Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Ghosts of APFTs Past

Early Tuesday morning the 4 females in my small group gathered in room 602 of the Hampton Inn in our gray and black Army physical training uniforms and stepped on a scale to see how much we weigh. Nobody likes to do this…you know how women are with their weight, but the Army requires that all personnel are weighed twice a year to ensure that they are within regulation weight for their height and age. I was over the weight allowance (most women are) but came in under the maximum allowance of body fat, done with a wildly inaccurate body fat test done by measuring the circumference of the neck, waist and hips. There is a lot of math involved in trying to figure out if you’re within standards but thankfully someone came up with a program that does all of that calculus or algebra or whatever for you. You just punch in the measurements and other information (weight, age, gender) and voila! You find out if the Army really wants to keep you or not. (Actually, in full disclosure, if you’re over they just send you to Afghanistan.)
This morning our small group completed the Army Physical Fitness Test, or APFT. This test measure aerobic endurance and muscle strength and if you have the ability to count and follow directions. It is comprised of 2 minutes of push-ups, 2 minutes of sit-ups, and an aerobic event. Most soldiers complete a 2-mile run but since I am old and broken I do the 2 ½ mile walk. Repetitions and time are based on gender and age (although the sit-up standards are the same for both males and females). Passed all 3 events with flying colors. Well, I passed. I quit trying to impress people years ago with how many push-ups or sit-ups I could do because people will be happy that you did 82 sit-ups in 2 minutes at 5:30 a.m. but by 9 a.m. they’ve forgotten. And on my evaluation reports I get either a “pass” or a “fail”. I have 39:30 to walk 2 ½ miles…I usually finish around 31:00 flat. I could walk and take a 5-minute nap at the turn around point! But today my feet hurt and I kept getting distracted by the birds and the bunnies along the route. I finished at 34:00. My slowest time ever, but again…”pass” or “fail”.
There were only 3 walkers in our class and the other 2 were males, so they left me behind at about the ¾ mile mark. So, I was the last student to cross the finish line (the other 2 finished at about 31:00). As I realized this I had to laugh…even when I was a runner I was the last to cross the finish line so, really, in 20 years of 2 – 3 APFTs a year nothing much has changed! As I moved through the various age categories and was given more time to run…well…I took more time. My mother taught me that it is rude to refuse when someone gives you something nice.
So, to celebrate we are going to the local Mexican hangout and indulge in margaritas and macho tacos…and do more homework. Maybe tonight’s readings will actually make sense after a margarita or 2.

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