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    Married to Running: NY Army National Guard Soldier to Race in USA Cross Country Championship

    Married to running: NY Army National Guard soldier to race in USA Cross Country Championship

    Courtesy Photo | Staff Sgt. Melissa S. Guckian, No. 101, runs in the Mad Dash 10-kilometer race in...... read more read more



    Story by Sgt. 1st Class Raymond Drumsta 

    New York National Guard

    CAMP SMITH, NY -- A New York Army National Guard soldier, who was once a reluctant runner, has been picked for the All-Army Cross Country Team.

    "I never ran before I joined the Army," said Staff Sgt. Melissa S. Guckian.

    Nonetheless, this 32 year-old citizen soldier from Poughkeepsie, N.Y., will be running an eight-kilometer race for the Army in the USA Cross Country Championship in Boulder, Colo., on Feb. 15.

    Female athletes can quailfy for the team by showing that they've run 10 miles in 65 minutes or less during the year prior to their applications. Guckian has a marathon and three Army 10-milers under her belt, and she ran her best 10-miler last October, clocking a time of 61:07, which is about 6:10 per mile.

    When one of the other females deployed, the team chose Guckian based on her 2013 Army 10-miler time.

    "It was pretty exciting," she said of being selected. "I wasn't expecting it."

    Her 10-miler time notwithstanding, Guckian, who serves with the 106th Regional Training Institute at Camp Smith Training Site, has changed her training routine to prepare for the race. She believes she's the only National Guard member on the team.

    "It's a little nerve-racking," she said. "I want to show up and do well."

    In 1998, Guckian joined the Army, which requires soldiers to complete a two-mile run within specified times, based on their ages. For a while she didn't like that aspect of Army life, she admitted.

    But that changed in 2005 when she began dating Andrew Guckian, an avid runner and racer, she recalled. Andrew is also a staff sergeant in the New York Army National Guard's 53rd Troop Command.

    By the time they married about a year later, she had become a running enthusiast as well, and was taking part in races with her husband, Guckian said. They also belong to several running clubs, and they enjoy the social aspect of it, she added.

    "It's fun," she said. "It gives us something to do on the weekends."

    Andrew has also set the pace to prepare her for the race, she said.

    "I'm pretty lucky because my husband does my training plans," Guckian said. "He's pretty much been my coach."

    She usually runs less over the winter because of Christmas and colder temperatures, she said. However, she returned to her rigorous running routine after being selected for the All-Army Cross Country Team.

    "That was a little upsetting over the holidays," she joked.

    To prepare for the race, she usually runs five to 10 miles per day, including "fast work-out days" with quarter-mile interval training, she explained. Sometimes her daily schedule only allows for what she calls "junk mileage" -- running different distances at various paces just get the mileage in, she said.

    "I usually get in at least 40 miles per week," she said.

    In 2008, she ran the Shamrock Marathon, which is held yearly in Virginia Beach. That was her first and last marathon, and she prefers races like the Army 10-miler, Guckian said.

    "That middle distance is more my speed," she said.

    The upcoming race is about half that length. Guckian said she usually runs the first mile fast and settles into a pace around the three-mile mark.

    "It takes me three miles to warm up," she said.

    Her confidence extends to the upcoming race as well.

    "I feel good, we'll see," she reflected. "I'm hoping for the best."



    Date Taken: 02.12.2014
    Date Posted: 02.13.2014 14:59
    Story ID: 120590
    Location: CAMP SMITH, NY, US 
    Hometown: POUGHKEEPSIE, NY, US

    Web Views: 217
    Downloads: 0