WALKING A MARATHON
I began power walking about four years ago. I had been a runner (jogger, really). I spent a lot of time in the gym using exercise equipment, lifting light weights and attending group fitness classes. Over time, I began feeling aches and pains, specifically my knees. This was not unexpected as years of pounding in high impact activities would surely lead to wear and tear injuries, but I didn’t want these issues to progress to surgery later on. I decided to switch to power walking and quickly became obsessed.
I had always wanted to complete a marathon. One day while walking, I thought “Why not walk a marathon?!” I registered for a marathon not far from where I lived. I had been increasing speed and distance as my walking progressed. I never entertained the thought that I might not finish the marathon. I had no idea what to expect but was eager.
On marathon day, I felt enthusiastic. I experienced a little anxiety, but that was mostly related to concerns about where to park, how to dress for the weather, etc. I got caught up in the crowd’s excitement as start time approached. Participants were chatting while stretching and warming up. The colorful athletic wear, upbeat music, cheering spectators and overall energy were stimulating. I was ready.
I started out near the back of the group. (I learned later that this is a good spot as participants are bottled-necked in front.) I was pumping my arms and walking fast. I passed some runners (!) and felt even more confident that I would not only finish but also perform well. Along the way, many folks asked “Are you going to walk the entire race!?” I was not the only walker. Of course, I felt fatigued after a lot of miles. My back and feet were aching. I stopped at some hydration stations, and I had a pocket full of peanuts (and I kept thinking about my post-race reward of donuts!). I said “good job” to fellow participants as I moved forward, and it felt important to thank the wonderful spectators. Around miles 16 & 20, I “hit the wall” which means that I felt worn out. I rallied. I looked around as I walked, noticing nature and interesting things. Fast forward (really fast walking!), I crossed the finish line. I felt great mentally, emotionally and, yes, physically. I had done it! My mantra had been “have a good time” (referring to a fun experience, not a clock time). I will say that after 5 hours, 32 minutes of walking, the crowd at the finish line had thinned as most competitors, especially the elite runners, had completed their race long before me. However, there were plenty of participants still crossing the finish line, and I quickly moved to the fence to cheer them on.
I returned home and, within a few days, signed up for my next marathon. I have now completed 26 marathons and counting! Just about anyone can do this! It’s simple: Put on some comfy sneakers and baggy clothes and just start walking!
I am an avid walker and hiker. My favorite is a long hike. I also enjoy taking off and going on a meandering walk for a few hours. I've hiked rim to rim in the Grand Canyon and I did 3 Burning Boot Walks on Vancouver Island.