Members Of Submarine USS Hartford Crew Will Run Marathon After Training At Sea
By Lori Riley
October 16, 2011
On Submarine, Some Not So Silent Running
It's hard to train for a marathon on a submarine.
It's even harder when the guys driving the submarine angle it upward, sometimes just to mess with runners on the sub's treadmills.
"We would have help from our shipmates who were driving the ship," said Eric Mathley, chief of the boat for the USS Hartford, now docked at the sub base after a month at sea. "They would put an up angle on the ship but stay at the same depth. It was like putting your treadmill up to a 3 or a 4."
"Yes, they were helping us out. Making us stronger."
Seventeen members of the crew of the Hartford have spent the past few months training for Saturday's ING Hartford Marathon and half-marathon. They were recently honored as part of the marathon's new Elite Inspiration team program, created to showcase people with inspiring stories.
Four of the Hartford's crew, including Chief Petty Officer Dave Martinez, will run the marathon. The rest are running the half-marathon, and one crew member is running the 5K because he injured his knee.
Running in Hartford initially was Martinez's idea.
"They're blaming me for this," he said. "I had been in contact with [marathon race director] Beth Shluger. I was just trying to get our boat number  for a bib. She asked how many others are doing it. The [executive officer] started twisting arms amongst the officers and more people signed up for it. One thing kind of led to another."
Martinez, 38, became a runner almost two years ago when he and his wife decided to lose weight. He lost 45 pounds. He always wanted to run the Steamtown Marathon in his hometown of Scranton, Pa., and because he knew he'd be back in port now, he ran it last weekend, finishing in 3:47.
"It wasn't like I sat down and said, 'I'm going to run two marathons in two weeks,'" he said. "This might be the only chance I could do it."
He couldn't run that much while the sub was out to sea, or what the sailors call "underway," because he wasn't comfortable running on the treadmill. Mathley had three treadmills installed on the ship, two in the torpedo room and one in the engine room. The treadmill in the engine room was in tight quarters with a pipe overhead that threatened to whack the runners in the head if they weren't paying attention.
"I did one 12-mile run on the [engine room] treadmill and it was just not very comfortable trying to run," Martinez said. "What I ended up doing was getting on the Versaclimber. We had one in the engine room; it's like a mountain climbing [machine]."
Cardiovascularly, Martinez was fine last weekend at Steamtown, but his legs weren't used to the pounding. He'll run slower Saturday, 9-minute miles, with his goal a 4-hour marathon.
Mathley started running more than a year ago and quit smoking, too. He's in better shape now at 42 than he was 20 years ago.
"I was trying to lose weight, to get fit to get the job I have now as the chief of the boat," said Mathley, who is from Ona, W.Va., and will run the half-marathon. "Once I reported to the Hartford, Chief Martinez said he was going to run the marathon and I thought, 'What better way to integrate the ship with the city itself?'"
"I promoted it, guilted my executive officer into doing it. Then we brought in the rest of the crew, kind of pumped it up."
He and executive officer Chris Gilmore logged a lot of time on the torpedo room treadmills, about 20-25 miles a week.
"We did a lot of long runs," Mathley said. "The most I did was 9 miles."
With three treadmills for 130 men on the boat — as well as a busy work schedule— sometimes it was difficult to schedule time to run. Having the goal of running the marathon or half-marathon as a group helped.
"Preparing for this has been great for us," said Gilmore, 39, of Gilmantin, N.H., who will run the half-marathon. "We were able to prioritize exercise, which we should. One of the things we're trying to promote here in the Navy is to have a culture of fitness. We're trying to promote it onboard and get the guys to engage in it. This has done that."