To find out how my running journey started, we have to go back to high school when I was on the track and field team for 3 years. You can read about that here.
As I mentioned at the end of that post, I thought I was done with running when I graduated high school. But at the beginning of my third year in college, I brought my then boyfriend to an Army Reserve recruiter. Long story short, the recruiter was good enough at his job that he convinced me to join, too! All of that promised tuition reimbursement I thought I'd get – don't even get me started on that. I expressed some concern to my recruiter about my “exercise induced asthma,” and he said that if I didn't mention it at MEPS, then there wouldn't be a problem.
The first part of enlisting in the Army Reserve was a written test called the ASVAB. After I passed my ASVAB with flying colors, I had to have a physical. I'm not going to go into too much detail because this is about my running journey and not about my military career. Needless to say, I passed my physical, swore the oath, and about nine months later I shipped off to Basic Combat Training (BCT). I spent some of that nine months doing physical training (PT) with my recruiter to help ensure that I could pass the first PT test at BCT. The military uses A LOT of acronyms...I refuse to type the full words every time.
All of the training with the recruiter paid off because my incoming PT test was a cinch. If you don't pass the first test, you have to stay in “Reception” until you can pass. Reception is a sort of waiting room for BCT and it's a special kind of hell. Thankfully, I passed my PT test and I got to officially start my nine-week long BCT. We ran at least two miles every other weekday but that was my limit. Especially because we sang cadences while we ran. Don’t they know running makes it hard enough to breathe?
We usually ran the same route, but every so often the Drill Sergeants would throw an extra turn in and things like that defeated me. I was already in the slowest pace group, and running anything over two miles just messed with my body and mind. Even with all of the mental games, I managed to pass BCT and the rest of my military training without too much of a problem. I was the most physically fit I'd ever been. But, I still HATED running.
Once I was out of training and with my Reserve unit, I had to take a PT test at least once every year. I usually failed. For one, I wasn't doing anything to maintain my fitness level. For two, if we weren't running on a quarter-mile track, I couldn't get my pace down well enough to pass the run. It was completely a mental thing, of course, but I NEEDED a quarter-mile track to be able to finish in the allotted time.
After deploying to Iraq for a year, I came back to finish college, and I decided to try out the new ROTC program at my school (in addition to my Army Reserve obligations). I only did it for one semester, partially because I couldn't maintain the credit load, and partially because I hated having to get up and run with the other cadets. I hated it because I was the slowest person, and I couldn't breathe if I tried to run at the same pace as everyone else. Eventually, I was discharged from the Army Reserve, in part because I couldn't pass a PT test. It brought me extreme relief to know I was finished with running. I honestly think I would have rather been tortured by Arvin Sloane than to have to run another mile.
So, what changed in the time since then? What possessed me to start running regularly and start paying people so that I could run races? You're dying from curiosity, aren't you? Okay, I'll tell you! Next time.