“I ran because I wanted to do something for the families,” she said. “I can't bring those women back, I can't heal broken hearts, but if by running, I helped one family member or friend of one of those women feel better for even a second, then I consider it a success. “
Torres set out on her journey May 26 and finished the run in her hometown 10 days later.
“Being a Marine helped by having the discipline to do what needed to be done even when I didn't want to,” said Torres. “Also having the support of my Marines was a huge help. They knew what my goal was and why I was doing it, so on tough days they'd come out and run a few miles with me to help get me out of my own head.”
Torres faced several challenges, including the weather and Wyoming’s hilly landscape, during the run.
“I got rained on, hailed on, sleeted on, sunburnt and experienced 50 mile per hour winds. It changed every day,” she said. “I've also been battling some injuries, so not being at full strength was really frustrating. My body and mind felt amazing and I wanted to concur every mile with pride and remembrance, but my feet injuries made some of those miles a really rough.”
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Torres, who lives in Virginia, trained for a year before starting her run.
“I broke the training down into sections,” she explained. “I used an elevation mask religiously and made sure to bump up the elevation in small increments to make sure I was adjusting.”
Torres said even though the training was exhausting, she knew her efforts would pay off during her long run.
“I did back-to-back long runs and went from running four days a week to five and then eventually six,” she said.
Torres linked up with the Valor Run foundation for her run. The foundation honors the memories of women who died while serving the country during Operation Iraqi Freedom, Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation New Dawn. Valor Run also provides a scholarship to children of women who served in Iraq or Afghanistan.
Valor Run works with runners interested in completing their own 161-mile tribute run. The location, time and duration of each run is completely up to the individual runner. Runners must have a significant marathon or ultra running experience and should allow a minimum of six months for planning and training.
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Torres said she stumbled upon Valor Run by pure chance and hopes that other runners will complete their own tribute runs.
“I want this organization to be a household name. I want other runners to have as great of an experience that I did,” she said. “I want nothing but great things for this organization so these families know those women are still changing lives. They are still a force to be reckoned with.”
Photo courtesy Pamela Torres