We had breakfast, put on considerably fewer layers than the two prior days, and lined up to board a bus to the drop-off point for the day.
As I took those first few steps on my aching feet, the hours stretched long ahead of me, but then I glimpsed the hat of the woman in front of me:
|"Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the LORD"|
The morning was pleasant. I savored the breeze on my bare arms and legs, but I didn't like the look of the heavy gray sky. I politely asked God if He'd mind holding back the rain for us, but told Him I'd praise Him and rely on Him to help us through it either way.
We walked through a gorgeous neighborhood, Highland Park, where I had an aching longing to walk on the cushy grass instead of the hard sidewalk. But I stayed on the straight and narrow (most of the time). Ah, that grass felt so good when I had to step aside to pass or be passed.
Around mile five I started feeling a telltale hot spot on the ball of my left foot. I sat down in some of that cushy grass and applied another strip of moleskin. At the next rest stop, I added yet another strip. But apparently I missed the target by about a millimeter because by the last pit stop, I had my very first blister! Nooooo!!!
|Sorry, Couldn't Help Myself. Can You See It?|
More than ever, I relied on the love and support of the spectators to give me the courage to keep walking. I was thankful for:
- The passing sweep vans with their crazy decorations and loud music. (They continually circled to pick up exhausted and injured walkers who needed a lift.)
- The "walker stalkers," friends and family who shadowed the route to give out Kleenex, gum, handi wipes, and even champagne to not only their own walkers but to anyone else who passed by.
|The Craziest Walker-Stalkers|
- The neighborhood residents who handed out donuts and kolaches and thank-yous.
- The double rows of encouragers at each cheering station.
- The safety crew members who told us how many miles to the next stop as they helped us across the intersections.
- The amazingly kind and supportive Dallas officers who worked the biggest intersections. I was moved to tears by one officer who told us about his wife, a ten-year survivor.
- The costumed dogs that never failed to make me smile.
- The inspiring words and scriptures on posters, on the backs of T-shirts, and on signs pinned to backpacks.
- The fact that the rain held off until we entered the grounds of the closing ceremony site (Fair Park). Thank you, thank you, God!
- The constant company of my sweet friend Gentle.
|Mine on Left, Gentle's on Right|