After sharing last week’s post: New Year: New Go Running Mom Goals and extending the challenge once again to “Take Charge of your health, set new fitness goals above and beyond your perceived limitations”, my challenge was answered by a friend from Texas.
This past year, she set her sights on, trained for, and walked the route of the Boston Marathon! It was a challenge that she embraced, in order to truly “take charge” of her health in memory of a loved one.
I asked her to share her inspiring, emotional journey with Go Running Mom readers here, as it is best told, in her own words, by Christy Fox:
Getting my body moving makes me feel amazing!! I am currently not a runner… I love to walk. It is therapeutic, clears my mind and makes me feel good about myself. I’ve been asked to write about my recent experience training for and walking the route of the Boston Marathon, which I walked on September 18, 2011.
For me, this walk was an incredibly emotional journey… so much more than putting one foot in front of the other! The inspiration behind it began in a hospital room where I was losing my father to cancer. Just a few months before, my mother had suffered a major stroke. I found myself shelving my exercise routine to sit in hospital rooms… of course, the realization that I HAD to keep moving and try to avoid similar circumstances was ever lurking in the back of my mind; but helping my siblings with my parents while taking care of my own 3 children became my everything for a very long stretch with no exercise.
My Dad is one of many brothers and a sister; all on the East coast. Not too long before he passed, one of his brothers was visiting us here in Texas. While sitting with Dad, we cooked up a plan. His daughter, my cousin, was working at the time for the Jimmy Fund, whose walk raises money for the Dana Farber Cancer Institute at Harvard. With a year to go before the 2011 walk, we made a vow to train together, long distance, and meet back up for the walk in Boston in honor of my Dad and several other relatives. Throughout the year, we encouraged many other family members to join us, and we stayed in touch via text, email and face book. Every milestone walked was excitedly shared with the rest and it really brought my family together in a beautiful way. I re-connected with cousins I hadn’t seen in years. We called it a ‘rolling reunion’ and we raised hundreds of dollars for cancer research.
That’s the back story… now to my own training experience. Of course, I was very saddened and overwhelmed with grief at the passing of my father, and helping take care of my mother. The only time I had for myself was at 5 in the morning. I know this is true for so many moms!! While the goal of walking with my relatives was an exciting thought, getting started on my own was hard, after having not moved AT ALL for some time. Fortunately, I am blessed with amazing friends who helped get me going. A rotation of them started walking with me early in the morning, before it was time to get the kids up for school. (It helps to have more than one walking buddy… when one has to cancel; others are still available to keep you accountable!!)
Our very first walk was 5 miles, which I thought I could muster, but it about did me in!! We backed off and started with 2 miles a day for a while then upped it to 3 and then 4 miles a day. On the weekends, we incorporated longer walks, the longest being 13 miles. We walked all summer long, continuing to walk early in the morning before the kids got up. It was a record breaking, HOT Texas summer!!! Getting up early was tough, but once we got moving, it was wonderful! I love the feeling of having done something big just for ME while much of the rest of the world is still sleeping. It makes me feel ready to conquer anything!! One of my friends was very opposed to the early mornings at first, but she quickly became addicted to our time and urged the rest of us to walk on days we wanted to take a break.
Months later, the day of the Jimmy Walk in Boston was amazing!! My walking buddies back home in Texas weren’t able
to travel with me, but they were there in spirit and texting me inspiration along the way. Those family members who did not walk came to cheer us on at the finish line. Some of us walked the full 26 miles, some walked a half marathon and some did the 5k.
My initial goal was to walk the full 26. I made it 21 miles before the blisters on my feet forced me to stop (lesson learned – my shoes were too new!!). While I was very proud of what I had set out to do, at the same time I was beyond disappointed!! It took me quite a while to realize that I still walked a heck of a lot more than most people. It also took me a little while to get back out there….
Last weekend I walked a 15k after not having walked regularly in a while. I was nervous, but surprised and thrilled that all the hard work I had previously put in stayed with me. I thought about that first 5 mile walk and how hard it was and was glad that 9 miles wasn’t bad at all!!! It encouraged me to get back out there on a regular basis. Here’s to many more wonderful walks!! This year, I plan to incorporate some running into my routine and get my kids moving with me. I’ll be tuned to this blog for some inspiration from all of YOU!!
Thank you Christy for sharing your story as you walked through care-giving with your father and mother, shared your miles in training with friends, your miles for the Jimmy Fund Walk with family, and established a new pace of healthy, active living for yourself and your family for many, many more miles today and in the future!