Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Day Two-13.1 Miles

Whoever thought it was a good idea to start long walks early in the morning is half right. It's a good IDEA, in practice, it could use some work.

With the waking up at 5:45 the next day, and general denial about how early it was and the distance facing me that day, it was all I could do to walk. As in stand up. My knees had swelled, my legs (even with the stretching throughout the evening) were stiff, and my head couldn't quite understand why anyone would get up this friggen early in the morning.

But get up we did. Packed the stuff, got dressed, took down our tent, took the bags up to the truck, then were faced with an issue. It was nearly 7:15, and the breakfast lines were loooooong. About 100+ people were in each line. Luckily, for those who didn't want eggs (ew) and sausage (yum) there was a much shorter cereal line, where oatmeal was served. Oatmeal is a great breakfast, sticks to the ribs, so that's the line I hobbled up to. There was a great tradition that I learned while eating. About 10 bicycle officers from San Jose were riding along with the walkers (some with speakers and music on the back of their bikes). My favorite was the gentleman who acquired a lady's pink tutu and wore for the duration of the Sunday walk. Every time a group of officers came into the hall to eat their breakfast, they received a round of applause. I learned from an officer the day before that some were on duty, some took vacation days, others came in on their days off to help out on the walk. Thanks, San Jose Police-you guys are awesome!

After stretching for a few minutes, I hit the road about 7:50. The first part of the walk was up the hill to the top of McLaren park. There were stairs and hills and every single person there complained of aches and pains and hills. Oh, the hills! We had more hills on the second day then the first, keeping in mind on the first day we walked from the shore up the hill to the Golden Gate Bridge. Easily the first mile was uphill. Traumatic experience.

The cheering stations on the second day were a lot of fun. My favorite group was the "Hookers for Hooters" group-a collection of ladies dressed sexily who patted all the men on the butt as they walked by. There was a van decorated as a yacht whose driver was a cruise director. Another was the Mystery Van with Velma and Wilma dancing in their 70's gear. Two SUVs of women as butterflies had handiwipes along the way-a welcome cleaning item! And then there were the people who randomly came out to cheer us on. The family on the stoop with a little girl holding a sign saying "Go walkers!" The man holding a baby who waved at us as we went by. People in windows, smiling and waving. The man by his front window playing the ukulele and singing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow". And the people at the cheering stations who yelled "thank you walkers!" Every time I heard thank you, I teared.

The route was different on day 2, though we went through some same neighborhoods. We passed Rich W.'s house (hi Rich and Shelly!) by a block. Spent time walking up the Guerrero hill because Mission was closed off for Sunday City Streets. Thought long and hard about dropping in at Tartine for a croissant, until I saw the line was halfway down the block. Ate more of the graham cracker peanut butter and jelly sandwiches (super-yum). We went up the Duboce hill and then up onto Haight by the new Mint. Passed by Dwayne's place, and then up to Alamo Square. Great place to stop for lunch, horrible hill to walk up. Lunch was at the 7.3 mile mark-only 5.8 miles left!

And those 5.8 miles were amazing. As in, it was amazing that I was able to continue walking for that much longer. My feet hurt. I could feel the toenails bumping the front of my shoe with each step. The bottoms of my feet felt like they were being peeled off. My knees complained with each step up and down the curb. Numb would have been a relief. Advil-almost cut out the pain, but more dulled it to a soft knifing. We walked down Market for a long time. Here's what's great about Market-the most interesting things are said by people walking past you. Here's what's disturbing about Market-you don't want to hear what the people are saying.

And there are lights. Every friggin' light was red. So I would have to stop and forget how to walk until the light turned green, when the only thought in my head was "are you serious? I'm not there yet?"

Then there is the Embarcadero. LOVE the Embarcadero. No lights. People move (if you know how to make them). And I have walked that route so many times, I know how far it is to the end. Just had to get to Beach St., then past the Aquatic Park and up that last hill to the end.

I nearly gave up.

There was a sweeper van that stopped ahead of me on the Embarcadero to cheer with a group. I saw the van. I could have waved it down and gotten in and listened to my body and been done with the whole thing. The temptation was so strong, I was so tired and sore, it nearly broke me.

Then, as I'm walking down Beach St., my mom called. She was at the end and wanted to know if I needed someone to walk the last part with. Mom met me at the Aquatic Park. Seeing her, knowing she was there for me, having her hold my hand up the last hill, was the best feeling that weekend. She was there when others couldn't make it, and the thing I needed most at that point was a familiar face who could love me and help me make it through to the end.

I made it.

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