Saturday, June 01, 2013

Avon Walk for Breast Cancer 2013

Immediately after my first Avon Walk for Breast Cancer last year I walked hobbled over to the registration tent and signed my ass up again. How could I not considering everyone else had already signed up and my cousin Jessica had signed up as well.

Early June most of us got together to start planning.
(Bobbie, Carissa, Mandie, Sam, Jessica, Chelsey, Lori, Jen)

Because there was 10 of us this year (Arinn and Kyle not pictured), we had to raise $18,000 for the 2013 race so we tried to be smart and start early. Everyone was so pumped for the whole process, the fundraising, the training walks, everything. Everyone had fundraising ideas and everyone was offering up their availabilities. The new 10 woman Holy Walkamoles crew was formed and pumped.

Soon after that we had a new tshirt designed by Bobbie-Jo and they started selling like hotcakes.

Our first event fundraiser was a motorcycle ride "Ride for the Racks." Scheduled for September 21st. Although, due to low ticket sales and a not so good predicted forecast we decided to cancel the ride.

The second event fundraiser was a spur of the moment Fashion Night Out held by Makin Waves Hair Salon in Belfast. The owner contacted Mandie about doing a fundraiser for us as a way to plug a new product. We all got our hair and make up done, we dressed up and did a runway show and people put money in the person's jar that they thought looked the best. We also had the Darling's Ice Cream truck visit and promoted our shirts and future fundraisers.
It was definitely a fun night out.

Bottle drives, Pampered Chef parties, Spaghetti dinners and more went on as we all were working hard to raise our money.

In November the group was busy. We had a vendor fair one day and that night we had a pink party at a local bar. We made money off the cover charge, plus donations. Thanks to our faithful supporting band The Juke Rockets for rocking out with us that night, it was very successful.

Unfortunately after our pink party some things changed with our team. Team member Chelsey decided it was too much for her so she had dropped. Then after some conflicts with money we lost 2 other members (Lori and her sister-in-law Kyle).
It's hard because when you have such a big team and so much money to raise it can get scary to some. I'll be the first to admit that I'm not the best when it comes to figuring out money and that's why I put a lot of trust in our team leader, Mandie. Over the past 2 years she's never once made me second guess her decisions and until I have a reason to doubt her on any money issues I'm going to continue to let her lead and manage.

The 7 of us got past losing a couple of members and walked on. We had a successful bake sale and dinner at Oriental Jade. I sadly missed the community mall fundraiser, but the rest had fun and got some miles on their sneakers.

Sadly shortly after that we lost another team member; Jessica decided to drop out.

Our biggest fundraiser will probably always be our TaTa Trot. Another great spring weather day and over 240 registrants with over $4,000 raised. That put most of us at our goal. What makes it even more special are the people that have become a part of it. See here.
Our final team fundraiser was our Tunes for TaTa's event. We had 4 local bands join us at the Elk's Club for an afternoon of music. There was a cover charge, 50/50 raffle, auction, food, music and lots of dancing.  It was a good ender fundraiser and helped a couple of the other girls reach their goals.

With our goals pretty much met, we then spent the next couple of weeks focusing on training walks. In March I decided to jump right in and do a 9 miler ('Hey feet, remember this.') Well, my feet got back at me and a month later I was having really bad aching problems, especially in the morning. I had been wanting to do some more training, but was in so much pain that I didn't dare. So, I started asking around and doing some researching and yup, Plantar Fasciitis. I did some stretches and went to the doctors a week before the walk. My doctor told me not to do the walk, that walking, especially long distances could make it way worse and I could end up having to have surgery to fix it. I laughed in her face, but cried when I got to my car....

What was I going to do? I couldn't not do the walk? All this planning! All this fundraising!  I wiped away my tears and made a plan to attempt to do the walk and take breaks if I needed to. I realized that the important part is raising the money which I had already done. I went and bought insoles, did my stretches every couple hours. I felt good, I felt as ready as I was going to feel.

Avon Walk Weekend Had Arrived

We decided against taking the train down this year and rented a sweet ride instead. A four hour drive that went by so fast due to lots of laughs and good conversation.

A quick stop in Portland to pick up Robin from Michigan. Robin is our new Avon Walk BFF that we met last year. Everyone needs a Robin in their life. She's the type of person that I wish I could carry around with me and when I'm feeling negativity or just having a bad day, I'd pull her out of my pocket to pick me up again. Don't ever change Robin!!!

And we arrived to hour Hotel...

Then we had some time before our dinner reservation so we decided to visit the Boston Bombing memorial site.

So peaceful.

I had no clue of the emotion that I was going to feel walking into the memorial area. Walls of sneakers, baseball caps, candles, signs, teddy bears, shirts, flags, crosses, pictures...

I had seen the videos over and over of that awful day. Watching it on the news scares you and makes you feel sad for all the people involved, but being there...where it all took's hard to describe the feeling that I felt. I kept looking up and down the street. I noticed the satellite trucks that were parked along the street, I'm sure they've been there all month. I looked at the people that walked by that obviously live in the city and have seen the site over and over and may have even been a part of that horrible day. There were tons of people walking around the memorial that were obviously praying. I was praying. Like I said watching it on the news scares you, but being there, feeling the presence of where it all took's undescribable.
We wiped away our tears, hugged each other, held hands and walked away.

We then had to figure out how we were going to get to the North End for our dinner reservation. Onto the subway we went...

We ate at Dolce Vita...Yum-Yum! I broke a glass after only have one glass of wine...
We snuck out before they could charge us for the broken glass. Then we headed up to Mike's pastry where I was still high on life and decided to photo bomb Arinn's picture.
What is wrong with me, really!

Then we were on a mission. Our mission to find our hawt pedi-cabbers from last year. We didn't find the same ones, but the ones we got worked out just fine...and they worked their calves and gluets just as hard...HAHA!

Our hard workin' pedi-cabbers treked us back to our hotel and after a few drinks at the bar and some chatting we settled in for the night, setting our alarm clock 4:30am.

May 18th - Day One

My 2nd Avon Walk for Breast Cancer had arrived. Not as overwhelming as last year because I knew what to expect, but still tugged at my heartstrings with the amazement of people that were there.
The one thing that was different this year though...was that the person that was on my mind the most was my father-in-law. Even though this is the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer, cancer is still the cause and if we can help cure one cancer I'm hoping it will help cure them all and we can stop losing the ones we love when we know they have much longer to live.
We started the walk together strong, but with thousands of people around us it didn't take long to get split up. I stayed with Arinn & Jenn for awhile. Then it was just Jenn & I and Arinn was with Mandie. Bobbie-Jo and Carissa kept each other company way towards the front of the pack.

I hung back and caught up with my soul sisters, Mandie &Arinn, but they weren't as good as I was hoping. We were only at mile 3 and we had a long way to go.

So far the route was the same as the previous year, as was the weather. It was hot and gorgeous. Mandie, Arinn & Jenn slowed down a bit and I walked on. I was in an observing mode and was noticing little things about the people around me. There was one gentleman who was walking by himself. He was walking with a cane and I'm pretty sure I heard him tell someone that he had just finished treatment.

I was energized from my favorite peanut butter graham cracker sandwiches, I was staying hydrated and keeping my bladder empty. I was stretching at every crosswalk and I was feeling great.
We had been through the Boston Commons, I had gotten hugs from the Patriots Cheerleaders and we were heading towards Beacon Hill.
There was this one couple that I walked behind for awhile. It was a husband and wife who looked to be in their sixties. I had seen them on and off for the past 5 miles or so. They didn't say much, seemed to stick to themselves. I got close enough at one point to read who they were walking for. She was a 27 year survivor and his said he was walking for his princess. They were holding hands when I saw them at mile 8 and every time I saw them throughout the walk they were still holding hands.
I would've loved to hear their actual story, but even though I didn't I could tell that they were a strong couple who had been through a battle and who's love is strong for each other.

I was still separated from Arinn and Mandie at this point, but they were together at least, and getting lost and going a little out of the way of the course. Luckily they got back on track.
Jenn and I were keeping each other company and loved walking by Fenway park.

Still separated from my Goody Girls, but at least they kept up with the mile markers because I missed some.

We finally made it to the half marathon finish line. It was close to 2:00pm. I hated that it was so late and we knew me had to be close to the end of the line. I had talked to Mandie and decided I would wait for them while I ate my lunch. Jenn had some blisters that she got wrapped.
When we finally all met up Mandie said she had been in contact with Carissa and Bobbie-Jo. Carissa was about to board the bus because her ankle was hurting her real bad and Bobbie was walking along, alone, not sure where abouts she was though.
We ate our wraps, I let my feet breathe and we continued on.
Can't you tell I got some umph back and wasn't alone anymore.
Then Jenn decided to get in a sweep van. I was tempted, but the bird on my shoulder said "Don't do it." The bird's name might have been Mandie, but either way I listened to it which I'm glad I did.

 I hit a low around mile 16 and started to not care about taking pictures anymore. I also just about got attacked by some 90 year old guy! Yeah, I was standing on the sidewalk waiting for Mandie to change from sneakers to flip-flops, this old guy was getting out of his car, he had a cane and I thought I was being nice by trying to get out of his way and the next thing I knew he was waving his cane in my face saying "This is my house...Get out of my way!!!" Scariest thing ever!

We were at the end of the pack and our Avon Walk Coordinator, Anne, was chasing us out of every rest area saying you gotta leave now or we're going to bus you back! Ahhhhh!!
I will also never forget the lady, who we thought was just an Avon Walk rest area attendant, who approached us and told us that Jesus is coming. We all looked at each other and got out of their as fast as we could.
It's no surprise we meet some crazy people along the route, and also people that will dance for us...

"I don't know if I can make it. My feet hurt, my hips hurt, I just want to lay down." I was so tired at this point. I was not feeling as great as I was the previous year. I also hated being at the end of the pack, but the more we moved our legs forward, the closer we got to the finish.
The last rest stop is your final chance to call it quits and get on the bus. I sat on the ground after getting my blisters popped and stared at the bus. That's all I did though was stare at it. It left on wheels and I left on my swollen, blistered, tired feet. I knew what the doctor had told me and it kept playing over in my head, but I'll admit that I'm stubborn and I wanted to prove that doctor wrong.
Then before we knew it we could see the finish line...

We were giddy and getting emotional.

We. Were. At. The. End. There was one woman behind us. She was alone and she was hobbling as best she could. We decided to wait for her so we could all walk together and nobody would be walking in alone.

And then we got our welcome.

In some ways it sucks being the last ones to finish, but in some ways it's also kinda great because you get the biggest welcome. Even though they may be just excited that you're finally there or they may be proud of us. I'm going to go ahead and believe they're proud of us.

We ate our spaghetti dinner, took our showers in the trucks, talked to our kids, and snuggled into our pink tents. It was brisk that night, but my flannel pj's and LLBean sleeping bag did the trick and I got a good night's sleep.

May 19th - Day 2

When you sleep on a cold, hard ground the night goes by so slow that you can't wait to see then light of day, then once you finally see the light of day and you realize you gotta get up and walk another 13 miles you wish that the light of day would just go away. I have to admit that last year I had way more motivation on the second day knowing that Jordan would be waiting for me at the finish line.
After getting a quick breakfast I spent most of the morning looking for my phone which I was stupid enough to leave plugged in at the community charging station all night. I finally found it minutes before  it was time to line up at the starting line.
We all lined up, with the exception of Arinn & Carissa. Carissa's ankle was giving her a lot of pain and Arinn's feet were still pretty achey from the day before. Their plan was to meet us at the lunch stop and finish the walk with us strong.
So Mandie, Bobbie-Jo, Jenn and I lined up to start day 2, with crazy Robin by our side.

The beginning of day 2 gets tricky because we have to walk out to a busy road and at points you have to walk single file and it gets a little scary with cars speeding by. It also takes a little bit to get your legs and feet back in a good groove. Jenn slowed down early and we tried waiting for her and staying together, but the more I stopped the more my legs wanted to tighten up.
Mandie, Bobbie and I stuck together, did lots of talking and we didn't realize we had missed Mile 1 and before we realized it, we were at Mile 2.

Some supporters along the route have candy. Tootsie rolls and gummy bears are a great way to keep your sugar levels up. And this is one time I don't feel guilty about snacking on them. We were eating our candy, drinking our water, lathering up on sunscreen and feeling good. 
Right before Mile 4 there is a rest stop that takes you about a half a mile out of the way and I'm so glad we decided to skip this rest stop, keeping us ahead of many.

It was around Mile 5 where I met a family group walking and I walked with one of the girls for awhile. She shared her family's story with me.

The woman directly behind me currently had cancer. She currently was having treatment. The girls with her are her sisters, daughters and maybe granddaughters. (My memory is escaping me, sorry). One of the girls flew in that morning to join the rest for the walk and surprised the mother. She was walking real slow and they were all worried about her, but was bound to keep going as long as she was walking. 
What a beautiful family, inside and out. 
I wish I had written down their information to keep up with them. Their smiling faces and strong attitudes will stay with me anyway. 

It's funny how different I look in Mile 6 and Mile 7 pictures.
Feeling hot, feeling tired. Feet are swollen, blisters are forming, hips are aching, but I mustn't forget...

Signs like these are throughout the route and I hope the people that put out the signs know how important and helpful they are to the walkers like me.

Mile 8 is located along a walking path that no busses or sweep vans can access so there's a big sign before you start the mile or so path that if you don't think you can make it you better decide now if you need to be swept. 
It's long, not shaded, hot, dusty and it's right before the lunch stop so you're hungry knowing how close you are to food.

We were way behind when we got to the lunch stop and Arinn had waited for us for a bit, but wasn't there when we got there.  We ate a quick bite, emptied our bladders, checked on our blisters and trucked on.

Mile 9 is located on another walking path and I think I was listening to music and trying to zone during that mile marker that I missed it and didn't get a picture.

Shortly after that video I started getting some energy back. I think it's either because we get closer to the river which gave us a nice breeze or because we start seeing the recognizable water tower that tells us...that's the end...we're almost there.

Mile 12 is along a busy highway and the cars going past you have other walkers who have already finished the race and this gives you motivation knowing that you're almost there.

We knew that Arinn was waiting for us at the next rest stop and I had been in contact with my friend Kelli, who was along the sidelines waiting to cheer me on too. I was so excited I could've run at this point.

As we rounded the corner of UMass I met up with my very good friend Kelli. It was so, so, so great to have her meet me at the finish. She even decided to walk the last bit with me.
Thank you so much Kelli. I wish I had gotten a picture of us at some point.
Then we saw it. The last mile marker. And Carissa was there waiting for us with her parents.

It was a little bitter sweet not having any of my family there, but it is what I had asked for. The feeling was worse the year before thinking that they were all going to be there then being disappointed when my mom, grandmother and brother weren't.

Then this happened...

We couldn't find Jenn or get a hold of her so the Holy Walkamoles finished 5 strong.

39.3 miles walked. Over ten thousand dollars raised. We educated, inspired and motivated people. We are unstoppable. We are the HOLY WALKAMOLES!

Thank you to all of my supporters for another successful year. Thank you for buying tshirts, for baking cookies for my bake sales. Thank for donating to me, cheering me on and believing in me. Without all of you I wouldn't be able to do this.
Thank you to my team members. Thank you for pushing me through, supporting me and making me laugh. Thank you for late night Skype chats. Thank you for understanding when I couldn't be there. Thank you for your hugs, for holding my hand, and bandaging my blisters. Without you my Holy Walkamoles I couldn't do this.

If you aren't sick of our videos yet here's one more funny one that Mandy got as we were on our way out of UMass. We were tired, snappy and running on something for fuel.

If you would like to see more videos from our walk click here.
If you would like to follow The Holy Walkamoles on Facebook click here.
If you would like to donate to me for the 2014 Avon Walk for Breast Cancer click here.

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