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Dreams Do Come True
Rachael 2
Rachael’s First Air Force Marathon

By Rachael McKinney

If you would have told me ten years ago that I would be on staff for the Air Force Marathon, I would have laughed at you. Yet here I sit, evidence of the fact that dreams can and do come true. I want to share with you my running story.
In 2008, I worked for Starbucks. Starbucks provides coffee for all of the volunteers of the Air Force Marathon, as well as for the Honored Guest tent. At that time in life, I had no interest in running. In fact, I would even tell you that there is no way I could ever be a runner. I was a barista, a wife, and a mom… not an athlete by any means. However, in 2008, I was with Starbucks in the finish line area of the Air Force Marathon, keeping up with the coffee in the honored guest tent, and my perspective changed forever.
In between needing to check the coffee, we had the opportunity to watch all the finishers come across. I can remember where I was sitting, and exactly what I was thinking. As I watched these runners come across, I was fascinated. I watched very heavy set people finish in total victory. I witnessed men and women alike, of various shapes and sizes raise their hands in accomplishment as they received their medal. I was even there to the very end, watching one of the oldest people cross the finish line in total determination. In that moment, I thought to myself I can do this. If they all can conquer their fears/obstacles and finish a marathon, then so can I!  And I said aloud to my coworker, “I’m going to run a half marathon.”
At that time, I thought I was crazy, but yet I found determination when there were often times skeptics around me. I had never run (remember… I said I wasn’t a runner) but I talked to others who were experienced, and my brother (a marine at that time) gave me quite a few coaching tips. And I set off. I didn’t know what clothing to be wearing or how to hydrate. I really didn’t even know what kind of shoes to be wearing.  As I would train through those months, on my longer runs, my husband and son would drive the route along which I was running, and hand me a water bottle so I could hydrate. You could say I was pretty clueless. But I didn’t care. For the first time in many years, I began to believe in myself. Something I had always said “I can’t” to, became “I will”. I fought off the naysayers and the discouragers and pushed through the thoughts that I was being ridiculous. And in May 2009, I finished my first half marathon. I fell in love with the sport, and I haven’t stopped running since, all thanks to that very first September experience in 2008 at the Air Force Marathon.
I am not fast, and I’ll never win my age group, but I have learned many lessons along the way through the training and grueling early hours of the morning leading up to races. The strongest of which is that I am capable of far more than I ever thought possible. Due to some schooling I took to become more educated in the running industry (yes, schooling does exist in this category!), I now have a career in the business, working for the Air Force Marathon. I love being a part of this staff, this race. And it’ll forever be dear to me because this is where my love of running began. Dreams do come true. I have a job I love. And it came back full circle to me because it all started here in the first place.
Oh, and I must also share that while I have run many half marathons (only one marathon), my PR remains on the Air Force Marathon course, and not for lack of trying to attain a new one. So while this course holds my PR, it also holds part of my heart, and evidence that dreams do come true.

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