Sunday, November 11, 2012

Race 28 - Soldier Marathon

The Day Before

It was a great Fall day, took a half day off work and Mary & I headed down towards the Ft. Benning/Columbus, Ga. area.  Besides the standard stuff (hotel check in, race packet pick up,...) our thoughts were on our grandsons participating in the Soldier Marathon Kids Marathon later that evening.  The Kids Marathon is a great way to get kids interested in exercise, racing, experiencing crossing the finish line, and having a medal put around their neck.

The kids race was to start at 5:30 and was a one mile run.  You see, each child actually started back in August where they would run many shorter distances, keeping track (well actually mom or dad did this) of each time until they reached either 25.2 miles (for the full Kids Marathon) or 12.1 miles (for the Kids Half Marathon).  This also taught setting a goal and working towards that goal.  Kudos to the folks at Soldier Marathon who came up with this idea.

Race Check In - Fallen Hero Program

As I made my way through race check in, I came across the the Fallen Hero table.  The Fallen Hero Program provides information on men/woman who have lost their life in service to our Country.  All participants have the opportunity do the race in honor of one of these Fallen Heroes.  As I read through the information my eyes began to tear.  So young, so brave.  I selected Marine Gunnery Sgt. Ryan Jeschke.  He was assigned to the 1st Marine Special Operations Battalion, Camp Pendleton, Calif.  He died on August 10, 2012 in Sangin district, Afghanistan, after being shot by an Afghan policeman.  

What hit me the most was the date he was killed.  My biggest concern around that time was trying to decide if I wanted to sign up for the half marathon or the full marathon.  I am guilty of not being aware of the sacrifices that are still being made by these brave men and women.

In honor of Marine Gunnery Sgt. Ryan Jeschke

Kids Marathon

My grandsons arrived and during their check in process they also had the opportunity to run their race in honor of a Fallen Hero.  The two soldiers they selected were Army Sgt. Robert J. Billings and Army Sgt. 1st Class Ryan J. Savard.  Both of these men died in service to our country on October 13, 2012, less than a month ago.  Each of my grandsons had these soldier's names pinned on their backs.

The kids one mile run began and they took off.  These kids were flying by!

JB in the blue shirt!

It was a good race and each participant received their race medal and finisher coin as they crossed over the finish line.

First race!

Race Day

My daughter joined me for this race so we met up at the National Infantry Museum at about 6:00 AM.  This was nice as they opened it up for us prior to the race.  The temperature outside was in the mid 40s so quite a few of us went in where it was warm!  Weather wise, there was to be a huge temperature change this day, even though the day started out with a nice, Fall, crisp, cool morning, by the end of the race (for me), it was going to be in the 70s!  Jen was doing the half and even though her pace is much faster than mine, she made her way with me towards the back of the pack.  As we were getting ready for the start we ran into Mellody "Smiling Walker" from the Walking Site.  We chatted with her for a bit, she was doing her 45th marathon/ultra this day!

At the start with The National Infantry Museum in the background
We were off.  My goal for this race, being at the tail end of a cold, was simply to finish.  They had a 7 hour time limit, so I was not too concerned with being able to to this.  When it's cold like it was, I usually run the first mile or so just to warm up.  At the one mile mark, felt good, switched to a walk/run routine.  Mile two, still felt good, enjoying the course.  We were on Fort Benning at this point and we came to the first hill.  They actually had Army Drill Instructors on that hill, barking out commands and various other motivational "things" to us!  

We were on Fort Benning for about 6 miles.  The Fort Benning portion was my favorite part of the course.  After we headed to the River Walk were we would do an out and back to complete the marathon.  

At the half way point, I was still feeling pretty good, had a pace of just over 13 minute miles, which for me is a good pace.  But somewhere around mile 15, something happened.  I don't recall any specific point where anything happened but my left knee really started hurting.  Every step I took, it hurt.  Well this impacted pace.  The race website had the following information on all the racers:

My pace by mile 20 was a lot slower than I do my long slow distances in preparation for the marathon.  So by this point, all I wanted to do was finish.  I came really close to flagging down one of the race official golf carts - each time they happened to go by.  I've never had a DNF (did not finish) and for some reason I did not want this to be my first.  I was never so glad to be done with a race!  Still not sure what I did to my knee, it's not swollen but I am stilling limping around the day after.  I'll give it a few days and see what happens.  Oh well, just glad I got to finish race number 28.

They put on a highly organized, good race!  Highly recommend.


  1. I think it's a great lesson for your grandkids to learn about the fallen soldiers.

  2. Sounds like this was a tough race for you, Scott, with that bad knee problem - I hope you get it worked out soon. If it is still bothering you after some rest days, please go see an MD - if only to be sure nothing major is wrong (you don't want to have to stop walking to retirement!)

    But I'm glad you and your family enjoyed this race - it's one of my favorites

    1. Good advice Marsha - did go to MD after 4 days of no improvement. MD does not think it's anything major, took x rays, still waiting. However, MD alluded that maybe this old body does not have any/many more marathons left in it... (sigh) It is getting better though - will proceed prudently.

  3. Scott - Wonderful read about the kids and loved the photos. What an inspired idea and great finishes. Your follow up effort must have been very hard to complete. Those knee issues are familiar to me and can be disabling. Hope you are recovering OK!

    1. Thanks Ted! I do believe I am on the mend. It's sort of odd - no knee pain/issues during the Great Saunter while up by you, which was 6 miles longer than this race. Hope this is just a one time thing.