pun intended of course
The Jimmy Fund Walk in Boston is an annual fund raiser for cancer research. It follows the Boston Marathon route. It starts in Hopkinton and ends in Copley Square. I did the entire route, and was a little nervous about completing in time - I parked in Hopkinton at the start and the last bus back there would be leaving at 7pm. I crossed the start line at 5:35am. I completed the walk in 9 and 1/2 hours, so I had a four hour cushion, but it was a long day.
Friday night and all day Saturday, I was out camping with my cub scouts. It was cold and there were a lot of hills to navigate. We got home just after 7:30pm. Stuff was stored and I was to bed by 9:30. I was excited for the walk, so I woke up just before the 4:15 alarm.
When I left the house, I felt a special excitement - it was a clear morning, there were some stars out, and I was off to walk a marathon, and show folks that I believe in cancer research. It was just like heading out to the Disney marathon start. I was glad to be alone and enjoy the peace. I found the parking, got on the bus and took deep breaths. Registration was just opening when we got off the bus. I grabbed a hat, and a pin that says, "I am Living Proof". There were a number of men and women along the course wearing these pins. Over and over it kept hitting me how many people have been touched by cancer. When people see the pin, they ask, "How long?", or they say, "Me too, I'm XX years cancer free". Noone asked, "what kind?" Cancer is cancer and they all Suck!
The start of the Walk was so different from the Disney races. There was a police man with lights on at the start line. There was a sign to mark the start line. You just cross that line and go. It was still very dark out, and it was cool - in the low 40's. The roads were not closed, so we walked in the breakdown area on the shoulder. There were orange cones, but there were cars passing right next to us. I could see maybe 10-15 people in front of me, single spaced, and there were a few behind me.
I did have my ipod, so it was just a nice stroll in the cool morning air in New England. As the sun came up, more people joined. I was trying to get to the 1/2 way point in 4 hours, which I probably shouldn't have bothered with. The rest of the Genzyme team was starting at the 1/2 way point at 9:30 I thought. Turns out they started at 9:15 and met up at the mile 16 lunch tent for team photos. I made the 15 miles at 10:35, so I was behind them by a bit. I am happier that I did the walk alone. It was tough and I don't like to have people see me so stressed.
After mile 18, I started to hit a wall. My pace slowed and I was feeling so tired and stressed. The walk was a lot more emotional then I expected (although I was not surprised to be crying - running does that to me). I think I first got teary around mile 6 or 7 - I passed a church advertising a blood drive. I reacted strongly to not being able to donate blood as a cancer patient, and now survivor.
Every mile marker is a photo of a child with cancer. Every time I saw a 9 year old, or a kid who loved to play with legos, I would be crying. I know part of it was that I was tired. So, by mile 18 I was salt deprived. I had been alternating a water and a gatorade at the refueling stations (approx. every 2 miles). But, crying and sweating was doing me in. I kept thinking, I need to sit down. And then I won't be able to get back up.
I was convinced I would go to the medic station at mile 21 and ask for salt packets and they would pull me for heat exhuastion (like my first Disney attempt). First - I hit the porta potty line. While there, my fabulous brother R sent a text that he had pledge me per mile. So, I had to find a way to finish. I drank a cup of water, grabbed a gator ade and sat on a chair - they had chairs at the refueling station. I drank the gatorade. I ate some gu with caffiene. I grabbed another water and drank. Then, I found my salty jelly beans and stood up. That few minutes sitting and the power snacks made all the difference! I felt so much better, and I didn't have thoughts of being pulled any more.
One reason I was doing the walk was to start figuring out my eating plan during the race. The Jimmy Fund did have a lunch tent - they had sandwiches for everyone. And fruit, chips, drinks... I didn't go to the lunch tent because it was "just up that little hill" at mile 16. I was starting to feel run down and didn't want to add any hills I didn't have to. I should have refueled with a sandwich. So, I have to remember for Disney - pack some turkey or ham. The thought of a handful of salty lunch meat at mile 16 is GREAT! I was craving the protien, but the lara bars at the refueling station weren't enough.
Everyone knows about heartbreak hill. At the bottom there is a statue of someone who ran the Boston Marathon a number of years, and how won it twice, and last ran it at age 84. The Jimmy Fund had a sign explaining all this at the bottom. So, I just started to chug up the hill. And up. I don't want to jinx my future marathon chances, but it wasn't too bad. I was already hurting. Somewhere in the middle, there was a husband/wife team that were giving out cut oranges. BEST ORANGE EVER! At some point, I realized we were headed down again, and someone near me said last year there had been a sign to say, you are at the top of heartbreak hill, turn around and take a picture." No sign, so I didn't realize it. I did not go back to get a pic.
Heartbreak Hill. I get it. It comes at the point in the race when many are hitting that marathon wall. It is a definite incline, but there are steeper ones on the course. Someone said it is a mile long, but that is not true. Wikipedia says it is 0.4 miles, and that seems right. I did tell my scouts that we eat hills for breakfast, lunch and dinner. (One scout said, he didn't mind them for breakfast and lunch, but by dinner, he didn't like them.) I was able to just truck up the hill. I was having a much harder time with the downhills at this point. It hurt to go down - I could feel it in my knees. The inside of my legs was feeling very taught and down hills were not fun. It is a difference in walking vs. running. If I had the energy, I would have rather run down the hills. After heartbreak hill, it is mostly down hill. I was surprised how much down hill there is at the end (last 5 or so miles) of the route. Of course, there is a small uphill about four blocks from the end. Most folks were complaining, but I was happy - I liked the uphill because it didn't have to stretch as far.