Don’t Call Me Slow

Today I was feeling particularly proud with how I fared on my PT test.  For those who are unaware: the PT test is a biannual or annual test we Air Force people take in order to measure our fitness capability.  If you get a 90 or better, you test once a year, and anything less than a 90, you test twice a year.  Last year, I got a 90.something.  Therefore, I didn’t have to test again until this September.  The test measures four components: cardiovascular, abdominal circumference, push-ups, and sit-ups.

I got up at 5:30 this morning to give myself enough time to brush my teeth, get dressed, and drive to base.  My test was at 7:00am, but I needed to be there about 15 minutes early.  I get terrible anxiety on PT test day, so I always want to make sure I am there with plenty of time to spare.  I was nervous, of course, but I wasn’t nervous about failing.  I was nervous about not getting a 90.  I knew I was going to pass; there was no way I would fail. *I just ran a half marathon 16 days ago*.  Besides that, I had practiced for my test and I knew that if I didn’t get in the 90s, I would get really close to it.  I did three practice tests last week and each time I scored around 89.8.  Ok, so I knew I wouldn’t have any problem passing it.  But passing it wasn’t good enough for me.  I wanted a 90.  I got above a 90 last year, and I was much more prepared this year opposed to last year.

First off, they measure your height/weight/abdominal circumference.  I wasn’t surprised with my results here; 5’1(ish), 117 lbs, and 27.5 inch waist.  I knew I would get max points (20) for my waist.  Moving right along.

After everyone had their AC measured, we moved on to push-ups and sit-ups.  Push-ups first, rest for a few minutes and then sit-ups.  My goal for push-ups was 31.  That would have given me around 8.9 out of 10 points.  I was okay with that because I knew my sit-ups and waist would give me enough points to round up to 90.  I surprised myself and got 34 push-ups.  Those three extra that I wasn’t planning for bumped me up to 9.1 points.  Good enough for me.

We then moved on to sit-ups.  I wasn’t worried.  In order to get max points (10) I had to do 45.  Man, I was rolling with those sit-ups.  I got to 45 and had about 15 seconds (out of 60 to spare).  I was feeling a little arrogant (ha!), so I cranked out another one just for good measure.  I didn’t get any extra points for that, but it did good for my ego.  I could have done more but I needed to conserve some energy for my run.  Add ten points to my current total and I was up to 39.1 points.  I only needed 50.9 more points to round off that 90.

I was a little nervous, but knew I would be fine.  When I practiced my mile and a half in the recent runs I did, I kept it below 15:00, and typically I was closer to the 14:40 range.  That was good enough for me.  I finished the first mile in about 9:30, which shocked me.  I couldn’t believe I was moving that quickly (for me anyway).  I got a cramp in my right side on the fifth lap, so I had to slow down.  I picked up my pace just as I completed that lap and gave it all I had the last lap.  I came in at 14:26, but with the altitude adjustment, it will end up being around a 14:08, which will give me a total composite of 91.9.  I am not completely sure what it will be, since I am still waiting on my official score notice.  However, it will definitely be at least a 90.

I was feeling pretty good about this until my boss told someone that I just had my PT test today and I killed it, getting over a 90.  The other person (read: twerp) said, “What did you do your run in?”  I told him, “14:26, but 14:08 after altitude adjustment”.  He said, “Wow, that is slow”.  I said something to the effect of, “It is real nice being over 30!” ***30 is when the ‘max out’ requirements for each of the components go down significantly.

This is what I thought I should have said after-the-fact:

Don’t criticize me because my run time was “slow” by your standards.  Am I fast?  No.  Did I ever say I was, or pretend to be fast?  No.  I am not fast.  I have had some fast runs, but overall, I am not a fast runner.  I also wanted to inform this young Airman that he didn’t know me as a young Airman, when I failed a PT test because I wasn’t prepared.  I couldn’t do push-ups and I couldn’t run.  I distinctly remember a time in my past (when I should have been in the best shape of my life—around age 20) when I ran a mile and a half in 17 something.  I didn’t have the endurance to run a quarter of a mile without stopping to walk.  I didn’t tell him that when I first got to Lackland the second time, I failed a PT test because my push-ups were improperly counted.  Nor did I explain to him that I was on a profile for about two years because of surgeries, a deployment, and bad knees.  Bad knees because I let myself gain a lot of weight and get completely out-of-shape.

Here is my message: before you criticize someone on doing something slow, encourage them, and congratulate them for what they did.  If you seek it out, you may find their story isn’t exactly what you think it might be.  Be the voice of encouragement, not the on who rains on someone else’s parade.

Me?  I will proudly voice that I got a 14:08 on my run.  It is an improvement for me and it still got me what I wanted: above a 90 on my annual test!

Last year I got a 90+ on my PT test and I promised myself I would never put myself in a situation where I was legitimately afraid I wouldn’t pass my test.  Never.



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