39 MILES THAT WERE REALLY 43
I participated in the NYC Avon39 Walk to Fight Breast Cancer yesterday and today. It was my first time with it, and with any kind of endurance event. Here are key takeaways.
- •200 people were diagnosed with cancer during my walkEvery 3 minutes a new person is diagnosed, and it took me 600 minutes to finish
- •Group athletic events start really early and in the darkMorning people, this is your jam. I am not a morning person but I am an excellent fake it till I make it person
- •Signs, signs, everywhere signsThere were so many good ones I could make a List on that alone; even if they're not for you in particular, the love feels good
- •You have to ask for help and you will get it in spadesI made an open Spotify playlist to which family and friends added their aural support; it made a fun mental game out of guess who added what and there were some super surprise-and-delights like this gem from my 3 year old niece
- •There will be painAnd it will be mental, muscular, and dermatological. However that's nothing considering what it is or must be like to go through cancer diagnosis, treatment, and side effects. Usually I abide by the compare-and-despair rule, but keeping this in mind got me over the river and though the woods.
- •Better than sex: post-marathon restorative yogaIt would take an army of angels performing multi-sensory oral to unseat this
- •Dress for the occasion"I'm the one in pink," said 4,000 participants. Quick-dry thermal layers, compression calf sleeves, two fanny packs, cruelty-free cold-weather jacket, windbreaker, neckerchief for warmth and runny nose, bib, assorted flare, and a goddam supportive bra. My mistakes: no gloves, no headband ear-warmer thing, no change of shirt for the finish.
- •Those Mylar blankets do the jobWaiting one hour to start and shivering? Make a Mylar cocoon. Just ran 13.73 miles at a personal best and body is trembling? Make a Mylar cocoon. Need to entertain a fussing toddler? Make a Mylar cocoon. Want to continue your months-long dry spell? Make a Mylar cocoon. Thank New York Presbyterian Hospital for supplying cocoon-makers.
- •Volunteers make the world go roundI'm one of those bleeding heart volunteering types (it's like an exacerbated "if you have time to lean, you have time to clean" mentality). The volunteers kept is safe crossing streets, hydrated, fed, pottied, oriented, and motivated. And they were stuck standing in one spot, usually in the cold windy shade, for many hours. Gratitude isn't a word that sufficiently describes my appreciation for their time and support.
- •A mother's love is nothing to fuck withMy summer-loving, non-athletic Brasilian mama with a bad back and bum ankle chased me all over Manhattan resupplying my vega sport gels, hooking me up with fresh socks, photo/video documenting major moments, updating family and friends on my progress, and repeatedly telling me how proud she was of me, all day, in the cold. She is more sore than I am but I am more proud and grateful. She didn't get a medal, but she should.
- •Money makes a differenceI BEAT my fundraising goal. As a whole, the NYC walk raised $8.7m. Because of that, we are able to provide people with free mammograms, bring patients nutritious meals and empathetic care through God's Love We Deliver, contribute to research grants that study the causes and advancements in courses of treatment of breast cancer in area hospitals, and much more.
- •It is a beautiful journeyI 💗 NY and I got cheered on by FDNY, NYPD, EMTs, nurses, Doe Fund employees, and the generally invisible residents of the city. Humbling and humanist and lovely.
- •Brace for overwhelming emotionsFuck, I was insufficiently prepared for this. Places I beat back tears like I was punching a shark to save my life: at the start, when I met up with my mom the 1st (thru 5th times), when I got through my "wall," in the shower after the first day, when I woke up this morning to do it again, when I saw I was ahead of my personal best pace, when Fleetwood Mac's The Chain played at mile 38, when my mom hugged me at the end, and writing this list. Also I got my period this morning.
- •CelebrateEvery survivor, every supporter, every mile, every step, every bite of pancake at the end