La Mesa, CA to Coronado, CA
Distance: 23.00 mi
Total Distance: 3,473.10 mi
I woke up fairly early and was very anxious to get on the road. I slept extremely well because I had hardly slept the night before. I made my way up to the kitchen where Kathy and Cody had put together a great breakfast. We talked a bit and said our goodbyes. I packed up the cart one last time and was ready to go.
My first mile was all downhill and I was moving fast. I was trying to keep my excitement under control so I wouldn’t burn out before the finish. Jennifer, who had interviewed me the day before, stopped by with her daughter to wish me luck and say congrats. We parted ways and off I went. It was a calm and quiet day with a cool but warm feel to it. It was slightly overcast and there were some gusts of wind but that was the worst of it. At the time the day seemed normal, but thinking back there was something odd about it. I was ahead of schedule and for a bit my phone was silent, but that was short lived. In waves there were texts and calls from family and friends congratulating me on my near completion of the walk. At one point a car pulled over and people started getting out. It was my dad, cousin Matt, cousin Jill, and fraternity brothers Vin and Moser. We all talked and hugged and expressed how excited we were. Vin and Moser joined me for the last 3 miles. We stopped at a Jack-in-the-box and got some food to relax and catch up. We were a little ahead of time and only had about a mile left. We got on the road again and with only 20 minutes till the scheduled finish the calls started pouring in. I was mostly in contact with Maia who was in charge of setting up the reception at the hotel. Maia was actually a friend from Boston who moved to San Diego, and without either of us knowing she was asked to run this event by the South Pacific Coast Chapter of the NMSS. She took it on and found out the walker was me…small world.
We crossed Imperial Beach and could sense that we were really close. I was now very excited. We walked over the “Silver Strand” which is the strip of land that connects Coronado to the main land. Oddly enough, Silver Strand is also the name of the beach that my Great Grandparents lived on in Ireland. I thought that had to be a good omen. Speaking of Ireland, I had received a congratulatory email from Enda Kenney, the Prime Minister of Ireland, that morning. Enda is a distnt cousin on my mom’s side of the family.
As we got close, maybe half a mile out, Rich Israel, the President of the South Pacific Coast Chapter of the NMSS, stopped by to congratulate me. He wanted to get a little time in with me before we reached the finish. As we got close, Vin and Moser ran up ahead of me to join all the others waiting for me at the finish. At the entrance of the Loews Coronado drive there were a couple of photographers and a representative from the hotel, who welcomed me to the Loews and led the way to the entrance. As I got closer I could see a couple family members out front and a few people running around. I had been told by Maia that I would need to leave my cart at Valet parking. I was expecting everyone to be waiting inside, but as I approached the entrance some of my friends were still out front. Now I had no idea what to expect when I entered the hotel.
I was overwhelmed as I rounded the corner into the lobby. There were people everywhere. The entire hotel staff was lined up in addition to some hotel guests, as well as my family and friends. I was blown away. It was something I had only seen in movies. With all the clapping and cheering it was hard to focus. I felt like I had tunnel vision and everything kind of got blurry. I started down the line shaking hands along the way; I didn’t quite know what to do. It was amazing. I even kissed a dog being held by its owner in the receiving line. I finally got to the end of the receiving line, and saw the finish line being held by my mother and my girlfriend Lindsey. Both of their faces were priceless. I ran through the finish line and the walk was over.
For 6 months and 8 days I had walked to get to that point. It was weird and hard to understand what just happened. Maia, the NMSS, and the Loews Coronado had worked hard and set up an amazing finish. There was a stage, a DJ playing music, food stations, a bar, a massage table, and a lot of people. Rich got up on stage and thanked everyone for all of their help and talked about the walk. He brought Maia up on stage to talk for a couple minutes. She presented me with a gift card to a restaurant, and a weekend of pampering at the Lowes. Then I went up and spoke about the walk and thanked everyone for all they had done. There were a lot of people to meet, interviews to give, and friends and family to say hello to.
Things started to die down and it was getting dark and chilly out. Lindsey, a couple of my friends, and I went to check out our room. The hotel had upgraded our room in addition to most everyone associated with the walk. Lindsey and I had an unbelievable Bay Side Suite. The place was huge. It had a living area, bed room, patio right on the water, his and her closets, and a giant bathroom. They had set up wine and snacks for our arrival.
The night culminated with a family gathering at an Irish Pub in Coronado not too far from the hotel. It was nice to be able to relax and hang out with friends and family. We made our way back to the hotel and called it a night as tomorrow would be very long and busy.
Here is the link to the iCNN video that covers the walk.