I used to be the one who said – unequivocally – that there was NOTHING I wanted to do for 26.2 miles. Apparently, that’s not the case anymore. I did my first marathon on Sunday. I don’t know if it’s going to be my only marathon, but at least I can say that I earned my 26.2 sticker.
Okay, so why would any right-thinking person walk 26.2 miles? What is that, like 42 kilometers? Well, yeah, it’s a little more than eight 5K’s. And it seems to take forever. In my case, the reason was the easiest part of the whole gig: to raise money for the Jimmy Fund, a charity that funnels money to the Dana Farber Cancer Institute for the dual purposes of treatment and research. You have to raise a minimum of $250 if you want to participate as a walker, and they offer four courses (plus a “virtual walker” option, for those who can’t be there on walk day). The courses run from the minimal (3mi) to the WTF-ARE-YOU-THINKING (26.2mi). As the official name of the walk is the “Boston Marathon Jimmy Fund Walk“, you can guess the marathon-length course: the course for the Boston Marathon.
It’s a daunting prospect – doing a marathon – regardless of whether you’re running it or walking it. On the one hand, running is a faster way to get through it, but it’s physically taxing in the extreme. On the other hand, walking lets you spread out the pain over a longer timeframe, potentially allowing more people to participate. As such, I can say that I saw a few people out there with braces on their knees or ankles; I even saw a few with canes. Now THOSE are the people with balls as big as church bells. No way no how would I ever consider doing 26.2 with a cane. That is HARDCORE.
I’m also not your typical marathoner. You look at the people who run the Boston Marathon, and they’re greyhounds. They’re skinny as rails, muscular where they’re not outright bony, and they always seem to be looking for an excuse to exercise. On the other hand, you have me. My doctor tells me that if I could lose about 50lbs I’d be in stellar health and I chase the kids more than I chase the treadmill. Still, this seemed like something that I wanted to do, a real challenge.
I’ve done loads of 5K walks/races (all walking – my knees don’t permit running). I’ve even done a few 10K’s. I love walking, and in the pre-kid days, I was perfectly content to walk all over Boston and Cambridge. Some days I’d walk from my office to wherever I was headed after work, even if it was several miles away and fairly warm out. Strap on some headphones, cue up some decent music, and I am READY TO GO. So, why not 26.2?
Well, first off, it seems really long. And, don’t get me wrong: it is. Running it, you’re probably done in about 4-4.5hrs. Walking it, you’re done in, oh, maybe 7-10hrs. It’s just a whole other scale. It’s an entire day. Second, it’s really physically taxing. You have to ramp up preparations well in advance. You need to be firing on all cylinders while you’re doing it. And, as I would discover first-hand, you need to have your act in gear afterwards so that your body doesn’t just shut down on you. (More on that in a future post.)
So, in the spirit of sharing, I’m going to open up about what it was like to do this marathon, from how I prepped, to how it went on walk day, to what recovery was like. No matter what, I can’t stress highly enough the importance of knowing your body’s limits and talking with your doctor before you engage in any kind of strenuous exercise like this. Don’t just up and attempt a couch-to-26.2 without talking with your primary care physician. They know stuff, like whether it’s safe for you to attempt it. And don’t just go: listen to them. This is not for the faint of *anything*.
OK – enough of that nagging. [Gee, can you tell I’m a mom? Go see your doctor! Eat organic vegetables! I’ll shut up now.]
More posts to come…