Thursday, June 11, 2009

The 3-Day: Just Breathe ...

This morning, I read this post by fellow 3-Day Ambassador Dawn Rennert. Dawn regularly posts about the 3-Day, which is very helpful of her. First-time walkers want to arm themselves with as much information as possible before the event.

In her post, Dawn mentions that the friend who was going to walk with her has opted out of the event. This isn't uncommon. Right about now, about six weeks out from the beginning of the walking season, people begin to question whether they'll be able to raise enough funds or whether they've trained sufficiently and many arrive at the decision to not walk.

I posted a comment in which I said that while I'm sorry her friend won't be walking, I'm willing to wager that one of the people Dawn finds herself standing next to at Opening Ceremonies will end up being the person she walks with for the entire weekend, and odds are good that they'll stay good friends.

Forming friendships is a big part of the 3-Day.

As I wrote that comment, I found myself welling up. It's a pretty good bet that if I'm writing about the 3-Day, I'm crying, too. It's such an emotional experience that I can't help but remember all the feelings I feel every year and the tears start to flow.

Oh, also: I'm a total sap.

Many of you might be able to retain your composure with much more ease.

But writing that comment to Dawn made me think about all the other walkers who might be getting nervous, who might be thinking, "Oh, man, what did I get myself into?!"

In years past, I've hosted and co-hosted informational meetings for first-time walkers. Reassurance from someone who has done the walk and who can answer questions about what to expect seems to assuage a lot of anxiety.

And so this is an open post to all first-time walkers who might be wondering whether it was wise to take up this challenge:

Yes, it was.

I am not overstating anything when I say that the 3-Day will change your life in ways you cannot begin to imagine.

If you're nervous, that's perfectly normal. You're embarking on a substantial journey. Sixty miles is certainly nothing to sneeze at, but electing to participate in a 3-Day isn't just about walking from Point A to Point D. It's about stepping well outside your comfort zone, especially if you're doing the walk "alone."

Of course, there's no such thing as doing the walk "alone." From the moment you arrive at Opening Ceremonies, you'll be surrounded by more than 2,000 other walkers. Once you drop your luggage off at your gear truck, take in the sea of pink that you'll see swelling near the stage and know this: One of those people is about to become one of your best friends.

Last year, I met Mary on the coach from the hotel to Opening Ceremonies. She had expected to walk with a friend, but that friend decided against walking. Mary, undaunted, showed up by herself.

As we were chatting, Amy arrived at our sides. Amy, too, was doing the event by herself. And so there we were, three walking Musketeers, sans muskets.

Mary eventually paired up with another walker, who was walking at her same pace. That left Amy and me to walk together. And we did, for the remainder of the weekend.

And we've been in touch ever since. And this August, we'll reunite and do it all over again.

The 3-Day coaches do a great job of doling out information about the events, but talk to veteran walkers, too. (Anyone who's done the event once is a veteran walker in my book. They can provide first-hand accounts of what to expect, which can be an invaluable balm to soothe cases of nerves.)

If anyone has any questions – and no question is silly – feel free to post it in the comments and I'll share my take on it.

This will be my sixth event. At this point, I've seen it all.

And yet, every year, I'm amazed all over again.

Here's a starter tip: Stash a pocket pack of Kleenex in your waistpack and several more in your luggage. If you're anything like me, you'll need Kleenex several times throughout the 3-Day. And when you line up for Closing Ceremonies, hold a pack above your head and watch how fast people ask you for 'em.

Nothing compares to a 3-Day. You're about to experience more love and kindness than you can imagine. As my friend Devereaux says, "I want to live in the 3-Day universe."

See you there.



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Any chance you are doing the 3-day in Washington DC, I am considering it but concerned about doing it alone. I haven't been able to find anyone to train with or team with. The DC walk is in October, do I still have time to train?

Thanks for sharing your info,its very helpful


12:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I too am debating on opting out & would also be a first time walker. The donations just arent happening for me. I wanted to do this but have only raised about $700. I would be walking in Cleveland this year but have about a month to go - I can't afford to pay the difference either. My sister-in-law has raised about $1600 so she will probably be walking without me this year.

12:55 PM  
Blogger Addy said...

Hi Liz,
I am walking with 4 other girls in DC. We are team Save Second Base. None of us actually live in DC (I am training in Boston) but would be happy to meet you at the event in DC. I think you definitely still have time to train, by my count we have a little less than 18 weeks left til the DC event. The 3 Day provides a 16 week training schedule that you can follow to get into walking shape!
-Katie Adrian
(Feel free to search for me or my team on the the 3 Day fundraising site)

1:10 PM  
Blogger Cowbark said...

Liz, you definitely have time to train for DC! I walked there last year (first time) with my sister and a coworker and we all had a blast.

Addy, I'm in Boston and walking Boston, but hit me up if you want someone to walk with while you train! I trained alone in Boston for DC last year, it was hard for me to not go nuts walking for 7-8 hours with no one to talk to!

Beth, great post! You had me tearing up...I'm a total sap, too! I cry any time I talk to people about my experience at the 3 Day last year. You really don't have to worry about making friends on the 3 Day, and no one walks alone!

Another tip for 1st time walkers - do local training walks, even if folks aren't training for the same event as you. I learned a LOT from the Boston training walk leaders last year, even though their event was 2 months ahead of mine. I emailed them before the walk to ask if there was a way for me to walk with them but cut some of the milage since they were so far ahead of me on the training schedule and it worked out really well.

1:22 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

Hi, Liz – Nope, I walk Chicago every year, but now you can meet up with Addy! As for training, like she says, there's a shorter training schedule you can follow, but the need to train is relative. If you're not used to walking any kind of distance, train rigorously for sure. If you already walk a lot for exercise, your need to train is somewhat less. In my experience, anyway.

Addy – Thanks for jumping in and offering to meet Liz! See what I mean about the 3-Day? People who've never met step up to help one another. It's awesome!

Cindy – I think fundraising is toughest for your first event. And in this economy, it's even tougher. People are reluctant to part with their money, but the way you approach them is key. Here are a few suggestions to jump-start things:

- Try asking for "contributions" instead of "donations."

- Remind people that contributions start $5. They'll probably give you more.

- Today, choose 7-10 people to whom you haven't sent a request and ask them to contribute. You never know who your angels are. The first time I did that, I received a $300 contribution within seconds from someone with whom I had worked on a consulting project.

1:36 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

Thanks for chiming in, Cowbark! Walk on!

1:39 PM  
Anonymous Dawn - She is Too Fond of Books said...

Beth - thanks so much for your positive comment on my post, and for this post you've written!

I have found the 3-Day online community to be so helpful and supportive, via blog posts and twitter ... can't wait to meet people on this Walk!

Would you advise me to join another group at this point to possibly meet team (and tent) mates before the Walk? I don't mind training solo, my busy family schedule almost mandates it; but I wonder if I should be connecting with other people before the event (?)

I like your advice about reminding people that online contributions begin at $5. I wrote a post asking followers of my blog if they'd consider buying me a virtual coffee (at $5, or a virtual glass of wine at $10), and was pleased with the number of people who took me up on it. It all adds up!

Thanks again for sharing your positive outlook ... it has really boosted me today :)

2:26 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

Hi, Dawn!

You're very welcome for the comment and the post (and now this comment). We're all in this together.

By all means, join a team or, as Cowbark suggested, sign up for training walks. I think it's always good to arrive at Day 1 knowing some folks with which to hit the route.

Walkers naturally segment themselves. It's very important to walk at your natural pace, maintain your natural stride. Do not, do not, do not speed up or slow down to accommodate another walker. Tell them you'll meet them at camp and then walk at your own pace. All the tents have addresses. It's easy to find someone in camp that way.

But even if you don't meet anyone beforehand, like I mentioned in the post, you'll meet folks at Opening Ceremonies or on the route. A few years ago, I started out walking with someone but she had to sweep early on (hop a van to lunch) so I found myself walking alone for a bit. I found myself keeping pace with a woman and asked, as I do to most walkers I'm near or passing, "How you doing?"

And she and I struck up a conversation and ended up walking the rest of the event together. (If she's reading this post, hi, Catherine!) She does a different city every year, so we haven't had occasion to walk again together, but we contribute to each other's fundraising and trade post-walk letters.

2:34 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Maybe not the best advice for first time walkers but I just wanted to share some information from my experience. I was asked by my mom (who is a cancer survivor) to do the walk with her and my sister for my mom’s 60th birthday. I did not train for my first walk. I went to the local ‘expert’ running/walking shoe store and told them what I was doing and they fitted me with a pair of shoes made for walking. I spent about a month just wearing them around breaking them in and purchased some socks designed to move the sweat away from my feet. My experience in athletics taught me that you should not wear new shoes the first day of a game and I applied that logic to the walk. I made all three days without a single blister and I was never too tired to move on. Not because I was in shape or even ready to walk but the survivors that I walked with and the stories that I heard along the way made any pain that I may have had go away because compared to what they had all been through being sore for a few days was nothing. Lastly it was by far the most inspirational experience I have even been a part of and on the last day when you’re sore and tired and feel as though it’s just too much you just push on because when you cross the line on the final day and everyone that you have been walking with is there cheering you on its better than any feeling I have ever experienced.
I thank my mom frequently for asking me to take part in such a great event. On the final day my mother, sister, and I walked across the line my mom was crying not because of pain but because she was alive, she had walked 60 miles, and we were there with her. My mom sat down when we were finished a tear in her eye, blisters on her feet, and toe nails falling off I asked her how at 60 with the pain I knew she was in how she made it. She told me she was able to walk the 60 miles because every step she felt as though her mom was with her (who passed away from breast cancer when my mom was 17) and she could hear her voice telling her to never give up.
When you feel as though you cannot go on look to the people around you to find the strength to carry on because believe me it is all around you.

7:30 PM  
Blogger Margaret said...

Can't find anyone to train with? Post in the message boards. Look through the Share List for walkers in your area. Become a training walk leader and host a walk (It's easier than you think and you get to set the time and place!) Worried about your fundraising? My team hosts a yard sale every year and the proceeds are distributed among the walkers who are yet far from the goal. A bunch of us donated stuff, and we raised $900, distributed among 3 of us. As each person paid for their stuff, even sometimes $.50, we asked (Like the pet stores), "Would you like to contribute an extra dollar to the breast cancer walk?" We had pink balloons everywhere. Almost everyone did. Last week, I sent out emails to everyone, whether they had contributed or not, saying I was getting desperate and asking them to send my info to their friends. I don't know if they did, but I received $500 in donations from friends who had not previously donated!! You can do it - and it will change you. - Margie (walk #7 in Boston)

7:35 PM  

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