By Chris Griffin
AFGHANISTAN- A goal of my six-month deployment to Afghanistan was to stay physically and mentally healthy while away from my loved ones. When I arrived here and heard about the Boston Marathon shadow run, I thought, “What better way to stay fit, focused and healthy than participate?” I admit that I was a little ambivalent and unsure if I could complete a 26-mile run, but I also knew I would never know if I didn't take this opportunity to do so.
I am an administrative contracting officer for the Emergency Essential, Contingency Readiness Force, at the Defense Contract Management Agency Boston. As a member of this team, I was fortunate to deploy with DCMA Afghanistan. I have been able to work on the Logistics Civil Augmentation Program, also known as LOGCAP, task orders and other contracts that provide support to warfighters.
DCMA Afghanistan transitioned command on Jan. 9 to the Expeditionary Contracting Command â€“ Afghanistan, which is managed by the Army. I was one of the DCMA members who continued deployment under the new command, which provides continuity of services to our warfighters.
On April 16, I joined more than 350 troops, coalition forces and civilians in the 26.2 mile Boston Marathon shadow run. The event was sponsored by the Boston Athletic Association. It was an interesting and great experience, as well as an awesome show of support, team spirit and morale.
Running a marathon in somewhat of a fishbowl bottom setting was surreal. Approximately 100 volunteers cheered on runners, manned water stations and provided security throughout the route. The volunteers tried to give runners a sense of feeling like the marathon was being conducted in the United States with loved ones and friends on the sidelines cheering.
My deployment has kept me engaged and busy. One of the things I do to relax and stay in shape is to run. I ran about 40 to 50 miles a week for a two-month period preparing for the marathon. By running in the early morning or late night and adjusting my schedule when needed, I made it work.
During my training, encouragement came from my co-workers at DCMA Boston. I have enjoyed my deployment and being able to make a difference with our service members. It has also been a great experience to participate in the Boston Marathon shadow run. I feel extremely grateful that I was both physically and mentally up to the challenge. No matter what is going on in life, I learned self-care is essential. Completing the marathon is something I checked off my bucket list as an accomplishment in 2016.
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