Monday, September 19, 2016

The 20th Air Force Marathon

When my head is so full of thoughts, the only way I know to really get through them well is to put them down here. I will live in a congested state of mind until I share.
 At this point in time, many emotions over multiple topics are swimming in my mind, but they will unfold in time. Today, I want to share as I do each year about the Air Force Marathon experience. I tried to take a few moments through the days to capture some memories in photos, and I was able to grab a few here and there. What's not in photos is in words, so bear with me as I share.

 Each year's event brings on new lessons learned, new friends made, reunions with old friends, hugs from strangers, and growth, one way or another. This year was no different. I found all of those embedded in the 2 days of the expo, along with the actual race day. This will be a two part blog.

 Each year, I am reminded just how much I love what I do. I am reminded how exhausting race week is, but how worth it in the end. I typically feel elated and on a high of sorts from the joy I get of watching it all unfold, but there is a sense of relief as well. It hits me every single year how we work so hard all year long for ONE day basically. That is challenging at times for me, but again, race week is totally worth it. There is even a sense of sadness for me when it's over because the experience is so good, so fulfilling, that I don't want it to be over so fast. I want to soak it in for a little bit before jumping in to the next one. (Not reality, but writing about it here helps me soak and recap.)

 At the expo, my job is to fix problems. When I tell people this, I typically get wide-eyed responses, like "Good luck!" or "I wouldn't want to be you." My friend Danielle said "Girl, I could not do this like you do."
 I don't say that in an arrogant way; I say it to share.... I get some interesting issues that come across my way. But I love it. I love helping fix what is needed. I love it when I can make a runner's experience better. I enjoy it because it gives me a place to meet so many of the people I talk to on the phone or computer through the whole year. For me, it fits. I do have to give bad news and hard answers to them sometimes, but for the most part, it's an all around good experience. Some highlights from this year in the solution center:

 -I absolutely love the company we work with that helps me help our runners. (Our timing/registration company) Josh Drew and his crew are so easy to be around and so helpful. Josh always has a witty statement to lighten the atmosphere and he leads his team with ease. Their crew does a great job, works hard, never rolls their eyes at my needs (as far as I know, anyway!) and helps me do my job in a way easier fashion. He deserves some props in this blog.  I could not solve problems as easily without their help behind the scenes. I get teased for being wordy (in case you hadn't figured that out that I am!) but it's nice to have this crew in my corner. So much more could be said, but then I would lose my audience.
End Results/Get Me Registered Team
Josh Drew and me

 - I had one lady really needing/wanting something. I will not go into details, but I asked her to give me a few hours to troubleshoot it and see what I could do. When she came back and I was able to help accommodate what she needed, she lit up and literally grabbed me in a bear hug.
 Totally worth it.  Totally why I love what I do.

 Honestly, There are plenty of stories that could be shared. The point is, while it can be exhausting to hear all the needs of the people, it's also quite rewarding. (And occasionally gives me a few good stories to tell later. )

 Reuniting with Runners

 One thing I love about race weekend is seeing return runners. Some of these people have become a part of my support system because I helped them once. Then they begin to ask about me, and in time, a friendship unfolds. I am thankful for the variety of people this event has brought my way. Each person who becomes someone in my corner teaches me about life in a new way, supports my desires and dreams in life- not just in my running. I know I will leave someone out, but I was only able to capture a few of these people (it's not like I had all the free time to wander around taking photos...)

 Chief Walden has been coming back since my first year at the office. One year I helped him with something, which turned into the next year and the next. We don't get tons of opportunities to speak, but he's one of those people who gives me far more recognition than I should have and doesn't take enough for himself. He's constantly helping others, rallying his teammates, and encouraging others around him to grow- be it his students, his team, his wife and children or me. I'm happy to call him friend.

Annelise, me, Chief Walden

 And along with Chief, last year I met this special lady, Annelise. She's a blogger like me and you can find her here. She's pretty awesome. Her story encourages and inspires me. Aunie is full of vibrance and faith. Her smile lights up the room and her hugs are special. I could say a lot about this special lady, but check out her blog. I was happy to see her again this year.

My pilot friends, Eric and Bill. They are better known to each other by their "pilot names" (I am certain there must be a better term for that, but I don't know how else to describe it), but last year we met because they came in as part of the flight crew of our featured aircraft. They chose to come back this year and it was fun to reunite with them.What a fun crew they are to be around. Both pilots will be retiring this year. I am thankful for their service and for their friendship.

Katie. Katie actually lives locally now, but we met last year, as she came in and swept away the 10K win in 2015. We fast became friends. We each lead busy lives, but we make time where we can. Katie is awesome. She helps me be a better runner, better woman, better person. She is in my corner, cheering me on in all of my life endeavors, and I am thankful this event brought us together as friends. Katie is a beast when it comes to her running. Unfortunately, she got super sick race week and though she diligently tried to plug away in the half marathon, her body forced her to stop and led her to the ER. She's ok, but sometimes the body says stop. I admire her tenacity as she said "Training will pay off. My time will come, I am sure of it." And she keeps going, not letting the setback knock her down.

Meeting Someone Famous
 Anyone in the running world probably knows the name "Meb". He is pretty famous in the industry, as he has been to the Olympics 4 times, won NYC marathon and the Boston marathon. This year, we were lucky enough to have him as our speaker. I was pretty busy and didn't actually think I would get to meet him, which left me disappointed. However, in between a task, I happened to catch him for a moment after he finished running the 10K. My friend, Danielle, and I took a moment to thank him for being there and speak with him briefly. He's down to earth and pretty cool . He wrote Run to Overcome a book I totally recommend.

Really the list goes on.... but those are a few of the moments from the weekend. I can't always share everything, and I am still processing some of the weekend. Stay tuned for part 2 tomorrow, where I will share about lessons learned. I really do have a cool job.


  1. You DO have a cool job. One of my favorite parts about the AF marathon is not running the race itself, but it's traveling to Ohio for the weekend and getting to meet and spend time with folks who I would have never otherwise had the chance to meet. I love how you highlight the friendships and connections as one of the most important parts of the job for you. It's amazing and inspiring, just like you! Thank you for being amazing, my beautiful friend!

  2. This is great Rach! I'm so glad it was awesome, and I love seeing the connections you have forged through your investment in the Marathon. Congrats!