Cruise control: a marathoner's guide to the finish line

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Mariah Haddenham
  • 11th Wing Public Affairs
"If you asked me if I would ever run 26.2 or even 13.1 miles, I would have laughed," said Airman 1st Class Joshua Islas, 11th Wing Staff Agency administrative technician. "In high school, I did the bare minimum in physical education classes. My determination to live a healthy lifestyle did not occur until later."

Islas started running three years ago while attending community college in his hometown of Clovis, California.

"I wasn't even running at first, I was walking," Islas said. "I had started walking everyday as a relaxing mechanism to get myself away from the books and computers, and to enjoy the outdoors."

Eventually, he wanted more from the time he reserved every day to walk; he slowly began running every day. Shortly after, Islas decided he wanted to join the Air Force for the opportunities, adventure, and chance to better himself, he said.

"When I decided to detour my college career and join the Air Force, getting better at running became more of a priority," said Islas. "I realized I wasn't that bad and I actually came to enjoy it."

Islas runs every day, besides an occasional rest day, and his determination did not go unnoticed.

"Josh is an avid runner, and he is extremely competitive," said Master Sgt. Jannine Pete, 11th Wing Command Section superintendent and administration functional manager. "I think that makes him exceptional among other Airmen, and I trust it will lead him to success in every area of his Air Force career."

Running is now an outlet for whatever Islas says he may be experiencing in his life, whether good or bad.

"When I have achieved something and have positive emotions I run to celebrate," Islas said. "When I am feeling negative emotions, I run to sort my thoughts through and relax. Running also gives me an enhanced sense of freedom and adrenalin."

Islas has competed in two full marathons, three half marathons, an 18 mile race and several other races of shorter distances, but he prefers long distance running. He also placed fourth in the Joint Base Andrews Half Marathon in April.

"Long distance running has different phases along the path or course set," Islas said. "The beginning is all about excitement," he said. "In my mind I have set a goal to achieve and there is no force on Earth that is going to stop me from reaching the finish line."

During the middle of his run, Islas says he focuses on conserving energy and keeping a steady pace.

"I switch into an almost cruise control state of being," said Islas. "Sometimes this means I think a lot, sometimes it means I'm not thinking at all and I'm just getting lost in the music, and sometimes it means a little bit of both."

Islas describes his last few miles of any race as a test of resiliency and endurance to finish as strong as he started.

"When I reach a goal and pass the finish line it is a great sense of achievement and even if I do not reach it, there is always tomorrow," he said.

The fondest memories he carries are of his family and friends who have supported him along the way.

"Let's face it, running isn't the most exciting sport to watch," he said. "Months of preparation go into these races, and it's all worth it to see their support in something I love to do. Each marathon I have done, I have recapped the life and running memories I had before the race. In a way I guess you could say at the end of every marathon it's almost like closure to a certain chapter in my life. Then I'm on a mission to find the next one."