Book read: Learning to Walk

Sheilagh Conklin, Learning to Walk: From the Sofa to a Marathon in Nine Months (2007)

Sheilagh Conklin is a braver soul than I.

In February of 2006, my business partner, Karen, signed me on to the Children’s Tumor Foundation’s Marathon Team in anticipation of doing the Portland Marathon in October. Nothing could be more out of character for me. It was an outrageous idea with no basis in reality. In my mid-forties and more than a bit overweight, I was not in shape and not athletic. Not only that, I had no history of athleticism. Even as a kid or young adult I was not into sports, working out, or jogging. The closest I got was buying leggings in the early eighties after watching “Flashdance”.

As I began to tell people I was going to do the Portland Marathon, all asked the same question. Why? Good question, but I had no answer. Then one quiet day when all the kids were at school, I sat at my desk, stared at my blank computer screen, and asked myself the same question. “Why?”

I took a deep breath and wrote three words. I am fat.

Sheilagh Conklin has written a funny and painfully honest account of her attempt to train and complete the 2006 Portland Marathon. Compiled from the emails she sent to friends and family, the book recounts her journey as she changes from a person who gets winded walking to her neighbor’s house to a seasoned walker who considers anything under five miles to be “short.” She is stunningly candid about everything in her adventure, from her “before” description of herself to her relaxing for an hour in a porta-potty during the marathon to the development of her obsession with thong panties.

Honestly, I loved this book and found it inspiring, because I do recognize myself in the three words she wrote at the beginning. Reading her book makes me want to go and participate in an event myself! Although a half-marathon would probably be more appealing than a full marathon. Especially since I’d rather not use her duct-tape approach to bloody nipples.

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