The two-day, 40-mile walk that capped these efforts was many things: exciting, humbling, emotional, grueling, inspirational, exhausting, exhilarating. I arrived on event eve a bit of a nervous wreck. I left the closing ceremonies with a busted knee, a bunch of miles under my belt, and an insane appreciation for the power and perseverance of the human body. When I thought I couldn't walk any more, I saw the survivor to my left taking one more step towards the end. Or I was buoyed by a cheering squad blasting dance music from their stereo. Or the woman moving slowly up the hill in step with me kept me talking until we reached the top together.
As many of you know, I am not an extreme athlete or team sport champ, so this event, equal parts camaraderie and endurance, was a completely new experience for me. As a thank you to those who supported me along the way and helped me get to the finish line, I put together this photo essay in the hope that these pictures convey some of what the day was like.
then began the walk. The streets were a sea of pink. Check out the pink bunny ears on the right-hand side, and the pink leis in the crowd.
As I mentioned above, lots of people walked in teams, and there were some pretty fun names: The Breast Friends, SacraTitties, Dudettes for Boobettes. These are the Bosom Buddies, complete with shiny pink superhero capes.
The Moto Crew was one of my favorite parts of the event. They really went all out, even decorating their bikes. Here's a fabulous pink helmet that made me think of my Auntie Luvy, a bad-ass biker herself.
Yes, the bra cups are two different sizes. The sign doesn't lie.
I took this picture of a sister and daughter, both walking for Jane, while waiting for a green light. A lot of the early walk was spent waiting at crosswalks. Consequently, when the crowd thinned out I kicked my pace into a higher gear, which is probably what caused my knee problems later on. I would not recommend walking at 4mph up what must have been the steepest hill in San Francisco.
Here, we walk up a slightly less steep hill as we enter Chinatown. It was so early that almost no one else was awake...except for us, of course.
More evidence of the impressive planning behind the walk, these Sweep Vans, driven by volunteers, also followed us throughout the day. If anyone was hurt or got sick, they could grab a ride to the next first aid station or to the end of the route. As with the rest stops, these were also themed. Here's a flower-power Sweep Van, complete with butterfly antennae:
The day's route ended in Corte Madera Town Park. I was thrilled and achy. I popped some Advil, did some stretches, then headed back to the city via shuttle bus for a well-deserved shower and corned beef sandwich at Lefty O'Doul's. The shuttle back was an option you had to pay extra for, and most walkers camped in the park. Here's a picture of the pink tent city Sunday morning:
But I did it. I made it off the bridge and I was so relieved that I hugged the Moto Crew member directing walkers on the other side. I think he had a pink mustache.
For some reason, the shuttle to the end dropped off at the bottom of a hill, which we had to climb to reach the finish line. I thought I was going to cry. But this amazing woman walked with me...we were almost crawling to the top...and we made it. Another amazing woman hugged me at the top. Somehow I hobbled across the finish line, where I did finally collapse into tears.
I was pretty much a mess for the rest of the event. I cried some more, then laughed hysterically at weird things. This whole extreme exhaustion thing was all new to me. Isaac brought crab louie and beer, which were probably the best crab louie and beer I'd ever had. Then the closing ceremony started. That's me below, in the puffy orange vest, during the ceremony with the rest of the 2000 walkers.
According to Avon, the San Francisco walkers raised over $4.8 million dollars, some of which was granted to bay area organizations involved in patient care, screening, and breast cancer research. Those of you that donated and that helped spread the word, asking others to donate, you helped do this. You also helped me get through those long hours and across the finish line. And you helped me honor these women: