Hitting the wall - and reaching the other side
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Kagan McLeod

I’ve felt something like exhaustion before — during mountain climbs, beer-league hockey? games and other forms of recreational fun that lead to wide-eyed, gasping moments. But that notorious mental anguish at mile 20 of a marathon (aka hitting the wall) is, I hear, its own dragon.

“Oh, yeah, there was a big wall,” Sigle recalls. Adds Vic Leyson, a business manager from L.A. who ran his first marathon in 2008: “The last 1.2 miles felt so long, I was convinced someone was playing a cruel joke on me.”

So how do you get over that hurdle? Runners of all stripes insist that, despite months of physical preparation, making it through the challenging stretches of a marathon is essentially a mental game. Which is why, Deegan says, running for a cause can be such a powerful thing.

“I think the reason my foundation’s annual marathon is so popular — and that we have so many cancer survivors who take part — is that marathoning is a wonderful metaphor for going through something truly difficult, like cancer,” she says. “You have points where you want to sit in the road and cry. Points where you don’t think you’re going to make it any farther. But when you cross that finish line and you’re able to say, ‘I got through it and I’m OK,’ there’s no feeling of accomplishment like it in the world.”

Nurturing the seedling
  • Image about Athens
Kagan McLeod

Heard enough? Is the marathon seed planted? yet, or are you running for the exit? If you’re in the latter camp, it’s understandable; this is no 5K.
Or it is — just 8.5 of them tied together. Or nearly five times the height of Mount Everest. Or more than 30 crossings of the Golden Gate Bridge. This is what I’m thinking during my first-ever 10-mile run.

“You’ll be fine,” assures my friend. “Don’t think 10 miles. Think a few more minutes until the next walk break.”

I do, and it helps. But, man, that walk break ends fast. We start running again. “Don’t think 10 miles,” says my friend again. And we carry on. It’s sort of fun. It’s sort of painful. It’s sort of insane that I’m training to run two and a half times this distance. But that’s marathoning. Wish me luck.