Thursday, August 20, 2009

Post-Walk Reflections

It's been a few weeks since the Breast Cancer 3-Day Walk. My blisters have healed as time has passed. I realize I need to record my thoughts about the event before time further gets away from me.

I walked further this year. I completed 50 of the 60 miles - a new record for me. Seventeen miles on day one, 19 on day two and 14 on day three. I could have done all 17 on day three, except the bone in my right foot (the fifth metatarsal, which has been broken three times and repaired with a screw) began to hurt early in the day. I jumped on a bus to rest the foot and resumed walking after lunch.

I met some wonderful people. Even with over a thousand participants, plus many volunteers, it's surprising how often you cross paths with the same people over the course of three days and 60 miles. Friendly walkers would pause to chat as they passed by me (everyone passed me by - I told people I walk slowly so they will feel like they are going fast).

Best t-shirt of the event. Hands down, the prize (which consists solely of my admiration) goes to the breast cancer survivor with whom I dined Friday evening. Her shirt read: "No, they're not real. The real ones tried to kill me." Last year's award went to a man with "Does this fanny pack make my butt look big?" on the back of his shirt.

Least favorite t-shirts. I'm sure it's just me, but I don't particularly like the team names and t-shirt slogans that use slang names for breasts. I grew up hearing these words as derogatory terms and to me they still sound like insults.

Favorite time at camp. It was wonderful to get mail at camp. Last year I didn't know people could send you mail until I got to camp. This year I made sure my loved ones got the mailing instructions. I got six cards and letters, which cheered me on and kept me going.

Least favorite time at camp. So I've just walked about 20 miles. Now I have to hydrate and refuel, then shower. The camp was set up with the various facilities at a significant distance from each other. Things seemed further away this year, and for someone with arthritis, walking 20 miles was enough. There were times I wanted to go to the 3-Day Cafe or the vendor tents, but just could not walk any more. Golf carts???

Favorite time on the walk itself. Knowing that someone you know will be waiting for you at a cheering station is incredible motivation to keep moving. My wonderful family and friends waited for me in sun and heat at four different sites on days two and three. Seeing them brought me to tears more than once.

Least favorite time on the walk. Rain! We started days one and three in the rain. It was funny, though, to see the lengths to which walkers went to keep their feet dry. I saw women with the tops of their shoes and socks sealed with duct tape, with their feet encased in plastic bags (inside their shoes), with plastic bags tied around their ankles. Me? I just walked and made sure to put on dry socks at midday.

This was a great experience. I honestly don't know if I can do it again next year. The physical toll on my body - the exhaustion, the joint pain - was pretty heavy. But I won't rule it out yet. I walked in honor and memory of a number of women - friends and the friends and relatives of friends. I was a walking memorial, and there's something holy about that. Few things in our lives can be seen that way. I will cherish the memories and the names.

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