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Kings Mountain, North Carolina, United States
"A mind lively and at ease" is a blog by a first-generation Russian-Ukrainian immigrant Maria K. (Maria Igorevna Kuroshchepova). An engineer by education, an analyst by trade, as well as a writer, photographer, artist and amateur model, Maria brings her talent for weaving an engaging narrative to stories of life, fashion and style advice, book and movie reviews, and common-sense and to-the-point essays on politics and economy.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

3-Day chronicles: the team

I am not going to give you all the details of forming and training a team. All that is provided on the 3-Day For the Cure web site. I do, however, want to bring up certain aspects of walking with a team, some of them fairly obvious, some - perhaps less so.

A team is essential. Corny or not, it is vastly easier to walk with a team, or at least with a friend than by yourself. Many teams opt to have a theme. It's not mandatory, but it's fun. They have obviously put a lot of thought into their costumes and their tent decorations and had a lot of fun bringing it all about. That said, if you are considering costumes, keep in mind the fact of having to wear them for 60 miles. A tulle tutu worn with leggings is no problem. A tulle tutu worn with shorts, where it constantly rubs against your legs turns into a veritable nightmare by the end of day 3 if not sooner.

Agree on team walking strategy: are you going to let the team scatter depending on each individual's speed or are you going to stay together? I have seen some walkers who were left behind by their teams and were clearly disappointed by that. I have also seen a team of girls, with one of them larger and somewhat less fit than the others. She ruefully referred to herself as "the team's caboose", at which point her team mate turned to her and said, "Now stop that this minute. I am not leaving you." That was the attitude I liked to see most.

While staying together might feel like a bit of a drag on some of the fitter and faster team members, it has not only huge emotional advantages, but also simplifies supply distribution. When one team member carries nothing but medical supplies, the other one nothing but food bars, the next one carries Gatorade packets, and the next one - bandannas, rain ponchos and spare socks, the total stock is much greater than when each person tries to carry a little bit of everything. Besides, that way, everyone knows where everything is. There is no rummaging through one's pack trying to find that elusive chapstick or a band-aid. Need moleskin? Talk to the gal with the pink Camelback. Need a snack? The one with the blue Osprey pack has it. No muss, no fuss, no problem.

During Day 1 of the Atlanta event, I sort of bounced up and down the line of walkers, sometimes passing others, sometimes being passed, joining groups here and there. It was eminently less stressful physically and emotionally, when I had someone to talk to and to keep in step with.

Early in Day 2 I became adopted by a team of three young ladies. They were a bit fast for me, and I did have to push my envelope a bit, but that was nothing compared to their moral support and encouragement. Even if I never see them again, I will remember, bless and love them forever. (Gosh, I got tears in my eyes even as I write this.) This made a particular difference because Day 2 is the longest and - in the case of Atlanta event - the one with most hills. Someone keeping track told us afterward that we navigated over 26 hills that day - crazy!

Hills are not my strong suit, so the gals grabbed my hands and helped me up each and every slope. When I had to get onto a sweep van due to a cramping ankle, they waited for me at the next pit stop and we picked right back up. When we saw yet another lady struggling up yet another hill, I grabbed one hand, one of my gals grabbed another, two more attached themselves on each side and we all made it to the top. One of the women said that every time she came to a hill, she just thought of it as another boob saved - great attitude, that.

The end of the route on Day 2 was a real killer with an enormous humpbacked bridge between us and the entrance to our camp site. To add insult to injury there was a big sign "Hill ahead." Well, Sherlock Holmes! "If every hill is a boob," - I said, "I think this is a fake one. It definitely had implants." And then my ladies grabbed me by the arms and bodily dragged me up that sucker. When we got to the top, we all burst into tears.

Day 3 was the hardest. The ankle I injured the previous day was behaving deplorably, my blisters had blisters, and I didn't have a team. A group of ladies help me prep my feet before the start (more on that in subsequent posts), but that was about it. Being alone with agonizing pain made Day 3 the hardest for me, even though the distance was the shortest. I almost didn't make it. Lesson definitely learned.

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