Monday, October 19, 2009

Goal: Run a Half-Marathon in Under Two hours. Pass!

I have to admit, my first few weeks in Korea have been busy and its been tough to make my workouts.  Despite my lack of a regular routine, I managed to commit to a half marathon this weekend.  It was called the Saber Run and took place on Osan Air Base which is about an hour away from Seoul.

I managed to figure out how to catch a bus and headed out at 7AM.  I was traveling alone but met two Army guys who were headed to the race as well.  Derrick and Mike, both in their late 30's.   It turned out derrick was from WV and we ended up talking about running the whole trip.

Signing up for this run was a no brainer.  Free running shirt, free coin, and a free BBQ at the end.  I usually spend around 50 bucks for an event like this!

On to the run itself.  I had one goal for the day.  Beat my previous best half marathon time of 1:59.  Since its been about 6 months and 25 pounds since I ran my first Half-marathon, I was pretty confident I could meet this goal.  The two army guys were also trying to run it in under 2 hours so I decided to run with them and see how I felt.

Prior  to this run I had not ran over 10 miles since my marathon on Sept 19 so I was a little concerned.  It turned out I had nothing to worry about.  I settled in to a nice brisk pace and felt good for the whole race'.  The whole course was two laps around the flightline and in the end I can in at about 1 hour and 47 minutes.  Around 12 minutes faster than my previous half marathon.  That's over 13 miles at a 8 minute 9 second pace!  The fastest half marathon of my life at 43.  Oh yeah, I feel kind of bad for mentioning this but I also finished in front of my two new Army friends.  Sorry guys, couldn't  resist.

This pace is good news for many reasons. From what I have read, that pace should actually allow me to finish a marathon in under 4 hours which is my goal before I leave Korea.  I'm not confident I can meet that goal at this time though.  Hopefully I will slip into a good training routine with a good group and start pushing myself to new limits.

So, where will my next run be?  I have a big plan in the works for my next marathon.  If it works out it will be THE RUN OF A LIFETIME and I don't use that term lightly.  I'm keeping the details under wraps until I see if I can actually make it happen.

Stay tuned,

Monday, October 12, 2009

Korea: New Country. New Goals!

Here I am in Korea!  The Fat Sergeant has made it to a new country on a new work assignment.  I left the United States on a high note meeting all three of the goals.   As I've said earlier, I need to have goals to work towards or I can easily go right back to my old habits,  As someone who has lost and gained weight my whole life, I now know it's my reality.  If I want to stay healthy and fit I have to set goals and work on fitness constantly.

The good news is that I truly enjoy working out and running now!  That's not always been the case.  Running used to make dizzy, nauseous and miserable. I'm without a vehicle right now and I was thinking about this while walking and running around the base this week.  The garrison is very hilly and I was surprised how easy it was to travel up and down the hills without getting winded.  It's a great feeling to know that you can run for hours.  The reality is you have to actually run for hours to maintain that ability.  

Moving to a new place is a great time so set new goals and start good habits.  About three years ago my wife and I left Germany and threw the cigarettes in the trash before we got on the plane.  We've both managed to stay off the smokes since then.  In our new home we were not in the habit of going outside to smoke. We didn't smoke at work and didn't have people asking us to go to the smoke area.  That's why I contacted running clubs in the area before I left the country.  I ran a 5K fun run this morning and will be running with the club in the morning.  It's likely that the people I end up  meeting here will be fitness oriented and that will help me stay fit.

This blog is also a big part of my mental conditioning.  When I commit to my goals everyone knows about it.  I feel that my friends are rooting for me and I don't want to them down.  

I have come up with some short term and long term goals for my tour here.

Short term goals:
1. Compete in a half marathon before the end of the year and finish in under 2 hours. (a new personal best)
2. Get my weight down to 190 lbs and maintain it through the holidays to  Jan 1st. 

Long Term goals:
1. finish a marathon in under 4 Hours. (I need to shave 24 minutes!)
2. Compete in a triathlon!  (This is a big one!  I don't even have a bike here.)

That's it.  Goals set!  Wish me luck.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

My Air Force Marathon Expericnce

Like nearly ten thousand other individuals,  I recently traveled to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio to participate in the 13th annual Air Force Marathon. Some came with family and friends to cheer them on while others came alone.  Some people were running their first race while others were seasoned veterans of marathons.  Many0 individuals came to run in the 5k and 10k races while others had trained to run the half and 26.2 mile full marathon.

Runners came for many different reasons but we all shared a common goal of crossing the finish line.  As I ran my race, it was exhilarating to see all the different types of people of all ages, men and women, young and old.  I was also amazed at the number of people who volunteered to help at the hydration stations and the people who showed up to cheer us on.  Working with the Public Affairs at Wright-Patterson gave me an opportunity to meet some amazing individuals.

Air Force Col John Alveraz was a Navy Seal and lost his leg while in a joint special operations counter-narcotics mission in 1996.  After his accident, he went through water and survival training again and got certified to fly.  Although the Navy always took care of him, he choose to take an inter-service transfer to the Air Force to stay in Special Operations.  He is now assigned to the Defense and Air Attaché, LaPaz, Bolivia. He ran the Marathon in dedication to 20 individuals who have either fallen or were wounded in Iraq/Afghanistan. This year's Marathon landed on the same day that his accident happened 13 years ago.

And then there is Army Captain Ivan Castro, Castro, who is the one of three blind active-duty officers and the only one serving in Army Special Operations, ran the Air Force marathon for the second time.  Castro lost visibility in both eyes while serving in Iraq Sept. 2, 2006 when a 82mm enemy mortar exploded just five feet in front of him. 
When Castro was interviewed before the Air Force Marathon in 2008 He could remember the exact moment when he decided to run a marathon lying in his hospital bed Bethesda Naval Medical Center.  He overheard a doctor and nurse discussing the Marine Corps Marathon. "As they left, I thought to myself, 'I love running. I miss running. That's what I'm going to do,'" he said.  That’s exactly what he did. Since then he’s competed several other runs.  This year he ran the Air Force half marathon with a t-shirt that read "I will never accept defeat."

A highlight for me was getting to meet Dave McGillivray who is the race director for the Boston Marathon. This guy is the original Forrest Gump who ran 3,452 miles in 80 days!  His record includes over 122 marathons and 8 Hawaii marathons all to raise money for numerous causes.

I was also touched by the story I read about CMSgt. Brian Hale who was running the half marathon with his wife's bib number.  The original plan was for him to run the full 26.2 marathon while his wife ran the 13.1 mile half marathon and their daughter breana would cheer them on.  Tragically, Michelle who was struck and killed by a sport utility vehicle in the early morning while training for her run.  Chief Hale completed the half-marathon with bib number 4193 while his daugher and family cheered him on at the finish.

Many people out there will ask "Why"?  Why do all that training?  Why would you want to get out of bed before the sun comes up, just to beat the heat and train for hours?  My personal reasons were to improve my overall health and celebrate 25 years of service in the Air Force but if you ask 100 different people you are likely to get 100 different answers. Each runner has his or her reason to run.  Some of these stories are very inspiring.

The Air Force Marathon was a tremendous experience that offers a race for almost any fitness level.  If these individuals have inspired you, maybe you will join us next year.  To give you a idea of what it's like to run a marathon, here is a video of the 2009 Air Force Marathon from a runners perspective.