For 25-year-old 1st Lt. Lauryn Thomas, running is more than just a hobby. She has trained very hard, and with the help and support of a running group at Scott Air Force Base, “The Road Warriors,” she ran the 2015 Chicago Marathon in 3:28, qualifying her for the Boston Marathon—a life-long goal.
She will travel to Boston next April to compete in the 2017 Boston Marathon.
As a 375th Air Mobility Wing executive officer she has a busy schedule, but she makes time to run and train. She even goes on runs during her lunch breaks sometimes, and on the weekends.
She hasn’t always placed such a priority on running though.
Thomas’ main focus in high school and at the Air Force Academy was soccer. It wasn’t until her senior year that she ran her first marathon. Since then, she has added two marathons and six half marathons to the list.
Thomas said her dad, who is also in the Air Force and has conquered many 50-milers and ultra-marathons, was a big influence on her. When Thomas was younger, she remembers the day her dad ran the Boston Marathon. Her family, treating the event as an opportunity for a vacation, supported him as he ran the marathon. She said ever since he ran Boston, it was her goal to run it too.
“He was my main reason and my inspiration for wanting to do Boston,” Thomas said.
Another guide of hers is Sean Kerr, Military Sealift Command director. Kerr, a retired Marine and a fellow Road Warrior, has supported Thomas and mentored her for the past two years. For him, running is about the solitude and the physical and mental challenge, and he shares his love of running with Thomas. Together, they ran a 100-kilometer and a 50-miler race. Kerr said he hopes to extend his support to Boston, where he hopes to cheer her on.
Thomas said she plans to begin her Boston training in January.
“It’s an indescribable feeling when you cross the finish line in a race, knowing that you never ran that far before,” Thomas said. “It’s a very emotional feeling because really and truly, aside from the support from my Road Warriors and my family, the only thing that got me to that finish line is me.”
For others who aspire to qualify for a Boston Marathon or would just like to be able to run their first marathon, Thomas encourages them to have a written plan and to keep a journal. For herself, she likes to push her own limits and set personal goals to achieve instead of focusing on competing against others. It might seem impossible or too difficult to do a marathon, she said, but start with small steps and train for at least 16-18 weeks.
Kerr said, “For most marathon runners, Boston is the pinnacle of what they want to strive for.”
Thomas, though, doesn’t plan on stopping at Boston. She hopes to extend her running to include a 100-miler and finish her Master’s Degree. Once that is complete, another goal awaits: tackling the Western States Endurance Run, which is the oldest and largest 100-mile trail run in the United States.