Local Army 10-Miler team ready for D.C.
Second Lt. Terry Specyal and 2nd Lt. Michael Spears, members of the defending champion Fort Rucker Army 10-Miler team, practice Tuesday for the upcoming competition in Washington, D.C., Oct. 9.

FORT RUCKER, Ala. (September 29, 2011) -- With only two more weeks to prepare for the Army 10-Miler run in Washington, D.C., Fort Rucker's team is well prepared, according to its coach and members.

The team was officially formed in August after holding tryout events since June, said 1st Sgt. Jeffery Herzog, team coach.

"Honestly, the team we have this year is faster than the one from last year," he said. "Everything has come together really well for us."

Herzog added the team members this year are all new. No one from last year's first-place team returned due to changing of duty stations or other obstacles that prevented their return, except Herzog who went from member to coach.

Capt. Megan Howell ran for the Fort Campbell, Ky., team last year and said training here has been a bit different.

"I ran in New York before, but this place can be a little rough sometimes," she said. "I've been running for about 15 years now. I've noticed an improvement in my time since I started training with this team."

All of the team members said Fort Rucker offers a unique challenge to most other duty stations: lots of hills.

The newest team member, 2nd Lt. Terry Specyal, said he noticed an improvement in his time since he started with the team.

"I was a swimmer before this," he said. "I didn't really do a lot of distance running before making this team. I've been here since November and it took me a while to get used to running the hills."

Tuesday morning, the team gathered at the Allen Heights community center to do the shortest run of the week: about 4 miles.

It's not a bad way to start the week, but it won't be the longest distance the group runs throughout the week.

"We usually practice every Tuesday, Thursday and Saturdays," said 2nd Lt. Michael Spears, team member. "After practicing together for so long now, I think we'll be able to run together during the race for a good while."

Lt. Col. Damon Pfaltzgraff said his time had improved by about four minutes after beginning practice with the team.

"I think we've all improved a great deal," he said. "We don't compete with each other so much as we just push each other to be better."

While there is internal competition, most of the team members said that it has only helped them to improve over the last few months.

"I've improved my time and maxed out my (physical training) test this week," said Staff Sgt. David Fisher. "Training together has really helped me a lot."

Capt. Deborah Herzog joined the team recently as an alternate as some of the original members were unable to travel with the rest of the team.

She said being the wife of the coach and having a new baby presented its own set of challenges to being part of the team.

"Finding time during the week and weekend to get all the miles in has been a challenge," she said. "(Jeff) pushes me pretty hard sometimes, but he knows not to push too far."

The couple had a child about nine months ago and their new son comes to team practices most mornings, too.

"I ran on the Hawaii team two years ago, but I was pregnant with my son last year and couldn't be part of the team," she said. "(My son) will sleep through most of the practices. We push him in the stroller and he really seems to like the ride."

The team's next training exercise is at Saturday's Hispanic Heritage Month gate-to-gate run, said Herzog. The team doesn't plan to run together, but will use the event as a way to judge where they are individually and what they need to improve on going forward.

Page last updated Thu September 29th, 2011 at 14:04