The assignment was: stay up until Midnight. Sleep with phone by pillow. Get to the gym within 20 minutes of receiving phone call from Laurel.
Friday morning, I awoke at 6am, went to work and managed to stay up until midnight with no naps. I was mighty tired and at 11:59, I was laying my head down on the pillow. By 12:00am, I was out.
1:13am, I awoke to the tail end of my phone ringing. Checked my missed calls and message. Laurel had tried calling me at 1:10 and then again at 1:13. She said I had to be at Boot Camp by 1:30 and to call her back and let her know I was awake.
I pulled into the gym and panicked. No one else was there. Was I at the wrong place? Was I supposed to meet at Laurel’s house? I was so sleepy. I called Ricky and he confirmed that the rendezvous was indeed at my current locale. A few minutes later, Laurel pulled in. Right at 1:30, Ricky pulled in.
We piled all our stuff in the gym (this is when I realized that I had left all my food and electrolytes at home in the fridge) and took in our first task. Warm up – run 1 mile. We knocked that out.
Here’s where things get shifty. I have, in front of me, a list of all the tasks we accomplished, but may not be recalling them in chronological order. It was to be a very long day.
Important Note #1: Once around the block is half a mile.
On to the next task: Load up the sleds – Ricky with 50 lbs, me with 30 lbs – and take the long way around the block 2 times, making sure to stop at the hill and push up and down twice. With packs, of course. On the second time around, push the sleds out to the bowl, park them and run across the bowl 8 times, then crawl it twice. The crawling had to be a mixture of hands and knees and then belly crawl as if under barbed wire. This had to have taken us until about 3am, because Jerritt stopped by to say hello after his shift. We got a brief intermission to chat with him and then took the sleds around the bowl onto the sandy path into the woods. We parked the sleds at a designated path and followed her onto the trails, balancing over fallen logs stretched across ditches to a crevasse. This was a steep slope punctuated by trees on one side, a small stream running through the valley and then a steep grassy slope on the other side. We were told to get to the top of the other side 2 times. Since it took me a little longer, Ricky had 3 crossings to my 2 and then Laurel had us do it once more, just for fun. We made our way back to the sleds and push/pulled them back to the gym.
Important Note #2: pushing those sleds was hands down, unanimously, the hardest workout that we’ve done. We sweated gallons. It took us 3+ hours to get it done and it was no easy task. The sleds did not slide easily over the pavement and constantly got caught up in the sand on the bike path. The combination of their heaviness and the hills around the block had me counting my steps. Just make it 25 steps and you can rest. This time, get to 30. Now, get to 35. You can get to 40. Coming into the Boot Camp parking lot was heaven. By this time, I was moving a little faster because lightning was beginning to flash and we were holding onto big lightning rods.
Back at the gym, our next task was written on the board. 500 sledgehammer slams, 500 kettle bell swings and 500 rope slams. Laurel adjusted the numbers down to 200 each because there was something that she needed done before 7am. We did our sledgehammer slams in the rain and then went inside to finish up.
Important Note #3: There would be a lot of adjustments made to the workout due to the discrepancy between the amount of time Laurel thought it would take us to complete a task and the amount of time it actually took.
Next task: go buy 2 deck of cards anywhere but from a gas station. We put our heads together and decided on Walmart. It was about 5 in the morning at this point. Walmart is a 3 mile round trip. The rain had let up and we jogged to the store, bought our cards and came back.
By the time we returned, the rain had started up again and was getting pretty heavy. There was a short discussion about whether or not it was safe for us to be running around outside in the rain and thunder and lightening. I say short and I mean short. Laurel sent us out with a 35 lb kettlebell in our packs and a firehose (30-45 lbs) each. We were to take these loads around the block twice. That included crawling up the grassy slope on the side of one of the businesses and stopping at the hill again to do that 10 times while attempting to memorize 8 cards taped to the dumpster at the end of the parking lot. Ricky had apparently memorized the cards last time we were at the hill, but I hadn’t seen them at that time. It didn’t take me long to memorize, though it seemed forever to go up and down the hill 10 times.
Important Note #4: 35 lbs in my pack is a lot heavier than I anticipated. Though the load was well distributed on my hips, my traps were still killing me. Not to mention to strain put on my traps by the heavy fire hose in my arms. Our estimation is that we’ll be at the Death Race with 40-50 lb packs. Not to self: get much more acquainted with pack weight. Poor Ricky had to do the entire workout with a pack not meant to carry much more than 20 lbs (I’m guessing). His hip belt is not padded and I don’t think he has as many ways to adjust the weight as I do on my Osprey. I believe he might have been hurting a little bit more than me on this one.
Important Note #5: When we got back to the gym after having trekked around the block in the storm, Laurel said that someone had informed her we were in a tornado watch, or warning. Apparently the difference was not important 😉
Back at the gym, we were assigned another 200 sledgehammer slams, 200 swings and 200 rope slams. Laurel then had us pull out the cards we memorized and show them to her in the correct order. It was almost 7:30am at this point. We had been going for 6 hours.
Next task: build a house of cards using one entire deck. My hands were shaking pretty bad at this point which made building a structure made of flimsy cards very difficult. We both had a couple of mishaps but managed to get the homes built.
Important Note #5. Ricky was scheduled to teach the Saturday morning Boot Camp class at 9am. We knew that Laurel would give him at least 30 minutes to get up, thus giving our workout a definite deadline.
About 8am – Laurel had us load ourselves with our packs and a sledgehammer (8-15 lbs), ammo can (15-20 lbs) and fire hose each. We took the long way around the gym again and stopped by the bowl one more time to drag our load on hands and knees through the now marshy grass bowl.
Very close to 9am and we get the news that Laurel has managed to find a replacement instructor for the Boot Camp class and we were going to continue on. New deadline: anyone’s guess. At least by now, the storm was over and the sun was up.
She handed us each a shovel and a teaspoon, told us to put swim gear and a change of clothes in our packs and hump it to her house – 3 mile trip. I’m sure we looked pretty strange walking up Capital Circle at 9 in the morning with packs on and shovels in hand. Ricky said that he enjoyed this part of the day but by this time, my knees were pretty sore from all the previous walking/running/crawling. Though this should have been easy breezy, my legs were achy, the slower pace had me feeling the adrenaline wearing off and I actually remember trying to take micronaps while walking to Laurel’s.
About 8.5 hours in: at Laurel’s, we fueled up, were told to bring our shovels and spoons and were led to Mr. Stumpy. We got Mr. Stump’s back story: a couple of years ago when Tropical Storm Faye hit the panhandle, the flooding she caused compromised root systems of some of the neighborhood trees. Mr. Stumpy was once attached to a large tree that when felled, took out the power supply with him. The City came out and removed the tree, but left Mr. Stumpy in a very undignified position, half on his side, where he remained buried until our little excavation assignment. Luckily, the ground was very soft from that morning’s storm and it was easy digging, but still took a long time seeing as how Mr. Stumpy had made ties in China. We got him about halfway out when Laurel relieved us of the task and had us move on. We got a plastic bucket (maybe 10 gallon) and were told to fill it 3/4 full with dirt using only our teaspoons. Tedious, but relaxing. It was the first time we had gotten to sit since the card house building.
Next up was to dive for rocks in Laurel’s pool. There were 9 in and we got them out quickly but a touch of fear crept back into me requiring 3 or 4 dives to get one rock out of the deeper end of the pool.
Our next assignment had been to walk the bucket of sand back to the gym, but time did not allow for that because Laurel really wanted to get to the final tasks. She drove us back to Boot Camp and informed us that we were going to have to write a 1-page essay on why we wanted to do the Death Race and what we were going to tell ourselves to keep from quitting. I stole a glance at her desk. Yep, paper and pen sitting right on top. I said, “we’re going to have to go buy paper and pens, aren’t we?” I love being right, but this was not one of those times. I have to say that I was still feeling pretty good though. We had been going for 11 hours and I was awake, alert and not too worn out. Yes, I was sore and tired and ready for bed, but I wasn’t ready to quit and knew that I could keep going if need be.
It was 12pm or so and the stores were open so we hoofed it to Walgreens, bought the paper and pen, stopped at Captain Pete’s House of Gyros on the way back, hehehe, and started on our essays. That took no time at all. We handed them in, ate our food and then were hit with the bricks. “Okay,” Laurel said, “now translate your essays into Spanish.” Oh. My. God. Granted, we didn’t have to worry about grammer, it was just a word for word translation. Granted, Ricky and I had 10 years of Spanish between us. Granted, we were sitting in an air conditioned office with gyros in our bellies. But this was awful. Knowing that you are so close to the end and then having to spend maybe 1-2 hours flipping back and forth, back and forth, looking up every word because Spanish just doesn’t come back if you haven’t used it in 9 years. I had to look up the same words multiple times because my mind wouldn’t work with me. I couldn’t remember what the word was and couldn’t pick it out of my already translated paragraphs because everything was getting fuzzy.
It did not help that Laurel kept trying to get us to quit. She sat across from us and told us that that if we wanted to give up, we could just ring the bell. Her car keys had been assigned as the bell. Every 10 minutes, she jangled those keys at us and encouraged us to use them.
Once the translations were done, we were at the end. The real end. I think it took me until about 2pm.
Thank you, Laurel, for what was surely the longest day of my life. Thank you, Laurel and Ricky, for feeding and hydrating me all day. Sorry for mooching! Next time, I will remember my food, I will remember my food, I will remember my food.
Here is a video put together by your own Laurel, owner of Boot Camp Fitness and Training: