Everyone has their own pace of doing things. This may sound common sense but I only truly understand it during my BMT (basic military training).
My biggest fear in BMT was the SOC (standard obstacle course). My moral always dropped to the lowest right before the event. Putting on the SBO, helmet, one full water bottle and rifle make my legs soft. During the SOC, we were released in sections or waves so everyone will not crowd and jam the obstacle station.
There are 1st wave, 2nd wave and so on. Each wave we form a row of 10 and the timing starts with an interval of 10 seconds. Every 10 seconds a wave of 10 recruits will run 700m to the first obstacle and the next wave will get ready to run after 10 seconds.
Each company has ￼￼￼4 platoons, each platoon has 4 sections and each sections (wave) has 10 recruits. I’m from platoon 2 section 1. So I’m line up in the 5th wave.
Let me pause for awhile to give you some context.
There are about 27 BMT companies in Pulau Tekong. You can be posted in any other companies but Taurus. Yeah, I’m always the lucky guy. Hear say they have a reputation of being the toughest of all. When people heard where I was posted to, their first word is either “wah” or “ho seh liao”.
Among the 27 companies, 2 of them are BMT enhanced batches. Which are for those who passed their IPPT before enlistment. Which means they are physically fit. Taurus is one of the company. And yes, I passed my IPPT but I won’t call myself fit. I struggled a hell lot and barely passed.
Now back to SOC.
I’m standing in the 5th wave waiting for my turn. Heart beating like mad. All the gears are weighting me down. And because we are from Taurus, instead of walking we had to run few hundred metres to the starting point. I’m already catching my breath while waiting in line.
Finally our sergeant clicked on his stopwatch and signal us to start. Our wave cheong forward like a mad person because we need to complete the course within 10m 30s. My section mates were all fitter than me. I tried my best to keep up as I do not want to be the last. When I reached the first obstacle my stamina was completely drained out. It took me longer to clear the obstacles and by time I reached the final 800m run down, I was literally slow jogging with the helmet covering half my face.
Of course I failed my SOC. And I failed again and again. Then one day I said to myself, fuck it. I will run at my own pace and put in my best effort. I even removed my watch because there is no point in checking my timing if I’m already running at my best. My strategy was to conserve and distribute my energy evenly throughout the course and then go all out towards the finishing line.
That day my section mates dashed forward as usual and quickly disappeared in front of me. I kept my cool and maintained my own pace. Then people behind me started overtaking. I can even see someone from 9th wave! Yet I continued with my pace.
Yes, that's how I passed my SOC that day. And I continued to pass SOC during my time in army by running at my own pace.
This incident was an important lesson in my life. I learnt that nobody knows me better than myself. And I should not follow others blindly because sometimes I perform better at my own pace.