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NEWS | Dec. 9, 2013

Runner's high: Langley Airman trains for "Race 'Round the Base"

By Staff Sgt. Jarad A. Denton 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

As she exhaled, the moisture in her breath mixed with the cold outdoor air and turned into a quickly-dissipating fog.

The cold didn't bother her. This weather was the perfect training ground for U.S. Air Force Maj. Carrie Wentzel, 633rd Force Support Squadron operations officer, to prepare for her next running challenge: the 10-mile race around Langley Air Force Base, Dec. 14.

The fourth annual Langley "Race 'Round the Base' is scheduled for 9 a.m., beginning by the West Gate and ending at the Shellbank Fitness Center. The event is the longest distance-running event hosted on Langley.

Wentzel finished her five-mile preparation run on the track just shy of 40 minutes. She stretched and walked back to Shellbank, ready to hit the pavement for the 10-miles race.

Wentzel's dedication to running has taken her to new pinnacles of personal fitness, leading from one race to the next. As she began her five-mile training run on the track at Langley in preparation for the "Race 'Round the Base," Wentzel said she wasn't always so passionate about the sport.

"Growing up, I was never really into running," said Wentzel. "I had to train for the mile-and-a-half when I came in the Air Force."

Wentzel said her first long-distance run came early in her career when she competed in the U.S. Army Ten-Miler in Washington, D.C. Until that point, the longest distance she had run was three miles.

"It was slow, but it was awesome," Wentzel said. "I was hooked on running after that. I couldn't believe I just ran 10 miles without stopping,'" she said. "It made me want to run farther and set different goals for myself."

Those goals have taken her to various marathons across the country, including the Boston Marathon, twice. Wentzel said each time a run starts, she starts chasing after the elusive "runner's high."

"For me, the 'runner's high' is when nothing hurts and I'm not out of breath anymore," Wentzel said. "I have so much energy, and I feel like I could run for miles."

Wentzel said having a competitive spirit throughout a race helps to find her "runner's high." Even though she isn't looking to take home one of the trophies or awards presented to the first place finishers of the "Race 'Round the Base," Wentzel said she is going to challenge herself and her fellow runners.

"It's a pride thing," she said with a laugh. "Even though I get pretty competitive, I think the important part of any run is to not beat yourself up. There are good runs and bad runs -- you just have to go with it."

Wentzel said sometimes runs have circumstances beyond a runner's control. For Wentzel, her first time running the Boston Marathon was during a nor'easter.

"For 26.2 miles, we ran into a monsoon with a 25 mile-an-hour headwind," she said. "It was awesome."

Fortunately, the "Race 'Round the Base" will be run on a flat course looping around Langley, with all the miles marked. While Wentzel is hoping for fair weather, she said she is prepared for almost anything as she gears up for the Dec. 14 race.

Although registration for the race is now closed, packets may be picked up by runners at Shellbank during normal business hours beginning Dec. 11.