Oct 8, 2007
Well, this weekend I did the Avon 2 day walk for Breast Cancer in New York City with my pal Liza and our team, "The Grand Boobians." We started on Saturday morning and it was a nice, cool morning with lots of fog. That was nice for the temperature, but not great for the photos of the various bridges we had to cross that day.
We got to the opening ceremony a little late, so we were at the very back of the huge mass of women (there might have been about 2 men there, too) who were facing this stage that was at the end of pier 84 on West 43rd Street. That ended up being a good thing because when we all turned around to head out on the walk, we ended up being at the front of the pack.
First we walked through Times Square. It was very early and still dark, so the lights were still pretty bright. There was apparently a message on one of the marquees for us, but I didn't notice it.
Then we walked down to Washington Square Park. At this point, both Liza and I were feeling great and we were right on schedule to be able to finish the whole 26.2 miles before the sweep vehicles picked us up. The sweep vehicles were there to pick up any slow walkers and transport them to the next rest stop or to help people who couldn't walk any farther.
After Washington Square Park, we walked on down to the Manhattan Bridge. It was super foggy, so there wasn't much to see off the bridge and I didn't take any pictures of the gray. Instead, I took some pictures of the entrance to the bridge. Since I've always lived in Jersey and always thought it was silly that people payed extra to live in the other 5 boroughs (there's this weird snobby thing that New Yorkers have... they'd rather pay 5 times as much to say they don't live in Jersey while we have the same commute and cool community feeling but much more space and cheaper rent) so anyway, once we got across the Manhattan Bridge I was surprised to find that Queens was so nice! Then I realized later that it was Brooklyn... duh! So anyway, Brooklyn is sort of like Hoboken, same sort of cool vibe. Of course, it wouldn't be New York without massive piles of garbage on the sidewalk!
So we walked through this little park between the Manhattan Bridge and the Brooklyn Bridge, which was very nice. The fog was sort of starting to lift, so I got some photos of the various bridges. Actually, I got lots of photos of the Brooklyn Bridge and a few of the Manhattan one.
The Brooklyn Bridge was really cool. One of the things I like the most about living near NYC is coming in and seeing all the real tourists. I really like to see international tourists because it reminds me that I live in a place that is famous the world over and that people really like to come and see it. I saw a group of Spanish tourists who had cameras and an English/Spanish dictionary, which is so cool. I told Liza that I wanted to go to Madrid with my English/Spanish dictionary and a camera! There was a particularly beautiful shot of the Manhattan Bridge from the Brooklyn Bridge that I think was enhanced by the foggy weather. Liza and I were still feeling good at this point and were still ahead of schedule to finish on time.
Lower Manhattan also looked very pretty with the fog.
So we crossed through Manhattan and were in Tribeca. At that point we started to walk uptown and began anticipating walking across the George Washington Bridge (my favorite of all the NYC bridges). We were still feeling pretty good at this point, although our legs were starting to be a little sore and our feet had started to hurt. We figured we had 150 blocks to go to get to the bridge because somewhere along the line we had determined that the bridge is at 150th street. I don't know what were were smoking when we decided it was that close... Anyway, we passed Lincoln Center on the way.
After Lincoln Center we started to feel quite tired and had to take a couple unofficial rest stops because our feet were starting to really hurt. We buckled under and kept walking. We walked along the outside of Central Park for the length of the park and then crossed over west so that we could head through Columbia University. On the way we passed some sort of Bolivia Day celebration and heard some Latin music and saw people dressed in traditional Bolivian costumes. We also passed a beautiful cathedral whose name I don't know, but right next to it was the gorgeous statue. Our feet were seriously hurting and I think we were starting to lose time.
Then we walked through Columbia University. That school is so beautiful and cool. I would love to have gone there. If I had gone to graduate school, I would have liked to apply there. If we have a kid who is very smart and we have the dinero I'm totally going to take them to go look at it. It's in the middle of crazy Manhattan but it has such a nice, calm, academic atmosphere. It really made me miss being in college. Too bad it only lasted for about two blocks.
At this point we had decided that we had to be at least at the 20 mile mark. We were really starting to have hurting feet. Liza's foot was getting this burn on the bottom of it, sort of like a blister, but the podiatrist at the wellness village at the end of day one told her it was really a friction burn. So we were starting to really slow down and were not really going to be able to make the whole 26.2 miles in the time we needed to finish it in. We rounded the corner and there was the rest stop and they were announcing that we were at mile 17, only 9 more to go!
We decided to press on. The George Washington Bridge was just there, I mean how far could it be? (It was at this point that we realized that the bridge is not at 150th street, but more like at 180th street). It was seriously like Vegas- the bridge is just over there, look how close we are, we'll be there in no time!
It was so close! We'll make it!
At this point we started to realize that there was no way we were going to make it to the bridge. It didn't seem to be getting any closer than it was in the photo above. Liza's foot was really starting to bother her and my feet were starting to really hurt, too. Luckily, neither of us had actual blisters. Some people had huge blisters- we saw one woman who had a blood blister on her heel that was the size of her whole heel. Yuck. So we walked to the 19 mile point and took the bus to the Wellness Village where we camped that night.
The Wellness Village was cool. They set up the tent for us and we took nice warm showers and ate dinner. Liza then headed off to bed and I walked around and took some pictures. They had a large tent set up for the evening entertainment and as a place to eat. They had these large inflatable dildos (that's what I was calling them) where you could write your message for the next group of walkers (in our case, Charlotte, NC- my home town!). I wrote a message from our team on there.
They had a band and a bunch of people got up and talked about their experiences with breast cancer. It turns out that this walk, the New York one, raised $10.2 million dollars, the most of any Avon Walk for Breast Cancer ever. Everyone was very excited. Some people were doing all 8 walks this year, so they were doing a walk every couple of weeks and had to raise the $1800 minimum to walk in each one.
So after the band played, I slept like a rock. When we got up, we both felt ready to tackle the day. Neither of us was sore, though both of us had feet that hurt a little. I hadn't brought a change of shoes, which was a big mistake. The other shoes that I have had given me blisters during training walks, so I didn't want to bring them to the actual walk. Now I realize that it would have been relief to at least have some shoes that hurt my feet in different places since my feet were already tired of wearing the shoes I had worn on the first day.
Anyway, so we headed out of Englewood, NJ and it was basically all up hill until we got the the George Washington Bridge. I love this bridge. I think it's one of the very prettiest ones that leads into Manhattan. I love the modern look and the view is amazing. I took an unbelievable amount of photos on it since I love it so much. I'll spare you some of them and just post a couple.
By the end of the GWB I was really starting to have foot problems. The outer part of my left foot, around the arch area but on the outside, was starting to cramp up and it felt like my shoe was pushing on it and bruising it. Because it was hurting so much I started to walk funny, I guess, because the pain extended up the side of my foot to my ankle, almost like a sprained feeling, but I hadn't rolled my ankle. The first rest stop was under the bridge at the little red lighthouse of children's book fame.
My feet were really hurting, but the next stop was lunch and I was determined to make it. Lunch was at the 8 mile mark, so we walked on... or rather limped on. Liza was doing pretty well as she had brought a change of shoes. By the time we got to lunch we were also lagging on the time. We needed to be out of lunch and on the road again by noon in order to make it on time and it was about 5 till noon when we got there.
We ate rather quickly and started to head out when I determined that I didn't think I could walk much further. We decided to make a stop at the medical tent to see if they could do something about my foot pain. The EMT looked at my feet and my shoes and determined that there wasn't really anything they could do about it, so Liza and I caught the bus to the next rest stop.
From that rest stop we had about 2 miles to go to the finish line. I limped in in fine style. It was a very long 2 miles, but we made it!
My thoughts on 39.3 mile walks for charity? I will never do this ever again. Marathons were not developed for walking. I swear that the time I ran a half marathon was nothing compared to walking one. It was for a great cause and I raised a good amount of money, but I will absolutely never ever do this again. As we kept saying all weekend, "Who's bright idea was this?"
Click here to view a slide show of all the photos I took.