The Avon Walk is one of those types of events that I think everyone should experience once in their lives.Â Itâ€™s the type of event that changes you for the better.Â It could be the Avon 2-day Walk, the Susan Komen 3-day, it could be a marathon or a triathlon.Â Itâ€™s something that makes you feel a personal sense of accomplishment as well as a sense of being involved in something so much bigger than the daily lives we lead.Â Iâ€™ve been fortunate enough to participate in the Avon Walk for two years now and have even already signed up for the Avon Walk DC 2012!Â Given how my legs feel right now, I must be insane!Â :-)Â Â Â But in all seriousness, the experiences have been so wonderful despite the pain, that I didnâ€™t even hesitate when given the chance to register again.Â Plus Avon got me at my weakest momentâ€¦day 2, mile 10, lunch pit stop, 1/2 off registration.Â So, I was tired, sore and hungry â€“ like I said, weak!Â
Day 1 Walk
The day started bright and early from the Washington Monument.Â
Â Opening ceremony was at 6:30am and we started walking at 7am.Â The opening ceremony is very emotional because part of it features individuals who have been affected by this disease.Â One was a daughter whose mom is on round 2 of the disease, another was a guy whose best friendâ€™s fiancÃ©e lost the battle before they got married.Â Many times throughout the weekend I would forget that I was a survivor because I felt â€œluckyâ€ compared to some of the stories I was hearing.Â But those same stories are also reminders of why I do the walkâ€¦so that one day there will be a cure and no one has to go through what I went through or what any of these people had to go through.
But enough of the sappy stuff.Â Â On day 1 we walked 26.2 miles.Â My team, the Step Sisters, consisted of about 40 amazing women but we walked in much smaller groups, depending on pace.Â I was with a pretty fast group so we completed day 1 in about 8 hours.
(by the way, those are my new sunglasses from Sunglass Hut, which I bought using my $20 off birthday coupon!)Â Â Â Â Â Â
When we got to mile 13 I thought, whoa I have to run this in a month!
These are the four ladies I stuck with the whole first dayâ€¦sisters Liz and Kate, and my other friend Kate (lots of Kateâ€™s on our team!).
My other friend Kate was so much more than just â€œmy other friendâ€ this past weekend.Â She was one of my four roomies, she stuck by me both days, she slowed down when I needed to slow down, she kept me company, she kept me going.Â Love you, girl, thanks for everything!Â Â
Here we are at the pit stop for day one, also known as the Wellness Village.Â We could get massages here, get our blisters treated, get some grub and, for those who chose to camp the whole weekend, this was the campgrounds for the night.
But I donâ€™t campâ€¦ever, so this was the view from where I stayed 🙂 :
This was one of the shuttle vans that drove around the entire time to pick people up who needed medical attention or had blisters so bad they could no longer walk.Â They also cheered us on every time they drove by.Â Arenâ€™t you just loving all the colorful bras?!
One of the great things about doing the walk in the Nationâ€™s Capitol is seeing some of the sites.Â Here I am with the Capitol building in the background (donâ€™t mind my silly friend 🙂 ):
And hereâ€™s the Chinatown arch:
Oh, and do you want to know what happens to your hands after a whole day of speed walking?Â Can you say, â€œsnausages??â€
So after a day of walking, we hobbled back to the hotel, but I felt pretty good when my head hit the pillow that night.Â I had one small blister forming but I knew I could cushion for day 2 and keep it from getting worse.Â I will be writing a separate article on our special little treat at the hotel that night which probably helped me forget about the pain for a bit!
Day 2 Walk
Another bright and early day started with breakfast at the Wellness Village.Â It was much colder this morning and we were all just ready to start walking the final 13 miles to â€˜get â€˜er doneâ€™!Â As I watched people packing up their tents, I was so happy with our decision not to camp!Â Brrrr!!!Â
I was hurting on day 2.Â My shins were tight and sore and my achilles were sore and bruised.Â I thought after walking a mile or two, my legs would start to loosen.Â I remember last year once my muscles warmed up I completed the walk with no problem.Â This was NOT the case this year.Â Again I found myself with the fast group and was struggling to keep up.Â
The pain was causing me to hold my breath a lot which obviously made me out of breath as I tried to keep up.Â At one point I told my friend, Kate, I had to slow down.Â I hated slowing her down, but I just couldnâ€™t do it anymore.Â Again, she stuck by my side and wouldnâ€™t let me walk alone.Â At the lunch pit stop at mile 10 we caught up with the front of the pack again and I toughed it out the rest of the way.Â
This was one of the many â€œcharactersâ€ we met along the way:
And one of the breathtaking sites in DC, the National Cathedral:
Maybe it was breathtaking because I couldnâ€™t breathe from the PAIN I was in!Â 🙂
This was the back of our team shirt:
Â Â We all submitted names of people who are survivors or lost their battle.Â This was our â€œwhy we walkâ€ list.Â Friends had submitted my name, so I am on the shirt with a pink ribbon beside my name which means survivor.Â But the length of the list just shows how many people this disease has touched.Â Â Â I have several friends and an aunt on this list.Â
Anyhow, we walked 13 miles for 3.5 hours on day 2.Â And finally, here we are at the finish line!Â
It was an emotional finish mainly just because of the sheer accomplishment of the entire weekend, but also seeing my husband and kids and parents at the finish really touched me.Â I am truly blessed to have a supportive family.Â Thereâ€™s a great picture of me with my family on my dadâ€™s camera, but it may take a while for him to get the pictures off his new, digital camera!Â :-)Â Iâ€™ll update the post with the picture later.
What I learned from Avon Walk DC 2011:
- Running uses completely different muscles than walking!Â Next year I will be sure to get some walking under my belt before the big weekend!
- My iPhone takes horrible pictures.
- Washington DC is such a pretty city (in most parts!).
- The human body is an amazing machine.Â When pushed to its limits it doesnâ€™t usually let you down.
- I live in an awesome community with some amazing women.
- You use your shin muscles quite a bit when walkingâ€¦yowzers.Â Every step I take now is painful!
- When reaching for a goal, a lot of obstacles can be overcome with mind over matter.Â I can do anything if I put my mind to it.
- I am blessed with some of the greatest friends and the most supportive, loving family.
This past weekend will definitely be one of the highlights of the year.Â I am so proud to say I was a part of the Step Sisters Team and the Avon Walk DC 2011.Â And as for Avon Walk 2012?Â Oh, Iâ€™ll definitely be there!