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AFSOUTH Airman goes the distance

Senior Airman Savas Rivera, a regional weather forecaster/special support forecaster assigned to the 612th Support Squadron, uses several programs to analyze the atmosphere and monitor weather patterns on Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz., Dec. 5, 2013.  Rivera uses the programs to create forecasts for the forward operating locations within the U.S. Southern Command area of responsibility.   (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Heather R. Redman/Released)

Senior Airman Savas Rivera, a regional weather forecaster/special support forecaster assigned to the 612th Support Squadron, uses several programs to analyze the atmosphere and monitor weather patterns on Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz., Dec. 5, 2013. Rivera uses the programs to create forecasts for the forward operating locations within the U.S. Southern Command area of responsibility. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Heather R. Redman/Released)

Senior Airman Savas Rivera, a regional weather forecaster/special support forecaster assigned to the 612th Support Squadron, walks heel to toe at the base track on Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz., Dec. 5, 2013.  Walking heel to toe helped Rivera strengthen his shin and calf muscles to prevent shin splints while he runs.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Heather R. Redman/Released)

Senior Airman Savas Rivera, a regional weather forecaster/special support forecaster assigned to the 612th Support Squadron, walks heel to toe at the base track on Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz., Dec. 5, 2013. Walking heel to toe helped Rivera strengthen his shin and calf muscles to prevent shin splints while he runs. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Heather R. Redman/Released)

Senior Airman Savas Rivera, a regional weather forecaster/special support forecaster assigned to the 612th Support Squadron, runs around Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz., as part of his marathon training, Dec. 5, 2013.  Rivera trained for the Holualoa Tucson Marathon and set a new personal record on Oct. 8.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Heather R. Redman/Released)

Senior Airman Savas Rivera, a regional weather forecaster/special support forecaster assigned to the 612th Support Squadron, runs around Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz., as part of his marathon training, Dec. 5, 2013. Rivera trained for the Holualoa Tucson Marathon and set a new personal record on Oct. 8. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Heather R. Redman/Released)

Senior Airman Savas Rivera, a regional weather forecaster/special support forecaster assigned to the 612th Support Squadron, stretches after a run at the base track on Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz., Dec. 5, 2013.  Stretching helps reduce soreness from running and helps increase flexibility. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Heather R. Redman/Released)

Senior Airman Savas Rivera, a regional weather forecaster/special support forecaster assigned to the 612th Support Squadron, stretches after a run at the base track on Davis-Monthan AFB, Ariz., Dec. 5, 2013. Stretching helps reduce soreness from running and helps increase flexibility. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Heather R. Redman/Released)

Senior Airman Savas Rivera, a regional weather forecaster/special support forecaster assigned to the 612th Support Squadron, cross the finish line Holualoa Tucson Marathon in Oracle, Ariz., Oct. 8, 2013.  Rivera finished third in his age group.  (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Heather R. Redman/Released)

Senior Airman Savas Rivera, a regional weather forecaster/special support forecaster assigned to the 612th Support Squadron, cross the finish line Holualoa Tucson Marathon in Oracle, Ariz., Oct. 8, 2013. Rivera finished third in his age group. (U.S. Air Force photo by Staff Sgt. Heather R. Redman/Released)

DAVIS-MONTHAN AFB, Ariz. -- Senior Airman Savas Rivera a regional weather forecaster/special support forecaster assigned to the 612th Support Squadron, trains and runs for a variety of distance runs in his off duty time.

As a weather forecaster, Rivera's job involves creating forecasts for the forward operating locations within the U.S. Southern Command area of responsibility. He briefs all transient aircraft and pilots on all things weather related and also provides products to deployed units and partner nations that help predict hazardous weather systems and aid in resource protection of government assets.

"Each day we go through and analyze the atmosphere and create a best guess forecast up to 30 hours out for our forward operating locations," said Rivera. "We'll also create briefs for the pilots and inform them on any possible mission impacts due to the weather; isolated turbulence, thunder storms, as well as anything else they may request, like occasional tidal wave data."

Rivera spends his off duty time training for distance runs. Rivera started running competitively back in high school where he ran cross country and track for all four years of attendance as well as a year in college.

"I was decent at running so I decided to continue when I joined the Air Force," Rivera said. "After I joined I met some runners and they convinced me to run longer distances."

Training is an important part distance running. Rivera has been training for marathons off and on for the last four years. When he's not training for marathons he maintains his fitness level by training for shorter races as well as ultra-marathons. An ultra-marathon is considered anything longer than the 26.2 miles of the standard marathon. Typically they are 50 kilometers, 50 miles, and up.

Rivera's training program includes a wide variety of running exercises. That includes a distance run, tempo runs and speed runs, cross training, biking, rowing, as well as yoga and gymnastic classes.

"Typically there is one day that I'll do a distance run, which is approximately 15 miles or if I'm training for an ultra-marathon, I'll just run for three or more hours. I cross train twice a week to include biking or rowing. I do a lot of tempo runs and speed runs. When I can make it, I'll also attend yoga and gymnastics classes," said Rivera.

Rivera keeps his motivation to run by being competitive; consistently finishing within the top 10 percent of his age group and placing in several half marathons. Rivera won the deployed version of the Air Force Half Marathon, placed second in the Gulf Coast Half Marathon in Pensacola, Fla., and placed third at the Cannonball Half Marathon in, N.C.

Keeping motivated has helped in Rivera set both long term and short term goals.

"I plan to set a new personal marathon record at the Holualoa Tucson Marathon on Oct. 8. Long term I'm hoping to keep beating my personal record so that I can apply for the Air Force Marathon team," said Rivera. "Another goal I have is compete in a few ultra-marathons to include the Lake Martin 50 miler in Alabama."

Physical fitness is an important topic within the Air Force. The Air Force Fitness Program goal is to motivate Airmen to participate in a year-round physical conditioning program that emphasizes total fitness, to include proper aerobic conditioning, strength and flexibility training, and healthy eating. Health benefits from an active lifestyle will increase productivity, optimize health, and decrease absenteeism while maintaining a higher level of readiness. Distance running has helped Rivera remain focused throughout his Air Force career.

"You definitely have to be focused for it because it's easy to not want to do it," said Rivera. "Especially during the winter time or any inclement weather, it's easy to stay inside. The training keeps me goal focused and ambitious. It helps you overcome physical pain or distractors in general."

Rivera reached his short term goal by placing third in his age group for the Holualoa Tucson Marathon and set a new personal record, completing the marathon three hours and twenty minutes.

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