over 55 and at least two past 65, all of whom were wearing hand made vests with bra print fabric on one side and a hand quilted chicken on the other. I never asked the meaning of the vests, I guess I’ll just have to wait until next year. It was nice walking for a while with a group that I knew was not going to leave me in the dust. I had, in fact, to slow down a bit to keep pace with Miriam but we were having such an interesting conversation it was worth it. We talked a lot about cancer (she’s a breast cancer survivor) and cancer prevention. She had a lot of crusty comments to make about her feet, the condition of her joints, and the exact moral character of all the people who were streaming towards the football stadium to spend all their hard earned money watching people bash their heads together like idiots while drinking beer at 1:00 in the afternoon. Miriam and I got along JUST FINE.
Now let me paint a picture. In front of us a pair of younger women (early 20s-ish), both stripped to shorts and sports bras with figures that we all wished we had in our early 20s. They’ve hit that part of the weekend where the only thing you think about is putting one foot in front of the other and by god keeping moving at all costs until you’re done. In other words, they were completely oblivious. Miriam and I, taking up a great portion of the sidewalk since I was on the building side limping on my left leg and she was on the street side limping on her right. We cross an intersection and from around a corner comes up behind us a pair of (as they turned out) drunken Hummer salesmen on their way to the Seahawks game. So the picture is, the two 20 somethings in front, Miriam and I in the middle, and coming up close from behind are the two drunken Hummer salesmen. They pulled abreast of Miriam and I, asking typical idiot questions about what we were doing and how long we’d been walking. One, wearing a pink striped rugby shirt, claiming that he was supporting us on our walk because he was wearing pink and his mom had had that cancer on her nose and didn’t that really suck and all. Obnoxious, but not really threatening. When the Hummer salesmen started making somewhat ribald comments at the girls in front of us, trying to impress them with how hip and supportive they were of the cause (or at least supportive enough to impress two scantily clad hard bodies enough that they (the hard bodies) would take some notice of them), Miriam poked me and said: “Speed up a little bit, we’ll protect them!”. We stepped up a little bit, fell into lock step and left the Hummer salesmen behind mentioning loudly how cool they were since one of them was wearing pink.
The best part of this is that the 20 something hard bodies never even noticed that the Hummer salesmen were there. They were really in the zone.

North through Pioneer square, mystifying completely the group of Japanese tourists on the Underground Seattle Tour. North through the sleaze district and I started wishing intently for a pair of slippers that I could change into once we were done. Do you know how many cheap little Kwikie marts there are along 1st Avenue in downtown Seattle? A LOT! Under normal circumstances you wouldn’t be able to pay me to go into one, but under the circumstances I was pretty desperate. Only one proprietor seemed to recognize what I was asking for and he directed me far back in the back to a bin of leftover summer merchandise. He did, in fact, have slippers for sale, but they were all infant size and I resigned myself to missing the shoe tribute again.
Just south of the Hammering Man I was walking with a woman who had to walk in circles every time we reached an intersection where we had to stop. She said if she stopped walking her calves would cramp and she’d collapse in a heap. Around the corner comes one of the horse drawn downtown Seattle carriage tours. Two women and a girl on the seat looking thoroughly confused at my circling companion. One of the sweep vans pulled up and asked if she (the circling woman) needed any help but she declined. That interaction obviously gave the women in the carriage some sort of idea as to what was going on and we managed to have a conversation with them for about 3 blocks until they pulled off into Pike Place. The best part of the conversation being that when we told them we’d been walking for 3 days and almost 60 miles one of the women, completely seriously, asked: “So, like, do you get to stop at night or what? I mean….do you walk all day and all night too?!”
At that point I was so wiped I really did consider telling her that yes, we’d been walking without stopping since 0630 Friday just to see what her reaction would be, but was thwarted when the circling woman told her that no, we’d camped every evening. Oh well, so much for missed opportunity.
North past Pike Place, north into Belltown. I was still walking with Circling Woman when we came up with the Three Truths of The 3 Day and they are as follows.
1. Going is better than stopping.
2. Ramps are better than curbs. and
2. Uphill is WAY better than downhill.

And then we were through Belltown, crossing Denny and walking up along the west side of Seattle Center. Up past Key Arena, around a corner and once again, it was done.

They routed us down just north of the Northwest Rooms, through the inflatable gates that we’d passed through Friday morning, past the medical crew handing out cups of Gatorade and additional snacks, past the woman with the bar code reader and we were finished.
Gimpy knee and all I still finished in the first 500 of which I am quite proud. The holding area was in a basement room underneath PNW Ballet so you walked through a double pair of open doors then down the stairs into a roaring applauding crowd…..
The closing ceremonies were really something quite special. I’ll finish Day 3 here and cover the closing ceremonies separately.


Day 2 Part 2

Filed under: @ 2:15 pm

I napped on a nice grassy bank with an ice bag on my knee, a bag of Sun Chips on my chest, and my hat over my face for about half an hour. Slugged down 400mg ibuprofen, took slurks off of my water bottle and listened to some quite remarkable conversations.
One woman bemoaning the fact that her shoes had gotten wet and she was wondering what would happen if she walked the rest of the day in wet socks. Fortunately someone found her a pair of dry socks and convinced her that trying to dry her own was a bad idea as she’d end up with most of the skin peeled off of her feet. Someone talking about how he couldn’t get out of his shoes because the laces had broken and he’d had to tie square knots in the laces which had now cinched down so tight he couldn’t untie them. People complaining about how horrid the walk down the driveway had been. People opining that they’d never leave the beach because they’d taken their shoes off in the sand and their feet were too happy. And over it all wafting slack key guitar music…… It was an surreal little nap.

Changed my socks, stripped off my shirt and shook the grass out of the back of my neck. Reapplied my sunscreen, cranked down on my own shoelaces, returned, much to the amusement of the people handing them out, my ice bag and started the hike back up to the road. Uphill is much, MUCH, better than downhill.
Before I left the park proper I talked to Pink Beard Guy. Relayed to him the comment about it taking a real man to wear a pink beard which amused him greatly. He did, however, refuse to have his photo taken in the position in which we’d first started our conversation which was flat on his back with his heels up over his head stretching his back.

The ridge above Puget Sound in Des Moines is a very fine place to walk. Broad sidewalks, polite traffic, lovely homes, a GORGEOUS view….. If it weren’t for the overwhelming constant airplane noise one would almost want to live there, but directly in the south flight approach of a major airport is not my idea of an appealing place to live.
I walked for a while with Miriam (more on her later), but when she and her group of little old Amazon women out paced me I just kinda walked. The ambulance guys must have passed us about six times back and forth. All the while playing, I believe, Barry Manilow over their PA system. What IS it with ambulance guys and soft-n-easy listening?! Matt, care to comment?
Lots and lots of pink balloons on the fence outside what used to be the Masonic retirement home which is a lovely old pile of a building that otherwise appeared to be entirely deserted.
Down the hill (damn, damn, DAMN the thrice cursed down hills!) to the intersection with Marine View drive then down to the Des Moines Marina where we walked past the Des Moines Saturday Farmer’s Market. The Des Moines Saturday Farmer’s Market had very kindly posted signs that we were to stay the hell away from their porta-potty thank you very much and that they did NOT represent a free snack stop. Lovely welcome we got from them, although there was an oompah band playing very tuba intensive polka music on their main stage as I was walking past. I found that in addition to disco, polka music makes very decent walking music indeed. I think they were a little disconcerted (heh, dis-CONCERTed) when after the polka had stopped playing I hollered out “MORE POLKA!!” Didn’t seem to endear me to them very much.

Along the Des Moines Marina where I got the first, and only, question of the weekend about the veterinary caduceus that is on the back of my shirt. I was gimping along with nothing really on my mind but my hat when a voice behind me asked: “WHO is your sponsor?!”
I laughed and admitted that I didn’t really have a major sponsor except for myself and that the shirt honored the fact that I’m a veterinarian.
Tallish, skinny woman pulls up beside me and it turns out that she’s a veterinarian too. Works somewhat north of Everett and I noted that she had been the only one all day to recognize the caduceus. We chatted for a while about my shirt, she was, I think, the only person who was reading the list who didn’t ask me what a tenrec is but since she was able to walk at a fair clip faster than I we soon parted company.

There’s a lovely little park at the very north end of the marina that I’d never have known was there otherwise. The next pit stop was there and I began to realize that it was not in any way a normal pit stop, no, this was THE SUPER PIT STOP. I can’t think that they hadn’t been present on Friday, but I know that Saturday afternoon was the first time I’d noticed the SUPER PORTA-POTTIES and the fact that we were being served SUPER WATER and SUPER SNACKS. Fantastically, awfully, 1970’s Batman-like “WHAM” and “POW” exclamations on the potty doors. The guy that was running around in a black SUPER cape and SUPER mask protecting his secret identity was the real hit of that show. Nut jobs, every single one of them.

Just up a ways and right around the corner and here we are at the second cheering station of the day. Candy and drinks and businesses along the way who had set out cheerful signs and one that was offering a flush toilet stop to anyone who was wearing a walker credential. Andrew, Shawn, Anastasia, and my folks (and the dog) were there which gave me the opportunity to hand off my flamingo deeley boppers which were somewhat less than convenient to walk around with. Make you about six inches taller and thus subject to catching on low hanging branches. Besides Anastasia looks a lot cuter in them than I did anyway. Much cheer from the family, a lot of pointing out of people I’d been walking and chatting with. I couldn’t really stop for long though. It’s true that once you’ve gotten going you just hit a momentum and if you stop you’re done for.
On the other hand, I knew the direction they were taking us and even though uphill is way better than downhill I sure as hell didn’t want to walk UP the hill out of Des Moines and into the south end of Normandy Park. It was very convenient then that the 18 Hour Lift and Support van was in a parking lot at the base of the hill. I was the last they could fit for that run so I swung in and we were off up the hill. It was a mile, maybe a mile and a half to the next pit stop, a small park in Normandy Park, but it really doesn’t seem like a long way until you drive it. I was REALLY glad for the rest especially since I was in the beginning stages of what I was to describe to the amusement of the MD at the next medical tent as “Acute Brace Rash” and there was a patch on the outside of my calf that was threatening revolt without some additional help. We trailed through Normandy Park towards the pit stop with the navigator hanging out the windows chatting with everyone we drove past and the driver flipping in increasing frustration through the CD in the stereo looking for at least one song that they hadn’t listened to 36 times in the last 24 hours. An idea began to percolate through my brain.

They dropped us all off at Mara Vista Park which I’d never seen before. It’s in a section of the neighborhood where I don’t usually walk, but now that I’ve got that section of the area sort of plugged into my mental map, I’ll sure go back.
I got the bemused MD to pad up my leg to protect my calf from the pressure of the brace, hit the potties, grabbed my snack, stretched in various obscure ways and was off again. Except for the small part of that section that involved Mara Vista Park and elementary school where I’d never been before, we were then walking right along my regular training route. I was thrilled, and probably a little obnoxious truth be told, to be walking through my own neighborhood. We were pretty strung out at that point and I wasn’t really walking with, let alone talking with, anyone. However every chance I got to bring up in casual conversation that this was where I lived and had trained, I did. There’s something really giddy about doing something this unusual in front of people who might casually recognize you. I must have been a real pain in the butt.

It was down along Marine View Drive, just outside one of my favorite-est walking spots in the neighborhood, that we ran across the Parrotheads of Puget Sound booth for the first time. This is a local group of, I believe, Jimmy Buffet fans who had set up a tropical themed stand and were handing out Gatorade slushies. What was most notable about them, outside of the fact that they’re all completely nuts and utterly wonderful for hanging out handing out yummies to us lunatics, was that the blenders they were using to create said slushies……. SOUNDED LIKE A FREAKING CHAINSAW! I powered right through them, collecting my yummy frozen treat along the way, and didn’t actually consider that the chainsaw that I was hearing was the blender they were using. I thought one of the neighbors was taking out a tree. It wasn’t until I ran across them on a dusty downtown street on Sunday that I realized it was their blender that was making those frightening noises. Apparently if one is a significant enough margarita fan one can actively seek out one of these hideous monstrosities that are, in fact, run by the motor for a gas powered leaf blower. It takes a serious blender fanatic to have a blender that has to be started with a pull cord.

I was REALLY jazzed to be walking through my own neighborhood. So jazzed, in fact, that when we got to the last pit stop of the day (the Wizard of Oz stop) I was inspired to take a multitude of photos detailing the fact that the pit stop was *In My Very Own Neighborhood*. At the Normandy Park City Hall, to be exact. Normandy Park is a tiny entirely suburban city and city hall is deeply ensconced in the middle of a neighborhood exactly where you wouldn’t expect a city hall to be. Normandy Park City Hall, in fact, is exactly where one would expect to find an elementary school (which I suspect it once was) with a lovely little grassy park and some play equipment. I had a lot of fun taking photos of the porta potties because it amused me greatly to find porta potties at my *very own* City Hall. Hey, gimme a break, I’d walked 37 miles at that point and I was pooped. A lot of things seemed amusing or reasonable.
There was much wailing and sounds of disappointment when, after having been presented with several sets of beads each, the Normandy Park firefighters who were in attendance there didn’t show us their chests. It must be a Mardi Gras thing, but apparently when one is presented with a set of beads one is supposed to flash one’s chest. These were some seriously good looking guys too.

Anyway I struck out from City Hall for the last 3 miles before camp. Up some hills that I didn’t know existed. I am very familiar with the route, but since I come from southeast and head north before turning west, and in this case we were coming from southwest and heading northeast….. Well, just accept the fact that the route was backwards for me and what had seemed like a nice gradual down slope when I was in training was a pretty significant up slope when I was walking. Even though uphill is WAY better than downhill, it was a bit of a betrayal. Through some truly lovely sections of Normandy Park then a sharp left and we were walking right along 1st Ave. South.
Busy road. Lots of traffic, lots of honking, lots of extremely confused looks. Nice old folks outside the retirement home and another pox ridden LONG downhill just south of 160th (we were camped on 156th). Since the route was taking us straight past Five Corners I really desperately wanted to walk that last stretch since I wanted to make an obnoxious spectacle of myself outside the building where I’d worked for the last 9 years. Unfortunately my knee had other things to say about it and when it gave out, I mean literally I just about collapsed in a heap at about 163rd, I gave in in bad grace and flagged down YIPPEE! MY PRINCESS GIRLS!
The sweep van crews are really something special. I was truly bummed at not being able to walk the last bit of the day, but the Princess Van girls really managed to cheer me up. We zoomed back to the last pit stop, picking people up along the way playing bouncy and up tempo walking music. The Princess Van girls were also suffering from severe music repetition and another idea started to percolate through my head. There were only four of us in the van (the two of them, another walker and I) when we started to head back to camp. We started talking about why we were walking and they seemed truly touched when I told them about Grams. When I asked if they’d like some additional music and how I’d be able to find them before the route opened Sunday morning they were enthusiastic and thrilled. They were also nice enough to stop in the parking lot at an apartment complex just before we got to camp so they could let us out and we could walk in to camp. A great group of folks.

I signed in at camp, officially signed out for the evening and called Andrew for a pick up.

Postscript for Day 2 includes me going home, slugging down a huge volume of Praying Mantis Juice (ask Andrew for the recipe. If you’re prone to leg cramps this stuff is the shit.), eating a very proteinaceous dinner off of my chest while collapsed in bed with an ice bag on my knee, and slipping into unconsciousness by 1930. I don’t think I’ve been out for the night that early since I was about five. I did stop, though, to burn a pair of CDs for my two sweep van drivers. I’d made Andrew a CD of cheering station music, listening to it right now in fact, that mixed some of my best walking music with some of the best walking music from the mix disc that Robbie made for me. Titled “TOTALLY ROCKIN’ WALKING”, I was very eager to hand them off the next morning.


Day 2 Part 1

Filed under: @ 2:52 pm

Despite ice, ibuprofen, and falling asleep at 2000 on Friday night, I was really stiff Saturday morning. My knee didn’t hurt so much, it was more that I could feel that the joint wasn’t normal. Full weight bearing extension, like going down stairs, hurt, but normal walking was comfortable although I could feel the weakness in the joint.
Got up, showered, ate some breakfast and strapped myself into the bionic knee.
Andrew was almost crosseyed at 0530 but conscious enough at least to drive me back to camp so I could get there in time to get to the medical tent and have someone check the brace before the route opened at 0630. I was concerned too about what sort of skin irritation I was going to be subject to having this thing rubbing on my thigh and my calf for 20 miles so I was very enthusiastic about standing in line at medical.
Morning sick call, as it were, is composed of people who need medical help for blisters, people who were red carded the previous day, and people who have woken up feeling more like they’ve been hit by a bus than the rest of us. They shot me and the red carders to the head of the line and when I told the people that were doing triage that all I needed was someone to check the brace and give me something to keep from chafing under it, even the red carders let me go first. It’s nice to have something that doesn’t take much time to fix.
Out comes the roll of tape padding foam and the sadist in the sports medicine tent strapped me into the brace much tighter than I would have done so myself and I was good to go.


Up stairs isn’t a convenient thing when one has a knee that doesn’t extend properly but I was still right near the front when they opened the route.
At least for about the first five minutes.
We left camp on a long shallow downhill and I discovered that, brace or not, downhill is NOT comfortable. The brace was slipping a little bit, my knee hurt like fury and I pulled off the sidewalk to remove the brace. Took a few steps without the brace and discovered that as uncomfortable as I had been with it, walking without it was MUCH WORSE.
Right. Many bad words and much futzing with about eighteen velcro straps then I just limped.

Saturday morning was clear and beautiful with dew on the grass, but a little cool. We were all a little chilly and I was glad for my long sleeved overshirt. We turned a corner and started on the flat section of Des Moines Memorial Drive. Ah! MUCH better. My gait was in no way normal, but I was at least learning how to compensate to make the brace, The Knee, and my right knee (which hasn’t been 100% normal since I broke my right little toe in Hwarang Do class 10 years ago) all work together.
I had an odd realization too at that point, that I had suddenly gone from the category of “people who are sore and walking anyway” to “wounded walker”. The brace was a big focal point about my appearance for the rest of the weekend and I got comments ranging from “How are you doing? Are you doing alright?” to “Well bless you for walking under the circumstances!” It was also frustrating to want to walk at a much faster pace than I could. A nice rolling gimp is about 2-1/2 to 3 MPH and my natural pace is about 3-1/2 MPH. Frustrated by the limitations I mentioned same to someone who came up behind me and asked how I was doing. When she said “Well, hey, it’s gotta be easier than chemo!” (which was sort of obnoxious under the circumstances since she had asked me how I was doing and I had answered her quite honestly) I decided then that I’d just shut up. My stock answer after that whenever anyone asked me how I was doing was “Oh, I’ll do!”

About half an hour out I was warmed up enough to not need my overshirt anymore. I’d been waiting for WEEKS to unveil my team shirt and it was quite satisfactory. Walking up Des Moines Memorial Drive I pulled off the overshirt and first thing I heard was the woman behind me snort and say “NO WAY! Rats got TWELVE?!”. I had more fun with my Team Eccentrica shirt! I got into some great conversations. People asking if the numbers were really accurate (no, I just made them all up), people asking what a tenrec is (for some reason that was the one that got the most confusion), people asking where I’d gotten the list……. That shirt was so much fun. I was disappointed that no one really asked about sperm whales, platypusses, or saber toothed tigers, but a girl can’t have everything.

Des Moines Memorial Drive isn’t exactly what you’d call the heart of suburbia, so passing drivers felt free to honk and the ambulance crew were playing their music REALLY LOUD over their PA system Why they thought easy listening was appropriate walking music to play for us I’ll never know, but at least they were cheerful about it. We walked up Des Mem Drive then down Des Mem Drive past a coffee stand on the corner of two relatively busy, very commercial streets. I doubt that coffee stand has seen that much business in the past six months as they saw that Saturday morning.
Up and down and around along the flat. Turned left at a corner lot behind whose fence were a pair of largish dogs both barking their lungs out. If I’d have been their neighbors I’d have strangled the dogs long ago.
The first pit stop was at a church on the top of a small rise just southwest of the airport. If you’re interested in airplanes, it was a great place to stop because we were watching approach and take off from just far enough away that the noise wasn’t overwhelming.
Porta-Potties are not the most convenient places when one is somewhat limited in mobility. If you’ve never had the (dubious) pleasure, imagine an airport lavatory with a steep step and you’ve pretty much got the right space limitations. Except there’s no sink, you’ve absolutely no chance to wash your hands (there’s a container of gelled alcohol hand sanitizer on the wall) and you know you have to hustle because there’s about 50 people waiting in line behind you. Now add a leg that doesn’t bend in the right way. Getting up and down and in and out was difficult and it took me about four pit stops on Saturday to realize that it was easier to take the step UP with my right leg and the step DOWN with my left.

mmmmMMMMM peanut butter graham crackers!

Down a long hill then a quick left and out to 188th. 188th runs along, and under, the south end of the airport. There’s a tunnel, in fact, that goes right under one of the runways. When I saw the direction we were walking first thing that morning I was rather hoping that they weren’t going to run us through the tunnel, but there wasn’t any practical way to avoid it. And as if it wasn’t noisy enough to begin with, two lanes of traffic going in our direction in a small concrete tube, the passing drivers decided that honking was a good idea. While I appreciate, even encourage, people to honk when they’re driving past, doing so in a tunnel is a VERY BAD IDEA. Most of us marched along in single file, heads down and hands over our ears. It was quite noisy.
We intersected with Pac Highway (some two miles south of where we’d crossed the previous day), took a right much to the annoyance of people waiting at the intersection and started heading straight south. Pac Highway isn’t so much an entertaining place to walk, but I gotta say we sure attracted attention.
Up and up and up, uphill is WAY better than downhill, and in what seemed like a remarkably short period of time we were 5 miles out at the second pit stop. I had discovered about half a mile earlier that the way I was moving with my right leg to compensate for my left was causing a remarkable cramp in my right calf. I gimped past the JV cheerleaders who were out practicing their routines on us and lined up at the medical tent again.
The next available sadist was named Jennifer and when I showed her my brace and explained the situation she told me that I was wearing it too loose and too low which was why it was slipping. She shifted the brace somewhat northward, cranked it down and then approached my right calf.

Consider carefully the term “sadist”.

She dug her fingers into the cramp so hard that I was sure my eyeballs were going to fall out. When she noticed my eyeballs falling out, Jennifer grinned and said “You’ll hate me now, but you’ll thank me later!” which was true. She did manage to release the cramp and then showed me some very specific stretches for that area. To the point where I was moving pretty darned well when I left the pit stop.

Up Pac Highway, down Pac Highway. I limped along with a woman for a while who told me that she was walking with a team but that she’d “left the gimps back at the pit stop” because she had a cramp in her thigh that threatened to strangle her if she stopped moving. The rest of her team had blisters that needed doctoring, but if she stopped moving she wasn’t sure she was going to ever get going again.
At a major intersection along Pac Highway we met the Duck Man for the first time. Duck Man is another one of the safety crew crossing guards. Older rocker looking guy. Shoulder length gray hair, big gray mustache and he and his bike are all decked out in rubber duckies and devil duckies (check out www.mcphee.com if you’d like a devil ducky). Duck Man also has a plastic yellow duck bill that hangs from an elastic strap around his neck. When he needs to provide vocal direction or when he is having a conversation with anyone, the duck bill comes up and he quacks. I don’t think any of us ever heard his actual voice, he just quacked all weekend.
Six miles along, seven miles along and we were taking another damn long downhill when my knee went GINK!

I managed to flag down the 18 Hour Lift and Support van again, I was their first customer of that run and so waving off the bag of Tootsie Rolls that was being offered I managed to get a seat right up front. They asked if I minded if they didn’t deliver me directly to the next pit stop since they were just starting their run.
“Why on earth would it matter to me? You guys are driving!” and I sat back and relaxed.
Aside from the underlying terror of riding with the lunatic behind the wheel, it was a lot of fun. The navigator is a superb cheerleader and she is a lot of fun to watch. It wasn’t very long before we drove past the same quartet that I had been swept with Friday afternoon and when the navigator said to the driver “Well Chuck has got to show us some leg before we’ll pick him up!”, oddly enough at that point one of the guys stepped one leg off the sidewalk where he was walking and hiked his shorts up in what was obviously meant to be a sexy come hither pose.
And we pulled a big gigantic u-turn in a 12 person passenger van across six lanes of major arterial on a busy Saturday morning and went to pick them up.
A couple more pick ups and we had a full van. Jim, one of the husbands far in the back, had a major caffeine jones going so with a little sweet talking on his part we pulled into a Kwikie Mart along the way to the next pit stop. A screeching halt just outside the door and the navigator, gigantic sunglasses, straw hat with accompanying bra and all, hops out to go grab some sodas. She walked in and got a really odd look from the poor kid (all of about 20 maybe) behind the counter. Inside the van Jim suddenly starts agitating from the back.
“Hey! Up front! Open the door! Open the door!”
On the assumption that he was signaling some sort of distress and was maybe in need of exiting the vehicle at some speed, the woman sitting next to the passenger door quickly pulled it open at which point he got up, stuck his head out the door and yelled:
At which point the poor guy behind the counter turned from the pink and sunglasses in front of him and noticed that the gigantic van outside his door was covered in lacy bras.
The look on his face was beautiful.
He waved in an utterly confused sort of way, the navigator came out with the sodas and we roared off for the pit stop.

A little ibuprofen, a little gatorade, some string cheese, and a potty stop and I was good to go. Especially since we were going uphill.
An involved conversation with two women behind me who were sure that beavers shouldn’t be on my shirt because they were convinced that beavers didn’t nurse their young. Another conversation with another woman about why I hadn’t included parrots on the list.

The first cheering station of the day was at Highline Community College and it was HUGE. A quarter to a half mile at least of people clapping and cheering, of bubbles, and candy, and high fives. One group of people with mist bottles, a second group (as it turns out) representing the Woodland Park Zoo handing out deeley boppers with pink flamingos on the end (Woodland Park is opening a flamingo exhibit next May). The cheering stations are so intense. It’s such a weird thing to have perfect strangers thanking you sincerely for doing something that just doesn’t seem that extraordinary. People thanking me when all I’m doing is, well, just walking.
It was a good thing I was wearing wrap around sunglasses, because these folks got me crying.

And it didn’t help that the dang cheering station was on the top slope of a long and steep downhill. I managed about half the way down when my knee gave up the ghost again. The 18 Hour Lift and Support van passed me going the other direction and I signaled them, but there were too many people and too much traffic for them to safely get over to my side of the road. The driver shouted that she’d signal another van for me and I kept walking (ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch, ouch) which turned out to be the wrong thing to do because when the Princess van finally came to get me they were sure that they had to pick up two people just past the cheering station and then they couldn’t find us (the other pick up had kept walking too).
The Princess van pulled over and with one Princess, complete in pink tutu, out in the middle of the road holding up traffic for me I managed to hobble across the road and swing up into the van.
What a horrendous pink monstrosity! I believe my exact words were:
“Wow! Tack-o-rama!”
Sparkly stars and crowns, rhinestone sunglasses, magic wands with shiny mylar ribbons streaming off of them, enormous pink puffy crown shaped pillows with ‘PRINCESS’ embroidered across them….. It was wonderful.
I was forcibly handed a pair of Hershey’s kisses, some stickers, one of the pillows and a permanent marker. I was instructed in no uncertain terms that I had to sign the pillow. I signed the pillow and we drove off looking for other pickups. Since we were driving right through we were talking about the cheering station and how wonderful all these people were coming out to support us like this. The driver and her spotter had walked in 2006 and the driver said that a friend of hers had engineered a special pair of sunglasses for her after talking with her at the second cheering station on their first day. She pulled out the sunglasses, a small pair of closely fitting pink plastic sunglasses. Each lens had a small section of sponge glued to it. The driver said that they were extremely helpful at the cheering stations because you didn’t have to take any time searching through your waist pack for Kleenex.

A few more pickups and we were off for lunch. When I got the e-mail that said we’d be “lunching right on the shores of Puget Sound” I was sure that we’d be having lunch at Saltwater State Park and I was right. And getting down into the park I was extremely glad that I was in the van and not trying to walk DOWN into Saltwater State Park. It’s a gorgeous place to eat lunch but the driveway is very steep. The sky was clear, the sun was warm, there were sunny bits with picnic tables, there were shady bits with soft grass, there was a nice breeze off the sound, and sitting on the fender of one of the semi-trucks that was used to help move the food from place to place was a ghoul in a straw hat. Andrew knows what sort of ghoul it was, it’s apparently a prop from some or another horror movie, but it really threw me for a loop to be walking past with lunch on my mind and have this…um….thing suddenly pop up in front of me.
The theme for lunch that day seemed to be Hawaii with a twist. People in grass skirts, cardboard cutout palm trees taped up all over the place, a lot of coconut bras, especially on the men, and over all of it wafts the slack key music.
I was pooped. Despite the van assists, I was outright pooped. The tummy weasels were a little unhappy, my knee hurt and I was just ready to stop.
Got the lunch, sat down with the lunch, and started nibbling on the lunch when some of the music finally started percolating into my conscious mind. I looked up suddenly and caught the woman down the table from me at the exact same moment that the realization that had just hit me, hit her.
“Did I really just hear that or did I hallucinate it?”
“No, if you hallucinated it, I did to. Did you hear ‘Rocky Mountain High’ translated into slack key guitar with Hawaiian lyrics?”
“Oh dear.”
I have no idea where the music came from. I have no idea of the artist, the band, or the REASON, but John Denver in slack key guitar it most certainly was. *shudder*
I finished my lunch and limped off to find an ice bag and a nice sunny grassy spot then lay down to ice my knee and eat chips off my chest with my hat over my face.

And that’s all of Saturday that I’m going to detail at the moment. I’ve got to unload the dishwasher and check my dehydrator (dried tomatoes and plums thank you very much) then I really should go and socialize with Joan and Tony for a while more before we go off to dinner. Further installments as time allows.


Day 1 Part 2

Filed under: @ 8:13 am

Okay, so now that I’ve had a few days to let the swelling in my feet go down…..

Well, not really. Getting up for work at 0530 for the last 3 days my feet haven’t been swollen, but by the time I’ve been getting home feet, ankles, and knees have all been pretty dang puffy. I ended up having to wear my Birkenstocks to work on Monday and Tuesday because my feet were so swollen my regular work shoes (carbon copies of my walking shoes) wouldn’t fit.

So where were we? Oh yes, they’d just opened the flood gates and let us loose on the BCC campus.

Gorgeous, STUNNING morning. Clear and cool with the sun just coming up, the sky all pink, and PRAISE ZEUS A PORTA-POTTY! Two cups of tea and enough water to slug down my morning handful of vitamins combined with about an hour of standing around in the cool combined to make it necessary. Shortest danged line I’d see for a potty all weekend to tell the truth.

We wound our way across the BCC campus and over I-90 (I got a great photo of the sun coming up over the Cascades and the highway all pink and empty). I was walking with no one in particular and then I fell in with a pair of sisters with whom I chatted for a while. We overtook Sue, wearing a bright green “Breast Buddies” T-shirt, and they walked on while I slowed down to talk with Sue.
I walked the first three miles or so with her (there’s a photo of her and one of her Breast Buddies teammates in the Day 1 photos). She was walking a little slower than my normal healthy pace, but she was interesting to talk to so I kept pace with her. We were walking west along the south side of the freeway when the first casualty of the day occurred. A metal plate in the sidewalk was dew slick and someone went down and skinned her knee. It was fortunate timing as it turned out since, as Sue pointed out, we were right in front of Group Health and one of our ambulance sweeps had just passed us. The EMTs were out in nanoseconds and patching her up much to general applause.
Sue was walking, especially on the down hills, with an odd stiff legged gait and while I didn’t want to ask why she was walking like this, she broached the subject herself when she asked me what my connection to the 3 Day was. For the first time of many that weekend I answered that I’d first done it as a challenge to myself and then continued to do it as a tribute to my grandmother who had died on the third day of my first 3 Day. Sue said that she didn’t have any personal connection to breast cancer either, but that she’d had bone cancer and had had most of her right femur, her right knee, and a good deal of her right tibia excised and replaced with titanium implants. Sue has a friend who had walked the 2006 3 Day and the friend had approached Sue for that walk, but since she was so recently out of surgery and chemotherapy she could not. Sue went on to say that she was unlikely to be able to complete anything but the first three miles but that if she could do that she’d consider it a triumph.
And she did. We walked down past Factoria, down into the swampy bits where the south end of Bellevue meets the east shore of Lake Washington. The walking was stunning. Bright sunshine but a nice breeze, wide trails with lots of wildlife, and one of the route marking crew that had come through with a piece of chalk and pointed an arrow at each and every bench along the way with the words “REST STOP” in front. Along the trail and then amazingly soon a stop at Enetai Beach Park for our first pit stop. Sue was limping pretty badly by the time we got to the pit, but she was so jazzed that she’d managed to walk that far. She caught up with the rest of her team, told them what she was doing, found herself a sweep van and I didn’t see her for the rest of the weekend. It is possible that she did all that fundraising and did all the training walks with her team and walked her three miles and went home.
But it was still pretty dang inspiring.

We left the pit stop and walked UP for our first taste of freeway walking. Caught the pedestrian walkway along the East Channel bridge and had a very bad effect on morning traffic. At that point we were getting more blank stares than anything else (early Friday morning daze on the part of the drivers), but pretty soon people started catching on and we were getting honked at a LOT. We crossed the east channel and started walking through Mercer Island which was pretty, clean, and really really really dull. I guess people were worried about disturbing their neighbors or something, but for all that we had a lot of traffic passing us we sure didn’t seem to attract any attention. The woman from the King 5 News van got more attention from passing motorists than we did.
I hooked up for a while with a woman named Judy. She didn’t have any direct link to breast cancer either, but she said she was walking mostly because she figured that any research into cancer was a good thing. She seemed earnest but also seemed to get a lot of her information on health and health care issues from the internet or from her local health food and incense store employees. I say this because she spent a LOT of time talking about environmental toxins and how one day you’re not supposed to cook in aluminum and then you’re not supposed to use anti-perspirants but then it’s okay to use anti-perspirants, but you absolutely had to avoid trans fats. She seemed a little confused.
When she learned that I was a veterinarian she spent at least 10 minutes telling me a long and involved story about how her cat had died because of some sort of intestinal mass or maybe it was an intestinal obstruction that had been caused by a mass that had grown up around some plastic and that the cat had been perfectly normal one day and then really sick and jaundiced when they took it to their veterinarian the next day and and and and and….. Nothing annoys me more than having someone bring a pet to me that has obviously been profoundly ill for a good deal of time and exclaim “She was perfectly normal yesterday Doc!”. I’ve always wanted to follow that with “REALLY?! Do I have the word STUPID tattooed on my forehead or did you really expect me to believe that?”
Judy and I didn’t walk together for very long.

The last pit stop before the I-90 floating bridge was at a GORGEOUS little park just above the east highrise. Water clear and sparkling, sky bright blue with a few little wispy clouds. Enough dew on the grass to make stretching in any aggressive way a little bit damp, but we’d only gone about 5 miles at that point and at least I didn’t really need to stretch TOO much. I saw the Breastie Boys for the first time at that stop. Fell to talking with two of them, Todd and Troy, both wearing pink shirts emblazoned with their team name across the front. I didn’t realize until later (i.e. until they were walking in front of me) that they were all walking in honor of Todd’s wife Tana who had died of complications of breast cancer. All of their shirts read “WALKING FOR TANA” across the back.
I was really astonished at the number of men walking this year. In 2002 there were maybe a handful of guys. In 2005 there were a few more, this year there were a LOT of guys walking. Guys walking with their wives, guys walking solo, guys walking in all guy teams. One guy (I’ll get to him later) walking with the woman that he married Friday evening. It is a rare pleasure to see this sort of dedication to a disease that most people think as a female only problem.

The floating bridge was a hoot. Nice breeze, sparkly water, everyone in the entire freakin’ world honking at us, and someone in a small (pink) pleasure boat cruising between the east highrise and the west highrise blowing an airhorn and hooting and hollering. I was sort of loosely walking with a group of power walking women who were all wearing shirts emblazoned across the back with the lyrics of the Melissa Ethridge song about breast cancer. I was familiar with the song (thanks Robbie!), but not the artist and when I asked the team leader who had written the lyrics she said “Melissa Ethridge….who’s probably going to sue us for copyright violation or something!”
I was feeling great, probably too great, and making fantastic time which was eventually my downfall. We crested the west highrise, did a 270 degree turn along the pedestrian path and then headed down along Seward Park. Just as we were getting off the bridge I noticed an older guy in front of me wearing his pink ‘bub’ (a semi-elastic pink tube bandanna that they handed out before the opening ceremonies) on his head. That wasn’t the most notable thing about his appearance, however, there were a lot of guys wearing pink that weekend and the bub was a good way to keep your hair from flying around. No, what I found most charming about this guy, sadly I never did get his name, was that he had dyed his white beard pink. As in freaking neon pink. Glow in the dark (probably not literally), NEON pink. One woman behind me said to no-one in particular when she saw him “You know, it takes a real man to wear a pink beard!” a comment that I couldn’t help but pass on to him when I met him at lunch the next day. He was very flattered, but at the time it made me snort Gatorade out my nose (don’t try it, it hurts).

The first major crossing on Seward Park Avenue (drive, place, whatever) was manned by Polly the Dinosaur Lady! I was thrilled! Polly, for those to whom I haven’t raved about her, is a short stout little tough lady who rides a HUGE Harley that’s decked out in various 3 Day paraphenalia. Polly does safety crew for every west coast 3 Day every summer and she always has a little squeaky dinosaur that encourages us across crosswalks. If you get too close to the squeaky dinosaur as you’re crossing the crosswalk you get a little squeaky dinosaur kiss. Polly’s a hoot and, as I was to learn on Sunday, she takes her responsibilities extremely seriously (more on that later too).
Seward Park is an extremely pleasant place to walk first thing in the morning. Lake is blue, sky is blue, ducks are quacking, ambulances blow past blasting the most NOXIOUS music across their PA systems. You round a curve or two and you can see the I-90 bridge again, far in the distance with a huge long line of little teeny people dressed in pink and white. If you get the wind in the right direction you can still even catch the honks of the passing semi-trucks.
Breathtaking pit stop right on the beach with PEANUT BUTTER GRAHAM CRACKER SANDWICHES! Laurie will remember how hideously addictive these things are. The ones they handed out in 2002 were fabulous, the ones they handed out this year were better. Especially if they were refrigerated and the peanut butter was cold. MMMMMmmmm! Peanut butter. I swear they put something addictive in those things because you’d think the least appealing thing you could feed people doing heavy exercise would be peanut butter, but there’s something about the combination of protein, fat, and sugar that makes these bloody things……well, the peanut butter graham crackers were always the snacks that ran out first. It pays to walk in the first thousand or so otherwise you’ll never get any.
Past the first cheering station where the Redmond Police department was handing out wristbands in honor of their team members walking in the “Cops For A Cure” team. There was also someone handing out orange popsicles which, at about 10 a.m. and especially after the peanut butter, were pretty hideous. Actually that cheering station was probably where we saw the Breast Friends for the first time too. A pair of women and a pair of young-ish (mid-teens maybe) girls, likely mothers and daughters, had decked out their red Mustang convertible with every pink accessory and frill available and had painted (please let it only have been colored hairspray!) “BREAST FRIENDS FOR EVER” along both sides. The moms took it in turn driving while the daughters hung out the back waving pink pom-poms and cheering their lungs out. These four tailed us all weekend, playing bouncy music, honking shouting, handing out candy and just generally being wonderful.

And then I was at lunch. The very south end of the lake 1045, and someone at the opening of this small park with a counter keeping track of how many people were coming in while someone behind her was handing out little crocheted pink button up armbands. I mean, I guess they were arm bands. I wore mine on my arm for a while. I saw a lot of them on ankles and wrists, some around the crowns of hats, some just hanging off of waist pack straps. I guess if you’ve got the time and a bunch of pink yarn…. Struck me as a little odd though.
11 1/2 miles out and I was ready to sit. Visited the comfort stations, grabbed my lunch, found a sunny patch of grass and sat down. It is almost obscene how good it feels to take your shoes off at that point. I called Andrew and made ecstatic noises at him while I was wiggling my toes in the grass. I engulfed my chicken sandwich and potato chips (here again my hat is off to whoever does the nutritional planning for these things. Potato chips are appealing, an easy source of carbohydrates, a GREAT source of salt, and they make you thirsty as hell so you tend to drink a lot.). I ignored the potato salad, ever since I got salmonella during a week long junior high school trip I’ve been a little leery of commercially prepared potato salad, but dutifully ate my apple. Then I collapsed in the sunshine and let my back stretch out a little. Changed socks, geared up, got up, and was back walking by 1130.
Ooof! Too much lunch!

Even slow and sludgy on a postprandial carbohydrate rush I managed to get caught up with someone I’d been wanting to talk to for two years. There’s a guy that walks the Seattle 3 Day with bright pink dyed hair, wearing a UtiliKilt and knee high, as it turns out, pole climbing boots (minus the spikes). He also carries all his gear with him in a large backpack regardless of the gear trucks being willing and able to carry it for him (weirdo). I’ve only ever known him as UtiliKilt guy, but his name is William and he is walking in honor of his wife. We talked for a while about his somewhat unorthodox choice of foot gear and the odd looks one is likely to get power walking in odd dress through somewhat conservative neighborhoods. William lives in Seattle but does most of his training in Bellevue and Redmond and I can just imagine the looks he gets wandering through Bellevue in a UtiliKilt to say nothing of those boots. I’m surprised he hasn’t been arrested or at least harassed by the Bellevue constabulary.
Dang I was making good time.
I powered past William after a while and spent a lot of time gawking at the gorgeous mansions along Seward Park Drive. There was one in particular that I’m sorry I didn’t get photos of. Gated drive with the obligatory stone lions guarding the gate posts, huge manicured sweeping lawns with, no shit, a statuary garden. Gigantic replica of Michaelangelo’s David, the Venus De Milo, stone elephants, the works. I never thought things like that were real life! I was convinced they were entirely the construct of romance novel authors.
Seward Park Drive eventually intersected with Rainier Avenue where we turned south. Seward Park Drive was a charming place to walk. Rainier Avenue wasn’t so much. It was 1300 or so by that time, it was getting hot and the breeze off the lake was blocked by all the mega-mansions along the east side. Lots of traffic, gritty. Pretty on the east side, pretty depressing along the west side. Dodging sidewalk parked vehicles, garbage and recycling cans. And hot.

It was about at mile 14 that my knee started to hurt. I was still making really good time, passing a lot of people (I just thought they were walking slow, but as it turns out I was walking FAST). Stepping down off of curbs with my left leg started to be moderately uncomfortable so I started using the easement ramps which helped some. So did stopping at the pit stop at mile 15 and eating my snack, drinking, and stretching very, very carefully. By the time I was leaving the pit stop, that was the first “3 Day Tacky Tours” pit and everyone had to get their 3 Day passport stamped with “PARIS”, my knee was feeling pretty good. Pretty normal in fact.
Which lasted all of about another mile and a half or so when it became acutely obvious even to me in my stupidly enthusiastic state, that SOMETHING was WAY out of order. I was just coming up on the Renton Municipal Airport when I stepped off a curb and my knee went “NOPE! NOT DOING THIS ANYMORE!” and I decided that flagging down a sweep van was probably appropriate.
I was really quite disappointed at having to be swept. I had hoped to walk every single step this year so I was pretty sad to have to grab the van, but it was obvious that I wasn’t going to go much of anywhere without some help. And then I met the inhabitants of the “18 Hour Lift and Support” van and I was a lot more cheerful.
Sweep vans are manned by two people. You have your driver and then you have your navigator cum spotter who hangs out the window shouting and looking for people who need a sweep van. It is obvious that during crew training they emphasize to the sweep crews that people who flag down the vans are likely to be a little disappointed to have to be swept, so the sweep crews try to make it somewhat less of a disappointment. Case in point. The 18 Hour Lift and Support van was crewed by one middle aged stumpy woman from Minnesota who was the driver, and an older leathery woman from Redmond who spent the weekend wearing a gigantic pair of sunglasses and a straw hat with a bright pink bra pinned to the crown. You signal the van, they pull some truly astonishing and doubtless illegal manouvers to get to you and out hops this pink and blond vision with a step stool to escort you into the van. The outside of the van (by the way, all the sweep vans are rented locally for each event. I can’t IMAGINE some of the odd detritus that ends up getting cleaned out of these vans by mystified rental van monkeys after each of these things.) is decked out in a long string of lacy bras with additional bras flying from the side mirrors and the antenna. To each of the passenger side windows is taped a lace encircled pink paper plate which are connected to the roof with “straps” of pink crepe paper. You step inside the van and pinned to the ceiling are a large variety of lacy bras.
I found my seat and was immediately handed a squishy pink foam ribbon –you know all those crossed ribbons that are so popular to show which cause you support — yeah, translate one of those into 3D squishy foam and that’s what I was handed.
“Do you need some water? Do you need some candy? Turn on those vents in the ceiling, those are the AC vents! Are you okay? Next stop is Pit 5, did someone give you a ribbon?” Bouncy music and a hoard (okay eight) other people who needed to be swept. Everyone in pretty good spirits, two husbands and two wives obviously familiar with the sweep crew, giving them shit and getting it right back and then the traffic STOPPED. It was a good thing I didn’t need a potty stop, because driving along the south end of Rainier Ave. on a Friday afternoon you tend to go sssslllloooowwwwwllllyyyy!. To the point where the navigator was sticking her head out the window and having actual conversations with the passing walkers (yes, they were passing us).
That was the first time that someone pointed out Doreen and K.C. to me. He was wearing a shirt that read across the back “SHE WALKED 23.5 MILES TO THE WEDDING” and she had a frilly piece of bridal veil pinned to the back of her waist pack. They were also being tailed by someone in a PC Cruiser that was all decked out in pink and frills with “K.C. AND D.C. SEPTEMBER 7TH, 2007 WALKING TOGETHER FOREVER”. Yes, they walked all day, they got into camp, they ate, showered, changed, and were married. I was sorry to miss the wedding (everyone in camp was invited), but once I got home I went down and wasn’t going to get back up again. After they’d exchanged their vows and the minister said “You may kiss the bride.” he dropped to his knees and started massaging her feet. Apparently there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.
But I was in the sweep van and we were creeping along Rainier Avenue to FINALLY make the turn on to Grady Way. The traffic was a little (not much) better. I wanted to be let off at the cheering station at mile 19, but the vans aren’t allowed to discharge people at anything other than a pit stop so they at least let me squish in to one of the seats in front so I could see whether or not there were any people there cheering for me. There weren’t but it was still fun to be a moving road block along Grady Way so I could check. At one point the traffic had stopped and there was a guy a car length behind us on the left who was so stunned at the sight of the van that he neglected to start driving again when the light changed. His mouth was actually hanging open!
We missed the driveway into the Denny’s parking lot that was hosting the last pit stop so we had to make a right just past it and pull a u-turn across a double yellow line so the sweep van could let us out. I gimped across the intersection and right up into the medical tent. There fortunately wasn’t a line so I sat down and said “It hurts, please fix it!”
A passing sadist named May who was remarkably talented with white medical tape poked and prodded, flexed and extended, then made me stand up and walk back and forth so she could see what I’d done. She told me that I’d been walking too fast and that I’d hyperextended my knee and bruised the lateral meniscus. She said that I’d have to keep my knee flexed for the rest of the weekend and ice it when I wasn’t walking. She stood me up with my heel resting on a lift so that my knee was bent, took out a roll of foam wrap and a roll of 2 inch white medical tape and proceeded to turn my left leg into something vaguely resembling a mummy. When she was done I couldn’t extend my knee the whole way, but it didn’t hurt. At least, it didn’t hurt when I was walking on the flat or walking uphill. Downhill was another story, but I wasn’t to learn that until later. Lots of ibuprofen and I was good (or good enough) for the final 3 1/2 miles.

Down past Southcenter then up through Tukwilla. We were essentially following the tracks for the new light rail service that will be open to the airport in another 18 months or so. Since we live close Andrew and I have been following the progress of this project with great anticipation and it was really cool to see it in slow motion and close up. As we crested the top of the hill we crossed Pacific Highway, a major arterial that runs from south of the airport to far into Seattle. Pac Highway is, at least in that area, a local haven for cheap sleazy hotels, tire and body shops, smoke shops, and prostitutes. It’s not the nicest area to be walking through and I was glad for a group of women who were walking slowly, to say nothing of the tough leathery looking dude on the motorcycle with the boobs strapped to the wind screen who was the crossing guard at that intersection. We were waiting for the light and the crossing guard was directing us in stretching which I must say I was not particularly enthusiastic about, when a tow truck pulled up at the light next to us. Out pokes the head of a guy who is the epitome of the term “grease monkey”. Every stereotype that comes to mind when someone uses that phrase was personified from the filthy backwards baseball cap to the stubbly grease stained cheeks, to the cigarette hanging out of his mouth, to the grungy blue coverall with his name on the chest.
“Hey! How long you guys been walking?”
“Oh, about 20 miles!”
“WHOA! Where’d you start?”
“Bellevue Community College at 6:30 this morning!”
And then they roared off.
It was odd and wonderfully complimentary to get an honest, an astonished and heartfelt wish from a guy who looked like he hadn’t been impressed by anything any woman in his life had ever done.

So we walked past the airport and just a wee bit west of the airport there was a woman who was off the sidewalk messing with her knee. Any sign of distress and there’s immediately a crowd. Someone handed her an ace bandage, someone else gave her some ibuprofen and since her knee was doing a lot of what my knee was doing (and since I needed someone to walk with who would SLOW ME THE HECK DOWN) I said to her “Gimp buddies?”
She grinned and we fell into step, she limping heavily on her right leg, me on my left.
I walked with Keisha all the way into camp. Underneath what will be the third runway, along some remarkably pretty and extremely noisy wetlands (limp, limp, limp, limp, limp, limp, limp….do you know that walking downhill hurts more than walking up hill?). People passing us asking if we were okay, both of us acknowledging that we’d been better but we’d do, and me speculating wildly about where camp was going to be. We crossed Des Moines Memorial Drive, gimped a little ways up the hill on 156th and we were home.

Keisha headed for the medical tents, I checked in at the camp master station, told them I wasn’t going to be camping and then headed for the cafe where they weren’t serving dinner yet but where I could at least get a couple of peanut butter graham crackers.
I sat, CAREFULLY, in a folding camp chair and called Andrew to come and get me.

Postscript: May the Sadist had told me that I needed to keep my knee flexed for the rest of the weekend. I couldn’t see having to wait twice, or even three times a day at the medical tent for someone to strap my knee up with tape, and I had a very bad experience with white medical tape and skin in 2005 so I thought that getting some sort of neoprene (heh! kneeoprene?) support brace would be a good idea. Andrew showed up and we headed for our local pharmacy. Manhattan Pharmacy is kind of a throwback. It’s small, family owned, and everyone who works there knows everyone in the neighborhood. Its variety store items are reminiscent of those that I purchased obsessively during trips to the Ben Franklin in Eureka Illinois on summer visits to the Illinois family, and I find it a quite pleasant addition to the neighborhood. So in I limp, covered in white medical tape wearing a loud t-shirt, bright pink beads and an ID tag around my neck with stickers on my hat, a pink crocheted arm band, and a rose stuck through my hair. I got a lot of odd looks.


Day Three Of The Three Day!

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 8:03 pm

Yahoo! Margaret made it, and we’re all damn proud of her. 😀

Here’s the last round of pictures, broken into two sections. This is a mix of Margaret’s pictures from the entire day and ones I shot from high up in the nosebleed seats at Seattle Center’s Memorial Stadium, where the closing ceremonies took place.

Day 1

Filed under: @ 7:16 pm

My deepest apologies for those who have been tuning in, especially to those VINners who have been popping in from all over the continent, expecting to see some actual commentatry about this last weekend instead of a series of random and sometimes mystifying photographs. However, due to my occasional predisposition for being an exuberant idiot, I managed to hyperextend my left knee and bruise the lateral meniscus (a chunk of cartilage within your knee joint) on the first day which has meant that I’ve spent the last two evenings with a pillow under and an ice bag on my left knee to avoid being red carded (only allowed to continue walking with medical approval).
That having been said, my knee is actually not particularly uncomfortable. My muscles are sore, my feet are sore, but what actually is the most notable at this immediate moment is the blister on my right little toe which is A. the only blister I have, and B. a doozy. Do you know how many nerve endings are in the sole of your little toe? A LOT, that’s how many.

I would also like to add my sincerest thanks to my chief of support, the love of my life, and mixer of a mean bottle of Praying Mantis Juice. Sweetie I could not have done this without you. A big shout out also goes to my folks who were willing to get up at Dark:O’clock on Friday morning to drive me to BCC and who sat in the sun (granted in what Dad would term a “target rich environment” which means that the people watching was beyond all measure) for a couple of hours on Saturday at the cheering station in Des Moines. Thank you also to Shawn and Anastasia who were also cheering. Matt, brah, I missed seeing you on Saturday, but I hooted and hollared at all the guys in the ambulances who were scouring the route in your honor.

Friday morning started at 0445 with my cell phone alarm going off like the trump of damn doom which is guaranteed to make me surly and hard to start. Having the shower pound me with scalding hot water did help, as well as the pre-walk jitters which got me dressed and through a plate of eggs and toast. How anyone can eat that much breakfast at 0515 is and forever will be beyond me. My metabolism just does not work at that hour of the morning.
I was assigned to tent section “I” which meant that they wanted me at Bellevue Community College between 0545 and 0600. Opening ceremonies were scheduled for 0630.
LOOOONNNNGGG line of traffic outside Landerholm Circle on the BCC campus. Much better (tons better, VOLUMES better) access than what we had at Lake Sammamish State Park in 2005, but when you have 2500 people all converging in one spot between 0500 and 0615 it does take its toll. They were letting cars stop in the curb lane to let people off so long as you could do it “quick and safe”. There was only one of me and I only had a small backpack so I managed to leap fairly quickly and wander off towards the gear trucks. There’s a gas station just outside the main entrance to BCC which was playing host to a huge number of drop offs including a stretch limo out of which leapt five people in bright blue t-shirts and neon pink tights. That got me grinning as did the costumes on the gear monkeys on the “I” gear truck who were wearing some variation of hospital gowns and/or scrubs with large fake boobs strapped to the outside (men and women).

It is a rare and wonderful thing to be a full grown adult and spend the weekend being encouraged and celebrated in making booby jokes.

Dropped off my backpack and went wandering into the crowd. Still dark, but gorgeous and clear. Stars, waning gibbous moon, and a forest of chilly people in neon fluff covered deeley boppers parked along the fence in the walker holding pen just in front of the stage.
I asked one of the women in the outlandish headgear what purpose or symbolisim it represented. She grinned and said “Oh nothing really, it just makes our team mates easier to find!”. They were members of the Warming Hut Hotties team and they all wore their deeley boppers, so far as I could tell, at all times except in the shower all weekend. Even their tents had deeley boppers on them.

Standing, waiting, stretching, bouncing. Talking with anyone and everyone. Then it was finally light and the stretching guru got up on stage to lead us in some official stretches. During any of these ceremonies the best fun is to be had watching the ASL translators. During the stretching the ASL translator was a chilly looking blond woman whom I managed to photograph while she was translating the stretch guru explaining about the stretch we were doing. He called that particular stretch “the porta-potty squat” and the photo of the translator taking that from spoken English to pictographic ASL is stunning.

More stretching, and music, and intense longing for a cup of something hot or at least for all of us to be there and the dang ceremony to be over so we could start to walk and get our blood moving. Two local news stations with crews on the ground and a third sent their traffic chopper.
There was a new twist this year. Inside the walker’s holding area there is always a fenced off center aisle with a small stage in the middle. Eight breast cancer survivors are invited to take part in the opening ceremonies and they’re always trotted up on to this center stage to look inspiring while the people on the main stage pontificate. Only this year they were preceeded by an honor guard of twelve walkers, I think all people who have lost family members to breast cancer, each carrying a flag printed with reasons for walking on it. “JOY” and “ANNIVERSARIES” and “BEST FRIENDS” and so forth. The honor guard walked up on to the main stage, the survivors with their eight flags “BELIEF” and “STRENGTH” etc. came up on to their stage and planted the flags. Each of the 20 flags was reproduced in semi-minature (i.e. the traveling flags were only about 3 feet long) and we were told that the flags would walk with us all weekend, ideally to have each walker carry a flag at least once over the next 3 days.
The honor guard took their place lining the opening of the route, the survivors started their walk, the gates opened and we were walking.

And now I’m really tired. Sorry, but I got up at 0500 this morning, walked 16 miles before 1430, and me and my chubby feet have got to be at work ato 0700 tomorrow.
Y’all are just going to have to be patient. I’ll get through the whole weekend eventually.


Today Is Day Two Of The Three Day

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 4:20 pm

And here are the pictures to prove it!



Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 8:42 pm

Or, day one of the 2007 Breast Cancer 3 Day, for those who don’t speak geek.

I’ll leave it to Margaret to blog about the event itself, but I did get a dump of her digital camera, and have made the pictures available here. Enjoy!


Be On The Lookout

Uncle AndrewUncle Andrew
Filed under: @ 8:08 am

If you happen to be out cheering for the walkers at this year’s Seattle Breast Cancer 3-Day, be on the lookout for Margaret in her new walk togs. Got it finished up and printed over the weekend:

Team Eccentrica Front

Team Eccentrica Back

No, the three C’s are not a typo. Eccentrica Gallumbits is the triple-breasted whore of Eroticon Six, from Douglas Adams’ The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy. Really, I shouldn’t have to tell any of you this.

You can click on the shirt back to see a larger version, in which you can read all the species and the weird numbers of boobs they have. (9 to 15 for naked mole rats??)

I love my wife, and I’m damn proud of her, too. Yay Womankind! :mrgreen:


Hee hee hee…..BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!

Filed under: @ 9:23 am

Got my official last minute information e-mail from the Breast Cancer 3 Day this morning. It includes route information, campsite information, last minute packing tips, opening and closing ceremony information and the cheering stations listed below.

Now it isn’t so much the cheering stations that are making me so hysterical this morning. No, what’s making me so, well, cheerful, is knowing the route.
See, opening ceremonies are at BCC – a few miles from my parents’ house. No problem. Somewhere to stay the night before with good beds, good company, good food, and an easy trip to the opening ceremonies. On my first 3 Day in 2002 we ended up staying at a hotel in Federal Way and catching a shuttle at 4:45 in the morning for the trip to Enumclaw.
This year the route on the first day winds us southwest from Bellevue, over the I-90 bridge, through Renton, Tukwila, and ending at the camp in (SNERK!) Burien.
Burien. We’ll be camping in Burien. Five minutes from my house with good beds, good company, good food, flush toilets, and A HOT TUB!
Let this stand as my official announcement. I will not be availing myself of the carefully planned services of the 3 Day camps, spending the night on my Therm-a-Rest camp mattress and hiking for the porta-potties when I have to pee. I will, however, be sloping off home in the evenings to sleep on my Tempur-pedic mattress after soaking my weary bones at 100 degrees for half an hour.

As noted above, the cheering stations are listed below. It would be a great pleasure for me to see y’all at one (or more) of them.
Opening ceremonies, for those who are lunatic enough to want to do it, start at 0630 on the campus of Bellevue Community College on Friday September 7th.
Closing ceremonies start at 1630 at Memorial Stadium at Seattle Center.

Watch this site for further developments and what I hope will be a very interesting travelogue.

Cheering Stations
Please discourage your family and friends from driving along the route, as it can create a safety hazard. The following Cheering Stations are safe, recommended places for your supporters to cheer you on along the route.

Day One – Friday, September 7

Mile Marker 9.5
9:00 am – 12:30 pm
Stan Sayres Park
3808 Lake Washington Blvd S
Seattle, WA 98118

Mile Marker 19.7
12:00 pm – 5:30 pm
Family Fun Center
7300 Fun Center Way
Tukwila, WA 98188

Day Two – Saturday, September 8

Mile Marker 8.3
8:30 am – 1:15 pm
Highline Community College
2400 S. 240 St.
Des Moines, WA 98198
(Parking lot off of S 240th – click here for map )

Mile Marker 13.3
10:35 am – 4:00pm
Key Bank
22033 Marine View Dr S
Des Moines, WA 98198

Day Three – Sunday, September 9

Mile Marker 4.7
7:40 am – 10:15 am
Alki Beach
1702 Alki Ave SW
Seattle, WA 98116
(Walkers will be traveling for several miles along this beach path. You’ll be able to cheer on walkers from any spot along this stretch of beach.)


I’m a 3-peater

Filed under: @ 8:53 pm

So it looks like I’ll be walking solo for this year’s 3 Day. I’m really rather looking forward to it.

I’m about a month out and walking (or making every attempt to walk) somewhere between 15-20 miles per week. In another week or so I hope to increase that to 20-25 miles per week, but I’m running into some logistical problems for the longer walks.
In other words, it’s hard to continue to walk when all one is doing is trying to find a convenient and private bush behind which to have a desperately needed pee. It’s much easier to walk distances and remain well hydrated while doing so when one is provided a comfort station every 2-3 miles. I’ll figure it out.

I’m enjoying my training. It’s very soothing to have nothing to worry about besides what song is coming up next on the walking music file I’ve got on my i-Pod and the area through which I walk most of the time is drop dead gorgeous. I am trying very, very hard to include hills (both up and down) and multiple walking surfaces on my training route. Since I’ve made the basic rule that I have to walk to the beat of the song that is currently playing on the i-Pod, sometimes those uphill climbs can be remarkably strenuous.
I also find it fairly distressing to note that disco music in general, and The Village People in specific, makes extremely good walking music. I find it much easier to go up hills with “Go West” blasting at me.

I’ve thought a lot about what I’ll do walking 10-12 hours a day 3 days in a row with no specific group with which I am associated. I’m not by nature a tremendously outgoing person, but I’ve found in previous years that it’s an easy thing to strike up a converstation with just about anyone on just about any topic (although the conversations are very often boob or walking centered). I’m considering carrying a small digital voice recorder with me so I can record some of my conversations with people, full disclosure ahead of time of course, and have some sort of coherant written commentary to blog on as well as photos. Still working on fleshing that idea out, I’ll have to get back to you all.

I’m also wondering a lot about the route this year. In 2002 we walked from the King County Fairgrounds in Enumclaw to Auburn on the first day, from Auburn to Bellevue on the second day, and from Bellevue to Seattle Center (via the I-90 bridge and south Seattle) on the third. The I-90 crossing and the walk through downtown were a real hoot. In 2005 we walked from Lake Sammamish State Park to Marymoor Park on the first day which was remarkably frustrating because I know the area like the back of my hand and was tempted more than once to take off in an unapproved short cut just to keep from having to walk back and forth. On the second day we walked from Marymoor to some place outside of Shoreline and on the third we walked from Shoreline through Ballard and Freemont to Magnuson Park on Lake Washington. I didn’t get to walk last year but my understanding is that they camped in one spot and walked loops from camp to camp on the first two days, suffering many a shin splint on the second which mostly consisted of up hills, and then walked from camp to the closing ceremonies in Seattle on the third day. I don’t know that I’d really enjoy the loop walking as much. At least with the long strung out route you really felt like you were accomplishing something. This year they’re starting us out at Bellevue Community College and ending 3 days later at the Seattle Center again. I think I’m in for loops unless they plan on sending us WAY south and WAY east before letting us head WAY north and WAY west. I hope we get to cross the bridge again.

And I’m a little concerned about how the tummy weasels will behave. Most days so long as I am careful about eating frequently (shouldn’t be a problem), eating carefully, and swallowing a shocking handful of dietary supplements, the tummy weasels and I get along quite nicely. I’m anxious about the affect that significant physical exercise paired with frequent infusions of food with which the weasels may not be completely familiar will have on same. I’m considering carrying a small bottle of Pepto with me in my waist pack but the idea of honking down a slug of Pepto while hot, sweaty, and constantly in need of liquids is a little (okay a lot) horrifying. YUG! On the other hand the idea of getting pulled off the route and sent to the medics or sent home with chronic debilitating indigestion is considerably less appealing so maybe I’ll just suck it up and carry the Pepto

Andrew has promised to do the shirt design. I’ve got a really good idea of what I want, I just need to hand it over to him for coordination and fine tuning. Hee hee! This year’s design is even going to blow the first shirt (the “Because Pets Have ’em Too” shirt) out of the water. Hee hee hee! This one’s going to involve Sperm whales and gerbils and I refuse to answer any more questions until the design is done.

Anyway, that’s the latest update from me-n-my feet.
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Updates For The Masses

Filed under: @ 4:21 pm

Because I was too wiped out to remember to put them in yesterday’s entry.

First and foremost, Team Eccentrica is officially registered for the 2007 Seattle 3-Day. I’ll be walking, one of the other diners in our group at The Herbfarm on Saturday is going to be joining me, and a veterinarian that I know through VIN who works in Seattle is interested. Anyone else in? It’s bad craziness, but it’s good fun. The walk is September 7-9.

Also, for those to whom I have not had the chance to speak personally, the diagnosis is relatively benign. The MRI that was done about 10 days ago confirmed that the “lesion” in my liver is a fat deposit (oh great, I really do have a chubby liver), and pending results of further biopsies and more specific pancreatic function tests that will be done this week, the working diagnosis is irritable bowel syndrome.
You want some fun? Go to WebMD and search “Irritable Bowel Syndrome”. Better, go to Google and Google “Irritable Bowel Syndrome”. As a not very well defined syndrome that affects a great number of people around the world you can pick up some truly fascinating information and treatment options for IBS on the web. This isn’t something like an abscess where cause and treatment are fairly cut and dried. This is more like organized religion where certain believers worship one way, other believers worship another and both parties are convinced that the other side is going to go directly to Hell.

Pretty much the only constants that I’ve found are:
1. You are probably gluten intolerant and have Celiac Sprue even though your biopsies didn’t recognize it.
2. Dairy is bad.
3. You need to eat more fiber, and
4. All your problems can be solved if you only remember to drink a teaspoonful of apple cider vinegar before each meal.

Great, so I’ll be eating no wheat products, drinking no dairy, eating piles of raw vegetable matter that I can’t digest but it’s okay because it’s fiber and fiber is good for IBS, and it doesn’t matter anyway so long as I remember to drink my vinegar. 🙁
Have you ever actually tried to drink straight vinegar? It’s really difficult and allow me a word of advice: DON’T CHOKE ON IT.

Actually I’m fairly upbeat about the whole situation. Having a name to put to the tummy weasels and a (or several) potential courses to follow to solve or at least control the problem, has really helped.
I’d still love a salad though. Oh, and I’m not giving up dairy regardless of what all the web sites say. In my case the tummy weasels seem to like milk and I truly LOATHE soy and rice milk.

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