The day started early: the rolling start for the marathon walkers opened at 5:30am and went through 7:30am. I set my alarm for 4:00am and we were out of the house a little after 4:30am, on our way up to Boston. The nice folks at the Jimmy Fund Walk had set up buses to run from Copley Square (where the walk would finish) out to Hopkinton, MA, where our walk would start. It was a little chilly, but I didn’t bother wearing my jacket once we parked the car; I figured I’d be warm soon enough.
The ride out to Hopkinton was noisier than I expected; people were awake, and jazzed, and many of them were talkative. I was more in a contemplative mood – sitting in this loud school bus while the run rose, heading many miles out of town just so that I could walk them back in. I was also a little misty-eyed as we sped out the Mass Pike towards I-495; my walk had already raised $250, before I even took the first step, and I thought of the kids that we were helping as we trekked back into town. We crossed the starting line just before 6:30am.
I can easily divide the walk into three parts: 1) starting through mile 11; 2) mile 12 – mile 21, and 3) mile 21 through the finish. Due to the length of the post as I wrote it all out, I’ve had to divide this up into two posts. Sorry, but there’s a lot to tell. I’m not even telling the full story – it’s hard to remember everything – but I’m telling as much as I think I can realistically convey without getting too repetitive.
Please Note: this is MY experience of walking my first marathon. Someone else, with different preparation and a different physique, might experience their first marathon completely differently. No matter what, I caution anyone interested in attempting exercise this vigorous to consult their primary care physician first.
Starting through mile 11
The first 10 miles were the easiest. In fact, they were a smooth ride, as it were. I was walking roads I’d never traveled, surrounded by people I’d never met, winding my way through the western suburbs of Boston to the center of the city. There was nothing difficult about those first 10 miles. But things started to shift around mile 11. By that time, my left hip and knee were starting to get a little twingy, a little achy. I hadn’t been in much of a mood to stop for any length of time, but once I started to be in some discomfort, a stop sounded like a good idea. We stopped at all but the very first nutrition station (spaced every few miles or so), picking up Gatorade, Lara Bars, bananas, and peanut butter crackers.
Markers were placed along the route every 1/4-1/2mi to give you information about how your walk was helping the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, and mile markers showed the smiling faces of the kids who are being treated at Dana Farber. Each mile marker had a picture, the child’s name and age, what they like, and what they want to be when they grow up. Mile marker 4 was particularly poignant, since the child pictured on the marker was there – with his family – and the Jimmy Fund people had decked him out in a walk shirt with “HERO” emblazoned on the front. The markers with the little girls who just wanted to grow up to be mommies hit me particularly hard, as did the one of an 11 year-old girl who shares the same name as my dd. Each marker was there to spur you on, and we came to look forward to each child’s face as a way to tell that we were making progress. Just as the Jimmy Fund people had kindly informed us, we touched each mile marker as we passed it – a tradition among walkers.
This was the portion of the walk that was most pleasant, from a physical perspective. From here, everything changes.
Next up: Mile 12…through the finish.