I did it! I finished (barely) but I finished. We began At Chase Palm Park on the beach in Santa Barbara and I had some coffee while I watched the sunrise over the Pacific Ocean. I was speaking to Peggy on the phone, getting a last minute pep talk, when a trainer come onto the stage to lead a warm-up. Naturally, I thought her warm-up was all wrong, and I quit doing it completely when she started yelling at the crowd to “get going, come on, pick it up!” I am not a person who is motivated by someone shouting at me to “squat like I mean it.” Instead, I did my own warm-up that I developed over the years that does not even require you to put down your coffee. When it was time to start I realized I was at the far end of where the walkers were going, and I was stuck in the back of the huge pink mob. I really didn’t like seeing all that pink ahead of me, so I starting weaving and dodging to pass people and break out of the crowd. Fortunately, I only knocked over a couple of them.
After about the fifth mile I realized there were no walkers behind me, and I began to worry I had wandered off (it could happen), so I caught up to someone and asked her where the other walkers were. She told me that we were quite ahead of the pack…… Really? It was like a bell went off in my head and all plans of walking at the pace I had trained for were gone. Now, as some of you know, I can on occasion be a little competitive, and even though this was “not a race,” there was no way now I was not going to finish “quite ahead of the pack.” Pace be damned! There were rest stops every mile and a half or so but I kept passing them because there was another one in a mile and half and I didn’t want to waste time filling my water bottles or going to the bathroom. I passed one stop at around 11 miles and a man yelled after me, “If you don’t have to urinate you are not drinking enough water!” “Urinating is for losers!” I replied and kept right on going. I did allow thirty minutes for lunch and did some stretching before taking off again, and even though this was “not a race,” I loved that I was leaving the lunch stop just as the first large groups of pink were arriving. I continued along throughout the day feeling pretty good until about the last six miles. I was starting to really stiffen up, but because this was “not a race“ I kept really pushing myself. I finished three hours before the pace you needed to walk in order to finish on time. It was great! The port-a-potties were still clean, I didn’t have to wait in line for the shower, and I was able to get in a very short line for a massage. I was sitting there feeling pretty smug when the “troubles” began. I broke out into a cold sweat and felt like I was going to faint or throw up or both. I staggered rather dramatically over to the medical tent, walked right past check-in and into a nurse who immediately laid me down on a cot. She called over the doctor to look at me and he said, “My God, she is so young and beautiful! Miss, can you tell me your name?” “DeAnne, kind sir,” I choked out weakly and for some reason in a southern accent. “DeAnne, you are very pale and clammy,“ he said, while clutching my hand. “I’m always pale.” I said. “No one is that pale! Nurse, get her an I.V. stat! Stay with us, DeAnne, you’re too beautiful to die! Not on my watch!” Apparently I was rather dehydrated and required some fluids. After a few minutes I felt much better and I asked if I could have some pretzels and a Diet Coke so they told me I could go. I ate dinner, did yoga, went to the show in the dining tent, promptly left said show and went to bed.
|I cling to life in the Medical Tent|
I awoke pretty refreshed, and, thanks to the yoga, not very sore. I did have a few blisters, but we dancers laugh at blisters. That reminds me of a story: The year was 1955 and I was dancing in the Corps de Ballet of the Nutcracker. Opening night, the woman dancing the Sugar Plum Fairy inexplicably, tragically, and accidentally, through no fault of my own (that they could prove) fell down the stairs. Since I was already in her costume, the choreographer said, “DeAnne, you’re on!” “But Mr. Balanchine,” I replied, “I have a blister!” His large Russian accented voice could be heard throughout the theater: “Dammit , DeAnne! I am depending on you! The company is depending on you! The world is depending on you! Now, go out there and dance through it!” “’Kay,” I said, as I skipped toward the stage, and the rest, as they say, is theater history. I danced like I had never danced before, and didn’t even realize half of my foot was completely torn off. As I said, we laugh at blisters.
No, the problem on Sunday was not the blisters but that I had forgotten the day before that this was “not a race” and that I was fifty-one and had way over-done it. As we started out Sunday, I kept trying to speed up and pass people but my legs were rebelling and it was as if I were walking backwards. Whereas on Saturday I was passing everyone, on Sunday everyone was passing me. I mean everyone. Old people were passing me. People with walkers were passing me. Crawling babies were passing me. Even snails lined up along the sidewalk were pointing at me with their stupid little antennae and mocking my slowness. In my defense, I have to say the I.V. pole was really slowing me down. The wheels kept getting stuck in the sidewalk cracks.
Saturday, I carried the names of the beautiful survivors I know on my back, Peggy, Jo Ann, Aunt Shawna, Chris Christenberry, Lee, Linda N, Linda J, Jodie, Joanie, Cath, Nancy, Patrice’s Mom, Jaime’s Mom, and Christina. Sunday they carried me. It was really tough, but thinking about their strength got me through. In fact, at one point, I was feeling pretty good and thought that I might speed up but I didn’t. Instead, I raised my head up, looked around, and realized how privileged I am to be healthy and able to walk, and how much preparing for and doing this walk has enriched my life. And with those thoughts in my head, I decide to slow down even more and enjoy the journey. After all, “it’s not a race.”