What a weekend!
I headed down to 16th and U at about 6 AM on Saturday, packed and enthused and ready to cab it over to the Kennedy Center. As I approached the intersection, I noticed two lovely ladies decked out in pink and carrying sleeping bags. I figured they were going to the same place I was! Once we hopped into that taxi, we were bound together for the rest of the weekend--so thanks to Heather and Sima for being such great walking companions!
The opening ceremonies were nice (and quite emotional), and before I knew it, we were on our way. On seemingly every corner, there were crew members, volunteers, and community members cheering us on. After 10 miles, I thought, "This is a piece of cake!" After 15 miles, I started slowing down. After 20 miles, I wanted to hitchhike to the campsite. With the encouragement of my new friends, though, I trudged on and made it to our overnight home in Silver Spring. Since I had no tentmate (due to my partner-in-crime breaking her foot before the event), I stood around and made sad, confused faces until a cute crew boy helped me set up my tent. Thanks, cute crew boy!
After a yummy meal and a shower in a trailer, I snuggled into my sleeping bag, put in some earplugs, and tried to sleep. Sadly, camping + me = no good, so I only actually got about 4 hours of shut-eye. I arose at 5:00 the following morning, disassembled my tent (without help, thankyouverymuch), ate a quick breakfast, and started trucking again.
The second day was shorter (13.1 miles, as opposed to Saturday's 26.2), but it was much, much harder. My body was rebelling against the previous day's activities AND the unsatisfactory night of sleep on hard, uneven ground. The route was nice, though, as it wound us through beautiful parks and neighborhoods and into DC via 16th Street (never have I been so happy to see my 'hood). After a brief lunch stop, I powered on until I saw my sister standing in front of my house and waving in support. I took a REAL bathroom break (as opposed to the porta-potties I'd been using all weekend), I pulled myself together, and I walked the remaining few miles to the Kennedy Center. I was rewarded with a photo op with MooCowGuy, who was one of the most vocal and motivational volunteers. I also got a shot of the middle school pep band, who played us on at various points along the route (one of their moms was walking in her 8th Avon event--incredible).
Upon reaching the end of the journey and listening during closing ceremonies, I realized that we had accomplished many great feats. Not only had we challenged ourselves physically during the actual event weekend (and the preceding training, of course), but we had challenged our families and friends and colleagues and neighbors to donate in order to support research and access to care, both of which can be life-saving to countless individuals facing the disease. And all of those challenges, while significant, simply pale in comparison to the challenges faced by the 235 breast cancer survivors who participated with us. Thanks to those brave men and women for inspiring us and showing us how it's done!
It was a terrific weekend, and I hope to participate again--maybe next year, I'll travel to a new city and meet a different crop of incredible people who are fighting hard for a cure. If any of you are on the fence about signing up, I encourage you to get over your fears and insecurities and register to walk. You CAN raise $1,800, you CAN walk 39.3 miles, and you CAN make a difference!
Back tomorrow, hopefully with less pain...