My running coach has a bit of a rule about not running anything that you haven’t trained for. It’s generally just not a good idea for your body and I’m guessing it doesn’t do much for your confidence either when you’re halfway through and want to quit.
But when have I ever let the rules stand in the way of laziness and the easy way out? Don’t answer that. Needless to say I was not as prepared as I could have been to climb 10 “peaks” over 22 kilometres in one day.
I’d done some hiking but nothing as strenuous or as prolonged as the walk I was trying to accomplish and most of my exercise of late has involved black line fever in the pool. That didn’t stop me from being quietly confident as I lobbed up to Walk SF’s annual fundraising event – the Peak2Peak.
It’s billed as a way to discover hidden stairways, explore new paths and take in the vistas of San Francisco. It feels like a way to effectively punish your glutes for years of slothfulness and leaving all the work to your quads.
The day started off innocuously enough – I’d accidentally colour coordinated my entire outfit, which was pointed out to me by many people all day long – apparently I’m really into purple and need my shoes, watch, t-shirt, nails and watch to advertise it.
My walking group and guides were great – I met some lovely people, grumbled along with them and then suddenly I looked up and they were gone. I may have been going slightly too fast and accidentally joined another group.
All I can say is that if it wasn’t for the spectacular views at the top, some of those stairways would have been left unclimbed and dusty hills untrodden.
California has been in the grips of a drought for a while now and it’s obvious from the landscape. The grass is hay-coloured, where there is any at all. Otherwise it’s all loose, dusty, dirt that wafts into clouds whenever you try to get your footing.
Apart from the stunning vistas and feeling like you’re getting a bird’s-eye-view of the city, the walk really shows you what a labyrinth the city really is. We traversed so many city streets, hidden flights of stairs, inclines that redefined the meaning of steep, and urban settings that gave way to parks, reserves and peaks that seemed to appear out of nowhere.
By the halfway mark I was flagging. Mostly because I knew that if I’d trained to run this, I could have finished it in about two and a half hours. It took us six hours of steady walking. That kind of prolonged movement took a bigger toll than I had realized.
This walk gave me a huge appreciation for anyone who spends that amount of time on their feet to meet a goal. It takes so much more out of you and requires so much extra mental strength. You are all the real champions and I wish that more spectators were still around to cheer for you because your efforts are amazing.
It’s also made me realise how important cold beers are. Drinking a warm beer at the end of a long walk, no matter how tired you are or how good the beer tastes, is never going to be a pleasant experience.