Walking out of my comfort zone

Some things you just do.

Because they mean a lot to your wife.

Even though going downtown on a (good God!) Saturday morning and marching around for two miles is NOT my idea of a leisurely way to start the day.

But. . .this was the Pittsburgh Step Out Walk to Stop Diabetes and my wife is diabetic and she’s been doing this walk forever and we’ve been married six years annnnnnnddd. . . I’ve never done the walk.

Of course she drove.

We get there and park and walk down the street without being mugged.

Things went south in a hurry when, while waiting to check in, I stepped in a big mud puddle.

Shaking that off, I got my nifty t-shirt, absently-minded picked at an ingrown beard hair and bled on it.

My wife noticed, pointed it out to me and I tried to do a field-expedient pre-treat of the blood stain my smearing spit on it.

You do what you have to.

Someone from a drug company hands me an apple. Apples are cool. There are several drug companies companies on hand pushing various diabetes treatments while giving out lots of cool swag. Wife takes swag, I decline. I do take some coffee from the local grocers. If I forget any of these sponsors, they’re all on the back of my T-shirt.

By the way, they have port-a-potties that actually flush some kind of blood-looking liquid. I use one and am impressed. 

We get in line for fruit, energy bars, water and bagels. We split a bagel, I am impressed that they do not skimp on the cream cheese.

We are accosted by numerous mascots. I’m not a fan of interacting with people in furry suits (surprised?) and I avoid Iceberg, the Pittsburgh Penguins mascot and some kind of giant purple dragon. I think there was another stuffed human furry but I can’t remember what it was.

“At least we don’t have Steely McBeam,” my wife says. “That would be really scary.”

Au contrare, my dear. Look down at the starting area.

I don’t know what my wife has against Steely.

Anyway, at some point this walk has to begin and after several speeches it does. I am instantly accosted by screaming children. Now, I have to be honest. These are little girls who scream. You know the scream – the kind that pierces eardrums and volcanic rock. The kind of banshee shrieking only a 2-year-old girl is capable of. Boys are noisemakers too but they usually bawl rather than scream. I can’t stand either but boys bawling and whining usually has a 10-foot noise radius. The little girl screaming can be heard for at least a mile.

If you want to unnerve me instantly, that will do it. The little girl is in a stroller. We pass the family but with my lumbering gait, they quickly catch up and I bug my wife to let them by. Even though the little girls has been bought off with a juice box, somehow I know it’s only buying some time.

We meet other groups of rowdies and I land up walking behind my wife so these bands of unruly diabetes walkers can pass by. I don’t want to hold anyone up.

We cross the Hot Metal Bridge. Unlike the Liberty Bridge, it does not catch fire, nor shake, but I am on guard.

We then walk the trail along the Monongahela River toward the midway point. It is along this path where we first encounter angry reckless bicyclists who did not realize 1300 people were have the unmitigated gall to take up their precious bike paths of which our mayor is so proud.

My head is on a swivel for them as they suddenly appear out of nowhere shouting “PASSING ON YOUR LEFT; WALK ON RIGHT!”

Yeah, uh, go fuck yourself.

Other non walkers emerge from the bushes on the trail. They look like runners and are equally annoyed. They could be decoys for muggers so I keep my eye on them.

We grab out water and the midway point and I steel myself for the return trip.

On  the way back we dodge more angry bicyclists and annoyed joggers. I notice that we have been following a group of folks that include a. . . little person? I don’t know what the correct term is so I’ll use the term from television. It annoys me that at 30 inches tall she’s walking faster than I am. So it goes.

And then it happens – the stinging pain down the right side of my right leg. No doctor has ever been able to give me a straight answer as to what causes the pain, it just happens, usually while walking or standing too long and usually at the worst possible time. I had taken two Aleve pills prior to with my Neurontin to prevent this, but they fail. Of course they do.

Crossing the bridge again, I start to limp slightly and fall further behind my wife, who, helpfully takes pictures in order for me to catch up.

The view. Can’t beat it.

I stop to rub my leg and then, gamely with jaw set, march on toward the finish line. And then it happens.

“Sir!”

You talkin’ to me?

“You’re leaking water.”

So I was. I was carrying my water bottle upside down for some reason.

“You’d take the next drink and find it was empty,” she said.

So I would. I feel stupid. I thank her, right the bottle and move on.

Startled by a loud noise, I realize it’s a train.

I limp slightly over the finish arch and, although I need to sit down, the DJ is too loud so we move down the river a bit.

And it’s over. I have survived the Pittsburgh Step Out Walk to Stop Diabetes. I am relieved, my wife is happy. I had raised almost $250 online from some nice generous people. I walked to honor their pledges but mostly for my wife and hopefully, someday, for a cure.

My wife is happy with me and that matters a whole lot more than the sting in my leg.

I took the selfie. I appear to have a tree growing out of my head, but it’s all good.

This entry was posted in Adventure!, anxiety, getting old, middle age, Pittsburgh Penguins. Bookmark the permalink.

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