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Two Sisters, One race: Trust Your Body!

Me and my sister Aleta, who just recovered from a bout with thyroid cancer, both did the Portland to Coast walking relay race as part of Hood to Coast for the second time this year. I was on “Toe Jammin” an 8-person womens team, and Aleta was on “Rockin’ Walkers,” a 12-person co-ed team that included her husband, Aaron. We didn’t see each other during the whole race, but ongoing texts between us revealed that we were at the same exchange at St. Helens High School within minutes of each other. I already gave my advice for surviving the world’s longest relay race, but here is what my sister has to say about it: 

Aleta and her husband at far right with their Team Rockin’ Walkers

One year ago I joined a team for the Portland to Coast relay. I trained a little, but not too much because I had received the all-clear from a bout of thyroid cancer only about 6 weeks before the race. I just didn’t feel like going all out because if I did still have cancer, I felt like that would make it worse. (I make excuses.) I walked Glendoveer, a one-and-three-quarter mile wood chip path around a golf course, three to four times a week for the month before the race. I had an amazing time during the relay and with my team, but it was hard. Leg 20 was in full sun and leg 32 was pitch dark. It felt like we (the hubby walked with me since he was the driver) were NEVER going to get done with our legs! However, I was intrigued by how my body responded to such effort when it’s latest feat of athleticism was giving birth 7 years before.

Aleta all geared up for safety at Portland to Coast

So, needless to say I really wanted to do the relay again this year, but did I train? No, not really. I took a walking class that was vexed by rainstorms each session but one. I did a little online pilates here and there. I counted housecleaning and laundry as exercise. Oh, and grocery shopping. I homeschooled. I spent a lot of time in my minivan. A month before the race I worked on core stability and stretching. And guess what? My body still kicked in and did the work! Yes, I was more sore and had a nice blister but my point here is that our bodies are capable of doing much more than we give them credit for.

Aleta putting her pilates to use on Pittsburgh Hill

While walking this year, I heard a voice from the past that I’d never heard before. When I was about 10 or so, we were staying with my grandparents and I wanted to go walking with my grandma Burns. Understand this: Grandma was awesome, she almost always said yes, but this time she grumbled something about me not being fast enough. She was FAST. Everyone in town knew it. She didn’t drive so she walked…FAST. Well, Grandma passed away several years ago, but I’m going to prove her wrong and never turn down an offer if a kid wants to walk with me. And, I need to quilt more 🙂 After I have a walk. I’ve walked 3 times this week already. And actually, it kinda felt fast!

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