This weekend I had another Drill with the National Guard. This included my PT test for the record. The heat and mosquitoes kept me up most of the night before, so going into it I felt like the run might be tough. The push-up event went very well for me and I earned a moderate score on the sit-ups, so I felt a little better going into the run.
One of the other guys taking the test is my age and runs about the same times as I do, but our pacing is very different. No matter how fast or slow I run the first few laps, I always tail off on laps five and six, so I have to try to keep up with the younger guys for the first few laps to make up for that decline. If I don't keep up a good pace for that first mile I'll get too far behind the pace, keep declining for laps seven and eight, and fail the run. So at the moment that means I run a 7:15 mile followed by a 9:15 mile. The other guy keeps up a fairly even pace throughout the event, so he runs something like an 8:00 mile followed by an 8:30 mile, catching me around the end of lap six, which is typically one of my slower laps. So we wind up finishing at around the same time (I usually sprint the last 100-150 yards, so my time tends to be ten or fifteen seconds better), but take different strategies to get there. I passed the run, beating last month's time by about twenty seconds, and beating last month's scores in all three events. It wasn't a world-breaking performance, but at least I am improving toward my goal of a perfect 300 score. I hear that if you get a few 300s in a row you're eligible for some super-badge and a letter from the Sergeant Major or the General, but I haven't looked at the regulation for that. I'm a long way off from worrying about it, anyhow.
The city my unit is based in put together a ceremony and barbecue (my Southern wife would call it a cookout, since it was just burgers and dogs, with no sauce in evidence) to honor us. It happens to be my hometown, but I didn't recognize most of the people there, although the recruiter that signed me up ten years ago came up and shook my hand. It was a pretty good event, much more organized than many I've attended. My mom, brother, and some friends were there, so we got to hang out a little. The boy had a good time in the sandbox and on the swings, although by the end he was tired and pitched the mother of all fits.
I've been trying to get my bags all packed and my gear sorted out. In considering possible methods for transporting reading material, I have considered the portability of an e-reader device, but as the goal for this deployment is to carve a huge chunk out of our consumer debt, I am reluctant to start down the road of unnecessary gadgets and media to fill them with. I will probably be able to borrow enough books from the MWR library and care packages to avoid spending anything on books. One good value I've found for some good nerdy reading is the various omnibus editions of Warhammer and Warhammer 40k novels, like the Witch Hunter book to the left. They are collections of several novels/short stories featuring the same characters collected into a big paperback and offered for a cover price a little higher than a normal-sized paperback. I found the Witch Hunter collection quite entertaining, and the Ultramarines book was pretty good as well. My only consistent complaints are that often the editing could be a little better and the authors occasionally become a little too attached to a certain combat maneuver, so that the protagonist spends 95% of his combat time spinning under his enemy's guard. It's like playing Mortal Kombat against someone who does low kicks the entire match.
I've been looking at other gear requirements, but my dad has covered a lot of the things I might need by opening up his inventory to me. He is a bit of a flashlight fanatic, and his engineering blood forces him to seek out efficient storage solutions and ways to attach gear to one's person, so I should be pretty well set in those areas. He's also offered up the tactical gloves of my choice, so I've been researching those quite a bit. When I went on my first deployment my dad went over at the same time, and we actually lived on the same base within a few hundred feet of each other for much of the year. This time he's got a different assignment this time around and won't be going on the desert vacation with me. I've also been looking for a decent laptop bag and some other little stuff like extra nametapes and patches, but nothing too extreme.
I've got a busy week ahead of me, so I should probably try to get some sleep. I'm sure my employer would like for me to be conscious during the business day.