Thursday, April 28, 2011
Photo by Cpl. Jahn R. Kuiper
Christie Lee, the program manager and head trainer at the Barber Physical Activity Center, invited anyone to participate in the competition that goes from Jan. 24 to May 31. More than 40 people are working toward the goal of 500 miles, whether they accrue it in this state or the next. Other than the gratification of completing the miles before the deadline, all participants who reach the goal receive a Semper Fit lunch box.
‘‘We wanted to give people something to work toward and give them a deadline, so they would be motivated and stay focused on their training,” Lee said.
The challenge attracted civilians and service members from various backgrounds.
‘‘I’ve been running competitively since high school,” said Cpl. Craig Clark, a participant. ‘‘Last spring I ran a competitive relay race with eight other runners from Gettysburg, Pa., to Washington, D.C. I’ve also run the Marine Corps Marathon and the Historic Half.”
‘‘I started to get into road biking when I was stationed in Slovakia,” said Sgt. Joshua Chretien, a participant from Quantico. ‘‘Ever since, I’ve participated in a number of different rides.”
The magnitude of the challenge and sense of accomplishment was the deciding factor in many of the participants joining.
‘‘I love these types of challenges,” said Master Sgt. Kathrine Scoffield, a participant from Quantico. ‘‘Seeing how much each individual is progressing gives me the motivation I need to get out there and make sure I’m not left behind. It’s not about a prize, but about finding a way to stay fit year around. When your goal is 500 miles, the individual is driven to have a continuing approach to working out rather than just work out when it’s necessary such as for a PFT or [Combat Fitness Test].”
Clark had a similar idea.
‘‘Honestly a prize doesn’t matter,” he said. ‘‘Nothing makes me happier than the self-satisfaction I feel after I complete an extremely difficult task.”
With so many options on how to accrue their miles, each participant attacked the challenge in a different way.
‘‘I usually would do 10-12 miles a day on the stationary bike,” said Army Brig. Gen. Leodis Jennings, a participant coming from the Pentagon. ‘‘In the evening I would walk and jog six to eight miles on the treadmill at the gym, and as weather improved I would do the same outside near my home. I do more bike than running because I’ve had seven knee surgeries.”
Others found working out in a group was better.
‘‘Unit [physical training] racks up some good street miles every week, but I’m also part of two local running clubs and another club that does mostly trail runs,” said Staff Sgt. Jonathan Parsons, a participant from Quantico. ‘‘I also like to hike trails as often as I can for building endurance. In the local area I’ve hiked everywhere from Warrenton, Culpeper, Front Royal and Fredericksburg. Occasionally I’ll visit other running clubs in places like Virginia Beach or Leesburg, Va., or travel up to Harrisburg, Pa., Philadelphia or Pittsburg areas to run and do sightseeing trips.”
At some point, most runners found themselves at a low point where they needed to pick themselves up.
‘‘Staying motivated is always hard when you’re training alone,” Clark said. ‘‘I’ve combated that by setting goals. I would set two mileage goals – one that I was confident I could achieve and another I would really have to push myself to make it. That way I always felt good about achieving one of my goals.”
Some runners found the weather to be a challenge.
‘‘I’m not fond of the cold, so during the cold periods early on it was the toughest,” Scoffield said. ‘‘But I would look to see how others were progressing, so I knew I couldn’t make excuses for myself.”
After months of piling up miles, the end result makes it all worth it for the participants.
‘‘It’s an incredible feeling to finish,” Jennings said. ‘‘It makes it all worth while.”
‘‘It’s all a mental trick, but you do what you have to get yourself out there and get yourself in shape,” Parsons said. ‘‘It’s about getting those bragging rights in the office.”
For information about an upcoming Race Across the States competition, contact Lee at 703-432-0592.