By U.S. Air Force Staff Sgt. Dillon Davis, 161st Air Refueling Wing Public Affairs
/ Published May 09, 2018
Goldwater Air National Guard Base, Ariz. -- Excellence runs deep at the 161st Air Refueling Wing here, and recently a member the unit made their way to Boston to participate in the city’s world-renowned marathon event.
Master Sgt. Dan Martin, NCO in charge of refueling for the 161st Logistics Readiness Squadron, began his story years ago when he started setting and realizing his personal fitness goals.
“I guess you could say that I came from a family of runners,” said Martin. He also mentioned that “My parents have both been runners and my brother and sister are both into running races too. I even ran track in high school, but I didn’t really get into running until about seven or eight years ago.”
Martin may have come from a family of runners, however, he wasn’t always training for and competing in races.
“Before that I was doing a lot of weight lifting and trying to put on muscle, and then, with encouragement from my sister, I decided to switch it up and try running my first marathon,” Martin said. “I mistakenly didn’t train as hard as I should have, and I didn’t really do that well and I felt terrible after the race. So then, I decided to get more serious about training for the next marathon.”
He kept moved forward with more training, preparing for his second marathon. After the second marathon, he really got into the rhythm of things.
With two marathons under his belt, Martin, along with inspiration from his siblings, set his sights on his next goal. He was determined to improve his marathon run time in order to qualify for the prestigious Boston Marathon.
“My sister has actually qualified and run in the Boston Marathon twice and my brother qualified for this year’s Boston Marathon, which really motivated me to qualify and run the race with him,” said Martin.
He knew that in order to qualify for the 2018 Boston Marathon, he would have to complete a qualifying marathon the year before. That is when he made the decision to improve his run time at the 2017 Phoenix Marathon.
Knowing that he would have to cut a big chunk of time off of his previous marathon time, Martin hit the ground running, literally.
“I worked really hard during training for the Phoenix Marathon to ensure that I could qualify for the Boston Marathon,” explained Martin. “I ran six days a week for about 60 total miles each week. For two days, I would do speed runs. On one day of each week, I would do a long run ranging from 11-24 miles. For the remaining days I would do medium-length runs that were about five or six miles. I stayed on this plan for 16 weeks to condition my body for long distance running.”
The nearly four months of rigorous training made a sizable impact on his marathon performance and really demonstrates Martin’s commitments to achieving his goals. Before the Phoenix Marathon his best marathon time was 3 hours, 30 minutes so he had to shave off at least 20 minutes in order to qualify the Boston Marathon.
“I felt like the hardest part of training was just getting started each day, but once I was in the run I felt great and I felt even better as my training went on. Motivating yourself to get up and start the run is the most challenging part each day, but once you get in the rhythm, your body adjusts and it gets easier as you go.”
All of Martin’s hard work had paid off in February of 2017 during the Phoenix Marathon when he completed the course in three hours and one minute qualifying him for the Boston marathon.
With almost nine minutes to spare, Martin not only met his target time, but exceeded it. He had successfully conquered the laborious task of qualifying for the Boston Marathon. With his qualifying time posted and his application for the entry to the Boston Marathon approved, Martin shifted his focus to training for the next race.
“I prepared pretty much the same way I did for the Phoenix Marathon,” said Martin.
Martin spent another quarter-year running along roadways, waterways, and parks in the phoenix area in preparation for the big day in Boston. He knew that he had already qualified for the event, but he still went through his training program to keep himself in tip-top shape so he could fully enjoy his next adventure.
“For me, just qualifying for the Boston Marathon was my big victory. I knew that I wasn’t running the race to requalify for next year’s race, so I set out to just enjoy the experience while still running a respectable time.”
On April 16, 2018, Martin and nearly 28,000 other participants, lined up in the 36 degree wind and rain to run in the 2018 Boston Marathon. For Martin, it was finally the day he had been working so hard throughout the previous years.
“I didn’t know exactly what to expect going in,” Martin added. “My sister, who has run the marathon twice, was telling me to just enjoy the run which is why I didn’t go out there and push myself too hard. I had never been to Boston before so I really just wanted to go out and really have fun. I ended up finishing the Boston Marathon in 3 hours, 25 minutes, 22 seconds, which was a little slower than my goal time. It wasn’t really bad considering it was 36 degrees, pouring rain and strong headwinds, the overall average time for all runners was about 15 minutes slower than normal.”
Martin’s training and preparation carried him through the 26.2 miles in some seriously inclement conditions. Although the weather was fierce, he still managed to find positive experiences and enjoyed the unique setting in which the Boston Marathon creates.
“The craziest part of running the course, compared to other races I’ve run, was that there were crowds lined up along the entire way cheering for everyone,” exclaimed Martin. “It was really cool to see the huge amount of people that were out there to support the run. Even with the terrible weather conditions people lined the streets to hand out water and oranges. The race started on the outside of Boston in smaller towns, and I made my closer into the city, the crowds grew bigger and bigger all the way up until the finish line right in the heart of Boston where there is a massive crowd of people cheering.”
The Boston Marathon is truly a unique experience and for Martin it has helped create new goals for his running future.
“After running the Boston Marathon, I want to run some other marathons, but it’s hard to say where I might go next,” said Martin. “Some of the other big marathons are in New York, Chicago, London and Berlin, but it is hard say what my next move will be right now. I just want to keep running races because it is really satisfying to set new goals and go out and achieve them.”
Martin has been immersed in training for and competing in marathons for years now. He has put loads of effort and sweat into his passion. From his experience he has offered some advice to others that may be interested in trying their hand in running races.
“To anyone who wants to start running races, it’s really not as difficult to get started. You can start smaller with five kilometer races, and move up to 10 kilometer races and just keep going until you’re where you want to be.” Said Martin “Once you put in the large amount of time and effort into training, it’s really not that hard to run a full marathon.”
As an Airman and leader at the 161st, Martin’s commitment and perseverance serves as inspiration to others to pursue excellence in all they do.