Saturday, October 8, 2011

Breaking Camp at the 3-Day

On September 25, I awoke at 4AM, having to take a pee. It was drizzling and I could hear the rain pattering on my little pink tent. I had slept through the night, very comfortably, and felt pretty good. My new compression socks had really helped with knocking out some of the soreness I had felt the evening before. My newly injured toes even felt less painful. I put on my running shoes, went out to the porta-potty, and quietly walked back to my tent.

Snug in my sleeping bag, renewed sleep would not come. I could hear the women all around starting to stir about 5AM, and about 5:30, I decided to get up. I walked the third of a mile in a light rain to the shower area, and used one of the outdoor sinks to shave and brush my teeth. A woman at the sink next to me was applying makeup in the rain, which seemed fruitless. I took my gear back to my tent, and went to breakfast. I had some great conversations at breakfast with several women about the walk and why we were doing this - really nice people, as were the folks I'd eaten dinner with the night before. It is tough to be totally by yourself at something like this. Most of the people, all but a handful, were there with a team. But I had found most people to be open and friendly.

After breakfast, I grabbed a couple of napkins and walked back to the sink area. There, I wet the napkins and used them to apply the temporary 3-Day tatoos I had bought at the Komen store last night. I wanted to do something a little special for this last day, the culmination of following through with what I told my sister Ann I would do in her honor - and now her memory. Now, it was time to pack up my stuff and strike the tent. I was not looking forward to packing a wet tent in the rain and somehow stuffing it back in the ridiculously small pink bag. But again, I lucked out. Several young women from a local college field hockey team had volunteered to take down and pack up the tents. I changed into my walking clothes for the day, including my special shirt with my sister's photo on it. I packed my duffle, and stepped outside. "Anyone need help packing their tent?" called out one of the college women. "Sure!" I said. I introduced myself and we shook hands. She peered at my shirt in the pre-dawn darkness. "Ah, your sister," she said. "Oh, and she died just a few months ago. I am so sorry. She's beautiful." I told her a few things about my sister, and could feel tears welling up. I thanked the two young women, and hoped that their field hockey team goes undefeated. I grabbed my duffle and started the walk towards the bus that would transport us to the starting point of the day's walk. What a huge help not having to pack up my tent!

I took my duffle to a truck for loading, and walked slowly to the line of people waiting to get on a bus. It was now about 6:40AM, still pretty dark, and I looked around fondly at the camp that had been my home for two nights, bustling with activity as people ate, packed, cleaned up, and worked (our hard-working and dedicated crew, that is). But it was time to move on, to complete my tribute to my sister using my feet and legs. It was time to complete the 3-Day!

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