Completing a marathon has been on my life list for many, many years. I knew I wanted to be a marathoner but always wiggled my way out of making a real commitment. Yet lifelong dreams do not disappear.
Twenty eight years ago my brother ran the Johnny Miles marathon in New Glasgow, NS with his buddy and his math teacher. It was the last year my family all lived under one roof. I was the 12-year old little sister watching. I saw my dad drive my brother to training points on vast stretches of highway. I watched my mom in her role as the perpetual cheerleader.
I didn’t really understand what was happening at the time but was able to recognize, as any sibling can, parental pride. I can articulate now what I didn’t know before: a marathon has always meant so much more than the distance of 42 kilometres.
My husband Cheick Traoré has listened to my marathon wishes for a long, long time. Six years ago, the Halifax International Blue Nose Marathon came to town. I still created elaborate reasons for not being able to take part, yet my goal would not go away.
At the start of a new year, I voiced my old resolution. This time, I joined an online marathon walking class with the Running Room. I registered for the Blue Nose Marathon in January. I told my husband about registering for the race and signing up for the class. When he saw my determination he wanted to support me. We decided to walk.
Colleagues alluded to the potential of an excess of bonding time. I laugh. While it is true that in the beginning of our four months of training we consistently hit a 10 kilometre spat stage, the overall results of hours of training together has been joy, expressed in our different ways.
We are opposites, my husband and I. We joke about it: we literally are black and white. He is six feet tall and I stretch to hit five foot four. He is all legs; I am not. He walks fast; I can’t. He is focussed and determined, and walking is no exception. I like to see the flowers, look in people’s windows and whine about the weather. And yet we have found a rhythm—our pace.
Another plus of our extended walking has been the time to talk about conjugal life stuff: household repairs, parenting conundrums and financial plans. Also there is now a new understanding of compromise.
And then there is the feeling of accomplishment: I can do what I put my mind to. But I didn’t know how grappling with this one goal would affect every other challenge. I didn’t know that I would feel so powerful when I wasn’t clocking in training time. Nothing seems impossible now. I also see this new attitude while training. Tight calves that sidelined me earlier are now: “God my legs hurt but I am finishing this #$%^&*! walk.”
I enjoyed our teenage daughter watching the two of us conquer the walks. I know I wouldn’t have made it up Maple Street hill without her jumping out of my mom’s car and bringing us to the top with her cheering.
Hand in hand my husband and I crossed the finish line. It was 2007. It took a little over eight hours.