Day 3

Filed under: @ 6:53 pm

I was crosseyed and nauseated Sunday morning. My metabolism just simply DOES NOT work at 0500 and forcing myself to eat enough breakfast to get moving is not fun. Shower, HOT shower does help, as does an infusion of triple powered ginger mint tea but I still couldn’t eat much more than half a bagel and a glass of milk.
Having his people getting up at that hour of the morning on a weekend confuses the crap out of Scrum too. Scrum has very quickly adapted to my new work schedule and even though he is usually convinced that I should be up on Thursday and Friday mornings at 0530 (when I usually get up for work on Monday through Wednesday), he is UTTERLY convinced that people shouldn’t be up and about at 0530 on weekends. Much cross blinking and muttering as I stumbled around then, when his metabolism kicked in and he woke up (about 10 minutes after I turned on the light), there was a considerable amount of “GYOW! PROW! NYOW!” at full volume letting me know that there was something not right with the cat’s world and that he wasn’t willing to let it go without comment. He desisted after I bunged a pair of socks at him but it only made him subside into the cross blinking and muttering again. Punk.
I had a long and involved discussion with myself about whether or not I’d be taking a pair of flip flops (note for those not familiar with Hawaiian pidgin: I’ve called them slippers for years and will continue to refer to them as slippers, I only call them flip flops here to clarify what type of shoe I’m talking about) with me. The closing ceremonies usually have a culminating moment in which there is a shoe salute. If you’re not wearing another pair of shoes it is a physical impossibility under the circumstances (the crowd and your physical condition being the limiting factors) to remove one shoe in enough time to participate in the tribute. If you carry a pair of slippers with you on the last day however, you’ve not only got easy access to your walking shoes for the shoe tribute, but you’ve also got a light, moderately supportive, soft, and unconfining pair of shoes to change into when you’re done walking and you can let your feet swell. I was pooped enough Sunday morning that I convinced myself I didn’t want to carry something else with me and so left my slippers at home. A decision I had cause to regret later on which resulted in me becoming way more familiar with all the convenience stores along First Avenue in downtown Seattle than I ever wanted to be.

I wasn’t sure how I would find my sweep van gals to give them their discs. The Princess Girls had given me their tent number, but I couldn’t remember it and although I knew where the vans were parked I didn’t want to take the time to run down to the van park and deliver the CDs before the route opened. I slipped the discs into my pack and went to stand in line for the bus.

Sunday morning they bussed us from camp in Burien to the south parking lot at Lincoln Park in West Seattle. A longer line of school busses I have not seen in a LONG time. Every free bus and bus driver in the city must have been lined up waiting for us. It was chilly and there was considerable rebellious murmuring when one bus was filled up and then for some explicable reason the line stopped again. Stood around for another 15 minutes or so stretching, wishing for a cuppa, and comparing shoes.
On my first 3 Day in 2002 I went to one of the official outfitters, Shoes & Feet in Bellevue. Walked in with the shoes I’d been wearing while walking on the treadmill for the previous 3 years and showed them to the shoe man. Said to him: “I’ve got high arches and bad knees, I’m walking 60 miles this summer, set me up.”
Shoe man trotted out about 15 pairs of walking shoes and, in between telling me how horrid the previous shoes had been, gave me a lot of good information about walking shoes. I spent about half an hour trying pairs of walking shoes and walking on their treadmill before I struck gold. Brooks Avias are now my shoe of choice. Sitting here in my office I can lay eyes on four pairs in various stages of degeneration from brand new (found a pair on sale just before the 3 Day) to geriatric in the extreme, and I have two other pairs. For my feet and my knees, Brooks Avias with Superfeet insoles are IT. One odd quirk of the Avias in general, and the Avias with Superfeet in specific, is that they have a very distinctive creak. I’ve run across one shoe guy at Shoes & Feet who managed to do something mysterious to the insoles to make the shoes NOT creak, but no one else seems to know what he did or how to reproduce it.
So I’m in line for a school bus with a group of women all stretching and I heard that creak. I turned and pinpointed a woman about two back from me and said: “Brooks Avias, right?!” Which set off a general conversation about shoes especially when it turned out that one of the women who was walking with Miriam (remember the little old Amazon woman I was walking with after lunch on Saturday?) had trained in and was walking in a pair of elastic strap shoes with no socks. These shoes are terribly popular for outdoor sports these days, they have some special name which I’m guaranteed not to remember, but they don’t look like they’d be any good at all for walking any distance in especially without socks. Miriam’s teammate swore by them though. Said she had no blisters and her feet were holding up remarkably well. The woman must have no arches at all.

How many years has it been since I’ve been on an actual yellow school bus? Lots of years. The stairs are remarkably steep if you’ve got a knee that doesn’t work well, the aisles are very narrow for a bunch of adult women wearing waist packs, and the leg room in the seats is quite minimal especially if you’ve got a knee that doesn’t work normally. It was, however, a place to sit and be warm. Waiting for the busses to load we’d all temperature regulated to the point where being outside at 0630 on a September morning wasn’t uncomfortable. Getting on the bus we realized how chilly we’d been and by the time they let us out at Lincoln Park we were all warm again which made the porta potties the next vital stop for all of us getting off the bus.
Chilly as I was though, I waited at the sidewalk outside the line of potties because the 18 Hour Lift and Support van was right there. The driver was chatting with a woman who had a sling on her left arm, arranging a pickup after the second pit stop. She was THRILLED to get the new music and I was off.

West Seattle right along Puget Sound. A lovely neighborhood to be walking through at 0645 on a Sunday morning, but frustrating because everyone was still in bed and we had to be extremely QUIET. A few blocks up from the bus stop we ran across the Pimp Van (there’s a photo, you’ll just have to see it) whose crew was out cheering for us…. silently. We wandered through a maze of less populated streets and were able to speak up a little bit, but when we took a sharp turn west and started heading down through the south end of the Alki neighborhood we were under strict orders to shut the heck up. To the point where, when one of the ambulances went past blowing their noxious music on their PA, one of the crossing guards at the crosswalk we were waiting at chased them down and scolded them. It was nice. Nice neighborhood, early morning with everyone cheerful and upbeat, but this extremely quiet undertone conversation. No honking, lots of waving.
The Breast Friends with their decked out Mustang were about a mile or so in, parked along some side street with the four of them on the sidewalk handing out candy. The moms were cheerful of course, but the daughters cracked me up. One of them, maybe as much as 15 or so, has got to be a cheerleader. If she’s not her school is wasting her talent because a more natural extroverted ham I have never seen. Here’s this skinny little blond chick in sweats and a crop top T-shirt with a GINORMOUS lace bra (stuffed) strapped to her chest bouncing and waving for all she’s worth…..absolutely silently. Had to be killing her to hold in the shouting. Fortunately for her she got to let all the cheering out later on that morning, but it was a serious crack up watching her cheer silently.

Pardon me for the odd exclamation, but SHAZAM is Alki a nice place to walk! We walked a winding trail through the neighborhoods above the water and then broke out onto Alki proper. I had managed to get my flag finally. Asked the guy carrying the BELIEF flag what it took to get one and he said: “I’ve only been carrying this for a short while, but you can carry it. Just watch the overhangs, it’s taller than you think!”, handed me the flag and then was off. The weather was beautiful and especially inspiring if one was carrying a flag. Clear blue sky, cool bright sunshine, and a great breeze off the water to keep the flags flying. Someone got a photo of me just after I’d gotten the flag, backdrop of the sky and the water….Damn it was nice. Felt bad about the photo though, because while I was getting snapped I provided enough of a distraction for a woman walking past us that she tripped and skinned her knee. She bounced up off the sidewalk though and was all for walking on without any assistance when a group of us descended on her and bullied her into accepting a cleaning, some triple antibiotic and a bandaid from a passing sweep cycle.

My therapist opines that I find these events to be such a mind blowing experience because they allow me to be an anonymous extrovert. Being involved in such a tremendous group effort with such a tremendous group (as it were) in circumstances under which no one is liable to remember much more than my costume and (maybe) my first name is a wonderfully freeing feeling. For one weekend there are no politics, there is no outside world, there is nothing else but what we are all united in doing. It’s great.
Under normal circumstances I wouldn’t have approached the guy with the flag, wouldn’t have had so many wonderful conversations with so many random strangers and I sure wouldn’t have been such a loudmouth about the woman with the skinned knee. Simple courtesy would have dictated me asking if she was okay and asking if she wanted any help, but I normally wouldn’t have run my mouth to another person running past asking for help for her knee when she had already declined same.

It was 0800 or so by the time we got to, for want of a better term, the Alki strip proper. Enough people were up and about that the cheering started to get loud again. Turning tide with lots of seagulls wheeling and herons stalking around in the shallows. Honking, hooting, and hollering. People along the beach clapping. Someone etched “GREAT JOB WALKERS!” in the sand on the beach. One long, miles long, cheering station. The 18 Hour Lift and Support van stopped abreast the sidewalk and the driver stuck her head out saying: “That disc you gave us is FANTASTIC! And we’re only on the first song!” (another new Melissa Ethridge fan).
The Pirate Pit Stop was in a community sports field and they had a fresh shipment of chilled peanut butter graham crackers. Sat, enjoyed the sunshine on the bleachers while licking peanut butter and jelly from my fingers and then had a great series of supports on which to stretch. Bleachers are about the best stretching buddies a girl with questionable knees can have.

A woman along the sidewalk taking photos for The Renton Reporter and the Highline Times. I’m almost sorry we don’t get the Highline Times anymore because I’d like to see the photos she took. Also it makes great liner for the snake cage, but that’s another story. Another woman about a mile and a half later taking photos of flag bearers and other somewhat out of the ordinary walkers for her website. She owns a bakery that features a Susan G. Komen pink silk pie. Okay, what the heck. She got me and my flag and I walked on just as she was accosting a husband and wife team whom she thought were particularly cute.
Divers suiting up and a conversation about local diving with a woman who was also sporting a knee brace. I’ve spent too many years discussing local diving conditions with Joanne and Ray and so was able to pontificate about the diving conditions along Alki and whether or not one would encounter sharks while diving in Puget Sound. We parted with her utterly convinced that her diving fanatic husband would never dive in the area because I was able to testify that one could, in fact, encounter sharks diving in Puget Sound.
Around a curve and then glory be! The Space Needle! Our first view of the end point! The Super Pit Stop was in a pocket park just past the more urban section of Alki and we were accosted at the opening of the park by a pair of women with stamp pads one of whom was stamping us with Super Stamps and the other giving out “new pairs of feet”. For the rest of the day most of us were walking along looking like someone had been beating on us because we all had super stamps on each shoulder and purple feet along the backs of our calves that looked a lot like bruises.

A power walker powered past me asking if she could carry the BELIEF flag. I got her photo with it before she powered off and was soon out of sight. It was nice to have both hands back, but it was also kind of disappointing to be less obvious again.
The Princess Van finally drove past just after I left the Super Pit Stop. I flagged them down and went hobbling down the road to where they’d stopped. Princess Vicki was just starting her “Welcome to The Princess Van…” spiel when I had to interrupt and apologize for flagging them down under false pretenses, but I was forgiven when I gave them the new CD.

Walk, walk, walk, walk, walk. One of the cheering station people with a baby in a Snugli on her chest. Wrapped up in blankets and buntings and a hat with a t-shirt strapped across her (?) chest reading “MINI-MELONS”. A pair of quarter watermelon slices in a suggestive spot with spaghetti straps up over the shoulders. Kid seemed a little mystified by the attention she was attracting, but we all thought the shirt was a crack up.

Up under the West Seattle Bridge and Admiral Way and along through the Delridge neighborhood, somewhat southeast of West Seattle proper. A little run down, certainly a lot less affluent than West Seattle proper, and entire streets full of people living in housing projects with their kids lining the sidewalks giving us high fives.
Lunch at Delridge Park at 9 miles. I hit the lunch stop just before 1100, not making nearly as good time as I had on day 1 (and who, exactly, is surprised at this point?) but feeling good none the less. I originally found myself a patch of shade under a tree but soon found myself too chilly. It takes a lot of effort to move under those circumstances. I had removed the knee brace, taken off my shoes and socks and pulled a bunch of stuff out of my waist pack to get at my phone so I could call Andrew and give him a progress report. SNORT! Stuff all my loose crap into my lunch bag, clip the knee brace into the strap for my pack, tie my shoes together, and lever myself up off the ground to collapse gracefully in the sunshine and finish my lunch. I had a brisk argument with my phone, trying once again to figure out how to set the alarm for a specific time, and when I’d finally made it see things my way, I lay back in the sunshine for another postprandial nap. But as it turned out the phone had sneakily set itself for a time that I hadn’t approved and when, 15 minutes later, the alarm hadn’t gone off I sat up anyway, rubbed my feet and calves down, changed socks, re-applied my sunscreen and got set to go. The phone, duplicitous little git that it is, started beeping just as I was getting up causing me to trip over my feet. It’s remarkable how clumsy one becomes. It’s not just muscle fatigue, it’s a combination of muscle fatigue and the realization that while your reflexes might be as fast as usual, it’ll really hurt to respond in a normal fashion. It’s a hell of a choice to have to make on the spur of the moment: “Hm! Will it hurt less to save myself from falling than it will to take a face plant in the grass?” I can’t say about the face plant, but stumbling around trying not to step on people was moderately uncomfortable.

We left our southeasterly path and turned straight north for a while, walking back towards the West Seattle Bridge. Kind of irritating to be covering the same territory just several blocks east of where we’d been walking before lunch, but I can forgive them their twists and turns for the sake of having had such a great route otherwise. Under the freeway, under the freeway bridge and across the Duwamish River. I’ll never be able to figure out where precisely we were walking and how we managed to get there, but the river crossing was nice and just across the river were Polly the Dinosaur woman and another of the safety crew escorting us across two rather busy intersections. We were across the intersection safely and Polly was just stepping back up onto the curb when an obviously *very important man* in some sort of zippy expensive car who had been waiting at the red light stomped on his accelerator and came within centimeters of tagging her as he zoomed past.
To put it lightly, Polly was PISSED! What I caught of her tirade was: “YOU MANIAC! I WAS STILL IN THE INTERSECTION!!!” at which point we were far enough away from each other and the traffic was loud enough that I missed the rest. I imagine for the sake of the image of the event, Polly wasn’t going to engage in any profane hollering, but I could see the blue cloud around her head.
Past a fishing terminal along the Duwamish waterway. A really crowded fishing terminal. A really crowded fishing terminal with people with buckets apparently keeping their catch. Yeesh! I’m certain I’d never want to eat anything that came out of that section of the water.
Since we were walking along the approach to the southern freight terminals there were a lot of semi-trucks driving past. All of whom were more than willing to blast their air horns in response to the traditional pumping arm request. It was a noisy day along Marginal Way at Spokane Street.
A zig northwards along Marginal Way, a zag east to First Avenue, past the Parrotheads of Puget Sound stand where they were giving out (yigh!) APPLE flavored sport drink slushies and then we were on final approach northwards along First Avenue south of the stadiums.
Also south of Krispy Kreme.
Dude standing out in the parking lot of the Krispy Kreme with an entire rack of boxes of doughnut holes. Turns out he was the manager and absolutely thrilled that we were walking in front of his store. Enh. Doughnut holes were good, but my favorite was the woman at the card table in front of Starbucks who had fresh veggies and (oh praise Zeus, PROTEIN) a huge plate full of beef jerky.

City walking is a lot of fun because there’s lots to look at and a lot of innocent bystanders to confuse. When I was going to Norwescon (the local science fiction convention) every year we engaged a lot in a game we’d call “Freaking the Mundanes”. Mundanes being those non-con related people staying at the hotels or eating at the restaurants that the con was overwhelming. Freaking being…..well, just being odd, oddly dressed, or prone to breaking into choruses of odd songs at the drop of a hat. Playing Freaking the Mundanes as a 3 Day walker is a lot of fun.
City walking is NOT a lot of fun because every block or so there’s a damned controlled intersection and you have to wait while the light changes. Now granted stopping at the crosswalk is a great time to engage in the continuous stretching that we were instructed to perform, but the stop and go is freakin’ murder.

Just south of Safeco Field (I won’t get started on my rant about publicly funded sports stadia in Seattle) there is an empty lot which, I believe, is the usual site of a beer garden on game days during baseball season. On Sunday it was home to our final pit stop. A lovely place with actual chairs, a snack stop with an actual tent around it so we could sit in the shade, and close enough to Qwest Field that we were starting to mingle with and starting to confuse the bejeesus out of the folks streaming in to the upcoming Seahawks game. I was sitting with my feet up eating a packet of potato chips and drinking orange Gatorade (hey, don’t knock it until you’ve tried it! At least not until you’ve spent 2 1/2 days and 57 miles drinking lemon lime Gatorade) when one of the sweep vans blew past. Standing at the corner waiting for the light were a couple of football fans. The sweep van was decked out in a fight theme with “K-O CANCER” on one side and “FIGHT LIKE A GIRL” on the other with a couple of boxing gloves flapping from the side mirror. The navigator in a bright pink fuzzy hat hanging out the passenger window waving pink pompoms and shrieking at the top of her lungs. Even though I was half a block away or so I could hear the confusion in one guy’s voice when he turned to his buddy and said: “Fight like a girl?!!” It was wonderful.

Leaving the pit stop I hooked up with Miriam and her team. This is a group of four older women, all over 55 and at least two past 65, all of whom were wearing hand made vests with bra print fabric on one side and a hand quilted chicken on the other. I never asked the meaning of the vests, I guess I’ll just have to wait until next year. It was nice walking for a while with a group that I knew was not going to leave me in the dust. I had, in fact, to slow down a bit to keep pace with Miriam but we were having such an interesting conversation it was worth it. We talked a lot about cancer (she’s a breast cancer survivor) and cancer prevention. She had a lot of crusty comments to make about her feet, the condition of her joints, and the exact moral character of all the people who were streaming towards the football stadium to spend all their hard earned money watching people bash their heads together like idiots while drinking beer at 1:00 in the afternoon. Miriam and I got along JUST FINE.
Now let me paint a picture. In front of us a pair of younger women (early 20s-ish), both stripped to shorts and sports bras with figures that we all wished we had in our early 20s. They’ve hit that part of the weekend where the only thing you think about is putting one foot in front of the other and by god keeping moving at all costs until you’re done. In other words, they were completely oblivious. Miriam and I, taking up a great portion of the sidewalk since I was on the building side limping on my left leg and she was on the street side limping on her right. We cross an intersection and from around a corner comes up behind us a pair of (as they turned out) drunken Hummer salesmen on their way to the Seahawks game. So the picture is, the two 20 somethings in front, Miriam and I in the middle, and coming up close from behind are the two drunken Hummer salesmen. They pulled abreast of Miriam and I, asking typical idiot questions about what we were doing and how long we’d been walking. One, wearing a pink striped rugby shirt, claiming that he was supporting us on our walk because he was wearing pink and his mom had had that cancer on her nose and didn’t that really suck and all. Obnoxious, but not really threatening. When the Hummer salesmen started making somewhat ribald comments at the girls in front of us, trying to impress them with how hip and supportive they were of the cause (or at least supportive enough to impress two scantily clad hard bodies enough that they (the hard bodies) would take some notice of them), Miriam poked me and said: “Speed up a little bit, we’ll protect them!”. We stepped up a little bit, fell into lock step and left the Hummer salesmen behind mentioning loudly how cool they were since one of them was wearing pink.
The best part of this is that the 20 something hard bodies never even noticed that the Hummer salesmen were there. They were really in the zone.

North through Pioneer square, mystifying completely the group of Japanese tourists on the Underground Seattle Tour. North through the sleaze district and I started wishing intently for a pair of slippers that I could change into once we were done. Do you know how many cheap little Kwikie marts there are along 1st Avenue in downtown Seattle? A LOT! Under normal circumstances you wouldn’t be able to pay me to go into one, but under the circumstances I was pretty desperate. Only one proprietor seemed to recognize what I was asking for and he directed me far back in the back to a bin of leftover summer merchandise. He did, in fact, have slippers for sale, but they were all infant size and I resigned myself to missing the shoe tribute again.
Just south of the Hammering Man I was walking with a woman who had to walk in circles every time we reached an intersection where we had to stop. She said if she stopped walking her calves would cramp and she’d collapse in a heap. Around the corner comes one of the horse drawn downtown Seattle carriage tours. Two women and a girl on the seat looking thoroughly confused at my circling companion. One of the sweep vans pulled up and asked if she (the circling woman) needed any help but she declined. That interaction obviously gave the women in the carriage some sort of idea as to what was going on and we managed to have a conversation with them for about 3 blocks until they pulled off into Pike Place. The best part of the conversation being that when we told them we’d been walking for 3 days and almost 60 miles one of the women, completely seriously, asked: “So, like, do you get to stop at night or what? I mean….do you walk all day and all night too?!”
At that point I was so wiped I really did consider telling her that yes, we’d been walking without stopping since 0630 Friday just to see what her reaction would be, but was thwarted when the circling woman told her that no, we’d camped every evening. Oh well, so much for missed opportunity.
North past Pike Place, north into Belltown. I was still walking with Circling Woman when we came up with the Three Truths of The 3 Day and they are as follows.
1. Going is better than stopping.
2. Ramps are better than curbs. and
2. Uphill is WAY better than downhill.

And then we were through Belltown, crossing Denny and walking up along the west side of Seattle Center. Up past Key Arena, around a corner and once again, it was done.

They routed us down just north of the Northwest Rooms, through the inflatable gates that we’d passed through Friday morning, past the medical crew handing out cups of Gatorade and additional snacks, past the woman with the bar code reader and we were finished.
Gimpy knee and all I still finished in the first 500 of which I am quite proud. The holding area was in a basement room underneath PNW Ballet so you walked through a double pair of open doors then down the stairs into a roaring applauding crowd…..
The closing ceremonies were really something quite special. I’ll finish Day 3 here and cover the closing ceremonies separately.

One Response to “Day 3”

  1. Valerie Says:

    Awesome, Margaret! (Or should that be Awesome-Margaret? Either way works for me.)

    Congratulations on your personal triumph. I’m sorry your knee lacked the proper cooperative spirit, but you can’t always control these things. Sounds like you took care of it as best you could and powered through it. Sleeping in your own home and in your own bed and being pampered by your loveable lug probably made all the difference.

    Alan had something similar happen to him last year. He got a wild hair to do the Wonderland Trail around Mt. Rainier in three days. He happened to be hiking the Northern Loop with his sister (with whom he did the WT in a more sensible 9 days) and they ran into a mother/daughter (about 60 & 40) duo who were doing the WT in three days and he decided if they could do it, he could do it. He got a whole group together, they started from Mowich Lake and hiked to Cougar Rock campground where all of us support staff waited. And waited. And waited. They started straggling in about 11PM. The next day they headed out to White River campground, but Alan set his pace a little too fast and by the time he hit the Box Canyon trail crossing, he was a hurtin’ unit. I think if he dropped out there, and got some rehab and recovery, he likely could have done the last leg back to Mowich, but he pushed it, and was pretty awful when he made it into camp. So he sat out the last leg. He did to his knee pretty much exactly what you did to your knee, except that he didn’t sensibly take care of it like you did and he had a pretty rough few months getting it back in shape. Just in time for the firefighter stairclimb….

    So if he’s the example of what NOT to do, you are the example of what’s BEST to do.

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