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Lacing up: Finding your 'WooHoo' moment

KEESLER AIR FORCE BASE, Miss. -- For those who run with me, they know I can get a bit noisy. A celebratory "WooHoo" is a must at the start of taking any hill. The drumbeat of sneakers on the pavement, labored breaths, hair in the wind, and pouring sweat in the darkness of early morning is the ultimate "me" moment. Does this get any better?  Yes, add music, and the mild-mannered run turns into a runner's high!

What started out as a quest to maintain military fitness, turned into a passion and is now a way of daily life for me. I struggled with my first Fit to Fight test, barely squeaking by. Now years later, I have improved in all measured areas of the F2F test. This year was my best time ever (14:01-thanks to my outstanding pacer!)  Now 25 pounds lighter, two half-marathons and a 15K later--I'm addicted!  Thankfully, this addiction requires zero treatment. Now don't get me wrong, I still have to work hard at being "fast" but I can run 16 miles at a 12-minute pace without batting an eye!

Running provides me that rare avenue to step away from life's many distractions. In the early morning hours, I prep my mind and mood for the day ahead--thinking, strategizing, and problem-solving. Of late, it's where I reflect on the way ahead for the 403d Mission Support Group, to find inspiration, and even divine guidance.

Not unlike the thrill of taking a hill, I'm finding my "WooHoo" moments with my team. Together, we are looking at the gaps, identifying problems, and fixing broken glass. With a winning attitude, we are leaning forward. It's rewarding to see how the drumbeat of feet in unison is building momentum, as positive change is taking root.

Our daily lives are filled with numerous stressors. Over time it can take a toll and can lead to significant health consequences. Exercise helps blow off steam, lift your mood, and yeah, helps you get in better shape. I have yet to find anything more therapeutic than the sound of my heart beats recovering from a long run. I keep running when it's hard, when it hurts, even when I want to quit. Call it what you want--determination, guts, stubbornness. All I know is that it's worth it in the end.

I encourage each of you to find those "WooHoo" moments, whether it's a physical, mental, spiritual, social, or professional challenge. As the saying goes, "Strength doesn't come from what you can do; it comes from overcoming the things you once thought you couldn't."