The weekend as a whole:
It was a weekend of some pretty strong emotions in a volatile environment. By that I mean you could switch from smiles and laughter to tears in 2.7 seconds. Case in point:
This guy is wearing a pink bodysuit and a tutu. Pretty funny. And then you read the banner - he's walking for his wife. Didn't get his story so I don't know if he was walking to honor her as a survivor or in her memory. Either way, you smile and then you start start to imagine the hurt, the sorrow, and the pain that he experienced and the tears start to flow. There were approximately 650 walkers, each, like the pink bodysuit guy, had a story - a family member, a friend, a neighbor, a co-worker who fought the disease; some won; some lost; some still fighting. Everywhere you turned, you would run an emotional gauntlet. Smiles, tears, laughter, tears, laughter, smiles, and tears.
I was once again struck by the prevalence of breast cancer. Yeah, I know, it was the whole point and the purpose of the walk. But still it hit me. Each walker had a story. So did the people living along the route - we passed so many houses with posters saying "a 4 year survivor lives here" or "My grandma is smiling down on you from heaven" or something along those lines. Seeing that brought home the reason why I was walking - for my friends and family and all of the people who have struggled with, fought, and won or lost the battle with breast cancer; for those we know, and for those we don't; I walked for everyone.
And everyone (almost literally) went out of their way to give support to the walkers. As I mentioned in my other post, random people on twitter would post encouragement. Random houses along the route would have pink ribbons hanging from the trees. At least once a block, a sprinkler would be strategically placed to provide a nice cool spray to walk under. More often than the sprinklers, there would be coolers of water, baskets of candy, kids handing out popsicles, people with an encouraging word. Random cars would toot their horns and give a wave. Support vans and safety crew would have great peppy upbeat tunes to quicken our steps.
And then there were the cheering stations, the first one on day 3 in particular. I swear there were 150 people lined up along the sidewalk, clapping and cheering and saying "thank you" for walking.
I think this was the beginning of my emotional breakdown (more on that in another post).
It was just so totally incredible that these people would go out of their way on Sunday morning to come down to cheer for us. Families with small children. Elderly people in wheelchairs. Even a couple of puppy dogs. It was great, but at the same time it was overwhelming and made me cry. (another example of how the weekend was an emotional roller coaster.)
So to sum up:Thoughts:
Do I feel like the bad ass hero rock star people say I am?
Let's break that down into sections.
1. Do I feel like a bad ass? I would feel more like one if I had walked all 60 miles. Don't get me wrong, I don't regret choosing to not walk all the miles on days 2 and 3 - circumstances dictated that it was the right decision to make at the time; continuing to walk would not have been good for either of us, and I feel we made the right choice. Yeah, I admit, I wanted to walk more of it than I did. But in looking at the parts that we did walk, Becca and I have concluded that we walked between 40 and 50 of the 60 miles. Not too shabby. Farther than I've ever gone in a week, let alone in 3 days. And while this wasn't about setting a mileage record for me, it was one. And the runner/athlete in me can't turn off the part of my brain that remembers stuff like that. So in that regard, maybe I do feel a teeny tiny bit bad ass. ;o)
2. Do I feel like a hero rock star? Nope. I just feel like me. I'm just a regular, ordinary girl who decided to try to help solve a big problem. I'm just a small small drop in a big big bucket.
Would I do it again?
Right now, I'm thinking no. Walking it was definitely (at least at this point in time) a once in a lifetime thing for me. It's a big commitment that I'm not ready to make again for a while, if at all.
If I did, what would I do differently?
I'd go about fundraising in a different way. I'd leave some room in my bag and take along some food and drinks that my body could actually eat, drink, and process so I'd be healthier and better fueled. I'd take music with me, because when there was music involved, we forgot the pain and discomfort and walked just a little bit faster, a little bit livelier.
Pay it forward
While I feel like I don't want to walk the 3 day again, I do think it would be fun to go and be a "walker stalker", repaying some of the wonderful and amazing support I felt to future walkers. It would be cool to follow the course, stopping at strategic points to provide encouragement. Something to think about.
Stay tuned for a day by day recap. :o)