Frozen ground, cold hands.
Taut. Humbled. Lungs blaze. Commit.
Repeat, repeat, re…
This morning was ridiculously perfect. Makes me marvel at my good fortune. To be surrounded by silly-fun-motivated friends and breathing the fresh air and rejoicing in the discomfort of a workout… what a gift!
There were 100 of us at the UTB this morning, squatting in unison during the warm up and barking out the count: down-1! down-2! down-3! I loved the deep-seated feeling of belonging and simultaneous sense of anonymity; I’m just a girl in this sea of people, sitting and standing on Jeremy’s command.
I was on Big Mike’s Blue team for the workout. He and the other coaches team were insistent that we do every move with perfect form. Man! They were not kidding around and, I, therefore, was also not kidding around (too much.)
Our team was divided into 3 rows of 11 people, and we were doing 5 rounds of three exercises. Each row had a task:
1. Med ball cleans, 10 reps
2. Sumo deadlift high pulls with a kettlebell, 15 reps
3. Pushups, 15 reps
The rules went like this:
- Each row rotates to the next task when EVERYONE has finished their reps.
- If your form isn’t perfect, the rep doesn’t count.
- Chest to the ground on pushups EVERY time.
- Move as fast as you can, but don’t sacrifice form for speed.
I started on the high-pulls with the kettlebell. It weighed 36 lbs. Challenging, but not un-manageable. And while I don’t love med ball cleans, I don’t hate them, either. They just ARE. Meh. Fine. Whatever. I used the ball that happened to be in front of me (6-lbs.), and I cranked ’em out. No harm, no foul.
But the pushups.
Oh, pushups! What can I say about you, you little f*ckers?
Generally speaking, I think my pushups are pretty good. I keep my torso in a straight plane with my core tight. My hands are usually directly under my shoulders, rather than out in front of my body. I do my best to keep my elbows back instead of out to the side.
But I don’t always touch my chest to the ground because lots of times, if I get that low, I can’t get back up. It’s the strangest sensation, the Pushup Fail. A kind of weightlessness for a fraction of second before my arms become overcooked spaghetti, and I crash the few inches to the ground.
But Megan! Oh, Coach Megan! She kept coming ’round, insisting I get my chest lower and placing her delicate encouraging judging challenging gloved hand under my chest and saying, “Chest to the ground. Get dirty.”
Fried grass. Dusty brown soil. A dried up old band-aid. A rain-wilted cigarette butt. Is that the paper envelope from a tea bag? These are the things I stared at while I struggled to push my body weight those few painful, makes-all-the-difference inches.
On the third round, I did the last two pushups on my knees. Then I felt… mildly ashamed. No more knee pushups for me! That’s like a toddler who can walk going back to a crawl. It’s just not done. The only choice was to suffer through the last two rounds of pushups with the dignity of trying and failing. Never cheat, never quit.
Round 5. I have only 15 pushups and 10 med ball cleans between me and the blessed call, “Time!”
There’s that damn (wonderful) Megan again. “Come on, Mel! Low! You can do it. What number are you on?”
“Ten,” I said through an exhale.
She pur her hand under my chest. Blood thudded in my ears. I realized that the Blue team was waiting for me to finish my last five pushups so we could rotate to our final station. Lots of eyes on me.
Down, slooooooow push back up… 5
Down, sloooooooower push back up… 4
Down, straggle slooooooowly up… 3
Down, exhale, preeeeeeesssssss up… 2
Down, focus, exhale, straggle halfway up…. bam! Full-body belly flop into the dirt.
Damn! No one else can move on ’til I do one more full pushup!
Down, exhale, puuuuuuuuuussssssh… I’m up!… 1
A few high fives. Some “nice jobs!” Then we rotated to our last station.
I did 10 med ball cleans (No harm, no foul.), and that was it. Stretch, photo opp. Done!
Half an hour later, I was sitting at Habanero with Dave to my left and Stacey to my right, Carla and Sean smiling back at me from across the table. Coffee, eggs, tortillas, and chit chat… what could be better than that?
Then I came home to find that my workout partner-in-absentia Richard killed it on his first 3-mile run, and I had a loving phone call with my family and received a letter from my niece Pepper.
See? Perfect day.
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