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What It's Like to Walk a Marathon

Jaimie Nicoll walking the San Francisco marathon.

If you think it’s hard to complete a marathon in less than three hours, try finishing one in over seven hours. Walking a marathon has unique mental, physical, and emotional challenges compared to running the race.

"My goal was to do something outside of my comfort zone and finish the marathon at my own pace," said Jaimie Nicoll, 34, a customer service professional in Halifax, Nova Scotia, who recently completed the San Francisco marathon in seven hours and four minutes.

Nicoll spent years yo-yo dieting and exercising on and off, but in recent years she'd fallen into a rut of no exercise and lots of junk food. With a history of diabetes and heart disease in her family, she decided to make a change. She began researching nutrition and fitness, talked to her cousin—Core Performance's Director of Performance Anthony Slater—and joined The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society's Team in Training, a cause close to her heart as a cancer-survivor herself. 

She started walking every day and going to group training on Saturdays. After three months of workouts and healthy eating, she had dropped 30 pounds and three pant sizes. Next, she set her sights on completing a marathon. She signed up for the San Francisco marathon and started training.

"People were surprised when I said I was going to walk a marathon," said Nicoll. "I knew that in order to succeed I needed to set a manageable goal and for me that was walking."

On Sunday, October 16, 2011, Nicoll set out to complete the San Francisco marathon. Her goal: finish with a smile on her face.

"At the beginning, I walked a bit faster to keep pace with the faster walkers, but I eventually settled in and found my comfortable pace," said Nicoll. "At one point, about halfway through, I hit a wall. But I heard the people cheering, and I decided to walk to the sideline, stretch, and collect my thoughts." 

After taking a short break, she was back in the race, refreshed and motivated. A few miles before the finish line, Nicoll's coach from Team in Training joined her on the course, and the two finished together.

"I was so proud of myself," said Nicoll. "I wasn't first, and I wasn't last. But most importantly, I finished."

Tags: Walking, Weight Loss, Race, Success Story, Outdoor Recreation

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