Thursday, November 15, 2012

2011 Bataan Memorial Death March Marathon

I participated in my second Bataan March yesterday.  Such an amazing experience.  This year was special because I was running in Honor and Memory of Lt. Col. Arden Boellner.  He was my second grade teacher, Jody Alpers, grandfather.  He served in the Philippines, was surrendered to the Japanese, was imprisoned in horrible POW camps for 3 1/2 years, and was killed on a Japanese Hellship.  Researching his story and reading the book his daughter wrote about him was very touching!

Jody, her husband, Greg, and her sister, Marty came to watch and support me.  Along with Brian and my Parents, I felt I had quite the cheering team!


The Windy March:
The theme of the weekend was windy.  I will try not to use "windy" as an adjective for everything, just know that it is implied.  I was one of over 6400 participants from all 50 states and 5 other countries!  We waited in the dark and windy cold for the moving opening ceremonies and then finally the starters gun.  I left the start line and started my running of 3 minutes walk for 1 minute.  I felt good and was starting to get warmed up.  I was able to toss my sweatshirt around mile 1.  I went to take a picture with my small digital camera that I was carrying and it wouldn't work.  I forgot to put a memory card in and it had used it's internal memory to take the few I got before the start.  I didn't want to carry a useless camera, so I gave it to a police officer to put in lost and found for me.  Bummer, no pics on the actual march.  :(

I was warm enough to take off my gloves around mile 5.  It was still windy.  I continued my 3/1s until mile 7 when the course turned into the wind.  Until then it had been a side wind and wasn't as brutal as facing it head on turned out to be.  I gave up running and just walked.  About this time I really started feeling bad, the details are not important (aka too much information).  I was finally warm enough to take my yoga pants off that I had on under my running skirt at mile 8.  I tried running some after that, but mile 9 is where it starts going uphill for 4 miles, no flats, no downhills.  Straight uphill for 4 long miles.  It was still windy. I mostly walked until mile 12 where I finally sought help with a medic at the aid station and got some medicine.  It kicked in around mile 13 and I was feeling much better!

I was worried that once I stopped running I wouldn't be able to start again.  But shortly after mile 13 it turns to rolling hills and so I started running downhill or switching to 1 minute running 3 walking.  After I did that for about a mile, I decided to try going back to 3/1 and was able to do it!  I continued with that pace back downhill.  It was still windy.  Around mile 20 I started passing, getting passed, and passing a team of National Guard members from Iowa.  They were run/walking too.  One time we were walking together and the leader said "Engines on!" at the same time my watch beeped telling me it was time to run, so I started running with them.  We chatted a bit while walking and stuck together for the next 4 miles.  It was really helpful to have them to pace me during the Sand Pit.  We all just walked it, but I probably would have done it slower if not for them.  The sand pit wasn't as bad as I remember.  I know that I was much better trained than last time, but the pit can change due to moister or lack of, so I don't know if it was me or if it wasn't as soft and hard to navigate as last time.  It was still windy.

Around mile 24 my watched beeped to run, but their leader didn't signal for them to run (turns out he was fighting some bad blisters).  So I said goodbye and ran as often as I could but not for 3 minutes every time.  You get to the base before mile 25 and then have to run around the perimeter for almost 2 miles.  It's deceiving and brutal, because you feel like you should be at the finish every time you turn a corner.  Even though I knew that to be the case from my last march, it still bothered me!  I ran the last .2 miles and it was so great to run in knowing that Brian and my cheering squad would be there!  It was still windy.

Me at the finish this year was a whole other person than me at the finish 2 years ago.  I was able to thank and talk with the survivors that were at the finish.  I then walked around, got something to eat, drank a beer.  Checked in lost in found for my camera.  The point is - I was walking around.  ZERO blisters!  Yes, I was tired, but the lack of blisters made a huge difference from 2 years ago!  And finally, now that I was done, the wind died down.  Are you kidding me!  URG!!!  Oh, well, I had been prepared with my handkerchief to put over my mouth and nose (and I needed it) and only about 4 miles were straight into the wind.  It was just an additional challenge.  The Iowa boys finished strong about 13 minutes behind me.  They came in 2nd in their category!  I finished in 6:21:36.  Almost 2 hours faster than the last time.  Not that the time is even important.  this race is about the heroes of WWII, not me.  It was an honor to participate again!  I will try to do it every year!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

2012 Bataan Memorial Death March Marathon 3/25/12

So, I guess I should just re-name this blog "Kate's Bataan Posts".  That's the only thing I feel worthy of posts.  So here's the 2012 version.


The story really starts on November 22, 2011.  My mom, Mary, had seizures and was diagnosed with a very large brain tumor.  It was removed on December 5th and was benign.  However, spending most of 6 or 8 weeks in Lubbock with her in the hospital meant I wasn't training for Bataan.  It did allow my hip to heal up from the Duke City Marathon and when we all came home I started training for the Memorial March which is the shorter 14.2 mile portion of Bataan.


I ran again this year in Memory of Lt. Col. Arden Boellner.  Lt. Col. Boellner served in the Philippines, was surrendered to the Japanese, imprisoned in horrible POW camps for 3.5 years, and finally was killed on a Japanese Hellship (these were ships the Japanese transported POWs, but did not paint a red cross on, and were sadly bombed by American planes). His granddaughter, Jody Alpers and husband Greg, were also walking the Memorial March.  My friend, Laura volunteered to run with me.


In addition to Lt. Col. Boellner, I carried the following names of New Mexicans on a note and in my heart:

  • Tom Foy, Bataan survivor, passed away in 2011.  He went to school with my employer's father and was a lifelong friend of the Jennings.
  • Jose Gonzales, survived Bataan, but died on a Hellship.  He was my friend, Erlinda's uncle.
  • Telesfore & Jose Cordova, brothers who died in the March. They were my friend, Erlinda's uncles.
  • Alton Tice, Bataan survivor.  He was my friend, Peggy's Uncle.
  • Bill Blue, Bataan survivor.  Alton's friend.



As it is every year, it was a record crowd with over 6700 marchers including 30 Wounded Warriors!


The Bataan Survivors in attendance were: 

  • Sam Juan Antonio
  • Julio Barela
  • Harold Bergbower
  • Valdemar de Herrera
  • William Eldridge
  • Glenn Frazier
  • Oscar Leonard 
  • John Mims
  • Bill Overmier
  • Milton "Pete" Pearce
  • Dianicio Perez
  • Leonard Robinson
  • Ben Skardon (Mr. Skardon walked the first 8 miles for the fifth year!  At 94 years old!!)
  • Eugene Schmitz
  • Henry "Grady" Stanley
  • Richard Trask
Here are the pictures (some were from my parents camera - that's why you will see different angles):






Laura & I








Black Daggers Parachute Team








Wounded Warriors go first





Shaking hands with the survivors


Mr. John Mims - I love this man!  He gave me a kiss on the cheek and said "Love ya, do good!"

True heroes of different generations (photo credit army.mil)



My Mom on hand to cheer!

The area had several small snows this winter and the desert was covered with yellow wildflowers.  It made for a very pretty day.



Laura & I finished in 2:56!


Yay!!



Jody & Greg finishing



Greg, Marty, & Jody
Marty was so proud of her baby sister!  I'm sure their granddaddy was just as proud!


I do plan on doing this march every year.  It has so much meaning for me!  This quote was in an article I read about the March.  I think these are true words to live by.  As you talk to the remaining survivors, they have all forgiven the Japanese (something I have a hard time with).  


"I told my family what happen to me as a prisoner of war from the first day I got home, said Leonard Robinson, 93, a survivor of the Bataan Death March, who traveled from Casper, Wyo., to attend. 
"I want people to take away three things from my experience: first, you need to talk about it; second, have faith in God; and third, never hold a grudge; the things we go through in life are not worth holding on to and complaining - just live."

And a final picture that you just don't see in any other race:

Until next year....

Friday, April 8, 2011

Bataan Marathon before and after

I've had a few questions about how I trained and how the recovery went.

Training:
I started training for Bataan the last week of October.  I run 3 times a week.  Twice during the week and one long run on Saturdays.  The long runs build up during the course of training.  One month before Bataan I ran 23 miles, then I stared tapering down.  I put in ~250 miles of training before the marathon.  But, I had spent from March until October training for the Duke City Marathon where I logged 388 miles becoming a runner.

All these miles on my feet are why I had no blisters.  My feet knew how to take the pounding.  I had a few times that my hip began to hurt, but I have learned how to stretch that out with a foam roller and the pain goes away quickly.  I also had a few times on long runs that my calves really hurt, but then I discovered the compression socks you see in the pictures - they work miracles.  :)

Recovery:
I was sore for a few days after the marathon.  Especially after sitting at my desk for a while.  I would be very tight the first few steps, but after I walked it out, I would be fine.  I was very pleased at how well I felt.  By Thursday, I felt good enough to go for a slow, easy, short run.  Saturday, I started my training with my Galloway group in Artesia with a 3.5 mile run back at regular pace.  It was a great run!

A friend asked if I feel burned out from all the miles.  My honest answer is "NO".  I feel fresh and ready to run each time I go out.  If I don't feel great, I take a day off.  I am now training for a marathon in the fall.  Not sure which one yet, but I'm just happy to see all my running friends with the Galloway group each Saturday!  It was a long winter running by myself and I enjoy the company.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

2011 Bataan Memorial Death March Marathon 3/27/11

 
Tony Reyna
Grady Stanley
Glenn Frazier
John Mimms
Marty, Myself & Jody with our shirts to honor their grandfather. 

Dad, Mom, & I.
Pre-race
I didn't realize my fuelbelt would cover so much of the back.  :(

Ready to start!
NMMI had a group there.
Starting!  Getting my Garmin watch going.
Crossing the finish line!


Getting a kiss on the hand from John Mimms after finishing.
Best Bud Light I have ever tasted!

Marty, Myself, Jody, and Greg (Jody's husband).
My best friend and ultimate supporter, Brian!



I participated in my second Bataan March yesterday.  Such an amazing experience.  This year was special because I was running in Honor and Memory of Lt. Col. Arden Boellner.  He was my second grade teacher, Jody Alpers, grandfather.  He served in the Philippines, was surrendered to the Japanese, was imprisoned in horrible POW camps for 3 1/2 years, and was killed on a Japanese Hellship.  Researching his story and reading the book his daughter wrote about him was very touching!

Jody, her husband, Greg, and her sister, Marty came to watch and support me.  Along with Brian and my Parents, I felt I had quite the cheering team!

It was windy all weekend!  I hardly slept Friday night.  We hadn't unhooked our 5th Wheel from the pickup, so the supports weren't down and the wind kept me up most of the night.  We did unhook and put the supports down and it was better Saturday night, but I could still hear it howl and I was up from 2AM praying for it to die down for the March.  Those prayers were unanswered, maybe an extra challenge from God?

The Windy March:
I will try not to use "windy" as an adjective for everything, just know that it is implied.  I was one of over 6400 participants from all 50 states and 5 other countries!  We waited in the dark and windy cold for the moving opening ceremonies and then finally the starters gun.  I left the start line and started my running of 3 minutes walk for 1 minute.  I felt good and was starting to get warmed up.  I was able to toss my sweatshirt around mile 1.  I went to take a picture with my small digital camera that I was carrying and it wouldn't work.  I forgot to put a memory card in and it had used it's internal memory to take the few I got before the start.  I didn't want to carry a useless camera, so I gave it to a police officer to put in lost and found for me.  Bummer, no pics on the actual march.  :(  

I was warm enough to take off my gloves around mile 5.  It was still windy.  I continued my 3/1s until mile 7 when the course turned into the wind.  Until then it had been a side wind and wasn't as brutal as facing it head on turned out to be.  I gave up running and just walked.  About this time I really started feeling bad, the details are not important (aka too much information).  I was finally warm enough to take my yoga pants off that I had on under my running skirt at mile 8.  I tried running some after that, but mile 9 is where it starts going uphill for 4 miles, no flats, no downhills.  Straight uphill for 4 long miles.  It was still windy. I mostly walked until mile 12 where I finally sought help with a medic at the aid station and got some medicine.  It kicked in around mile 13 and I was feeling much better!

There were several times that I really got tired, but all I had to do was remember the note I was carrying from Arden's daughter, Betty, that said he would be with me "every step, every heartbeat" and I would instantly have renewed strength.  I read it several times during the March.  It meant so much to have that note with me!

I was worried that once I stopped running I wouldn't be able to start again.  But shortly after mile 13 it turns to rolling hills and so I started running downhill or switching to 1 minute running 3 walking.  After I did that for about a mile, I decided to try going back to 3/1 and was able to do it!  I continued with that pace back downhill.  It was still windy.  Around mile 20 I started passing, getting passed, and passing a team of National Guard members from Iowa.  They were run/walking too.  One time we were walking together and the leader said "Engines on!" at the same time my watch beeped telling me it was time to run, so I started running with them.  We chatted a bit while walking and stuck together for the next 4 miles.  It was really helpful to have them to pace me during the Sand Pit.  We all just walked it, but I probably would have done it slower if not for them.  The sand pit wasn't as bad as I remember.  I know that I was much better trained than last time, but the pit can change due to moister or lack of, so I don't know if it was me or if it wasn't as soft and hard to navigate as last time.  It was still windy.

Around mile 24 my watched beeped to run, but their leader didn't signal for them to run (turns out he was fighting some bad blisters).  So I said goodbye and ran as often as I could but not for 3 minutes every time.  You get to the base before mile 25 and then have to run around the perimeter for almost 2 miles.  It's deceiving and brutal, because you feel like you should be at the finish every time you turn a corner.  Even though I knew that to be the case from my last march, it still bothered me!  I ran the last .2 miles and it was so great to run in knowing that Brian and my cheering squad would be there!  It was still windy, but I had FINISHED!!!!

Me at the finish this year was a whole other person than me at the finish 2 years ago.  I was able to thank and talk with the survivors that were at the finish.  I then walked around, got something to eat, drank a beer.  Checked in lost in found for my camera.  The point is - I was walking around.  ZERO blisters and no chaffing from backpacks or shirt seams!  Yes, I was tired, but the lack of blisters made a huge difference from 2 years ago!  And finally, now that I was done, the wind died down.  Are you kidding me?  URG!!!  Oh, well, I had been prepared with my handkerchief to put over my mouth and nose (and I needed it) and only about 4 miles were straight into the wind.  It was just an additional challenge.  The Iowa boys finished strong about 13 minutes behind me.  They came in 2nd in their category!  I finished in 6:21:36.  Almost 2 hours faster than the last time.  Not that the time is even important.  This race is about the heroes of WWII, not me.  It was an honor to participate again!  I will try to do it every year!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

2009 Bataan Memorial Death March

29 March 2009 White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico
20th Annual Bataan Memorial Death March

I did not know what to expect from the marathon even though different people had told me about it. What I didn't expect was to think immediately afterwards, despite the pain, "I can't wait to do it again next year!".

So here's the story...
I woke up at five AM after a restless nights sleep. I was full of nervous anticipation. My sister was so anxious she was feeling ill. It was my sister, seven friends, and I. (Sherry McAllister, Aysia Pirtle, Keri Pirtle, Tammy McVaugh, Suzy Head, Jimmy Head, Jeff Head, & Alan Franzoy) Molly, my friend and training partner from D&D, had a death in the family and was unable to attend. We stood in the dark with over 5,300 participants from every state, territory, and many countries around the world waiting for dawn and the start of the race.
The opening ceremonies were held under a giant American Flag waving proudly in the early morning breeze. Director of the Army Staff Lt. David H. Huntoon, Jr. set the perfect stage for what the day would be about. He said, "This march is an uncommon marathon because it speaks to all of us about the things that truly matter...This march is about the selfless service today of our Armed Forces and our allies, who stand a collective watch around the world for the principles of freedom, protecting our right to assemble here in this peaceful place by their presence in the dangerous places. Finally, this march speaks most importantly to the courage and the sacrifice of the brave Americans and Filipinos, who suffered a terrible ordeal of the Bataan Death March in April, 1942."

The opening ceremonies included a flyover of F-22 Raptors from Holloman Air Force Base, a stirring rendition of the National Anthem, and roll call honoring the 13 Bataan survivors who were in attendance along with the 24 Wounded Warriors participating in the March. This left me with the biggest case of goose bumps that I have ever had and they had nothing to do with the cool temperature.
As we walked toward the start line we had the privilege of meeting and shaking hands with the Bataan survivors in attendance and other WWII veterans. I was not prepared for how happy and excited these great men were. You would have thought each and every one who shook their hands were handing them a check for a million dollars. I said “Thank you for your service,” to one gentleman and he replied, “Thank you for honoring me here today.” That was all the motivation I needed to get through the day: knowing that one man who had made such huge sacrifices for me, was honored that we were all here.

Due to us stopping to talk and navigating the crowd, our group of nine got separated into two groups. My sister, two of my friends, and I walked together for the first mile. My sister’s nerves were calming down enough for her to start running after the first mile. One friend had to use the restroom at the first rest stop just before mile two. There were about 100 people in line! These friends were only going to walk the half marathon, so I went out on my own to catch up to the other friends that were walking the whole marathon. I then started jogging from mile two to mile four as much as I could to catch up. Let me state this fact: I am not a runner and never have been. I was ready to die by the time I caught up to their group. I then found out that they had planned on greeting the veterans at the finish line, that’s why they were so far ahead.

I had trained once with this group and they were fast walkers, just like me. However, keeping the fast pace after jogging was killing me. Every two miles there were volunteers handing out water, Gatorade, oranges, and bananas. This was the much need fuel I needed to try to keep their pace. This became more and more challenging as we started the five mile uphill climb around a small mountain. By mile twelve, I could not continue at their pace. I had to say goodbye and go alone.

I turned up the music on my iPod and set out at my own pace. I knew I had over done it by jogging. My heart felt like it was about to explode and I was barely moving. I stopped a few times to get rocks out of my shoes between mile twelve and mile thirteen. This mile was the hardest of the entire day. It took everything I had to keep my feet moving. I even wondered if I was going to have to get help and be taken off the mountain by the rescue guys on ATVs. Each time I stopped several people would ask if I was okay, did I need a band-aid, did I have water, etc. I knew that if I really started to have trouble, I wouldn’t have to wait for an ATV to be helped. I finally made it to mile thirteen – halfway! I stopped along with a group of soldiers to rest, change socks, have a snack, and try to talk myself into some confidence. I asked one of the soldiers to take my picture, at least I would have proof I had made it halfway. They must have been reluctant to get back on the trail too, because they then asked me to take a picture of their group – with seven different cameras! This killed some time and my heart no longer felt ready to explode with every beat. I got back on the trail.
Much to my surprise, I felt great! Mile thirteen starts the downhill part of the mountain, but it’s not all downhill – it’s up and down, up and down. But I was back to my fast walking pace and doing fine.

At the rest area at mile fifteen, I had the opportunity to meet and talk more with several of the Veterans in attendance. I was honored to have my picture taken with Cpl. Lloyd R. Hackenberg. Lloyd was awarded the Bronze Star and Purple Heart along more medals than I could count during his service in WWII. He even gave me his address and I look forward to writing my new friend and sending him a copy of the picture.
Right after mile sixteen, I was looking down and saw a tube of EsteĆ© Lauder lip-gloss. It was just lying there and didn’t even look like it had been stepped on. I knew this was my sister’s! Before the start of the race, I had to move it out of the way in her emergency kit so that she could test her inhaler. I picked it up and surprised her with it at the end. She said she was so sad when she realized she’d lost it. It was crazy that I had found it.
I got to chat with so many great people from all over the country as we walked together. This camaraderie and encouragement was so uplifting. Everyone was happy to help each other. It was very strange how you would see someone walking at mile two then again miles later. The wind had begun to pick up around mile fourteen, but it was just enough to keep you from frying in the hot sun. There was a woman who passed me at one point and she was braiding her hair to try to keep it from flying everywhere in the wind. I then passed her later and she was still struggling with her hair. I turned around, took my hair tie out since I also had my hat to keep my hair back and gave it to her. She was so thankful. That was the spirit of the day – help however you can.

I had a couple of small blisters around mile ten. I applied moleskin and hoped for the best. Around mile nineteen, the combination of moleskin and swelling feet had made my shoes feel a little tight and I was getting several more blisters. They didn’t hurt enough to stop and get professional treatment at one of the rest areas. I just kept working on them myself and turned down help from the medical volunteers. Each new piece of moleskin seemed to make a new blister somewhere else.

I was still feeling good, despite the blisters. Then I hit mile twenty: close to one mile of deep sand. It’s a dry arroyo with ankle deep, rocky sand. I knew this was going to be there and that it would be hard, but I didn’t know what an energy killer it would be. I didn’t know how to train for this, and I’m not sure if any training I would have done would have prepared me. I had such a difficult time. No exercise can make your legs burn like this sand did.
After the sand, the blisters were really starting to hurt. I had decided to ask for help at the aid station at mile twenty-two. They wanted me to sign in and fill out some forms before they could re-bandage my blisters. I decided to pass and re-bandaged them myself. This made them feel better and I kept walking.

Mile twenty-four was special because besides the normal fruit and drinks, they had volunteers from Children Youth and Family Services there with trail mix and cookies. The kids also had made signs of encouragement and cheered you on for the next half mile!

During the opening ceremonies, Army Brig. Gen. David L. Mann called this event “a living history lesson that will not just test your endurance, but make you think.” From mile twenty-four to the end I did a lot of thinking. I thought about how hard the day was, but how little it actually compared to the unbearable six days that the POWs were forced to walk 80 – 100 miles while being deprived of food, water, restroom breaks and medical care all at the threat of being shot or bayoneted for falling behind. Imagining what they went through, along with the sense of accomplishment, the kid’s signs of encouragement, and fatigue made me quite emotional the last few miles.

Those last two miles were quite frustrating. We were walking on the outside perimeter of the base housing which was a zigzag of what seemed like never-ending cement block wall. Every corner you were hoping to see the finish line, but all you saw was another corner. With about three-quarters of a mile to go spectators had lined the route and were cheering you on. Finally, with about a tenth of a mile to go I could finally see the finish line! I ran that last part and was so proud to see my family and friends cheering for me. I finished in 8:18:06.

Another quote from Brig. Gen. Mann rang true at the end of the day. He said, “Whatever your reason for participating you will leave here a changed person.” This was an incredible experience that I will never forget!


Call me crazy, but next year I’m going to run!