*sorry I did not mean for this to post today but our internet is evil and cut out on me halfway through and it lost half of the post (I cannot stand rewriting, it never comes out as good the second time!) and apparently the date that I wanted it to post on. I'm so sorry that the first thing you'll read about the walk today is a Debbie Downer moment!*
Before I get to the good stuff tomorrow, I have to get some stuff off my chest. There were several things about the Avon Walk that disappointed me. I learned a valuable lesson through all of this and I can say that I definitely will not be one of those people next year wearing an alumnae button. I didn't realize it until this weekend but (somewhat understandably) our fundraising was valued far, far more than the physicality of the challenge we endured. I realize that their main goal is to fundraise for the cause and I am completely behind that, however, the physical nature of walking the 39.3 miles in a weekend is what inspires our donors to give money to the cause. I felt that my accomplishment should have been acknowledged a bit better than it was.
I cannot even describe the disappointment I had in the finish line. It's just a blown up thing that says FINISH and it was so crowded with spectators that we struggled to get a picture taken. It was utter chaos. There was no 39.3 milestone anywhere to take a picture. The first thing you came to when you crossed the "line" was the Avon Walk Shop and a booth where you could sign up for next year. Another quarter mile away was the medical tents, food and water. At that point, I felt a little hustled. I had absolutely zero interest in signing up for next year or spending my money on their product because they don't value what I did enough to provide necessary things for me after the physical exertion I did all weekend. (For those in the audience, when I ran the marathon and at most other races I've done, you cross a finish line in an organized manner, are handed a bottle of water and some food immediately. I didn't appreciate not being able to find those items and having to ask someone after crossing the finish line cluster of insanity.)
The mile markers, oh, the mile markers. I cannot even begin to explain how awful they were. A good portion of the 39.3 (probably about 15 miles over the two days) were on the lakeshore path. The path has mile markers that were done by the park service and a local running group. My sources with Garmin watches told me that they are pretty darn accurate. After spending a great deal of my summer and early fall training on the path, I know it well enough to know when mile markers are off. There was one part in Sunday's walk that was so blatantly wrong that the organizers should be embarrassed. It's too long of a story to tell but I know there was only half a mile between two mile markers and then supposedly the next "mile" took us 40 minutes, which there is no way. I think they just arbitrarily put rest stops and mile markers wherever they could, which is fine, but don't tell me they are at a certain mark when they actually aren't there. In my book, no mile markers are better than obscenely wrong mile markers. (I also can't count on one hand the number of times that someone told us, "Just around the corner and you'll hit mile XX." We'd assume we missed the mile marker until about half a mile later we'd come to it. Not cool when you are exhausted and your mind is messing with you enough already. Trust me you don't need a volunteer to mess with you about mileage.)
I even google mapped walking the end of the course. What they told us was 1.2 was really much closer to 2 miles. What all of this means is that I have no idea how much we really walked! I'd like to think that we did walk at least 39.3!
They were so secretive about the route during this entire time! We didn't know it until the actual morning of and even then, the map I have looks like a squiggly line and there are 2 roads drawn in. It was impossible to tell Adam where to be to meet us on the route. I was a bit irritated when I found out that it was the same route as the year before. As a first time walker, they made it extremely hard for me to have any sort of support. We could have had Brooke's friends come meet us along the way but we had no idea where to tell them to be! I personally hypothesize that they give us such a bad route map so we can't go home and check them up on the mileage. At first we thought they wouldn't have known the route until the last minute because of street closures. However, not a single street was closed for the entire 39.3 miles. You read that correctly, we did the entire thing on trails and sidewalks. (In case you were wondering, that's why it took us 11 hours the first day. We had lots of intersections to cross and cross walks back up really quickly with hundreds of people.) I was completely caught off card by this. I had no idea how the day was really going to have such a stop/start/stop/start nature. If you had been doing the walk for years and years, it would have been much easier to tell someone where to be if they wanted to come and sit and have lunch with you. They did give several "cheering station" locations but those were never good places to sit and rest and I would have liked to have known where lunch was going to be (especially the first day in the pouring rain, we could have sat in the car, haha!).
I hate feeling like I potentially come off as a jerk in this post but if anything, I always try to be honest. In this case, I honestly felt like my physical accomplishment was devalued by the Avon Walk organizers. It's not something that I will ever consider doing again or recommend to anyone because of the poor organization. With that being said, I have absolutely no regrets in doing it. I enjoyed spending the weekend with a friend who challenged herself in a completely new way and became a marathon finisher on Saturday! The fundraising was important and I completely understand that, but at least in my case, I felt that my family and friends donated because I was doing something big. Something that they wouldn't or couldn't do themselves. I would have liked to feel like that was as important as the money to the organizers.