This past weekend, I took a pretty long walk. I didn’t have to use my pedometer or my calorie tracker to tell me how far I went; my legs and feet, back and shoulders, and even my hair could tell a story of each step. I was lucky enough to participate in the Avon Breast Cancer Walk; a 39-mile, two-day walk that my team – Team Mount Peter – walks in every year or so. We walk a different city each time we participate in the event, and although it’s difficult and we all swear we will never do it again, we keep coming back for more.
When someone says they are going to walk 26 miles in one day, it doesn’t seem so bad. But by mile 9 or so, reality stomps on our toes and locks up our muscles. It’s more than eight hours of continuos walking at a 3.3 mph pace. It’s blisters and muscle cramps, sweat and tears. It’s every inch of your body screaming to stop, to sit down. Even your hair follicles protest.
It’s my job as Team Captain to keep up the motivation. To pick one of my friends up when they have fallen off the curb. To let them pick me up when I am frozen in a stretch position, gazing at the bus that could carry us the rest of the way like it was a my ride to heaven. Here is what keeps me motivated: I have two perfectly healthy legs, my cells are healthy and I have no disease that weighs me down. I walk because there are so many that cannot. Because there are so many that have done so much more, and for me to stop walking because I am in pain does not honor them. I think of people being marched to concentration camps and know that my walk contains none of these horrors. I think of soldiers marching onto the battlefield and know that my walk is safe. I think of what the women of our country once went through so that I had the right to walk where I want, say what I want, and talk to whom I want. I push myself to honor the people before me that fought so hard, and suffered so many horrors. I walk for the future, yes. But I also walk for my present. I walk to feel just a tiny piece, so small it would barely cause a ripple in a still water, of what those before me have felt. Of what those battling a terrible disease today are going through. Of what our soldiers are still facing.
This past weekend, at our 13-mile mark as we sat down in the grass with our brown bagged lunch, I was hurting. I was gazing at that bus with a little extra longing in my eyes. My sister – who has been on every walk with me, right by my side – asked, “what are you going to do?” She asked, but she knew the answer. “I’m going to walk until I can’t take another step,” I answered. And so we did.
We all have to push ourselves from time to time. It doesn’t have to be my way, but in some way that is special to you. It’s how we keep moving forward.