But I would walk 500 miles

Attending the San Diego 3-Day event, although insanely tempting, was not in the cards. Flights were too expensive, especially once I added the need to get a hotel the night before and possibly the night after the event. So I did the next best thing: I committed to walking the rest of the 60 miles on my own this week.
But first, a picture to show you what the weather at the 3-Day was like on Sunday:
Unfortunately, my camera couldn’t really capture the wind, chill or standing water all over the sidewalks. In fact, as soon as I got to the 3-Day, I stepped in a large, cold puddle the size of Lake Michigan. It was 6am, it was pitch black and raining. I still was tired, having woken up at 4:30am to get to Philly on time.
We arrived at the starting site to check in and the first thing I hear is a man shouting “Put these between your socks and sneakers to keep your feet dry. Wet feet are death on the walk!” as he passed out long plastic bags like you’d see your newspaper in on a rainy day.
A little late, buddy!
Fortunately, thanks to the miracle of heaters in the tents where we waited and magic sock technology that allows them to wick moisture away from the skin, my feet stayed dry and I stayed blister free (minus one small spot between my toes–but I didn’t even notice it until after the walk so it didn’t impede my progress at the 3-Day).
As you all know, I blogged this weekend about my disappointment of the shortened event. I really wanted the physical challenge of walking the 60 miles.
Yesterday morning, I went to the gym and watched the Rachel Ray show, The View and the local news as I walked 10 miles, stretching during commercial breaks at the top of each hour and grabbing a snack (an apple, a peanut butter granola bar) to keep my energy level up. During the afternoon, Evan and I went to see Where The Wild Things Are and then I took a brief nap before dinner and heading back to the gym for another 10 miles. I was still tired, so I had a cup of coffee (Trader Joe’s organic, free trade Scandinavia blend…mmmmm!) before returning to the gym and sipped on Powerade throughout the walk.
I nearly fell off my treadmill when staff at the gym turned off TBL in favor of a baseball game. TBL was my version of the 3-Day cheering stations. So I asked the staff if they could put the show back on. They did. I finished another 10 miles for a total of 20+ miles of walking yesterday.
My plan today was to do the rest of the walking–the last 19 miles–today and break it up into 3 smaller bunches (5-6 miles before work, 3-4 miles during lunch and 9-10 miles tonight). I just couldn’t do it.
I’m currently in between rounds of stretching my hamstrings, back, quads, calves and periformis muscles because I’m am achy and incredibly sore from all the walking. My legs feel heavy, as if I’m walking through mud. After making it through yesterday’s 20-miler, I thought for sure I’d be able to do another 20 today. Unfortunately, I underestimated how tired I’d be, especially after the toll of a full workday.
I did 10 more miles today for a total of 51 miles.
Walking Sunday was hard–it was cold, damp and windy, we had to walk hills, cobblestone, muddy paths, sidewalks covered in wet leaves and brick walkways.
But every time it seemed intolerable, there was a crowd of people dressed in pink, holding signs and pictures of loved ones who had breast cancer and passing out stickers or candy and giving us high fives.
The only cheerleader I had tonight was myself. Unfortunately, around mile 9, I was telling myself I couldn’t do it. I contemplated quitting for another mile before I finally made the decision to stop.
I wanted to walk all 60 miles, and I wanted to do it in three days. I couldn’t. Although I’ve been beating myself up for that for the past two hours, I’ve now come to terms with it. After all, I DID meet my goal of doing 20 miles yesterday. And I DID walk 17 miles in less-than-ideal conditions on Sunday.
For the record, walking 60 miles may be challenging, but I’d bet you my life that it isn’t as hard as going through chemo or figuring out how to tell your loved ones you have cancer or making important decisions about how to proceed with treatment.
It’s kinda funny… at first, I was uncomfortable with the cheering stations during the walk. I didn’t want the attention. I felt my decision to walk was mostly pretty selfish and self-motivated, so I certainly didn’t want recognition for it. But then the walk got hard. And I needed those people. 
I needed the Boobylicious girls who popped up throughout the walk with different signs and cheers each time.
I needed the high-fives, woos and wows from this crew who also followed us along the walk.
Safety Crew
I certainly thought about this while walking on Sunday, but I didn’t fully recognize it until I had to do the challenge without the support.
I started thinking how difficult it must be to be sick and need help and to have to ask for it. Now I’ve sworn that I will be a better friend to those who are in a place where they may need my help. I may not always know what to do, but sometimes the only assistance that’s needed is encouragement and kind words.
This awareness has rocked my world. I can’t even put into words how transformational THIS–not the walk, the physical challenge or the fundraising–is for me.
Also, I’m doing this again. I don’t know that I can commit to the training and fundraising again, but I AM going to volunteer to be on the crew next year in Philly in October 2010. Come hell or Nor’Easters!

2 responses to “But I would walk 500 miles

  1. Great message – great lesson 🙂 and take care of you and those hamstrings, you don’t want to injure your back accidently

  2. Thanks, Lisa! I could feel the tightness when I woke up this morning. But I could think of worse things than stretching while watching the Today Show for 20 minutes or so!

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