Saturday, May 01, 2010

The 3-Day: Little Things ...

It is a partly sunny, mostly lazy Saturday.

I should be writing a story I've been working on, but writing is a fickle mistress, and at the moment, she is also being coy.

But while I've been at my computer, trying to bring her around, I've been trading tweets with Cat, who is registered for the Phoenix 3-Day, and who tweets under the name @fatgirlwalkin.

You gotta love Cat.

Anyhoo, she was wondering whether to be concerned that her hands had swelled on her brief training walk, and I assured her that it happens to all of us. Our exchange, however, suggested to me that I should whip up a post of little 3-Day nuggets.

So here we are.

1. Your hands will swell
It's the nature of gravity. You keep your hands at your sides for long enough, fluids will settle. And on the 3-Day, you'll be chock full of fluids. At least, you better be. By now you know the importance of hydration. And so, on the route, you will see plenty of walkers with their arms above their heads, wiggling their fingers. This is not enthusiasm. This is a measure to combat swelling. Which brings me to two sub-nuggets:

– Don't wear rings. Leave them at home. Or carry them with you in your waist pack. Or on a chain around your neck. But to be safest, leave them at home.

– If someone offers ice, take it. Often, people along the route – bless their hearts – will offer Ziploc bags of ice or a cooler full of ice for those who want it for their water bottles, or some variation thereof. Last year, while nearing a cheering station, I could hear one very enthusiastic Scout yelling, "Ice! It's cold! It's free!" I stopped in front of him. He looked at me as if to say, "Yeah?" I said, "Dude, I want ice!" And he handed me the chunk in his hands, an intricate blob of fused cubes, and he and his fellow Scouts went wild. I guess they hadn't had many takers. But oh, it felt fabulous to hold in my hands while I walked. And, given that the Chicago 3-Day is in August, it melted quickly.

2. It's not glamorous
The 3-Day is noble and awesome and life-changing and cool, but glamorous? Nope. First-timers are easy to spot at Opening Ceremonies: They're the ones wearing makeup. I'll admit to smudging on a bit of eyeliner on past events, but only to keep myself from looking like I should be lying on a slab. But "normal" on the walk includes hair pulled into a ponytail, no (or very minimal) makeup, quite possibly a sunburned nose, puffy hands, and plenty of sweat. Just go with the flow. Every other walker looks exactly the same way. Nobody cares. The 3-Day is not the time for lip gloss. Lip balm, absolutely. Put some in your fanny pack now. Along with sunscreen, which you will apply in lieu of foundation for three days. But skip makeup. You're just going to sweat it off. Which brings me to more sub-nuggets:

– In the mornings at the sinks, don't tie up the mirrors. Brush your teeth and move along. Also, when brushing your teeth, don't let the water run. You shouldn't do it at home, either, but be mindful of it on the event.

– Speaking of water, a shower on the 3-Day will feel better than any shower you've ever taken in your life, but keep it brief. And this is hardly a little thing, but it bears repeating over and over again, in bold and caps, even: WHEN YOU RETURN TO CAMP, DO NOT SHOWER BEFORE YOU EAT. I REPEAT, DO NOT SHOWER BEFORE YOU EAT. Why not? Because the odds are in your favor that you will faint in the shower if you do not eat first. And we love you, we really do, but we do not love you enough to want to haul your naked body out of a shower stall. We'll do it if we have to, but eat first and spare us the ordeal, OK?

3. Mark your tent and luggage
The 3-Day folks mention this in the handbook, and they're not kidding. Even with a tent "address," and especially at night, it's difficult to find your pink domed home. Bring a windsock or scarf or something to clip to your tent to help you spot it in the hot-pink sea. I make a massive spray of curling ribbon that I clip to the top of my tent and tie a smaller version to the handle of my wheely duffel to make it easy to spot when it's time to grab my gear.

4. MacGyver-ize
Most women carry a little bit of everything in their purses. Not nearly as much fits into a fanny pack, but you'll probably have room for a snack-size Ziploc of whatever you find handy. The one I carry holds a stash of Band-Aids, blister covers, a couple of hair elastics, a safety pin, my lip balm, and my little Swiss Army knife because it contains a tiny pair of scissors. Last year, a fellow walker wanted to put her hair up but no one had an extra elastic. While we walked, I stuck some Band-Aids to each other to form a long strip and used that to tie around her ponytail. We laughed at how ridiculous it looked, but she was happy to have her hair off her neck.

5. Bring a wider-mouth water bottle
The awesome, awesome crew will try to have ice on hand for you for your water bottle. The wider the mouth of your bottle, the easier it will be for them to set you up with ice.

6. Track down or make a neck wrap
This is what I'm talking about. These things are awesome. They're just long cotton tubes filled up with some sort of magical poly-crystals that swell in water and oh, when you soak one of these puppies in some ice water (conveniently set out for you at pit stops) and slap it around your neck again? Whew! Nothing feels better on a hot day.

My brain has stopped working for the moment. I'm sure there are other things to share with you that will come to me over time. So I'll blog again. But in the meantime, if you have any questions, as ever, feel free to post 'em in the comments and I'll reply and then address them in my next post.


Anonymous Cat said...

Excellent tidbits from the voice of experience! Thank you, Beth, for soothing my swollen hand fears. And for the practical-yet-awesome event advice. This is not stuff I would have thought of. although the fainting-in-the-shower thing is scaring me just a tiny bit. But if it's important enough to put in bold AND caps, I will listen and obey. Eat first. Shower later. Thanks again!!

11:23 PM  
Blogger Beth said...

Atta girl, Cat. Eat first, shower later.

No need to be scared about the fainting thing if you follow that simple advice. And the way camp is laid out, the dining tent will be just inside camp, so you finish for the day, scan in (your credential will have a barcode on it), and then you can head right for the tent, plop your stuff down, and go get in line for grub.

The first night is always spaghetti! : o ) And salad. And garlic bread. And some sort of veggie, if memory serves, and, most importantly, dessert!

One year, a woman offered me a slice of cheesecake. I declined. She said, "You just walked 24 miles. Have a slice of cheesecake." So I did! She made a simple, compelling argument.

3:35 AM  
Anonymous Sara said...

Thank you for this! Especially about the swollen hands. I dehydrate easily and while my walks are still short I was worrying about that, it makes total sense though. I'll stop worrying. I always eat before I shower, I am hungry after walking!

10:33 AM  
Anonymous said...

We need to shower before the medical crew will bandage our blisters as well. Don't forget a flashlight!!!

10:40 AM  
Blogger Jenna said...

Brushed teeth at a sink? I just brushed my teeth outside a few yards from the water station. Brush, rinse, spit right on the ground. :D

And I'm the queen of the "Hallelujah" hands in the air wiggle. I'm just walking in from a 3 mile walk and my fingers are as fat as hot dogs.

10:47 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just saved a few swallows of water in my bottle for the next morning to brush my teeth with. I had no idea there were sinks! And I'm all for reducing the walking in camp...drop your walking pack, pick up your shower stuff, eat, then shower all in 1 trip!

10:56 AM  
Blogger Julie said...

As always, this is a great post, Beth. As a veteran walker and crew member, the tip about the wide mouthed bottles is excellent. Also, you don't need to stash a lot of snacks at Pit Stop 1 on Day 1. Pit Stop 2 isn't far and they have food also.

Don't overpack! First, you really don't want to have to take care of extra stuff on event. Second, think of the guys and gals on the Gear & Tent team who take such good care of your bag and get them to camp (and closing) for you. Imagine handling 100+ bags that weigh 35 pounds each, much less if they are overweight.

Most of all, relax and enjoy your training and fundraising. Thousands have gone before you. You will enjoy living in a community of complete kindness for 3 days.

11:00 AM  
Blogger Jane Jones said...

I'm in Dallas and our walk is in November. This is my first walk and I'm thinking August to November will make a difference. Have you ran across any other sites with tips?

11:26 AM  
Blogger Starchy said...

I love your blog, and all your posts are great! Thanks for the advice--it's really helpful! I've been walking around waving my arms up in the air on some my walks already. And yeah, people have looked at me kinda funny. It'll be nice being around people who'll know what the heck I'm doing!

11:44 AM  
Blogger MustBeNuts said...

Great post thanks so much! I am a first time walker (San Diego) and I love soaking up all these helpful little tidbits!

12:05 PM  
Blogger Mama's always write said...

Oh MustBeNuts - you will adore San Diego's walk! I walked my first 3Day in San Diego last year and the community support, walker stalkers, safety crew and both the San Diego and San Jose police volunteers are AMAZING! Enjoy it.

1:38 PM  
Anonymous Jen said...

Thanks so much, Beth for the tips! I'm a first timer for the Chicago walk. I am so nervous and excited. August seems so far away, but I know it's so close every time I look at all the fundraising and train I have to do I freak out a little. I love all the tips I'm getting everywhere! I will have to remember the hand hand swell after 5 miles I can't imagine what it will be like after 20.

2:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

OMG I am adding this to my favorites!!! I am a first time 3-dayer, my husband & I are walking in Tampa. All of the little tidbits are so helpful, thanks to all of you who have shared!!!!

4:15 PM  
Blogger Christina said...

So SO true! Great post Beth! And yes when you walk 24 miles you deserve that cheesecake! YUM!

5:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I will be a first timer. I just signed up to walk with my sister. Just checking things out since I feel a bit overwhelmed just thinking about walking 60 miles. I appreciate the pointers. Just one step at a time right?

9:06 PM  

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