Friday, May 4, 2012

So why the Air Force Marathon?

Well, there's a bunch of reasons.

  • First, the obvious -- Bad. Ass. Planes!
    The course loops Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, OH. In addition to running around awesome planes, some will be flying overhead during the race. There aren't many things that give me chills or get my adrenaline pumping like a jet flying by... I know I'll definitely run faster as a result. This year's featured plane is the B2 Spirit Stealth Bomber. Hell yes!

  • Flat Course.
    Yep, it's an airfield, so it's flat. There's just a couple hills (the bigger of the two is right at the start, so it'll be nice to get it over with right away) and thankfully neither is very long (well, okay, the first one is starting to look pretty scary... and it's about 2 miles long... but hopefully the excitement of everything will carry me over it!). The total climb is only 350 feet or so.

  • Big Medal.
    It's all about the bling! The full marathon medal for this race is big and heavy, and I want one.

Oh, and it's pretty awesome that Air Force senior leaders are the ones handing out the medals...

That's pretty much the same as getting a Medal of Honor, right??

  • It's Small.
    Well, obviously not in distance, but in participants it's relatively small. They keep upping the limits since it keeps selling out, but even so, there's only 4,700 spots in the full this year.

  • The Troops.
    I've heard from other race recaps that the support from the active military personnel at the water stops and along the course is amazing. I know I'll appreciate and need their encouragement.

    And I'm sure they'll be putting on a good show as part of the opening ceremony.

  • Water Stops.
    They have water stops just about every mile, and each one has a different theme. I don't really get into themed things, but having water and fuel available every mile or so is important since the race is in the middle of September!

  • Did I mention the planes?
    Yeah, even the finish chute is lined with planes. How awesome are those pictures going to be??

But probably the biggest reason for being so adamant about doing this particular race is I want some redemption.

Back in the Spring of 2002 I participated in the Air Force ROTC program through UofL. I was sort of giving the program a test drive to see if it was something I wanted to do. In short, the program would pay for your college tuition as long as you enlisted upon graduating. The cool part about it was that you would graduate college as a 2nd Lieutenant, and you were guaranteed a job.

As you might expect (since this is the military), the program required a fitness test.
  • Do 30 sit-ups in 2 minutes
  • Do 30 push-ups in 2 minutes
  • Run 2 miles in 20 minutes

Easy enough, right? Ha!

I wasn't at my biggest then, but I definitely wasn't in shape (this was during my 2nd semester of college, and I didn't participate in any sport -- unless you count marching band -- during high school). I think the only part I was able to finish was the sit-ups (in fact, I still don't think I could bust out 30 push-ups in 2 minutes... man, I gotta start going to the gym more often!).

I honestly don't know how far off the run I was, but I definitely didn't make the cut.

Ever since then, I've used that as my "fitness gauge" -- if I could run 2 miles in 20 minutes, I was probably doing pretty good.

Even though I've been able to run that for a while now, it's still something I think about almost every time I'm out running.

Ultimately I decided not to complete the ROTC program, but I really enjoyed being apart of it for that semester. I met a bunch of great people, and I learned some things about myself, too.

Training for and running this marathon will sort of be like going back and finishing something I started 10 years ago.

And that's exciting.


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