May 5, 2009 by 8junebugs
Day 1: Smells like team spirit!
Saturday was a perfect Avon Walk day. (Ironic though it may seem, we began this walking event at the FDR Memorial.) It was overcast, but not too chilly, and there was a sprinkle of rain along the route.
Best cheer: “2, 4, 6, 8 — Don’t forget to urinate!” Thank you, Youth Crew!
Best recognition: “iTeam? Hey, you guys are in 7th place! Way to go!”
I stuck to my guns and stopped at the half-marathon. Most of my team stopped, as well. Two teammates went to the 16-mile mark, and three did the full marathon on the first day: 26.2 miles.
My spirit was willing…but I trained well enough for 13.1 each day, and I needed to stick to that on Day 1 to be able to do it again on Day 2. I had no injuries or blisters and I ate and drank plenty throughout the day — the only physical complaint I had was plain old sore feet. Frankly, there’s a lot of me to carry around, and the impact, even in good shoes and great socks, took a toll.
The route on Day 1 was very similar to half the route of the training walk I did in the city a couple of weeks ago. All monuments, all the time, plus a trek through my old stomping grounds: Cleveland Park and, to a certain extent, Woodley Park.
We lost a teammate to dehydration on Day 1. Her pace was faster than mine, so I didn’t know until I saw her in the medical tent when I went to have my heels double-checked (I was pretty sure they were okay, but it was better to have the podiatrist say so). Another teammate was in there getting treated for what she hadn’t known was plantar fasciitis, and she pointed me in the direction of our fallen comrade, who was still on an IV.
She’s better now.
I’ve mentioned before that we do the Avon Walk because they take such good care of the walkers, but I’d like to give a special shout-out to the Girl Scouts who put up my tent for me — I got there at just the right time to be a “training exercise.” So. Appreciated. (I don’t camp. This is the closest I get, and it’s EVEN BETTER when I don’t have to handle the camping-y bits.)
Day 2: Putting the “i” in iTeam
Sunday dawned significantly less perfect than Saturday. The meteorologists got one right — it rained several times during the night, and we worried…for good reason. We breakfasted early and took off as soon as the route opened, but the rain kicked into full gear by the time we hit mile 2. Even so, we kept up a fantastic pace, and, before we knew it, we were half done.
By lunch, though, most of us were soaked through, even with jackets, and it was starting to get cold. Most of the team was ready to grab lunch and go…I wasn’t. It was mile 8.5 and my feet were burning. I needed to stop in order to keep going — just 10 minutes off my feet made all the difference.
Fortunately, two teammates were willing to stop with me, and I owe miles 9 and 10 to them. I wish I could say I got a second wind and kept them laughing for the rest of the Walk, but I’m afraid not. In fact, I may have threatened to push one of them into traffic for attempting to look for a bright side.
After that, it was sheer stubbornness and their continuing goodwill that got me over the finish. With three miles left, I started to feel a bit nauseated, which indicated dehydration. (Irritability, believe it or not, is also a sign.) But I was NOT going to get swept (picked up by the medical vans) within sight of the monuments.
I cried the last 50 yards or so. Our captain, who was there with two other teammates when we crossed the finish line, said later that she couldn’t tell if it was pain or emotion. I think it was both. There was pain, certainly, and plain wretched-drowned-rat-ed-ness, and very mixed emotions. I cried because it was over. I cried in gratitude for all the people cheering us on. I cried when I saw my teammates, who’d waited out in the rain to see us finish this year’s journey.
Mostly, I cried because the pain I felt, just walking in the rain, is nothing compared to breast cancer and its treatments. Women I know — and millions more I don’t know — face far worse than my 26.2 miles every single day, and they face it without the whining and bitching I was guilty of on those last few miles. All I had to do was go home, shower, take some ibuprofen, and nap in a warm, dry place for a little while, and I was cured. The nausea cycled out in about 24 hours.
People facing breast cancer — any cancer, really — are not so lucky.
(Seriously, though? The shower was the last place I wanted to be. I have never wanted and dreaded something so much AT THE SAME TIME in my life. I was like a baby who’s overtired — you know how they need to sleep but refuse to sleep? That was me, but I was oversoggy.)
(I compromised and took a bath first.)
I will do better next time.