Way back in the fall, when Walking Partner convinced me to train for the Moonwalk with her, I think that I secretly believed that the day would never come. Oh, sure I will walk 26 miles with you in the middle of the night. Sounds like fun!
As I look at this picture, I can clearly remember feeling gripped by anxiety -- despite the game smile. The four of us had caught an early flight from Heathrow to Edinburgh, done a bit of shopping, eaten a late lunch, attempted to nap, and finally made our way to the massive pink tent that served as official Moonwalk headquarters. From 8:30 pm to 11:30 pm, we had eaten vegetarian pasta, been treated to a neck and back massage, danced a bit of salsa, (well, that was just me), queued for the port-a-loos, and admired the creative genius and exhibitionistic daring of 12,000 women and men -- most of whom were wearing nothing on their top half but a decorated BRA. Flowers, ladybugs, fried eggs, birds in a nest, bagpipes, and numerous sequined and feathered concoctions were among the many interpretative possibilities. Overall, the display reminded me (once again) that I am one of the least creative and most cold-natured persons currently dwelling in the UK.
In case you weren't aware, the Moonwalk raises money for breast cancer research. Some bright spark lit on the clever idea of having the participants compete in their bras . . . a gimmick that certainly draws the crowds. Although we were wearing our bras throughout, I will freely admit that a t-shirt (and a hooded sweatshirt) covered my bra for the duration of the event. (Even in June, Scotland is COLD!) Only this picture preserves our brief moment of bra-very.
(Check out Becky's tan! That was from Sports Day!!)
By the time we actually started walking, just before midnight, we were feeling pretty cold and tired. Thankfully, a surge of adrenalin got us fired up again. (Truly it is impossible to explain the anticipation and excitement one feels when massed with so many costumed others.) At the very beginning, Judith and I "lost" Karen and Becky -- who had, shall we say, such a "laidback" attitude to the event that they were drinking pink champagne on approximately Mile 19. My competitive spirit, previously unknown to my Walking Partner, carried me through a great many miles. (I'm sorry to say that I took great pleasure in vaulting ahead of other walkers. Yes, I know that it wasn't really a race.)
Unobservant at the best of times, I retain only the vaguest sense of where we walked or what we saw. At times, the narrowness of the road, the darkness, and the crowded conditions meant that I kept my eyes mostly trained on whatever was likely to trip me up. At the darkest bit of the night, we walked around a great hilly mound and I remember seeing swans. It was rather eerie and peaceful -- quite a contrast to walking down the Royal Mile, where we were surrounded by cheering crowds on both sides. I was conscious of not giving very good value to the voyeurs, as I strolled by in my t-shirt, but happily we were walking by a young man who was a real crowd-pleaser -- and we benefited from his reflected glory. Not only was he wearing a bright pink wig, but he also had a sort of conical bustier (think Madonna on the Like a Virgin tour) which was adorned with flashing "fairy" lights. (Fairy lights would be the correct "technical" term here; I cast no aspersions on his character or sexual persuasion!)
Although I would have remembered this young man anyway, our brief acquaintance on Miles 4 and 5 blossomed into a walking partnership by Mile 15. At this point, he had lost both wig (scratchy!) and walking partner (bum knee), and so our duo become a trio. Named "Bayne" -- a family name, he assured us -- all I could think of was the obvious potshot of "you are the bane of my existence." Even chattier than I am, Bayne semi-annoyed WP by personally thanking every single volunteer who had showed up to cheer us on, hand out water bottles and warn us of oncoming traffic. Poor Bayne: He obviously felt that his life's objective was to defy the dubious legacy of his name! As one people-pleaser can certainly recognize the traits of another, I had nothing but sympathy for him. Also, he really made me laugh.
Bayne and I had an ongoing joke about "catching Bunny" -- and this bit of silliness carried us through most of the last 10 miles. The "Bunny" in question was wearing bunny ears, of course, and always seemed to be just ahead of us -- just out of our reach. Every time we threatened to catch up with her, she would start running to catch up with her own (really fast!) walking partner. It made us feel rather like greyhounds who can never quite catch the mechanical rabbit who spurs them on. The funny thing about Bunny is that she had quite a large backside, and it seemed to move in a rolling motion that was counterpoint to the rest of her body. (WP found it deeply mesmerizing.) When I offered up that Bunny had a lot of "junk in the trunk," I discovered that this particular bit of hip-hop lingo was a foreign language to my walking partners. Wherever you are, Bunny, I've got nothing but RESPECT for you.
My favorite bit of the walk was in the middle -- when we were walking down by the sea. The sun came up around 3:30 am, and it was so beautiful to see the streaky dawn sky reflected in the water. (As you can see, I've got my own "bunny tail" -- that crumpled silver ball is supposedly a high-tech blanket.)
The first 20 miles were relatively easy, so I was surprised to discover that the last 4 miles were, well, tortuous is a word that comes to mind. I felt like nothing but sheer willpower, Bayne's good natured joking, WP's consistent lead on me, and a small handful of peanut M&M's kept me going for the last hour.
Unfortunately, the last two miles of the walk were uphill and decidedly "urban" in smell and scenery. Our hotel was in the same insalubrious area, known as the "Pubic Territory" (Edinburgh's version of the Red Light District, apparently), according to our taxi driver. Although it was tempting to take the shortcut straight back to the hotel, we persisted to the finish line to get our "medals." WP figures that our official race time was 6 hours and 33 minutes. Quite respectable, really. Although we had to hobble back to the hotel, and stop briefly for me to heave, we were having toast and tea by 7 am. Coincidentally, it is the same meal that you are served after giving birth in the UK.
As with childbirth, it has taken me several days to feel normal again. Even though we found the energy to shop for several hours on Monday, and drink two of the most delicious margaritas I have tasted outside of Texas, I experienced a near total collapse yesterday. (Delayed reaction, perhaps? Or just my body's natural defense mechanism against the threatening piles of laundry and to-do list stuff?) However, I did manage a "gentle" walk of four miles or so this morning, and discovered that I have, indeed, recovered the full use of my limbs.
Just like I never thought that the walk would actually have to be walked, I now have a similar feeling of disbelief that I DID actually walk the walk. The whole experience feels rather surreal, actually. But then a lot of life feels that way . . .
I suppose that's why you get a medal. So you know you've been there.
Moonwalk postscript: The only blister I ended up getting was from that bloomin' bra!