The Avon Walk for Breast Cancer

After 6 months of training and fund raising, I completed the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer (click the links to see the original post and update and contest)!  I’m still in disbelief that I walked that far – 39.3 miles!

It took a lot of training.  We started walking 3-5 miles a week.  At the time, it seemed so far.  Before this I don’t think I had ever walked more than a mile or two at a time. We started getting up to 5, 6, 7 miles and it was daunting.  We would walk with our kids in the stroller (after completing stroller strides that morning) and take a path around Monrovia and Arcadia.  We would usually stop at a park in the middle to eat lunch and let the kids play.

I’ll never forget the day I was a little behind everyone else’s training progress, so I decided to walk 9 miles on my own.  It was after stroller strides (which is an hour long class of strength and cardio training).  I decided to pick up Elijah from preschool by Arcadia’s mall, which is about 4.5 miles form the Monrovia park.  I had Levi in the stroller and I was doing good, keeping up a brisk pace.  I picked Eli up from preschool and the other parents were impressed that I had just walked 4.5 miles and was ready to walk more.  What I didn’t anticipate was that the way back is slightly uphill.  And now I was carrying two kids!  With the added weight, I was already dragging after another mile.  So I took an emergency detour to my mom’s work along the way.  We stopped in to eat lunch at her office and I asked if she could watch the kids while I finish my 9 mile trek.  I wasn’t going to give up.  I walked the rest of the 3+ miles, but I was dying.  It was hot and I had to pee (which makes it very difficult to walk long distances BTW).  After the walk, I really started worrying about my ability to walk 39.3 miles.  It seemed impossible.

But I kept going.  About 2 months before our walk, we realized that we needed to do these long training walks on Saturday mornings, when our husbands could watch the kids (and it was a little cooler, which I liked).  We started with a 12 mile walk around the Rose Bowl.  We looped it 4 times that morning, and I was proud that I was walking more than most people on the track that morning.  But again, I felt like there was no way I could walk more.  But we did.  A couple weeks later, we walked 14, then 16, then 18 then 20, then 22 miles!  Each time, I was convinced there was no way I could have walked more miles that day.  The last 22 mile walk was so hard.  We did it at the beach along the board walk.  And I could tell from the very beginning that I was not feeling it.  Most days, I felt very energetic at least at the beginning.  But not that day.  My stomach hurt and I felt sluggish.  I had an ingrown toenail on one toe, which I didn’t realize until later would be the cause of very severe knee and hip pain by the end of my walk.  The last 5 or 6 miles was pure hell.  I limped along behind my teammates, barely making it to the car.  I was so depressed and didn’t have much faith in my ability to walk more than that.

Just two weeks after that awful walk, came time for the Avon Walk.  I was nervous that my toe, knee and/or hip hadn’t had time to heal, but there was no turning back now.  We had a team dinner the night before and that night, Brian and I stayed in a dump of a motel (that overcharged us!!).  We got up at 5am to get ready and head to the opening ceremonies.  It was dark when we arrived, and I was amazed at the thousands and thousands of people there for the walk.  After a short and inspirational opening ceremony, we were on our way.  I felt like a lamb to the slaughter.  You couldn’t see anything, just a sea of people moving you along in the dark, cold and misty morning.  Being trapped among everyone made us worry we were going too slow of a pace to finish the walk (they had “leave by” times at the stops, with a sweeper van picking up slow people).

Here we are at mile 3.15.  Brian and Elijah were at this predesignated “cheering station”.  They took pictures and generally cheered us along the route. (We are right in front of the group with white shirts)

Avon Walk Santa Barbara Breast Cancer

The first half of day one (13.1 miles) was tough.  It was very hilly, with sometimes steep inclines.  We felt like our pace was a bit slow when we got to the halfway mark, barely in time for the posted “leave by” time.  After a quick stop at the midpoint, our team made a decision to bump up the pace and try to make up time.  Unfortunately, this meant that one of our team members could not keep up with the pace (which at times approached a 13 minute mile!! That’s quick for walking.).

We are around mile 19 here.  I’m still smiling.  Though you can tell I’m hot and tired because my face is red.  I hate that!

I loved seeing Brian and Elijah along the route.  It gave me something to look forward to, to see my loved ones faces.  Elijah had a little disposable camera he would take pictures with and he would exclaim “That’s my mommy!” whenever he saw us.  It was heartwarming and so motivating.

Avon Walk Santa Barbara Breast Cancer

Here we are right about the 25th mile on the first day.  Can you tell how tired we all are?  The last 5 mile stretch was one of the hardest times.  It was hot and boring.  Who decided that the last few miles should be along a dusty freeway frontage road?  There was no place for families to cheer us on, which I think would have been a crucial time to have their support.  But we made it – 26.2 miles the first day.  I can’t believe I walked a marathon.

Avon Walk Santa Barbara Breast Cancer

That night, we camped out in tents in the wellness village.  It was kind of an adventure that made the whole experience complete.

When we woke the next morning, we packed up our things, ate breakfast and prepared to walk another 13.1 miles.  It was funny to see everyone walking around stiff and sore – good to know you weren’t the only one.

It was hard to start walking again after such a tough day the day before.  Day two was especially tough for me because I started getting hip pain again and found it hard to walk quickly.  It was a good thing they gave us plenty of time to walk the second day.  Toward the end, our captain, Kristy played some music for us and we tried to finish strong, with a good pace.

Here we are at the finish line!

Avon Walk Santa Barbara Breast Cancer

I am so cheesy!  But I had to post this shot even though I am so tired and look like a wreck.  We did it!  39.3 miles!  And we did our small part to end breast cancer.  I am proud of that.  I personally raised $2167.24 and my team raised $11,338.80 together.  I am so proud of us for this journey and for making a difference.

Avon Walk Santa Barbara Breast Cancer
PS – to those of you wondering – no I did not lose ANY weight while training for the Avon Walk.  I had lost over 25 lbs before the serious training began, but then I plateaued for months!  Very frustrating!  But not in light of not being pregnant anymore, I am ready to start working on my weight loss again.  Will keep you tuned…

2 Responses to “The Avon Walk for Breast Cancer”

  1. careen jones Says:

    You were so awesome through all those months of training – and it wasn’t easy. But you stuck to it and I’m so proud of you.
    Completing the marathon and a half was the fabulous culmination for you and your team. YOU DID IT! (I knew you could and you would….you don’t give up on things you start!)

  2. Danielle McKee Says:

    Congratulations!! This is an amazing accomplishment and you should be very proud!