Week 6


I came to the realization today that I could NEVER survive the real boot camp - not even for a morning. After 45 minutes today I was whining about the scrapes and cuts on my knees and elbows, feeling a bit like I did after bad Big Wheels crash back in 1981. I knew today would be tough when I was winded after the warm-up exercises. I asked a recruit for the time - "7:10." A long 35 minutes to go.

Next we rendezvoused at the pull-bar - my enemy for the past two weeks. I had visions last night of finally being able to drag my body over the bar while the other recruits applauded over my success. But today was a lost cause as I approached the bar and my arms were still shaking from the push-ups we did moments ago. Well, maybe I'll get lucky I thought. I hopped up on the bar and started to decline. As I reached the half-way point I started to pull myself back up and then I heard a voice from below - "All the way down Dougherty. You arms are longer than that." Busted! So I let my body hang all the way down and surprise, surprise, I just stayed there. You'd think Charla would let me cheat just a bit since it's obvious that I won't be able to do even one full pull-up before the class is over. No such luck. For the next set, she made me start on the high bar to "give me plenty of room to let my body come back to the starting position." Once again I just dangled in thin air while Sharon tried to shove me back up to the top. My dignity is floating on thin ice.

Then my nightmare started. Charla had created a line of ropes suspended by stakes, about a foot off of the ground. We were tasked with crawling on our stomachs through this madness. Mind you, when Charla demonstrated this, she gracefully maneuvered her way through the course in a matter of seconds. Meanwhile our group was slithering along in the grass with our legs shooting out backwards in unflattering poses, our shorts riding up in the back and our knees and elbows quickly being stripped of skin. The next task - get through the same course but on our backs. Just picture the unflattering poses in the first exercise and multiply it by two. Charla reminds us that in real boot camp the rope would be replaced with barbed wire. So our goal is not to let any part of our bodies make contact with the rope. Ha! At one point my knee slams against the rope and the back of my head starts to pull the line down, Charla says - "Dougherty, you just lost your leg back there. Ohh, there went your head."

Then, as if this exercise isn't challenging enough Charla throws sprinting and a football into the mix. We start about 200 feet from the course in two teams and sprint for five seconds and then drop to our stomachs on the ground. Our team's sprints are staggered and we wait down on the ground for our captain to call out orders for us to run. Once our team has reached the ropes, we go single-file through the course where a football is waiting at the end. The team that reaches the football first then has to grab the ball, pass it to the next teammate and then run through the rope course. Then the next person passes the ball back and runs through the course and so forth until your team has made it to the end of the course. As you can imagine, this was challenging for our class. Our team came out victorious, which saved us from a final round of push-ups.

Tonight will be spent mending my injuries. Only three days to go until the big test.

Today was relatively uneventful. We showed up, compared our war wounds from yesterday's rope drills, did a few jumping jacks, and then heard Charla's familiar command - "Get in whatever state of dress or undress you need to be in to get on the road." I was glad to hear that today's 3-mile run was officially a "team" run, which meant, ideally, that we were supposed to stay together for the duration. I'm a big fan of the group runs as it means that: 1) I don't have to push myself quite as hard (Charla is flinching as I write this) and 2) I get to sing along to goofy cadences. About a half-mile into the run and after several off-key verses of Charla's songs, I suddenly only hear my squeaky voice along with a few others, trying to belt out the lyrics. Charla tells our pack (of five recruits) to turn around and we're shocked to see that the rest of the class has vanished in the distance. "That's right, your wounded have been left in the dust" Charla says. "Our wounded?", I think. And then just shrug my shoulders and keep running. Maybe the military rules around teamwork haven't really rubbed off on me.

Sadly the cadences stopped at the turnaround point and we had a silent, hot and humid run home. While I was leaving a lovely trail of sweat behind me, Charla was bopping along like she was out for a little jaunt - no beads of sweat or signs of accelerated breathing anywhere to be found. I could feel Sharon growling behind me (like me, she doesn't really like to talk during long runs.) At one point Charla said to her, "Barclay, get up here, Dougherty is getting lonely. To which, Sharon replied "Tough." But hey, Sharon's lack of communication helped her focus today. Her goal was to finish in 27:00 and she finished in 27:06. And going by my rules of always rounding the numbers up or down to your advantage, I'll call it an even 27 minutes. Minus Sharon's brief stint of dry heaving in the bushes immediately after the run, I'd say it was a success.

After we finished, we had to "bang out 50 crunches" before we could leave. Charla then instructed us to stay hydrated and get some rest for our test later this week. I can't believe the end is almost here. Only three more diary entries to come..

FitBoot is coming to an end. I have to admit it's a little sad - now that I'm into the routine, no longer phased by the early wake-up call and finally looking more coordinated during the exercises. I was prepared for a "rest" day since our test is on Friday, so was a bit nervous when I saw Charla sporting running shoes. We did our usual warm-ups and then followed Charla to the pull-up bar. I need to save every bit of energy and strength I have for the real deal on Friday, so was relieved when Charla told us just to hang for a few seconds to work on our form.

Then we gathered on the "grassy knoll" for a game of Ultimate Frisbee. First we formed a circle and threw the frisbee around for a bit, probably so Charla could make sure we were up to the challenge. You've probably deduced that we aren't the most graceful batch. Charla then assigned teams for Ultimate Frisbee. Sharon has earned quite a reputation for being a contact player, so two of our teammates (a woman who she bashed knees with during football and a poor guy who she tackled on Monday while pulling his shorts off) said almost in unison - "I'm so glad you're on my team this time." We had one less person so Charla joined our team - gee, what a shame.

This game was a first for me and I have to admit that I thought it would involve a bit of bopping around and an occasional toss of the frisbee. Oh no. We played the length of the field and suddenly I found myself running back and forth and back and forth and jumping around trying to intercept passes. If the other team dropped a pass, we were able to pick it up and start moving in the other direction. With all of the wacky throws among our class, we were constantly changing directions and running around the field. Charla probably took the brunt of the abuse today, as the rest of our team kept throwing her crazy passes expecting her to perform miracles. Since she's in such amazing shape we all thought that if we got the frisbee anywhere in her vicinity then she could catch it. As a result, we had her dodging trees and diving and rolling around on the ground. She was cursing all of us by the end. But she wasn't too bitter since our team was victorious.

Tomorrow Charla breaks out the dreaded scale and body fat calculator. Can't wait!

Twas the night before graduation, when all through the town;
The recruits were a shakin', trying not to let nerves get them down.
The arms muscles were flexed, the abs worked to the bone;
To prep for the big test - the winners and losers unknown.
The recruits were weeded out during the final few weeks;
The tried and true now left standing - with a range of physiques.
And Sharon in her spandex, and I in goose-stained clothes;
Have spent 29 days doing sit-ups and touching our toes.
With Charla at the realm, we do our best to behave;
But Swedish fish and sausage pizza some recruits still do crave.
Each day we count louder and little more in synch
But still don't really hustle when it's time for a drink.
We know the military lingo and try to repeat;
Enthusiastic "Hoo-Yahs" while we each day compete.
Yet we still lack the look of a well-disciplined group;
With some recruits using towels to avoid the goose poop.
With a motivated instructor, so lively and quick;
You'd think her training on some of us would stick.
Yet we bumble along and attempt coordinated moves;
While Charla shakes her head - it's obvious she disapproves.
"All day long ladies, all day long" she says from below;
"C'mon hustle" she says when we seem way too slow.
"You'll live" she adds when a recruit takes a fall;
The class ends with a short "Disappear" to us all.
But it all comes to an end, tomorrow at 8:00
Let's hope I run fast, since I haven't lost weight.
I'll hang from the pull-up bar until my body starts to shake;
Or until a bone in my arm threatens to break.
The class will be relieved there are no more team sports to play;
No more tackling from Sharon coming their way.
It's been a fun six weeks, advancing from recruit to soon-to-be troop;
Now we bid farewell to an entertaining and mismatched group.
And we'll no doubt hear Charla exclaim, ere we stroll out of sight,
"Good riddance you yahoos and to all a good night!"

By now, the word has spread to most of the avid readers of The Military Diaries that I missed the last day of class due to a bout with vertigo. As I was heading home on Thursday night, mentally picturing myself cruising along the running route for the final test, I was suddenly overwhelmed with a feeling of dizziness. Although the T was stopped at Copley, I felt like the train was in motion and had to grab the rail above to keep from falling over. I managed to make it home, but had to stop several times along the way to grasp nearby cars, trees and fences to maintain my balance. Always wanting to pinpoint my ailments to a specific cause, I replayed my day to find a culprit, but no activity or food seemed to blame. When Andrew got home I made him do some research online to find an answer. I wished out loud that he had continued his education at a medical school rather than business school so that he would be of some help. We quickly put my fears to rest as we ruled out West Nile and other random diseases that I was convinced I had caught. During a call with my dad, he mentioned more than once that alcohol is typically to blame for this type of dizzy spell, as if I'd consumed a few martinis after work but didn't want to admit it to either my husband or family.

I secretly thought that after a good night sleep, I would wake up at 6:00 a.m. and feel back to normal, ready to meet Sharon downstairs for our final ride to class. But once the alarm went off, I slowly got out of bed and bounced off my dresser and stumbled into the living room. My minimal improvement forced me to call Sharon to tell her the sad news - she would have to complete the final test without her partner in crime. By this point, I don't know if I'm more upset about missing the class or the happy hour that night.

I check in with Sharon mid-morning to find out that she absolutely cruised on her test. She did the 3-mile run in 26:07 - almost a minute faster than her original goal. As Sharon approached the starting line on the running path, Charla offered some words of encouragement - "Run for Dougherty." Sharon said that she visualized me at the turn-around point, holding a stop watch and shouting out her time. Not sure how I feel about Sharon running as if I were dead, as if the 3-mile run was a fake memoriam in my honor. Whatever works I guess.

Later that afternoon the Dr. diagnoses me with benign positional vertigo. She assures me that it's only temporary and will gradually decrease over the coming days. I leave her office without a prescription or a concrete answer as to what caused this damn thing - both of which irritate me. Now, I head back home to sit and watch the walls spin.

Around 8:30 as I'm dozing off from complete boredom (still too dizzy to watch TV or read), I get a call from the drunk FitBoot gang. Obviously six weeks of consuming nothing but water, fruit, vegetables and soy products has done some damage to Sharon's tolerance. She's clearly loaded and rambling about how she's told everyone the nicknames we created for them and how Charla has been reading the website since week one. Excuse me? To clarify this statement, Charla then gets on the phone and tells me that not only has she been reading our entries since our first week of class, but so have the people in the advanced class. This explains the almost 300 hits we've gotten each day - Sharon & I knew that we didn't have that many friends. Charla also says that she read my poem (the entry from Day 29) aloud to the group at the bar. It was good to know that I was with the group in spirit and that they consumed the beers I would have had if I'd been there.

So, here I am three days later, still not feeling my best. I was hoping to go to the advanced this morning but the thought of doing jumping jacks made my head spin. There's still a chance that I can take the final test with the advanced class on Thursday. Stay tuned for one final entry. I can't leave my readers hanging, so will log on one more time when I finally complete the test.

Until then...