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    It's a Marathon, Not a Sprint

    It's a Marathon, Not a Sprint

    Photo By Lance Cpl. Reine Whitaker | U.S. Marine Corps Capt. Melaine Weaver, left, a cyber network operations officer with...... read more read more



    Story by Lance Cpl. Reine Whitaker 

    III MEF Information Group     

    Tensions rise as the minutes pass nearing the start of the 36th annual Naha Marathon on Dec. 4th, 2022. A participant’s hands start to shake as realization sets in and anticipation takes her nerves. U.S. Marine Corps Capt. Melaine Weaver, a cyber network operations officer with Headquarters Company, III Marine Expeditionary Force Information Group, is about to start her first marathon.

    In 2003 Weaver accepted a life-changing challenge: enlisting in the Marine Corps. “Originally, I came in enlisted, and I actually wasn’t trying to do the Marine Corps by any means. I was enrolled as a Junior Reserve Officer’s Training Corps for the Air Force,” she said. One thing that kept her motivated was knowing she could ‘prove it’ to her recruiter. “I met this one Marine recruiter who gave me a challenge. He basically told me he didn’t think I could do it.”

    Weaver enlisted, and although the running career she started in high school with the 1600 meter relay was now a part of the past, it never really left her. Focused on learning the ropes and gaining a footing in her new career path, Weaver’s next challenge would be navigating Okinawa for the first time. In 2007 she was stationed on the small, lush island in the Ryukyu chain for three years; her first duty station in the Marine Corps.

    “The first time I was out here [Okinawa] I consistently ran, but it was running just to stay fit and healthy. I wasn’t running towards anything,” she said. “I don’t think I had a really good general understanding of what Okinawa had to offer. I was more focused on honing in on my craft of my job specific skills than I was with the surroundings.”

    Weaver knew that she wanted to keep running; for herself, for the endurance, and for the races. It wasn’t until 2013 while stationed at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina that a half marathon’s finish line was in her sights. “The first time I thought about the potential to run half marathons was my first Marine Corps Marathon in Camp Lejeune,” she said. From then on she continued to train for half marathons as she enjoyed the length of the races.

    In 2018 Weaver, now a Chief Warrant Officer 3, and her family found themselves back on the hill covered island of Okinawa, Japan. Looking at the island with a new racing perspective, Weaver saw runners everywhere. That was when she started to involve her son. “My son would run 5ks with me, so I got to bond with him over running. That’s something that I was able to build with him,” said Weaver. The two ran shorter races together and would bond by feeding off of each other’s energy.

    Weaver had run half marathons and completed spartan runs before, but she saw 26.2 miles as her next challenge. The newly promoted captain’s opportunity would arise in August 2022 when Weaver’s next challenge presented itself in the form of an online advertisement for the Naha Marathon. The “festival of sun, ocean and joggers” started in 1985 to promote international friendship and ties, celebrating the bond with Naha’s sister city, Honolulu. From there, she was off to the races.

    “At the beginning of the year I was like, I’ll never run a marathon. This is silly, then after a while I just thought, that’s right! Who runs marathons?” said Weaver. Looking over the advertisement, Weaver thought to herself, ‘I can be one of the few that runs marathons.’

    With the support of her husband and two kids, Weaver started training every chance she could while balancing her job and home life. Any spare time that Weaver had was spent running. Keeping Saturdays free for long runs and challenging herself with short runs between meetings during the work day, race day was nearing and Weaver was becoming increasingly excited. It had been a long 118 days of pouring hard work, sweat and everything she could into her training.

    The sun was shining through the overcast clouds and the crowd was roaring with excitement. Race day had finally come. “I was quite nervous, my hands were shaking,” Weaver said. “The whole thing was, ‘okay, I just got to start, but I don’t need to start too fast.’ Once we started moving, I started my watch and I was ready.” As the runners took off it was down to Weaver and the strenuous training she had done. Mile after mile passed and before she knew it, Weaver was at the halfway mark.

    “I started to settle into a real steady groove where the only thing I really had to focus on was, ‘don’t worry about anybody else around me, just race my pace,’” Weaver said. “I know what I came out here to do and at this point I just want to finish the race.”

    With the local Japanese crowd and her family to support her, she pushed on. With the finish line in sight and the crowd going wild, Weaver kept running.

    “I knew she could do it! No doubt, all she does is run,” said Gunnery Sgt. Stephen Gibbo, an instructor at the SNCO Academy on Camp Hansen, and husband to Weaver. “I’m proud that she did it and that she finished!”

    As Weaver crossed the finish line her efforts had paid off, and she had completed her first marathon. “I feel ecstatic! I set out to accomplish this in August, I told myself I’m going to train for this, then I’m going to come out here and run it,” she said. “So I’m pretty proud of myself that I actually finished 26.2 miles.”

    This accomplishment has only fueled her to do more. Weaver plans on running two more marathons in the upcoming year. “Once you do one, it’s kind of hard to stop,” she said. “You just lace up your shoes, you get out, you run, and I’m at peace for an hour.”



    Date Taken: 12.19.2022
    Date Posted: 12.19.2022 00:01
    Story ID: 435436

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