By Scott Prater
For the next month and a half folks at Schriever have the unique opportunity to gain invaluable knowledge from a world-class athlete.
1st Lt. Caroline White has dreamed of flying Air Force planes since she was 12 years old.
She grew up as the middle daughter of two Army parents in Tacoma, Wash. Like many teenagers, her life revolved around school and athletics.
As a pole vaulter, she earned district honors for her performances with her high school track team. She entered the Air Force Academy as a track athlete in 2003 intent on fulfilling her life-long flying dream. But Pole vaulting didn’t last. After a season of track competition, she switched to parachuting. She joined the AFA’s Wings of Blue team and spent the remainder of her Academy life jumping from airplanes.
Those three years flew by quickly. Upon graduating she quickly moved on to the University of Maryland, where she completed a Masters degree in Public Policy.
It was in Maryland where she discovered her previously unknown, or “hidden” talent.
Convinced by friends to run a marathon, Lieutenant White entered her first in November of 2007, with the sole purpose of just having fun.
With virtually no training or experience, she completed that 26.2 mile course in 3 hours, 9 minutes, shattering even her own expectations.
“It was not only surprising, it was encouraging,” Lieutenant White said of her first foray into distance racing. “It was a signal. I started asking myself, ‘what am I capable of,’ and I’m still trying to figure out my potential.”
Since that first marathon, she has competed in multiple distances events: top-level marathons, Ironman Triathlons and 10-kilometer races. Her training has ballooned. She now runs between 80 and 100 miles a week and is preparing for this November’s Twin Cities Marathon in Minnesota.
This past April, she crossed the finish line at the Boston Marathon in 2:55. By comparison, she only needs to shave 10 minutes off her time in Minnesota to earn a spot in the 2012 Olympic trials competition.
“My time in the Boston Marathon was pretty decent,” she said. “I’m hoping to run 2:45 at the Twin Cities Marathon, the course is less difficult and I’ve put in some solid training for the past two months.”
In the meantime, Lieutenant White has put her pilot training on hold. She has been participating in the World Class Athlete Program, which allows her to train for the Olympic qualifying event and assist Air Force members with their training and fitness goals.
“I advise, coach and help people who are looking to improve their times and who are looking into long-distance running,” she said. “And I can help anyone. Somebody asked me the other day for fitness advice. They didn’t even plan on running.”
Most people she advises need help with nutrition or a coherent training program. She’s even fielded questions about tapering prior to competitions. She said most folks just send her an e-mail and then she either sets up a time and place to meet or talk over the phone.
Lieutenant White will be here in Colorado Springs until October and she can be reached at email@example.com.
The clock is ticking. Schriever personnel can only gain her advice for the month and half. Following the November Olympic qualifying marathon, Lieutenant White will enter pilot training at Sheppard AFB in Wichita Falls, Texas.