Yellow Cab picked me up at 5:30, as planned. The fog was so low that the cab's wheels kept spinning out every time a light changed. I worried about doing a marathon with wet shoes and no raincoat -- not even a spare garbage bag to keep me dry. The driver didn't know his way around the park, so we got lost on the way to Speedway Meadow, but I jumped out when the meter hit $20 and walked the rest of the way. It wasn't actively raining, but the fog dripping off the cypress was icy as it rolled down my scalp.
I met a nice woman who carried my sleeping bag up to the baggage trucks for me. She'd left her 8-year-old twins and husband asleep in the East Bay to do the Walk alone. The sun wasn't up yet, but the gloom seemed alive with energy as we walked down into the meadow. A crowd in pink was already gathering.
There were bagels and cream cheese, bananas, orange juice, and coffee for breakfast. I chased my piece of cold pizza, gobbled from the fridge, with a real breakfast. It wasn't even 6 a.m. and I was already eating everything in sight.
I linked up with Team KFOG right away, thrilled to see and hug my walking partner from last year's half-marathon. Margaret had injured her toe months earlier and it still ached, but she hoped to walk at least 13 miles both days. (And she did. Yay, Margaret!) One of the other ladies had an ankle brace; another had a brace on her knee. I think all of them managed to walk two half-marathons. Some walked 18 miles the first day. A handful of us made it the whole distance. As a group, we raised more than $26,000 to fight breast cancer. Go, Team KFOG!
We decided to head to the edge of the stage so we could be toward the front of the mob when the Walk began. The Opening Ceremony quickly reduced me to tears when the guest speaker said she'd just completed her chemo therapy. She'd found a lump after having a clear mammogram and was told she was too young for breast cancer. Luckily, she pursued it, only to endure a radical mastectomy. She signed up to do the Walk in February, as something to look forward to when her treatment was done. She was walking with her mom and dad -- and her hair had started to grow back. She took off her baseball cap to show us.
This year's walk raised 5.6 million dollars and more was still coming in. (The matching funds I am expecting from Microsoft still haven't come through, for instance.) 2400 people were walking, supported by an army of volunteers who fed us, cheered us, patched up those who needed it, guarded crosswalks, rode along the route to pick up people in trouble, and generally kept us moving. I couldn't have done it without them.
At 7 a.m., the Walk began. A river of pink wound through Golden Gate Park, marched through the Richmond, climbed through the Presidio above the Bay, and crossed the bridge. Toward the front of the pack, Team KFOG made good time. We hit the 10-mile mark at the north edge of Sausalito by 10:15. I was ready for lunch. I'd already been up 6 hours by then. My walking partner Margaret had been up 7.
I did the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer for two years. Those days were among the most transformative of my life. Once I'd walked a marathon, I knew I could do anything. And the money we raised came back to San Francisco t fund the Breast Care Center at General Hospital.
Causes Loren Rhoads Supports