The title is my official time from Bay to Breakers 2015. I managed the entire 12 kilometers (walking, not running, of course), and did additional walking above and beyond the call, so I think I may have actually walked double that today.
The people who walk in Bay to Breakers aren’t cleared to approach the starting line until an hour after the runners have gone. (Each classification has its own corral–not unlike a cattle chute–and they release each one at intervals.) So, it was close to 9, an hour after the starting gun, before I was actually crossing the starting line and beginning the 7½ miles from the Embarcadero to the Great Highway at the Pacific Ocean.
The festivities seem to take precedence over serious running, although by the time my corral hit the streets, the more zealous runners had already crossed the finish line. I saw various costumes–quite a few Waldos, Teletubbies, and Thing 1 and Thing 2 (or Drunk 1 and Drunk 2).
The only rule that anyone seemed to obey was the “no floats” rule. The no-drinking rule was a complete joke. People were handing bottles (labelled and poorly disguised alike) back and forth, and there was a strong pot smell and cloud drifting over the walkers for much of the race and in The Panhandle afterwards. (As a native of Southeastern Ohio, it is easy for me to know when Cannabis sativa is nearby.)
The Bay to Breakers Website cautioned that the route included Hayes Hill, which has a grade anywhere from 5.5% to 11%. Once you reach that, you can honestly say “It’s all downhill from here.” The late Clark Murphy, the best writing teacher I had at Marietta High School, spoke of falling action in his composition classes. The course from Hayes Hill to the Great Highway was an extended falling action.
I was never an “Are we there yet?” kind of traveler as a child, although I came close on the plane trip here Friday, but I kept thinking that as I walked from The Panhandle to the finish line.
And I did even more walking than the race itself. I walked back to The Panhandle, where the party was a lot less sterile than the Finish Line Festival at Ocean Beach. The Finish Line Festival was mostly vendors hawking various overpriced wares, whereas The Panhandle’s party had more of a Comfest feeling, with music, drinking, generous people giving away water and fruit juice), dog-walking, and friendliness everywhere.
The city let it be known that the revelers would wear out their welcome. Around 2 p.m., the company that supplied the portable toilets came, section by section, and began to pump them out and remove them. As the afternoon wore on, you saw the park return to more of an everyday clientele–people with their kids, their pets, a t’ai chi class, etc.
So I was in for even more walking. I did not see a single taxi the whole time I was around the neighborhood, and all the bus routes for that day were cancelled or dreadfully behind schedule, so I walked all the way back to North Beach. This was 3½ miles, and I made the walk down Fell St. most of the way. When I turned onto Van Ness, I realized that I had Russian Hill to confront before I could get back to the hostel. Very steep, although coming down was more worrisome. I was afraid that my legs would buckle and I would fall down the hill, all the way to the Bay.
With so much walking, it was hard to brace my legs against such a steep incline (much of the car chase scene in Bullitt (1968) was filmed there), and I even thought about holding onto the walls of the houses parallel to the sidewalk, but I made it okay.
The big milestone, body-wise, about this experience (the race, as well as the walks that accompanied them) is that I was sore–my legs and feet still hurt a bit, and my roommate Micha said I was walking like an old man, but I was much happy to see I was not out of breath at all. I could still have walked such a long distance a year ago, but I would have been winded much sooner.
It is probably good that I piled up so many miles today. At 9:45 tomorrow morning, I begin the Greyhound trip that will end in Susie’s graduation Friday night and her return to Ohio this Memorial Day. I will have three days with almost no chance to walk for any significant distance. I will have plenty of time to read, look out the window, and maybe write in my diary. I am making no promises about blog entries, although I will do my best. It depends on whether I have the space necessary to hold a laptop and to type, and how reliable the Wi-Fi connections are on the bus.