Keep eyes on the goal

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Christina Begeal
  • 22nd Medical Operations Squadron aerospace medical technician
I think Henry Ford said it best when he stated, "Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal."

My story began on April 15, 2010, when I began my first physical fitness test since basic training. I struggled with my run during basic training, so I knew I really had to push for this test. I had been working out and I felt I was ready.

About 30 minutes later, I was in tears watching all of my dreams slip from my hands, one of my biggest goals as a first term Airmen was to get senior airman below-the-zone.

Once I realized I did not pass my PT test, I was convinced that my dream and goal was now out of reach. I let myself, my supervisor, my commander and the whole Air Force down.

For the next three months, I increased my PT and controlled my food intake. I even passed a mock PT test before my next scheduled test. Unfortunately, the day before my test I was nervous and started doubting my capabilities. I kept thinking,"What if I don't have enough energy and I get tired?"

Before my test I was pacing back and forth. I could feel my heart pounding, and I started to get more negative thoughts in my mind. The time finally came for my run.

As I started my run, more negative thoughts came into my mind, I tried to push further, but after a few laps, I gave up and walked. When I finally crossed the finish line, I had nothing but hatred toward myself.

Once again, I had failed. There is probably no worse feeling then to disappoint people. As a result of my test score, I received a letter of reprimand from my commander. Walking down to her office, standing and saluting her, knowing that I had failed not once, but twice, and trying to hold back my tears was one of the hardest things I have had to do in my military career.

I left her office knowing this was "do or die time," and that if I wanted to be in the world's greatest Air Force, I would have to dig deep and put everything on the line.

I decided then that nothing was going to stop me. I made appointments with mental health to help me with my negative thinking. In turn, they help me realize that a PT test is not just a physical challenge, but a mental challenge.

Along with mental help, I received physical therapy to help strengthen my back. The Health and Wellness Center also helped me find the right running shoes and their Bod Pod facility aided me in setting my dietary needs.

For the next 90 days, I worked out at least four times a week running three miles on two of the days, and performing a mock PT test every Friday. It was not easy, and there were many times I got mad because I had to do all of this extra PT. There were times I dreaded waking up at 4:45 a.m. on a Friday to take my mock PT test, but with the help of my wingmen (Tech. Sgt. Tiffany Shaffer, Master Sgt. Anthony Mapes and Airman 1st Class LuAnn Yang) I pushed forward.

To ensure that I passed, my wingmen woke up early to test and run with me. It really did mean a lot to me knowing I had other people there as my wingmen.

When my test day arrived, I woke up with an at-ease feeling even though I knew this was my last and final chance to prove myself.

Sergeant Shaffer offered to pace me during my run, which really met a lot to me because she had helped me through so many things including the recent death of my grandfather, my other two PT failures and all of the training I had accomplished up to this point.

As I was getting ready to do my push-ups and sit ups, Maj. Ty Hunt showed up to show his support, which really surprised me because an interim commander, he is usually very busy.

As I walked to the track, I felt prepared, and I started my run. On the first lap, I thought about how this was not a big deal.. On the second lap, I thought about all my wingmen who helped and believed in me. As I crossed the finish line, I knew passed.

I was so happy, that I gave all my wingmen hugs. Though I was striving to get 90 percent on the test, which I did not meet, I am already looking forward to my next test so I have the chance to go after it again.

By sharing my story, I hope to help other people who are struggling with their PT test, to let them know that they are not alone, and they shouldn't let any obstacles take their eyes off of the goal.

I would also like people who do not struggle with their PT to know that even little words of encouragement and acting as a running buddy goes a long way for those who do struggle. I love my job and this Air Force; I could not ask to work for and with better people.

In the end, I realized that Physical fitness is both a physical and mental challenge. I learned that my wingmen had my back, and were with me every step of my journey. Physical fitness is a challenge we meet not only to pass a test, but in order to stay in the Air Force.