One week ago today, I was lying on the ground of Icahn Stadium on Randall’s Island after having completed a 26.2 mile walk through NYC. During the night. In a bra and tiara. HOW DID THIS HAPPEN?
I was a participant in the first ever MOONWALK NYC. Moonwalk is an event that has taken place throughout European cities for several years. This was the inaugural event in the States, and I am pleased to say I was a part of it.
It all started when I saw a post on my friend Amy’s blog. Geessh, that sounded crazy. Insane and goofy. But as I read through it, while I was totally in agreement with my original sentiment, I started thinking this event might just be for me.
First, it was crazy. Walking through the night on the streets of NYC in a bra? Thankfully, there was a wonderful charity element involved. Monies raised from the Walk were going to support the Memorial Sloan Kettering Breast Examination Center in Harlem. A place where most women come without insurance. I thought of my friend Julie, who received such great care at Sloan. I thought of how this wasn’t a cause that was asking me to get political or choose sides. It seemed just right.
I DMed Amy on Twitter asking if she was really going to do it, and would she want someone like me by her side. Yes and hell to the yes I believe were her answers. I went to the site and signed up, before I could think myself out of it.
All told, it was about a month before the walk that I signed up. The Walk started emailing me training plans and I saw I was already behind. Ok, I figured, no worries. I spin, lift weights, do all sorts of cardio – I’ve got this. More on that later.
So, onto fundraising. Not necessarily a strength of mine. The organizers asked participants to try and raise at last $150. I figured, I’ve got that, I’m going to set a goal for $500. I sent an email out to some of my contacts, talking about how I was doing this in Julie’s memory and asking for their support.
26.2 miles. Power Walking through the streets of New York City. Overnight. In my decorated bra. All to raise money to make sure that people affected by breast cancer get the care they need, no matter what.
This is no ordinary marathon. And…this is no ordinary fundraising request!
On Saturday night, July 20th – I’ll be embarking on an incredible overnight Walk… and yes – I’ll be doing it in my bra!
The MoonWalk NYC is an inspiring event that will be debuting for the first time in America after fifteen successful years in London (oh those crazy Brits!). Since it began, the MoonWalk has helped to contribute over $123 Million toward vital breast cancer related programs abroad. Together with thousands of other men and women, I will be walking through NYC overnight to spread awareness and help raise critical funds for Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in their goal to provide access to care for all patients living with breast cancer. This is an amazing resource – 80% of patients there are uninsured, but are guaranteed support and guidance. Since it opened in 1979 the center has screened more than 200,000 women for breast cancer – for free.
Can you imagine someone finding a lump and not being able to afford cancer care? As a woman, a wife and a mother, it’s heartbreaking and I want to do what I can to help as many others not face that fate.
This cause is so dear to my heart, thanks to my dear friend Julieann Moroch. We lost her to heaven on April 5, 2011, but we will never forget her smile, her heart and her caring spirit. It is with her spirit by my side that I plan to walk - wearing something pink and sparkly as she would have insisted. Maybe even a tiara. It was Julie’s way.
In all my workouts over the past month, I’ve been thinking about walking…26 miles…through Manhattan…overnight. IN A BRA. I know, it’s totally crazy. But I know someone who wouldn’t have thought so. I’ve been looking for some way to pay tribute to the memory of Julie and the bright light that she was for so many of us. The idea of this walk is something that I know she would have said HELL YES to. Julie never sat out – she ALWAYS danced. She inspired me to live every day to the fullest, to always wear lipstick, and when you have a choice of a color, make it pink. I miss her every single day and I am honored to complete this walk in her memory.
Within a few hours, I had reached the goal I set. I increased my goal 3 times, eventually overtaking it again, raising over $1800 for the cause. I was blown away by the generocity and support of my friends.
Now that I had put it out there, I guess I had to do this, right? The materials for the walk talked about decorating your bra, but I received it only about a week before the race. Not being a crafty sort, I covered it with some glitter and stickers, and asked my mom to attach a feather boa to it. I knew there would be some other amazing looking bras out there, but mine was truly good enough.
I arrived on Randall’s Island to start the race around 9pm. Amy met me soon after – my favorite text ever was to tell her “I’m next to the pink people on stilts”. We marveled at the scenery, and then wanderred around the tent, not wanting to eat anything but instead sipped on water and availed ourselves of the porta potties.
At 10:30pm, we were off, ready to wander the streets. We were a loud and giddy group, hiking around in our undergarments. We did about a mile or two on Randall’s Island, then we crossed the bridge into the city for the main walk. On the way over the bridge, I noticed a woman kicking a soccer ball around. I ran closer and closer and realized it was Brandi Chastian. Completely freaking out, I asked Amy if she would run ahead and take our picture.
You know, just a couple of soccer moms on a stroll. Do not start comparing your abs to hers. Trust me, it will leave you in tears. Brandi was lovely, gave me a cheer when I called myself a soccer mom, and stopped dead in her walk for the perfect picture.
The Walk took us down the east side on the river till about 59th street, when we crossed onto 2nd Ave. That’s when the crowd thinned out, and it became more and more weird as we were intermingling with Saturday night revellers. We trudged on, walking briskly and stopping at some of the rest stops on the way. Yes, there were rest stops and there were just enough as they seemed to come up right when we needed them. My only complaint was the water was luke warm, and that wasn’t working for us. We did stop at a gas station on Canal St to get a cold bottle of water and that felt damn good.
Was it an easy walk? No, and I suppose training would have helped both my comfort level and my time. My feet kept swelling, necessitating several “shoelace breaks”. I spent a fair amount of time walking on the west side with my hands on my hips because my arms were so tired. I think Amy could have kept a fast pace, but she was kind about keeping to my pace as I strolled the west side.
Our breaks became longer at the 23rd and 79th street stops. On 23rd I realized my blood sugar level was crashing and even though I wasn’t hungry at, what, 2 am or 3am, I did have to eat something if I was going to keep going. And go we did, crossing over into Spanish Harlem at 7am, daylight, in those outfits…just imagine some of the comments we got from the early birds.
By the time we crossed back over into Randall’s Island, I was capital D-O-N-E, but we still had three miles to go. We had to go to the right for 2 miles, then wind up right back where we were for another mile. That is where my brain lost it. LEFT is the finish line. IT IS ILLOGICAL to walk right for 2 miles only to have to go left for another mile. But we did it, with me bitching and cursing all the way.
The last mile was truly the longest, but I have never been so happy to see a sign as I was to see this one. I almost kissed it. With my mouth open. With tongue even…
From there it was .2 miles through the stadium and to the finish line. I was pretty pissed that we completed in just OVER 10 hours. It was minutes that could have been shaved off to keep us from double digits.
It was actually less time than this, as I wanted to cross the line first and get my damn medal. I have never been so excited to get a medal as I was on this day.
But of course, before that Amy and I had to have some fun on the way to the finish line.
Tell me, was this victory not sweet?
Sing it with me, WHAT A FEELING!
One week later, I am still a little sore in my feet, but I am so proud of Amy and me for making this happen. I am secretly thinking about next year (don’t tell Amy yet, she’s going to want to start thinking about bra decorating ideas) and planning to start the training regimen early (and actually complete it). I’m so grateful for the support of so many. My friend who contributed to the cause. The amazing volunteers who at every point in the walk stood up and applauded us, shouting words of encouragement. It was the guy at mile 18 who looked at me like I was every inch the badass that I am and said simply, “You got this,” that gave me the inspiration I need to indeed, get this. Thanks to Amy who put up with me for over 12 hours, bonding us like no other experience could. You can read her recap on her blog, Selfish Mom.
Now, I am off to soak my feet. Again. And dream of Moonwalks to come.