Week 6

 




Abby and I are the walking wounded. We are both sporting bloody knees and elbows, scraped legs and t-shirts covered in mud and grass stains. Neither Tide nor Clorox will fix the shirt. Savlon and Band-Aids are what we need today. Possibly our buddy Ibuprofen may make an appearance too.

Charla starts the class with: "We're on the home stretch," and I reply: "Yep, and I'm having a big tub of Cool-Whip when it's over." She shakes her head in disapproval.

After the usual warm-ups (which for some reason, seemed particularly hard and painful) we were off to the pull-up bars where the antics started. First, Abby and I attempt to do pull-ups. She's pulling up and I'm spotting. For some reason, we both find this particularly funny and start giggling. My attempt is far worse than before, I can barely get the second pull-up, probably because The Crusher has already made us do over 50 push-ups and my arms and shoulders are still shaking. Gone are the days where guys do pull-ups and birds do flexed arm hangs. We all do the same stuff together. Next we're onto flexed arm hangs which after pull-ups seem considerably easier. Abby and I hop up to the bar, to hang there like demented bats for as long as we can. Not 20 seconds into it, one of the lads jumps up on the opposing bar. As he does, his lanky legs swing out at great speed, whizzing past our eyes. It's like circus auditions gone horribly wrong. He's spinning around the bar while Abby and I try to compose ourselves. Charla is horrified. Abby and I drop after just a few seconds. We're laughing too hard at the thought of this guy taking us both out with a quick snap of the legs. Next, one of the other blokes gets up there but he's really struggling. Mind you, he's been one of the on-again, off-again type recruits and has not been terribly good about his nutrition. In fact, I would class him as one of the pizza-eating-bastards.

Anyway, he's trying to do the flexed arm hangs but can't last for more than five seconds. I am all smug and yell out: "Hey, you bastard. Serves you right. You've been laughing at us girls for the past five weeks. It's not as bloody easy as it looks, is it, you bastard. Have another piece of pizza." Now let me make it clear, I like this guy. He is a nice chap from down South somewhere and he hates running as much as I do. So you must realize that everything I said - and what I'm about to say - must be taken tongue in cheek.

On to the next exercise. I can spy these dangerous looking ropes and spikes on the field. Ropes are set up about 12 inches high, running parallel to the ground, as if they were barbed wire fences. I know what's up next. We're crawling on our front, commando style, underneath the faux barbed wired, wiggling our arses and dragging ourselves along the ground. Very, very unflattering. And if that wasn't bad enough, we do the same thing on our backs, legs spread like eagles. I apologize to those behind me for the shocking sight they're about to see. If crawling under the wire isn't bad enough, The Crusher makes us do it at top speed. Our elbows and knees are ripped to shreds and all I can hope for is that my tetanus shots are up to date. We are bruised and bloody.

Our final exercise becomes somewhat more complicated. We start flat on the ground, 50 meters from the wire in two teams. In pairs, we have to "rush" which is a five second sprint ending by you dropping flat on your stomach. Then the next pair can "rush" for five seconds. And so on and so forth until you reach the wire. Once there, you have to crawl at top speed under the wire. Once the whole team is at the end, you grab the football that's sitting there are the prize. But it's not over yet. Once you have the ball, the team runs back one-by-one over the top of the ropes (trying not to go arse over tit). However, you have to throw the ball to the person who's made it to the end so the other team has a chance of intercepting. Incidentally, the penalty for losing is push-ups so there is great incentive to win - at all costs.

We start the race, and at the wire crawl the teams are neck and neck. Abby, who is on my team, is gaining on the woman next to her. It's not until the entire team is through the wire can we take the ball. Just before she's through, the other team moves the ball closer to them so they can take it and run. I go wild. I run at top speed and leap through the air at the guy who moved the ball (he happens to be the pizza-eating-bastard guy from earlier). I land on the guy's back with my legs wrapped around his waist. I drag the poor sod to the ground, but as I do, his pants come with me and his arse (thankfully covered by his underwear) is exposed to Charla and the rest of the team. I still have him by his neck and he's yelling out, "My shorts, my shorts!" It's only then that I realize that he's half naked and let him go. Charla cannot believe what is happening and I hear her yell "Barclay, what are you doing??!!", but the race is still on. We grab the ball, we jump over the remaining ropes and win. However, I have possibly just made my second enemy. First it's the woman I mugged during the football game, after almost knocking her out with my torpedo-like throw... now it's this poor chap who've I've daked in public.

Four days to go. If my calculation is correct, we'll have another hard day tomorrow, probably the run, followed by sit-ups, then rest days on Wednesday on Thursday ("rest" means light punishment, rather than what we suffered today) until we take our test on Friday.


We're almost there. Just three more days to go and there is a little bit of sadness knowing that after Friday, I won't have to get up at a sparrow's fart and have someone yell at me. What the hell will I do with my time in the mornings? I will feel so unfulfilled.

No great stories today as we had our three mile run, our last one as a unit. The usual rules apply - if you have to fall out of formation, keep running no matter what. This is the last time we sing the cadences. I mentioned that I had forgotten to surprise everyone with my own song. Charla mentioned it was probably a good thing because she was sure it would be X-rated. She is right. No doubt it would have been uncomplimentary about others in the group too. So for the sake of team harmony, perhaps my lack of creativity is a good omen. In our final week, Abby and I have managed to remember a few more cadences:

 

Up in the morning with the rising sun
Going to FitBoot, gonna take a little run
Upside, downside, round the bend
Feeling great, gonna do it again

Met and old lady walking down the street
Pack on her back, combat boots on her feet
I said, "Hey lady, where you going to?"
"I'm going down to join FitBoot".
"Lady, lady, ain't you been told?
FitBoot's only for the brave and the bold."
xxxx feel fine
I maxed my test and I'm 99

C-130 rollin' down the strip
Something, something, something that rhymes with 'strip'
Mission unspoken, destination unknown
Hope I don't die before I get home
If my chute don't open wide
Got my reserve that's by my side
If that chute don't open too
Look out ground I'm coming through

When I get to heaven
St Peter's gonna say
How'd you earn your living?
How'd you earn your pay?
I will respond with a little bit of anger
I made my pay as a BOOT instructor

 
At the beginning of the class, I bravely announced that I was planning to run 27:00 - a very ambitious move for me as everyone knows how much I suck at running. Abby was there to give me encouragement, reminding me about her Dad's advice to "reel them in" on the way home. However, I didn't factor into it that we'd be running on a day where it's as hot as Hades and the air as thick as whipped cream. I didn't feel too bad going out, but after half a mile or so, it seemed like Abby and I were the only people singing (Charla booms out in a loud, manly voice - we respond in weak, girly squeaks like the Glee Club gone wrong). When I looked behind me, everyone had fallen behind. Mind you, the only ones behind us were the "special" group who I struggle to keep ahead of every week. Perhaps my start was a little too ambitious, but I was keeping up with Abby and her speed demon buddies for a fair way. However, I was really, really suffering. Just after the half-way point, I lost all my saliva and my tongue was stuck to one of my lips. No matter what I did, I couldn't dislodge it so I was running making these awful sounds out of my mouth. Kind of like the Elephant Man. At the two mile mark, I was dying and couldn't keep up. The advice of "reel them in" went out the window and all I could think about was "keep running, don't stop, don't die, don't let the spaz-pack pass you".

For the last mile, Charla was running with me. Abby and her mates were a good 40 seconds ahead of me. I have never wanted to punch Charla so much as I did today. At one point, she was running backwards at the same pace as me. She didn't even break a sweat. I am dying and trying to work out how I can get more oxygen into my lungs. I'm taking a new breath every second step and my pulse must be off the charts.

On the last stretch, Charla says: "Get a move on, you've got some more gas in there." I didn't really, but I did what I could. I came home in 27:06. While that's not a supersonic pace, it's better than 29:42 a week ago. There is only one more run to go, which is our test. To crack a nine-minute mile would result in a celebration of me eating a tub of Cool-Whip. I have a feeling the Cool-Whip is safe this week.

Three days to go. Onward! Hoo-yah!

You never know what to expect on "rest days" and today was no exception. Last time, our rest day consisted of a "nature walk" beside the Charles River which was executed at top speed and resulted in pain for the next several days. But today, no nature walks were in store, just a Frisbee. Like the football episode, Charla first tests that we can actually throw the thing, but setting us up in a circle so we can practice toss it at one another. At this point, my mind starts to wander and I'm clowning around in front of Abby. Someone throws the Frisbee and it belts me on the back of the head. I guess it serves me right.

Before I know it, Charla has us in teams (this time, I don't seem to be on the dufus team) and is explaining the rules of Ultimate Frisbee that seem suspiciously similar to those in football, which I still don't understand. Forget all these downs, ups, interceptions, possessions, contraceptions. I reckon it should just be a free for all. One great big argy-bargy in the dust. Actually, the way I play is probably more like that anyway. Two people on my team - the guy I daked and the woman I collided with in football (still sporting the bruise from that one) - exclaim loudly how glad they are that they're on my team and not against me. Sadly, I seem to have gained a rather unfortunate reputation in this field. Within minutes, we are running up and down the field trying to steal the Frisbee away from the other team then shoot it towards our goal line. For once, we had Charla on our team. And again, I proved to be a particularly poor team player as at one point, I started screaming abuse at Charla when she missed a play. I had momentarily forgotten that the test was just a few days away. Once again, not a smart move on my part. The rest day has turned out to be a very exhausting workout, all of us covered in sweat and dirt within minutes.

As we leave the class, Charla asks if I will be attending the social event for our "passing out". I know that it is a military term for graduation day, but I think it's very appropriate for us for two reasons:

1) I will probably "pass out" at the end of the run. At the very least, I expect to finish with my usual dry heave in the bushes.
2) Once the test is over, I fully expect to drink so much that I'll pass out at the bar.

I proudly tell Charla that the venue for our graduation drinks is just three blocks from my house. Close enough to crawl home if I need to. Her classic quote ended the conversation: "Of course you will be there. You're Australian. Australians and beer go together." Won't she be disappointed that I only drink light beer. However, I'd be happy to go head-to-head on martinis.

I know tomorrow is fat measurement day. I feel huge. I am not sure what is more terrifying... the final physical fitness test or the final weigh-in.

I am a mix of emotions today. Shit-scared for the test tomorrow, disappointed that I have only dropped another pound since three weeks ago, but thrilled that my body fat has reduced by another two percent (now down to 16%). Everyone says that muscle is heavier than fat. But we all know that is BS and is only said to make people feel better when they're not losing weight.

Our second rest day consisted of karate kicking exercises. And frankly, I was horrible. Charla spent the whole time rolling her eyes, sighing and grabbing my legs, hips and body to try to get me to do it right. At one point, I was spinning around like a windmill, when everyone else was perfectly balanced on one leg. It is official. I am a spastic. At one point, one of my out of control karate kicks came perilously close to Charla. She demonstrated yet again how it should be performed, but I looked like a failed prima ballerina instead of Jackie Chan. Even if she'd said: "Take the pebble from my hand, Grasshopper", I still would have got it wrong. I have realized my talents lie elsewhere.

Definitely the funniest part of the day was when one of the recruits said to Charla most sincerely: "Wow, you've got really nice form." Abby and I fell about laughing as we both know Charla is a black belt. The recruit's comment was like saying to a chef, "Wow, you really know your way around food."

It's hard to believe that tomorrow is the last day. I am as nervous as I get before a big race. I know I won't sleep tonight but when I do, I will dream of trying to run but won't able to get anywhere. My legs will feel like they're in molasses and I will wake, covered in sweat. That's how it usually goes.

1) Downloading the theme for Rocky. I will be playing it in my head as I do the run.
2) Washing my "smiley face" knickers. They are my lucky knickers that I wear to run so when I get depressed, I can think about the smiley faces to cheer me up. However, on Tuesday, I realized I was wearing them sideways, with the crotch across my leg, rather than between my legs. It was some time until I realized my mistake.
3) Stocking up on Cool-whip. My supportive work colleagues are throwing a small breakfast for Abby and I. She will be having full fat muffins and full fat coke. I will be chowing down a tub of Cool-whip. I make no guarantees on purging afterwards.

As we depart, Charla's only instructions are: "Rest, drink lots of water." I have drunk so much water today that I have worn the carpet away between here and the bathroom. I am determined to run 27:00 tomorrow come hell or high water. However, the forecast tomorrow is hot and humid. I will have to run my balls off. No doubt the run will end with me heaving in my favorite bushes again.

You would think that at the end of six weeks, I have had enough of this torture. But it is not so. I now find that I can't see all this hard work go to waste. Dropping four percent in body fat, losing seven pounds in weight, and completing two pull-ups has motivated me to keep going. Despite the fact that I'm on assignment in Houston for the next three months starting Monday, I have signed up for Charla's FitbyFone. Some crazy personal training regimen where she emails, calls and hassles you by distance, monitoring your food and fitness program. Most normal people would take a few weeks off, then sign up to a gym or perhaps a gentle spinning class. Not me. I just don't know when to stop. So I will still be getting up at a sparrow's fart, donning spandex, sweating and doing strange things to my body.

One more day to go.

Gulp.

After six long and painful weeks (painful for you too, if you've had to read this drivel), it is finally over. Just as I was getting my stuff together this morning, my cell phone rings. It is Abby. She has been struck down by a weird case of vertigo and can't get out of bed without falling over. This is the worse day for it to happen. She has been a trooper - having to face me and my grouchiness in the wee hours of the morning, listening to my gripes about various injuries and physical failures, having to drive with me at top speed to the meeting place (always dangerous - those who have driven with me before know what I'm talking about), working so hard at her dreaded flexed arm hangs, turning up regardless of how she felt, ("I feel like I've been in a car accident") and having to see me nude in the showers each morning. She is a star and deserves a medal.

I walk outside to go to my car and the heavens open up. Six weeks of sunshine and today it has to rain. The gutters are overflowing with water and it's pissing up a storm. Great. What else could go wrong today.

So I am off to face the test alone. The others are there and we are all feeling a little nervous as we stretch before the class. As we line up in our usual file, there is almost a full contingent, minus Abby, Swedish Fish and one of the pizza-eating-bastards that hasn't made an appearance for several weeks. Charla makes a motivational speech about how we're one of the best troops she's ever had. Not sure if I agree with her (let me reference the Keystone Cops-style football match we had a few weeks ago, or our inability to sound-off in sync) but she claims she rarely lets recruits to pull-ups before they graduate. I have a suspicious feeling that most teams get this talk before the test starts.

A miracle happens and the rain stops. We do a final few warm ups as a group, then straight on to the pull-up bars. I am so nervous that I can't go first. I know I will be OK once I start, but until then, I have butterflies. The bar is sopping wet and real slippery. I am determined to stay up there for 70 seconds. I know that doesn't sound like long, so try it for a while. You'll realize that even 30 seconds hanging from a bar is an eternity. At 50 seconds, my arms are killing me and my elbows are shaking but Abby and I promised each other that we would hang for 70 seconds, no matter what. I drop down at 72.

Sit-ups. You'll remember my pathetic effort at sit-ups last time. A mere 44 in two minutes. I remember cranking out 30 in the first minute, then barely squeezing out the rest in the final 60 seconds. This time it's different. I clear the goose shit and get to work. Two minutes later, 72 sit ups are over. In hindsight, I wish I had gone a bit faster... I think I had a few more in me.

Charla notices the strange omen with the number 72 and comments that the reverse of 72 (27) is my personal goal for the run. She is right. I have to come home in 27:00 or there will be tears before bedtime. I line up at the front of the pack (making sure I'm well clear of the spazzes) and just before we start, Charla says: "Barclay, run for Dougherty." Great. Now she's acting like Abby's dead! I have no choice but to run my heart out now. I go out way too fast for the first mile and a half, making it to the turn-around point in 12:17. But it doesn't last and I die on the way home. I am humming the tune to Rocky on the way home - do-do-dooooo, do-do-dooooo... - but frankly I'm not sure if it's helping me. I head for the "yak bridge" (where I almost had an unfortunate vomiting episode three weeks ago) and know that from there it's only four minutes home. I glance once behind me and the spaz-pack is not to be seen. I cross in 26:04. An average of 8:41 per mile and almost four minutes faster than my first three-mile run two weeks ago. I am thrilled. I broke my personal record with almost a minute to spare. And better still, I do not go through the usual routine of dry heaving by the trees. Abby, this run was for you.

Once everyone comes home we line up for a final time. Not for exercises but to receive our stripes. I suggest to Charla that we should receive purple hearts for our on-going injuries, scabs and bruises but my request is denied. It wouldn't have been a good ending unless I said something that made Charla think "why me - why in my class." We are now proud owners of Private stripe pins, but for some of us, we receive a gold pin for achieving a 1st Class score. Thankfully, I am included in this group. I know Abby will soon own one too.

So it is over. My scabs have almost healed, the bruises are disappearing and the calluses on my hands from the pull-ups are already getting soft. While I don't look like Grace Jones, or my hero Linda Hamilton in Terminator 2, Charla is right - I feel stronger and I am faster. It is too easy to forget where we started: 10 minute miles, body fat soaring up near 20%, moaning in the mornings and icing our abs each night.

Although I did not tackle or dak anyone today, it wouldn't be a true ending to a Barclay saga unless something ridiculous takes place. Just a few days ago, I was commenting to Abby that it is a miracle that neither of us have forgotten our shoes, toiletries or daily necessities as both of us need in order to shower at work immediately after class. In a classic Sharon-moment, as I stand there dripping with water in the nude, I realize I have left my knickers at home. A perfect ending to a Boot Camp... I have to go commando today.

HOO-YAH!


Heaven in a tub



The Cool-Whipstress in action, celebrating graduation with a grand scoop of the white stuff.

I feel compelled to write an epilogue, as I sit here on Saturday morning as hung over as a bastard. I have just chowed down a plate of organic hash browns and fake soy bacon. Even in hung-over-land, I can't bring myself to eat bad food, although I'm convinced that's what my body craves.

There is a reason I am hung-over. It was my duty to get absolutely shit-faced at the FitBoot social event last night which was a mix of celebrating our graduation and meeting the troops from the advanced class. A few significant events took place:

1- I was mortified to discover that Charla has been reading this web site from week one. You complete bastard. I have just looked back over the past six weeks of entries and I thank God that Abby and I decided to refrain from speaking disparagingly about our colleagues. We very nearly did which would have been disastrous. Apart from a few mentions about the Swedish Fish chick, the spaz-pack (which was collective and not directed at one person) and the pizza-eating-bastards, we tried hard to keep our less than flattering comments to ourselves. I am looking back at what we wrote about Charla and I cringe in the knowledge that she was following this day by day. Some of my more classic quotes have included:

"I have never wanted to punch Charla as much as I did today."

"…the draconian discipline of a crazed ex-Marine."

"I also wonder if I will snap one day and punch the bitch in the nose."

She gets top marks for not letting on. I am at loss to explain how she kept a straight face when she saw us each day

2- Abby's inspired poem - which can be found on her day 29 entry - was read aloud by Charla. It is a true ode to our adventure. It was only right that we phoned Abby from the bar (she is still laid up with vertigo). She could hear the ruckus in the background and I broke the news to her that our website was public. I think she is still smiling today.

3- Even more horrifying is finding out that the advanced class troops were also aware of the site. They have been tracking our progress for six weeks too, laughing at our experiences, then smirking to themselves as they passed by Abby and I each morning at the crack of dawn. I am shocked that they kept it a secret for so long. However, this now explains the 300 hits we've been getting to the site each day. I knew I didn't have that many friends.

4- Charla is wrong. She is flat out wrong. We DID NOT embellish anything, we told no lies and we have GREAT memories. (Charla's classic quote from the evening: "You girls are great writers but have SHIT for memories.") OK, we may have the words from the cadences wrong, but we were true to form on the quotes. This stuff really happened. The Osborne's have got nothing on us.

5- I have never seen a crowd more thrilled as the troops were last night upon hearing the news that despite my best efforts, I could not eat more than two spoonfuls of Cool-Whip. Six hours after eating the stuff, I still felt sick to my stomach and had to munch on healthy crap for the rest of the day to make me feel better. I hate to admit it, but I may be off the bad stuff forever.

6- It was a big moment last night when I discovered the first names of people in our team. I had only known them as "Swedish Fish", "The Crack Couple", "Medicine Man", "Aqua Girl", "Painter", "Flipper", "Court Jester", interspersed with a few last names. Not surprisingly, I can't remember any of them this morning, so it's back to the nicknames. I bet our colleagues have secret nicknames for Abby and I too. It's probably something like "Glamour Puss" for Abby and "Bitch on Wheels" for me. I wouldn't be surprised.

7- No matter how I tried, I could not bring myself to eat pizza in front of Charla. I do not know how the others did it… it is absolutely beyond me.

8- Far, far too much time was spent discussing the intricacies of my smiley face knickers, and how I managed to get them on sideways.

9- Although somewhat disappointed I can't join the advanced class on Monday, it is probably for the best. I could easily destroy the morale of the troops that Charla has so carefully built. Not to mention that disaster would once again reign. Let me remind you of the wild tackles, kicking team mates as they're on the flexed arm hangs and unceremonious dakking of unsuspecting men. It is best that I am being banished to Houston for a while.

A final note. As I staggered down the walkway to my house, pissed as a fart at 2.30am, I see something small and black on the pavement. I'm pretty drunk so I hesitate for a second before bending down. I don't want to come a cropper and smash my face into the cement. I hold onto a nearby railing and peer down for a closer inspection. It's a piece of clothing and it looks oddly familiar. Suddenly, I realize what it is. IT'S MY MISSING KNICKERS. Despite being happy in the knowledge that it was an accident, not an organizational issue, that caused me to go commando yesterday, I am still horrified that my black thong had been sitting in the pathway of my condo block all day for all the neighbors to see. A fitting ending to my day.

Hoo-YAH!
(Ooooo, I said that too loudly. My head hurts.)