Every year since 2014 (my first full year working at Dana-Farber), my dad has done the Boston Marathon Jimmy Fund Walk. The course is all 26.2 miles of the Boston Marathon, but walking on sidewalks instead of running on pavement. When I first heard about it, I thought it sounded nuts. More nuts than running a marathon, actually. Because if you think about it, an average walk is about 20 minutes per mile. That’s almost 9 hours of walking! No thanks.
I live right near Mile 21, so I’ve always met my dad there and walked the last 5 miles with him. The first year, I had no idea what time to meet him. I knew he started at 5:30am in Hopkinton and figured it’d take him about 7-8 hours to get to Mile 21. Not so! He was there around 11am, and I could barely keep up with him. I needed to stop and use the portapotty (too much coffee) and he was like, “OK, catch up with me after!” because after walking 20+ miles, you can’t stop and stand around and then get going again.
I was sick last year and couldn’t join him, but I had found out 5 days earlier that I made the DFMC team and would be running the Boston Marathon about 7 months later. Even after that, I still stand by my declaration that it is easier to run a marathon than it is to walk one. Maybe “easier” isn’t the right word, but bearable? I don’t know how my dad does it. This past Sunday, I “overslept” and didn’t get out the door for my run until 8am. I slogged through 7 hot and humid miles in a little over an hour, complaining and feeling sorry for myself the entire way. I get home and realize my dad is almost done with his walk (we use the Live Track feature on Garmin for safety) – 16 miles starting at 6:30am! That’s over 4.5 hours in 70-degree weather, blazing sun, and gross humidity. THAT’S INSANE. No thank you. Not ever.
One month from today, I will hopefully be tired and maybe even a little hungover from celebrating a Florida win over Tennessee the night before, but will meet my dad around Mile 21 to walk the last 5 or so miles with him. It’ll be nice to slow down and enjoy the scenery that I run though often, but rarely pay attention to. There won’t be crowds or spectators or anyone cheering until the very end, but the cause is just as important as running the Boston Marathon was (well, almost as important – 88 cents of every dollar raised for the Walk directly supports cancer research and patient care, versus the 100% of dollars raised from DFMC going to the Claudia Adams Barr Program in Innovative Basic Cancer Research). And it holds just as much meaning to my dad and running does for me. Distance walking has become his fitness beacon – a way to track his progress, something to plan weekends around, and a way to make a difference against this stupid disease.
So far, he has raised $400 of his $2,000 goal. Please consider supporting him the way so many of you supported my lofty $10K goal for the marathon.