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See how far you can go today

SOUTHWEST ASIA (AFNS) -- Anyone who knows me knows that I'm a runner. I've been running for 10 years and have done everything from a 5K to a marathon.

During my thousands of miles, I've had a few epiphanies; moments in time when things seem clear. I've realized that marathon training and a successful Air Force career have a lot in common. They take hard work, dedication and patience.

Here's what running has taught me about life, in and out of the Air Force:

-- Achieving goals is hard, and sometimes painful. Runners have horror stories about blisters, ripped off toenails and, although they may not mention it, serious chafing. But when the race is over and the wounds have healed, you're left with a feeling of accomplishment that nothing can match. So whether you're aiming for the finish line or that next promotion, grit through the pain and keep moving. 

-- Your brain can be your biggest ally or your biggest enemy. You can talk yourself into or out of anything. If you tell yourself you can do it, you've overcome one of the greatest obstacles there is; your own self-doubt. Stretch your comfort zone; you'll amaze yourself. 

-- You never know how far you can go until you try. When I decided to do a half marathon, I had never run more than five miles at a time, ever. The day I did seven miles, I thought I was the world's greatest athlete, and the day that I did 10; I was invincible. Don't ever settle for far enough or good enough. --There is always someone, somewhere, who will be better than you at something. Make peace with that. Simply strive to do your best. Run as fast as you can, as far as you can. Give all that you have and be the best you can be. 

-- The unexpected happens, roll with it. Nothing is ever going to go as planned. You can choose to sit on the sidelines and feel sorry for yourself, or get in there and give it all you've got. In the end, what matters is that you tried. 

-- You are not alone. I didn't make it to the finish line of my marathon all on my own. My husband got up at 4 a.m. on Sundays and rode his bike alongside while I plodded along for 20 miles. None of us is in this alone. We have our friends, our families back home, our chain of command and each other. Don't be afraid to ask when you need a little encouragement, and don't be afraid to give it either.

I think that the most important thing that running has taught me is to wake up every morning and ask myself "How far can I go today?" I hope I never have an answer.