So in November I’m going to run a marathon, that's 26.2 miles! It's the Soldier Marathon in Ft. Benning, GA. Today I ran a 5K race. So far in my marathon training I am up to 5 miles, so a 5K should be nothing, I do it every other day. Well, I started too fast, and it was super dusty, needless to say I’m making excuses for the fact that I was burning out toward the end. I looked down at my wrist, saw Daren’s name and got an instant second wind. I thought of all the sacrifices he made, and realized my running 3 little miles and donating 5 dollars to a military non-profit really is not that big of a deal, I can do this. I also received some help from an extraordinary running mentor, SSG Jeremy Logan, who finished the race in 20 minutes (a “crap time” according to him, he usually finishes in 18), then jogged back down the course to find me and help me keep pace and motivation to get to the finish line. A couple months ago Logan ran 46 miles in less than 24 hours for a charity run!
I’m also blessed enough to have Air Force Captain Robert Simmons as my running coach. He has run some marathons including some 50 milers! He is the one who has agreed to meet me 4 days a week in the wee hours of the morning to run, and never bailed on me even once! He also helped correct my form so I wasn’t hurting my shoulders anymore (You’re wondering how do you hurt your shoulders running? Well, let’s just say I looked like a drunk kangaroo when I ran). Anyway, back to the race idea.
Tonight I was washing my face and dreading the fact that tomorrow morning on my marathon training schedule I have to run 6 miles, the farthest yet. I started to doubt how I was going to keep my motivation up to keep adding miles and weeks until the marathon in November. If it was that hard today to run 3 miles, what is it going to be like when I need to run 16, 18, 20?! Then I thought about how I got through today, by looking down at my bracelet and realizing that in the grand scheme of life my feet hurting, or breath panting, or muscle soreness is nothing. That discomfort will be gone in mere minutes. I thought how a family somewhere in the US is mourning the loss of a loved one right now who was killed in the war in Afghanistan or Iraq, how their pain is incomprehensible to mine, and their sacrifice exponentially more.
That’s how the plan came about. According to my schedule I should run 4 days a week, with one day being speed workouts, and one day being my “long day” and the other two just usual days. That’s 4 days of motivation needed and an opportunity to honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice.
I am going to write the name of the heroes who have been killed in action since I last ran on my hand. For them and their eternal peace, I will run. For their families and the pain they are enduring, I will run. For all their fellow troops who miss them, I will run. For thanksgiving for their sacrifice for my freedom so I can run another day, I will run. They’ll be my motivation.
In June of 2010 there were 103 casualties in Afghanistan alone. Every single day you can check the Department of Defense's website and see the news releases of casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan.
So tomorrow morning, my 6 miles will be for a Marine hero, Sgt. Mark A. Bradley, 25, of Cuba, NY, who died June 16th in Helmand province, Afghanistan and an Army hero, Pvt. Ryan J Larson, 19, of Friendship, Wis. who died June 15th in Kandahar province, Afghanistan.
This one’s for you.