ChiRunning at the Air Force Marathon
It all started when we decided to have a ChiRunning booth at the 115th running of the Boston Marathon in 2011. I figured, “Well, if I’m going to be there working anyway, I might as well be running in the race.” So, I started looking for a race to run as a qualifier for Boston. I had heard that Boston closed out last year in October so I didn’t want to press my luck and wait for one of the big fall events like Chicago Marathon or the New York Marathon. I saw that the Air Force Marathon was in September, so I went for it, and I’m glad I did. All I needed was a sub-4-hour marathon to qualify. Age has its advantages.
The Air Force Marathon folks gave us a booth at the Expo so we gathered a team of Chi Runners and made a full running weekend of it. We had a very successful Expo and introduced the ChiRunning tehcnique to lots of runners.
I’d have to say that it is one of the most well-organized and well-supported marathons I’ve ever been to. I also loved running the course. At first I was afraid that the course would be too flat for me, since I’d much rather be running hills than flats. But it had just the right mix of hills and flats to keep my legs very happy. Surprisingly, there were many nice shaded sections of the course and the temperature was perfect (as long as you finished before 11:00am) with a light, cool breeze constantly wiping the sweat from my face.
I ran with a pace group, which I highly recommend. Our pacer, Dave, was fabulous and did a great job of cheering everyone on…especially during the difficult sections. We were shooting for a 3:40 marathon time and I was able to run a 3:39:44 (2nd in my AG) with some energy still left in the tank. Thank you Dave and the rest of the pace group for the great jokes, the conversation, and your encouraging company.
I also participated in a couple of panel discussions with a few folks you might recognize… Amby Burfoot (editor-at-large for Runner’s World), Bill Rodgers (4-time Boston winner, 4-time NYC winner) and Dr. Mark Cucuzzella (ChiRunning technique instructor-in-training, family doc, USAF Lt. Colonel, owner of the first-ever minimal-running-shoe-only running store and 2:35 marathoner). It was a pleasure to finally meet Amby after hearing his name for the past 30 years.
If you’re looking for a great marathon to qualify for Boston, I’d highly recommend the Air Force Marathon. Everything about it was top-notch and it’s the fastest growing marathon in the U.S.
Many thanks to all the volunteers, staff that made it such a wonderful weekend for the 12,000 happy runners that ran the 5K, 10K, Half Marathon and Marathon.
I must also say that it was quite an amazing experience to start a marathon with the fly-by of a B-52!