We drove into San Francisco on Friday afternoon. If you have ever driven into the city from the east, you’ll understand what a feat that was for us. It seemed like we couldn’t get to the host hotel quick enough. Oh, and I was so ready to get there and to meet my fellow Solo Strutters.
Once we got there, I headed to Check-In Friday where I met up with my fellow Solo Strutters, picked up my hat, and headed over to get one of my reward prizes that never showed up at the house. I’m so glad that I did Early Check-In because that line was no joke.
Day 1: Saturday
4 a.m. wakeup call! I had to be down at opening ceremonies by 6 a.m. I was so excited and nervous, and I did not sleep very well the night before. Since the host hotel and the opening ceremonies were so far apart, we had to use Lyft to get there. This was the first time I have used Lyft (hubby used to use Uber all the time), and I will have to say it was very fast and convenient for me as a walker and hubby as a spectator.
Opening ceremonies was more than I had expected. There were a lot of encouraging words as well as stories from survivors and youth crew members. After a quick stretch/warm up, we were finally stepped off at about 6:30 am.
Getting moving with almost 2,000 people turned out to be more of a feat than I ever imagined. It was more like a shuffle for the first mile or two. At about the third mile, we crossed the Golden Gate Bridge. It was an AMAZING experience.
Once I stepped off the bridge, it was time to walk through the city. I think I saw more of the city than my husband ever has…and he WORKS in San Francisco. Haha. But this year’s route changed, and instead of continuing north after crossing the bridge, we turned around and headed back into San Francisco.
Speaking of husband, he met me at the second rest stop at about mile 9 and walked with me all the way to lunch (13-mile marker). I couldn’t believe that he did that since he didn’t have the proper shoes on and was carrying a bag twice the weight of the one I was carrying. But, I was so grateful that he did. When I was on the bridge, I found out that my headphones were not working well with my iPhone and was causing my phone to shut down due to battery issues. So, listening to music was out of the question as I didn’t feel comfortable using my external speaker.
We ended up walking through Chinatown which, on a Saturday, was EXTREMELY crowded. I couldn’t believe that the Avon 39 planners would have us walk through all of that.
After lunch, I embarked on the next 13 miles on my own. I was so inspired and overwhelmed by this point that I decided that I needed a little walking music. Besides the crowds, we had to contend with a VERY hilly route (at one point we walked straight uphill for five blocks) and innumerable crosswalks. It seemed like I couldn’t get to the finish line fast enough.
I finally reached mile 26 at 5:30, nearly 9 hours after I began. I reached the finish line for the day a few minutes later. Thank goodness I pushed myself earlier in the day as I was just 30 minutes shy of being swept by the sweep van. Had I been swept, I would’ve felt so defeated. Walking a FULL marathon (26.2miles) was a huge bucket list item of mine. I was so happy to get to that finish line and take a rest from climbing hills and crossing crosswalks. Luckily I had no blisters from the day.
Day 2: Sunday
The second day started a little later than day one. Thank goodness for that because it was SO cold on Sunday. We were all wrapped up in thermal blankets trying to stay warm until kick off.
Once we got going though, it was pretty smooth sailing. Day two turned out to be fairly flat the first half or so of the route. We ended up going past the ocean which was beautiful—even for an overcast day.
I met two ladies on the route that were walking on a team from a country music radio station out of San Jose. They were a great reprieve from the solitude I felt walking mostly alone on day one. I never was able to meet up with the Solo Strutters as we were always in different spots at different times due to traffic or other unforeseen reasons.
The second half of day two, many people were tired and started to become weary from ALL the hills and crosswalks. I swear, if I never have to use a crosswalk again it will be a great day. There were also many people reporting that they would not be walking in the San Francisco Avon 39 again if this were to be the route for the following years. I don’t say I blame them. I didn’t sign up to walk all those miles in the city. After a while, it was wearing on everyone.
Once we got to mile 30, the excitement of what we were all accomplishing was starting to set in, and the vibe changed. We all got a little more pep in our steps and were practically jogging at some points. Besides the excitement, some of us (me included) were just ready to sit down and stop moving without having to rush off to beat the closing of the next rest/aid station.
We finally made it to the final stretch, and it was—literally—straight downhill. Oh, my aching knees. They were already fairly sore from the previous day’s journeys UPHILL, going downhill felt nearly impossible. Plus, I was still walking with my new buddies, and one lady was having a tough time going down the stairs that doubled as the sidewalk. So, we waited quite a bit for her as her daughter helped her navigate the steps. Her husband eventually appeared also to assist, so I journeyed on.
Once I got to mile 39 (mile 13 on day 2), I almost cried. It had been such a journey going from THINKING about walking in the Avon 39 to COMPLETING it. I DID IT! I managed to get through ALL of my training and ALL of the walk weekend!
After going down (another) big hill, we could hear the celebrations at the closing ceremonies and see the festivities. But, as luck would have it we were stopped by yet ANOTHER crosswalk. It literally would not have been the Avon 39 San Francisco walk without that last crosswalk keeping us from going nowhere fast. Once I crossed that finish line, I had the greatest sense of accomplishment.
Hubby was there recording me and gave me flowers and praises of congratulations. After seeing my birth three children, I thought that he might already know I was a Rockstar (LOL) but this must have sealed the deal because he was utterly amazed by my accomplishment. I have to say, so was I.
All in all, it was a fantastic weekend, and I am thrilled that I had the opportunity to raise money for breast cancer research and partake in such an important and mentally and physically demanding weekend. For those of you keeping track, I ended up raising $2,400 for the Avon 39 San Francisco.
Thank you for following along in my adventures in training for the Avon 39. I appreciate all of the support and encouragement.
Stay tuned for my next adventure, already in the works.