'If You Kill Dad, We're Going to Be Very Upset With You'

​20 miles. 24 neighborhoods. PittGirl takes her father on a hike to remember.



 

It takes a special kind of audacity to ask a 67-year-old man to take a 20-mile walk. When Light of Life Rescue Mission invited me to take part in the annual Tour with Tunch & Wolf — presented by former Pittsburgh Steelers players Craig Wolfley and Tunch Ilkin — I understood it to be a huge honor that I could not decline. Not wanting to do it alone, I selfishly asked my father to come along because he’s a supporter of the mission.

“How would you like to hike 20 miles with me for Light of Life?” I asked in my best “The Price Is Right” spokesmodel voice, trying to make potential hell sound like a breezy trip to heaven.

He agreed to do it. I have no idea why — though I’d bet his hearing aids were off and he misunderstood. My sisters had sent texts in the months leading up to the tour: “If you kill Dad, we are going to be really upset with you.”

You’d think a person who plans to walk 20 miles in the near future would put in a bit of preparation. Maybe a few 10-mile hikes. Extra stretches. A vitamin-rich diet. Nah. I took a 4-mile walk one day and woke up the next morning to find I had temporarily crippled myself. “Well, that’s not good,” I thought. And then I ate some cookies.

The day before the tour, my father had laser eye surgery on a torn retina. Assuming he would not be able to join me, I wondered how I could quickly tear something important in my own eye. His doctor said the tour would put no undue stress on his eyes.

Yay?

On the morning of the tour, I picked up my father at 5:30. The moon still was shining over Heinz Field when we arrived. In the parking lot, Tunch explained to all of the participants that we would be hiking “20-plus miles.”

“‘Plus?’ What is this ‘plus’ you speak of?” I thought in a panic. “I would like to get off this ride before it starts.” I sent up a quick “Jesus-take-the-wheel-and-maybe-gently-crash-me-into-a-runaway-truck-sandpile” prayer.

Off we went.

Heinz Field to deep in the North Side and then back to downtown for a rest. That was an easy 3 miles.

Then Tunch said, “Next stop. Squirrel Hill.”

Excuse my French but, “Pardonnez-moi?” Did you know in Pittsburgh it actually is possible to walk “uphill both ways”? Our parents weren’t lying about that. 

Jesus, take the wheel and get us stuck in some tunnel traffic so I can rest for a bit.

Mile 10. Various muscle groups were tightening up. Dad stopped occasionally to massage his calves. My sisters sent regular texts: The “Hydrate. Don’t infarct.” message was meant for my dad. “Your hamstrings are going to explode, you know?” was meant for both of us.

Mile 14. My knees were stiffening, and my father had gained a slight limp. “Is Dad still alive?” queried one text. “Yes. But I think I’m dying,” was my response.

Mile 16. Hamstrings were threatening to blow. I considered bike-jacking a cyclist on the Eliza Furnace Trail.

Mile 18. I realized a hip replacement probably was a lot closer in my future than it was 18 miles ago. Dad’s limp was borderline zombie-like. Then there was Tunch, who continued to march like a fresh soldier. I irrationally hated him for it.

Mile 19. Our bodies were warzones. Hips were yelling at ankles, which were giving the middle finger to knees, which were sending hate mail to the Achilles.

Mile 20. My eyeballs stopped making moisture, leaving my cloudy contacts fused to them like wallpaper. My father’s face was a mask of pain. When we reached the steps at the end of the West End Bridge, I briefly considered flinging myself down them because it was the path of least resistance.

And then it was over — 20 miles through 24 neighborhoods in 11 hours to benefit our city’s homeless population.

A bit later, we managed to fold our bodies into my car. I realized that in order to get us home, I would need to find the physical strength to transfer my foot from the brake pedal to the gas pedal.

Jesus, take the wheel. I quit.
 

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Top 10 Things to Do in Pittsburgh in December

Top 10 Things to Do in Pittsburgh in December

This month's best bets in The 'Burgh.
50+ Things That Will Make You Enjoy Winter in Pittsburgh

50+ Things That Will Make You Enjoy Winter in Pittsburgh

Love it or hate it, winter is upon us. Because some of us may think there's a lot not to like, we bring you 50+ things to eat, drink and do –– and some helpful tips –– that'll keep the blues at bay.
Excellence in Nursing: Meet Our 2016 Honorees

Excellence in Nursing: Meet Our 2016 Honorees

Pittsburgh Magazine presents the honorees from its inaugural Excellence in Nursing awards. Meet our judges' choices and learn what makes them remarkable in their field.
Choreographed Style: Winter Fashion with The Pittsburgh Ballet

Choreographed Style: Winter Fashion with The Pittsburgh Ballet

A regal ruggedness characterizes the season's menswear looks.
Edit ModuleShow Tags

The 412

The Mosaic Stairway: You've Never Seen Steps Like These

The Mosaic Stairway: You've Never Seen Steps Like These

When viewed from the foot of the South Side Slopes of Pittsburgh, the stairs ascending Josephine Street form a massive image that consists of more than 7,500 individual mosaic tiles.
Joe Manganiello Plays the Good Guy for Children’s Hospital

Joe Manganiello Plays the Good Guy for Children’s Hospital

The actor, director and Mt. Lebanon native is joining the board of trustees of the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh Foundation.
Pittsburgh Man Sets World Record By Lifting 1 Million Pounds

Pittsburgh Man Sets World Record By Lifting 1 Million Pounds

Matt Scoletti accomplishes the feat in just under nine hours.
Why Thanksgiving Comes Every Day for 3 Pittsburgh-Area Men

Why Thanksgiving Comes Every Day for 3 Pittsburgh-Area Men

They owe their lives to one man who lives on in each of them.
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Hot Reads

Top 10 Things to Do in Pittsburgh in December

Top 10 Things to Do in Pittsburgh in December

This month's best bets in The 'Burgh.
50+ Things That Will Make You Enjoy Winter in Pittsburgh

50+ Things That Will Make You Enjoy Winter in Pittsburgh

Love it or hate it, winter is upon us. Because some of us may think there's a lot not to like, we bring you 50+ things to eat, drink and do –– and some helpful tips –– that'll keep the blues at bay.
Excellence in Nursing: Meet Our 2016 Honorees

Excellence in Nursing: Meet Our 2016 Honorees

Pittsburgh Magazine presents the honorees from its inaugural Excellence in Nursing awards. Meet our judges' choices and learn what makes them remarkable in their field.
Choreographed Style: Winter Fashion with The Pittsburgh Ballet

Choreographed Style: Winter Fashion with The Pittsburgh Ballet

A regal ruggedness characterizes the season's menswear looks.
Restaurant Review: B52 in Lawrenceville is a Levantine Lifter

Restaurant Review: B52 in Lawrenceville is a Levantine Lifter

Omar Abuhejleh taps deep into his roots at his vegan cafe that's focused on Levantine cuisine.
Why You Can't Beat The Weather in Pittsburgh in The Winter

Why You Can't Beat The Weather in Pittsburgh in The Winter

I’ve traveled a lot of miles, and I still stare in bewilderment at people who tell me they’ve moved to a place because “You can’t beat the weather.”
Edit Module
Edit Module

Edit ModuleShow Tags

On the Blogs


The Mosaic Stairway: You've Never Seen Steps Like These

The Mosaic Stairway: You've Never Seen Steps Like These

When viewed from the foot of the South Side Slopes of Pittsburgh, the stairs ascending Josephine Street form a massive image that consists of more than 7,500 individual mosaic tiles.

Comments


All the foodie news that's fit to blog
The Café Carnegie Now Open in Oakland

The Café Carnegie Now Open in Oakland

Chefs Sonja Finn and Becca Hegarty helm the refurbished restaurant at the Carnegie Museums.

Comments


Not just good stuff. Great stuff.
Best of the Burgh: Pumpkin Patches in the Pittsburgh Area

Best of the Burgh: Pumpkin Patches in the Pittsburgh Area

We’ve compiled the best pumpkin patches for fall family fun.

Comments


Why Wait For Summer? Head to Kennywood's Holiday Lights

Why Wait For Summer? Head to Kennywood's Holiday Lights

The park's winter celebration is great for families and a fine choice for anyone who loves Christmas (and/or funnel cake).

Comments


Mike Prisuta's Sports Section

A weekly look at the games people are playing and the people who are playing them.
Big Ten-Champion Nittany Lions More Worthy Than Buckeyes

Big Ten-Champion Nittany Lions More Worthy Than Buckeyes

For some reason Ohio State is ranked No. 2 in the latest playoff rankings and Penn State is No. 7. That has to change if Penn State beats Wisconsin on Saturday night.

Comments


Style. Design. Goods. Hide your credit card.
Locket Full of Joy

Locket Full of Joy

The handcrafted piece opens to hidden treasures.

Comments


The movies that are playing in Pittsburgh –– and, more importantly, whether or not they're worth your time.
Ten Upcoming Flicks Every Oscar-Watcher Should See

Ten Upcoming Flicks Every Oscar-Watcher Should See

PM film critic Sean Collier picks ten forthcoming flicks likely to rake in nominations for the 89th Academy Awards.

Comments


Everything you need to know about getting married in Pittsburgh today.
Thinking Small: Pittsburgh Weddings That Are Intimate Affairs

Thinking Small: Pittsburgh Weddings That Are Intimate Affairs

Bigger isn’t always better, at least when it comes to these couples’ wedding ceremonies.

Comments


The latest tips and trends to refresh your home.
Seasonal Shopping: CMOA Store Holiday House, J.Crew Mercantile Opens Doors

Seasonal Shopping: CMOA Store Holiday House, J.Crew Mercantile Opens Doors

The Carnegie Museum of Art is full of Christmas cheer — and great deals. Plus, get the scoop on The Block Northway’s latest retail offering.

Comments


The hottest topics in higher education
Classic Christmas Tale Gets a Twist at Slippery Rock University

Classic Christmas Tale Gets a Twist at Slippery Rock University

An adapted version of “A Christmas Carol” will be presented during a seven-show run.

Comments