Dale Woodring ran the 2011 Marine Corps Marathon with the TAPS Run and Remember Team. He'll be running the 2012 with the TAPS team again, and he shared his experiences training and running the Marathon.
What made you decide to run with the TAPS Run and Remember Team?
I wanted to run for a charity partner. My family is very supportive of the military so I was looking for a charity that was related to the military. I have had some experience with the Wounded Warrior Project in the past so I was looking for something like that. When I read about how TAPS supports military families who have lost loved ones I knew they were the group I needed to support. I feel very privileged to be able to honor someone who has given the "last full measure of devotion" and to support their family.
Who was the service member you honored in your run?
How did the family of the service member (or the service member himself) influence the way that you trained and/or ran?
I have run many marathons (28 now) so the training was normal for me. But I decided not to attempt a PR, which is my usual goal. I wanted to be able to fully experience each moment with the marines at the event and not be focused on performance.
During my training I would think about Blake, his service and his sacrifice and it made what is normally a solitary experience (I train alone) not lonely at all.
During the race the miles flew by even though I was running at a comfortable pace. Blake's memory and the soldiers running and supporting the race were all around me. I have no words to describe how inspiring that was.
How was the run meaningful for you?
This was my 6th Marine Corps Marathon. Each had been meaningful. It is my family's favorite marathon event. But running for Blake made this one far more meaningful for us. We made signs in honor of Blake and took pictures with Marines and shared his story with them.
I wasn't feeling well that day physically as I had come down with bronchitis at that time, but the day was such an inspiration that it didn't matter. I was so grateful to be there, to honor Blake and his family, and to thank every Marine I could. And they would always say "no, thank you" back to me, which amazes me.
What was the effect on you of meeting the family?
Blake's family was not able to attend the event, but we spoke over the phone and via email many times. They were so thankful and supportive. I was very grateful that they would allow me to run in his honor. I kept thanking them for this privilege and they kept thanking me for doing it.
I would hold it together (barely) during each phone call with them as they told me more and more about Blake, and then when the call would end I would break down and cry. I wanted to be an encouragement to them, but they kept being an encouragement to me. My respect and admiration for them grew with each call. I could tell that it wasn't always easy for them to talk about Blake. Sometimes I would fear I might be an intrusion, but they never acted that way and always made me feel welcome and appreciated.
I am running again this year in Blake's honor and for the Pospisil family. I am looking forward to getting to know this family better and learning more about one incredible young man named Blake Pospisil that his fellow Marines called "Popsicle."