When I got a call the last week in August from my friend, Karen, she had just started as Nurse Educator with the Fit to Win program at the Pentagon health clinic, and she had just over a month to help put together a breast cancer awareness event. It has been a work in progress for most of the month, but I consider myself an easy going person, so I’m fine to go with the flow if the details change. (foreshadowing alert!) The whole day was a great experience, but I’m waiting on pictures from Natalie, the day’s official photographer, so we’ll start the recaps with the early morning fitness routine, since I managed to grab a quick photo of that.
The general premise of the day had always been perfect for me. I would join the clinic staff for their monthly RUN, head inside the Pentagon Athletic Center to shower and put on some LIPSTICK, and then give a couple of talks about breast cancer and CHEMO. Run, lipstick, chemo. Like the day was made for me.
After agreeing enthusiastically, I got a little nervous. I was intimidated to run with all those military types– I run, but I’m not fast. Karen reassured me, it’s just a three mile run to the Lincoln Memorial and back, and the first half they run all together at a 12 minute pace. I can do that. I was ready.
Imagine my surprise (shock, horror?) when the gentleman in charge of the o-dark thirty festivities, whose arms and legs resembled tree trunks, announced that we would not be running. Instead we would do something “fun.” Twenty minutes of army PT followed by fun relays. Gulp. I was a good sport, managed not to totally humiliate myself, and was, quite frankly, thankful for having had a mastectomy, which gave me an easy out from all the push ups. Man, they do a LOT of push ups. I decided to do sit ups instead to show that I was a “team player,” but did opt out of the bear crawl relay with a few others recovering from recent surgeries. It was fun, and I even learned a few things:
- They do a LOT of push ups.
- Sit ups on an asphalt parking lot hurt. If you position your spine along the parking space stripe, it’s not quite as uncomfortable.
- Running short distance relays where you turn and go back (suicide style, at least that’s what we called it in middle school) works out a totally different group of muscles than “normal” running or body pump classes.
- Doing upwards of 200 sit ups on an asphalt parking lot (even on the stripes) will leave you with bruises along your spine. You may wonder if you should blog this, not wanting any of the push uppers to make fun of you later. Secretly, though, you may consider your bruised spine a badge of honor.
- Did I mention they do a LOT of push ups?
- Being a VIP has its privileges– when they picked teams for the relays, I got picked first!
- Most sets consist of ten of each exercise, and as they count off, after nine comes not ten, but one-zero.
- Sometimes they do more than “one-zero,” in which case everyone (except the random civilian) knows to stop because of the tone of Mr. Tree Trunk’s voice. Said random civilian gets an extra workout by doing two extra jumping jacks before stopping like everyone else.
Intimidating as it seemed, I know that they were taking it easy on me. (I was a lot more sore from the body pump class full of ladies that I took earlier in the week!) But they didn’t act like they were taking it easy on me, they let me feel like I was totally hanging with them, and they had great team spirit– lots of cheering on those relays for everyone. They made me feel completely welcome and it was a pleasure spending the day with them. And stay tuned, there are more stories to tell!