Spc. Helen M. Corne, a member of the Brazil National Guard, has been overseas since January. She is currently stationed at the Al Asad Air Base. She joined the service two years ago.
The time overseas has proven fruitful for Corne from a physical standpoint. Since arriving, she has lost more than 30 pounds. In addition to an exercise routine, which consists of running an average of four miles per day, Corne has also implemented a strict diet, and says she's "never felt better."
Corne has been able to put her new found appreciation of running to good use, as she has competed in six 5k runs in Iraq, which take place once a month.
She recently attempted to take things up a notch, when she competed in a 26.2- mile marathon. It was Corne's second attempt in a marathon. Her first came in 2007, when she and a group of friends ran in a 13-mile mini-marathon in St. Louis.
Things didn't go particularly well, however, as Corne said she could hardly move at the end of the race, and finished after walking a great deal of the race's distance. Her struggles in St. Louis seemed to taper Corne's expectations, as she said her goal "was to make it 13 miles."
Luckily, her increased training schedule not only helped accomplish her pre-race goal, it allowed her to shatter it. Corne finished the entire race, coming in at a time of 5 hours and 33 minutes, and hardly felt any of the physical ill effects she experienced following the St. Louis race.
"I never imagined I would finish the whole marathon," Corne said. "And with no pain afterwards."
Corne wasn't alone in the race, running with four men from her troop, all of whom finished the race in under six hours. She said the race was well organized, and all patrons were rewarded with medals and long-sleeve shirts to commemorate the race. They were also treated to a spaghetti dinner the night before to help give them the necessary carb load needed to compete in the gruelling race.
Corne expressed gratitude toward the military for presenting its soldiers with events such as the marathon to help them get through the long haul of overseas service.
"I believe (events such as the marathon) are a great thing to keep soldiers busy and to keep then fit while away from home," Corne said. "It is really hard being gone from loved ones for so long, but when you have activities like the ones we have here, it makes life easier."
Corne, who wasn't a trained runner prior to the St. Louis race, said she fully intends to maintain an interest in the sport when she returns home. She said her experiences have been made easier thanks to the support of not only her fellow soldiers, but from friends and family back home whom she's maintained in close contact with. She said the primary reason she planned to stay physically active is largely due a new found sense of confidence it has given her.
"I have never felt better about myself," Corne said. "I never imagined I would have lost (the weight I've lost), nor ran a marathon consisting of more than three miles. I am blessed I had the chance to (embark on this experience)."