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MONROE - When Karl Hauser is running a long distance, he gives no thought to the pain of his next step, the tingling sensation in his back or the internal heaving that comes before a second wind.
Instead, he sings to himself, goes through rows of the multiplication tables, thinks about his job at Enterprise Rent-A-Car in Perrysburg, Ohio, and before he knows it - a marathon is over.
Running is an aesthetic for this retired Air Force master sergeant and that's why he enjoys running long distances. But when it comes to marathons, "the training is the fun part."
The first marathon Mr. Hauser ever ran was the Air Force Marathon at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, just outside Dayton, in 2002.
"I remember feeling relieved when I crossed the finish line," said the Indiana native who now lives in Monroe.
Shortly after that, Mr. Hauser, retired from the Air Force and moved to Michigan, but he wanted to run another marathon.
He'll be running the Detroit Free Press Marathon on Oct. 24 in Detroit.
While training, he came across the Team In Training program, an endurance charity organization that helps athletes get in shape while raising money for a good cause like the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.
"Walkers, runners, cyclists, skaters, and triathletes raise funds and in exchange receive a personalized fitness program that will help them successfully complete their event," said Tami Duquette, the TNT program director.
Mr. Hauser has since raised $1,500 through family and friends who are sponsoring him for the race.
Every TNT team is given an "honored hero," someone suffering from leukemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin's disease or myeloma.
Mr. Hauser is running for Shadia Ahmad, a Dearborn resident in treatment for non-Hodgkins lymphoma. In addition, Mr. Hauser, will be running in memory of Stanley Lagerman, his wife's stepfather who died of the disease in 1999.
"The first time I ran a marathon was for me. This time I want to run in memory of my wife's stepfather and in honor of Shadia," said the 39-year-old. "The biggest thing is that I have a chance to give something back."
A graduate of Monroe High School, Mr. Hauser, enlisted in the Air Force in 1983 right after high school. He joined an Air Support Operation Squadron that has taken him on missions on three continents and more than 20 countries serving in the first Gulf War, Bosnia, and South Korea.
"My experience living abroad has given me an appreciation of what we have here," said Mr. Hauser. He loves running in the mornings and has been drinking more water since he started training. In his first marathon, he finished in five hours. He contends "it's not about speed. I'm not in it to win. I just want to make the distance."
Mr. Hauser has not changed his eating habits. "That's the beauty of running long distances, you can eat whatever you want," he said.
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