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Saturday, March 24, 2012

A Long Walk needs a Long Post

Today was the day I'd been waiting for for almost a month - the March of Dimes March for Babies!  I signed up at the beginning of the month as part of my company's team. As of that Friday (yesterday), no one else signed up for it! What the hell?!? 

I rolled out of bed at the ungodly Saturday hour of 6:30a.m. (I don't get up that early on a Saturday unless the day ends at Disney!) and began getting ready. I put my hair up in a ponytail and threw on a robe, heading to the kitchen to make some scrambled eggs and OJ. I watched the news while I ate and finally got dressed around 7:15 or so. I was on the road by 7:30 and realized about 2 minutes later that I should have left much earlier! I underestimated the time it would take me to get to the park, much less how long it would take me TO park!  I found a spot next to a church on 8th Avenue and hiked back to the park. Right before I got there, the 7:55 runners began, so I cheered them on as I hoofed it into the park. I made my way through the throngs of bodies to get a Walk Card, then made my way back into the crowd just as we all began to move en masse into the street!  It took about 2 minutes to get from where I was standing to the road, but once we did, I was off!

And we're off!!
The first mile kind of flew by.  
  
Walking up 16th towards 43rd

We headed down 34th, then veered into the Fresh Market parking lot. This was Stop 1 (1.2 miles). 

Why does that sign say Hollywood Video?

They were handing out awesome purple reusable grocery bags with the MoD logo on it. I totally grabbed one, because I love purple and I love bags!  There was a water stop and I grabbed a cup and proceeded through the parking lot, coming out near the entrance for Thornbrooke Village.  Back onto the road, we walked down and turned onto NW 43rd Street. 

Stop 2 (1.6 miles) was in front of FL Credit Union at the Nationwide booth. I grabbed a water and kept on truckin'. 

The sign never changed - I guess they wanted you to get a loan

Up ahead, I saw a big rainbow made of balloons.  It's the Campus USA booth at Stop 3 (2 miles) with leprechauns and green fortune cookies. OK, whatever. I grabbed a few (I think I'm the only one who actually EATS fortune cookies), a cup of water and moved on down the road. 

Really?  I'm frugal, but reusing crap from St Patty's day is cheap!

At the end of 43rd, we came upon our vet's office (Millhopper Vet Med Center is great) and cut through their parking lot and behind a big ol' bank. 

It's my vet's office! 
This turned out to be Wells Fargo, Stop 4 (2.4 miles) and judging by the line of grabbers, you would think they were giving away gold!  I saw one of those dorky basketball hoops you stick on your bedroom door and heard someone say they got speakers, but this wasn't worth my time! I got out of line and got the hell out of the crowd!  I hit up the Pepsi wagon, grabbing a few mini-cans of Pepsi Max and a bottle of water, tossing them into my nifty purple sack. As I walked across the parking lot, I ran into Stuart, one of my coworkers. I didn't know he signed up, but he said he did on Friday, so that was cool. I gave him a smile, put my earphones back in and took off.

The walk down 39th Avenue was pretty uneventful. Kind of neat to walk 'in the middle of the road' on such a busy highway, but nothing important happened. I forgot about the large hill on 39th, but I did okay. I took a photo of the folks behind me at one point, just to be able to say that I wasn't LAST!

The line of people goes back so far you can't really see the end!
We turned onto 34th and crossed the street over to North FL Regional Med Center Stop 5 (2.4 miles) and they had ALL sorts of stuff! There were bananas, OJ cups (sealed, I tossed 'em in the bag), water cups, fruit snacks, chips, banks, bubbled and little Milky Way bars! Yummy I grabbed a few of everything (including two bananas for my daughter) and maneuvered around the crowds to get back on track. 

Veering off 39th onto 34th, headed for Glen Springs Rd.
Walking through Glen Springs neighborhoods required us to stay on the sidewalks at all times. It was crowded and very boring. At some times, as I walked near woodsy areas, it smelled like my grandmother's property and I inhaled deeply. Other times it stank of road kill or something fishy. Oh, and poo. I smelled lots of dog poo, too. That was pretty bad. 

You could hide a body down there and no one would know...
While on GSR, we got to walk through Ambassador Mile, and there were all these happy families with their little cute babies waving and cheering us on.  One little girl was giving out lollipops and another one (she wasn't more than 2) was giving out fist bumps. I totally got in on that one.  


There was a great sign at Glen Springs Elementary School as we passed that I had to take a photo of, too. 

The only sign I saw that said Thank You. Thanks GSES!
Up past GSES was the Tower Hill Insurance Group Stop 6 (4.1 miles). They had Planet Smoothie strawberry-banana smoothies, water, popcorn (in a sports bottle) and soda. I grabbed a smoothie, popcorn, water and a soda and took a quick break. As I pulled to the side, I was run into with a jogging stroller. In all the years going to WDW, I've never been hit with a stroller, but my very first MoD walk, I do? How weird. There was no damage (and even if there was, she was long gone), but I took the moment to chug my smoothie (it was okay), drink the soda and head back down the road.

Yo, where my swag be at?
Further down GSR was the Memory Mile, which, frankly, was depressing as hell.  There were signs up along the road listing baby names. Some had dates and some didn't so I assumed the ones with dates were when the babies died? I don't know - it didn't say. I know the point of the Memory Mile is to remind us why we are doing this, but all it did was make me want to cry, especially when I passed one family who was pausing to take a photo with their 'child' at one of the signs. I kind of put my head down and pushed on at that point. It was hard.

It's like the Oscar In Memoriam show, but for March of Dimes

Between stops 6 and 7 was my favorite stop thus far - the Blue Bell Ice Cream Man!  They had grape or cherry popsicles, ice cream sandwiches and coupons. Be still my thrifty little heart! I got a mini-ice cream sandwich and a coupon. Doesn't it look yummy?

Please deliver this truck to my house please

It's small, but just the right size!
Florida Virtual School was Stop 7 (4.6 miles) and they handed out little sling backpacks.  I hate those, but grabbed one for my daughter. She'd like it. This stop also meant that I was over halfway done. Apparently, I didn't take a photo at this stop, but trust me, you didn't miss much. I don't even remember what they were giving out, but I didn't get any of it.

By this point, I was seeing lots of apartment complexes and I knew that we should be getting to 'civilization' again soon, so I was keeping an eye out for the Social Security building on this street.  I should have been keeping an eye out for the huge freakin' hill!!  Gainesville has a lot of hills. This was the nastiest, I think.  I felt like I was climbing a mountain. The incline on my treadmill doesn't even go this high! But I made it and I didn't even break tempo, either. Hell yeah! I think if I can do this hill, I'll be able to do the Contemporary Hill at the Princess Half in February 2013. Once up the hill, I saw a few ladies take advantage of a well-placed bus stop, but I just smiled and kept going. There's another stop ahead!

In front of Planet Fitness was the AvMed Stop 8 (5.7 miles). Sonic and K-Country were also there. I scored a cup of cherry limeade from Sonic and crossed the parking lot in front of Godfather's Pizza to the Pepsi truck where I got another bottle of water and a bottle of Diet Sierra Mist. I tucked them into my purple bag and continued to 13th Street. 

The K-Country Guys all looked bored when I walked by

What, no ice? C'mon that's my favorite part!
Traffic was blocked in one lane again, so I just strolled right down the middle of the street like I owned it. Walgreen's was Stop 10 (6 miles) and I got a plastic cup with water and another plastic cup with crackers. 

I'm walkin' right down the middle of Main Street USA.... No?
I drank the water and tossed all the cups into my bag while heading down to GHS, where Wal-Mart was Stop 11 (6.2 miles). They had a really good station with Gatorade, water, apples, grapes and my favorite, Sno-Cones!  I got a red one. I also grabbed a few granola bars for later. 
  
Too many people hate Wal-Mart; these guys were great!

Cherry Sno-Cone. 
As I turned onto NW 16th Avenue, my body was beginning to realize what the hell was going on and that I didn't plan on stopping. It's when I first began to notice my feet hurting, but I kept going, knowing how close I was to being done. I grabbed a GNV sticker from the Gainesville Airport Stop 12 (7 miles) and some water. The woman there tried to console me and tell me that it was only 1 more mile, but I guess she forgot that there was another .6 on top of that. 

The stop is WAAAAAY down there. RUN!
At this point, I saw sign saying "Victory Wagon Stops Here." 

Victory, my ass.
This sign means, "If you give up, wait here so that other walkers can mock you until the Sweeper Wagon can come collect you and take your loser ass to the finish line." Okay, so maybe it doesn't mean that for everyone, but it meant that for me. I'd been seeing them for an hour or more (since stop 2 or 3) and every time I passed one, I smiled and kept going.  This one, though, past Mile 7 made me stop to take a photo of it. I believe the narrative in my head while I took a photo of it was "no it DOESN'T motherf'r, not for me." I put that sign behind me and out of my head and pushed on to the corner of NW 22nd and NW 16th. 

Stopping takes away all my momentum. Hurry up!
We had to stop to wait for traffic, since we were crossing over to the left side of the street, so I took the time to stretch my poor calves.  

 Giggle was stop 13 (7.1 miles) and they had granola bars and dorky stuff. I kept going.

I wouldn't be Giggle-ing if I was right next to those!
RTI Biologics was Stop 14 (7.2 miles) and had one thing that I loved - a cheap little checkered flag. I loved it. I knew how close I was to finishing and that made me smile. The awesome mister they set up for walkers to walk through was pretty nice, too! 

The lady I walked behind was part of RTI's walking team
A bit past RTI, I finally made it to Wolf's house. I forgot how far down 16th he was, but I made it damn it, here's proof! Hi Wolf!

I don't think he was home at the time
After Wolf's house, I turned around and took another photo of all the people who are still behind me and trudging up the big-ass hill I finished tackling.  I'm still not last! Yay!

Still not last!!!
A few minutes later, I look ahead and see an arch made out of purple, lavender and white balloons. There is lots of cheering up there. Could that be the finish line? No, we're not there yet.  I think it was the One More Mile Cheerleaders.  

What is that? Is that .... the END?
I won't lie, I got all choked up when I went under the arch, though. I knew how close I was, how many miles were left (less than 1) and that I could do it. Let's go, bitch, walk faster! (Yes, I call myself bitch sometimes).

Not the end, but so damn close!
Finally, we've made to the corner of 34th and 16th. Everyone in Gainesville knows this intersection. We've all driven though it. I've never walked through it. Until now.

This intersection is usually MUCH busier!
We turn left and we are on a straight away to the finish line. I'm so tired, I know it's within my reach, I keep walking and FINALLY, I make it to the Finish Line and walk through!!!!!!!

FINISH LINE!!!!
Success!!! I got two stickers from the cute kids at the finish line that say "I did it!" I stick those suckers on my shirt and continue into the park. I run into another co-worker of mine who had just finished as well and we chatted for a minute or so, but I didn't want my legs to cramp up, so I took off in search of my Party in the Park food options. There was Sonny's, Moe's, Zaxby's, a few local places and Domino's (ewww). I settled on Zaxby's, grabbing my chicken sammich and sneaking out of the park.  Halfway across the field, I realized I forgot to look at my stopwatch, so I stopped for a moment to take a photo of my finish time.  3 Hours, 14 Minutes.  My goal was to finish in 3 hours, so I think that I met that.  I spent 5-10 minutes in the park, so not counting that, I'm right at or a little over. I'll take it!

3 Hours, 14 Minutes.
I limped my way to the church I parked near (probably another 1/2 to full mile away!) and opened the car, where I promptly took off my sneakers! Oh, that felt so good!  I started the car and got the AC going, had some water, then headed for home.

Once home, I think it took me 5 minutes just to walk from the car to the house because by then my feet hurt so bad, you'd think I went to Disney! Well, that and because I still didn't have my shoes on.

I got hugs from Hubby, whose first question was, "Did you finish?"  HELL YES I FINISHED! I want to scream it from the rooftops, I am so proud of myself!  I plopped down on the couch and elevated my poor feet and we all chatted for a bit. He brought me my Zax sammich, and I finally ate it (it was pretty good) while my daughter and I watched the last 15 minutes of "The Princess and the Frog."

2 Waters, 3 Soda, 4 Chips, 10 Granola bars, gum, lollipops, mints, awesome!
When the movie was over, I forced myself to get up and get moving so that I don't freeze that way and cause more pain, and I decided to take all the stuff out of my Swag Bag.  I ended up getting LOTS of stuff!  I gave my daughter a bunch of stuff and she took off with it back to her room and I headed in to my office to download all my photos and check out all the photos I sent to Facebook while I walked.

Wouldn't you know it, not a single photo made it to FB!  Apparently my upload email was incorrect. Dammit. Stupid Facebook.

I think it's time for some food. I'm STARVING!