My lil' sister had the same goal when she turned 40 this year. She too was just an occasional runner like you but she did other weight-bearing activities such as walking, lifting weights and occasional aerobics classes at the gym. But with a bad knee, she set very modest marathon goals for herself: just wanted to be able to finish, didn't care about finish time or whether she had to walk part of it. She used a variation of Galloway's run-walk method (www.jeffgalloway.com) with Hal Hidgon's novice marathon schedule (www.halhigdon.com) and has completed 2 marathons so far in about 5:30-5:45 hrs.
If you do regular amounts of weight-bearing activity now (run, walk, etc.) have similar modest marathon goals for yourself and build up your mileage gradually, I think you can do it too. However, if you do very little weight-bearing activities now or want to run the entire 26.2 mi, I think it's best to use a marathon build-up schedule to condition your body to handle the impact of running first. In my experience teaching both high and low impact fitness classes, women over 30 who've not exercised regularly before have a much harder time adjusting to impact (have probs with feet, knees, hips, back) than building endurance.
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