The Avon Walk for Breast Cancer 2006

$5.4 Million Dollars for Breast Cancer Research

I walk for Therese Bertrand, Theresa Crawhall, Naomi BulkaI meant to write my synopsis of the Avon walk on Monday, but I was tired and believe it or not, my feet were sore. They were even sore when I was sitting down and didn’t put any pressure on them at all. My toes were tender too. Very tender. My arches were the worst. They were sore inside and out–literally burning. I told everybody my feet were angry at me. They were red and swollen and they rebelled at the thought of shoes–even my comfortable, ugly ones. I wore my most comfortable shoes to work on Monday and ended up walking (nay–limping) around in bare feet. My colleagues thought I’d gone mad.

I meant to write my synopsis on Tuesday, but again, I was tired and there was only a slight change in the feet department. Barely noticeable in fact. They smelled a bit better though. I had other plans on Wednesday evening, so I didn’t write my story yesterday either. Today. Voila! I shall write something before I go to bed.

Here are some statistics from the walk:

  • $5.4 million (USD)
  • 2300 walkers
  • 40 miles
  • two days
  • one Googley Bear
  • one marriage proposal (not mine!)
  • many, many blistered and sore feet
  • many, many exhausted, but satisfied and gratified participants

To completely appreciate the energy and the momentum, I think you had to be there. I, of course, arrived late. Not too late. I just missed the morning ceremonies. I drove myself to where the directions said I could park overnight to discover that the ceremonies were approximately 15 minutes away–by taxi. I had to find myself a taxi in San Francisco at 6h30 in the morning. Turns out it wasn’t too difficult.

Googley Bear was with me all the way!I arrived half an hour before the start of the actual walk. I registered, got my papers in order, and lugged my gear over to the gear trucks. At the last moment, I decided that I didn’t want to squish Googley Bear under the top of the backpack and shove him in the truck. I sleep with him at night. I thought he deserved better. I took him out and decided he would walk with me. I can’t believe I’m 34 (and a half) years old and I am so protective about my teddy bear. He turned out to be a great conversation piece–a good way to start a conversation with a complete stranger.

I started walking at 7h07 am on Saturday morning. I met Christine as I was applying sunscreen. The first day, we walked a bit around San Francisco, out of Golden Gate Park, around the Presidio, and then across the Golden Gate Bridge. We walked north into Mill Valley for lunch and the afternoon, then back through Sausalito and across the Golden Gate again to Chrissy Fields for the night.

On the way back through Sausalito, we were walking along the sidewalks along with other pedestrians who were there for the day, enjoying themselves. Everybody was either walking or sitting down at one of the many cafes enjoying dinner and drinks. All of a sudden, I thought a beer would taste good. So I just said it out loud: “I could really use a beer right now.” Keep in mind, it’s approximately mile 20 but we still have six more miles to walk before we’re done. The two fellows in front of me turned around like they were surprised to hear such a statement from a woman. Lovely I thought. Maybe they’d buy us a drink. But–alas, I forgot that I’m not all that fetching after walking 20 miles in a straw hat carrying a teddy bear. Oh well. At least I know I clean up nicely.

At Chrissy Fields, there was a camp set up for us, complete with showers, dining tents, and shopping tents (our sponsors). There was even a medical village. Yes a village, complete with massage therapy, podiatry, chiropractry, and general medical. (Nik, one of your students treated me–she said you were awesome and was glad to hear you were doing well.)

As I was standing in line for the showers, the walker in front of me asked me how far I’d gone that day (because you could stop at any time). I laughed with a bit of a grimace and said that I’d only walked half the marathon–only 26 miles. I had to finish it tomorrow. She looked at me oddly and said: Jennifer, you did walk a marathon. 26 miles is a marathon! No wonder my feet were so angry. I had that 40 number in my head. I knew 40-something kilometers was a marathon and I just never converted from metric. Mum says that’s the perils of being Canadian and living in the States–you have to fathom the imperial system. So, now, at the end of the first day, I discover that I’ve actually walked the entire marathon (26.2 miles) and there are another 13-odd miles to do tomorrow. (FYI to Canadians: 40 miles equals approximately 67.2 kilometres.) Every mile was optional by the way. But I stuck to it and finished the entire walk.

In the evening as people were settling into their tents for the night, there came a loud booming male voice: “Anawar So-and-So, will you spend the rest of your life with me?” People started groaning at the interuption until they realized what was said. Then there was silence and we waited. Then a squeal. Then a woman’s voice: “Of course.” Everybody whistled and cheered and clapped from their tents for a few moments. I’ve never been part of somebody’s moment before.

I started the next morning at approximately 8h00. We winded through various parts of San Francisco. I tried to keep track becasue there were some places I think I want to go back to. I really like the cafes and wee shops. Every time I walk through these streets with the hustling and bustling and energy, I think that I would like to live in the city. But when I get back home, I’m just relieved at the silence.

I walk for Therese Bertrand, Theresa Crawhall, Naomi BulkaI finished the walk around 2h30. I was completely knackered and ended up just laying on my back in the grass for half an hour or so. I felt more than a bit sorry for myself because even though people called me throughout the walk for support, there wasn’t anybody to meet me at the finish line. I just had myself and Googley Bear to get sorted, back to the car, then back to Petaluma. Next year, I think I’ll arrange for a finish line welcoming party–or at least check myself into a posh hotel with complimentary massages.

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