PACAF Airman discovers passion in running

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Sheila deVera
  • JBER Public Affairs
A lifelong runner, Capt. Allison Easterly, 962nd Airborne Air Control Squadron Delta Flight commander, has participated in several full and half marathons since her first one in 2006.

In 2012, while 12 weeks pregnant, she participated in a half-marathon, and then ran another one six months after her daughter was born. In September, she helped her team win first place in the Air Force Marathon Major Command team challenge.

She found her niche in running at a young age and has loved running ever since.

At the age of seven, her goal was to one day run the fastest mile at her school. Her aunt, who used to be a professional triathlete, was thrilled when she showed an interest in running.

"There was nobody else in my family who was interested in running, so I would spend a week in the summer with her," Easterly said. "We would run every day, and she would give me different types of drills, training tips, record my running form and give feedback on how I could be more efficient."

As she got older, the Lake Geneva, Wis., native would set goals of distance and time, and her aunt would provide her with a training plan two to three months out.

However, when she was in middle school, Easterly injured her knee and had to have surgery. Coping with the injury, she still continued to run.

"I was a lot slower in high school, and it held me back," the runner said. "When I got to college and ROTC, I was able to push past it. Running was solely on me, my choice and my drive -- that is when I realized how much I enjoy running."

Easterly noted that with the typical injuries runners deal with -- such as pulled muscles or sprains -- it's necessary to listen to the body, take it easy and pull back from training before pushing it again.

The flight commander said Alaska hasn't been a challenge for her due to the mild winter. In fact, the different possibilities in Anchorage keep her training interesting and effective.

"I actually prefer the running environment here to my last base [Tinker Air Force Base, Okla.] because in the summer, the weather is absolutely perfect. There are many trails that have different routes and options," Easterly said.

"My training is very fluid," she continued. "I run five to six days a week, and I always try to have one speed-workout and one long run (nine miles or more) each week."

While she's not always prepping for a specific race, Easterly said she always considers herself in training and can easily accumulate more than 40 miles a week.

"I always have a good base mileage going on, which is the biggest thing with training for a half or full marathon or any long distance," Easterly said. "You have to have a base mileage [set miles you want to run] before you can build on that."

As an avid runner, she found out from her leadership about the opportunity to represent Pacific Air Forces in the Air Force Marathon Major Command team challenge at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio.

"Our first sergeant had gotten an email from the fitness center here and was looking for people to represent PACAF team," Easterly said. "At that time, I hadn't picked a race so it was a good opportunity to try it out."

To be considered, Easterly submitted a request for U.S. Air Force Specialized Sports Training and her last three years of run times and accomplishments.

During the team's win, the total run time for the PACAF half-marathon team was 9:07:38 with an average time of 1:31:17. Her individual run time was 1:37:24.

Easterly's advice to anyone who wants to run or participate in any marathon is that "running is at least 80 percent mental, so anyone who can get past their mental hang-ups and self-imposed limitations can compete," she said. "It's really just about overcoming those mental blocks.

"Running is something I feel like you have to get in a habit of, and once you get in the swing of it and start racing, it's hard to let go of," she said.

Her husband can attest to that habit and dedication.

"My wife gets up early and runs way more than I do," said Maj. Karl Easterly, 962nd AACS assistant director of operations. "She does this on a daily basis -- goes to training and puts in a lot of hard work."

On the day of the Air Force Marathon Major Command challenge team, Easterly's husband, their daughter and her mother were there to cheer her on.

"I was running as fast as I could at the end of the race and congratulated her," Major Easterly said. "I was definitely proud of her."