One particular year I was struggling with completing the run. I generally practiced about a week or two before the test was to be given. On the date of the test, the command had decided to use a new track. Since I was in the second group of runners, I had the opportunity to observe the other runners as they completed their run. I quickly noticed that everyone was adding 1 to 2 minutes to their previous time. Come to find out the previous Commander hated to run as much as I did and he had set up the old course ½ mile short. At any rate, I got scared because I didn’t have a minute to spare. So…since the Navy gave us a choice to do the run or do a swim, I chose, at the last minute to do the swim. You need to understand the run, was a run WALK…meaning all you had to do is get to the finish line under your designated time. When I tried the swim I discovered that walking does not work.
I failed the Physical Readiness Test, a major blow to anyone who wanted to advance, and at the time for 3 successive failures people were being put out of the Navy. I took up jogging with an increased vigor. That’s being too generous, the Navy put me on remedial training (every morning at 6:00 AM) (why does the Navy do every thing at 6 AM) we did a work out to include a mile and a half run. I was a reluctant jogger and did not (and still don’t) understand how anyone could do this for fun, but I was not going to lose my career. I subsequently passed the next Physical Readiness Test, which took me off the remedial track, but I continued to work out, because it was easier to do the tests. I managed to run and still smoke.
After I was taken off the remedial training I was jogging in Louisiana to maintain my physical condition and trouble happened. You need to understand the weather in Louisiana...its 90 degrees with 90% humidity. As a matter of fact they fly flags when it’s safe or not safe to have outdoor physical activity. When a black flag flies you are to stay in doors. One evening (my theory was that it was somewhat cooler in the evening) I went out to jog. But…it had been a black flag day. I had been running a route through my neighborhood that took me about 2 miles and 15 to 20 minutes to complete. Towards the end of my run I decided to sprint that last portion and shortly after I started sprinting I experienced pressure in my chest, light-headedness, and profuse sweating. I wanted to lie down in the worst way, but since I was having difficulty seeing I didn’t want to chance lying down on a fire-ant hill (a common nasty creature found in the South). I struggled to get home. I was convinced that I was having a heat stroke and that once I was cooled down I would be ok. According to my wife I was gray by the time I arrived home; she wanted to call 911, but I wouldn’t let her. She called our neighbor who was an EMT and she called 911.
I was at the hospital in 30 minutes and received a “cocktail” of clot busting drugs, which returned the blood flow to my heart. I ended up having heart surgery 6 months later, and 1 week after an angioplasty I was out jogging again, because I had a Physical Readiness test approaching and I was not going to fail. And, I had quit smoking…but that is a subject of another story.
I am thankful for fire ants – because of them I did not lie down and die. I made it home and here I am...thanks little buddies...