I woke up with my thighs, calves, and even ribs feeling sore and hard worked. They feel like a badge of honor, though. It tells me I pushed and I triumphed. Yesterday's training walk for the Half Sparkathon on January 12th was incredibly emotional. I had decided about 2 miles in that I just wouldn't make it beyond the 3 mile mark. The tests they have done on my lumbar nerves have irritated and worsened them to the point that it gets excruciating at about each quarter mile and I have to stop and sit down, even if only for 30 seconds to a minute. I get almost instant relief as the spinal canal opens and takes pressure off the nerves, allowing me to then get up and walk a bit more. I have the actual procedure to kill those nerves this coming Thursday. The hope it that I will get months if not more than a year of relief from the horrible shooting pain. I can live with the other pain in my back until I have no choice but to opt for surgery. The pain from the nerves sometimes takes me literally to my knees.
When we made it to the 3 mile mark, my future daughter-in-law Becca told me that it had taken me almost 2 hours to walk those 3 miles. This made me sob in frustration, anger, and disappointment. The anger ruled out, though. I know I will only walk a short distance next Saturday, if at all, because of the back procedure, and this week I wanted to push further than I had before. I told everyone with us that if they wanted to go on without me to just go, if they wanted to just turn and go back that was fine too, because I was going to keep going the way I had been, stopping every few minutes but not quitting. Everyone stayed right with me, my husband Charles (GPA-HONEY), my sister Donna, my dad (PAWPAW-DON) on his trike with the cooler full of water and snacks), Becca (BEXORZ), and our friend Debbie. Not one of them acted put out or held back as we plodded along, stopping every quarter mile or so for me to sit on a rock, bench, or sometimes even just to squat near a quarter mile marker until the pain eased. Eventually we made it to the 4 mile mark. This is the point that marked our furthest walk in that direction ever, where we turned around and finished with 8 miles under our belts. I was breathing hard and wheezing from the COPD and stopped long enough to use my inhaler. I knew if I only walked a few more steps I would go further than ever before. I decided to take it a quarter mile at a time.
We walked until we hit underneath the bridge over Rittiman Road. My phone app said 4.38 miles, but we couldn't proceed because of construction. I sat on the barricade for a moment and then my sister Donna and I decided to walk around the barricade and walk in a circle back to it until we hit just over 4.5 miles. The rest of our crew took the opportunity to sit or lay on the concrete barrier until we finished. Then we headed back. I was silently praying that I would make it and no one would have to go on ahead and bring a car to pick me up.
A mile into our journey back to the starting point we met up with Teresa (LIVESTRONG2010). She had already ridden her bike over 14 miles in preparation for the next day's Rock and Roll Marathon, but had parked her bike and walked 3.5 miles to meet up with us. She's one of my heroes, that smiling, generous-hearted lady. She ended up walking a total of 7 miles with us. While I am at it, reaching out to all of our San Antonio Team who were in the Rock and Roll Marathon this morning. You know who you are and you know how proud I am of you. We missed you at training yesterday, but know it was for a great reason!
By the last 2 miles I was experiencing a little dizziness along with the pain. I was nauseated, but determined. Debbie, who was our maid of honor nearly eight years ago, is the quintessential cheerleader. She kept talking about how blown away she was by me, how she hadn't walked in months and didn't think she would have been able to do this many miles were it not for me inspiring her. She and Teresa really boosted my ego big time with all of their compliments. Becca, being young and in much better shape, had run a little and then would head back to us to check on me. I just adore her. Dad rode ahead and circled back many times to give us some hydration. He's a 78 year-old dynamo. My sister Donna, with diabetic neuropathy in her feet, kept on plodding along at a steady pace. She cannot even feel the ground beneath her, yet she is as determined to do this as I am. Charles, bless his sweet heart, he quietly walks along, carrying my medications, my water bottle, my camera for any shots I find interesting, etc. He only gets stern with me when he has to. Last week he had to at the 3 mile mark and made me turn around. Good thing because I was in pretty bad shape for the next few days.
By the 8 mile mark I was experiencing a mixture of elation, sickness, and pain. My left foot, which has a stress injury that isn't healed, started to throb along with the screaming and shooting pains in my back. But I was at 8 miles! Every step from here on out was a personal best. Some how, some way, we managed to walk 9.37 miles. Yeah, it took 5 hours with all of those breaks, but it won't always. I'm counting on the procedure on Thursday allowing me to walk longer and with less pain...and hopefully faster! I'm so grateful for everyone who stuck it out with me. Made my heart smile! Especially happy that Teresa was there as she has been for my other happy milestones at 6 and 8 miles!
Remember that no matter how large you are, no matter what your health condition is, you can do more than you are doing now. I am doing this to prove that. I absolutely *WILL* walk those 13.1 miles in January to show you that it can be done by a fat, middle-aged, sick lady with lots of ailments. If I can do it, you can do it. Get up and get started. Now. Don't wait until it is too late.
p.s. Dad's total on his trike was 14 miles. Becca, with her running forward and walking back to us so many times, put in 11 miles. They are dynamos! Here are some pictures of our triumphant day. Dad is missing from the pictures because he had to jump in the van and grab a smoke (ugh!) but at his age and all he accomplished I just let it be. I'm so glad we did this together.
Here are Teresa and myself with my 9 mile smile:
My unwavering source of love and support - Me and Charles:
Hitting the 8 mile mark with determination to finish:
A quarter mile to go. Holding the mile marker for support, feeling really out of it:
Sister Donna and my future daughter-in-law Becca:
Teresa took this picture of us showing our 9 mile pride:
One last thing; this will sound like blatant bragging, and well, it is. I woke up this morning to find the following status update on my youngest daughter Carly's facebook page. She drops David off with me just about every single day as she goes to work full time and goes to school full time. She arranges her schedule as much as she can to allow me my Saturday morning training time child-free. This is what she posted:
"I don't think I ever say it enough but I am incredibly proud of my mom. Through everything, she always stands strong and puts others before herself. My mom walks every Saturday morning, this morning it was 9 miles. She made it all the way. I don't know how many of you have met my mom, but this is an incredible task for her as she isn't in the best health. She pushes herself because she wants to walk a half marathon and prove the doctors that she's tougher than any ailment. She watches David nearly every day while I'm at work and school and provides him with enough love for both of us. I look to her for strength and support whenever I feel run-down. She always makes sure I'm fed and happy, always worries about her kids and almost never about herself.
She is a truly amazing woman and I am blessed to have her in my life. She's in pain tonight after her walk but she's so proud to be doing what she is. I hope when I'm older and a grandma, I can still be as incredible as she is. ♥
I want everyone to go give their mother a hug and tell her how much you love her and appreciate all she does. "