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Saturday, December 03, 2005

Ready for a marathon — in stages

Originally published Dec. 3, 2005, in Our Town for the Tracy Press.

I’ve never been much of a runner. In fact, when somebody talks to me about jogging, my stock answer is always that I only run when being chased — and even then, I’d rather find a hiding place.But my aversion to running doesn’t stop me from feeling inspired when I read stories of marathon runners. I dream of having the level of commitment necessary to train for such a long-distance endeavor. Sometimes I even research races to enter. Eventually, reality sets in, and I remind myself of my running policy. But the idea is always in the back of my mind.

I never would have guessed that I would find the answer to my conundrum in my own backyard. But the city of Tracy has come up with an activity that will help me fulfill my interest in marathons without having to undergo intensive training or even actually run. The city’s Winter Activity Guide, which was mailed to local homes over the weekend, advertises the first-ever communitywide progressive marathon. Billing it as the answer for those who would love to participate in marathons but don’t have the time — or energy — to run the race all at once, My Own Marathon allows participants to cover the distance gradually.

How it works is that participants have from Jan. 1 to April 28 to log 26.2 miles of walking, running or a combination of the two. Participants are encouraged to attend the city’s annual Summer Activity Showcase on April 29, when everyone will gather to complete the last quarter-mile to mile of the marathon together.

The marathon fits right in with the city’s new Healthy Habits campaign, and recreation coordinator Laura Johnston said locals can expect to see more programs and classes that fit the theme.To make logging the required miles even easier, the Winter Activity Guide offers marathon mileage breakdowns for many of the classes offered. Tennis lessons and tap and ballet classes are all good for one mile each, while children who participate in the 8-week soccer program will log six miles.

“We hope that this progressive marathon can motivate Tracy residents to instill their own healthy habits,” Johnston said.

Johnston added that city staffers plan to promote My Own Marathon at the local hospital and schools as a great way for families to become active together. The marathon’s timeline of almost four months ensures that even the busiest family will be able to make time to participate.

My husband and I are looking forward to signing up Dec. 7, the first day the city accepts registration for winter programs. Entry fee is $5 per person or $10 for groups of two or more. That’s cheap, considering entrants receive a goody bag filled with a water bottle, T-shirt, sunscreen, pedometer, mileage log book and tip sheets.Besides signing up for a fun way to be active together, my husband said the pedometer is what sold him. He’s interested to find out how many miles he logs in at his construction job each day. I’m pretty excited about the pedometer myself, if only to use it as further confirmation of my newly active lifestyle.

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