Friday, April 9, 2010

The 57th Mile

The 57th mile has been one of the most difficult miles that I've ever walked. After 56 miles, my feet and legs are done. Knowing that there are only 3 miles left to go is no consolation. My 2008 57th mile was spent with new friends that I had met along the journey. A seasoned marathoner led the pack and encouraged us to keep going. I wanted to cry, but didn't want to embarrass myself...I was the youngest one in the pack and knew that the journey was harder on wiser bodies than on mine. I kept my mouth shut, prayed, and kept walking.

In 2009 my speedwalking sister and I were essentially walking the 57th mile alone. No sag wagons. Very few other participants. Even cheering stations were nearly deserted. (I tell you, we were walking FAST!) On the 57th mile I couldn't hold it together anymore. My shins were swollen and I was in incredible pain. I tried thinking about my pain my grandmother must have gone through with her battle with breast cancer. I thought about young friends who were currently battling breast cancer. I thought about how blisters don't need chemo. And then I cried.

I hurt. I wanted to quit. I couldn't be strong anymore. I was so done. I did NOT want to keep walking. I was throwing a dramatic, grown-up temper tantrum...while I continued putting one foot in front of the other because it was all I knew how to do. Picture me and Courtney, both in our 20s, hobbling down the street in a very urban part of Dallas. And I'm crying. This is not my finest moment! My sister offered support, but there wasn't much to say. We'd already said it all. It was mile 57!

I remembered each and every one of my donors. I remembered every woman battling breast cancer, every survivor, every angel. I remembered the cheering stations and the importance of finding a cure. I still cried. I was in a dark place and none of my traditional methods were working. I couldn't get out.

Then I remembered my dearest inspiration.
Obviously this is my wedding. My husband and I were married on July 4th, 2009. He is an incredible inspiration to me. 

But that's not who I am talking about... Look to the right my of sweet husband. See the man there? See his smile and thinning hair? That's my friend John. He's one of our pastors and I love him. He's my 57th mile inspiration. 

John is battling cancer and while it is not breast cancer, I watch him battle cancer and chemo on a daily and weekly basis. I walk for my grandmother and countless other men and women who have battled breast cancer, but I haven't gotten to live the battle with anyone like I do with John. 

John shares his highs and lows. He shows me his finger nails that are growing in with ridges because of his chemo. His hair is thinning...again, thanks to chemo. He maintains a smile and even on his rough days, he is optimistic and hopeful.

While Courtney tried to calm me down in the midst of my meltdown, I remembered John. I continued crying, but now for completely different reasons. I was no longer frustrated. I no longer wanted to quit. I cried because I was ashamed of myself for giving up, even if just in my mind. I cried because I knew that I was walking to find a cure not just for breast cancer, but for all cancer. I knew that the pain that I was experiencing would be over soon, but John undergoes chemo every week, for weeks at a time. He continues going with a smile on his face. The least I could do was finish the 60 miles with a smile on mine!

What's my point? My point is that walking 60 miles is hard. I make sure that this blog is honest and accurate. I don't want to frighten any first time walkers, but I cannot sugarcoat the event. Walking is hard. Even when you train. But remember that even after my temper tantrum on mile 57 last year, I still signed up again to do TWO events in 2010. Hard, but worth it.

Make sure your list of inspiration is long. Dig deep on that 57th mile to keep a smile on your face. As you train and fundraise, remember to prepare your soul for the event as well. Emotionally prepare by having a list of all the reasons you are walking. John is on my list. Who is on yours?

13 comments:

Margie said...

Beautiful, Leanne! Thank you for sharing this. xoxoxo

Christine said...

WOW is all I can say. I start training tomorrow. I am digging deep and mentally preparing for whatever is ahead. Thanks for this WONDERFUL post.

Athena's Armoury said...

Leanne, as a first time walker, I really appreciate your blog. I sent some love your way from my blog today. I hope it brings you some new visitors!

Leanne...the walker said...

Thank you all for your kind comments. This was a difficult post to write. It bounced around in my head for months, but to get it out there seemed so personal. I appreciate the support. :-)

MustBeNuts said...

Thank you for sharing. I am a first time walker and am hoping I am prepared for all that lies ahead of me. I am not strong, not that I can see, so i will prepare a SUPER long list to help keep me moving. I love your honesty! : )

Paape Family said...

Leanne, this is such an inspirational post! I have a list from my donors of those they ask me to walk for.. i will dig it out on Mile 57 to get me to the end!

Cat said...

Amazing post, Leanne. Honest and heartfelt. Thank you for sharing these incredibly personal thoughts. I believe this is what the 3-Day is about.

Tanya said...

Thanks for sharing this because last night while on my little 4 mile walk I have to say I was ready to call-in the rescure squad. Not really because I hurt or any good reason just because I was not feeling it. The entire 4th mile I keep telling myself all the reasons I was walking, I even turned off my ipod so I could really think about it and coach myself thru. So thank you for sharing your insights it will certainly help me to remember to make me a list...maybe even to write it down so I can pull it out during mile 57.

skyeangelr said...

Thank you for sharing this. I too have a list, and a stuffed Elephant named Milton who is covered in ribbons that are still more reasons to walk. Milton never forgets and neither do I. This is my second year walking. Last year I only made 42 miles. This year I'm sticking to my training whether I'm feeling it or not. Those ribbons, and those people deserve that from me.

Tracy said...

Thanks for the inspiration! I'm starting my training today...

Cindy said...

I pray for you to finish this walk as well & thank you for posting such an inspirational story. My grandmama, Nellie Booth passed May 4, 1996. I know you have many, but please add her too. I miss her so much!

Luby's Boobies said...

You are amazing! Luby's Boobies from Lake Orion Michigan has your back!
This is my second year walking, and I am SOOO excited to fight this battle!
GOOD LUCK WALKERS!

melanie goes pink said...

Really inspirational, and thank you for being so honest. This is my 1st walk, and I've only begun my training a month ago. So I can only imagine what that mile will be like. I will remember you on that mile, and every reason I am walking.

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