Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Woo-hoo! A Title!

So back at it - let's see if Blogger will melt down again. It's still not allowing titles, but it does seem to let me post pictures at least.

We made it up that hill and on to the next challenge. A 2nd go at the Golden Gate:

It was a toughy this time. You could see the campsite (Crissy Field) which marked the end of the day's walk, but damn it seemed far away! It was windy and cold - neither particularly bothered me compared to the traffic noise - it was incredibly wearing. I tried to concentrate on keeping my shoulders back and head up; the cold made it tempting to hunch over. 400 miles later, we reached the other side of the bridge.

And there was my husband Brian, handing out cookies to walkers and waiting to walk the last mile with me! It was awesome and I was thrilled to see him. Here's a picture of us earlier in the day before the walk started:

It was also good he was there because my feet had really started hurting and I was pretty wobbly. So he provided physical support as well as moral. We made it to Crissy Field:

Nathalie and I went in search of our luggage and couldn't find it - which turned out not to be a problem - John, our team captain's husband and some knitting friends had shown up during the day, and pitched tents and carried in luggage for the entire team. Sweet! I dug out my towel and clean clothes and off I went to the shower truck. Those showers. Wow. The.best.ever. Ok, maybe I'd have felt differently if I hadn't just walked all day but they were damned fine. It felt wonderful.

Next stop, medical tent! I got my blisters taken care of and waited in line for a massage. And waited...and waited... and then decided that I didn't want to sit outside in the wind all night waiting. The thought of a hot bath kept coming to mind, and as my husband was already spending the night at a hotel, I decided to join him. We had dinner at Mel's Diner (red beans and rice with cajun sausage - yum!) and went back to the hotel. I took a bath, stretched for a good 40 minutes, and then treated my feet to the softest (aloe impregnated) socks ever:
I tried to knit but couldn't - my hands kept cramping up, so I just bailed on it and watched TV until I fell asleep. I woke up at 5:30 on Sunday, stretched, and then we headed back to Crissy Field. Brian dropped me off, and Nathalie and I finished folding up the tent, and headed to the big tent for breakfast.

Breakfast was a formal occasion:

A few minutes later, off we went on day two!

I couldn't believe how well I had recovered from the previous day. I'd protected my blisters really carefully and stretched a lot. My feet, which the previous evening were all cramped and painful were absolutely fine. Nathalie felt good too.

The 2nd day took us through the city. Early in the walk we broke away from the crowd to go into a Pete's. Nathalie was excited to have a great cup of coffee. I was all happy to use a bathroom that had a flush toilet and running water in which I could wash my hands. It's the little things, I guess!
We took breaks:

and remembered to stretch:

We met up with a cheering friend from the day before:

This is the two of us with Pepper. Pepper spent the entire walk blasting "I Will Survive", singing and dancing along, and yelling out encouragement to everyone. We loved Pepper! She was so cool.

And I made a new friend. Meet Toni.

Or Tony. I didn't ask how to spell it.

We climbed some hills:
And stopped at a breast cancer center funded by the Avon Foundation. Our fund-raising dollars at work! Seeing something concrete that Avon does with the money we raise was really cool. Many of the staff were outside, thanking us for walking and making us feel like heroes, even though in my book, they're the heroes!

The last big stop was lunch.
We ate, we cooled off, we stretched, and headed out for the last leg of the walk. We were psyched! I was stiffening up, my knee was starting to hurt and I could feel my blistered toe, but nothing was going to prevent me from getting to that finish line on my own two feet. Or bloody stumps - whichever, I didn't care.

On we walked. And on, and on. My those last few miles went slowly! At about mile 10, I got a sudden, very sharp pain in my blistered toe - and then it kept vibrating; it felt like an electric shock. Very weird. I couldn't walk on it so I ended up limping my way to the last quick stop. Where Brian was waiting for us again, ready to do the last mile along with us. I so love this guy! Nathalie's husband met us a short while later; here are the two of them early on day one:

As we got closer to the finish, there were all sorts of people ready to greet us:

I *heart* the San Jose bike cops!

This is us with Phil. Phil was everywhere during the walk. He guided us during registration, directed traffic, cheered us on and was just generally fabulous. I'll bet everybody loves Phil!

We made it across the line, picked up our t-shirts, and then I headed to the medical tent to see why my toe was still vibrating.

It was pretty gross - and I could tell it would be even before I removed my sock. I won't go into detail - the picture is enough, but it was only one of about 5 really good-sized blisters. Ruby in the medical tent took good care of me though, and she had me cleaned and bandaged up in no time!

I couldn't fit my foot back into my sneaker so I just limped around with my bandaged foot looking much more wounded and dramatic than I actually felt.

As expected, the closing ceremony was great. It alternated between inspiring, funny and very sad. I'm sorry I have no pictures to post of that; my card was full. But it was cool, and moving, and Avon sure does a great job of making us feel like winners. They did a great job the entire weekend; it's not easy organizing and tending to 2400 plus walkers and they did it effectively, efficiently, and with incredibly good humor. Everyone on the crew was awesome.

After the closing ceremony we drove home to San Jose where I showered, had some pizza, and parked my tired butt on the reclining part of the couch and didn't move for the rest of the evening. If I hadn't had to go to work on Monday I probably would have stayed there for 24 hours.

But Monday came and off to work I went. Feeling fine. And tired. And happy. I don't know if I'll do this again, but Brian told me he thinks everyone should do something like this at least once in their life (he has done the AIDS ride from SF to LA 3 times), and I agree. If you can't do it for physical reasons, then volunteer to work the event; there's something for everyone. Just find something you really care about and give it your time and energy for a while. You'll be glad you did!


Alison said...

It sounds a bit weak to say "well done" - but really really well done for you...your fundraising, your walking, your blisters...everything.

Bogie said...

Owee! Congratulations on a successful journey & finish.

Kathy in San Jose said...

Yippee! I'm so proud of you and your strength, mentally and physically. And thanks for the encouragement to do volunteer work and to embrace a "cause".

Gwen said...


An awesome walk.