Monday, August 30, 2010

The hills are alive, with the sound of OMG WTF?


All righty...the Walk will be in San Francisco and San Francisco has hills. Lots and lots of hills. It's almost like some sadist sat down in city planning over a hundred years ago, rubbed his hands together while cackling, and declared this would be the most painful city ever to walk around in. But, since it has the hills we'll all be facing in October, those are the hills I want to train a bit on.

So, in the interest of a half fun day of taking in the city, and a half OMG-WTF! day of walking hills, we drove to Concord, hopped on the BART train, and went into San Francisco.

Powell Street near Market Street
The picture doesn't show what I hoped it would, which was the sheer I'm gonna walk THAT? feeling I had when I looked past the cable car.

We'd already walked about a half mile up Market Street when we decided we were going the wrong way; we turned around, got our bearings, and turned up Powell Street...and all I saw was the road creeping up toward the sky.

But we pressed onward, and walked. We climbed three city blocks and then stopped to try to help some kid dragging his suitcases, who wondered where his hotel was (all hail the iPhone and Google Maps...), decided to turn and walk a block to the right so give my knees some time on flatness, and then headed back up a little bit of a hill.

Yours truly, near Ghiradelli Square
We wound up wandering through Chinatown (I think...it was certainly all Asian and the shops were Asian and 90% of the shoppers were Asian, and I couldn't even read price signs...and there was the Chinese Hospital, which I take as a clue) took a street that angled off where we were, and ended up at Ghiradelli Square.

Laugh if ya want, but I've never been there and just wanted to see it.

I get bonus points for resisting the lure of the chocolate.

After that we walked along the Wharf, down to Pier 39, and then wandered back down Powell Street in search of the start of the cable car line.

Maybe not thrilling, but at least I got to ride one!
Yes, we could have walked back; it's only about 3 miles from that point, but I've never been on a cable car, and if you're going to be all touristy in SF, you take the freaking cable car.

It was not the thrill I'd hoped for.


We headed into the Westfield Mall to scope it out; it's touted as being really big, and it is in square feet terms, but not so much in quality shopping. That was fine, since we were there to walk and not really shop, though we did look for a sweatshirt for me since I was getting cold. I settled for a black track jacket, and am oddly happier with it than I would have been a sweatshirt.

We also walked up and down Market Street, until it was late enough that we knew we should head back. All in all we walked for a good 5 hours, less the time we sat down to have a quick lunch. And it was quick, I'm guessing 20 minutes from the time we sat down until we were back wandering around.

I suspect we'll do it again next week, although without going all the way to the Wharf; I may just do hills around Union Square, and let the Spouse Thingy chill out at the Square. He admitted that at the end he was ready to stop walking...I honestly could have kept going, and wanted to, but realized I couldn't because of the time.

It definitely beat walking the Dixon flat flat flat sidewalks.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

I'm totally walking...


Golden Gate Bridge 8-26-10
I have been walking...not "training" walking, exactly, but I'm getting the miles in.

The Spouse Thingy had a few days off, so I've been getting the time in a little creatively; on the 25th we checked out a mall near Sacramento that we'd never been to, and we spent a good two hours walking around there.

On the 26th, we went to San Francisco so that I could see the Golden Gate Bridge up close, and we walked across that, and then spent some time walking around Union Square and then Pier 39.

Yesterday we walked around a flea market, and today we walked around Six Flags. Since we don't tend to ride a lot of the rides, we walk around looking at stuff, and logged in at least 6 miles there today.

Tomorrow we're probably going back to San Francisco, and all we're planning on doing is walking the Wharf, seeing what's there that we haven't seen before.

Lots of walking going on, just not "walking."

But it totally counts, right?


Monday, August 23, 2010

Why ask Why?

Simple enough question. “Why are you doing this?”

Look, I've kind of expected that question all along and have had a pat answer: nothing I've gone through—none of the chronic pain (I'm not proud, I'll list it: Fibromyalgia, Chronic Myofascial Pain, and arthritis in my lower spine and in both hips), the months in the wheelchair, the brain tumor, the marathon peeing and drinking and wondering when the hell my meds will kick in, or worse when they'll wear off—has been half as hard as someone else hearing they have breast cancer, and then what they go through in treatment. The chemo. The radiation.

It sounds like a great answer, right? Doing this long walk because even when you add it onto everything else, it still seems insignificant.

But before I could type out my at answer, I was hit with, “And don't give me any of the typical bullshit. I don't really need to know why you're doing it. YOU need to know why you're doing it.”

Well...fine. Color me stumped and momentarily speechless.

“Don't tell me either that you're doing it because The Grate Jeter Harris Hizself's mom asked you to. Why are YOU doing it?”

The person posing the question? He doesn't really expect an answer. He's the kind of person that asks random crap just to make other people ponder themselves. I imagine he asks himself random crap like this all the time, just for the exercise of self-introspection. I imagine he asks his wife things all the time to just get her to stop in time and in place for a moment, to simply consider.

I had plenty of time over the weekend to ponder the why of it all. I distracted myself from the sheer number of steps required to complete 17 and then 13 miles with a really good audiobook, but that didn't keep my brain from working in the background while I was listening to Joshilyn Jackson read her own work. The last two miles of Saturday's 17 hurt like hell, and I pondered it over and over.

What the hell am I doing to myself?

When I got up Sunday morning and had knee pain that rated an 8 on a 1-10 scale, I briefly considered not walking at all. Why go through the pain? After all, this is the training portion, this isn't the “real walk.”

Except that it is.

I got up and walked, not because I'm a masochist, and not because I'm some wonderful person who said she'd do it, so she's doing it. I got up and walked because all the steps leading up to The Walk count. They're part of the process. They're part of bigger picture. They're just as real as It is.

I'm not kidding anyone; this training is kicking my ass, and it fucking hurts. That pain you feel the first day after starting a new exercise routine? I start from there. My best days start from some version of that. I knew that when I accepted the invitation to sign up for this walk, and I decided to do it in spite of it.

And the truth is that I didn't say I'd do it because getting a diagnoses of cancer is harder than anything I've gone through; I didn't do it because chemo and radiation and mastectomy are more difficult. When it comes down to it, I wanted to do this because what I've gone through has been hard. It's been gut wrenchingly hard, and it's been Phuckit-am-I-going-to-die? hard.

Hearing a bad diagnoses? I've been there. I remember what it felt like to be told I had a tumor clinging to the underside of my brain, and that it was big. I remember the dread of being told that because it was big, and because they just couldn't tell from the MRI exactly what type of tumor it was—something harmless or something insidious—that it had to come out; I know now how fear drips from your fingertips in electric slivers. I will never forget the feeling of checking into the hospital and just not knowing. How badly will this hurt? How long will it take? Will I wake up and hear “Sorry, but it sucks to be you”? Will I wake up at all? I still feel the resignation of knowing that I wasn't getting out of it, that someone was going to reach into my head and cut something out, and if I bolted it just meant more uncertainty.

Will I live, or will I die?

I've done hard.

I don't want other people to do hard.

I don't want some 20-something young woman who hasn't even started her life to have to face anything that hard. Or some 20-something young man. Or 30 or 40-something. 90-something.

This wouldn't even have to be a walk for breast cancer. My mother had lymphoma; I could easily do a walk for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, and I may at some point. Hell, I probably will. My father had kidney cancer. I could easily walk for symptom awareness, how to save your own life.

It's all hard. It's all fucking hard.

But this? I can do this. If any or every step I take means there's a small chance that someday someone else won't have to sit there and hear about some wayward thing growing in their body, that's some of the why of it all.

The possibilities.

The hope.

That doesn't make me some Pollyanna tightass halo-glowing wonderdork; I'm not doing anything thousands upon thousands of other people aren't doing and haven't already done this year. Hell, if I hadn't been asked to join a team*, it never would have crossed my mind. And when I was asked, it scared the hell out of me.

Because I knew it would be hard.

I will probably find myself weighed down with more doubts over the next month; the next long walk weekend is 18 miles one day and (I think) 15 the next. It's going to hurt, and I'm going to complain about it. Not whine, but complain, because it's going to hurt, and it's going to be hard.

The thing is, hard isn't fatal.

Why am I doing it? I think the answer is because I need to know that I can. That everything that's been hard hasn't been in vain. So that I can say I damn well did it.

It's a selfish motivation.


I can live with that.

*Blogger Babes for Boobies...if you haven't donated yet, please consider picking one of my kickass teammates to toss a few bucks at.

What 30 miles in two days looks like:

Afterward, anyway...

Sunday, August 22, 2010


Ok, 13 miles after 17 miles = a whole lot of suckitude. My feet held up just fine, but the rest of me? Not so much.

I'm not sure what I did between last night and around 4 am, but I woke up then with ropy pain behind my right knee--ligaments or tendons, I'm not sure--and by this morning it was a clusterfuck of "do I walk or not?"

I loaded up on Naprosyn and walked. And at 5 miles I was sucking down Motrin.

At 7 I sat down on the first bench I could find for a few minutes.

Then at 8 miles., because my hips were joining in on the whining.

And at 9, thanks to my back.

Took a break at ten.

Sat down at 11.5...and then shuffled the rest of the way home. I walked slowly all day; it took me about 40 minutes longer than it should have, and I spent a good part of the day wondering how the hell I'll be able to do two 20 mile days, much less three.

But...I'm hoping for pain free days on the walk. My feet should be all right--the socks seem to be just what I needed--and I'll have adrenaline and a goal to walk towards.

But still, today? It sucked hard and every step I took was lead-weighted with doubt. It was not my best day, not by a long shot.

Saturday, August 21, 2010



Ok, I did 17 miles and didn't die.

The last couple of miles...that hurt. Really, really hurt.

But...no blisters. Sore feet bottoms, but no blisters.

I got the bright idea last night to buy an audiobook to listen to while walking today, thinking it would help...and it did. It was easy to get lost in the story instead of counting down miles, so it wasn't until I'd piled up over 10 miles before I realized foot fatigue was setting in. I really felt it at 13 miles and just wanted to be done, and wound up sitting down almost every mile after that for a couple of minutes, but I hit the door at 17 miles and only have 3 minutes left on the audiobook.

Would have finished it, but the pool was calling my name.

I might have to d/l another one for tomorrow.

Friday, August 20, 2010

And we're walking, walking...


Alrighty...so yesterday I did 6 miles.

Nothing special.

Nothing spectacular.

This is good. Because I did six miles without any new blisters and without any weird pain. There was a little tugging right around where the blisters were, but that's it. Just a little tugging.

I didn't do any special prep--I wore the new Wrightsocks double layer running socks and some antiperspirant  on my feet, but that's it. No Moleskin, no blister bandages (though I did have both on hand, just in case.)

Tomorrow...17 miles. I'll take 3 extra pairs of the spiffy new socks along and change every 5 miles. and I'll add Body Glide to the prep, but I won't cover anything with Moleskin unless it seems like I need to along the way.

I'm also intending on eating my way through town...those calories don't count, right? RIGHT?

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Moving On...


Pretty, eh?

The good news is that the blister has ripped open and is drying out. The bad news is that the blister has ripped open and exposed tender new flesh that seems ripe for more blistering.

We shall see.

Yesterday I managed 5 miles; it was questionable when I stopped, whether or not my feet would have help up for further distance. I'm not sure what to do for tomorrow's walk; I should trim the dead skin away, but I don't know if I should cover it then or see what happens and deal with it if it looks like there are going to be further issues.

I hate my feet, I really do...

Sunday, August 15, 2010

I'm Still Around...

I didn't stop walking...exactly. Somewhere between the first of the month and the sixth, there were a few miles, and on the 6th I did 15, and on the 7th I did 11.

On those days, my blisters raised their ugly heads, and I decided I'd better take it easy for a few days and figure out what I needed to do to get rid of them, get them to callus over, and then walk this past weekend. Surely I could do eight miles one day and six the next, even after a break.

I came across a few answers: Wrightsocks double layer anti-blister running socks (guaranteed blister free; I'll believe it when I see it), witch hazel to dry the blisters out, and antiperspirant to keep my feet from sweating so much. I bought the witch hazel and was planning to shop for the socks, but then my dad died and all training plans went out the window.

Instead of walking on Friday, I was at his funeral (which was, oddly, a damned funny experience) and on Saturday I was on a plane headed home.

The thing is, Thursday night, after having wandered through airports and the like, those blisters were nasty looking.

Friday they were no better.

Last night, when I got home, they'd painlessly opened up, drained, and were drying out. And they look like they'll callus over.

I'd like to think my dad had a hand in that.

Today the Spouse Thingy and I drove to a Fleet Feet in downtown Sacramento and found the socks, then got some antiperspirant for my feet, and this evening I'll take a short walk to see how it feels, and if it feels all right, I'll get up in the morning and go a little longer.

Because, really, if I can get control of the blisters, I don't think the 17 mile walk this weekend will be too hard (though the following 13 might hurt...)

I reserve the right to whine just before and after, anyway.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

The suckiest mile


was the last one. The last half mile, that really sucked. I got to the small park near our house, knew I was within a quarter mile from the front door, but still needed a half mile to complete 14.

I nearly said to hell with it, that was close enough, but no...I walked around the park once, lapped back, and hit the door at 14.01.

I did the same thing today that I did last week: broke it up into less mentally challenging chunks. At five miles, I planned on stopping to get a cheap McD's drink and change my socks (got a burger, too, because hell, I was hungry so why the hell not?)

At 10 miles I stopped for frozen yogurt and to change my socks (because, hell, I didn't get fries with the burger, so why the hell not?)

I had an unexpected detour into the grocery store because I realized my Camelback was getting low, and grabbed a drink to go, then headed towards the big city park.

And at 12 miles, my feet and knees were telling me "Enough!"

By then it was hot out, I was tired, and I just wanted to get home. Which was a mile and a half away. Funny how that worked, eh?

I think 14 would have been less problematic yesterday; today I was already a little tired when I started out, and while the first ten were all right, that last four kind of sucked. Especially the last half mile...I'm pretty sure I shuffled through that one at a wonderful 23 minute/mile pace.

Now, if only I had some vodka slush to cap off the afternoon...