While in my training I learned important skills such as teamwork, responsibility and how to be mentally tough. I aced the physical fitness tests with a perfect score and once held the sit up record in Ft. Dix, NJ for the most amount of sit ups in two minutes for a female. We also did things such as rappelling and my favorite the road march. They would have us gear up in our full uniform including combat boots, ruck sack (basically an army backpack to carry all your clothes, water, food, tent, sleeping bag, shovel, rain gear, first aid supplies and toiletries- this could weight nearly 20 pounds) and rifle along with everything you would need for a bivouac (camping without the s’mores.) We would hike for 18 or 20 miles at a time in all kinds of terrain and weather to get to our destination for the night. Then hike back the next day. Little did I know that this would be the start of my long distance running passion.
Shortly after I got home training one summer I did my first half marathon. It seemed way easier to do that kind of distance in running shoes and not wearing a pack or rifle. Not too long after that, I discovered the marathon. Then as I like to say, “The sickness began.” In the years since then I have finished 85 races of marathon distance or longer, including a marathon in every state. I’ve also completed race distances over 100 miles at one time and multi day races such as doing five marathons in five days in five different states. I have no idea where this will wind up going from here but since I’m closing in on my 100th race of marathon distance or longer, that is my next goal.
As Veterans Day approaches, I realize that I never used to give being a veteran much thought. Now I’m a member of my American Legion post and enjoy spending time there with other veterans. I’ve joined Team RWB, a resource for veterans that fortunately for me is active in the running community. When I see someone wearing a WWII hat or similar, I’ll buy them lunch. I recently had the pleasure of spending an hour or so with an amazing gentleman named Bill. He’s 94 and served as a pilot in WWII. I could have listened to him all day as he told me stories about his time in the military. After lunch I told him I got the check. He of course said he would not let a lady buy him lunch, but when I told him I wanted to pay for it, one veteran to another he graciously accepted.
I used to not tell people that I was in the military, it seemed like something that was so long ago that it was like another lifetime. But now I say it with pride. When someone tells me, “Thank you for your service.” I graciously accept it and feel honored that I had the chance to do my small part for our country.