28 November 2014

Max woke me up at 6:30 this morning to announce that, while it was not yet Food O'clock, the hour was rapidly approaching and it would be a good idea if I started to wake up so that I'd be able to open a can without slicing my thumb open.

I assume that's what he meant when he jammed a paw full of fur up my nose and began meowing at me nonstop.

I rolled over and tried to ignore him because it was six-thirty in the freaking morning and I don't do morning, but he was persistent and the thought that just one week ago not only had I been awake at that hour, I'd been awake for a good 3 hours and I was standing in a mass of pink people, in the rain, ready for the 3 Day opening ceremonies to start.

We won't melt...I think
At the hotel, as we boarded the bus to the Del Mar fairground where opening was, the rain was coming down at a fairly steady rate, but by the time we got there it lifted quite a bit and then stopped. People gathered under gray clouds and dodged huge puddles in the parking lot, but the mood was overwhelmingly positive and the atmosphere bubbling with excitement.

If we were going to get wet, we were going to get wet, and there was no reason to be upset about it.

I'm usually mentally itchy during opening because I just want to get started, but it felt different this year. I did want to get going, but I also wanted to soak it all in; Nicole Hercules and Jim Hillman--people I admire--walked every event this year and were speaking at opening and I wanted to hear, so I pushed back the itch and paid attention.

Once we did get going, after slowly making our way out of the fairgrounds, trying to not step in the deep puddles that would have meant blisters early on, turning the corner and heading down the first street we would walk on, the clouds parted, the sun came up, and the most beautiful rainbow appeared.

The walkers might have been prepared to pound out all 22 miles of the day in the rain, but we weren't going to have to. It was absolutely beautiful and the temps were perfect.

Photo by DKM...I loved the view
More amazing than the temps were the views. Day 1 was filled with incredible beauty and I'm pretty sure that in the first ten miles I uttered more than once, "I have to come back here."

Seriously, I have to go back.

I did jump on the sweep van--there was no way this back was making it up the hill in Torrey Pines and my hat goes off to everyone who did it--which meant I got back to camp a little earlier than most of the rest of the team, which in turn meant I had time to set up our tents.

I got pretty freaking good and putting those little tents up. I think I feel more accomplished about that than anything else.

It's probably a good thing I have that to feel good about, because the rest of the walk didn't go anywhere near what I planned.

The view from my tent
Some context--around a week and a half before the 3 Day, I posted this on the San Diego page:

My annual PSA to newby walkers: if, in a short period of time, more than 3 people ask if you're all right, you're probably not all right. Learn from my Atlanta 2011 mistake: that many people asking means you look a bit off, and you might not realize you're heading into trouble. Take a moment to do a real assessment: am I really drinking enough, did I skip that last pit or grab-n-go and don't have enough fuel on board, am I just tired or is this the feeling of heading into Something Not Good?
And if in those people who are asking how you are someone suggests they get a sweep van for you...let them flag down a sweep for you. Don't let the want of walking every step of the 60 miles cloud your judgment. There's no shame in sweeping, and the van drivers need *someone* every now and then.
Your fellow walkers are your best friends on this walk. They have your back. And have an AWESOME 3 Day!

Now, you think I would keep my own advice in the forefront of my brain.

You probably know where this is going.

I felt a little off on the first day, but I chalked that up to having gotten up at 4:00 in the morning after not enough sleep, and also to a very long downhill we walked where there was little to no shade. Heat + me = yuck, so I assumed I was just feeling the effects of the heat. No big deal; I kept up on my fluids, so a little sleep would fix that.

I felt a little off when I got up, but of course I did. I slept in a tent and my sleeping bag zipper kept popping open, exposing my giant asterisk to the cold. I got dressed and headed for the dining tent, where the smell of food convinced me that I was not going to be able to eat, but hey, I'll take a granola bar with me and then chow down at the first pit stop.

As I headed for my team I got the first, "Are you all right?"

Then, "You don't look so hot."

Still...I headed out and only bent over to dry heave a couple of times. At one point I considered getting on the bus that skips the first part of the walk and heads for lunch, where I could walk out the rest of the day, but decided to push on.

As we scanned out of camp: Are you okay?

I walked on...until we reached a point where getting anywhere required going up some stairs and it hit me: I cannot make those stairs. I will pass out and then barf, choking to death on my own vomit.

I turned around and headed back to camp, determined to just get on that bus and walk the second half of the day. I pushed my way through the sea of walkers ("Hey, you're going the wrong way!") and bumped into a few people from my team, told them I was heading back, and was asked if I wanted to go to medical.

I was headed for the bus.

Jennifer, team co-captain, kindly escorted me back to camp and I'm pretty sure she mentioned more than once I should go to medical, but I was looking for the bus.

I ended up in medical.

I stayed in medical until 1 p.m., when I felt a little better and no longer looked like death warmed over. I was cleared to do whatever I wanted, but there was no way to get back out onto the route, so I walked around camp. I knocked out 8 miles just walking around camp, sticking close enough to the med tent and people to have help if I suddenly crashed and burned.

I felt decent--I ate dinner, stayed in the dining tent through the camp show and spent some time with my team--one major thing I wanted to do in the first place--and then went to bed secure in knowing I would be able to walk the last day.

Being red-carded involves an actual red card

I woke up feeling like crap, but hey, that was residual, right? I headed for the dining tent, passed a team mate who said I didn't look good at all, smelled the eggs and bacon and noped myself right out of there. I crawled back in my tent, hoping that resting a little bit more would work.

Not much later Jennifer was there... "You want to go to medical?"

No, I did not want to, but I finally took my own advice and listened to someone sane before trying to formulate my own plan for getting back out on the route.

The doctor in the tent determined I was not lacking physical or metal fortitude: I had a virus. I was actually ill. He took my credentials--necessary to walk--and red-carded me.

My Sunday view
I was officially done.

This was my view for most of the day...I spent it on a cot, looking out the front door of the lunch-area medical tent, watching other walkers stream through.

A couple hours into my boredom Terri Parsons, FB friend and Max fan, showed up to keep me company for a while. I started feeling better and was given a couple of tiny cookies to nibble on, then a sandwich I ate a part of, but I couldn't go anywhere until a team mate came to rescue me. I'm not sure of the logic, but I think they wanted to make sure I wasn't going to wander around and pass out somewhere alone, and that I wasn't going to try to sneak onto the route for the last 5 miles.

I kind of wanted to, to be honest. It was only 5 miles. I felt like I could do it, but by then I had accepted the inevitable. I knew I didn't not walk because I suck at it, I was actually sick. And I was pretty sure I was actually sick not because of the doc, but because the Spouse Thingy texted from home, where he was puking his toenails up...we both had it.

The Pink Slips
I did make it to the closing ceremony.

I did get to walk with my teammates.

Other than a lot of walking, I got to do pretty much everything that was important to me--I spent time with my team, I met a lot of new people, and witnessed some pretty amazing things.

According to my pedometer, I managed about 30 miles over the 3 days, and while those weren't largely out on the route with everyone else, I'm totally counting them. Half the distance is better than standing still. Half is about what I expected to do if I had been out there on the route.

So there was some disappointment, most of it in myself until I had confirmation that I didn't feel like crap because I just don't have what it takes to face that walk anymore--I really worried about that--and that the Spouse Thingy also had what I had, but overwhelmingly it was a wonderful weekend.

I'd stay here again!
I got on the plane. By myself. I wasn't happy, but I didn't throw up or pass out;  the Spouse Thingy dropped me off on Thursday and I got myself from bag check-in to actually being on the plane, and it didn't kill me (though to be honest, I was at my limit by the time we landed.)

DKM picked me up from the airport, sparing me having to find a cab; Jenna took me back on Monday, saving me the $$$ for a cab. But I got through the airport and flew home. That's a bigger deal than it seems.

And the view from my room Sunday night? Holy hell, cannot complain about that, not at all.


Unknown said...

I admire you Karen. Even when I was younger, I never could have walked what you have. Sorry about the virus...and the plane ride, but I'm glad you got to see your friends and be a part of something so special. *high five*

Terri said...

I absolutely agree with Cary and couldn't say it better. You know what a scintillating conversationalist I am (snort, snicker, hahaha). 30 miles is amazing--no matter how you did it! Glad you were able to walk the last bit and participate in the closing ceremony!

Just Ducky said...

Thumper you did good. Your heart is in the right place, even if the rest of your body doesn't want to cooperate!

Saku said...

You managed to walk 30 miles with a virus? Wow - I spent the first three days of the last bout in bed, I probably slept more than 30 hours.

Well done! Hope you and the spouse are both feeling better.

Mighty Kitty said...

Hope you all are feeling better! So proud of you for doing the walk inspite of feeling lousy! You did well and thanks for your dedication and caring spirit!