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    Iwakuni road warrior trains for US Olympic trials



    Courtesy Story

    AFN Iwakuni

    MARINE CORPS AIR STATION IWAKUNI, Japan - Twenty-six miles; that’s a marathon. When used as an adjective, it becomes synonymous with words like grueling, epic and lengthy.

    Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni resident Leah Daugherty regularly competes in these mega-races. Most would consider simply completing a 26.2-mile contest an accomplishment.

    “I like winning,” she explained.

    Daugherty, a former college distance runner, has won numerous races while in Japan, including the Fuji Mountain Race and the Kintai Marathon. Training year-round for these prominent races, she pushes herself constantly to get better and be faster; all in the pursuit of a lofty goal many could never dream of achieving.

    “Well, I actually want to start focusing more on my road marathon time,” Daugherty said. “I need to run around a 2:40 marathon and I want to qualify to go to the Olympic Trials.”

    Six months ago, Daugherty was well on her way to realizing her dream when something beautiful, if not interrupting, happened. She had a baby.

    “I wanted to start focusing more on road marathons about a year ago but then I got pregnant with Miles,” Daugherty said.

    A pregnancy and subsequent birth, while incredible, can tax a woman’s body greatly and this can make training difficult. Undeterred, Daugherty and her doctor devised a training plan that worked with her pregnancy.

    “One of the things that really just surprised me the most was how much your body is capable of doing while you’re pregnant,” she said. “You know, at first I was shocked. I realized I could continue training hard as long as I wasn’t doing something different, that I hadn’t been doing before. I just made sure I didn’t get hot and stayed hydrated. I mean it is a very special time where you need to be careful but your body basically becomes a machine.”

    Training while pregnant helped Daugherty retain the progress she had made and even improve. Once her son Miles was born, she simply took a few days off to recover and then got right back into it. Two weeks after giving birth, she was back to running at least three miles a day. A few months later, she tackled a marathon. Six months after the birth, Daugherty competed in a 110-kilometer ultra-marathon.

    “I don’t really worry about her too much because I know that she can do it,” said her husband Matt. “I just want for her to stay healthy and have fun and have a positive attitude.”

    So what’s next for Iwakuni’s road warrior? She intends to make good on her dream and qualify for the U.S. Olympic Trials at either the Osaka or Fukuoka marathons this November. Can she do it?

    “She is probably the most determined person I know,” Matt said.

    Daugherty may not qualify for the trials. She may never achieve her dream of Olympic racing. What she has done is prove a point.

    “I think with any endurance race your mind is your biggest obstacle,” she said.

    Daugherty is a marathoner. She grinds it out, overcomes mental barricades and keeps running. For some, 26 miles is just a distance. For her, it's a marathon mindset.



    Date Taken: 12.21.2015
    Date Posted: 12.31.2015 02:00
    Story ID: 185514

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