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My Public Affairs

Running at BAF

January 19th is about 11 weeks away. That’s the day I’ll run the St. George Half.

So I’m getting ready now. Just as I ran in five months ago in southern Afghanistan, I’m hitting the road here in the north, at BAF.

It’s colder here. Much. We are further north, and higher. And nearing winter. I’ve heard it’s brutal here. That’s when the Taliban stops fighting. I heard that too.

I start out at my barracks, on Disney drive. Head north following a route I’ve measured by car. There are not many people out, maybe because of the cold, maybe because the gym is nicer here.

Disney is a main road, the mainest there is here, so I have to be careful of vehicular traffic. Don’t worry, I’m all properly regulated up with my reflective belt and eye pro. But I still violate the order to refrain from wearing headphones, though I’m less conspicuous about it here.

Roberts Gates drones on in my ears. Not the real Robert Gates, but the one who plays him in the audio version of . It’s a good book, but not good enough to read. So I listen. Tonight he’s talking about his budget fights with OMB and the White House.

There is nearly no even ground to run on here. It’s flat enough, but the gravel is the two-inch variety, like ll the quarter-inch is designated for construction. So I have to negotiate the terrain, with the giant spots casting dagger shadows at my feet.

I run by the Korean hospital. I haven’t seen any Koreans here, but I imagine this place bustling with personnel from dozens of nations a few years ago, scurrying about with an intensity and urgency that we probably wouldn’t recognize now. It seems like the world has forgotten about the war. It’s just as well. If it was in the headlines every day, life would probably be miserable for us.

I loop around the fuel point and the wash rack a second time. BAF is different from KAF in a lot of ways. There’s a different vibe here, one that I can’t precisely describe. I guess it’s like going to a different state. Geographically, it’s obvious. There are mountains all around. I don’t see them at night, but the cold air reminds me where I am.

Used to think that running any more than five miles at a time was a major health risk, that the human body just wasn’t designed for it. In September I ran the Army 10-Miler, and I survived. Actually, it felt pretty good. I thought at the time that I could probably do another three miles without doing too much long-term damage. The half marathon is on, then. In January. In the warmer weather of St. George.

It’s going to be a challenge physically: 27 miles a week for the next month. But the challenges compound several weeks from now when we head home. Will I be able to keep up the regimen at home? In December? In Salt Lake? It’s going to be cold, icy, and easy to get distracted doing the things that people who aren’t deployed do. I forget what those things are, but they’ll come back to me.

At any rate, thousands of other people do it every day. I’ll meet some of them in January. Let’s hope I’ll be ready.



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