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    Posted September 28, 2015 by
    Vero Beach, Florida
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    First Person: Your essays

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    Doing the Wright thing for the Right Reason

    Air Force Marathon – A celebration of perseverance

    Running is like writing. I am drawn to it because of the stories.

    Every race is special. It’s about the journey and the courage of the participants to reach the finish line. The distance is always secondary.

    Last week I ran the 2015 Air Force Marathon, in my hometown of Dayton, Ohio.

    It was the 19th anniversary of the marathon. It was also the 65th anniversary of the Air Force.

    For me it was a celebration of good health.

    Just 5 years earlier, my husband, who never gets emotional, said 5 words to me, “I can’t do this alone.” He was referring to raising our son, Wyatt. I had just returned from a physical. My blood pressure has off the charts. Somewhere between advocacy for our son and starting a new career, I had lost track of my health. I was overweight. It was not about vanity. I needed to regain my balance for the sake of our son and my marriage.

    My favorite doctor, Michele Maholtz asked me, “Can you run for a minute?” I burst out laughing, “I don’t think I can run to the mail box!” She said, “Why don’t you try it?”
    Out loud, I reminded myself, “I once was a varsity athlete. How hard could it?” I started to get excited. Then I did the math. It had been over 20 years since I had run. I felt defeated.

    A few days later I attended a group fitness class. The instructor threw open the outside door. Without giving direction, everyone started filing out.

    Dumbstruck, I asked, “Where is everyone going?” He numbly replied, “We are running!” “Running,” I said, “You have got to be kidding me?” He simply nodded.

    In that moment I heard Dr. Maholtz’s voice. Then 1 minute turned into 2. I was laughing and crying uncontrollably. I thought to myself, “Maybe I can!”

    I left feeling full of hope. I was so inspired. A week later I signed up to run the Disney Half-Marathon for Autism Speaks.

    After completing that race I signed up to do a triathlon. I had not swam in 30 years. I didn’t even own a bike! I just thought, “Well how hard could that be?”

    Fast forward: 5 half-ironman races, 2 Dopey Challenges and 1 full ironman race – I had this crazy notion to “just run” 26.2 miles. That means that I did not have to swim, bike or run for 3 days prior to doing a full marathon.
    It seemed like a good idea. Once again I asked, “Well how hard could that be?”

    So there I was on September 19th, standing at Wright Patterson Airforce Base (The birthplace of aviation). My big brother, Richard, stood next to me. I was caught in a time warp.

    Before the start was signaled, we laughed about a memory. In 1971 President Richard Nixon gave the dedication of the United States Airforce Museum. My late Father told my brothers and me about the surrounding crowds of protesters. Watergate investigations had just begun. Dad told about the problem with America, “Too many damn hippies! There is nothing wrong with our President – we just have a hippie problem! “

    My brother’s laugh turned into a hug. It was all I needed. I believed I could “just” run 26.2 in the name of good health. Blazing streaks of red and blue burst in the pre-dawn sky. My heart was full of hope.

    Once again, the other runners inspired me to finish. Phyllis was running her 248th marathon. At 70+ years and a titanium plate in her head, she was determined to run a different marathon each month.

    Then there was Phil - a 6-time finisher of Ironman Muncie 70.3. During the last mile he pulled out an American flag from his belt. He launched it like a parachute. The crowd went wild. There we were running past a huge C-17. I saw my brother and started to cry. Once again, it was the stories that brought me home. They gave me inspiration and reminded me how important it was to feel alive.
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