Monday, August 20, 2012

Week Two, 6 AM: The (Deferred) Baseline Test

Today's morning routine, running through a park for a mile and a half, surrounded by fellow Americorps members. One minute's worth of push-ups, one of sit-ups, counted by a partner and timed by a Unit Leader. There are no goals except what you set for yourself, no limits except to surpass last time. Go.

This is Baseline, the NCCC's physical fitness exam. We were supposed to do it Friday morning at 6 AM (which means waking up at 5 AM), but as we were piling into the vans, a Vicksburg thunderstorm dumped on us and the exercise was cancelled. Today, we did it for real.

There's just something so unbelievably righteous about exercising early in the morning. For the entire rest of the day you have this glow, this knowledge that "I am virtuous, I exercised [albeit under duress], I am a go-getter, I am physically fit". Walking back to the vans after everyone had finished the run, I was practically jumping with glee.

Of course, the exercise itself was an adventure. I managed 42 push-ups (maybe closer to 45, I think the count was off), 34 sit-ups and finished the 1.5 miles in 10:23. I think I'm proudest of the fact that my second .75 miles was faster than my first; I got to the halfway point in 5:30 and made it back in 4:53. (The fact that most of the return journey included a sizable downhill had NOTHING to do with it.) And I'm proud to say I gave it my everything, using my last energies to sprint into the finish line and then promptly attempting to send my breakfast into orbit. I did have the presence of mind, when I actually threw up, to make it over to the bushes. I believe that's the first time that ever happened after a run. It's hard to put that feeling into words without resorting to a sports equipment company line, but I really did Leave Nothing (TM).

After cleaning up, I told the Team Leader my time, jogged over to the finish line and commenced cheering on everybody I saw coming. (Apparently I would make a terrible drill sergeant. I yelled really loud but just managed to crack people up. Adam blames me for killing his sit-up numbers; I was holding his feet, and just before he started, I told him at high volume "Every time you come up here I want you to HIT me in the FACE!" Needless to say, he was paralyzed with laughter.) After ten minutes of cheering people on, I lost the connection between 'things I say' and 'things that motivate' and just started yelling "CON FUOCO! CON FUEGO!" When my fellow cheerers looked askance at me, I followed it up with "TWO ROADS DIVERGED IN A WOOD! AND I, I TOOK THE ONE LESS TRAVELED BY, AND THAT HAS MADE ALL THE DIFFERENCE!"

After the last person crossed the finish line, cheered on by a convoy of previous finishers, we heard a short speech from my Unit Leader and then hit the road. Goals for next time: 50 push-ups, under 10:00 running time, 40 sit-ups or better, even more amusing quips. More to follow shortly.

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