I Recently joined Team Red, White and Blue, a veterans organization that connects returning combat vets with other vets and civilians through exercise programs. The goal is to help reintegrate service members into their communities and to help them cope with injuries, PTSD and other common combat related issues. As most runners already know, exercise is cheaper than therapy and in many cases more effective.
Joining a Team RWB chapter is free and open to anyone; active duty, veteran or civilian; so if you want to help vets in a meaningful way click the join button on the teamrwb.org website (vets receive a free shirt). After you join, you will receive a calendar of opportunities to workout with others in your area and to participate in running, cycling, swimming and other sporting events as well as social gatherings.
We have a huge military community here in El Paso, Ft Bliss being the largest Army base in the world. About 15 of us are gathered here in Ascarate Park to run the Leopoldo Cavazos Jr Memorial 5K. A year ago Border Patrol Agent Cavazos died in an ATV accident while patrolling our southern border so his family is remembering him today with a 5K run.
It’s been many years since I’ve run a 5K and I have no idea how fast I’ll be able to run it. I’m more accustomed to all day slogs up and down mountains which gives me an excellent excuse to walk. I suppose I’ll have to run the entire race today and try my best to be speedy. My goal is an eight minute per mile pace.
When the gun sounds, I take off pretty fast and think to myself, this will be over in 24 minutes as long as I don’t puke. After a few minutes I realize that I’m way too close to the front of the pack so I ease off finally settling into a sensible pace. The course takes us past a beautiful lake and then we turn onto a straight road. In less than eight minutes front runners are already coming back towards me.
At the one mile marker I see people turning around and heading back to the start/finish. All except one of my teammates who is still running straight completely by himself. What is he doing? I start to yell and scream that we are supposed to turn and head back, but he just keeps going like he is on a serious mission. I keep trying to get his attention and wonder if I could run fast enough to catch him, but there is no way. I turn around and start to head back, but another runner says, “no he is right, the turnaround is up there. See the sign?”
Well, sure enough we are on the right track and the others must have been confused on where to turnaround. My adrenaline is really going now, so I speed up. When I reach the two mile marker, I realize that I’m running better than my eight minute per mile pace and hope I can hold on to it for one more mile. I keep pushing as hard as I can, breathing deeply to take in all the oxygen that I can.
The last mile seems like an eternity. I back off just enough to keep it under control, but then finally see the finish area. I give it one last push and make it in just under my 24 minute goal.
Unfortunately about 14 of the leaders were disqualified for only running 2.4 miles of the course. It just goes to show that anything can happen in a race and I even placed 2nd in my age group as a result. Like I said, anything is possible; even me placing in a race.
|Sophie, Greg and Joshua|
It was truly an honor to run with the team and our Ft. Bliss soldiers. Congratulations to all our finishers and to Joshua and Sophie for placing 1st and 2nd in their age groups. We have more events planned and next month I will join the team for the Ten Miler in the Heat (free to active duty) on post. I hope you will check out the Team Red, White and Blue website and consider supporting this important cause.
See you on the trail.