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3 Days & 60 Miles:
My Journey

by Colleen Seise
August 2008

I headed up to Massachusetts on Thursday morning and was getting excited about what I would be setting out to do the next three days: 60 miles of walking. I've run a marathon: walking? I can do that!

When I arrived, I spent some time with my brother and his family. Then met up with aunt (whom I would be walking with) that evening.

We headed to bed early, but of course we were a bit excited so we decided to watch Michael Phelps go for another gold. And gold he got; that was inspiring. When we saw he'd be swimming again in another 27 minutes, we realized it was just too late for us; we needed some shut eye.

The very next morning my brother woke us bright and early: about 4:00 AM. UGH! But, we were up, and headed to Gillette Stadium for opening ceremonies (special thanks to my sister-in-law who drove us there so early).

It was a sea of pink! Everyone was so nice. My aunt an I found my friend and her walking partner (phew!). All four of us have a personal connection to breast cancer and it was awesome to share this amazing experience with them.

After an emotional opening ceremony, we were off. The skies did not look promising and sure enough, the rain started. But we walked on, and while it was wet, it wasn't cold, so that was a good thing. It rained for the majority of the day. Thankfully, they told us to bring extra socks and I had remembered to do so. By lunch, the rain had let up and I dreaded taking off my sneakers, but did so and put on nice dry socks. I thanked myself later!

At every two miles or so, there were pit stops to "Hydrate, Urinate, Stretch Stretch Stretch!" (And, yes, the volunteers were singing this all weekend, LOL).

When we arrived at camp, we were told we had to immediately go into the school building. The rain was coming back and this time it was bringing thunder and lightening. We went to the library and did what we could as far as recovery goes. We were jealous of those that got back sooner and were able to shower and put on sandals.

We were finally told that we had to go get our gear and bring what we needed back to the school, the rain was staying and we would have to sleep in the school. GAH!

That was an adventure in itself. Luckily, my aunt brought an air mattress and we found our spot and made friends with our "neighbors".

The food was actually really good and I was shocked at the vegetarian options they had. I feared I would lack protein, but they took care of us herbivores and made sure we were fueled well! Saturday we awoke (or should I say, we were woken) and we were glad to see the rain had stopped! We headed over to breakfast and then got on our way for our second day.

It was interesting to see everyone walking a bit slower Saturday morning. I think many people did not anticipate rain and may have been a bit ill-prepared for the blisters! But medical staff were very helpful and made sure we were good to go!

I was AMAZED at the local community support when we walked through residential areas. People leaving bottled water out for us, signs wishing us well, people even offering their homes to us if we needed a rest of a bathroom break. It was truly amazing.

The weather cooperated and we walked through some gorgeous areas. But I will say, the last 3 miles on Saturday were tough. I was impressed by the relatively flat course (well, flat if you live in Northwestern New Jersey) but the last 3 miles were slightly up hill and after walking about 18 miles (we were slightly over 20 miles that day) the last thing anyone wanted to do was walk up hill. But we did it!

We were able to sleep out in our tents that evening and that was actually very peaceful. On Sunday we not only had to get up to get ready to walk, we had to pack up our stuff, take down our tent and be ready to go by 7:30. We managed though and again, after a nice hearty breakfast, we were out walking our final route to closing ceremonies.

By this point I have some decent blisters going on, but physically I felt fine. We walked through a local golf course park area and it was just simply breathtaking. And once again, the community support was amazing. We walked along the water in Quincy, MA and just when we thought "what was I thinking" we could see the water tower in Boston. Of course, we had to conquer the steps to get to our final destination. Who's bright idea was it that in the last 3 or so miles, do make us walk UP stairs! ARG! But up we went!

We could see the sea of pink again: we knew we were almost there! Three Days, 60 miles, a few blisters, and memories to last for a lifetime! Sure, there was some pain, but NOTHING that I could imagine would compare to the pain and discomfort of chemo or radiation. Keeping that in mind made any negative thought I had disappear almost instantly.

The closing ceremonies were amazing. 1900 walkers, 300 volunteers, 5 million dollars raised!

We met up with my mom and other aunt afterward, and when I hugged my mother, I knew what I had done was all for her and for anyone else who had a mother or loved one that had to journey their own way through breast cancer.

There are many people I have to thank. First, anyone and everyone who was generous enough to make a donation, no matter how big or small, without you, my walk would not have been possible. To my Aunt Jo who walked with me. Having you there only made it that much more special. To Melissa and Jen, you guys are awesome and I was so glad to get to experience the weekend with you. To Jack (JJ), you took a risk with this crazy training I have, I made it through pain-free because of all of your advice and schedules. Your coaching has made each step I take easier and words can't say how much I appreciate you! To Kevin, words can't explain how much I love you! You have never once complained about my training and have been supportive through the whole thing. I don't care how dorky it sounds, but you really are the love of my life (and yes, even over Boston!)

Lastly, to my mother. It sounds so weird to say I wouldn't have done this if you never went through what you did. But, in your experience, you showed me and taught me how to be a strong person. How to face the challenges of something I may not have control over. How to do it with a smile on your face but be able to cry when necessary. I was 14 when you went through your battle with cancer. But I remember your fight like it was yesterday even though it's been 18 years. Nothing and no one could teach me how to be so strong as you did during that time. You amazed me, and you still do! My walk is dedicated to you and there was not a single step I took without thinking of you! You truly are my hero and I love you so much!

60 miles was not easy, but it was worth EVERY SINGLE step!

CS


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