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American Stroke AssociationIt’s the kick-off event for Train to End Stroke (TTES). Walking into the high school gym, it looks like a health fair; tables have been set up for registration, photos, fundraising information, chiropractic information, etc. The word marathon makes me think of buff athletes, but this is a collection of normal people, ranging from 16 to over 60 and the full range of body sizes and weights you might find in the food court of your local mall. Nothing would make you think this group was about to train for a marathon. I relax a little. If some of these people can imagine walking 26 miles (26.2 to be exact) then so can I.

We hear speakers on shoes, apparel, and training. How many people have lost someone to stroke? A lot of hands go up. How many of you have had a stroke? Fewer, but several. One speaker talks about his marathon experience. He’s a triathlete, a doctor, my age probably. Last year, on the way back from the UCLA pool, he had a stroke. Several months later, he was sitting where we were sitting, training to end stroke. This is about so much more than running or walking 26 miles.

Stop WatchTTES is about fundraising for the American Stroke Association. But it’s also about education and information. About making people aware. About honoring stroke heroes. About lowering our own risk. I wonder if I’ve ever done anything that serves so many purposes at once.

We finally do a one-mile time trial. I’ve only been walking a few blocks in the mornings to warm up. I’m tired, and my knee is sore, but I walk my mile in a brisk 15.35 minutes. Afterwards, I am winded but excited. The adventure has begun!

In 2005, I stunned myself by signing up to walk the San Diego Rock ‘n Roll Marathon on behalf of the American Stroke Association. This post is one of a series of reflections and Training Tales from that time. The whole series begins here.