News>Alamo Wing Airman is AF Marathon runner with a cause
Story at a Glance
Air Force Reservists from 433rd Airlift Wing running to raise money for Operation Home Front She said sometimes she thinks about quitting, but that just makes her run harder. Bernard said, "I can't mentor someone if I fail a fitness test."
Cutline: Tech. Sgt. Bernard runs during her lunch time on the woodland trail on Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, Texas in preparation for the Air Force Marathon at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Sept 15. The Air Force Marathon is held the third Saturday in September each year to celebrate the anniversary of the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Photo Air Force Photo/SMSgt Minnie Jones)
Cutline: Tech. Sgt. Leia Bernard, an Air Force Reserve Technician emergency management specialist in the 433rd Civil Engineer Squadron is running for the first time in the Air Force Marathon, Sept. 15 at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio to raise money for Operation Home Front, a nonprofit group that assists veterans. (U.S. Photo Air Force Photo/SMSgt Minnie Jones)
Tech. Sgt. Bernard an Air Force Reserve Technician an emergency management specialist in the 433rd Civil Engineer Squadron has the medals and the shirts indicating that she has participated in numerous charity races since she began racing in 2005. September 15, will be her first time competing in the Air Force Marathon at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base. (Courtesy Photo)
by Tech. Sgt. Carlos J. Trenio
433rd Airlift Wing Public Affairs
9/13/2012 - JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-LACKLAND, Texas -- The 16th annual Air Force Marathon is only a few days away and, out of the 15,000 runners competing in the 26.2-mile race, one is a member of the Alamo Wing.
Tech. Sgt. Leia Bernhard, 433rd Civil Engineer Squadron, is competing in the race to raise money for Operation Home Front, a nonprofit group that assists veterans. This is Bernhard's first time competing in the marathon, which navigates through historic places on Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio.
"Failure is not an option," said Bernhard, an Air Reserve Technician emergency management specialist. "When I deployed in 2007, I liked the challenge of the short runs."
Bernhard competed in short distance runs first -- less than six miles -- and then began running longer distances in 2009.
"I started running longer events after my son was born in 2009, to lose the baby weight," she said.
She started entering different races, which took place in mud or with obstacles, adding to her repertoire before entering triathlons.
When it comes to relating her running with being a reservist, Bernard said, "I can't mentor someone if I fail a fitness test. I need to be active, or it can result in being bad at it. I have to work at it. Failure is not an option in my job or as a runner."
Her zeal to compete carries over to her diet and lifestyle as well.
"My husband, Joshua, is a really supportive, since [the marathon] is something I want to do, and especially since I am eating better," Bernard said. "I don't eat a lot processed foods. I stay away from grains, and I try to make healthy choices. I prefer eating fresh foods."
It's not always easy to pursue a healthy lifestyle and do the work it takes to remain competitive.
"I get a lot of people who say that I am crazy for wanting to do these things, but anybody can do it. It's mostly mental," she said.
She said sometimes she thinks about quitting, but that just makes her run harder.
"That only happens in long-distance running," Bernhard said. "They are not much fun, but for me, failure is not an option. I am stubborn enough, and I absolutely believe that if you are determined, you can do it. Even if I have to drag myself across the finish line, I will do it."
Her other motivation to finish the race is her family. Bernhard is bringing her son to the marathon. Her mother is flying in from New Hampshire, and her sister and brother are also flying in to watch her run.
"I do look forward to seeing them at the end of the race. It makes it all worth it, reaching the finish line and seeing them," she said.
Bernhard offered some advice to those thinking of taking up the sport of running.
"If you say to yourself, 'I am going to do this,' then you will do it. A lot of people don't have that kind of confidence. I would say to people that if you are remotely interested in doing this, then go out and just try it."
The Air Force Marathon is held the third Saturday in September each year to celebrate the anniversary of the U.S. Air Force. This year the race date falls on Sept. 15, which is three days before the 65th anniversary of the Air Force. In addition to the full marathon, runners will have the option of running a half-marathon, 10K or 5K races.