Wednesday, October 18, 2006

An update? Me? Why.... yes!

Holy crap, I've become an ex-blogger.

I guess it's a combination of things. I've been pretty busy, which is one excuse. Part of that has come from an intensive PT program I've been participating in for the past two months. After I left Korea, I gained something like 30 pounds -- none of which was good. But I'd gotten to a point where I felt like it was becoming a problem, and after busting tape a while back, it was clear I needed to do some more physical training.

That's come in the form of running four and five mile courses three times a week. It was murderous at first, in part because it was still hot and humid here, and in part because I had previously had no particular reason to focus on running. I was appalled at my two-mile time when I finally got around to having it measured, so I knew I needed to basically just run my ass off.

And a certain staff sergeant at HHC Garrison has been happy to help out, which is to his credit. My company holds PT three times a week, and generally it's a waste of time. Some pushups, crunches, and maybe a few laps on the quarter-mile track -- and then we're done. Generally, I'm home by 7:30, which is when the sessions are supposed to end.

We make up for it in the afternoons. We stretch out at 3:30 p.m., and then head off to various far-away points on Fort Knox. The most brutal is a five-mile jaunt over hill and dale, which takes us across Wilson Road and into the old basic training grounds -- out to the original water tower, which is usually covered in turkey vultures looking for roadkill, and around Triangle Motor Pool, then back down toward Wilson, down to Gold Vault Road, and a left turn up the steep hill to the company.

The first time we ran it, I didn't even make it to the water tower (which is at about the two-mile mark) without quitting and walking. I couldn't imagine being able to maintain a run -- even a shambling "airborne shuffle." I was pouring sweat and my shins felt like they were being sawed off.

Three weeks later, I was keeping pace with the other runners, and beating a couple of them back to the company. It's not fun, but I can do it now -- sucking air in through my nose (which dehydrates you less, since breathing through your mouth loses more water to respiration) and running from my hips instead of my knees, letting both feet roll from heel to toe on each step.

In the time since I started the additional PT, I've dropped nearly 20 pounds. I can see the lines delineating my calves again, and my ankles have narrowed down. My reflective PT belt started hanging loose around my waist two weeks ago, and last week I had to readjust it just to keep it from slipping down over my hips.

Don't let me make you think I've become a health nut. There has never been a single time when I've looked forward to our brutal afternoon runs -- I do them because I know I have to, and now that I'm seeing results, it's easier to force myself to attend. On the way there, I always hope something will happen that will cancel the session... but that never happens, and when I'm there, I put everything I've got into the exercise. At first, it was "don't quit!" Now, it's "how hard can I push this? Can I go faster?"

Running hurts. On Fridays, when we do our final run for the week, my knees scream in protest. My shins burn, and the soles of my feet feel like I've been running barefoot over gravel. My lower back aches, and my abdomen tightens and cramps. But that's not because I'm injured or particularly old -- it's just because I was in rotten shape, because I was irresponsible and let myself go. Everyone who devotes themselves to running goes through the same aches and pains.

There's not really any short cut to getting better at running -- you just have to do it, and as far as I'm concerned, it sucks -- at least to do it. But now that I'm seeing results, I want to keep at it. But I'm going to hate every moment of it.

In the meantime, I rocked the house this week at the paper. It comes out tomorrow (Thursday, October 19), so check it out once it updates here. I've got one in there on a Georgetown-educated professor giving our legal folks a class on the Middle East (which was riveting -- a great class), one on some guys who have an idea about how to re-route traffic around one of Knox's gates, a story about a World War II veteran who jumped into Operation Market Garden with the 82nd Airborne and is still the division's most decorated soldier, and a piece on the "Field of Screams" in nearby Brandenburg. The two photos on this week's front page are also mine, which is pretty nice, too. I liked how they all turned out, at least in general, so if you get a chance, check 'em out.

Okay, so that's an update. Peace out, bitches.


Monday, October 02, 2006

Uniform, and an affirmation

It took a while, but I finally broke down and bought a set of the Army's new ACU -- the strangely-colored, Velcro'ed, "great new thing."

I admit -- I was a detractor when the new uniform first came out. I didn't like the look, or the fact that patches were stuck on via velcro rather than sewing. I'm a convert, though... and maybe it has something to do with the fact that the uniforms I've worn for four years were initially thrown at me over a CIF counter in Georgia, but the new threads feel more like street clothes or pajamas... they actually fit me, and don't feel like garbage bags.

Saturday, I worked as designated driver for my stupid, fascist roommate. Considering my distaste for clubs, it was as good as can be expected. I'm sure a blog will be forthcoming once I've sobered up.

Anyway, folks, I'm through here. Stay semi-tuned for an amusing account of my weekend.