60 Miles, One Step at a Time

Those of you who follow me on Twitter and Facebook know this already, but I did it! I walked 60 miles, every last step of it.  It was quite an experience.  I wasn’t quite ready for it, physically or emotionally.  On opening morning, in the dark and the cold, I wandered around sort of dazed, not quite sure what was in store.  And then there was a flag where you could write the name of a loved one you had lost and the flag would be hoisted at the opening ceremony.  That was the first of many times I cried.  I cried off and on throughout the opening ceremony.  I cried when little kids lined the streets in front of their schools to high five us.  I cried when I found out a greying man was walking to honor his late wife.  I cried when I read the backs of people’s shirts with the names of people and the ages when they died: 35, 42, 50. I cried when I saw signs saying, “Thank you from a survivor.” in South Philly.

And I laughed a lot.  I joked about my aches and pains instead of moaning (well, maybe I moaned a little).  My teammates told funny stories about their kids and their husbands.  I laughed at guys in tutus and bras.  I laughed about making wrong turns and going down one-way streets at the crack of dawn.  I laughed at the Boobalicious Girls who appeared every couple of miles with music and signs and cheers.  I laughed at “Woo” and “High Five” and “Hooray” in their green shirts and black and green striped socks.  I laughed at bras tied onto motorcycles.

After the first day, I soaked in a tub,  had a beer, sent Mr. Geeky out for Ben Gay, rubbed almost my whole left leg down, took Advil and went to sleep.  I got up at 5 and creaked around the house, showered, put on clothes and started day two.  Eventually, the pain in my thigh went away, replaced by pain elsewhere, but I walked right through, slathering on various kinds of muscle cream all day.  After the second day, I picked up fried chicken from the market, where someone asked us if we were a walking team or something, told us to get some ice cream for the pain.  I soaked in a tub, drank a beer, took advil, passed out again.  The morning of the third day, I was excited, but in a fair amount of pain.  Slowly, one step at a time, I walked through it.  I stopped at the medical tent at the first pit stop and asked them what to do.  They gave me some freezy stuff, but told me I might need to just rest if it got worse.  While I was there, two people behind me were crying because they physically couldn’t continue.  That could be me, I knew.  At the next pit stop, one of my teammates rubbed my calf muscle, which had a huge knot it.  After that, I mostly felt okay.  Good thing, because I still had 9 miles to go.  It was a great 9 miles, walking through the city, taking a detour through Reading Terminal Market for some hot apple cider, seeing things I only ever drive past.

At the end, at the closing ceremony, when we all held our shoes up to honor the survivors, I wasn’t crying.  I felt a kind of resolve, and I felt like I needed to fight, to fight a disease that had taken away so many people, that had hurt these people I was raising a shoe to now.  It was an empowering feeling, very different from the one I had felt at the beginning, where I felt helpless and overwhelmed.  I hope all those 120,000 steps did something.  It felt like it did.