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Racers' Tails
SSG Anthony Garrison

Hello, my name is SSG Anthony Garrison.  I am a supply sergeant in the United States Army stationed at Fort Bragg, North Carolina.  It's no secret that everybody runs in the Army.  We do physical training 5 days a week but each unit varies their running program. 

We RARELY run more than 4 miles because of time constraints and work call formations.  However, there are some stereotypes out there, like when I found out in March of '97 that I was on assignment to the 82nd Airborne Division.  I thought "Airborne, these guys probably run their butts off!"  So I set out on my first run in that month and have kept a running log ever since. 

I started out on the treadmill every day running 3 miles in 22:30.  Every day I would go to the gym and do the same thing.  Then I progressed to 4 miles, 5 miles and so on.  Then on the 4th of July I entered my first race.  It was the Firecracker 5K.  I didn't place, but the feeling I got when I ran competitively was awesome. 

I started keeping a scrapbook with all my bib numbers and collecting racing T-shirts.  When I first started out in March of '97 I thought that a 10K race was so long.  I was thinking "Who would ever want to run that far and as fast as they can?" 

My first 10K was in October of that year and I ran a pleasing 49:12.  Then I decided to tackle a marathon.  That was my goal in life.  I started reading about running and I changed my workouts, concentrating on speed and endurance now. 

I went to Ft. Bragg on 9 Jan '98, and I was right.  We usually ran 5 - 7 miles instead of the maximum of 4 at my other unit.  The 1SG (First Sergeant) would take us out and run us to lactic threshold every single day.  In the beginning I was always in the back, huffing and puffing.  But now I am always in the front, and my most recent 10K time was 44:44, over 4 minutes better than my 1st 10K race! 

Being stationed in the 82nd Airborne Division is very unique, and it demands a lot out of you.  Frequent deployments make it difficult to train for a marathon.  I kept running but was unable to keep up with it long enough to stay in shape for a marathon.  I was deployed twice in '99; each averaged 34 days.  But I finally told myself that this was the life of a paratrooper in the 82nd, and if I wanted it bad enough (running my first marathon), then I was going to have to squeeze in my training somehow. 

I got back from my last deployment on the 25th of October '99 and immediately started running.  I entered my first 1/2 marathon in November and ran a 1:54.  I was happy to be under 2 hours.  I then saw a marathon coming up in January in Charlotte, so I decided that that would be the one.  I upped my training and mileage to about 40 miles a week and ran the 25 degree marathon in 4:25.33.  I was exhilarated. It was one of the greatest feelings I have ever felt.  (And this is coming from a guy who jumps out of planes for a living). 

It just takes so much time, dedication, and discipline to finish that, to me, it is a heck of a feat.  No, my time wasn't fast, but I made it. I ran 26.2 miles and finished a marathon.  Now, here I am signed up for my second marathon in 5 months!  My family is from Chillicothe, so as soon as I finish this marathon I am driving down to see my mom for Mother's Day.  I am really looking forward to running in Cincinnati and the feeling I will have when I finish my 2nd Marathon!

SSG Anthony Garrison