Monday, September 24, 2007

The Story of Team Lychee on the Jimmy Fund / Dana Farber Boston Marathon Walk 2007

A Letter to My friends...

Hey guys,

Sorry for the belated report in on the Jimmy Fund/Dana Farber Boston Marathon Walk last Sunday, September 16th since I've been a bit busy with some client project deadlines earlier in the week and I wanted a bit more time to write a longer email. Anyhow, I wanted to thank you all for your generous contribution to the Jimmy Fund / Dana Farber Fund Walk! Through your tremendous generosity, I was able to raise $650 toward the Jimmy Fund and Dana Farber Cancer Institute that has treated more than 32,000 adult and pediatric patients and over 600 clinical trials in 2006. The money you helped contribute goes toward research and cancer treatments.

Cancer will affect us all — either to someone we love as well as some of us individually. I know some of you donated to honor a loved one who has faced cancer. My siblings and I donated in honor of our late paternal grandfather (ye-ye) and some of you donated in honor of a sibling's or parent's struggle. Your gift is a loving tribute and support for those you listed in the honor roll. I also thank you very much for supporting me as well in my choice to support this cause and in my efforts to get more fit.

To summarize my odyssey of good will: I COMPLETED the ENTIRE 26.2 miles (yes, all in one day)... Not in good time. But in good spirits. And with good company. Fortunately, a friend (John Liu) I made on the walk was able to join me for the grueling walk. The day started on track — I got out of my house by 5:15 am making good time. I had planned to take the subway in from Davis Square and get to Copley before 6:45 am to take the bus shuttle out to Hopkinton where the race began. (This race runs the same course as the Boston Marathon.) As soon as I started going down the escalator at Davis, I was met by an Indian woman who smiled at me as she was going up the other way. I thought, this day is shaping up nicely. I was quite proud of myself for being organized enough to get to the train on time. The Indian lady then turned around and called out, "There's no subway trains." I turned around. She repeated, "There's no trains. I've been waiting." I stared at her blankly. "30 minutes." I then started shrieking, "Are you KIDDING me????? Are you sure???? I think I hear the trains coming" A dozen thoughts started racing as I knew my deadline to get to Copley Square was tight. "Noooo, no trains. Trust me. There's no trains. I've been waiting," she repeated. At this point, I ran like mad out the door and found a taxi and with a flat fee of $20, I made it to Copley with plenty of time to spare. I bought batteries for my walkman and some kashi chocolate chip granola. (Yes, I'm so lame that I don't even have an ipod YET.)

In any case, my sister's friend John (who wrote to me via facebook) climbed onto the bus and I offered him one of FOUR japanese buns with curry beef (my latest fav at the Porter Exchange japanese eatery place). I sorta half-napped on the train. Unfortunately, I had not slept more than 2 hours before the walk. I had big plans to prepare everything beforehand but nope, that didn't happen. I couldn't find my credit cards. I later found it my purse... of course. There was plenty of food at Hopkinton... There were coffee, bagels and cream cheese, bananas, and yes, even Dunkin Donuts. You'd be proud of me that I only grabbed ONE munchkin. I ate the bagels and cream cheese. I registered and got a t-shirt (that I will lose later on the walk). I putzed around for so long that John and I didn't leave for the walk until almost everyone had left. Not sure which direction to turn, a guy turned to look at us and said to come over to where there was a big banner even if it was several paces backwards. He then smiled and said, this is where thousands of marathon runners have started. You're now standing where they stood. I felt awed. For a minute. Then we started walking. It was a sunny day, slightly chilly but it warmed up as the day progressed. We passed by a lovely lake (or reservoir?) where I caught sight of a lily-white swan in a bed of white leaves or soddened blossoms, sunbathing alone.

I was amazed how folks seemed rather disciplined and competitively walking past even a mom with a baby stroller talking to her friend raced by us. Even older people seemed to striding forward quickly. It was definitely more competitive in feel than the Boston Walk for Hunger (you can see my page and donate still I think) where we walked at our own pace and no one seemed to look over their shoulders much to benchmark their place on the course. By mile 8, my left knee was unexpectedly starting to get sore and stiff. I was amazed since on the Walk for Hunger, I completed all 20 miles very easily — it wasn't until about mile 18 (ten miles later) did I feel even a tad more tired. However, here I was attempting to go further and I was more sore already. I chalked it up to the fact that I wore the wrong sneakers. I wore another pair for the Walk for Hunger that I bought at a sports store in Maine for Alex's marathon run. It was on sale but white like dorky runners over 50 might buy. So, I chose beauty and style over utility and wore my black Sketchers sneakers (the label said "Sketchers Sports." I felt reassured). By mile 8, I realized the Sketchers sneakers were not supporting my foot arch and was probably not absorbing the shock of walking on the cement for hours on end. I also think I didn't rest up from the South End Open Studios event where I was on my feet for probably 6 hours so that didn't help things either. Anyway, from mile 8 to 13 (at Wellesley College), I hobbled through those miles. By the time, we got to Wellesley, there was nothing left but some jars of peanut butter and some sad mushy-looking something in a bowl. I elbowed John, whispering, "Do you think that's an egg salad?" He shrugged. I didn't have any but I welcomed the chance to sit for 40 min or so. My youngest bro John had called me on the trip to wish me well and to suggest I prop my feet higher up to reduce lactic acid buildup in my legs. That might have helped. We had plenty of hi-C fruit punches, and cheese and peanut butter crackers on the trip and other granola bars along the way.

Since they were really clearing up the place and there was virtually no one really left from the walkers' group, I felt the pressure to start walking again. Thankfully, John was kindly carrying my bag of snacks and water bottles I thought I would need on the trip. Boy, was that so not necessary since you hardly go more than a mile without snacks at every station. I offered him a Japanese Calpico lychee drink and he suggested that we call ourselves "team lychee" since apparently, the Jimmy Fund had plenty of teams. Not able to conjure up a better name, that seemed appropriate and cute name. As the walk progressed, John ended up carrying more and more of my stuff. (Thanx, John!!!!)

In any case, we were walking along and noticed that there was barely anyone who seemed to surprise us from behind so we were wondering if we were last. At one point, I rested my sore knees around mile 14 and was stretching them above my waist. An Enterprise van pulled up in front of us. An attractive late 30-something guy jumped out and grinned at me. I started wondering if he was about to ask me out since this had happened to me in Harvard Square when I was delivering mail for Harvard one summer between college years. The guy started saying, "I've been watching you. I've been following you." This was getting WEIRDER by the minute. He glanced over at John and sorta dismissively said, "And you, too." He then proceeded to say that apparently, we were probably now last on the walk. Yikes. He said that they have been monitoring us since we were last and they couldn't clear the stations until every walker has gone by. I looked around nervously for more of those Enterprise vans circling around. He offered to drive us further down the walk. I refused since I knew I could complete the walk even if very bad time and I wanted to be able to report to you fine folks, that I have completed the entire walk. He then proceeded to say ominously, "Heartbreak Hill is ahead of you." Really? I thought I had passed that. Nope, he said, you have three BIG hills ahead of you and he asked me whether I could make it. I said yes, if I passed one of them already (which I did), it was barely anything. I proceeded further but I felt the pressure was on. A woman at one of the stations said, "You're very powerful. We can't leave until you do." Talk about PRESSURE. At this point, I stopped all joking on the walk and walked for miles plowing forward. Amazingly, my left knee improved. Maybe it was that the path was more gravelly and more soft so it hurt less. The mysterious Enterprise vans kept circling around. It was like Big Brother was watching. They would stare at me through the window, maybe slow down at some points, stare and nod at me silently, or on occasion, ask me how I was doing.

Eventually, we passed by a couple about 65 or so. Yes, we were even behind the older people. The wife was hobbling around from a hurt, swollen knee bundled up in thick wraps and her husband was determined to complete it. The hubby was sounding a bit grumpy as he cited his wife as the reason why they were so far behind. "What can I do? I can't walk on ahead without her." He sighed loudly, looking back at the ol' ball and chain behind him. "She's my wife." We gleefully passed by them, relieved to now only be the THIRD slowest rather the absolute slowest people on the walk. We watched the Enterprise vans now flock around the older couple behind us, the new targets of their attention. Phew. A short time later, I saw a bunch of high schoolers walking. Boy, did it feel great to walk by them. I would rest for a bit and anxiously ask John to spy on whether those darn high schoolers were catching up. As soon as we caught sight of them out of the corner of our eyes, we were up again and walking. Slowly we hobbled past more "kids." At the top of Heartbreak Hill, they had a guy playing the saxophone standing on a car. Nice treat.

Each mile was marked by a big posterboard with the faces of kids under 7 or so. Written around the photos of each child, were their names, what they liked to do for activities and what they wanted to become. Brilliant idea! It seemed as we got closer to the city, the balder the kids got. Maybe it was a nudge, nudge, don't whine because the kids are having it tougher idea. At one point, I saw this cute photo of a girl and the poster board declared that she liked to "dance, play with her friends, and draw" or something like that. Listed under what she wanted to become, the poster stated "I want to be a dancer." I cooed, ooooh, that's so cute! Then I looked at her age. One. I'm sure if you asked me what I liked to do at age one, it might be something like "mum mum, blah blah blah, and yadda yadda" and I want to become a "boodoopoo" or something. I'm sure I didn't say I want to grow up to be a graphic designer and artist. :P And even if I were able to announce that, the higher-ups in my life would probably had vetoed that declaration and listed "scientist" or "doctor" or "chemist."

In any case, as I plodded further along, I kept exclaiming, "WHEEEEERE is the next baby face??????!!!!" Meanwhile, John reported in that his walking condition had downgraded from "good" to "okay" by mile 23. I was at "this is taking a long time" to "this is taking a DARN #*@!*$%!@@#^!@$!$#$%&%$%@!@@# long time." Finally, we made it to the end of the walk (making a very short detour to pick up angora melon/kiwi lime fro yo nearby the Kenmore station area) sometime after 6 pm. Fortunately, we were NOT the absolute last people on the walk. There were a few high schoolers (or young college students) after us.

Lessons learned:
1) Wear comfy sneakers designed for marathon race (even if they look dorky)
2) Don't bring any snacks since they will only be dead-weight unless you don't like the type of food they provide there
3) Start walking EARLIER than the pack so that you don't end up last
4) Go to sleep early
5) Check to see what time the subway train runs (apparently it runs at 6 am on weekends and not 5 am as they do on weekdays) BEFORE leaving for the shuttle
6) Bring music - ipod or walkman
7) Gleefully savor ALL your calories... no one's counting today (not even your mom... yes, even if she's Asian and STILL slimmer than you have ever been your entire adult life)

I limped my way home and slept an hour later pretty much with my feet propped. The next day, I was still partially limping on my sore left leg but the right leg was 99% perfect. The stiff leg lasted for 1.5 days but all in all, it was a great adventure.

AGAIN, thanx so much to those of you who have already contributed to the cause!!!!! Your generosity is appreciated by many folks who will benefit from your thoughtfulness. (I'm sure those smiling babes in the photos are thanking you as well... if they could talk. Oh, wait... these kids at age one can quote Shakespeare and draw like Picasso or work to solve the riddle of the universe. Kids seem to be getting smarter every generation.) IF you haven't contributed yet, you can still do so and my page is here:

siming *___*

1/2 of team lychee on the Boston Marathon Jimmmy Fund Walk

1 comment:

Mallikarjuna said...

your interest in multicultures is notable and appriciating your social cause works good keep it up