My legs were screaming at me to stop and rest. Suddenly, I realized I was walking funny. I mean, funnier. I looked down at my feet and saw I was walking on the outer edges of my feet! My souls were facing each other and I was walking with the outsides of my feet on the ground!
What was that about? I put my feet flat on the ground and kept walking. A few seconds later my feet had curled to the outside again! I flattened them out and tried it again. I didn’t understand why they were doing that. The bottoms of my feet didn’t hurt ... much. Or maybe it was just that I couldn’t really feel much from the waist down.
But I kept thinking the buses had to be near by. We had been walking through a wooded area and now were passing through a tunnel that was under a bridge. I was torn between trying to get to the buses as fast as possible and not letting my legs fall off in the process.
Finally, I gave in. We were walking through this tunnel and I just could’t go any more. I told Kris I had to stop for a second. I knew I shouldn’t sit on the ground. But I needed to get off my feet. So I had Kris carry me. Just kidding!
I just leaned on the side of the tunnel for a few seconds. I was embarrassed because everyone walking by could see me. I didn’t see anyone else stopping. I didn’t like being the only one. Kris, bless his heart, must have known what I was thinking because he said, “Don’t worry. They all only did the half.”
I got back on my feet and kept walking. We found ourselves exiting the wooded area right on to a sidewalk on perhaps Fulton St. It was weird how we were just in a nice little woods and then bam! we’re back on the busy streets of San Francisco.
We saw a bus!!! Yeah we made it! I thought. But not quite yet. There were busses lined up for a mile down the street. (That is not an exaggeration). It was important to get on the right one or else you risked being dropped off at a place no where near your hotel.
So we started walking down the street and I noticed these weren’t even the TNT buses. The good news is I could see the TNT buses were way up the street. So at least we were getting closer.
My walking was slowing down with every step. I was grimacing in pain with every footfall. I couldn’t wait to sit down. This trek to the bus was worse in some ways than the actual marathon. And I was getting colder and colder.
We got to the first TNT bus and I noticed there was a bus for certain hotels. As previously mentioned, there are thousands and thousands of TNT athletes. We basically descend on San Francisco like a massive purple swarm seeping into the city from all sides on Friday and fill most of the hotels with our peppy purple people for the weekend. We needed LOTS of buses.
I prayed that my bus would be one of the firsts. But alas God wanted me to know how tough I am (thanks for your faith in me God) and I could see a sign that indicated our bus was at the very end of the row. So I pointed my feet in that direction and kept walking.
At the third bus from the end Kris stopped. I thought, “What is he doing??? Doesn’t he know if I stop I might not be able to start up again? Oh my God can’t we just get on our bus???”
Kris started to turn like he we were going to get on that bus.
“What are you doing?” I asked.
“This is our bus. See it says ‘Union Square’”
“But it doesn’t have our hotel listed. It doesn’t go to our hotel. Ours is at the very end.”
A look came over Kris’ face that I could only interpret as, ‘How am I going to get her to the end bus? It’s been a monumental feat to get her this far!’
“Let me check,” he said. Thankfully, he left me on the sidewalk while he talked to the driver. There was no way I was going to walk up the bus steps only to have to come back down them. I stayed on the sidewalk and contemplated getting a head start and heading for the end bus on my own.
Kris came back and said, “I’m sorry honey. Ours is the very end bus.” Then I think he muttered a couple four letter words. But actually that might have just been my brain cursing.
So we plodded to the very end bus and sure enough it had our hotel name on it. As it turned out, it was actually a benefit to us that we had the very end bus. But more on that later. I made it up the bus steps with Kris behind me.
As soon as I turned down the aisle I saw teammate Patti. I hadn’t seen her all day. On the training runs she would usually start out behind me. Then about mile one she’d pass me and become just a dot in the distance never to be seen again until the finish line.
I yelled, “Patti! Way to go girl!” only I think it came out “Ahyee! Whtey oh ga!” and just two rows down on the other side I see my running partner Cindy and her husband Larry.
“Oh! Cindy!!” I was so happy to see her. She looked like she was doing great! I bent down and gave her a big hug and kiss on the cheek. Her husband probably gagged at the smell of my funk. But after five months of training together I knew Cindy didn’t even notice!
We made our way to the back of the bus and sat down. Glory of glory it felt so good to sit!! Now that I was on the bus I was ready for it to go! But of course we had to wait. And that’s when the tremors started.
Now that I was sitting and I had no foil blanket or extra jacket, my body temperature kept dropping. I had been shivering. But now every once in awhile, I would just convulse for a second. It was freaky. I tried to keep talking to Kris to keep my mind off it but I would be in mid-sentence and I would jerk and tremor for a second. Kris did not like this any better than I did.
Finally the bus pulled away from the curb. This is where it was good to be at the end. It was good that I had to walk for the longest time possible and sit on the bus for the shortest time possible. Otherwise, I would have been shivering for a longer time.
Even though Kris tried to warm me up, I kept convulsing every few minutes on the ride back. And the ride seemed to take forever!! I remember thinking to myself, ‘Man! Why is it taking so long to get to the hotel??‘ Then I remembered well, we did run a long way!
The bus ride was hard. I was was so cold and fatigued. I really wondered how I was going to get off the bus and get up to our hotel room. Truly it was about a mile from the hotel curb to our room. It was a big hotel. I couldn’t imagine getting into an ice bath once back at the hotel. But I knew my recovery depended on it. I was enduring the chill as it was. I could endure a little more.
The highlight of the bus ride was when I heard people exclaim, “Oh! The painted ladies!”
Victorian house that were painted with three or more colors were referred to as “Painted Ladies”. There are many in San Francisco. However the most famous are the ones across from Alamo Park on Steiner St. I have always wanted to go see them. But of all the times I’ve visited San Francisco, I’ve never made it by.
So when I heard the murmurs I looked up the street and there they were. As charming as I always imagined them. Some day I’ll go back and savor them. But for now I had to be content with a brief glimpse.