A group of runners pose for a photo after a race.

Runner’s high overcomes life’s lows

An Air Force captain runs in a race
Capt. Brian Thorn, 460th Space Communication Squadron plans and resources flight commander, races in the Lucky Laces 10k Run March 15, 2014 in Denver. Thorn is training to run in the Air Force Marathon as part of the Air Force Space Command team. (Courtesy photo)

By Airman 1st Class Samantha Saulsbury
460th Space Wing Public Affairs

“You hit that wall and you’re like ‘I don’t know if I can do this,'” said Capt. Brian Thorn, 460th Space Communications Squadron plans and resources flight commander. “Everything is focused on I need to take the next step…I need to finish…I need to finish.”

For Thorn and Senior Master Sgt. Tammie Gaudu, 460th SCS operations flight chief, running isn’t just a hobby. Both Team Buckley members are training to run in the Air Force Marathon as part of the Air Force Space Command team.

To run the marathon on the team, you must submit an application of your previous race times to be chosen.

“When I found out I was selected I was ecstatic,” Gaudu said. “It’s an honor to represent AFSPC and the Air Force and just to be a part of a team.”

Both agree running is the best medication, serving as a physical and mental antidote for any situation.

“You become very mentally tough,” Thorn said. “You realize you can push yourself even further than you normally would think you could.”

Running has allowed them the time to cope with the loss of friends and loved ones. Thorn uses running as a tool to come to terms with the recent death of fellow servicemember Senior Airman Michael Snyder, a 460th SCS member and the victim of a drunk driving accident.

As Snyder’s wingman and leader, Thorn later escorted his casket to his hometown in El Paso, Illinois.

“Mr. Snyder told me about a running trail that Michael would always use,” Thorn said. “I ran that trail a lot over the few days I was there. It brought in a connection with him.”

Gaudu agrees with Thorn, emphasizing the therapeutic remedy of a good run.

“In 2011 when I lost my dad,” Gaudu paused. “That was the point when I first started running. It gives you time to think and come to terms with what’s going on in your life. Leave it behind, leave it on the trail.”

Motivation stems from different places for many runners. Gaudu’s motivation emerges from serving as a role model and mentor to the people who look up to her.

“When people come to me asking for my advice, it’s just a good feeling,” Gaudu said. “‘Hey I’m cramping up, what do I do? Or ‘How do I get that distance?'”

Thorn pulls inspiration from other champions by displaying the winning times of various marathons in his work area. An aspiring U.S. Olympic marathon team member, he continuously pushes himself to new limits.

“In my office I have marathon times written down,” Thorn said. “I look at those times and see where I should be. That’s my motivation, that’s my drive.”

Gaudu and Thorn plan on racing for years to come, continuing to keep their body and mind resilient.

“Once you cross that finish line you feel like you really accomplished something,” Gaudu said. “It teaches you that you can go beyond what you think.”