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I completed my first half marathon, and so can you!

  • Published
  • By Master Sgt. Ray Bradley
  • 380th Expeditionary Aircraft Maintenance Squadron
I arrived for my third deployment Dec. 21 much like most folks do physically. I could pass my fitness test with no problem, but no way could I run a half marathon. So let me tell you about how I ended up running one anyway.


Five weeks prior to the race, my longest run was five miles and I certainly had no intention of running a half marathon.

Fast forward, it's two weeks from race day and I'm still not planning on running "the half," what those of us in the business call a half marathon.

The night before I find out I am going to run the half, I went for an eight-mile run with a fellow first sergeant. We were almost done with our eight-miler and the gate we were going to enter was closed. Of course it was. Good news: the next gate was only a little more than a mile away.

When I got to the next gate I'd run a little more than nine miles and thought, "If I can do nine surely I can do 10."

The next morning after my impromptu ten-miler, I woke up and wished someone would pull my legs out of the bed so I could stand. When I got to work my coworker said she had a slot for the race if I wanted it, and I said with a lot more motivation than I should have, "Heck, yeah!"

Thirteen days from the race, I started my half marathon training. I know this doesn't sound smart, but brains have never been my strong suit; I am too pretty to rely on brains.

Eight days from race day and I wanted to run another 10-miler. This idiot decided to run it in the afternoon heat, and to top it off, it was incredibly windy. During my second lap I saw my commander and maintenance operations officer drive by and wondered if I would turn down a ride if they offered.

They didn't.

I finished the 10-miler with sand in places sand should not be and I was worn out from the sun and wind.

I took some short runs and a couple rest days leading up to the race.

Race Day

The day of the race I wake up at 2 a.m., ice-down drinks and gather snacks for our departure.
We leave at 3:40 a.m., and the two-hour drive starts. Race excitement builds ... along with the soreness in my lower back.

Finally, we get to the race. I get out of the car and make a quick dash to the restrooms because according to the bathroom chart, I am "well-hydrated."

Near the race start point I see all these folks running around warming up. I raise my arms above my head and stretch. Warm up complete! Let's get this party started!

Prior to race start they have a cattle call to the start line; only thing missing was an electric poker to herd us into the starting cage. I begin to feel a little scared because there are well over 2,000 people crammed into this fenced-in area. No escape now!

We start the countdown to race start: five, four, three, two, (is the excitement building yet?) One!




What a letdown! Four minutes later I reach the starting line and off I go!

Mile 1 is 15 seconds ahead of my race pace. My adrenaline is pumping and, in the words of Ricky Bobby, "I wanna go fast!" I have lots of fun, but keep looking at my GPS watch to make sure I keep this V-12 Ferrari engine in idle mode. After all, this race is 13.1 miles.

Mile 3 down, I feel great and want to open this Countach up and see what she can do. I resist the urge, race pace is 30 seconds ahead of schedule. I'm enjoying the run and scenery.

Mile 5 we take a turn and I feel like I'm running in a wind tunnel, but have no fear, I am strong like a bull and this is no problem!

At about Mile 7 I see a couple of young ladies going the other direction during their run and I am hopeful that this means that I am near the turn-around. No luck. These professional runners were "only" about four miles ahead of me (they did get a four-minute head start).

Sometime around here I decide to choke down a gel pack I had been carrying to prevent a complete dehydration meltdown. This is awful!

Mile 10 I'm doing well, but start to slow down.

Mile 11 I start trying to get motivated by belittling myself in my head. At least I think it's in my head.

Starting Mile 12, motivation's a struggle. My heart at this point is saying "You got this," but my legs tell me "Give up, Dummy."

Shortly after Mile 12 is finished, two people from our group pass me talking to each other like this is Mile 1.

I hate them and mentally I want to trip them for showing off.

12.1 miles I start arguing with myself ... out loud.

At 12.3 miles I see my wife, and think "This can't be real she's in Germany."

Mile 12.5 she is running with me.

12.75 miles, wife disappears (Whew! Thought I was crazy), but now my children are running with me.

12.9 miles, only .2 to go! I remind myself how to run: left foot, then right foot and repeat.

Gel pack may come back to haunt me.

Is that a mirage?

No, it's the finish line.

Half completed at two hours and 45 seconds.


One minute after the race, I think I will never do this again and my coworker is going to get throat-punched for talking me into this.

Three minutes after the race with two bottles of water, a banana and a sports drink in my hand I think, "Wow that hurt, I'm hungry," but there are no future plans for throat-punches or half marathons.

Ten minutes after the race. I just did that and it wasn't so bad; I can't wait to run the next one in March!

This is one of the most rewarding things I have done.

Bottom line: if this idiot can do it, so can you!

Next question: can this idiot run a full marathon? I'm shooting for April 2013, hopefully with my real wife and not the hallucination.