New Hips, Renewed Active Spirit: Saundra Davis’ Journey to the Finish

763517-1109-0050Saundra Davis left her hips behind but her heart stayed in San Francisco.

“When I crossed the finish line it hit me that doing my first race in San Francisco was important to me,” Davis said. “It was kind of an empathy while I was doing the race.”

That Davis was doing this year’s Transamerica Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon San Francisco — or any race — is noteworthy for one reason. Make that two.

In 2013 Davis had both hips replaced and had a change-of-heart. She longed to get busy after her operations, wanting her later years to be filled with an active lifestyle. So she pointed to last year’s Rock ‘n’ Roll San Jose Half Marathon, hoping her new hips would know the way. They did, but a family matter prevented Davis from participating.

She got wind of the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Francisco race, and in a way only fate can explain, it was the perfect venue.

“It just seemed like that it would give me the motivation to push through the pain I was going through,” she said. “I needed a rehabilitation motivation.”

And it arrived on some familiar haunts. Davis was born and raised in San Francisco and lived in the Presido while serving in the Navy.

The starting line in Ocean Beach was three blocks from her former home. The challenging hill on race day that went through the Presido heading toward the Golden Gate Bridge, passed Davis’ house of 30 years ago.

“And I never went up that hill back then,” Davis said, and that was with her original hips. In fact, Davis had never participated in a race — save boot camp — or been very active prior to her hip surgeries. But the walking bug bit and that was that.

“The thing is, I’ve never been a runner, never been a distance runner,” said Davis, after walking the 13.1 miles in under four hours. “But I saw this as something that could help my fitness and it was my gratitude walk for having two new hips. That was the emphasis that started this.”

“You don’t have to be a runner to enjoy it. Granted, it’s not the same in what they are doing in two hours. The party is still going when they come in and it’s slowed down some when I get there.”

But Davis is on the move, her next goal to complete the “Cali Combo” challenge, in which participants run three of four Rock ‘n’ Roll races in California to earn a special medal. On top of Rock ‘n’ Roll San Francisco, she participated in the Rock ‘n’ Roll San Diego Marathon earlier this year, and will also add this fall’s Rock ‘n’ Roll San Jose Marathon to her running resume.

Davis leaned on walking to recover. Now there’s no turning back Davis, 53, who has races planned through 2016.

“I thought I would do one race and never do it again,” said Davis, who’s in the financial education field. “But after I did the first one I had this sense of accomplishment.”

So Davis’ goal is to complete the “Cali Combo” challenge this year. Next year, it’s three half-marathons in three states. In 2016, the Davis World Tour unfolds with her aiming for three races in three European countries. In 2017? Not sure, but we’re hip that somewhere, somehow, Davis will be walking. Likely in San Francisco, where little cable cars climb halfway to the stars.

Written By Jay Paris