What is TEAM USO? TEAM USO was developed in response to volunteers like you who were looking for new ways to support the troops and their families. It’s a comprehensive web-based program that makes it fun, fast, and easy to raise money in support of our mission. We provide the guidance, tools and resources…you supply the creativity and passion!
Whether you’re emailing, baking, biking, running, collecting, dancing or more, know that TEAM USO is there to provide the tools and tips you need to make your event a success. TEAM USO is made up of individuals from every walk of life who are united in their support of our troops and their families, and that’s a powerful thing!
Today we want to introduce you to one member of the team, and hope you’ll join us as we continue to grow…
Who are you?
Pam Riker, USO employee and Team USO Coach
Why do you run?
I run because it is a part of who I am. Running has been my sport of choice for almost 20 years and it is where I draw both strength and solace.
Why do you support the USO?
I support the USO because I have a tremendous amount of awe and respect for our country’s service men and women. I could never do the job that they do, and so I am forever grateful for the fact that they put their lives on hold and face danger to protect my freedom. I also have seen and experienced first hand the services that the USO offers as I have a loved one in the Army.
For those on the fence about joining the team and running the Marine Crops Marathon (MCM), what encouragement/advice would you give?
Just do it! If you have even the slightest desire (or curiosity) to join this program and run MCM with Team USO, then just do it. For 8 years I trained people to run marathons and the hardest step is the very first one; actually committing to do it. Once you get over that hurdle, the rest is easy…….Ok, maybe not easy…. But, the challenge and triumph that comes from training for and completing a marathon is like nothing else one could ever experience in life. And, doing all that for a cause greater than yourself makes the experience even that much more rewarding.
You have run the Marine Corps Marathon before. What advice would you give to those running it for the first time?
Take in every moment of it. Listen to crowd cheering you on. High five the Marine that is yelling words of encouragement and motivation. Enjoy the view of the monuments and the beautiful DC Fall scenery. The Marine Corps Marathon is known as the “People’s Marathon” and I believe that statement to be absolutely true. There is no friendlier or more beautiful course in my mind. And don’t listen to all those folks who tell you that the hill before the finish line is horrendous…..yes, it’s a hill, but by that point in the race you will be the strongest you have ever been in your life, so just kick it into high gear and tackle that hill. Then you can collapse and bask in the glory at the finish line ☺
What is your favorite post-run snack/meal?
Oh wow, what isn’t my favorite post-run snack?? Honestly, my body is usually craving a lot of protein after a long run, so I usually go for either a nice hamburger piled high with lots of fresh veggies or I hit up my local Chipotle for a burrito bowl filled with beans, meat, veggies and guacamole.
What is your most memorable race experience and why?
I have completed 8 marathons and over a dozen half marathons, so it’s hard to pick my most memorable moment out of all of them. Each race holds a special place in my heart and I cherish every experience (even those that I struggled with). I loved the Marine Corps Marathon because it was my first and I ran it in honor of a family member that I lost years ago.
But, I would have to say the most memorable race experience was running the New York City Marathon in November, 2001. While many people were afraid to visit the city after September 11, a group of 40,000 eager runners came together and said, “we will not be afraid, but we will embrace this city after this tragedy”. As we lined up at the start line and just before the starting gun went off, they played Frank Sinatra’s “New York, New York”. The entire crowd just gathered together, sang and cried.
As we ran through the five boroughs, the streets were lined with New Yorkers cheering us on, so happy that this group of crazy runners was supporting their city. New York’s finest fire fighters and police officers were all along the route, high-fiving and yelling words of encouragement. And not a single runner passed them by with saying a word of gratitude for their service. It actually brings tears to my eyes just thinking about it. It was one of the most memorable days of my life and it shows the joy and sense of community that running can provide. I was never so proud to run through a city as I was on that day.