11 September 2011

The San Francisco 3 Day Walk did not go anywhere nearly as well as I expected.

Joette and I at o'dark-thirty
Day one was awesome; I slept well the night before, was excited to get up and get going, and with teammate Joette by my side started off at a decent clip and we kept the pace up for quite a while. My toe started bothering me and after a few miles of hills it hurt like hell, but not enough to stop.

I don’t think there was anything worth complaining about (well, other than “a hill already?” at the start of the walk) until we reached the base of the hill leading up from Ocean Beach to the Cliff House, and that wasn’t even complaining so much as it was Oh God, we have to made it up that thing. It’s a fairly steep incline and just keeps going and going and going. And that’s not really an overstatement—it’s a long assed climb and it’s where my foot started to scream. Just when you think it’s almost over—you’re nearing the Cliff House—you look forward and realize you’re really only about halfway.

It’s nearly a steady climb all the way to the parking lot where lunch was held, and I’m guessing it was about half a mile of steep (well, *I* think it’s steep) uphill. It was cold and breezy at the lunch stop, but the views more than made up for that…plus I got to see the Spouse Thingy there and he helped slap some Moleskin on a few blisters I was getting.

My nemesis...but I made it
From there we headed into Land’s End where I would face what I dreaded most: the stairs. These suckers seem to go on forever. And when you get to what you think is the top (looking from the bottom, you think it’s a lot of steps, but hey, there’s the end!) the stairs just kind of curve around and keep going for a bit. A lot of the walkers just breezed right up; I admit, it was hard. I’m not a stair person; stairs are why we bought a single story house.

But I did get up those damn stairs, and I thought that was the worst of it.

There were a few more WTF inclines, one especially cruel hill near the Presidio golf course. It wasn’t steep, but it went on for-freaking-ever, and after the climb to the Cliff House and lunch, and then Land’s End, it just seemed mean.

Yet, we made it.

I don’t remember anything else being too terribly difficult. I lost Joette at the second to the last pit stop and took off thinking I was following her, but it turned out to be someone else. We met back up at the last pit, where we thought we were done walking.

At Pit 5, we waited for the ferry. And we waited standing in line, after walking almost 19 miles, for over half an hour. Things tend to stiffen up when you stand like that after walking so long. Everyone did some stretching and sitting on the ground (which just makes your back sore) and some more stretching, but by the time the ferry was there we were all done. We’d been told all day that Pit 5 was the end, then we’d get on the ferry and go to camp.

While waiting for the ferry, I started feeling a little nauseated, but assumed that was because of a long day and then having to wait. It made sense. I was freaking tired by that point. I sometimes get queasy when I’m overly tired.

Once on the ferry, while heads were on tables and people tried to snooze, and other people tried to not hurl, someone went around to tell us that once we got off the ferry, we had 1.5 more miles to walk.

Now, that’s not a lot. Anyone of those walkers could do a mile and a half in their sleep. But after 19 and then standing around for half an hour, and then sitting on the ferry for another half hour…we were pissed off.

San Francisco from Treasure Island
The view from Treasure Island about halfway from the ferry to the camp almost made up for that.

Camp itself…cold, windy, and noisy as hell all night long. Treasure Island sounded fun and I was all kinds of excited about camp being there, but the reality was not so fun.

Still…it was a sight to behold, all those pink tents. The shower trucks had about an hour long wait, but it’s still the best shower anyone will ever have. The food was really good, and when I went to find out what the little gift icon was on my credentials, I discovered a few of y’all sent me chocolates. And that totally made my day.

Arriving at camp
So. I ate a really good dinner, the Spouse Thingy had gotten to camp before I did and had out tent set up and mattresses inflated, and we hung out until we decided we wanted to shower. That’s when things kinda started to go wrong. The steps into the men’s showers were placed on a patch of ground not quite level, and when he stepped off the bottom one, down he went, twisting his ankle.

The medic wound up in the med tent getting his ankle taped up. It was “just” a sprain, but those suckers hurt. He said it was all right with the tape and only a problem when he was walking on it, so he felt like he was good to go for Day Two.

Mike the Medic builds a tent
Day Two we were up at 4:45 and dressed and headed for breakfast before 5. I hate morning, so I wasn’t surprised that my stomach was a little upset, but I approached the dining tent… and that’s when the world started to spin, the proverbial truck hit me, and I started feeling really nauseated. The Spouse Thingy sat down with a plate of food, and I had to get up and head for the port-a-potty, knowing he had to leave before I’d be able to get back.

No problem. I was sure the feeling would pass. It was morning, it always passes.

But then I barfed and it all escalated, so I headed for the med tent. They assumed it was dehydration—it’s what they see with walkers all the time, those who don’t drink enough on day one and wind up feeling like crap—and I was given some Zofram and they had me lie down and covered me up; everyone—including me—assumed on a few minutes the Zofram would work, they could pump some Gatorade in me, and I’d at least make the last ferry to for the walk.

Instead, I got worse, and they put me on a bus headed for the lunch area (camp closes after a certain time, no walkers are allowed to stay) and I hung out in the medical tent there until noonish. The Spouse Thingy was working there, so I at least was hanging out with someone familiar. After a while they got me to lie down and snooze until they had transportation for me back to camp.

So I knew Day Two was not happening, but I assumed with enough water and food and rest I would be good to go. I curled up in the tent and rested. I made myself drink and tried like hell to not hurl it all over the place. I ate half the lunch the Spouse Thingy got me before I left the lunch stop.

And I got worse.

This sea of pink is amazing in person
At about 3:30, after a whole lot of text messages checking up on me, he sent one saying he was going to get someone to bring him back to camp, and at 4:10 he was on his way. When he got there, he found someone to drive us all the way back to our car parked at the hotel in South San Francisco (she totally did not have to do that; she’s been driving people around since about 6 a.m. and I know she was dead tired—she was the one who took me from lunch back to the camp—but she seemed very happy to do it. And I wish I could remember her name, but I was too busy trying to not throw up in her car…)

Essentially, the Spouse Thingy red-carded me out of the walk.

No, I’m not annoyed. I know I wasn’t going to be able to walk on day three as sick as I was getting, and he knew another night sleeping in the wet cold was not a good idea for me, so he lost his last day of the SGK (and now won’t get his spiffy Victory Shirt) in order to get me home.

I feel a little (ok, a lot) pissed off about only doing one day. Logically, I know it’s not my fault, but there’s that little part that is just pissed off. I was so excited about doing it again, and to have to bow out for any reason…it ticks me off. It ticks me off because you guys donated a lot of money for me to walk 60 miles, and I only walked a little over 20. And I know most of you won’t roast me for it, but still…it bothers me.

So now I’m really glad I signed up for Atlanta. It feels like a chance to redo it all, and to do what I said I was going to do.

I am not done with this, not by a long shot. I owe these people a few more miles...

Onward to Atlanta


Marti said...

About those stairs: did they have to include those in the route? I don't like stairs either and have to walk 4 flights of them in an airless hallway to get to my apartment. I suppose there are worse things -- just the thought of 60 miles in 3 days!

I'm glad that you still want to go to Atlanta. I kicked in a little for that since you'd already reached your SF fund raising goal.

Sorry you got sick. You've worked hard for this and have so much spirit! Congrats for that.

Susan said...

Thumper, you walked all those 60 miles and more getting ready to walk the 60 miles in San Francisco! Want a metaphysical take on your SF experience?? Well, maybe you took on somebody's chemo-sickness so that person wouldn't have to.

Lady, you rock!

Anonymous said...

We did not donate money for you to walk 60 miles. We donated money because you were willing to TRY to walk 60 miles. You gave it your best shot and we're proud of you.

Anonymous said...

Hi Thumper, You rock!!!
In 2002 I did the Avon 3 day in Atlanta. I got dehydrated and was only able to walk 40 of the 60 miles. I too was so upset and felt like I was letting people (especially my sister (Kathy Garner, whose name is on your shirt) down. My sister lost her battle with breast cancer in 2006.I am ashamed to say that I have not done a walk other than Relay for Life since then. You inspire me. All the lame reasos that I have used are nothing compared to what you have dealt with. Thank you for inspiring me. I am going to sign up for a walk and start training ASAp.
Janice in Shelby, NC

Angel and Kirby said...

You are awesome! You did 20 miles more than a lot of us! I hope you are feeling better ans it was not any serious bug!

caircair said...

Agree with Angel and Kirby - how many people (including me, sad to say) aren't willing to even TRY to walk 6 miles in one go, much less 60? You not only got up and began training, you succeeded last year, and this year trained again and signed up for not one, but TWO walks! Even if the first one didn't work out as you had hoped, you took more steps to get there than I've taken in years. You inspire me in so many ways (which is why I'm an avid follower of your blog). Lady, you not only Rock, you Rock HARD!

Derby, Ducky said...

Hugs and purrs Thumper. You did good and we, well mum, sends money, not so much paying you to walk, but to help support a good cause. Cuz she's got these boobies we like to sleep on and we need to keep them safe.

Crystal said...

You had an amazing walk, sick or not! Don't beat yourself up, you had to do what is best for you. Sounds like you are well trained for Atlanta too! And no steps or hills that last a half mile, there may be some steep ones but you will probably be rocking them better than some of the Atl natives!

See you in Atlanta! 4 weeks to go!