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Walking Success Story - Race Walking at Sixty Something

Walking Fast
Trying to walk a marathon fast became a journey of discovery.
By Legacy Cal, AKA Calvin Lau

It was 2010 and the 25th anniversary of the Los Angeles Marathon. This was a brand new course, the “Stadium to the Sea,” extending from Dodger Stadium to the Santa Monica Pier for 26.2 miles.

Legacy Cal

In 2008 I ran and walked this marathon on a different course and came close to breaking 6 hours.

Legacy Cal

In 2009 I walked the entire marathon with a friend and finished in over 7:30.

Legacy Cal

Legacy Cal

I asked myself, “Could I break 6 by just walking as fast as possible?” The short answer was NO! I burned myself out by walking hard for the first 6 miles. After that I was struggling with just keeping a reasonable pace. If I could get to the half marathon in a few minutes under 3 hours or 13:30 per mile, then I might be able to finish in under 6 hours. The true measure of my pace occurred at Mile 13, not even at the half marathon point. Doubling that would mean closer to 7 hours.

Legacy Cal

In my delirium of “hitting the wall,” I was entertaining thoughts of dropping out when I had reached Mile 15.

Legacy Cal

My fast walk devolved into some kind of medium to slow pace.

Then a reality check occurred: I couldn’t just quit. I was a legacy runner, having done all of the previous Los Angeles Marathons since the very first year in 1986. I had to finish. Trying to walk a marathon fast became a journey of discovery. I discovered I could not walk fast by just trying to move quickly.

As I was doing the Los Angeles Marathon (LAM) for the 25th time and I watched someone go past me repeatedly during the race. It seemed that wherever I was on the course throughout the day, he would walk on by with the distinctive style of Olympic race walkers. It was kind of a wobble and definitely not a run or jog. He had a huge wrap on his right leg. Something did not seem right. Why would he look so good, but keep on passing me? It turned out that he had injured himself and instead of trying to win the race walk division as he had in previous years, he was pacing his wife through her first race walk marathon. For him to race walk as slowly as his wife would have been more difficult than going his natural pace and waiting for his wife to catch up.

Legacy Cal

Around Mile 22 the final westward stretch went down San Vicente Blvd, a very wide and scenic street that has a meridian of gorgeous and huge coral trees.

Legacy Cal

Despite how majestic these trees were, I did not appreciate them or care. I discovered that I only wanted to finish in any way that I could and keep my Legacy status intact.

That fellow with the wobble went by me again! This time I was determined to catch up with him and find out how he learned how to walk like that.

Legacy Cal

Legacy Cal

He told meabout a lady who would meet with people interested in learning how to race walk. She would come early Saturday morning to one of the local university tracks. Anyone interested could attend,and she would teach people how to race walk.

I finally did finish in almost 7 ½ hours. What a memorable day that was!

Legacy Cal

Legacy Cal

Legacy Cal

The story continues...




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