Monday, August 2, 2010

The Blue Footed Boobies Take Boston and Get it Done!

Captain Boobie--Day One
Dear Friends and Family and Blue Footed Boobie Fans,

Apologies for yet another group email, but I am excited to share with you news about the 3-Day Walk, held last weekend, July 23-25, and update you about how the Boobies are doing, and this seemed the fastest way. You might want to sit back, relax.  This is a long one.

After all, I have a lot of people to thank.  Countless supporters.  110 generous donors.  14 incredible fellow Boobies and team mates.  A wonderful, extended family.  The innovative people behind Gu, shot blocks, and Brooks sneakers.  My dog. 
Hey Cancer! You picked the wrong bitch!

Just six months after my breast cancer diagnosis in the winter of 2008, in a fit of residual inspiration gathered first that April, 2008 upon watching the Boston Marathon and feeling like I Must. Do. Something., I signed on for my first 3-Day and founded the Blue Footed Boobies.  In a strange, wonderful and empowering way, after completing my first Walk last summer, I felt a sense of closure with my recovery.  In many ways, I had come full circle, regained my strength and good health, and proven to myself that cancer had not defeated me.  But I knew that my journey was not over.  Being a breast cancer survivor is an ongoing, lifelong journey, through the cycles of fear and dread and deep relief that arrive with every regular checkup and blessed test result; the frustrations and pitfalls of the health care system that, time and time again, falls woefully short; the often confusing, conflicting, harrowing world of treatment options, side effects, and preventative measures; and the challenge in each and every breath to live in the present moment, live strong, and not look back.  The 3-Day has been the single most powerfully positive force in my own recovery—the benefits of all that exercise and fresh air, connectivity and community, laughter and love have been tremendous, and the absolute best medicine of all.
Dara and Liz: Boobie feet

Recovery aside, there were plenty of other reasons to walk again.  Let’s face it: the 3-Day is a bit addictive.  All that positivity and good Juju surrounding you, following your every step, radiating from each and every moment is simply awesome, and it is hard not to go back for more.   In fact, since returning home, many of us have wondered if some of those supporters—men like the Pink Angels, who don crazy pink angel wings and dresses and line the sidewalks throughout the route each and every day just to cheer us on—might be for hire, to follow us around during our busy lives, give us high-fives while hanging out the laundry, clap for us as we juggled the usual brouhaha of our lives, make us feel appreciated.
Dara with the awesome Pink Angels

Most importantly, however, there is still work to be done, and I will continue to walk and fight for a cure as long as there are women—and men—facing this terrible disease.  I walk because I can, and others cannot.  And there is plenty of rich inspiration to keep me going.  While in the midst of treatment—including chemo and hormone therapy—for metastatic breast cancer that has spread to her bones, my teammate and friend Cindy Harris not only trained with us but walked every one of those 60 miles this past weekend.   Cindy walked with a smile on her face and an undeniable bounce in her blue Boobie Vibram feet as well, her spirit speaking volumes about her dogged determination to get through the Walk, and this latest round with cancer—with strength and dignity.  There was never a prouder Boobie moment  when Rachel, Mike, Dara, Carlos, Barb and I—who had reached the finish line earlier on Sunday—spotted the I Love Blue Footed Boobies banner rounding the final corner, and Cindy, fellow survivor Jeanne, and teammates Meg, Gretel, and Marggie all coming into view together.   
The Blue Footed Boobies banner at Boobie Camp

Since beginning the process two and a half years ago, there have been many moments like these that have helped balance some of the more difficult moments in life with absolute joy, and an uprising of hope that has brightened my world.  I have been touched by the love, support, and generosity of old friends and new, family members, neighbors, teammates and classmates—from people like you—who have come forward, reached out to me, and encouraged me to push myself beyond what I thought possible.  In the last two years, you have helped me raise nearly $20,000 for Komen on my own.  This year, over $3,000 came in during the final four weeks, bringing my individual fundraising total to $9,348.  And my team--the Blue Footed Boobies—cleared a phenomenal $48K just a day after the Walk.  In two years, the Boobies have raised over $73,000.  At the Boston 3-Day, over 1700 walkers raised over $4.5 million for Susan G. Komen for the Cure.  The Blue Footed Boobies were recognized as being one of the Power Teams, garnering the sixth spot on the top fundraising team list.  The support we received was incredible.  Many of you are repeat donors. We could not have done it without your continued support, your compassion and generosity, and I am deeply grateful.   Thank you.

Survivors Cindy, Jeanne, and Liz at the Closing Ceremonies
This year’s 3-Day Walk was, again, incredible.  Life-changing.  Mind-blowing.  Joyful.  Challenging.  Emotionally and physically exhilarating and exhausting.  And since it was in Boston, I have to say that it was wicked awesome. My team was amazing, got it done, mile after mile and day after day, and made me so proud to be their Captain.  From training and raising money to preparing for the 3-Day and walking those 60 miles, each and every one of my teammates showed incredible dedication and devotion to the cause and to each other, summoning a true fighting spirit that enabled them to push through some issues and persevere.  Coming together as a team was truly an enchanted process that began many months ago, when our training began in earnest, with 10 of us training, for the most part, together up in the hills of Western Massachusetts, while the three Southern Boobies had to go it alone, in Orlando, and Fort Lauderdale, and Atlanta, and showcased our special breed of Boobie-hood when we walked the finish together under the banner.  As I’ve said before, it takes extra dedication to train solo, and Mike, Dara and Carlos deserve special accolades for preparing as well as they did, and bringing it to the Walk!  Boobies get it done!  Thanks to the wonders of email and Facebook, we were able to start functioning as team—through constant and often hilarious exchanges of banter and photos and the usual logistical details—long before all of the Boobies landed in Boston.    There were a few looooonngg weekend training walks during which we kept in touch with each other, sending and receiving photos that we took along the way, checking in with each other on our cell phones, and running into some eerie coincidences (ask us about the swans).  There was much anticipation, and it was an incredible, wonderful moment when we finally gathered together the Thursday night before the Walk for the first time and for most, began the process of getting acquainted the sweet, old-fashioned way.  For me, it was a warm and wonderful reunion, with two great friends from Exeter, Mike Miller and Dara Simmons, and one from Williams, Carlos Diaz, whom I had not seen since 1987!  I have really appreciated the opportunities for reconnection, deepening friendships, and camaraderie this whole process has afforded me—whether with old friends or new, I have been touched by how easily it has been to pick up where we left off, be able to share some of the tougher stuff of life, laugh, cry, and lean on each other.  And for all of that, I am profoundly grateful.   As for the group, the spark, of course, was instantaneous; the Blue Footed Boobies came together in a warm, wonderful, glowing fusion of compassion, humanity, and gratitude.  It was something to behold. As well, the collective energy and heart of the walkers, crew and supporters, made the sidewalks shimmer with love and encouragement, and radiated an electrifying conveyer belt of positivity that carried us all to the finish.  The Boobies hooked into this greater communal vibe of Ubuntu and Pandora Juju, took care of each other, walked our own walk, and triumphed.  This truly was a team effort.  The Blue Footed Boobies got it done!  

Our "Before" picture!
We were up before the sun on Friday, gathering at Farm Pond in Framingham to leave our duffels on pre-assigned gear trucks, coolers at the medical tent, and all worries behind.  This was, after all, Day One, and it was NOT raining!  Ya-hoo!  The crowd of 1700+ walkers was a-glow in the early morning sun, in their restless, eager, an-ti-ci-pation.  There was time to pace, get in some porta pottie practice (clean and fresh smelling!), stretch, fill our water bottles, and grab some snacks.  We wrote the names of our loved ones on memorial ribbons, and declared our own goals for the walk: “to enjoy each and every step and each and every moment along the way.”  There were photo-ops, always.  And we looked damn good in our awesome team swag, thanks to all sorts of teammates and supporters: laminated BFB luggage tags that made finding our duffels a whole lot easier, personalized Boobie blue bandannas that we filled with ice and wore around our necks to cool off throughout the Walk, incredible ponchos hand-painted with the I Love Boobies logo and personalized with our names, nicknames, and officerships, hand-made bead pins, and of course, our Anja Schutz-designed I Love Boobies shirts and hoodies and pins that upped our hipster ante and emblazoned our trail.  Despite being surrounded by a sea of pink, the Boobies were for the most part decked out in our trademark Boobie blue.  As well, many of us were sporting beautiful henna tattoos—given to us by our friend Kelly—gifts of adornment and empowerment.  It’s good to feel a little bad ass every now and then.  We would add to our collection along the Walk—some great, sassy buttons, “I Kicked Cancer’s Ass,” “Cancer Sucks,” and my favorite, “Hey Cancer!  You Picked the Wrong Bitch!,” soon festooned our packs, as did stickers and beads and all sorts of festivity.  The 3-Day was to be our own little Mardi gras, full of revelry, mischief-making and fun.
Opening Ceremonies--a sea of pink, and a whole lot of bunny ears

The Opening Ceremonies—always a bawl fest—pulled us right into that space inside where we hold our losses and fears close.  We cried for Valerie, Dara’s older sister who lost her fight just a few years ago, for Rachel’s grandmother Joy, who died just this past winter, for Marggie’s Mom, who died almost twenty years ago, and for ourselves and all the survivors and warriors still fighting, we let the tears flow for them and held on to each other.  And we positioned ourselves for an early, easy exit onto the route, making sure we did not repeat last year’s disastrous start, when we were the last team on the course and were forced to spend the first few hours slogging behind the masses.  This year, we entered the course breezily, gave hugs and kisses to Gail and Damon, and as we took the first steps of the day’s 20, the urgency of why we walk filled every fiber of our being and fortified us against the elements: the heat and humidity, which was, by all accounts, oppressive throughout the weekend, and the constant traffic, honking, and smog that followed us along the way—so unlike the clean air, quiet country roads, and hills of Gill, but lined, too, with wonderful supporters who came out to cheer us on.  I had to take some Advil to keep a creeping headache at bay; the hideous stench of traffic fumes, cigarette smoke, and rotting urban garbage would irritate us all that first day, and make us long for the quiet country roads we had left behind, but we pushed through.  It became instantly clear that we would lose each other—to the crowds and the traffic lights and the varying paces and strides.  We agreed to meet up with each other at lunch, get it done.

We made our way through Framingham into Wellesley, where the air was decidedly fresher.  We walked by One Washington Street, site of countless visits to my plastic surgeon’s office, where I had gone for weekly expander fill-ups for a while before my exchange surgery brought in my new girl, and later, where I had the color for my new nipple tattooed on.  I wanted to run in to say hello to Dr. Pitts, show her the beautiful lizard and flowers that I had had henna-ed on my new girl, and have my “after” picture taken then and there, but with skies starting to threaten rain, I kept walking, past Newton-Wellesley Hospital, where I had most of my surgeries and procedures done just two years ago, through Newton, and into Waltham.  A few times, we skipped a Grab ‘n Go or cruised through a Pit Stop, just to put a little distance between us and the crush of other walkers.  

Liz and Rachel--Day One
The weather held for the most part, and although Grace Jones’ song “Walking in the Rain” ear-wormed its way into my head on Friday, we escaped the torrential rain that made Day One of the 2009 3-Day such a challenge.  The mere threat of rain was enough to stir up those competitive juices, and  Rachel and Carlos, who had been playfully ribbing each other all day, and competing to see who might “win” this first leg of the Walk, had a hilarious, all-out battle for “first” towards the end of Day One.  Carlos would forge ahead, and then Rachel would sneak up on him and take the lead, and so on.  Right at the end, Rachel spied Carlos up ahead and crept up on him with a loud “aha!”  Their finish—with Rachel cruising past a stunned Carlos, who makes a last ditch effort to sprint to the finish—reminded me of the million-dollar run at the end of the Amazing Race.  The crew loved it.  The winner?  Rachel, of course.

Day One was a rollercoaster ride of emotions for all of us.  Opening Ceremonies allowed us to process our sense of loss and grief and sadness for those casualties of the collective cancer battleground, while the actual walking that followed provided ample time for reflection, head clearing, and a hefty dose of hilarity that kept our feet and hearts well-grounded.  In our 3-Day Diary, Carlos wrote about “life’s rebirthing energy,” and how in a single day he had gone from feeling “heavy with the weight of my friend’s loss” to “finishing the walk with pure laughter…,” the race with Rachel “bringing me back to the joy of life.” 

Silly crewbies at pitstop
Everywhere, there was humor, reminding us of the constant interplay of light and dark, those dual, balancing, intertwined forces in life, and the healing power of a good laugh.  One pair sported t-shirts that said “Yes, I did all the training and my butt is still this big.”   Another walker had attached a black negligee-clad paper-mached torso to his back, with a sign, Save the Ta-tas!  Puns abounded.  Costumes were the rule.  One guy walked in dress; the next day I saw him in a kilt.  Another group of guys showed up along the route wearing big pink bras.  Some were decked out in lipstick.  Seemed a great excuse to raid your girlfriend’s closet and dress up like a girl for a few days.

Cozy pink tent city under darkening skies
Rain did fall on camp that night, but not until most of us were in, and able to crawl into our cozy pink tents at Boobie Camp that our BFB crewbie Gail Doolittle had set up for us on the dry turf fields in Waltham.  Clutch!  Thank you, Gail!!  It made transitioning from walking to nesting so much easier.  Case in point: Marggie and Rachel had a veritable slumber party set up, with sheets and pillows and blankets on their air mattresses that made the thought of sleeping in these little tents on this turf field appealing even to the non-Girl Scouts among us.  Meg was convinced the little bits of black rubber from the turf that got in everything and all over the tent was actually mouse poop; she even had herself convinced that it smelled like mouse poop, until we set her straight.  That first night, while it poured outside, we ran from tent to camp and back again in our ponchos, enjoyed hot showers, dinner under the big top, mail at the Camp Post Office, chair massages, and an early bedtime under the pitter patter of rain that soothed our weary selves into an off and on again slumber, the best one can hope for when you are tenting back to back and side to side with 1700 other walkers! 

Marggie at Boobie Camp
Saturday’s sun rose to burn off the early morning fog and set the pink tent city ablaze in color, promising a day whose heat index would quickly climb into the extreme caution zone.  We grabbed a quick breakfast, brushed our teeth, and repacked our fanny packs with the essentials: water, electrolytes, extra socks, un-petroleum jelly, and blister kits.  Saturday’s route was extra long and extra hot—and an early start, it took us to well into the afternoon to finish the 21.2 miles.  There was a long hill early on that fed the fear of many walkers, but the Boobies, most of who had trained on hills much tougher than this, welcomed the change in terrain and got it done in a snap.  It was great to see the benefits of our training.  Highlights of Day Two included meeting up with Jim, Dominick, my step-mother Martha, and my brother Eli in Lexington Center.  Dom and Eli joined me for part of the route, down to the next Cheering Section at Parker Field, where Dom took photos of Dara and me posing with the Minutemen (gosh, they even let us hold their rifles!).  The cheering sections were wonderful, and we were awed by the expressions of gratitude and love (and food!) that lined the sidewalks.  Like last year, there were certain individuals and groups who made the extra effort to keep us going and bring us home each day: the Pink Angels, who greeted us around every bend with high-fives and hugs; the Men with Heart 3-Day team, who, while walking alongside us, carried knapsacks stuffed with things the walkers might need, offered assistance, and cheered us on at the finish; and the scads of people who made signs, set up little roadside stands with popsicles and frozen peppermint patties and watermelon and ice for all the walkers, sprayed us with water bottles, and made us feel not just welcome but truly loved.  One of my favorite sightings along the route each day was a woman whose daughter was walking in the 3-Day, and who drove around with her grandbaby in tow and waited every few hours for her daughter to arrive so she could nurse her baby.  There were at least two pregnant walkers.  Many teams were inter-generational—including mine.  It was a pleasure to meet and get to know all sorts of people along the way—there’s really nothing like ‘twalking in the 3-Day for making fast friends. 

After making our way through some lovely little neighborhoods in Arlington and Belmont, we arrived at camp, our home away from home, situated at Gann Academy and the town fields in Waltham.  It was great to see both Gail and Damon, our two crew Boobies, at camp after such a long day.  Mom was at the finish and start most afternoons and mornings, cheering us on and sending us off with kisses.  Gail spent her free time supporting us in many different ways, and it made a huge difference.  From setting up camp, feeding us and cleaning up after us, to tending to our medical needs, cheering us on, and keeping us safe along the route, the 3-Day crew proved once again to be an indispensible part of the experience.   As well, the Youth Corps, a group of about twenty kids ages 11-15 who were selected to serve on a special kid-crew of sorts, impressed us all with their sweet attentiveness, their sense of devotion and responsibility, and their compassion.  They were often on hand towards the end of each day, distributing homemade chocolate chip cookies, high fives and stickers.  They presented BFB Mike Miller a coveted and rare Youth Corps legacy pin for having made an extra special connection—and effort—with some of the kids on the crew.  All of the Youth Corps members spoke Saturday night after dinner about their reasons for being there: many had lost their mothers at a young age to breast cancer, a few had lost grandmothers, aunts, and good family friends, while others had watched their moms battle the disease and emerge victorious.  Dominick is considering applying to the Youth Corps for next year.  He’d be great—and I know it would be a wonderful experience for him, so I am excited to think that he might be able to experience the 3-Day in this way.  It was announced on Saturday night that this highly successful program, which originated in Boston about fifteen years ago, and which has spawned hundreds of Youth Corps alums who have gone on to walk and crew and mentor other Youth Corps members, will now be gracing the fourteen other 3-Day walks.  Very exciting!  It is such a fantastic opportunity for kids who are too young to walk (you must be 16) to participate, and in doing so, process some of the emotions and experiences they’ve had while watching a loved one go through breast cancer.  We are all grateful.

The Boobies were up extra early on Sunday—to take down our tents, pack up our duffels and get them to the gear trucks, and get a jump start on the crowds.  It would be another hot day, but the morning route quite happily took us through shade, from Belmont into Cambridge, where we met up with BFB Angie Murphy Timm, who had walked with the Boobies in 2009 and who had come in to support us in our final day.  We enjoyed the sights and sounds of a sleepy Harvard Square, caught a few curious glances, and wondered what had happened to Crate and Barrel.  At Central Square, the T beckoned in a Rosie-Ruiz sort of way, but we opted to keep on following the arrows through some gorgeous MIT architecture and over the Mass Ave Bridge onto Commonwealth Avenue.  Near the Public Garden, we were treated to our own personal cheering section from teammate Gretel Schatz’s wonderful family, who had made a huge banner and signs for each and every one of the Boobies and greeted us all with smiles and hugs.  Once on the Common, it became harder to distinguish the route and walkers from the other pathways and groups of tourists.  One pair of walkers started to follow a big arrow sign into a parking garage.  Oops! 

Sunday’s route—through Cambridge and downtown Boston and out through South Boston and Dorchester along the awesome, blazing hot, blustery Harbor Walk—kept us snapping pictures like silly tourists, stopping to stretch on front stoops, and chasing down the ice cream truck for a cold treat.  Mike and I were walking through Boston’s Seaport when I heard footsteps coming up fast behind us.  My brother Eli had chased me all the way from the Common, where he, my brother Will, and Dominick had caught sight of me and had started off in hot pursuit.  It was great to walk three or four miles with the three of them and meet up with my father at the lunch stop—our final resting place before the finish at UMASS, where I would see their familiar faces again among the sea of fans.  Before we left for the final stretch, Barb Watson had arrived, looking fresh and strong.  She was able to update us on the rest of the team, whom she had seen at an earlier pit-stop.  Jeannie was doing okay, but her back was bothering her a lot.  Meg was walking with Cindy and Jeanne, and Marggie and Gretel were a little bit ahead of them, soon to be arriving.  And Carlos?  No one had seen him, but we knew that his knee was hurting a lot.   Had he taken the van?  The bus?  No way--we  knew that he would not let that stop him from finishing, and from finishing strong.

After all, this was day three, the final 20 miles.  We were all fairly exhausted by this point, not just from all the walking, but from lack of sleep, sheer emotional release, and months of preparation and build-up.  Because so many walkers were suffering from all sorts of injuries and maladies, there were far fewer of them on the route Sunday.  Blisters, sprains, rashes brought on by all that heat, chafing, swollen this and that, aggravated old injuries and fresh, annoying new ones—by Saturday night, camp looked a lot like a war zone, with a lot of people wrapped up and taped and hobbling on crutches, icing all sorts of body parts, and waiting in line at the medical tent.  We didn’t hear about anyone fainting in the showers this year, but there were plenty of other stories.   A woman got heat stroke and crashed out on the lawn at the finish, right next to some Blue Footed Boobies.  A quartet of gray-shirted, towering, well-built young men nearly dropped a few times in the heat throughout the weekend.  Two of the guys had lost their mothers to breast cancer, and had been joined by two friends who had come from afar to walk with them.  None of them had trained.  They were, after all, athletes, well-conditioned and fit.  What’s a little walking?!  They came in late in the afternoon on the first day, tails between their legs, clearly humbled by the experience.  But their dedication to their moms—and to each other--pushed them through to the end.  Sag vans and big air conditioned buses awaited at every pit stop to bring people to the next pit stop or to just before the finish, so they could make their way across and enjoy the sensation of finishing on their own.  Despite some pretty nasty blisters, a smattering of road rage, sore hips, and several bum (old!) knees, the Boobies pressed on, and just one of our teammates needed to use this service—a sore back forced the irrepressible Jeanne Rees to make some wise compromises on Saturday and Sunday, hitch a ride here and there, receive a special sag van legacy pin for her trouble, and be able to finish strong on Sunday afternoon.  That’s how you get it done.

Dara, Mike, and Liz
Carlos, the Energizer Bunny
The final stretch—3 or 4 miles along the beaches that line Quincy Bay—tempted me to shed socks and sneakers and jump into the ocean, but I thought better of it.  Rachel and I were eager to get it done, and with Dara and Mike just behind, we set our sights beyond the beach and boardwalk, to the sidewalks lined with cheering people who showered us with applause and appreciation that was almost as overwhelming and unexpectedly emotional as it had been the year before.  It was simply awesome to see my friend Kim and her daughter Katie at the finish—words cannot describe my joy and gratitude at seeing them, and my father, brothers, and youngest son, Dominick, who had made their way to the finish—and for Rachel, it was her mother, Bonnie, who greeted her with a sweeping hug.  We made our way into the air-conditioned gym—the coldness of the air felt a bit jarring, but for many, I am certain it was a welcome change—through a line of cheering crew and supporters and around the corner to retrieve our 3-Day shirts, white for walkers, pink for survivors.  Soon after, we cheered Mike and Dara in, and then gathered outside to keep watch for the rest of the Boobies.  Barb arrived soon after, all aglow and looking great, and then, from around the corner, we saw the unmistakable, Energizer Bunny gait of Carlos rounding the bend.   Quite amazingly, there he was, clearly in a lot of pain, but a smile on his face.  His strategy—to not stop for too long and simply keep walking—seemed to work like a charm for him.
Never a prouder moment...
Barb at the finish
There was a whole lot of Boobie magic on the 3-Day.  Magic that helped us push through the pain and get it done. Magic that made my heart sing.  Healing magic that mended those broken little bits of spirit and body and soul, long-forgotten and wedged in deep.  Magic that helped us work together as a team, keep us all safe, and bring us all home.  While Dara, Mike, Rachel, Barb, Carlos and I stretched and cheered on the other walkers, I checked Facebook on my iPhone and saw that Gretel had left a post saying that she and Marggie were just a few miles out.   Several of us were posting updates and photos on Facebook, and it was immediately clear that it was a great way as well for us to keep track of each other’s progress.  We figured that they had waited for Cindy, Jeannie, and Meg, and would be finishing together.  Buses were arriving to drop off gimpy, beat walkers so they could walk the final steps to the finish.  The crew was coming in from all quarters—camp and pit stops and along the route.  Gail and Damon arrived, and joined the cheering section.  And within an hour or so, we ecstatically spied the remaining five Boobies under the banner and very nearly lost it, so great was our pride and joy at seeing everyone.  My heart leapt—we climbed over the side rail to join them, cried and hugged and held hands as the eleven of us walked the final promenade, united under the banner and beaming through the two lines of screaming, cheering walkers and crew.  It felt fantastic to be together again, to know that everyone had finished and was feeling strong.  And it was some kind of crazy, powerful Boobie magic that we all felt that afternoon, and there was the sense, too, that it was fleeting, that we'd have to let it trickle down and saturate our every fiber so we could take it with us wherever we went in this world.  Something magical to forever tap into.  Steel ourselves with.  Roll in.  Uncork when whenever we need a Boobie boost.  Rub the bottle and make a wish. 
The Shoe Salute, Closing Ceremonies
The Closing Ceremonies further drained our tear ducts, with more dramatic entrances and speeches, the announcement that the 1700 walkers of Boston had raised $4.5 million, the poignant memorials for all those lost to breast cancer.  So impeccably orchestrated is the 3-Day, with music and motivational speakers, inspirational signs and banners and a well-choreographed ceremony that first brought crew to be recognized by the throngs lining the arena, and then walkers, and finally, the survivors, all in pink for maximum effect, that by the end you come away with the impression that these people could pull anything off—getting all those thousands of troops out of Iraq safely, stopping the oil spill and cleaning up every last drop, saving the planet.  Indeed, if each person who participates in the 3-Day returns to their lives with some of the compassion and humanity gleaned from the experience intact and aglow, to radiate and share with others, then this world will surely be a better place as a result.  The impression I was left with was that the group of survivors should have been much larger, that all those 1700 walkers, each walking for someone, had no doubt lost someone they loved to breast cancer, and that the collective sadness and sense of loss at the 3-Day was enormous and powerful and intensely sad.  There was a simmering, unrelenting joyfulness, too, though, that rose up and smoothed out the spaces between the cracks and bound us all together...that crazy, powerful magic.

The Boobies have scattered once again, but for many of us who live close by, we are already planning dog walks and mini-adventures and time together.  The Southern Boobies have invited us Northern Boobies to come visit, and to visit often.  And I’ve already signed up for my third 3-Day (ok, I wanted that 3-peat legacy pin and the $35 off coupon for registering early), am thinking about walking Boston and Atlanta next year, and am setting my sights on expanding the flock.  Please think about joining us next year.   Truth is, we need you, and you just might come to realize that you need us, too. 

Summer is flying by, and with the Walk behind me, I suddenly have a little time to get into my gardens, make pickles and jam, hang at the neighborhood pool, and spend my Saturdays not walking 18 miles but instead, taking advantage of the simple pleasures of summertime: carousing the local farmer’s markets, harvesting and canning and cooking and eating, walking barefoot on the lawn, tossing the Frisbee to the dog.  It feels good to kick back a little, spend some time writing, and give my feet a little rest.  But the roadways beckon, and the woods trails call to me, and I have already enjoyed getting together with several Boobies, for walking and talking and watching the dogs dart and dash like phantoms through the trees.
Liz and Dom enjoying Sunday post-walk feeding frenzy with the Boobies
I am serious about expanding the flock, so if you are at all interested in becoming a Blue Footed Boobie, please be in touch.  I can answer your questions, convince you that YES, YOU CAN do this, and that it would be as every bit a life-changing, transformative, incredible experience for you as it has been for all of us. In the meantime, I thank you again for being such a big part of the Blue Footed Boobies’ success.  We couldn’t have done any of it without your help. 

YES YOU CAN!  Cindy's  Boobie feet
A special thank you to all the Boobies, for your friendship and commitment and all the fun; to all our donors, for digging deep and coming up big; to my favorite training partners, Dominick and Daisy, for your constant love and support; to Jim and Luke, for putting up with all those long weekend training walks; to my Needle Man, Dan P., my chiropractor, Elizabeth P., body workers, Nancy P. and Rebecca C., therapist Meg B-P., and personal masseuse, Dom P., for taking such good care of me, mind, body and spirit; to Upinngil and Carolann at the Wagon Wheel for keeping us so well fed; to Kelly, for the sharing your time and incredible henna tattooing talents with the Boobies; to Jamie and Anja, for keeping us looking hip in our team gear; and to the Greater Boston Running Company in Lexington and Bob Perry at Bicycles Unlimited in Greenfield, for outfitting me with everything I needed.

I’ll be in touch again soon, to try to convince you to join the flock, and to talk to you about my new project, which will no doubt be keeping me busy until the next training season begins!