Yesterday I was in D.C. running on the mall with old Air Force and other services running friends in memorial of fellow runner, Mike Mann, who died recently of lung cancer from second-hand smoke at the age of 39. What a spirit. His motto was "Don't give up. Don't ever give up". He lived this motto to his last breath. This year in his last year of life he completed his Bacalaureate Degree with Magna Cum Lauda honors, and retired from the Air Force as a Master Sergeant with 20 years service. One year ago, following chemotherapy, he ran his last marathon at Virginia Beach in 2 hours 54 minutes.
After running on 17 Air Force and DoD teams in my 24-year Air Force career, the last race I ran for the Air Force was the Marine Corps Marathon in 2003. At 48 years of age I was well beyond my peak so I "sacrificed" myself to run side-by-side with Mike for the first 13 miles to help him stay on pace for a sub-2:40 run. After the half-way point I faded on cue to a 2:56 finish. Mike went on to run a 2:37 marathon and 2nd Air Force runner in the Air Force's victory.