By Matt Decker (Leonard Wood)April 30, 2019
Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. -- Amy Frederick loves to run marathons. In a little over two weeks, she will achieve a personal milestone when she travels to Fargo, North Dakota, to compete in the 2019 Fargo Marathon -- the 100th marathon of her career.
The race represents the culmination of 14 years of marathon running for Frederick, 33, who will have achieved this particular goal not only by constant training, practicing and competing, but also by overcoming some significant obstacles, chiefly a broken leg she suffered in 2016.
She attributes both her longevity and her ability to come back to her training in the U.S. Army.
"It's the discipline factor, I guess," said Frederick, a staff sergeant in the 14th Military Police Brigade, where she serves as an anti-terrorism instructor.
"Being in the Army you acquire discipline, routine, and staying dedicated to a cause -- I think in a way those things have helped me (as a runner)," she said. "The Army has instilled that discipline within me: You get up early in the morning to train when you don't want to."
Originally from Waldorf, Maryland, Frederick ran cross-country and track for Thomas Strong High School, but said she didn't become an avid runner until after joining the Army immediately after graduating in 2003.
"I did JROTC in high school, which was kind of an influence for me to join. I got a little bit of a taste of the lifestyle of the Army. That was probably the biggest motivator, along with the sense of joining something and doing something for my country," she said.
After running the Army Ten-Miler for the first time in 2004, she saw an ad for the Marine Corps Marathon, which she ran in 2005 and 2006.
"I got interested in (the Marine Corps Marathon) and trained up for it," she said. "Also, being stationed in the northern Virginia/D.C. area, there were a lot of places to run. So, I guess that was my motivation to get out there. You had this very scenic area to run. Our unit would do a lot of runs from post; we would go out to Arlington Cemetery, to the monuments and things like that. It was a combination of all those things. The races were fun, too."
In her job as an instructor, Frederick regularly travels, and often finds ways to fit in marathon running during her down time on the road as well as when she's home. Although not an organized race, she even ran marathon distances when deployed to Iraq in 2010 and 2011, after which she began another goal: to run a marathon in all 50 states. Currently, she's at 42 states, and, after Fargo will only need seven more.
"When I got back from Iraq in 2011, I got linked up with a couple of different running clubs. I was doing all these races, and I noticed I (had run marathons in) various states. I thought I might as well do all 50," she said.
At her high point, Frederick said, she ran up to 20 marathons per year. However, in 2016, an accident during training at Fort Campbell, Kentucky, left her sidelined.
"We were doing an obstacle course. I must've lost my grip or my footing -- I'm not sure because it happened so fast," she said. "I fractured my tibia, so it put me down for a little bit."
Frederick worked hard to recover as quickly as she could.
"After six months I was using the anti-gravity treadmill and doing physical therapy, but I wasn't doing full-on running," she said. "Actual running was probably about a year after (the accident.) Not being able to be out there and seeing my friends racing, too, it was hard."
Although back to running marathons, Frederick still deals with the effects of the break. Instead of running 15 marathons a year, she's averaged two races per year for the last two years. And her regular pace time has slowed by about a minute on a 2-mile run.
During her efforts to recover, Frederick said she has been inspired by fellow Soldiers, veterans and the Army Values they exhibit, especially personal courage.
"Loyalty and duty have something to do with it, if you think about it in a way, and personal courage, too. Just to be able to get out there, especially after an injury, and just get after it," she said. "During the Army Ten Miler, when I see wounded warriors come back with amputations and severe injuries and they're out there doing amazing things, it makes me think there's no excuse why I can't get back out there. All I've had is a fracture -- there's no comparison to what they've gone through."
One thing that was never in doubt is that she would continue her efforts to complete her 50-state marathon goal.
"Even though I got injured, I was already quite a way into my journey," she said. "So, I felt like I couldn't not finish."
As an NCO, Frederick hopes her story will serve to inspire younger Soldiers.
"Being a good runner, I think, shows Soldiers that even at my age, and with injuries, you can still overcome that and push through," she said.
Frederick, who was stationed at Fort Leonard Wood from 2012 to 2015 before returning here six months ago, has already been an inspiration to several runners outside the gate, according to Melissa Martinez, coordinator of the Frog Fitness Group and organizer of numerous running events in the Waynesville/St. Robert area.
"I've been blessed to know Amy for many years and to have run races with her many times. I have no doubt that she will complete her 100th marathon and then 100 more if she sets her mind to it," Martinez said.
"Amy is an inspiration to so many because she simply refuses to give up. When she is faced with life's hurdles, she stands firm and looks for ways to conquer them," she added. "As a marathoner myself, I know what it takes to cross finish line after finish line. Sometimes it's easy and sometimes it's downright gut-wrenching. But it's always worth it. Almost anyone can run a marathon, but it takes a special kind of runner to do it over and over and over. That's Amy."
In addition to being a runner, Frederick is also a run organizer, serving as the co-chair for this year's Sergeant Audie Murphy Club 5K/10K run, which takes place Saturday at Davidson Fitness Center.
"I'm doing what I can to help organize it," Frederick said. "I ran it in 2014, but it was a totally different course back then. It's designed to be a low-key, fun race, with a 5K route and a 10K. We have units that come out and support it every year."
Overall, Frederick said she's looking forward to another marathon season.
"I'm just happy to be back out there," she said.