If you know me, you know that I had to start the first 20 miles with a pit stop. Yes, before even mile 1.0. Susan had told me to look for her flag. She was one of the survivors who participated in the opening ceremonies and carried one of the pink flags which each designated a reason why we walk this event. I found her and she introduced me to her team. I met Paul, the man in the pink hat as I started to call him on Facebook. I did not want to give his name away. I wasn't sure how much of his story he was okay with me sharing. Tina, the mightiest little warrior and crossfit queen. I learned that her nickname (from Paul, and I'm sure others) is Iron Maiden, because she is tough as nails. Sara, the one who would end up helping me nurse my blisters, and therefore my lifesaver! I also met Lee, a friend of Sue's who I saw as a mother sort, quiet and thoughtful in the gentlest of ways.
Thankfully, the team was patient and they waited as I stood in line to use the restroom. As we began to walk, I was surprised at how quickly the group made me feel at ease. I am not one to warm up to new people easily. Frankly, new people scare me. They intimidate me. I don't usually talk to them, but within 10 minutes, Paul, Tina and I were cracking jokes. It was like family, almost instantly the nerves of walking 60 miles alone were gone. And so was Susan. The team is a group of athletes, and although I am working my way to that status, an athlete I do not consider myself. Sue was fast!
I trained too, but I trained alone, at my own pace and I had only trained up to 17 miles and then had gotten fairly sick and had only been able to train for a few more weeks prior to the event. I could feel that I was slowing everyone down. On top of being on the heavy side, I was overcoming a respiratory infection that had aggravated my asthma. Still, Paul and Tina made sure they stayed behind with me. Sue walked ahead and then would stay behind to check on us. I spent most of my time talking to Paul, Sue, and Tina. Lee and Sara, were simply to fast for me (insert jealous tone here, since I wish I could have kept up)!
Paul and I were both first time walkers, but he is also an athlete. They were all fast, they trained hard; they trained together. Paul walked this event in memory of his wife. Sue walked as a survivor. The rest of us walked as supporters of Susan G. Komen and the fight against breast cancer. I walked the event as both a personal goal, and to prevent this disease from reaching my loved ones. I was unaware that my father's cousin had undergone a double mastectomy, something I only learned a week ago.
At the first pit-stop we grabbed some fruit and filled our water bottles. Paul picked up a flag that another walker left behind. Usually, walkers carry the flags for only 3-6 miles, but Paul carried his for 17 that day. The next days he carried two...he carried them the full remaining 40 miles.
I learned before mile 3.0 that Tina is always on her phone...which caused Paul great concern. Apparently Tina has fallen on some of her runs (or at least that's what I'm told, I've only seen Tina in the standing, running, sitting, or walking position). Paul, has a very gentle soul. He watched out for Tina as if she were his little sister. He steered her in the right direction away from curbs, cars bushes, and the such. He actually watched out for all of us that way, maybe not so much, we weren't on our phones. I don't think he ever worried about himself. I quietly wondered what this was like for him. I didn't want to pry.
I wanted to tell them, but I didn't have the heart, that by mile 6, I could feel the blisters festering. Blisters had been an issue throughout my training. I could feel them burning through the balls of my feet. At the second pit stop I checked my feet, and although I could not see them, I could feel them coming. I smiled through the burning pain and applied body glide. When asked I said "I'm fine." There wasn't much more to be done. What could I have done? I set out to walk 60 miles, there were 54 more to go. Only 5 more to lunch!
At lunch, I found a table of blister sufferers united among ointments and patches and bandages galore. All had different tricks they had picked up along the way. One person insisted on duct tape. I had read about this, but had never met anyone who actually used it. He handed me some. I also used some of the traditional methods. Apply some spray adhesive, some new skin, some mole skin, a ton of Body Glide and pray! NONE OF IT WORKED! Except for the duct tape, more than the rest anyway. I made it though, I don't think I complained once on day one.
We made it back to the camp site (a high school football field). I purchased some overpriced flip flops from the New Balance tent because my feet were so swollen that the ones I had packed didn't fit, and I lounged around for a while. Thankfully the showers were warm, and catering offered a vegetarian option, because although I am not vegetarian, I prefer a vegetarian meal. I showered and was impressed that although the blisters hurt (a little) I felt okay. I did not know how my screaming aching feet were going to make it another 20 miles though, much less 40. Ibuprofin was my friend.
Have you ever gone to Disneyland? You know how your feet hurt so bad at the end of the day you just want to cry? We went to Disneyland in the middle of my training and I thought "Perfect, you must walk at least 15 miles a day at Disneyland!" No, no, it's more like 7 or less! So what I am saying is:
3-Day Day1 Foot Pain = 3 (Disneyland Day 1 Foot Pain )
I thought about quitting that day, because how was it possible for my feet to be okay in just 8 short hours again? I couldn't quit though, the next day was family day. My family had been supporting me for 10 long months of non-stop training and fundraising, and they would be visiting at the end of the day. I had to finish Day 2, then I could quit.
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