Great Saunter, Almost Made It

When I got home from walking 29.5 miles around Manhattan, I took off my sneakers and went straight into the shower. My feet burned bright red. They looked like two huge sausages, and my toes looked like plump little sausages weening off the huge foot sausages. Pretty gross, right? I thought I’d destroyed them for good.

The human body is uh. may. ZING! My feet were not ruined, but I did have a blister the size of a small child attached to one of my heels. That also healed quickly.

All worth it! S, R, and I met up at Fraunces Tavern along with lots of other Shorewalkers and got started right away. The overcast sky and drizzle here and there were helpful. They didn’t allow for over-heating and dehydrating, which is what happened to me last year. Last year, I thought I was going to die when we found civilization in Harlem on the way up and across, so I went home when I found a 1 train. Starting out this year in much cooler weather was the way to go. Thanks, Mother Nature.

R asked me how fast I thought we walk. I was like, between 3 and 3.5 mph. He decided there was no reason we couldn’t bang this thing out before dinnertime. So off we went. We did stop to stretch a few times and for some bathroom breaks. Because we stayed with the pack, fears of getting lost in the Magical Forest of Inwood faded. Or maybe it’s the fear that kept us mid-pack. We simply didn’t want to get sidelined by a birding experience again.

In keeping up with the pack, we got to take advantage of the snacks along the way. I. Was. In. Heaven.

I was super psyched to see some of the same places we saw last year. I was the same amount of psyched to see new places I’d missed out on when I left at mile 18ish last time. There’s so much more to see after mile 18.

Still, when your feet start to hurt, like really really hurt, there’s nothing you can do. It’s not like a hurt shoulder that you can sort of keep immobile. If you have to walk and your feet throb with every step, you have yourself a serious problem.

As we walked out onto 1st Ave nearing the home stretch, there was a hill. We’d encountered many hills before this hill. I’d met those hills with laughter. The long stretches of bridge after bridge and the paths along the highway that offered nowhere to go but forwards or back to see more highway–these spaces I took in stride, smiling, happy, gushing about how lucky we were to see such sights. This 1st Ave hill nearing the home stretch? I did not meet with such jubilance.

There was a lot of grunting and muttering. I mentioned to S that we’d climbed this hill on our wave walk, and that made me feel better for a few seconds because I’d conquered this hill in 100 degree sweat. But again, hurt feet are hurt feet. I told S I might not finish. She gave me a pep talk. Like a really great pep talk. It almost convinced me.

Then we got into the 30s, and when the map and a volunteer told us to take a left, I was like, I have to Saunter right instead. S and R went off to complete the Saunter, and I went across town to catch a train home. I caught sight of myself in a window, and I looked like an injured hobbit. Going home was a good decision.

Saunter 2019 (11)

I was supposed to teach two yoga classes the next day, but jacked up feet don’t allow for much namaste-ing. I got those covered and spent Sunday limping around. With almost double the distance I completed last year, I was in good shape. Plus, it didn’t get worse. Last year, the pain set in midday on Sunday and lasted well into Tuesday. This year, I wore Fitflops to work on Monday because of the blister but then everything went back to normal. That’s an accomplishment for sure.

Maybe one day I’ll complete the whole thing. Or one day I’ll head back to the place where I veered off and simply complete those last three miles. I’m thankful I was able to do so much more this year. I got to see so many more places along Manhattan’s perimeter, and I’m looking forward to seeing even more.

 

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Sauntering (More Than) A Few Miles

S was like, Hey wanna walk with me and R around Manhattan? And I was like, Sure, that sounds like fun.

I work out usually six days a week, but none of those workouts are endurance training. I figured walking the perimeter of Manhattan would be a challenge, but I’d be up for most of it.

S and R walk a lot in their daily lives. I walk a little but there’s a lot of standing in place and sitting for me, especially since many of the computers in the classrooms at work are in tiny metal boxes that I have to sit at (with my back to the classroom, but this is becoming a whole other post, so more on that another time).

What all this adds up to is that none of us trained for this particular walk but they were more ready for it than I was, and remember I have a labral tear that’s always lurking even if I forget about it. Labral tear, I laugh at your lurking.

The Great Saunter began at 7:30 AM in Fraunces Tavern on Pearl St. I took a 6:03 to Penn and then hopped on an express 1 all the way to the end, which gave me plenty of time to eat the turkey and lettuce on whole wheat that I’d packed for breakfast. Then I followed a man already in his walking bib to find the tavern. I stood on line quite chilly, waiting to get my own bib. Then I taught myself how to pin a bib to a backpack in very low light (Fraunces has mood lighting, perhaps in honor of GWash and lamplight–that’s history, y’all).

We first stopped at the SI Ferry terminal for bathrooms and water and then headed up the path along the shoreline where it was chilly and bright. This is what a lot of the morning was like. Walking near the water. This whole thing was quite simple!

At mile five, there was a volunteer cheering us on and showing us the way to go. I wasn’t exactly appreciative for the mile five cheer since I felt like I’d walked more than that already and the entire thing is 32 miles, so with a labral tear tweaking, mile five was nothing to really feel accomplished about. OR MAYBE it’s positive attitude Saturday and being able to even walk is an accomplishment! Or not. Whichever you choose.

On this leg of the walk, there were a lot of opportunities for bathroom breaks and seeing civilization. We ran into another walk, one that was for charity, and so we realized that there are many reasons to walk. A few minutes later, enter Lady Who Likes To Ask Me Questions. I knew the least about the walk we were on, so she asked me specifically why we were walking. I explained about Shore Walkers and said we were raising awareness about the shore. I figured that would suffice. It did not. She asked for more specifics about the kind of awareness. I answered something like, That it’s there and we should appreciate it. She asked further, For sustainability? I was like, Yes. She finally power-walked away, wishing us a good walk.

We walked alongside parks. We passed other walkers, whom S called bibbers because we were all wearing racing/walking bibs. Other bibbers passed us. One woman in particular passed us as if she were on a mission and then almost walked straight into a tree. Like it was a moment when I wanted to yell out, Hey watch where you’re going!, but it all happened too quickly. She narrowly escaped the tree collision and then a few feet later practically skidded to a halt to take pictures of children playing sports in the park. So that happened.

At a water stop–or I should say The Official Water Stop–we met some Shore Walker organizers. S introduced herself as the baker who donated cookies, and the one guy reacted how people always react when they find out S is the cookie-maker. He was pretty overjoyed by the whole thing. After the water, we followed a group of people along a more dirt-like path with rocks to the side instead of any kind of barrier between us and the water, and there was a girl in front of us kicking along a ball. Because the walk itself wasn’t a challenge enough I suppose.

We saw public art. We saw bridges and overpasses from underneath. We saw trees and docks and boats. We ate bananas and nuts and KIND bars and I ate Larabars, too.  We navigated around cyclers, some of whom could learn to use a bell. Then we saw the George Washington Bridge and figured, oooh, the Little Red Lighthouse is there. Then the GWB disappeared. It was like a mirage. It reappeared. We’d head for it. It disappeared. We wondered why we were walking. Over and over until finally it stood right in front of us and the lighthouse came into view. We’d made it a little over 12 miles!

Then there was a hill. I’ve never seen so many cyclists ride up such a steep hill. I don’t remember climbing a hill that steep since I was an undergrad at Oneonta (aka The City Of Hills) or maybe when I visited San Francisco. Or maybe it seemed steep because my legs were jelly and my joints were on fire. That could be it. I wasn’t the only one feeling something. We all were feeling something.

Between miles 13 and 14 stood a Grecian Temple. Because, you know, why not? This is where we took a sitting break. I changed my socks, which was heavenly.

We headed north still towards Inwood Park where we’d find a rock and walk over railroad tracks on a footbridge. It got a little confusing, not knowing if we’d found where we needed to go. This is where we could have used a volunteer cheering us on and pointing us in the right direction. There was no one so we simply kept at it, walking and not veering too far.

We passed by a group of walkers who were wearing shirts that said You’re Going The Wrong Way. Which made us pause until they assured us we were going the right way, which is explained on the back of their shirts, which would be helpful information at first glance, so I wish they had been walking backwards. There were some more hills but not as steep and we finally came upon the Shorakkopoch Rock. For joy! This is where all we needed to do was bear right to find the break where there were bathrooms and snacks and benches!

Great Saunter 2018 (72)

So we went right with only 16 more miles to go!

Except that in going right, we went into the Enchanted Forest of Inwood. It was literally a forest and there were literally no bibbers around and we literally got lost in the forest, despite my carrying the map and re-reading the instructions. We did bump into a group of birders, so we could have abandoned the walk and taken up birding. Instead, we broke out the GPS and found a way out of the forest up and down hills and to an exit that was not near the exit we were supposed to take. Instead, we took our own detour and somehow figured out how to meet back up with the actual path. So while we had only 16 miles to go, we probably added on a bunch in walking in circles and double-backing.

This next part might be out of order. The leg going south is kind of a blur to me, so these things happened, but maybe not in this order. Not surprisingly, I was sweaty, which makes me sometimes not think too good.

We found, finally, a mini mart to get some water. What surprised us most was the lack of bodegas and cart vendors. S mentioned street meat a bunch of times, but we didn’t see anything of the sort on the way back down. Getting back on track, we bumped into someone S worked with and they told us that up ahead, we’d see a bunch of young people. Which clearly meant we are old and needed to go to bed soon. It was Cinco de Mayo, so young people were everywhere.

Great Saunter 2018 (30)

We walked under the three bridges. Getting to the bridges was another one of those so close yet so far away moments. However, they didn’t do the mirage thing like the GWB did, which was nice.

Great Saunter 2018 (34)

We found a volunteer on the side of a road who told us, Once you walk up this hill, you’ve completed 60% of the walk. The “up this hill” part was not exactly what I wanted to hear, but 60% was a joy.

A woman asked me if we were coming from the game. We were not, but that made me happy knowing that we didn’t look too shabby for walking as far as we had for as long as we had. We simply looked like we were coming from the Yankee game.

We got to 145th and found a Subway (the Eat Fresh kind, not the MTA kind) and sat. S got a sandwich, and I got a cookie. I also got a yearning to go home. I found a Subway (the MTA kind, not the Eat Fresh kind) that was super close. I looked at the map. The next part was called Zig Zag to South Harlem. Through the zigging and zagging, I didn’t see another subway stop that would take me directly to Penn (because the 1 wasn’t running until further down after the zigging and zagging). So I pretty much said, This is where I leave you, and they walked me to the stop which was only one block uphillish and I wished them well and walked down some stairs and the A came right away and took me expressly to Penn where a train home was waiting for me and leaving in two minutes so I got on that and then got to my car and then got to my house and then stretched and iced and got on my couch and sat there in a state of what-did-I-just-do?

S and R finished in the 10 PM hour. They are my heroes this week.

Sunday came. My labral tear that had a good clean burn going the night before wasn’t even a thought. I had some achy feels around my thighs, but nothing really terrible. Ooh, I was feeling fine!

Monday came. My everything hurt. No, seriously, I gimped and limped around. My ankles. My calves. My shins. My knees. My quads. My hamstrings. Just everything. I had to walk between buildings at work and I made little yipping sounds as I went. I was the slowest walker in the universe. Upon being asked what happened, I simply said, I make bad decisions.  This lasted through Tuesday.

The walk was not a bad decision. The last minute decision to walk was the bad decision. But now I’m on a mission. I’m adding endurance to my workouts. That way, next May, I might round the bend at 32 miles instead of conking out at 19 and change.

My wish list for the next saunter:
1. more water stops
2. being cheered on and directed in the more desolate areas and not at mile five
3. food cards and bodegas
4. not getting lost in the enchanted forest of Inwood
5. a hotline for if I do get lost or confused again, which I will
6. foot powder and more sock changes
7. better training beforehand
8. singalongs with other bibbers, or at least a secret handshake or fun wave

YTT v. PT Gone Wrong

If you’ll recall, last time I checked in here, I was limping around, unable to sit or move really. The positive update is that I can walk. The negative update is that not only do I still have patellar chonromalacia in my left knee, but the exercises the “expert” physical therapist gave me to fix that problem by opening up my tight hips successfully tore open the labrum of my right hip. That’s what the limping has been all about.

Meanwhile, I’m yoga-ing. Well, not really. I’m watching people yoga while I yoga in my brain. Fact: like 5 % of yoga is physical practice. The rest of it is all in your mind. Yeah, I know. Mind-blown, aren’t you?

On a complete sidenote: National Grid has been digging up the streets around my block for the past month and my dead end has been a storage place for their big yellow pipe thingies and various-sized piles of loose asphalt. This week, a port-a-potty appeared. I haven’t seen anyone go in it or come out of it, but it’s not like I’m watching it. I bring this up right now only because there’s a new kind of truck outside, and chains are rattling again. Either they’re moving more yellow pipe thingies in or moving them out. Guaranteed that plastic craphouse will still be standing when the truck leaves.

Anyway, focused meditation and breathing are what yoga is all about. Clearly, my focus is off (see paragraph above). I’m working towards passing this yoga course with every  element of willpower I own. I passed the written test and enjoyed a lovely ayurvedic meal with the yoga women afterwarrds. I would say I helped cook it, but mostly, I ate, and then I did what I do best with homecooked meals–I helped clean up. It’s the Virgo in me. I like it neat. Here, “it” means every gosh darn thing in the entire world.

The off-track-kneecap stopped hurting for a while. Then it started acting up again this week. The hip is nowhere near as painful as it was, but the pain is still there, moving from front to side to back to butt to all around and down and up and in again. Mostly, I’m annoyed. I work out six days a week on the usual. Now I’m kind of doing my weights for my arms and abs, and then every other day I do some PT exercises I looked up for both my knee and my hip.

FYI: Nowhere in the knee PT does it say to do any of the hip opening exercises the therapist told me to do. Ditto for the hip PT. That therapist? Is an ass. Did I mention he stretched out my right leg and then told the assistant it was my right knee? Yeah, that happened, which makes me even more convinced that he’s the reason my right hip is falling apart from the inside.

This leaves us here: I have my practicum on Friday at 2 if I can get two people to practice for me. I was planning to show up for the gals who are going before me, but yesterday was an achy setback, so I’m not sure if a physical practice in which I have to, like, move my legs is in the near future. This seems unfair to everyone–take my class but I can’t take yours. If it doesn’t work out for Friday, I’ll just teach the final some time in the future.

For shame, PT Therapist, for shame. Yes, I’m blaming everything on him. And on the ortho doc who sent me to PT for my knee in the first place. He could have just said, Don’t do high impact exercise for a week and see what happens because that seemed to make it better overall when I was stuck on the couch for two and a half days unable to sit upright. This is what we call rage. A very calm yoga-like rage.

What does a gal do when she aches and has plans to move and shake? She ices her joints and refuses to accept that she’s got issues. She is me, and I’m doing fine with my ice packs and willpower. That makes a good band name.

Namaste.

Cheers To Lukewarm Bikram In NYC

June 21 means summer solstice. It’s also National Day of the Gong, National Seashell Day (because summer), National Selfie Day, Go Skateboarding Day, National Daylight Appreciation Day, and National Peaches N Cream Day. [see National Days for proof]. Most importantly, it’s Yoga In Times Square Mind Over Madness Day, also known as Yoga In Times Square, Solstice In Times Square, and International Yoga Day. Also, Lie Down In Times Square Without Getting Arrested Day. Fun for all!

I haven’t been to Summer Solstice Yoga in a few years, so I went this year. I didn’t bring my own mat for the first time, which proved to be freeing and lighter. I did bring a book and wore a backpack. I never wear backpacks–I feel like I’m getting robbed every time I stop walking, I don’t have access to anything, and it’s like carrying a small person around with me. Still, it seemed to be the optimal bag for the day with water and snacks and a change of in-case clothes.

Pit stop: Starbucks 2 in Penn. I grabbed a protein box for lunch that I could eat when I was on line for yoga. I also grabbed a yogurt and sat to read because I’d taken an early train so I could mosey along and not be drenched with sweat before class even started. The cafe had a lot of empty seats. A lot of room for a lot of people. So the very young in love couple dragging luggage behind sat right next to me. Okay fine. Then they started making out. Whenever they stopped making out, they would talk about his future. She knows that he’s going to be a famous director. If you’re interested in this make out session, you can go here. Otherwise, let’s move on.

I walked to Times Square for the 1:30 Bikram class (that would not be over 100 degrees as it has been close to in past years–this year, there was a breeze and the sun came out but not blaringly). Along the way, I passed by a man who was maybe an inch taller than me who was wearing a dapper suit and headphones. When we got to the corner to wait for the light to change, he began dancing off the sidewalk and into the street. Then he danced at me. It’s hard to describe what dancing at someone looks like, but that’s exactly what he did. It’s as if he had a catwalk linked between wherever he went and wherever I was. He would shuffle away in any direction, coming close to cars whizzing by and turning, and then dance towards me, breaking the personal space bubble. I did what any normal person would do–I stood there, not saying a word, not acknowledging the moves, not making eye contact not even through my sunglasses. When the light turned green, I speedily walked around him. We kept passing each other because he would catch up with some fast moves but then slow down to watch himself in window reflections. I lost him after a few blocks. He may still be dancing.

The line-up for me began on 47th and Broadway. Eight people stood on line before me. Well, okay, there were seven people and then a guy who leaned against the gate, talking to the cars driving by. The woman standing in front of him wore cat ears and a cat tail. This guy wore, well, I don’t know exactly, but I remember the bright socks and black sandals. People wear all kinds of things to yoga class, and yoga people can be a little, shall we say, “out there,” so I wasn’t sure if this guy was actually waiting for yoga or simply shouting at cars. I stood a little behind him, a bit off to the side.

When someone else came up behind me to stand on line as he was talking to the air and still leaning on the gate, I looked at her until she looked up so I could whisper, I’m not really sure if he’s on line, so I’m giving him some room. She got exactly what I meant and moved to the curb on the other side of me. Eventually, she and I struck up a conversation and the guy walked away. He wound up on the drop in line for a while, but then went away completely.

On the way in, we got free mats and bags with stuff that we could fill up with more stuff at the Yoga Village two blocks down. All FREE!

My waiting on line gal pal became my yoga gal pal as we set up our mats next to each other and kept chatting. We both went to post photos on Instagram where I saw a post about waiting for class to start. I was like, Oh, I know someone here. She was like, hey what’s your Instagram? And that’s how you introduce yourself to people today. After sharing Instas, we exchanged names. Ha!

The class started and the sun came out with our first breathing sequence. Bikram has a specific sequence, so following is kind of easy. Surprisingly, I did not drip with sweat. I sweat more standing and waiting on line than I did while practicing. The class proved to be calming and invigorating all at the same time. Several times, we all cheered for ourselves. We didn’t chant together, but we breathed together to end it. Then there was more cheering. The whole thing made me happy that I’d returned and excited to be starting yoga teacher training next week.

B and I went to the yoga village together where we scored more water, fresh mango slices, Luna Bars, crackers, and temporary tattoos.

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We parted ways, making a plan to meet up for yoga again some day. I walked back to Penn as the next session of NYC yogis filed in for their solstice gathering. The breeze blew. The sun stayed out. The absolutely perfect first day of summer.

Remember Zumba and Personal Space?

I texted my mom, “I’m going to Zumba with S.” She answered, “Personal space!” She’s never done Zumba, yet she knows of the woes of sweaty strangers touching. It’s pretty much why I haven’t been able to bring myself to go back to Zumba; also, it’s now $5 instead of $4, which seems to be a big leap. Anyway, I’ve thought about going to the Tuesday night class with a different instructor, but there’s not guarantee that instructor won’t be touchy or maybe even more touchy.

S’s Zumba class is taught by a non-touchy instructor, so I headed out, excited. Not exciting was the two hour traffic jam on the Belt which lead me to having to quickly parallel park. I am not a parallel parker, so doing it quickly is not even a notion usually. However, three tries and I was in! Then I was rushing to the class where S met me. As I filled out the “It’s okay if I die from this I won’t sue you” paperwork, S filled up her water bottle and informed me that we’d missed only the warmup. I was like, “My walk from the car was my warmup.” She was like, “Mine too.”

We wound up on the side of the room S doesn’t really like, but there was space there. Personal space. Sweet lovely personal space. Even in a crowded room, I basked in the no-touching zone.

And then we were in it. Jumping, sliding, dipping, shaking. For the past three weeks, I’ve done none of this kind of thing. I wanted to change up my workout completely, so I bought the PiYO workout (and did not pay that ridiculous price of over $70 for it). Those workouts are little to no impact from 18 to 36 minutes. After the shorter routines, I go on the elliptical. There has been no dancing or aerobics. Jumping back into Zumba made me realize how much I miss the dancing aerobics. (So much so that the next day after PiYO, I did a Just Dance workout).

I caught onto most of the choreography by watching the instructor and then by watching S.  Whatever I couldn’t catch onto, I made up. That’s allowed as long as you don’t screw up the people around you, and since I had all this personal space, I wasn’t screwing anyone up. Plus, a lot of people in the class were about a beat behind, so making it your own seemed to be a common occurrence.

Sweating profusely, I asked S what time the class ended. We had about a half hour left. However, that half hour went really quickly.  After a few more salsas and stretches, we were done. S flushed pink and I, of course, dripped.

We got iced teas! Oooh, a nice post-Zumba refresher!

So now I’m thinking I should try the local five-dollar-Zumba one more time. I can do it at home, for sure, but sometimes, getting out into a class makes it even better.