Yesterday I went on an 8 mile Training Walk. I almost didn't go since there was only one other person signed up. Boy am I glad I went. The route was good, incorporating some moderate hills, but the company was better.
The Training Walk Leader (TWL)was Kate, a 24 year old who is training to walk in her 6th 3-Day! Kate's family has a history of early breast cancer (including an uncle), which was her inspiration to walk starting back in high school. She has participated in both the San Diego and the Colorado walks. Given her family history, she is diligent about doing her self breast examinations. Last summer she felt a lump, and was diagnosed with breast cancer.
As a 4 month survivor she feels good, but is not comfortable with the word "survivor". Not enough time under her belt, she thinks.
I was impressed with Kate's positive spirit. Despite losing her twin to a drunk driver while still in high school. Despite the fact that her long-time boyfriend is getting ready to do his SIXTH tour in Iraq. Despite fighting her own battle with breast cancer. Kate was upbeat, strong and so helpful.
The two other walkers (yup two others showed up - 1st time walkers as well) picked Kate's brain on everything from tent decorations to fundraising. She had some great tips and helpful hints. All questions were welcomed and she loved sharing her experiences.
It turns out Kate had had the same knee/ITB pain that I am going through. Her's had been so bad that her doctor wanted to to surgery to release the tendon. Through stretching and icing she was able to relieve the pain. She gave me some great advice to help me get through the walking, and some therapy tips for before and after the walks. Good stuff!
I made it through the 8 miles pain-free, despite my reservations based on the twinges the night before. At the end, Kate asked me to follow her to her house nearby. When we got there she showed me the camelbac she used before her recently purchased fancy model. On our walk I had mentioned thinking I should try one out just to know for sure whether or not I would like using one (I think it will bug me and make me sweat, but you never know 'til you try). She said I could borrow her pack for a few weeks to try it out. We chatted some more and by the time I left she said I could even use it for the event if I wanted "Just as long as I get it back by the end of the year" she said with a smile.
Not bailing out on that training walk turned out to be a benefit to me in so many ways. I was touched by Kate who is so young and has gone through so much, yet remains hopeful for the future. You just never know who you are going to meet and how they will touch your life.