Monday, September 28, 2009

Four days to go....

Stories from Mid span.

The Golden Gate Bridge is longer than most people realize. When you stand at the North end there is a sign that says Crissy Field is 2 miles away. The actual span itself is 8,981 feet long or 1.7 miles. It is a world landmark, and when you are walking across it, it's like walking through the United Nations... only colder.

You see, usually, especially in summer, the Golden Gate Bridge is cloaked in fog. The waves of mist pelt you as you inch across the bridge, dodging the disgruntled photographers who are hell bent on taking that perfect bridge photo. You look ahead and see some woman, with a slightly bluish tint, in heels and a tank top, with a pained look on her face trying to keep up with her male friend in the athletic shoes and tee shirt reading, "I love NY". For those tourists, who while at Fisherman's Wharf, noticed the cooler weather there are those tell tale sweatshirts. It used to be the most popular one was "Property of Alcatraz", but these days, there are so many sweatshirt options, you never do know what you will see except some reference to SF.

I don't know what the brochures say in Munchen about a trip to SF, but they must omit the part about the fog. I usually come prepared, with a windbreaker, just in case.

Today was the last summer training walk on the bridge for Patti and me. It's four days until we start the 3 day walk. On Saturday, we walked to downtown Mill Valley and back from Patti's Sausalito home, a trek of about 8 miles. Our training calendar suggest scaling back this last week from the 18 mile walks we have been doing. The walk to Mill valley was slower than usual. It was a slow day for Patti, and I have had some of those myself. For whatever reason you lack the energy you normally have, and a walk that should be simple, becomes a challenge. When you have a day like that, it usually is a good idea to head back out the next day to regain your confidence. Especially if you are planning to walk 60 miles in 3 days.

Fall is upon us and the weather has been unusually warm. Inland temperatures have been in the triple digits. Our coastal temperatures on Saturday were around 90 and that is hot in an area that has NO air conditioning. I remember how on the first day of school, I would look at all the back to school clothes the kids would have, and be scratching my head about how to send your child to school in a wool skirt when it was so warm. I thought about those people in the other 3 day cities, like Washington DC in late July, and realized, we may have hills, but our weather rocks!

We decided for day 2, of this last weekend, we would head to the bridge. I think both Patti and I were hoping to see wisps of fog to cool us off. We got to Cavallo point, and took a seat on the deck, in the sun to enjoy some fantastic muffins and lattes as our late breakfast. Looking out at the bridge there was the smallest patch of light fog laying under the span. I took off my tee shirt and tucked in my tank top. We refreshed our water bottles, and I whetted a crisp linen towel and wiped the sweat from my face and back. Off we went, up to the bridge.

We both had a myriad of things to accomplish today. Patti, who is in the midst of a big business project, needed to get everything packed this weekend for the 3 day. Glenn and I were going to head down the Peninsula to see his Dad who is still in the hospital. Walking all the way to Crissy would put us further behind than we would have liked, so we decided to aim for mid span on the bridge.

As our feet hit the bridge pavement and we started off toward mid span. A young mother and her son came weaving by on Razor scooters. They both had flipflops on. She wore a sweet green sundress, while he wore jeans and a soccer style tee shirt, along with a bike helmet. Patti turned to me and said "They must be European". We passed a backpack clad fellow with a scruffy beard, walking his Briard dog. They looked like they were on a cross country adventure. There are a lot of different people and critters you see on and under the bridge.
We have at times seen small dolphin swimming in the waters below the bridge. Today, we didn't see any of these, but we did see seals corkscrewing through the water on the surface. From above you can see their entire bodies and the patchwork of grey and black spots on their fur. Their play had a decidedly vacation cadence to it.

There was medium sized (around 40 ft) sailboat we could see, practicing a man-overboard drill with a lifesaver ring.

This is an important skill to master if you are sailor. When Glenn sailed to Hawaii in 1980, he volunteered to be the "man" in the man overboard drill. He had a wetsuit under his tee shirt and as the boat was going at full speed under spinnaker, he stepped to the back rail, and voila, he was gone. The boat disappeared from sight in seconds. He took out a beer, put a smile on his face and waved off the many boats who came to assist. The crew noticed he was gone, (thank goodness) dropped the spinnaker, turned on a dime and within 12 minutes he was back on board. For a person in the water, that is good news, but what most people don't count on are the bruises you get while they haul you on board.

The sailboat we saw today, needs more practice. Patti and I decided the life ring was dead already in the cold SF waters and would soon reach Japan. Their final move came mighty close to running the ring over, but they did eventually grab the ring with a pole and bring it on board. Patti and I cheered them from above, but even if they saw us, I am sure they were not too happy about having witnesses to their.... skill in process.

Standing at mid span we could also see a navigation light that I have never seen before in the many times I walked all the way across the bridge. I think that by the time you are mid span your eyes on on the other side and you miss the details of where you are walking. Standing mid span we had a good vantage point for looking at Crissy Field and where our pink tents would soon be erected. I doubt there is anywhere in the world where people are lucky enough to have this view while participating in such an event. I can't wait!

Heading back to Sausalito, we walked through the Bridgeway tourist traffic, and on to the more local, Chili Cook-off in the park. Deciding there was no compelling reason to stick around, we walked on to Clipper Yacht Harbor where we snagged a ride from Glenn who had escaped the heat of the house for the warmth of our boat.

Our total walk today was 13.5 miles, and was 3.5 miles more than the recommended distance.

I think Patti and I are alike this way. Maybe that has helped make us survivors! The suggested walk is 10 , we'll walk 13. They want you not to aim at 20 miles until the walk itself, and we walked 20 miles over a month ago. Over achievers...

The next time we get together it will be for pasta dinner and a sleep over at my house, before starting our drive to the Cow Palace. My goals for this walk are not to walk further than anyone else, my goal is to walk as far as everyone else and have fun. Since already Patti and I have shared moments when we slip into tears, we both know this will be a very emotional walk. As survivors, you feel very blessed to be able to feel the wind on your cheek as you walk across the bridge. As a survivor you realize your are blessed to have a sore tendon, and to have the worry of sunblock and blisters. Because as survivor you realize you are walking for more than just yourself. As a survivor, you are walking for all those women who have had Breast Cancer who cannot walk for themselves. You are walking so they will not be forgotten. You are walking so your survival means something. You are walking because you have determined Cancer will not defeat you, and if your feet have anything to say about it, it will not defeat anyone you love or care about. As a survivor you are walking because you choose to do more than survive. You have decided it is time to live life to the fullest; to thrive and show others they can thrive along with you - with or without cancer.

P.S. I thought those of you who care about George would be glad to know he still has his sense of humor. He allowed me to snap a pic of him yesterday. He said he was imitating WC Fields...