This Guest Post is courtesy of Seniority Matters, a website rich with resources of especial interest to seniors.
The Marathon Of Life. Walk It.
by Fleur Sack, MD | 05/03/10
Fleur is a Family Practice Physician in Hollywood. Her medical interests include prevention and women’s health. She is currently developing a Comprehensive Women’s Health Program for female Veterans.
“I never exercised until I was 50. Then, two things inspired me. I was celebrating New Year’s Eve with a friend of mine who had multiple sclerosis. I asked her, “How are you?” And she said, “I feel wonderful.” And it turned out she was exercising with a trainer three times a week. So I started working out with a trainer two times a week.
“The other thing that happened was at my 50th birthday celebration, where I was talking with two friends … she was in remission from breast cancer and he was a diabetic. They had just completed a marathon.
“They told me about Team in Training www.teamintraining.org. It’s an organization that teaches you how to walk (a marathon), and you raise money for lymphoma. If you raise enough money, they send you to a marathon somewhere.
“So I got involved and they sent me to Hawaii. It was amazing. I was hooked on walking from that time on.
“I promised myself that for my 60th birthday I would walk another marathon. And I thought, I don’t want to be on a team, and I don’t want to raise money, I just want to walk. So I decided I could do it around my own home. Around my block is a mile. I could go around 26 times, then walk to the end of the block and back and it would be 26.2 miles….
“Everyone told me how I should do it…how I should raise money… But I said no. If you want to join me, join. That’s it. So about 10 different friends did different parts of the walk with me. It took me about 7 1/2 hours to do it. I got sick in the middle of it…but people just joined me. My 5-year-old grandson walked the last mile with me. One friend walked 13 miles with me and ran the other 13 miles.
“(Before I did it,) my husband wondered, how are you going to remember what mile you’re on?…So he woke up the morning of the marathon and blew up 26 balloons that he put on a peg board. Every time I would finish a mile I would pop a balloon. And it was terrific. …You have to have water, and a bathrooom, so when I needed the facilities I went in my house. He set out a big table with cut up apples and bananas. When I got too sweaty, I went inside and changed.
“I thought I would make it an annual event, that I would walk every Mother’s Day. But I had a problem with my foot and had surgery, so now I’m doing a bicycle. …And then I found out about this “virtual walk across America.” It starts in Virginia and ends in Oregon, 4,000 miles. It’s a website run by the Lawrence Berkeley Lab (at the University of California). Go to http://exercise.lbl.gov/index.html You tell them how much you want to walk…
“My goal is to get to 4,000 miles by the time I’m 65, so I have to walk 20 miles a week…I want to celebrate my 65th birthday in Oregon and walk the last 10 miles on the (actual) trail….Every week, you send them how much you’ve walked, and they chart your course along this road, send you pictures of where you ‘are.’ I’ve gone 630 miles, I’m ‘in’ Mallie Ky. …If you have not met your goals for the week, they send you a (naggy) e-mail…and I can hear it in my ear. So it’s motivating. You get a virtual partner, someone who has the same goal as you do, and they send you an e-mail when that person passes you…. ”
Fleur is a family practioner who has spent her life promoting good health. Not surprisingly, she says, “I would love people to get involved with it. It costs nothing.
“And I am hooked on a personal trainer, too. I really think it changes peoples’ lives. I only started when I was 50….and I haven’t had any back pain since…
“So I want to walk and see the world and feel great. You don’t have to be an athlete. I have a picture of myself at 95, walking onto a stage and giving a lecture on women’s health. It’s very clear the connection (between exercise, longevity and good health).
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