Saturday morning, I arrived at the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer starting area in Santa Barbara at 5:20am. As I waited in line for coffee, I heard someone mention, “You can always tell the new people, they always get here way too early.” I was only there for an hour and a half before we started walking. This left me plenty of time to caffeinate. (The only part of the experience I’d been training for.)
By mile nine, I was in need of more coffee. Luckily, the course took us right through a Starbucks. Maybe that was my own detour, but it seemed like a slight improvement on the original route.
The crew and people that came out to cheer us on were amazing. The safety crew working the big intersections was a group of Harley riders with matching pink goatees. There was a man in a convertible wearing a “Boob Guy” shirt who seemed to show up quite a bit too. Boob Guy had a lot of enthusiasm.
Walkers wore “I’m In It to End It For…” signs, filled in with the names of the mothers. daughters, aunts, grandmothers, and friends who have been touched by breast cancer. I was in it to end it for my beautiful cousin Kim who is currently fighting breast cancer. She’s a fantastic woman. Honoring her in my thoughts and in my steps was beyond motivating. I read a sign along the path that said, “Blisters Don’t Need Chemo.” I kept walking.
At mile twenty-one I started feeling the need for Gatorade. I had never experienced this before but it happened, I was drinking blue stuff. It was delicious. I think. I was a little lightheaded. The Santa Barbara scenery was outstanding. Or I was hallucinating. Unclear.
Things started getting weird around mile twenty-three. And by “things” I mean me. I was walking alone and realized I was talking to myself, muttering great motivational phrases like, “Oh, Jeez. Oh, man. Oh, boy.” I should totally be a trainer.
I got to mile twenty-six, the end of day one. I couldn’t bend my knees, but as it turns out, that move is totally overrated. I went back to the hotel, took an epsom salt bath, ate dinner, and passed out: a move that is totally not overrated.
Day Two. I was back in the groove with a grande drip coffee, a Lara bar, and a handful of Advil.
We were walking gorgeous bluffs next to the beach in Carpinteria. We hiked through wooded areas, fields of sunflowers, and a neighborhood where we saw two toddlers in their front yard playing the bongos in their pajamas. We were getting there.
Around mile thirty-eight, I could hear that someone was following me quite closely playing Boston’s, “More Than a Feeling.” When I finally turned around to see who the nerd was, it took me awhile to realize that the phone in my backpack was somehow playing a weird Pandora station and had put itself on speakerphone. Having this many consecutive hours of alone time is the most I’ve had in years. Maybe that’s a good thing.
And then, 39.9 miles and 29 hours later, suddenly it was over. (With the walk back to the car, can we call it an even 40? Lets.) I’m not showing “after” photos of my feet because I love you too much to do that. They still work, so what’s a couple of blistery areas? No whining here. With your donations and supportive tweets, Facebook messages, and emails, we made this happen. We raised $2,401.80 – part of the 4.7 million raised in Santa Barbara this weekend. It was an amazing experience, I would only do one thing differently next time: I would wear more pink.