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
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
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:
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".
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
more day to go.
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
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
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.
in a tub
Cool-Whipstress in action, celebrating graduation with a grand scoop
of the white stuff.
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.
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
"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.
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
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 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
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.)