I’ve Never Gone All the Way

By Carolyn Palombo

13.1. Always a bridesmaid and never a bride. The ultimate running experience seemingly out of my reach…the marathon. ┬áMy personal Everest.

As I picked up my race packet for the Richmond Half Marathon, I could only focus on the fact that my shirt was red. I couldn’t tell you what it said or anything about the graphic. It was red. The marathon shirts were blue. Why couldn’t the shirts be the same color? Why did everyone there have to know that I was only running half the race? I wanted that marathon star on my belly like Dr. Suess’ Sneetches. This was ‘race’ discrimination! Where was Sylvester McMonkey McBean when you needed him?

As I finished half of the real race, my feet were throbbing and pain was shooting down my back. However, I felt no sense of accomplishment or joy afterwards. Strangely enough, if someone had put a gun to my head and said go back and run that again, I would have invited them to pull the trigger. So why do I think I should even attempt a marathon if I found 13.1 miles so brutal?

The good Lord answered my plight with an email. (Actually it was from Sports Backers, but I’m sure God wanted me to read it.) The byline caught my eye — “If you make it to the finish line, does it really matter how you got there?“. The story was written by a 55 year old woman who was preparing for the NYC marathon (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/barbara-hannah-grufferman/life-after-50-walk-breaks_b_965199.html?ir=Healthy%20Living). She was using the Galloway method to train; a combination of gentle running and regular walk breaks, along with checking your ego at the front door.

Heck, I could do that! After the initial excitement subsided, I wondered what Coach Brenda would think. Here’s a woman who powers through every run, digs deep, doesn’t lose focus, and beats the pants off others half her age. I suspected she would turn up her nose and snicker quietly at the thought of run/walking a marathon. I was afraid to tell her. However, I put on my big girl panties and ‘fessed up. Coach Brenda said she would love to work with me to create a plan. I was overjoyed.

I finally feel like this ultimate goal is attainable with help and support from my coach. On paper, I’m a mess — 50 yr old woman with arthritis in both feet, scoliosis, disk degeneration and asthma. However, now I feel I can get off the porch and run with the big dogs. If I get that blue shirt next year then watch out Richmond. I may start saving for a trip to Nepal.

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