Chaplain’s thoughts …

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“Running for resilience”

Running has been my lifetime adventure. I’ve run well over 4,000 miles since the age of 13. I didn’t always enjoy it and quit honestly, I didn’t think I was good until a track coach saw potential in a scrawny, lanky 8th grader.  My coach made me run the two mile. I didn’t want to run it; I cried as I was on the starting line.  But when the gun went off, I ran and broke the high school record. That’s when I knew, I loved to run.

Joining the Air Force has allowed me many great opportunities.  Some may think I am crazy because I love to run, but what others loath, I need, not only for my physical health but also my emotional well-being.  Life is fast.  So much happens to us during our lifetime, good and bad. Running helps clarify my intensions. It builds mental toughness as I challenge myself to push further, when fatigue shows its nasty face to falter my abilities.  Time is something we never get back; so, I put on some running clothes, wrap a colorful bandana around my head and hit the road.

Awhile back, I almost lost my ability to run.  I had four bad ankle sprains in a span of four years and my ligaments were not as resilient as my heart. Since running is the core of my being, I was terrified at the thought of losing part of my identity.  Luckily, I met a surgeon who was encouraging and told me he could fix me up; I believed him!  Recovery was a long, hard road physically and mentally. It took six months of gradual progression before I was able run. Those first miles were slow and challenging. I couldn’t have done it without the sacrifice and support of my husband, the gifted hands of my surgeon, faith in myself and my God. 

Just under two years after my recovery, I joined one of my Cross Country teammates for the Allstate Hot Chocolate 5K in Scottsdale.  It scared me to run against an old team-mate. She was a tyrant who loved to tease me. When the gun went off, it was like old times … until my iPod fell out of my pocket and I had to turn around to retrieve it. The thousands of runners kept coming. I had to fight my way through the crowed.  I thought, “Darn, she’s going to beat me, I won’t be able to catch her,” but I did. After I completed my race, I turned to cheer her on as she finished. I’m proud of the women we have become. After all, it’s not often two runners can still finish within seconds apart after two decades.

Here’s to the many miles to be run in 2019 and beyond. May your legs be swift, let your heartbeat train your mind to carry you through the dark and light times in life. 

To talk with a chaplain or religious affairs Airmen about how to build resilience in your life, call 623-856-6211.

Courtesy of Master Sgt. Melissa Gavin
56th Fighter Wing Chaplain Corps superintendent