by Diane Kripas, right, Division Chief of PA Department of Conservation & Natural Resources and Lehigh Valley Greenways lead in Harrisburg, who walked the Harrisburg Half Marathon on September 7th.
Walking 13.1 miles. I don’t think so. It wasn’t on my bucket list nor something I had ever considered doing. The closest I ever got to a half-marathon was helping with the 2013 D&L Marathon. Then, I got the email – “would you walk the Harrisburg Half-Marathon with me?” Hmm. My friend lives in Maryland and had been checking out half-marathons in DC and Baltimore. They were either too hilly or had time limits. Having never walked a half-marathon before, the last thing she wanted was to not be able to finish because she walked too slow. She checked into the Harrisburg Half-Marathon and saw that the course was flat with nice scenery along the Susquehanna River, and had a five-hour time limit. She also had a friend there that maybe could be convinced to walk with her.
I’ll be 54 in a month and the most I’ve ever walked is 7 miles. While my dad was still running in his mid-70s, I had no interest. I’m a biker – walking just takes too long to get there. I started “training” about 7 weeks prior to the event. Sheri sent me the training plan but honestly, I didn’t follow it. My plan – walk every day at least 30 minutes, throw in a couple of 3-mile walks each week, mix it up with some biking, and the weekend before walk further than I ever had. It worked for me –BUT, I do exercise regularly. I recommend following a training plan like the D&L provides. D&L even has a walking coach!
When someone asks you to help them, it is quite motivating. I didn’t want to let her down. I walked before work – I hate to exercise at 5:45 a.m. in the morning, I talked friends at work into walking with me at lunch. I made walking a priority over other activities.
The experience – awesome, BUT after seeing D&L’s support for walkers; Harrisburg’s event could have been more walk friendly. Walkers went first so at about the 3 mile mark – 1,000 runners started passing us. Miles 4-9 we were surrounded by hard core runners and in a way it felt a bit like we were the slackers. The last three miles we were back on our own and thankfully volunteers, family members and friends were still encouraging the walkers to finish. Miles 11-12 were the hardest. While we talked almost the entire time, the body was starting to ache. By the end of 12, we reached our family cheerleaders and one last burst of energy kicked in. It took us 3 hours and 40 minutes.
The best part was afterwards having lunch together, eating a slice of our favorite pizza and hearing my friend’s joy at crossing something off her bucket list. 18 months ago she was recovering from a partial knee replacement. She had just walked 13.1 miles and WE did it together.