CrunchyMetroMom

Trying to create balance…

My 2nd walking marathon (part 3) September 20, 2012

{As mentioned in the prior two posts – the first on selecting your walk & gearing up, and the second on training & fundraising – it’s incredibly important that you understand this is what I did and these are the choices I made based on my experience. Before you get into doing a walk like this, you should definitely talk with medical professionals, like your doctor, a personal trainer, etc., to make sure it’s the right thing for you. Also, another reminder: none of the companies mentioned in these posts asked me to mention them or compensated me for talking about them in the context of my marathon walk.}

And now we come to the big dance:

Walking

The Walk has a rolling start, beginning at 5:30am, and since it can take 8-9hrs to walk a marathon, there was no way I wanted to start it late. So, we got up at 4am and started preparing to go. I will also note that dd, who didn’t want us to go, kept us up from 12:45am until we gave up and turned off the alarm a little before 4am, so we were already operating at a deficit.

We made a couple of peanut butter sandwiches for each of us, stuffed those and some granola bars in our bags, and off we went. DH had a couple of bottles of water, and I had my Camelbak hydration pack (which I’d filled about halfway with water, since I didn’t go through all of the water I brought last year, when I’d filled the pack’s bladder). We drove up to Copley Square and parked, then hopped one of the schoolbuses chartered to bring walkers out to Hopkinton. Some people chatted loudly, others (like us) nodded off and slept most of the way out the Mass Pike to the start line.

Once we got to Hopkinton, it was ON. DH and I got to the start line and just started moving. Knowing that I would probably start to have hip and knee problems about halfway through, I’d taken some ibuprofen at the start, just before we got on the road. This turned out to be a more common practice than I’d suspected; many of the veteran walkers I spoke to had done the very same thing. I’d even dumped a bottle into a baggie to bring with me, in case others needed some (much as I’d been helped by an angel at the lunch tent last year).

Every mile marker we passed was a sweet reminder of why we did this Walk.

2012 Boston Marathon Jimmy Fund Walk - Mile 2 Marker

Each marker brought you one step closer to the finish line, one step closer to a cure for the cancers that plague Dana-Farber’s patients. The walkers’ tradition is to touch each mile marker as you pass it, to acknowledge the amazing heroes chronicled on each sign.

I didn’t start to feel twingy, really, until around the 9th mile, at which point I knew we weren’t too far off from the halfway point. We had stopped to stretch a little more than last year, and I was good about grabbing snacks at the various “hydration stations” situated a few miles apart along the route. My typical take was a bottle of red Gatorade and something with some carbs and/or protein, here a Larabar, there a banana, occasionally a package of pretzels. I tugged on my hydration pack’s drinking tube here and there, and the rest of the time I was rocking the Gatorade. After having had such great success with it during last year’s walk, there was no way I would abandon a winning formula in the current year. I also brought more socks with me this year, and I changed my socks when we were at the 8th mile marker, planning to do one more change when we got to Boston College (mile 21).

On and on we went, and the twinges in my knee were starting to bug me. It wasn’t so horrible as last year, though, so I soldiered on until we hit the halfway point in Wellesley. When we stopped to stretch, I took more ibuprofen and ate a peanut butter sandwich, figuring that would give me some more power for the next portion of the Walk.

2012 Boston Marathon Jimmy Fund Walk - Mile 10 Marker

Just after the halfway point, around about mile 13 or 14, we made it to the lunch tent, where we reunited with a pair of walkers we’d met earlier on in the day. That’s the great thing about doing such a long event; you tend to see the same folks over and over again, and you use them as some way of determining where you are in the “pack”, especially when it’s not a well-defined grouping like you’d see with a shorter distance event. The lunch tent was filled with sandwiches of all kinds – peanut butter and jelly, ham, turkey…as well as Cape Cod chips, Fig Newtons and fruit. DH and I grabbed hefty lunches: a sandwich, a bag of chips, a bag of cookies and a banana. Everything has its purpose; aside from the tremendous number of calories you burn by walking for so long, you also lose minerals and you dehydrate, so everything you take is there to help replace what you’re using up.

Feeling refreshed, we got back on the road, and I can’t even say how happy I was that I wasn’t limping. It’s hard to explain to someone who’s never been in tremendous hip and/or knee pain, but when you are able to WALK TALL when the prior event you were limping and shuffling, it’s an amazing difference and a huge confidence boost.

2012 Boston Marathon Jimmy Fund Walk - The Orange Guy

Coming into the hills in Newton, year in, year out, you come across “The Orange Guy” – a resident who passes out pounds and pounds of orange wedges to the hungry and thirsty walkers who pass him by. He and his wife were such sweethearts, and I’d been given the head’s up last year to expect their tasty oranges. Sure enough, both years, I’ve seen them out there dishing out tasty treats to keep us moving. They do this same drill for the Boston Marathon (race) in April, and I think it’s just fantastic. They’re not the only ones who come out to cheer on the walkers, but they are certainly the most intrepid…and scurvy-preventing.

On and on we walked, and here’s where I start to get a sense that even my not-quite-optimal training schedule managed to get me closer to where I needed to be. One girl, sporting a back sack covered in pins from an herbal supplement company that she (clearly) worked for, was having quite a bit of trouble making her way up the hills. I could tell she was in pain, as she held her hip and moved stiffly. I offered her some ibuprofen, but she had already taken some, so she thanked me and limped along. I felt somewhat proud that I’d been able to make it so far without much difficulty.

2012 Boston Marathon Jimmy Fund Walk - Boston College

NO PARKING means “KEEP MOVING” in walker-ese

The sun and heat were starting to get to me by the time we reached BC. I’m not great in heat, and I’d already stripped down to my tank top (I started the Walk wearing a tech t-shirt over my tech-tank, along with tech capris). At Boston College, I pulled off my tank and replaced it with a fresh one, just to try to cool me down a little further – and reduce the goat factor. Another change of socks, a swig of Gatorade for strength, and back down the hill, out of the Heights, we went. I knew…only five miles left…I have to make it better than I did last year.

2012 Boston Marathon Jimmy Fund Walk - Kenmore Square

We kept moving and sometime between a few minutes and forever later, we came upon Kenmore Square, only two miles from the finish. At this point, I’m still WALKING. No limping. I have a pair of very small blisters starting to form on the bottoms of my feet, but they weren’t bugging me at all. It seems improbable, impossible, even, that I’m feeling less pain than dh claims to have. How is this happening? Even ibuprofen isn’t THAT good.

And then the amazing happens. We get to the finish line and I could RUN across it. I won’t lie – I was tired, and I was warm, and I was ready to SIT DOWN FOR A WEEK – but I danced across the finish line, so incredibly thrilled that not only did I finish the marathon, but I finished it strong. I surprise myself sometimes. Ask me if I want to walk another 26.2 for The Jimmy Fund and the answer is OH MY YES. It’s not that it’s not a challenge; it’s a huge challenge. But what an amazing thing to do that helps so many.

2012 Boston Marathon Jimmy Fund Walk - Finish Line

YYYYYEEEEESSSSSS!!!!!

Next post (and final in the series): Recovery

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2 Responses to “My 2nd walking marathon (part 3)”

  1. Liz Says:

    Congratulations! Sounds like it was an awesome walk – and we know it was for an awesomely important cause.

  2. […] series, I talked about selecting a walk & gearing up, training & fundraising, and actually DOING the walk. This last post focuses on the recovery, which was an area where I had difficulty my first year. As […]


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