The Insider’s Guide to the 3-Day – Over, But Not Ending

Picture yourself at mile 59.

Can you really be this close to the end of your Susan G. Komen 3-Day®? Your weary feet and legs say yes, but your heart says no way. It feels as though Friday morning—when you arrived in the pre-dawn darkness, dropped off your bag, met up with your teammates and felt the sun rise over the beautiful Opening Ceremony before taking your first steps—was an eternity ago. And yet, you can’t believe it’s almost over. These brief few days have been packed with so many memories and experiences that as you near the finish line, you find yourself overwhelmed with emotion once again.

San Diego Day 3I’ve crossed the finish line as a Komen 3-Day walker fourteen times, and the impact of that one simple experience is as strong and profound now as it was the first time. Back then, my emotional response to completing the 3-Day® was mostly based on the personal amazement and pride that I felt over physically accomplishing the 60-mile walk. But in the many years since then, the impassioned response I feel as I finish the 3-Day is so much more than “I did it!” It’s also, “Look at all of these people who did it!”

I look around at the faces of my fellow walkers and crew members. I see journeys that are so much longer and greater than three days.

I see young people who had to learn about the devastation of cancer too early in their lives…

Philadelphia Day 3…older people who have seen so much in their lifetimes and wear their years like a badge of honor…

Susan G. Komen walkers gear up and take on Day 3 for breast cancer awareness.…parents who would walk 60,000 miles if it meant making the world a little safer for the children who run to hug them at the finish line…

302378_10151152095315281_518684367_n373926_10151152095465281_1741680733_n…daughters and sons who, in 72 hours of their lives, learned a lifelong lesson about just how much power one person can have as a force for good in the world…

Arizona Day 3…friends who helped and supported each other in ways that go deeper than mere friendship…

Susan G. Komen walkers gear up and take on Day 3 to find a cure for breast cancer.Washington DC 3-Day Day 3Susan G. Komen walkers gear up and take on Day 3 to find a cure for breast cancer.…determined fighters, taped up like mummies, who pile out of a sweep van 2 blocks from the end just so they can cross the finish line on their own two throbbing feet…

Susan G. Komen walkers gear up and take on Day 3 for breast cancer awareness.…survivors who once felt crushed under the words, “You have breast cancer,” now marching forward in proud defiance, as if to shout back, “It didn’t defeat me!”

San Diego Day 3

I see true heroes.

I link arms with my teammates, all of us in some combined state of crying/laughing/cheering/limping and we cross together.

The walk is over, but the energy is sustained here in the Participant Finish Area. There’s music and noise and flowers, non-stop cheering and a long “human tunnel” of fellow walkers who have already made it to the end, and choose to STILL be on their feet—giving individual high fives to ever single new walker who comes in. Washington DC 3-Day Day 3My teammates and I give each other hugs, find a bathroom (some things never change…), pick up our Victory T-shirts, take more pictures, join the others in cheering the finishing walkers in and eventually find a place to sit and take off our shoes for a few minutes (but also, get up and dance when a song we like comes on). Soon, we will be lining up and processing out of this waiting area and into the Closing Ceremony.

1150967_10151854241466535_161301376_nThe march into Closing is a victory parade, and the streets are lined with the loved ones who supported us and our fellow walkers the other 362 days of the year. People hold up signs, take pictures and videos, and point with excitement when they see their walker going by. There are more hugs, more tears, and we’re not even into the Closing Ceremony yet!

Seattle Day 3Twin Day 3Susan G. Komen walkers gear up and take on Day 3 to find a cure for breast cancer.Once we do get into the Ceremony arena, Dr. Sheri greets us once more, with even more vibrancy and energy than she had 2 days ago, if you can believe it.

Philadelphia Day 3The Closing Ceremony, like so much of the 3-Day, is hard to put into words. It’s a celebration of all that we have achieved on our 3-Day journey. The walkers enter, followed by the crew, and then the survivors. In a beautifully moving tribute to this last group, everyone holds up a shoe. I love this part. This shoe salute wasn’t something that was scripted or prompted. It was a gesture that just started spontaneously somewhere along the way,  many years ago, and quickly became an honored tradition in every 3-Day city, another small example of what makes the 3-Day so special.

Susan G. Komen walkers gear up and take on Day 3 to find a cure for breast cancer.Susan G. Komen 3-Day® walker take on Day 3 for breast cancer awareness.The Closing Ceremony is a brief, moving end cap to a weekend celebrating the everyday pink warriors, who, for 3 days, went way above expectations, becoming true heroes in the lives of everyone touched by breast cancer.

1238205_10151854243176535_147237905_nThe walk is over, but the journey is not ending. I come back to the 3-Day every year because our work isn’t done, and because those 3 days are like fill-up for my soul. Like me, you will take all of the things you have experienced in these unforgettable 3 days and carry them with you into the world. And the world will be better for it.

And with that, our Insider’s Guide series comes to an end too. I’ve done my little part to give you lots of details about what to expect on the 3-Day, but it’s impossible for me to capture what the whole experience will be like for you. One “insider’s” view may be different from another’s, but the overall theme is the same – the 3-Day changes your life, in ways that no one but you can know.

We hope you will join us.

If you haven’t committed to the 3-Day yet, do it today! The discounted registration fee of $50 expires at 11:55 p.m. tomorrow, February 28.

 

Want to see the entire Insider’s Guide to the 3-Day? Here are all of the segments:

The Start of Something Beautiful
Pointing, Pacing, and… Motorcycles Wearing Lingerie
Pit Stops and Cheering and Sweeps, Oh My!
3-Day Camp: Just Like a Sleepover, Only More Pink
3-Day Camp: I love the Night Life
3-Day Camp: Happy Glamping on  Main Street

The Insider’s Guide to the 3-Day – Camp: Happy Glamping on Main Street

The Susan G. Komen 3-Day® camp is like its own little town, and just like any town, this little community pulses with life and activity on Main Street.

Pause to Remember – Before I get into all the “glamping” perks of the Komen 3-Day Main Street, I do want to spotlight one other very special part of camp: the Remembrance Tent. The reasons why we commit to the 3-Day are never far from our minds and our hearts. And yet, there’s so much going on during the event—walking, talking, photos, more walking, music, food, costumes, still walking, tents, maybe some rest in there too—and it’s easy (and good) to get caught up in all of that. But it’s also important to take a moment to stop and really reflect on the people we walk for. The Remembrance Tent is where we do that, honoring the memories of 3-Day walkers and crew members whom we have lost, as well as the loved ones in each of our lives who have been affected by breast cancer. It’s a peaceful, contemplative place, set apart from the noisy bustle of camp, where you can quietly honor those who have passed. Like so many parts of the 3-Day, it’s difficult to put the emotional impact of the Remembrance Tent into words, and I can’t encourage you strongly enough to take time to visit it.

Twin Day 2

A new white tent is displayed in each city, where you can leave messages for/about loved ones.

San Diego Day 1

The white tents are put out in each new city, a traveling tribute

Take a Stroll Down Main Street

You’ve arrived at camp, set up your tent, showered, and maybe even had dinner already (well, your first dinner anyway…maybe you’ll still go in for seconds!). Before settling in for the camp show, head on over to the 3-Day Main Street, where you can:

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3-Day Main Street

Feel the Love! – Like any Main Street worth its salt, the 3-Day Main Street comes complete with a post office. Did you know that your loved ones can send you mail to pick up in camp? It is truly an awesome feeling to search through the alphabetically sorted bins of envelopes and find one (or two, or ten!) with your name on it. And I will admit without shame that yes, I ASK people to send me mail. Many of my family members and friends may not know that they can send mail to me in camp, and who am I to deny them that opportunity? So yeah, I send an email out, giving them the camp mail address, and leave the rest to them. Is this a shameless ploy to get mail in camp? Perhaps, but I see it more as giving them way to be with me on the 3-Day, even if they can’t be there in person. The messages of love and support that result from this small request (and, be still my heart, the hand-drawn pictures and cards from my kids!) are genuine and so, so appreciated. It’s a way for the people close to your heart to be close to you on the 3-Day.

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Mail call!

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Walkers finding notes and cards from loved ones

Feel Sweet – Prior to each 3-Day event, friends and relatives also have the opportunity to buy a Sweet Dreams Treat for their favorite walkers or crew members to enjoy in camp. These little chocolate goodies come with a note from the giver, and like camp mail, they are a delightful way for your supporters to show you their love.

Arizona Day 2

Build Your Legacy – Legacy Pins are fun little collectibles that are very popular among the 3-Day walkers and crew members. You can visit this stop on Main Street to pick up any pins that you have earned throughout the year; at the very least, you get your Walker (or Crew) pin, but may also get pins for fundraising milestones, 5- or 10-year walker-versaries, captaining a team, celebrating being a survivor, and more!

Arizona Day 2

Susan G. Komen walkers gear up and take on Day 1 for breast cancer awareness.

Relaaaaaaaaax – Two words: massage chairs. Is there really anything else you need to know about that?

Susan G. Komen walkers gear up and take on Day 2 to find a cure for breast cancer.

Oh massage chairs, you’re the best!

Go Shopping! – Looking for a new shirt, socks, luggage tags, or something else to commemorate your 3-Day adventures? Well look no further than the “stores” on Main Street. (And by the way, if you want to get some shopping done before you walk, look no further than our online store, Shop3Day.com.)

Susan G. Komen walkers gear up and take on Day 1 to find a cure for breast cancer.

Lounge Around – In an earlier Insider’s Guide entry, I commented that one of my favorite parts of the Susan G. Komen 3-Day camp experience is coming together with my fellow walkers—my own teammates and also new friends I’ve met along the way—to relax and share our stories from the route. There’s no better place in camp for this kind of relaxed bonding than the 3-Day Lounge. Friends, here’s the big reveal for this post: the 3-Day Lounge, in 2014, is going to be amazing. Fellow Insiders, the Lounge that you think you know is getting a major makeover (adios, camp chairs and leftover pit stop snacks!) and you are going to love the changes. We did a test run of the swanky new Lounge in San Diego last year, and the new digs got rave reviews. Think of the Lounge as the “campfire” you sit around with your friends. And since pictures can give you a much better peek than my descriptions, feast your eyes below.

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Ahhhhhh!

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Custom mixed trail mix

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So many delicious combinations!

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Photo booth fun

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Um, yes please!

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No caption necessary!

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Friends, treats, and rest for your feets!

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A refreshing alternative after all that sports drink!

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Evening ambiance

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Take some samples!

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The 3-Day Lounge: the “star” of Main Street

Friends, we’re getting close to the end of the Insider’s Guide, with next week’s post being a “wrap-up”. It has been my pleasure to share my perspective and experience, and I am so excited to continue to enjoy your stories and insights too! Comment and subscribe to the 3-Day Blog, and share with your friends!

And if any of you are still not registered, don’t wait! The low $50 registration fee will go up (to $70) on March 1!

Want to see the entire Insider’s Guide to the 3-Day? Here are all of the segments:

The Start of Something Beautiful
Pointing, Pacing, and… Motorcycles Wearing Lingerie
Pit Stops and Cheering and Sweeps, Oh My!
3-Day Camp: Just Like a Sleepover, Only More Pink
3-Day Camp: I love the Night Life
3-Day Camp: Happy Glamping on Main Street
Over But Not Ending

The Insider’s Guide to the 3-Day – Camp: I Love the Night Life!

An event unlike any other, the Susan G. Komen 3-Day® is a full weekend experience. While the walkers are out putting in all those miles on the route each day, the 3-Day staff and crew are back at camp, creating a home away from home for all participants.

Route image

In the last Insider’s Guide post, I talked about the some of the basic necessities that the Komen 3-Day camp provides for its participants, including sleeping tents and showers. If those things were the only amenities that you got at camp, it would still be impressive. But no. The 3-Day® doesn’t stop with the basics. They take your average camping experience and turn it up to 11.

Nom Nom Nom…

As I’ve already described in delicious detail, the 3-Day keeps its participants well-nourished throughout the event, and camp is no exception. The big difference is at camp, you’re treated to hearty, hot catered meals for dinner and breakfast. Fun fact: I recently found out that the 3-Day caterer is the same caterer that the US Olympic team uses. We’re eating the same food that Olympic athletes are eating, you guys! How cool is that?

Susan G. Komen walkers gear up and take on Day 2 to find a cure for breast cancer.

More of anything? More of everything!

There’s a great variety of food options for your in-camp meals. In addition to two or three hot cooked main courses and sides, dinner always includes a salad option, bread and dessert; likewise, breakfast also has scrumptious hot selections, as well as cold fare like cereal, yogurt and pastries. Coffee, tea, hot chocolate, soft drinks and juices are included with all camp meals as well. And all of this deliciousness is served up right onto your plate by the wonderful Food Service crew team. In case you’re worried about getting enough to fill your belly, rest assured that like your on-route sustenance, food in camp is all-you-can-eat.

Dallas Day 2

A fed walker is a happy walker.

Now, if you’re a fellow Insider who’s been around for a few years and you think you know what kind of food you’re going to get in camp, hold on to your fanny pack. Word on the street is that the menu is getting some appetizing updates this year, and you can expect to see some new items when you get to your event. Don’t worry though, the much-loved baked mac n’ cheese isn’t going anywhere.

Under the Big Top

Once you’ve got your mitts on a plate (or two…What? Sometimes you need a whole separate plate just for rolls and brownies! Don’t judge me!) of yummy grub, head on over to the dining tent. You can’t miss it. It’s an enormous white tent in the middle of camp.

Susan G. Komen walkers gear up and take on Day 2 to find a cure for breast cancer.

See?

You may already be hearing music coming from inside, as live entertainers perform for your dinnertime enjoyment. As more and more walkers make it back to camp and get settled, the dining tent fills up with the sights and sounds of hundreds of people with 20 miles more of life under their belts. They’re 20 miles more tired, yes, but also more alive. It’s awesome.

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That’s entertainment!

2014 teaser: the dining tent set-up that many of you are familiar from past years is scheduled to get a makeover this year as well. Nothing is finalized yet, but our hope is to say adieu to the long rows of plastic-covered tables and chairs and usher in a warmer, friendlier configuration of seating, staging and ambiance (less “mess hall” and more “fun wedding reception”). Stay tuned for a sneak peek later in the year.

Time Out! The Last Walker Has Arrived to Camp!

This is one of my absolute favorite things that happens at the 3-Day camp. As we’ve said before, the 3-Day is a take-it-at-your-own-pace walk, and NOT a race. There was no gold medal for the first person who finished the route hours earlier, but a big announcement is made and everyone stops what they’re doing to come out and welcome the LAST walker who arrives at camp each day.

Susan G. Komen walkers gear up and take on Day 2 to find a cure for breast cancer.

Escorted by a Route Safety supporter, the last walker carries in a flag with the words, “One Day Closer to the End of Breast Cancer.”

It’s genuinely inspiring and very emotional to see. This is a walker who perhaps moved a little more slowly throughout the day, but still kept moving. Maybe she had to stop and get her sore feet and legs taped up once or twice, but that didn’t stop her. While many of her fellow walkers were already back at camp, showered and fed, she was still putting one foot in front of the other, determined to make it to the end. She’s a living example of the spirit of the 3-Day – a commitment to never give up, even when it’s hard. And now, she raises a flag in the middle of camp to celebrate the victory we all share: being one day closer to the end of breast cancer.

Susan G. Komen walkers gear up and take on Day 3 to find a cure for breast cancer.

Well deserved cheers surround the last walker as she raises the flag.

Susan G. Komen walkers gear up and take on Day 2 to find a cure for breast cancer.

Welcome home!

Back in the Dining Tent…

The nightly Camp Show is another much-anticipated aspect of the 3-Day camp experience. Dr. Sheri Prentiss, the inspirational host of the Opening Ceremony from earlier in the day (seems like forever ago, doesn’t it?) takes us through an entertaining and often downright hilarious recap of the day’s adventures, reveals a glimpse into tomorrow’s route and weather forecast, and shares other news and announcements from around camp. She also helps us welcome guest speakers, including survivors and co-survivors who bravely share their stories. The Camp Show includes videos, a slide show, games, audience participation, music, jokes and more.

San Diego Day 1

Stories from our survivors remind us why we walk.

 

San Diego Day 1

All kinds of shenanigans go down during the Camp Show.

 

San Diego Day 2

Dr. Sheri’s reaction is priceless!

Washington DC 3-Day Day 2

Do Better? Looks like you’re doing pretty well!

Friday night is all about celebrating the 3-Day participants. We recognize top fundraisers, top teams, training walk leaders, multi-event participants and team captains. It’s a massive pat-on-the-back for all of the extraordinary things that the 3-Day walkers and crew have accomplished to get where they are. Hugs and high fives for everyone!

Susan G. Komen walkers gear up and take on Day 1 for breast cancer awareness.

Dr. Sheri celebrates an outstanding training walk leader

On Saturday night, we take that same love fest and open it up to friends and family. This was a new aspect that the 3-Day introduced last year, and I think it’s just wonderful. So often, our friends and family members who are not part of the 3-Day themselves struggle to comprehend what an incredible, life-changing experience the 3-Day is. Allowing them to visit camp on Saturday gives them a chance to see first-hand all that you have worked toward for the months leading up to the walk. And it’s not just the visitors who get something out of the experience: last year, I talked to a first-time walker after her event, and she told me that by Saturday night, she was so physically and emotionally exhausted from walking, she was about ready to throw in the towel. But then her family came and met her at camp that night. Getting hugs and kisses from her kids and her husband and being showered with their very sincere amazement at what she was achieving was just the thing she needed to keep going on Sunday.

Boogie Down on 40-Mile Legs

A lot of people would tell you that you’re nuts for walking 60 miles in 3 days. A lot of people would claim that the physical demands of such an endeavor would be overwhelming. A lot of people would shake their heads in disbelief when you tell them that, after completing 40 of those 60 miles, you’re then going to shake your groove thing at the 3-Day’s epic Saturday night dance party. And a lot of people would be so, so very wrong!

Susan G. Komen walkers gear up and take on Day 3 to find a cure for breast cancer.

Dance Party!

Washington DC 3-Day Day 2

Aw yeah…she got that “Survivor Swag”

The Saturday night dance party is everything a great dance party should be: good music, friends all around you, lots of people who “can’t dance” dancing anyway, laughter, zero judgment, FUN! And yeah, you’re tired and sore from 40 miles of walking, but my hand to heaven, I swear that dancing actually makes your muscles feel better. You may sit there at first and think, “I’m not getting up there,” but the energy is infectious. You feel your toes tap, your hips get a little swivel in them and before you know it, you’re up on the stage leading the crowd in the Cupid Shuffle.

dance party emts

Even the EMTs can’t resist the dance party.

 

Think you know all the ins and outs of camp now? Well we’re not done yet! In the next Insider’s Guide post I’ll show you all the ways that the 3-Day makes its participants into “Happy Glampers.”

Ready to become an Insider yourself? Register now, and you can start your 3-Day journey for just $50. Don’t wait! The price goes up to $70 on March 1.

 

Want to see the entire Insider’s Guide to the 3-Day? Here are all of the segments:

The Start of Something Beautiful
Pointing, Pacing, and… Motorcycles Wearing Lingerie
Pit Stops and Cheering and Sweeps, Oh My!
3-Day Camp: Just Like a Sleepover, Only More Pink
3-Day Camp: I love the Night Life
3-Day Camp: Happy Glamping on Main Street
Over But Not Ending