My purpose of running this race was to memorialize my dad who passed on May 22nd of this year. I've written about his role in the military over his lifetime and it seemed as if the Air Force Marathon would be the perfect honorarium. I raised money for a charity called Fisher House - an organization which, in a very small nutshell, provides housing for the families of military personnel who have been hospitalized. I felt that this would be a perfect fit and a perfect ongoing charity to support in memory of my dad. As a really nice aside, the staff and the volunteers completely made this race. I've run in tons of races but this is by far, the most organized! The most important factor - the port-o-potties - was so much better addressed proportionately at this marathon than at the Marine Corp Marathon. And before you turn your nose up at the idea, simply having to answer nature's call during the race can set you back as much as a half hour. And for the Air Force marathon, I stopped 3 times! Mostly because the port-o-potties were there!
There were hydration stations at least every mile and a half. Bananas, cookies, all types of things to keep the body moving for 26.2 miles. There were bands playing music of every conceivable genre, there were volunteers cheering us on the entire time. And at the one point where no human cheerleaders were in sight, were 3 of the largest buck I have ever seen!
I saw a replica of the Wright brothers first plane as it flew overhead at about mile 23. I saw the plane that my dad flew. I saw the plane that my dad flew and dropped people out of. I half expected to see my dad somewhere on the course. But I didn't. I also didn't cry. I saw a captain in the same flight suit that I remember my dad wearing and I nearly lost it then. But I didn't. I wish I had. I really need to cry.
It was an amazing day yesterday. I saw one runner with a picture of his dad on the back of his shirt - his dad was about the same age as mine and died about the same time. I saw another runner running in memory of his very young daughter and yet another runner running in honor of a brother. We were those people bringing up the rear of the middle of the pack. We were there for a purpose, for the comradery of the marathon. We are the serious runners but we are not doing it because we have any hopes of winning. We are doing it because by stomping and running, we are trying to shake loose that part of us that will allow us to deal with, to accept, and to hopefully heal from the loss of someone we love.