Despite sub-freezing temperatures, recent falls and injuries, asthma and fibromyalgia, I walked my first 5k. I walked my first 5k because I can still walk. I’m 51-years-old and I’m certainly not the fastest walker to be sure, but my point in walking today was to prove to myself and others that you still can. Age is not a limitation that you should ever place on yourself. And neither are health issues. My fibromyalgia has been an anchor holding me down and back so many times in the past, but no more. I cannot live my life with the limitations of my fibromyalgia – for myself or for my loved ones.
So, today I walked.
My team, or tribe as I call them, and I met for the walk. Today my tribe was small – simply two of us representing the Bombshell Warriors. Between us we share asthma, clumsiness, a lack of grace and an affinity for falling down – add to that my fibromyalgia and we’re quite the pair. We joked pre-race about our luck would be slipping on black ice and breaking something while racing or starting to race.
We met very early and went to Turner Field in Atlanta to walk the Hot Chocolate with 20,000 of our closest friends. And I say that because once you start walking, you become like a family. Again, I’m not a runner, and I would never take anything away from the runners. They are admirable and are serious in their quest for fitness and that ultimate “runner’s high” and aim to improve their times and qualifiers. But for the walkers, there’s camaraderie, encouragement, and bonding. Maybe they do that running as well but somehow I don’t think so; they have to really focus to maintain pace and breathing and all that technical stuff.
I’m not going to tell you it was easy. I struggled right off. My shin splints started bothering me immediately, and I started to lag behind. But true to the bonds of sisterhood and southern hospitality, Jocelyn and my fellow walkers didn’t leave me behind. They stayed with me, encouraged me and told me, no one gets left behind. We all finish. And so I kept going. The flavored marshmallows and energy drinks along the way didn’t hurt and neither did the encouraging words yelled out by the police who had gotten up at the crack of dawn for this assignment as they directed traffic and protected us as we walked safely through the streets of Atlanta.
I met some really amazing people today. One of them was the woman we finished the race with – although we never got her name. She now walks for causes which is a very noble thing to do. She does so because she lost her mother to pancreatic cancer in December 2014. Her mother only had one year after her diagnosis. Cancer is absolutely horrible; on that I think we can all agree. She has found her passion and will once again walk for pancreatic cancer this year. In finding her cause for walking, she also found her heart for becoming healthy again. She now walks four-five 5k’s each year for different causes and raises money for each. This year alone she is walking for pancreatic cancer, stroke awareness and several other cancer walks. She was amazing, and when I started to struggle again, she and Jocelyn were right there to encourage me on to the finish line. I didn’t get a chance to thank her, but I want to now with my words. I wish you all the best. Keep walking – what you do matters and have an awesome time at your reunion and walk at LSU!
And so back to my tribe. Jocelyn and I finished. It was difficult but exhilarating when we crossed that line. Somewhat ironic too because I think they announced our names as we crossed the finish line, but I couldn’t hear it and they mispronounced Jocelyn’s name. My ears are either getting really bad or they were frozen too much. The Bombshell Warriors were proud and mighty today, and we’re looking at our next 5k – possibly the Make it Glow walk for Autism – a cause we both support wholeheartedly.
But now back to why I walk. I walk today because I can and because honestly when I exercise it helps to keep my fibromyalgia in check. It’s also because I’ve seen what a lifetime of not walking, exercising and poor health choices can do. I walk today because my mother can’t. She can barely walk from her door to her mailbox. She is on oxygen 24/7 after being a smoker for 40+ years and then not exercising and keeping up with her nutrition. I don’t want that for my future so I need to walk for my future NOW. So I walked today and I will keep walking.