Before I had come to El Paso, I’d done the research on the longer distance races (half and longer) and when they were. There’s a half marathon in Las Cruces, New Mexico, on December 3. However, we might be going back to Illinois around that time (my sis-in-law is due late October with our nephew!) so I don’t want to commit to that race. The El Paso marathon is in February, but I just wasn’t sold on it. It looked like fun (and probably has free beer as it’s sponsored by Michelob) but again, just wasn’t feeling it.
I had heard about this race called the Bataan Memorial Death March that’s held in White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico. I scoffed and chuckled when I first heard about it… any 26.2-mile distance around here is a death march! I laughed at my ingenuity… until I realized that the race is actually to commemorate the horrific 85-mile march thousands of POW’s captured by the Japanese started on April 10, 1942 in Bataan, Philippines. Here’s some more history about the race itself.
Last week, like a good little voracious reader, I went to the nearest El Paso Public Library branch and got my card. I’ve been on a war/history/non-fiction kick lately, what with reading War by Sebastian Junger. (It should be known that I was hooked to books on war since my mom gave me Killer Angels by Michael Shaara.)
So I checked out a few books, including Bataan Death March: A Survivor’s Account by Lt. Col. William Dyess. I started reading it and have been blown away by this part of the war that I personally tend to forget about. Pearl Harbor is about as far as my knowledge goes when it comes to the Pacific theater of World War II.
I did some research on the race and came to find out that it’s on March 25, 2012. Chances are good that Aaron will be able to do this one with me, and he’ll probably carry the heavy ruck (35 lbs). Me? Well, I’ll be carrying whatever I need to get through 26.2 of sand, wind, hills and desert sun.
For once, I’m not interested in this race for a PR. This is a big step mentally for me. I’m always competing with myself, but this is one race where my time is not my goal. The site says that 25% of runners fall out due to injury or inadequate preparation.
So… that means there will be marathon training for the marathon training. I’d like to get a leg up on weight lifting, cross training, and a few long runs, and then in November really hit the pavement hard. Training will include long hikes in the Franklin Mountains and runs up Transmountain Road.
Reading about war really makes me look at my life with gratefulness… I have freedoms because of these valiant soldiers who put their lives on the line. In reality, what’s 26.2 miles compared to the 361 days Lt. Col. Dyess spent in captivity? Not a whole lot, but at least it’s something.