Avon Walk – Take Two

When I signed up to do the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer this past July I had it in the back of my head that it would be a one-time thing; a goal to accomplish, an in-your-face to cancer.  The plan was simple:  I would drag my over-wight survivor butt up and down the hills of San Francisco with some high school girlfriends, reconnect a little, maybe lose some weight and enjoy a few photo-ops along the way.  Well, I did that all right!

I didn’t anticipate the feeling of accomplishment that participating in the Walk would bring me.  I didn’t expect to be part of a $5.5 million dollar donation for under and uninsured women to receive treatment!  I certainly didn’t foresee forging a bond with my teammates (and our own personal roadie!) that would extend way beyond the Walk into our wildly different personal lives. 

Participating in an event of this sort is physically comparable to a cancer patient’s treatment.  The similarities were startling.  Over those two days last year I relived my own cancer story.  I began the Avon Walk just as I did chemotherapy, cautious but positive I would make it to the finish line.  I trusted my training and I trusted my body to take me where I needed to go.  I knew I could depend on myself. 

I began strong but somewhere after the half-way point the road became much more difficult.  Doubts began to creep in.  Maybe I’d overestimated my capabilities?  What was I thinking?  The last 6 miles of day one were all uphill.  San Francisco hills!  Just to raise my eyes to the road ahead physically stopped me in my tracks.  It was too much to contemplate.  Yet quitting was not an option.  Too many people were depending on me – watching me.  I simply bowed my head and put one foot in front of the other, mumbling prayers and complaints with every other step.  It’s the same way I made it through treatment. 

By the end of day two my feet and knees had failed me.  My spirit was broken.  I kept going out of sheer stubbornness and the support of my team.  I was surprised to be re-learning the same life lesson from chemo – no one can do it alone; we all need help and support.  As I crossed the finish line on Sunday afternoon I was overcome with emotions.  I had once again pushed my body past its level of endurance and SURVIVED!  At that moment I felt that I could do anything!  And I CAN!

But I can’t do it without your help!  Though I’m required to raise at least $1800 in donations, I hope to raise much more with your support!  Last year your contributions and my walking raised $2400!!!  All donations, large or small can and will make all the difference in this fight!  I may make the difference for me or you or someone you love. 

You can make a donation to my fundraising campaign by clicking HERE.  If you would prefer to write a check, contact me and I’ll send you the information form. 

Let’s pool our resources and stop breast cancer today!  I am IN IT TO END IT!  Are you with me?


In It To End It

I just passed the 300 mile mark in my training for the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer!!!  It’s hard to believe.  When I began training at the end of January I didn’t really think I’d be logging that many miles.  I also thought I’d have a hard time raising the minimum $1800 in donations. 

Happily, the money has pretty much raised itself thanks to extremely supportive friends and social networking sites.  Better than that, the walking has been a joy and a blessing.  I’ve loved (most every) step in the 300 miles I’ve walked so far.  I’ve reconnected with friends and nature.  I’ve seen the seasons change in an amazingly subtle time-lapse. 

Now I have only 8 short days and about 12 more miles of training walks before I join 3000 other fundraisers, survivors, supporters and friends in a walk to help end the horror of Breast Cancer. 

We will walk full circle, starting in San Francisco at Fort Mason, crossing the Golden Gate Bridge, hoofing through Sausalito and back recrossing the bridge to the Presidio district then Crocker Amazon Park where Avon has set up the Wellness Village.  Walkers will camp there for the night.   Not my group, though.  After walking 26.2 miles in a day I don’t intend to walk more than 4 feet to the bathroom.  Call me selfish.  Heh.  The next morning we will be back on the road to Market St, the Fisherman’s Wharf area and right back to Fort Mason where it all began. 

I have never in my life been into physical fitness.  I was a perfectly happy Couch Potato/athletic supporter.  Training for this challenge has been a big leap for me both physically and emotionally.  I think have finally recovered from my Breast Cancer ordeal enough emotionally to feel the need to represent Survivors as a whole.

I will walk in 8 days.  I will walk with old friends from High School.  I will walk with new friends I make along the way.  I will walk with those who have lost loved ones to Breast Cancer and those who, like myself, have lost living time to the disease.  Most of all, I will walk with the spirit of Diana and PunkRockMommy and Bobbie who’s lives were stolen from them far, far to early. 

Three hundred miles and four and a half years down in a journey to end Breast Cancer.  Only 39.3 miles and 10 days to go. 

I am In It To End It so no one else has to go through Hell again.

Mirror, Mirror

I have been walking.  And walking.  And walking.  Unfortunately, not walking my butt off. 

When I started training for the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer in January I was heavier than I’d ever been outside of pregnancy.   I had no illusions about how I looked physically.  Roughly the equivalent of this:

Even though I’m In It To End It and not to Lose It, getting skinny would be a happy benefit. 

After 9 weeks of walking, walking, walking and sometimes even (gasp!) running a little (if it’s downhill and no one is watching), I feel fit.  I can walk my hills without stopping.  More importantly, I don’t feel like I need to lay on the ground gasping for air either.  I feel good at the end of a walk.  Like I could go a little farther.  Like I look like this:

I want to look like this.

Imagine my surprise and disgust when I saw something more similar to this in the mirror last night. 

Lingerie + menopause = hate!!!

Mirror, Mirror, on the wall

Can’t you ever lie at all?

The Grand Tour or… what I learned today

Today I walked 8.75 miles.   I mapped out a monster route encompassing most of Los Osos.

I left the house at noon.  I walked into downtown, past the skate park, through the adjacent neighborhood toward Monarch Grove Elementary.  From there I headed down past the golf course to a nice little trail called Monarch Ave.

I like to reward myself with a little natural beauty every few miles or so…

I crossed through the housing tract back to the golf course.  In front of the clubhouse I was reminded, once again of a very important truth:  no matter how difficult life seems, someone has it harder. In this case it was a family out for a walk.  Grandma was pushing a stroller with twin infants inside.  She was flanked by their parents, both in wheelchairs.  Twins.  Wheelchairs.  Whew!

It’s all about perspective…

Miles 3.5 to 5 is on of my favorite stretches.  The way back bay and Sweet Springs Nature Preserve.

I am never disappointed in the view!

Right about this time I learned a few very important lessons. If one is heading out on an eight and a half mile walk…

1. It would behoove them to eat before leaving… even if they don’t feel hungry.

2. One should take into account the need to use a restroom and map their route accordingly.

Regarding item one:  I sucked it up and ate ravenously when I got home.  As for the second item… well, I am just very thankful someone down by the bay was thoughtful enough to have a port-a-potty in their driveway for the construction workers.

By that time I was on the downward side of my little jaunt and got a bit of second wind.  I circled the bay and took a spin through the Elfin Forest finishing up with a stroll down the bike path, past Baywood Elementary and, sweet Heaven, home.

Other lessons:

1.  Soft sand is evil incarnate.

2.  I may have reached a walking distance where I need a spare pair of socks.  My feet were not very comfortable toward the end.

3.  Sunscreen is a must for a 3 hour jaunt.

4.  I really wish our hot tub was hot.

So there you have it.  Every day is a learning opportunity.

How lucky am I

Two deer, a covey of quail, two pheasant and a turkey.

I’ve worked at the same place for 20 years come April 8th.   Yet until I started training for the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer I had never seen the beauty surrounding me.

Wondering what the hell I’m doing in their neighborhood…

Today I walked way into the back woods of Camp San Luis Obispo to Fort Miriam… or at least the training area near there.   What a beautiful walk.

When Slinkies go bad….

Only the really smart trees settle in the actual creek bed.

Lucky me to have such a beautiful place to work and walk.

Soft Sand, Stinky Seaweed and a Butterfly

I finally made it passed the six mile mental block on my walk today despite Daddy-o’s lame advice and kid duty.  I did manage 6.25 miles but I had to work at it.

I’ve had a couple friends tell me I should try walking out by the sand spit.  Daddy-o took Ben out there with his friends a few weekends ago, too.  Even he was singing the area’s praises.  So last night I mapped out a nice 6.5 mile walk from the house to the sand spit, around in circles a few times for good measure and back home again.  Unfortunately, I had a 1.5 hour time limit because the boys had batting practice. 

So I headed out this morning about 9:30.  It was beautiful and sunny.  I ran into one of the school moms and stopped to chat (for a tad too long) and lost about 20 minutes.  Yikes!  I picked up the pace and hoofed it through the golf course to the trail head where I soft sand.
Ugh.  I specifically asked Daddy-o if the trail was sand or not.  He told me to walk out there and see for myself.  Humph!  I don’t necessarily mind soft sand… if I’m on a leisurely stroll or actually, you know, on the beach.  I was not thrilled to wade in for my morning power walk.  I sucked it up, though, already planning on cutting my walk short at the nearest, pride-sparing opportunity.  Just to add insult to injury, the fog was rolling in thick.

What’s the big deal about soft sand?  It’s a better workout as Daddy-o was so happy to tell me.  I, however, am working for endurance and distance, not strength or whatever one gets from a “better workout”.  Plus, the going is much, much slower in loose sand than hard pack and I had a deadline this morning.  Worst of all, though, is the fine, silty sand that works it’s way through your shoes and socks and nestles in between your toes.  Yech.

Anyway, I sucked it up and turned back to civilization just as soon as possible.  Turns out there is some beauty out there after all.  The trail meandered into a grove of Eucalyptus trees that were peaceful and full of soft morning light. 

There were two rope swings in there that I took Danny back to in the afternoon.

And some beautiful giant Eucalyptus…  And since I’ve discovered PhotoShop Actions this week I’m going to show you the same picture with at few different actions… just to show how different it can make a picture appear…

The second one is my personal favorite.

After I hit the pavement again I made much better time but was dangerously late so I walked to the ball field to meet Daddy-o and the boys.  He cut me loose for the rest of the walk.  Yeah!  Now I just had to make up some mileage. 

I took a meandering route my the way back bay where I was bummed to be assaulted my the smell of low tide.  Stinky seaweed.  Yum.  I was also privileged to find a tiny Monarch Butterfly sitting on the trail.  It let me hold it on my finger and check it out for the briefest of minutes before it fluttered on it’s way.  Simply beautiful.  There were lots of these poppies everywhere too. 

All in all, a great walk, stinky seaweed and soft sand aside. 

Strutus Interuptus

Have I told you lately how much I’m enjoying my training for the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer?  There are so many reasons to love it I can’t list them all here.  I am getting loads of quality Me Time and a giant infusion of upbeat Disco, 80s and Lovely Lady Lumps/Baby Got Backish music from my iPod.  Plus there’s the whole pre-summer tan thing I have going on…  which, by the way, is good for me because Vitamin D is good for me and every other woman in the world.  Did you know there is an association with breast cancer and low Vitamin D levels???  Just sayin’.  There’s also the photo opportunities.  Oh, the photo opportunities!!!  That’s a post or twenty in and of itself.  Plus, I’m outside.  In nature.  With wildlife.  I’m appreciating this in ways I never have before.

Every day I am bombarded by nature: blooming wildflowers, budding trees, nest-building birds of every feather and largish rodents by the many, many dozens.  I routinely see rabbits and ground squirrels in a panic-induced sprint at the mere sight of me walking their way.  It’s laughable, really, because if I’m so all fired scary, why do they always run completely across my path to get away from me?  Also, they’re just too Chip n’ Dale-y not to laugh out loud when I see them. 

Today my walk took me by two different gangs of turkeys.  Apparently it’s wild turkey breeding season around here because each gang had 4-6 females and a single male trying mightily to impress them.  I wish I’d had my camera.  The males were really strutting their stuff.  Their body feathers were all puffed up making their heads look all itty bitty.  Their giant fan-like tails were proudly unfurled while they each sauntered up and down the roadway in front of the females.  The females, on the other hand, were busy scratching at the ground looking for whatever it is turkeys eat. 

I found it immensely amusing to see the males slowly shrink back down to size as I approached.  I passed each gang twice.  Every time it was the same thing…  strutting guy-turkey showing his wares, hens busy with dinner, irritated male glares while suffering from visible shrinkage and slinks off the road.  It was strutus interuptus at its finest.