(Note: this is the email I sent folks who supported my participation in the Avon Walk for the Cure, this past May.)
Miles, that is. Although, it felt just about that hot (in Celsius) this weekend while we were walking. Yes, this past weekend, I finally did the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer. No, I didn't train all that much for it, but somehow I survived... no thanks to Mother Nature! After all the 60-degree weather during the week, Mother Nature decided to slam us with 90-degree weather on Saturday and Sunday. And oh, the humidity!
Day one started with my sister and I getting up at oh-dark-hundred to be down at the Washington Monument by 6:15 AM. For those of you who know us, that in itself is a major sacrifice. Ooof. The opening ceremonies started at 6:30, and the walk officially began at 7:00 AM… while many of you were still asleep and I certainly would have been on any other Saturday.
The first many miles were through the streets of downtown DC. And while DC is a beautiful city, I felt like we weren’t making any progress because we were still in downtown DC after walking for several hours. In fact, it took us 6.2 miles to get from the Washington Monument to Union Station. For those of you who aren’t familiar with DC, it’s actually only about 1.5 miles across the Mall. We definitely took the scenic route – and then some. I was happy to see hubby SM who was at the first “cheering station” to provide lots of moral support, hugs and “atta girls” for us, and then onward we schlepped, past Georgetown Law, through the gates of Chinatown block and near the White House before heading north towards Dupont Circle. (Apologies to those who could care less about the geographic details.)
We hit the lunch break at mile 9.2 at about 10:15 AM. I have to say that I’ve never eaten lunch at 10:15 AM. But when you eat breakfast at 5:30 AM and have been walking for several hours, you’re ready for lunch at 10:15. We stopped at a middle school in the West End (around 24th/M Street), just before crossing into Georgetown. Lunch was a nice break, but we didn’t want to sit too too long for fear of inertia keeping us down. So onward, onward!
At this point, the day was really starting to heat up. The streets of Georgetown were fairly well shaded, but that was small solace. We hit mile 13.1 somewhere in NW, and we were both still feeling pretty good physically – definitely better than we thought we would. It certainly helped that many, many people turned out all along the route to cheer us on, provide snacks and give us moral support. Our family as well as friends met us on MacArthur Blvd. for more “atta girls” and a change of socks for both of us. At this point, getting up and going again was getting harder and harder. Whenever we had to cross the street, we hoped for a green light. You might think that we would have preferred a red light for rest, but noooooooooo. That only gave our muscles the opportunity to tighten. Walking was easier than stopping. And hills? Whose bright idea was it to put in the hills after the halfway point? That’s just evil. I never realized what hills there were in NW DC. Ugh. Loughboro Road. Ugh. No fun.
Anyway, we continued through some very lovely neighborhoods in NW DC, and I saw some streets I’ve never seen before. Eventually, we crossed into Maryland at the Chevy Chase Circle, around mile 19 or so. We continued up Connecticut Avenue and into Chevy Chase where my friend C. and her two babies E. (of the cute toddler variety, in his stroller) and E. (of the cute four-legged doggy variety, on her leash) met us to cheer us along and walk with us for a few blocks. At mile 21.2, still in Chevy Chase, we took a fairly long break at a rest stop. Sis wasn’t feeling so great, so we parked our butts for a bit so that she could get some food and Gatorade.
After that, we continued along the Capital Crescent Trail and back over to Connecticut Ave up to Kensington Parkway where we picked up Rock Creek Trail (along Beach Drive). At this point, people kept saying that we were almost there, almost there… but they lied! We soon figured out that we still had several miles to go, which just isn't "almost there" when you're walking. Even though some guy told us around mile 24 that it was all downhill from there, it wasn’t. But none of us were going back to chastise him for it. But it was easier in the shade and the cooler temperatures of the late afternoon. We followed Rock Creek Trail past the Mormon Temple, back under the Beltway and then across East-West Highway to Meadowbrook Lane. Despite having grown up in the area, I had no idea there were stables and horses there!
At this point, the end was in sight. For real this time. SM met us at mile 25.8 to walk with us, and my stepmother (sis's mother) and sister met us too. We walked across the finish line into the “Wellness Village” (where many, but not us, camped overnight – you think I’m going to spend the night in a tent when my own bed is mere miles away? Nooo way. I would have walked home if I had to, to have my own bed and no line for a shower). Then we promptly walked back out and got into our respective cars to go home. I don’t know who was asleep sooner – sis or me – but I do know that I crashed pretty hard after 26.2 miles and being out from 6:30 AM to about 6:30 PM, which is about when we finished. During that 12 hours, we probably walked about 10 hours’ worth in some serious heat. When I got home and peeled off my shoes, I had one monster blister that was more than an inch long! Ouch.
Day two started, thankfully, a little later. The walk started at 7:30 AM, and since we didn’t have to go far to the starting point, I got up at 6:30 instead of 5-something. Yay for the extra hour! Sis and I started out in the disgusting humidity of Sunday, but since the sky was overcast and it had recently rained (ground was wet), it wasn’t too too hot... yet. Just muggy – and buggy! We were definitely taking a slower pace on day two. I was proud that I even made it out to the course. If sis had said that she wanted to bail on day two, I would have been right there with her. But we didn’t. We walked. However, I knew it was gonna be “one of those days” when I heard an “excuse me, may I get by?” from behind, only to be passed by a woman in a wheelchair… . (But we passed her again later.)
We walked down Rock Creek Trail but took a more direct route back to NW DC. I don’t remember the exact route, but we spent some time on Western Ave and down Nebraska to Fort Reno. We saw Dad’s alma mater, Wilson High, home of the Tigers. Somewhere along the way, as the sun started to come out and the temperature go up, I made the decision that I was going to call it a day at mile 7. I knew I could finish the whole 13.1 miles if I pushed myself, but I decided I didn’t want to. My blisters were hurting, and I admit it, I didn’t want to walk during the hottest part of the day (and Sunday was a doozy!!!). So I called SM and asked him to meet me at the cheering station at mile 7.1. With that decision made, it was much easier getting through the rest of the little stroll through NW. Sis hadn’t decided what she wanted to do yet, but I knew that I wanted to preserve the rest of my day from sheer exhaustion and my feet from further injury. We came down Nebraska Ave. to Tenley Circle where we picked up Wisconsin Avenue. I kept looking for the damned mile markers because – I swear – mile 6 was at least two miles long! We kept looking and finally saw the cheering station – with SM and a troupe of Chinese lion dancer (way cool!) – on Wisconsin Ave. Our family drove up, and I said my “hellos” and my “good-byes” because I ended my walk there – for a total of 33.3 miles over 2 days.
I have to say that the marathon (I’ve now done a marathon!!!) was easier than I thought it would be -- but that doesn’t mean I’m in any hurry to sign up for it again next year. My feet suffered tremendously on day two, and I am still hobbling around because of some very serious blisters. It was fantastic to have so many folks cheering us along the route, and SM spent his entire day on Saturday (and Sunday too) as our moral and logistical support. I can’t thank him enough.
And, as many of you may know, I was inspired to do this walk by SM's parents. SM’s mother had breast cancer, and SM’s dad cared for her for many years as they fought the disease. Sadly, SM's mom died from it at 51, and I never met her. But they raised a tremendous son, and for that, I am grateful. This was my small tribute to them.
(BTW, it took nearly two months for my feet to fully heal. I'll spare you the details, but I'm sure you can imagine the mangled toes, etc.)
Labels: DC living, family, volunteer