Understatement: It feels nice to be finished with a long roadmarch.
Throbbing feet, knees, and ankles are basically a harsh echo of the march. Shrieking shoulders and back, and face peppered with flaky white electrolyte sweat residue are the trophies of another "gut check", or test of fortitude. Most people aren't doing things like this, and that's actually a comforting thought.
Now and then, when no one "in charge" was around, I'd take my helmet off for a minute to let my head cool down. When I'd put it back on, the sweat inside it was ice cold and felt wonderful. During the first or second mile, the end nozzle of my CamelBak (basically a little backpack-like contraption with a rubber bladder and a hose, intended to be filled with water and used for hydration purposes) popped off and fell to the ground, spraying water out of the open end. So there I am, struggling to find and close the valve on the tube while it squirted water and I squirted obscenities. I looked behind me at the ground wherever the nozzle had landed, and new that I could easily retrieve it, but it was sort of a Harold and Kumar moment, when one of them realized he left his cell phone in his dorm room twenty feet down the hall.
"Forget it, we've gone too far."
I walked/ran the whole march with a friend of mine. We BSed about pretty much anything and everything. I harassed him about how he needs to grow some melons and sweep a particular girl off of her feet, and also about the book he intends to read, which I guarantee will be good. The subject matter is priceless, and the insight he has on it is so funny and so true, it should be a sin. Too bad I'm not going to tell you what its about. Its that good. We also came up with a great title, but you also don't get to hear about that. So you'll have to do what I do, and wait. The people you meet in the army, I swear...
There are also plenty of times where you don't talk at all during marches. Instead, you just let your mind wander, to whatever strange place it drifts to. I personally didn't care at all for this march as we were getting ready for it. Thing is, while you're actually doing it, its not too terribly long before you just say, "The hell with it," and start busting your hump. It seems easier when you just let yourself get pissed off at the march itself. I find myself aggravated, and as a result, walking at a pretty hard pace. It was a 12 mile march (alllegedly. Those last two miles are pretty long), which is the Expert Infantry Badge distance. I shaved a lot of time off of my previous record time. In fact, this time I almost "accidentally" made it within the EIB standard. So next time we do one of these, if I just happen to get a wild hair up my ass, I should be able to break the three hour mark.
A hot bath would be awesome right about now. Not to mention a skilled back massage. Cocoa Pebbles, Cartoon Network. Heh, I'm not even in the mood for a beer. Gimme a warm bed and a soft pillow.
Instead, I gotta take a quick shower, throw on a clean set of BDUs, choke down a PowerBar, and go to some class or something. Not even sure what its about, but I think its a holiday safety briefing, or something cute like that. Whatever, works for me. Each minute, I get closer to taking leave, so bring it.
It would be nice to use a wheelchair for the day. I'm being a big baby.