Ryan Lamke knows a thing or two about running in combat boots. The 29-year-old Virginia native served two tours in Iraq before suffering a traumatic brain injury that forced his early retirement, though it should be noted that he was recently found fit for duty and is working toward becoming a reservist (how’s THAT for dedication??). By his own admission, it’s been a while since he last ran in his boots, and it seems a little daunting so far out from his days in the Corps. But Ryan is committed to helping fellow veterans and active duty military families, so he’s lacing up his boots once more this Saturday, March 15, to run the Rock ’N Roll Half Marathon in Washington D.C. Take a look at what Ryan had to say about his training and plans for the race, and learn about this wounded warrior who’s making a difference in the lives of service men and women with every step.
Boot Campaign (BC): What are you most nervous about for the race?
Ryan Lamke (RL): I like the idea of running in the boots. I trained with running shoes and know that I can make good time with trainers, but I am curious to see how well I will run 13.1 miles in boots. It has been five years since I last ran in boots, so this should be interesting.
BC: What’s the craziest advice you’ve received?
RL: Most of the advice has been pretty mundane, mainly about what to eat. Many have advised that I should take baths, get massages, etc. As usual, I have ignored most of the advice
BC: What will you eat the night before?
RL: I will stick to grains and oats the night before. I originally thought about ordering an extra-large pizza but the overwhelming wisdom suggested against that.
BC: How have you trained for this event?
RL: The first thing I did was quit smoking and adjust my diet. My normal fitness regimen was focused on maintaining muscle mass and lifting five days a week. I decided to cut weight, about 20 lbs., and focus on running. I stopped lifting and transitioned to a body weight exercise plan, ran regularly and spent quite a bit of time on my bicycle just building up my cardio endurance. Though it is only a half-marathon, I have not ran more than 3 miles at once in several years.
BC: What’s been the worst part of training? Best?
RL: The worst part has been the soreness. With two bad knees and back issues, the mornings after a run usually consisted of me lying in bed wondering why I was doing this (obviously the answer always was: to support the great work the Boot Campaign does on a daily basis for our warfighters). The best part was the running itself. I have always despised running, but Washington D.C. is probably the best city in the country to run around. I spent several nights a week running past the memorials illuminated by spotlights, and taking in sights that I never actually visit – despite living only blocks away from the National Mall. Every night I would visit the Vietnam Wall and picked out a name (Bennie Lee Simmons – fifth panel to the right of center, in the middle of the panel – who shared the same first name, though spelled differently, as my good friend who was killed in 2005), which I always sought out whenever in the area. It is humbling when running past the memorials that signify the sacrifice and hardships of the warriors that came before us.
BC: Running sometimes comes with unpleasant side effects. Have you experienced anything…difficult…during your training?
RL: Other than the regular vomiting (puke-and-rally!) that came with pushing myself too hard, or the sore muscles and joints, I have had it pretty easy.
BC: Who’s coming out to support you?
RL: I will have friends throughout the crowd, cheering me on along the way. The primary joke has been that they will have shots for me, to ensure I don’t feel the pain of running. I have reluctantly told them that this would be a terrible idea. A coworker will be running the half-marathon as well, and my close friend, fellow Marine and fellow Boot Campaign Ambassador Joey Jones will be there to push me as well.
BC: What do you think you’ll most enjoy about crossing the finish line?
RL: Being done. Seriously, this will hurt, but I am excited to do it for the Boot Campaign and to prove to myself that I am still able to push myself despite the injuries I sustained years ago. I can’t think of a better way to further my recovery than to do it while supporting such a great organization and showing the people of D.C. that nothing can stop me or my fellow warriors.
BC: Do you think you’ll keep running when this is over?
RL: I don’t think I will be making any 14-mile runs anytime soon after the half-marathon, but after everything is iced down and the blisters have healed, I do intend to keep up my run time.
BC: Anything you’d like to share?
RL: Everyone who reads this – especially those in D.C. – get your boots on this weekend and join me and the Boot Campaign at the Rock ‘N Roll Marathon. I look forward to seeing everyone there!