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445th Reservist, siblings complete AF Marathon

  • Published
  • By Stacy Vaughn
  • 445th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
The day finally came that he and his siblings were anticipating - Sept. 15, 2012, the day of the Air Force Marathon. Tech. Sgt. Joseph Valenzuela, 445th Aeromedical Evacuation Squadron, and his sisters, Master Sgt. Jackie Duarte, 548th Operations Support Squadron, Beale Air Force Base, Calif., and Juliet Valenzuela, an Air Force veteran now living in Florida, have been preparing for this day over the last nine months.

The trio was among the 3,297 runners that completed the full marathon. The top finisher completed the race in 2 hours, 28 minutes, 58 seconds.

Joseph completed the marathon in 4:15, just 15 minutes short of his goal of 4 hours.

"Running in the Air Force Marathon was a great experience and certainly was an accomplishment to finish the race. Even though I fell short of my goal, it was a tremendous accomplishment on my part having never run a marathon in the past," Joseph said.

During the run, Joseph said having people cheer on the runners at various locations made a difference.

"I had cramped up really bad during the race. In my mind I kept telling myself, 'One more mile. One more mile,' to keep moving on. It was truly an exciting memorable moment. When I crossed the finish line, I was proud that I had finished. Just before I crossed, I heard a huge cheer from my father that just enlightened my heart," Joseph said.

Juliet had a different take on running the marathon. She finished alongside Jackie in 4:40:00. They beat their goal by running under 5 hours.

"I was nervous at first but once I started the run, it seemed like the miles were passing by so fast. The cool temperature felt wonderful and I didn't even break a sweat as I did when training in Florida where the average temperature was in the 90s," Juliet said.

Jackie said during the run when there were quiet moments, she said her mind was mostly blank, as if she was asleep, but running. She was flooded with emotions when running across the finish line.

"I felt pride and excitement when I crossed that finish line. I was also relieved that it was done and that I met my goal," Jackie said.

The two sisters helped each other make it to the finish line.

"I hit 'the wall' about mile 22 and didn't know if I was going to be able to finish running. It was my sister's encouragement and prayer that the pain in my knees subsided and I was able to push through to the end," Jackie said.

Jackie said she met some familiar faces during the run.

"I ran into at least five people I've worked with in my military career, to include an old commander."

Joseph said he's considering running in next year's Air Force Marathon. He's focusing on running in the 1/2 marathon with his father, Oscar, who was also inspired to run after seeing his three children participate.

"My advice for future first time marathoners is to train appropriately. Do your research and find the right running program that meets your goals. Commit to that goal and you yourself will cross that finish line," Joseph said.

Jackie feels she may not run in next year's full marathon but may consider running in the half marathon.

"I want to get faster at the half before running another full marathon. Running under four hours for a full marathon is an ideal goal. If I get to that prior to 'falling apart' (you know, joints giving out and such) then I'll sign up for more marathons. I definitely plan to participate in other running events and even another triathlon," Jackie said.

Juliet is undecided if she will run in the marathon next year. She plans to take a break from running to let her body relax, heal and to focus on her graduate degree and her job.

"Train, train, train. I felt great running and recovered quickly because my body was conditioned for the marathon," Juliet added.

"Believe in yourself regardless of your current conditions. Set the goal and just go do what needs to be done to train. You have to want it if you're going to be successful and not let anything get in your way from accomplishing it," Jackie said.