|On June 10, our squadron was doing its 1.5 mile run for our annual fitness assessment. The Air Force, never very hard on physical fitness, required that we be able to run 1.5 miles in somewhere over 12 minutes for men, a few minutes slower for women. I'd been riding my bicycle a lot and in the previous two years I'd run it in 8:31 and 8:37 (on a full stomach)--fairly respectable times for 1.5 miles. So, my friend Reynaldo stirred up a competition in the office, and people were betting between myself and Don Luna, four years older than I, who'd previously run the squadron record time of 7:30. I avoided the situation but they kept pressuring us to race. I'd planned to run as fast as possible anyway, so whether or not I raced Don was inimportant. My roomate Teri, having run in high school, taught me how to stretch. She also explained why I shouldn't run on a full stomach.|
I did about eight runs over a month's time and went from 1.5 miles, which was the farthest I'd ever run, to eight miles. I still disregarded hydration and knew nothing of race tactics. The day of the run came, and Don and I took off from the gun and were on our own with the rest of the squadron unable to keep up. It was cat and mouse the whole time...Don would gain ten feet, I'd gain ten, and so on. I knew no tactics except I wanted to get ahead of him. Don beat me by 2/10 of a second at the line, about four feet. We were given the same time...7 minutes, 25 seconds, a squadron record. Third place was 55 seconds behind me and my biking pal Bill Keller was fourth. I never dreamed I was capable of running those kind of times, so I was just as excited as if I'd won. We'd been running a 4:57/mile pace. It was so much fun!!! Two days later, Don and I shook hands and he left for Korea.
|On March 6th I'd made E-4 (Senior Airman) below-the-zone, a competition where you compete against people of your rank to pin on Senior Airman six months early. I barely beat out Reynaldo, who was being coached by Frank, and put on my new rank June 13(a Saturday, so the cermony was on the 12th). I'd had my uniform prettied up, got it back from the dry cleaners, and hung it up in Humphrey (my car). It was an extremely hot, humid, June day, and it had fallen off the hanger into the back seat. It looked like a raisin. I thought,"Uh oh...now I'm going to look like a slob with this wrinkled thing...and probably get in trouble." So, I tried to draw attention away from the uniform by being silly.It worked.|