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Polished runner gears up for another race

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Mindy Bloem
  • 43rd Airlift Wing
It's not about the thrill of the competition, the shouts from the crowd or even the hoopla that comes afterward. It boils down to one moment -- one defining second that keeps him coming back year after year. It's the feeling of accomplishment that rushes over him when his feet finally cross that envisioned ending ... the finish line. 

For Master Sgt. Roy King, the 43rd Force Support Squadron's first sergeant, participating in marathons is, in most respects, its own reward. 

"I don't consider myself to be a competitive runner," he said. "I don't think I'm fast enough to be an elite runner, but when I cross the finish line, it gives me the feeling that I've done something no one else can do. I think everyone has the ability to do it, but I don't think everyone has the discipline to do it. So that's the challenge -- not the physical stamina it takes to do a marathon, but the mental discipline it takes to prepare yourself for it."
In 2002, while Sergeant King was stationed at Goodfellow Air Force Base, Texas, he began competing in a lot of the fun runs and 5K runs the base would host. He noticed he could run with ease and usually finish with the top runners, and it was then he began to seriously consider running in marathons. 

While he was stationed at Izmir Air Station, Turkey in 2005, he began training for the Air Force Marathon, and in September of 2007, that goal came to fruition. 

On race day, Sergeant King was just hoping his hard work and preparation would pay off.
"I had concerns that I wasn't ready, but once it started, and I felt the adrenaline from the crowd and the other competitors who were there, I was amazed that an hour and a half after it was all over, I could have kept running for hours," he said. 

Sergeant King plans to compete in three half marathons (13.1 miles) this year: The Air Force Marathon Sept.19 at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon in San Antonio this November, and the Rock 'n' Roll Marathon in Las Vegas this December. 

All of these races are leading up to his first full marathon (26.2 miles) of the new year in Miami Beach this coming January. 

These marathons are laying the groundwork for what Sergeant King deems the most prestigious marathon in the world: The Boston Marathon. 

The Boston Marathon, which is hosted every April, is his ultimate goal. He will need a run time of 3.20 or better at the Miami Beach Marathon to qualify for the Boston Marathon.
"Sergeant King is a very dedicated person when it comes to preparing for a marathon," said Senior Airman Christian Pagan, 43rd FSS. "For the past few months he has been coming to the Fitness Center at 5:30 a.m. to train. While he is training, he looks for people who might be interested in participating in the marathon or in improving their running skills. 

"Sergeant King is a good physical readiness motivator and has no problem giving some of his time to help people improve on their physical readiness condition. Those are the types of leaders that we need in today's Air Force." 

Part of the reason Sergeant King is running one race after another is to keep up his momentum through constant training. 

"You have to keep yourself going because if you take a break it is going to be even harder to get yourself back into it," he said. 

The training regiment Sergeant King undergoes is no easy task. 

Four days out of the week he runs 5 miles, 4 miles, 3 miles and 8 miles respectively. He then increases the miles he runs each week. On these days, he also implements resistance training into his workouts. 

Two days a week he does cross-training, such as yoga or spin class and lower body strength training. He allows one day for rest and recuperation. 

He said he hasn't prepared as much as he would have liked for the upcoming Air Force Marathon. He just wants to finish in a respectable time and relatively injury free. 

The Air Force Marathon is his favorite race because of the military camaraderie he feels with the other runners, and he wants to be there to help his fellow Pope Airman achieve their goals this year, he said. 

Besides Sergeant King, at least eight other Pope members plan to compete in the Air Force Marathon Sept. 19. 

Sergeant King encourages anyone who is thinking about competing in marathons to get with people who have done it before and can offer advice to help them train. He also emphasizes finding the right shoes, which he says, "makes all the difference in the world." 

But most of all, he recommends competing in marathons simply for the pride one feels after completing such a race. 

"Running is such an individual sport that your competition is yourself," Sergeant King said. "When you're running a marathon, you are not focusing on everyone else. You are listening to your body and on how you can improve because you are your own competition. 

"I see folks out there competing who could be my grandmother, and these folks are not competing at a snail's pace; they are challenging me, so I plan to run into my later years. I am going to run until I can't run anymore."