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A run-walk inspired.

As someone approaching the midpoint in the marathon of life (aka, age 50), I still think of myself as a competitive athlete, albeit one with creaky joints and tendons and reduced flexibility. Marathons are not to be taken lightly. AMAA members know better than most runners the potential pitfalls of the 26.2-mile distance race.

So what did I do at the 30th Marine Corps Marathon (MCM)? I made a "game day decision" and ran-walked the entire marathon with only one 10-mile hilly training run on top of my meager 15-mile weeks prior to the MCM. Why did I jump in?

It started with the opportunity to run the first 10-13 miles of the marathon with Governor Mike Huckabee of Arkansas. Then, the day before the race at our AMAA MCM Symposium, I met Dr. Jeffrey Ross who was slated to run the MCM. I mentioned that I was going to run about half the race with Governor Huckabee. One thing led to another, and Jeff decided to meet us at the starting line the next morning.

The race start was fun and full of its usual Marine Corps pageantry. We started out at the Governor's pace: about 9:30 per mile, with a one-minute walk break every 10 min. The weather was ideal--cool and low humidity. I figured that I could go up to 15 miles under these conditions, and I planned to stop when I ran out of steam. But I kept going at mile 18 after I dropped off the pace, and the Governor and Jeff ran on ahead of me.


I began walking more, but I made the entire distance. My wife Debbie said it was my male bravado and peer pressure (my own), yet when I eased across the finish line in just under 5 hours, I gained a new perspective on the marathon experience. My previous marathons have always been driven by a goal time, one as fast as my body could muster. It was all about running Sub-3 (breaking 3 hours) and getting that Boston qualifying time.

This go-round, I followed Governor Huckabee's run-walk plan (the Jeff Galloway method). I discovered firsthand that you can enjoy or extend your body's endurance with the walk breaks. I also discovered that you can enjoy the marathon experience with fellow runners without focusing on finish time. It took determination to stave off cramps and dead legs, but I give much of the credit to running with a down-to-earth guy like Governor Huckabee.

Three years ago, Mike Huckabee was a bonafide slug, a non-runner weighing in at 280 lbs. That day, he finished his second marathon--with a new PR, too. That's some inspiration. Here's a governor, a national spokesperson for healthy lifestyles, putting his life story front and center for all Americans to see. He could fail. He could quit running, gain back the weight or both. Yet, Governor Mike Huckabee is a man committed. Running has changed his life; when he says it you believe it. He made my slowest marathon one to remember.

--Dave Watt, AMAA Executive Director
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Author:Watt, Dave
Publication:AMAA Journal
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Dec 22, 2005
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