By Mike Strasser, Fort Drum Garrison Public AffairsOctober 3, 2018
FORT DRUM, N.Y. (Oct. 3, 2018) -- Eighteen Soldiers from across the 10th Mountain Division (LI) earned their spots on this year's Fort Drum Ten-Miler Team and, having logged in several weeks of training, are ready to represent at the 34th Army Ten-Miler, Oct. 7, in Washington, D.C.
"We have had just over a month of official practices, but in that short time we've built a great team atmosphere," said 1st Lt. Sean Nestor, team coach and officer in charge. "It's great to see them all build such a strong sense of camaraderie and push one another to improve."
Team members have been meeting during PT hours during the week and on Sundays. Nestor said that he modeled the training plan largely after what his coach implemented at George Mason University.
A typical week included two fast-paced, interval-styled workouts to accustom team members to running at a Ten-Miler race pace or faster. Team members were introduced to the "Michigan" - a workout that originated at the University of Michigan that uses increasing interval runs at faster speeds - and the "Festival," which is a series of 20 to 24 400-meter repetitions with short rests in between.
"The week is usually wrapped up with a long run that encompasses 20 to 30 percent of the runner's weekly mileage," Nestor said. "Most long runs include a 'tempo' period that is meant to reach an 80 percent effort and accustom the athletes to running hard, but controlled for extended lengths of time."
This is the third year that Nestor has represented Fort Drum on the Army Ten-Miler Team, and he previously ran on the 2012 NCAA Division I Conference championship track team at George Mason University. In cross country, his team placed sixth at the 2012 NCAA Division I Southeast Regionals, and Nestor made the All-East team during his final collegiate cross country race despite battling injuries throughout the season.
"I believe that running has provided me a foundation of discipline and resiliency," he said. "Achieving running goals is a daily commitment. Over 13 years of competitive running has taught me valuable lessons of sacrifice and the ability to overcome adversity that can be applied to all facets of life."
Members of the Fort Drum team had to handle the usual adversity on the road to the Army Ten-Miler - deployments, training rotations, injuries and emergency leave.
Capt. David Trangsrud, an administrative law attorney with the Office of the Staff Judge Advocate, was a late replacement on the men's team, but he said that he is proud for the chance to represent the post.
"The 10th Mountain Division has a storied history and is obviously well-known for being one of those units that trains the hardest," he said. "So, to be selected to represent them at this race is a great honor for me and it is a culmination of a lot of hard work."
Trangsrud ran the Army Ten-Miler (ATM) before as an individual, so he knows what it's like to compete in a field of 35,000 runners.
"It's a tremendous race - one of the biggest in the country," he said. "I grew up in Washington, D.C., so I know it's a big deal for a lot of people and not just the Army. For this race, I plan to run hard and score well for the team."
Staff Sgt. William Morgan, A Company, 210th Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, said that he is an avid runner and would like to record a new personal best time at the ATM. This will be Morgan's eighth appearance at the Army Ten-Miler, having only missed it twice in his career due to deployments.
"My favorite ATM moment is crossing the finish line and feeling the excitement of completing a historic event," he said. "The Army Ten-Miler brings inspiration just by mentioning the name. I am particularly inspired by the wounded warriors who participate in the race."
Maj. Emily Roman shared similar sentiments on the race.
"For me, there is nothing more humbling than running alongside wounded warriors and veterans at this race," she said. "It is raw courage and determination, and it's incredibly inspiring."
Roman, who serves as chief of military justice and is assigned to Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, said that this is her fourth time competing at the Army Ten-Miler but the first time as part of a team.
"It's one big reunion - service members, veteran and runners from all over the world come together for this race," she said "My goal is to set and maintain a solid race pace."
It's having a steady pace that Roman said is her strength. She said her biggest weakness is starting the race too fast. Roman ran cross country in high school and now runs for fitness and recreation. She said that her favorite race moment was running the New York City Marathon in 2008, in the city where she was born.
Joining Roman on the active-duty women's team is Maj. Bridget Robshaw, from Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 10th Mountain Division Sustainment Brigade.
Robshaw has ran the ATM four times, to include a shadow run while deployed to Afghanistan. For her fifth race, Robshaw wants to finish in 70 minutes.
"I don't have a running background. I just started running in the Army and then competitively for my first ATM," she said. "I'm excited to experience running with my fellow runners and knowing we are there to represent the Army because we love the Army and we love running."
Robshaw, who qualified for the 2014 Boston Marathon, considers herself an endurance runner because she refuses to let any pain or fatigue stop her.
"Running has taught me that I'm tougher than I think," she said. "Every time I run a race, no matter the distance I always ask myself why am I doing this? The answer is because I love it!"
Maj. Matthew Stockton, Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, said that he is primarily a recreational runner and had never tried out for an Army Ten-Miler Team before.
Stockton, the brigade's aviation officer, said that he had been inspired by a fellow aviation officer with whom he served and deployed with at various times in their careers.
"He started running and lost a ton of weight, and his times got really fast," Stockton said. "He ran the Army Ten-Miler and has made multiple post teams. He inspired me with his ATM completion to do the same."
With that goal in mind, Stockton dropped weight, trained hard and earned his spot on the team.
"Earlier this year, I ran a 1:37 half marathon in Olathe, Kansas, and have reduced that time to 1:26 with my train-up for the Army Ten-Miler tryout," he said. "My goal for the 10-Miler has always been to break the 60 minute mark. As a 39-year old, that may be a little out of my current grasp but that will not prevent me from trying."
If running has taught him anything, Stockton said that he realized that he needs to be realistic with maintaining a pace at the start of the race.
"The pace should be based on distance," he said. "The other big lesson that I have learned is that there are really two parts that need to be trained and work together to put a good race together - your mind and body. I can will my body to give me a little more, but it is easier if I have established a fitness foundation to draw upon when I need it."
First Lt. Andrew Giller, C Battery executive officer with 3rd Battalion, 6th Field Artillery Regiment, 1st Brigade Combat Team, is running his fourth Army Ten-Miler and is on the active-duty mixed team.
"I grew up just outside of Washington, D.C., and spent a lot of time going there," he said. "The Army Ten-Miler gives me a chance to race through some of my favorite parts of D.C. again."
At his first Army Ten-Miler, Giller represented the George Mason University ROTC and now he is proud to represent the 10th Mountain Division.
"I am excited to represent my unit here at Fort Drum back in my hometown," he said. "I know quite a few other people from across the Army, as well as local friends and family who will also be there to race and I look forward to getting a chance to compete against them."
Giller ran cross country and track in high school and first ran the ATM while in college, which he finished in one hour.
"I would love to be able to return and run that time again," he said.
Giller had originally planned to run the Adirondack Marathon but said that making the Fort Drum Ten-Miler Team changed his mind.
"It is incredible to see so many people from all around the Army that come together to race the Army Ten-Miler," he said. "It is also one of the toughest races I have ever been in since the depth of talent that shows up to this race is really high."
First Lt. John Evans, 2nd Battalion, 15th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, has previously ran the ATM on teams at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, Fort Carson, Colorado, and Joint Base San Antonio, Texas. In 2014, he was part of the Fort Carson team that won the Commanders Cup.
Entering his sixth ATM, Evans said the goal of the men's team is to place in the top three. A former high school cross country athlete, Evans has competed in marathons and triathlons and is now interested in Half Ironman distance races.
The challenge for him leading up to the ATM was getting enough training miles. As the battalion physician assistant, Evans was managing the morning sick call while his Ten-Miler teammates were running.
"I am a pretty strong runner for the limited mileage I put in weekly," he said. "I would also say that's my weakness as well - the limited mileage hinders me on the long distance races."
Sgt. Samantha Nieman is a special victim prosecution noncommissioned officer with Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion. It's her first Army Ten-Miler, and she said that she is excited to be part of the active-duty women's team.
"I randomly started running races last September as a hobby," Nieman said. "My goal is to finish the race in 1:20."
Nieman experienced a setback while recovering from knee injury, but has participated in several road races in preparation for the ATM - from 5Ks to half marathons. Her favorite place to run locally is the Black River Trail.
"I use running as a way to stay mentally positive," she said. "If I start to think negatively about anything, then my pace slows."
Capt. Le Mar Baliwag, with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 10th Brigade Support Battalion, 1st Brigade Combat Team, is partial to running in Sackets Harbor and ran the 18.12 Challenge in August that finishes there from Watertown.
Baliwag said that he is mostly a recreational runner and qualified for the Boston Marathon in March. His goal for the ATM is posting a sub-60 minute time.
Many runners stick to a time-tested pre-race food plan - knowing what to eat and drink in the days and hours before the start time can mean the difference between a PB (personal best) or a DNF (did not finish).
Baliwag said that he likes to get his carbs from a large pizza the night before a race. Evans prefers sweet potato pancakes at least two hours before the race and Giller tries not to consume anything but coffee. Robshaw said that she runs on an empty tank, and Stockton will eat a banana and some Sports Beans - jelly beans enhanced with Vitamin C, electrolytes and caffeine.
Eating habits aside, Nestor said that he is confident everyone has put in the time and effort to be successful this weekend.
"All credit goes to the hard work that these runners have put in and their commitment and their investment into the training plan," Nestor said. "I am excited to think of what we can achieve on race day."