Monday, May 4, 2009

The Three-Mile Club

A little wetness didn’t stop the Navy yesterday.

A friend in the Navy Reserves, a coach in the club programs I administer, called me last week to ask me to help him certify a small group of regular Navy personnel at their bi-annual physical fitness review. He was administering the test and needed a second CPR-certified person there due to Navy regs.

I owe him lots of favors from coaching, so I said yes. Besides, I’m a little afraid of him, because he does secret stuff for the Navy, stuff that if you find out about it, you’ll disappear.

So on Sunday morning I found myself standing in the rain on the track at Bolling AFB in the District. The Air Force has a nice facility out there along the Anacostia, and sometimes they let the Navy use a little bit of it.

The group had already completed the two-minute sit-up and push-up performance tests. The number of reps required depended upon each person's age and gender. A couple of fit young men did 100 reps of each.

All of these people were fit (no swelled bellies there!), but I enjoyed watching the nuances of how each person passed his or her test. It broke down to form, basically. For sit-ups, each person had to touch their thighs with their elbows each time they rose up, but very few persons fell back to the floor after each touch. The techniques ranged from a two-inch backwards rock before returning to touch the thighs again to a full-fledged return to the floor each time.

Everyone did at least 60. My stomach muscles still hurt from just watching them.

Push-ups were also a study in form. Starting in what would be termed the plank position in yoga, each person's push-up ranged from executing a two-inch crick in the elbow before returning to a straight arm position to much more ambitious descents halfway to the floor before a straggling, struggling return.

The Navy personnel joked that at least no Marines were around to show off their obsession with physical fitness.

As they all lined up for the 1.5 mile run, I thought back to my own Navy qualification run. Awhile ago I discovered that 10:30 (7:00) is the standard for middies at Annapolis in the 1.5 mile run. As a challenge, I scoured the Internet for a 1.5 mile race so that I too could "pass" the Navy standard.

I found that each spring my club runs a series of races that equal the length of each horse race in the Triple Crown (the Derby, Preakness and Belmont). The Belmont is 1.5 miles.

One year the winners received carrots or radishes for prizes, in keeping with the equestrian theme. My club banned this quaint practice after the racing director threw the unused produce into the club van after the races and left the locked van, with a copious amount of fermenting produce inside, parked in the Southern heat for a month.

I hit the tape two years ago at the Belmont 1.5 mile race in 10:30 flat. Mission accomplished.

Yesterday, the Navy personnel insisted that the track at the Air Force base in DC is long. (Why this would be so, I have no idea.) So instead of running six full laps to equal 1.5 miles, they ran five and three quarters laps.

I held the stop watch and called out the times. I noticed that there were a few seconds lag time between the G word and the starting of the watch.

Watching the Navy personnel circle the track made me antsy to run, to be moving among the group of men vying for the lead. The fastest man finished in 10:32 (7:01), and the slowest woman finished in 16:45 (11:10). She was obviously not a runner, but the entire Navy contingent fell in beside her on her last lap to bring her home. They called out Right-Left, Right-Left in encouragement at the end. I swear the theme song from Chariots of Fire was playing as she crossed the finish line.

She has to do a do-over though. Hers was not a passing time, so on account of the rain, her attempt wasn’t deemed official. She gets to try again in June, when it might be 88 degrees and humid instead of 52 degrees with light rain. Ugh.

At work today, a friend who is married to a Navy man laughingly told me about the Navy’s "Three Mile Club." Its members are those Navy persons who run exactly three miles each year, doing their two 1.5 mile qualification runs as best they can without bothering with any training runs. No wonder they wanted a second CPR-certified person standing by, just in case.


ShirleyPerly said...

This was a fun post to read having worked at the Naval Postgraduate School where students were required to do PT tests periodically. My husband claims the Marines could meet the Navy run times while drinking a beer.

DawnB said...

yes, this do bring back memories. I remember my Army PT test. I was 17 this is where I discovered I loved running. 2 miles in 13.56 this is when I remember being my fastest. that was over 25 years ago and to this day every now and then I run to cadance or to some marching song I remember. I have a brother in-law in the air force, a sister in the Navy reserve, and another sister who was in the air force.

we have a AFB Name after us :)

Rainmaker said...

The Army does thier PT tests outside on the trail in front of my place. It's always entertaining this time of year to see the differences in pace 'groups'. Occasionally for work I'll end up running in a local base race - another interesting observation in the dramatic differences in paces (from mid-5's to mid teens).

Just_because_today said...

Now I know why I'm not in the service. I would never pass. I could run the 1.5 mile qualifying time...maybe but I have never and I mean never done a push up. NEVER. I fall flat on my face. ouch.

Dori said...

I love how everyone joined the slow runner on her last lap. Having the group join me would pick up my pace. Too bad she has to do it again.