Day 5 – Your Proudest Moment

Day 5: Your Proudest Moment

My proudest moment of my life so far occurred when I was in the 10th grade when I passed the mile run for the Presidential Fitness Challenge.

The Presidential Fitness Award was initially the brain child of Lyndon Johnson, who took over the office of presidency after the assassination of John F. Kennedy in 1963.  I can only assume one of two things in regards to this challenge.  President Johnson was extremely athletic and therefore had no understanding of the particular torture this kind of test would be to a non athletic, slightly asthmatic, nerdy child -OR- he was bullied by someone to whom this kind of test would have been torture and he devised it as a way to extract revenge on his former bully and all other bullies who have ever existed.

At any rate, I was first introduced to the Presidential Torture Test when I was in the first grade.  The test has undergone some variations over the years.  When I was a child, there were four tasks: Sit and Reach, Pull ups, Sit-Ups and the Mile Run.  To pass the test, one had to successfully pass three out of four of the components.  Each component had a specific criteria that you had to reach.  I could usually stretch far enough, and do enough sit ups and that was as far as I would get.  The pull up was usually a minute of me hanging off the bar trying so hard not to fall off, while everyone else in class just sat there staring at me flopping around like a fish who had just been yanked out of the water.

The mile run was worse.  That usually ended with me being the only person left out on the track while the entire rest of the class had to sit and watch me continue to walk another half mile.  Worse yet, I would be left outside to do an additional eleven laps around the school yard while the rest of the class went in to play dodgeball or some other fun game.  Either way it ended with my classmates resenting me for keeping them from play, or me for not being able to join in the fun games.

Sophomore year however things were different.  It started off like any other year, I had passed 2 out of the 3 components with only the mile run left to go.  I felt my usual trepidation as we started, but I also felt hopeful.  This was my last chance.  I had done softball the spring prior and was probably in better shape than I had ever been.  My goal was 9 min and 30 seconds, which is what I would need to pass and I had to run only 4 laps around the quarter mile track.  Starting at 5 or 6 minutes my gym teacher started yelling out the times so we could keep track.

7 Minutes.

8 Minutes.

9 Minutes.

My heart sunk.  I still had a half of a lap to go and only 30 seconds.  Though my classmate had been running with me and giving encouragement (though to this day I don’t know why me when we weren’t particularly close) I just knew that I was not going to make it.

Suddenly I heard my name being yelled across the track.  My gym teacher (whom I had already had for the previous 4 years and to whom I was a utter disappointment as I would fail this test year after year after year) was yelling “If you get here in the next 30 seconds I will never make you run again from now until you graduate!!!!”

It was as if suddenly I had Hermes winged sandals, but the next thing I knew I was running faster than I ever had before.  Time slowed on the track as everyone collectively stopped and stared at me in this rare moment of athleticism.  I crossed the finish line.

9 minutes. 29 seconds.

The bigger victory though…  Not vomiting all over the grass in front of my high school crush. Oh, and the fact that my teacher was true to her word.  She did not over the next two and a half years EVER ask me to run again.






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