Posted by: effingwishes | May 29, 2012

Past Avon Walks: Blisters, Sweat and Laughter

This weekend I will walk with thousands of Avon Walk friends in my 7th Avon Walk for Breast Cancer. While I wasn’t in a good place to walk last year, I’m eagerly looking forward to this weekend’s event.

My training has sucked and my fundraising has been as unfocused as my training was! But this will be my 7th Avon Walk and I feel like I am mentally in a much better place than years past. Being nearly 30 pounds lighter than my 2010 walk helps too!

The day starts off with all of this excitement as people start to gather and stretch, get coffee and try to remember what they have forgotten. Slight panic sets in and the lines for the porta-poddies becomes ridiculous. Then we start to gather for the stretch and opening ceremony. As the sun starts to rise over Lake Michigan the fear and doubt of how am I going to walk 26.2 miles subsides.

Once the initial bottleneck of the flood-gates opening clears up, we start to find our stride and make our way along and against runners and cyclists. We gab with those around us and hope the momentum sticks around. Around mile 5, the quiet starts and I begin to get lost in my own mental monologue of what has brought me here, why do we walk, do we make a difference, why are people swimming in this lake… This is the time I have to remind myself over and over that the brain lies and likes the path of least resistance. It will begin to think I feel a blister starting or maybe I didn’t pack enough anti-bacterial lotion. So I’ll sit and have a snack and readjust my crazy thinking and pick up the pace.

The quiet and the chit-chat come and go for the next few miles. Then something happens to the mass collective around mile 9. We realize, “We are Only 1 mile away from Lunch!!” This sends us into easy chatting, laughing about the cars beeping and cheering us along the way, and our spirits soar with knowing soon we’ll be able to sit the heck done and enjoy a sandwich and cookie. And take off these dam gym shoes.

One year I was talking with a local cop in the area visiting during lunch and had told him I wanted to report a crime against my feet. Unfortunately he replied that he was CPD and didn’t care. Everyone’s a comic.

Walking through the city neighborhoods is one of my favorite parts of the walks. People come out to cheer us on. Businesses show their support and their windows and doorways. The Superior Ambulance drivers blast music and typically have someone sitting on the passenger side window singing and cheering us on. Crews of every shape and size make this even so tremendous!

Once I make it to the mile 13.1 stop, I take the moment for a good ole “Hell Yeah!” yell and photo opp. Then I get my tired ass on the bus to the Wellness Village.

Once at the Wellness Village, crews and family members are there to cheer us on for a job well done after the first day. I love with my parents are there. They typically get a bucket of chicken and cheer on walkers. My father has made his way around the vendors and picked up as many chochkees as they will give him before he takes mine. After some time in the foot massage chairs and some rest, I head to out to sleep in a bed. Love the fact that so many people are committed to camping out together. I am not one of those people.

Sunday morning, we get up early and limp our way back to Soldier field. The route by the lake is always so pretty and the different neighborhoods are as welcoming as those we went through on Saturday.

Maybe it’s the blisters or aching but I think we walk a little slower, have deeper conversations, absorb more of everything around us.

Over the last several years, however, I have noticed that there is a Large gap in the truth told around how far lunch is. It’s never quite the only a couple of miles. This is when I start to feel like my friends must when I tell them our next lunch place is “just up the street” (and ends up being .4 of a mile away).

One year heading into the 6th mile stop, I was the caboose. And I was ok with it!

After lunch you know it’s an easy 3 miles to the finish. We just need to round down Michigan Avenue and down to millenium Park. My favorite place in the city is the Survivor’s Garden. This is the last spot we have to refuel before we set out on the last leg. The 1.3 miles down LSD back to Solider Field are some of the best blocks. You can feel the accomplishment of the weekend in every step.

The only downside however is that heading UP to the Finish Line is that it is UP. Bad planning dear city. Just Saying.

But you can hear the cheers and you know you are so close! The miles are done! The blisters will heal! and through the finish line knowing you have been a part of something wonderful.

A few dozen band aids, gallons of Gatorade, porta-poddies that are so icky, and bottles of hand sanitizer later and the walk is over. We sit and rest until we gather for the Closing Ceremony at 3. We laugh and hug one another and know that next year, we’ll be back and do it all again.

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