Friday evening I ate pasta as I was supposed to do because I needed carbs. I packed my Avon backpack with extra socks, water bottle, snacks, a raincoat. Then I went to bed. It was early, earlier than usual for me. I couldn't fall asleep for a couple of hours. At 5 a.m. Saturday the alarm rang. I was awake anyway, got up, got dressed and drank orange juice and coffee. Breakfast is impossible for me to eat so early and when I first get up. At 6:20 we approached Soldier Field where hundreds of people were already gathered. The ground was wet. Bagels and cream cheese were served. I was ready for some. Women in various costumes milled around, ate, talked, cheered each other. Pink was everywhere. Men wore tutus and funny hats.
The opening ceremonies started at 6:30 with a warm up led from the stage by a very energetic woman. We jumped, kicked, stretched, and bent. After, a handful of people spoke about the reason they were there and cheered us on. Start walking! It was 7 a.m.
We left Soldier Field, walked down Columbus Drive and crossed the river. My pace increased after a little while as we hugged the lake from Oak Street beach all the way to Diversey. Every so often a woman would approach me and we'd make small talk. There were walkers from Boston, North Carolina, Philadelphia, New York, Chicago. Everyone carried the names of women for whom they were walking, or moms, or grandmas, or aunts. I had Sonia's photo pinned to my purple t-shirt. She walked with me the whole way. The sun shone for the most part. It was warm. In the shadow of Lake Point Tower we stopped for a rest, snacks, water, medical attention, kept walking. I was not tired.
David met me at the chess pavilion near Fullerton beach and we walked together after that. Near Belmont we turned left and found another rest stop. That's where we took the "boob mobile" to go to Seward Park for lunch. My thighs were starting to ache. A turkey sandwich and apple later, David left and I walked down Sedgwick to Armitage. My right groin was in pain. I tried to keep going through the pain to come out on the other side but was advised to end. I had walked 7 miles by then.
Sunday started very wet. It rained and rained in the morning. But I had to go out again. About 10 a.m. I started from the Chicago History Museum and walked down Clark Street under a steady drizzle. Not pleasant. Everyone wore plastic ponchos, foil capes, raincoats. At Clark and Grand my friend Myra joined me as we made our way to the end - Soldier Field again. It was exciting to have a friend with me and I am grateful for her company. Near the end David found us and I entered the finish line with joy, proud to have accomplished my goal. I walked 5 miles Sunday.
What an experience! I want to thank all the people who contributed to my walk. I raised $2525.00 - an extraordinary amount for a first time walker. And I gathered the love and hope of all the hundreds of walkers - women and men - who made the journey with me.