Did You Train?

The MRI results are in, and I can now proudly boast a complete rupture of both my MCL and ACL in graphic terms that involve an overuse of the word “gross”.  I say “boast,” because I was getting a certain amount of flack from the torn ACL’ers who poo-pooed my injury with a dismissive, “oh… only an MCL? In my day we tore our ACL and wore our patella’s like fine tibia necklaces and dragged the useless limb behind us. You just have a flesh wound” That may not be an exact quote. I thought having completely torn the ACL I’d finally get a certain amount of knee-props, but instead it’s more a, “well, you didn’t tear your meniscus, you must be some sort of sissy.”  I’ll take it, I suppose. Not like I can chase them down (yet).

Now most people who have seen me are a bit curious, “what did you do?” and I tell them about the Warrior Dash, the mud, the splits, Jean-Claude Van Damme, no Enya (it’s my bit), and in turn they politely wince a bit especially when I get to the word “popped”.  It’s a lovely dance repeated numerous times, and typically ending with well wishes.

Which leads me to a rant…  Hey, I’m me.  It’s what I do!

A few times I’ve ended the story and received a, “did you train for that?” usually accompanied by the up-and-down eye-balling as my body is sized up. Ummm… if you mean did I train for walking in 3.2 miles of solid slippery, shoe-sucking mud that’s had 100’s of people sludge through it previous after its rained for 7-8 hours, then no. I did not train for that. Maybe the 100’s of other people, almost all who fell multiple times, did, but you caught me.  I had no business on that course. Silly me, I just trained for obstacles. Did I mention I made it through two before being taken out on the mud?

Here’s the thing about training in today’s gyms – they lack a mud pit. I know, I know, I looked for a place that included a mud pit, but instead I was told they had pools, a basketball court, saunas, and some kind of cardio and strength training equipment. Whatever. One gym boasts an outdoor water slide, while another has “lunk alarms” and pizza – yet none of them really have the foresight to offer a really solid mud pit. Way to let your clients down, gyms! In that sense my gym and my trainer clearly failed me. She was so focused on training me for the obstacles, and trying to convince me that there wasn’t anything I couldn’t do if I believed in myself that she dropped the ball.  Her super narrow laser focus on obstacles, cardio and strength led to her failing to train me for long hours in muddy creek beds during thunderstorms. Way to go, Jenn!  Lesson learned! Judging by the number of ambulances and more serious athletes breaking things, it’s clear their trainers let them down, too.  Whew, I’m not alone! There should be a study on this. We should all demand mud pits at our gyms! (For fun, you can Google injuries during Warrior Dash and Tough Mudder events to see all the failures of people to remain upright; they clearly should have also trained. Sad little “athletes”; they probably had it coming.)

(Note: All of the above is written in heavy sarcasm font.  Jenn is amazing. To think or say otherwise would end with me hobbling over to you, and giving you a very very stern look while thinking a host of ugly things I’d do if I got the drop on you, and had zero fear of 1) retaliation, or 2) bunking with a nice lady named Bertha who wanted to trade me for a pack of cigarettes. Bertha, you’re my #1 bitch, am I right? Fist bump? Don’t leave me hanging, Bertha. You’re my lady!)

So, let’s talk about what’s really being said, since me training for slipping in mud is ridiculous.  The subtext of what’s being said is, “you’re fat, and you hurt yourself because you shouldn’t have been out there.” Right and wrong.  Right, I’m a big girl, but I’m strong(ish) (strong-light?).  I have a decent amount of muscle under my “fluff” layer (as we lovingly call it).  Am I the strongest? No. But I’m stronger than what you think you perceive when you see me. Did I get hurt because of a lack of training? No. I got hurt because I was on really slick mud, and one leg was planted while the other got out from under me sending me into the splits where I hyper-extended my knee. A fun fact that I learned from Tae Kwon Do (I have my blue belt) – it takes approximately 10 lbs of pressure to snap someone’s ligament like the LCL (easiest to get to), which incidentally makes it a fantastic soft target if you want to drop someone. Most adults weigh more than 10 lbs., another fun fact. (You learn a lot when you visit my blog.) I could have been 100 lbs lighter, in the world’s best shape, and still torn my ACL and MCL.  Armed with that knowledge, there were really only two things I see I could have done differently that would possibly have had any effect on that day: 1) Not gone on the trail in those rainy conditions, and 2) walked on the left side of the trail where my strongest leg was on the more stable ground, and still, had I done all of that, I could have fallen in the backyard, going down the street, etc. Life doesn’t have guarantees.  Playing it safe is not a guarantee.

So, to answer the question. Yes, I trained. Thank you for your supportive question.

I recently told a friend I was pissed about the whole thing, and she said something I loved: “Beth, don’t be pissed for choosing to live your life.”

I chose to live my life. An accident happened. The sun rose the next day, and I moved forward.

Gym Vocabulary

My blog is all about personal anecdotes, and you may have noticed that lately my blog posts have been a bit sporadic  (if “sporadic” means non-existent).  Blame my whole lack of doing things or maybe blame the folks I’m around for carrying on like normal people are supposed to (“normal” as depicted on television, film, or a Norman Rockwell painting – all great sources of reality, and it’s actually quite mind boggling (dare I say disturbing?) that the people I know are behaving in such a way). Let’s face it, If someone isn’t methodically slamming their grocery cart into the back of mine repeatedly instead of saying, “excuse me” or you know, moving around my cart obstacle, it can be challenging to tease together a blog-worthy story.  (Ok, I suppose that guy never actually made it to the blog, but mostly because I wasn’t bolstered by a pitchfork carrying mob or in the presence of a bruiser of a bodyguard to shout, “get ‘im!”at.)

A few weeks back, a certain mouse suggested a blog post  based off a comment about the gym. I’m going to  run with that idea, since there’s only so much I can tell you about my photo appearing in the local online paper’s “A List” (it’s all about timing and a Santa hat) or going to see Postmodern Jukebox (YouTube video below).

Austin 360 – Conspirare’s Big Sing! Event

Anyway, back to the story about the gym.

Since I started actively going to the gym in August, I’ve learned that my trainer and I have very different understandings when it comes to the definitions of words.  I personally blame her Midwestern upbringing – maybe the harsher conditions or plain living affected her brain adversely.  Who knows? Granted, I realize that people outside of Texas may find this statement ironic or even scoff at the idea that Texans can actually get anything right (insert a few political jokes here), but I contend based on my limited interaction with this delightful Missouri native, that I have a better understanding of words – at least when it comes to adjectives.

On any given weekday I arrive at training dressed in my gym finery with my hair pulled back, holding my water bottle (lest I be stuck drinking spit as she’s suggested before), and exuding my pluckiest, “it’s 5:30am!!!!!” attitude, which may look like I’ve been hit in the face with a door repeatedly, but it’s an exceptionally plucky door.  On a couple of those days, I meet up with my trainer Jenn who always declares, “you’re going to LOVE what we’re doing today; it’s going to be so much FUN!” She somehow manages to deliver this news with a straight face every time.  Clearly, she’s not a person to be trifled with should a poker game break out (as you know they often can do in the middle of a gym).

This is usually where I tell Jenn, as she’s doing a little dance, because “fun” and “love” somehow also involve an impromptu dance or song, that I don’t think she understands the meanings of the words she’s using.  See, her idea of “fun” and “love” usually involve me temporarily losing my ability to move easily out of chairs for a day. On days where things are “super fun”, I lose that same ability to move easily for multiple days – maybe even a weekend.   Pitiful noises including tiny gasps and whimpering echo quietly through the office or house.  I dread “super fun” days. Thankfully, those days occur less often.  In fact, I haven’t had a true “super fun” day in months.  I don’t tell Jenn this in the event she gets worried we’re not having as much “fun” as we could.

Just recently a new word, “chipper,”  was added to her twisted vocabulary.  I wish she’d waited until she was a little more clear on “fun” and “love” before jumping into a brand new word, but what can you do? “Chipper” is very similar to those other words in that its definition is the exact opposite of what a normal person would expect.  You see, upon exploring the topic of a “chipper,” which is used as a noun of all things, I’ve learned you definitely won’t be anything close to “chipper” (the adjective) upon its completion. Instead, you can expect to be sweaty, exhausted, or even a little unsteady, but likely not chipper as what once passed as muscle becomes rubber, and you contemplate how long one can lay on the mat breathing heavily before others become alarmed.   “Chipper,” in her crazy upside down world, describes  a series of events designed to make you cry. I think “they” (the gym “man”) uses it as a way to lure you in – a good old fashioned “bait and switch” technique.  “Here Beth, we’re going to do something “fun”, you’re going to “love” it, it’s called a “chipper.”” A sentence that roughly translates to, “you will probably hate your life, but thanks to your early onset senility you’ll likely do this again and again, because hey we’ve called it a “chipper””.

I think they may be right. As I finished my chipper last week, and went about returning all of the various equipment (you see, a chipper also involves hoarding all loose gym equipment Smaug style, but said like “smog” instead of “sma-ooog” because that’s just silly), I passed by Jenn who cheerfully called out, “how did you enjoy that chipper?”  And I,  being sensitive to her vocabulary challenges, called back, “it was fun! I loved it! It was my favorite!” This prompted her to give me a thumbs up and misuse another word in response, “AWESOME!!”

I then took my “awesome” self back to the locker room ending another “awesome” moment at the gym.  Of course, tomorrow I’ll be back at it for more “fun,” more things I “love,” and ready for another day where I “chipper” my heart out even though the meanings of these words are a bit mixed up.

And now for some Postmodern Jukebox – a GREAT show!  Thanks to Ben for introducing me to them and April for going with me as part of my birthday month silliness.

I’m Coming Out

I really hadn’t planned on coming out.  At least I hadn’t planned on doing it right away, maybe in 6 months or so, but there I was in the middle of a training session filled with colleagues, and I was glaring threateningly at one of the few people I’d mistakenly shared my secret with.  “Oh my God! She did NOT just out me in front of everyone!” screamed through my brain. I had stupidly trusted her with the information. I thought knowing might help her to realize there was at least one other person out there – a person who “got it” – a kindred spirit who also struggled as she did – something that might help her push through one more day.  And there she was loudly asking me in front of God and everyone else, “Soooo… how many laps did you do?”

“Laps?” I raised my brow, “you mean laps?” as if I’d suddenly forgotten English.

“Yeah, how many laps did YOU do?”

Oh no, she was NOT calling me out in front of a roomful of folks.  I was indignant. They weren’t supposed to know! If I’d wanted them to know, I would have made a t-shirt. I did a quick mental check to confirm I hadn’t been to CafePress recently, which meant  it wasn’t on my agenda to share that information ever.

Since she put it out there for the world, or at least these 10 people,  I’ll go ahead and tell you, too:

I go to the gym.  

I’d been going to the gym daily (or at least each workday) for about 6 weeks, and it wasn’t something I planned on advertising to anyone other than a select few.  I wanted to do my thing without discussion – without status reports, “Hey, how is the gym going? Seeing any results? How do you feel? Feel different? Feel invigorated every time you leave? Don’t you love it? I’m so proud of you!” but since she brought it up in front of everyone, I also wasn’t about to lose in front of my peers.

“Laps?” I repeated, and then I puffed up.  “I don’t DO laps, but if you want to talk about how much I lifted today or maybe how much I pressed, I’d be happy to do that.”  A quiet little  “ooo” circulated through the room.  Smackdown gym style. IN YOUR FACE! That seemed to satisfy her.  She turned around with a smile.

I was relieved that worked.  Had she taken me up on the challenge, I would have had to admit to a very unimpressive and quite wobbly 20 lb. barbell lift over my head while my trainer kept cheering, “you can do it! You got this!” My friends (you know who you are) have long admired my T-Rex like arm strength, and have long speculated on what my little arm appendages might be for – surely, not moving things bigger than cotton balls (hey, a daily face regimen is important and cotton balls aren’t as light as the little cotton ball manufacturers would lead you to believe).  The other things I pull and push may have been a little heavier, but were also equally unimpressive in the scheme of things.  Hey, I know an Olympic-style lifter/trainer.  She could do my routine with her pinky finger. (It’s a super impressive pinky finger! Fear her pinky!). In fact, when it comes to the actual weights I find it’s ok, even preferred, to have one’s glasses off. That way you’re not fighting to keep them up and you also don’t have to see how pitiful you really are – your trainer will make a note.  Thankfully, sans glasses, you also can’t see those notes.  Gyming without glasses makes you immediately stronger!

Of course, her calling me out led to that day’s class trainer making a gigantic deal about it.  “What time do you go?” 5:30 am.  “How do you find the motivation?” Ummm… the alarm won’t stop making this awful noise unless I get up.  (Although, the truth may involve Starfleet Academy and running through the Kobayashi Maru scenario or maybe it doesn’t. I’m not saying. Look, I don’t judge your motivators.  There’s also an opportunity to go to New Zealand.  Oh ok, now you’re on board? Really?  Starfleet is cool, too. Pffft.)  All of these questions (and there were many) in front of a room full of people who were suddenly very interested in a thing I didn’t want them to know about.  Thanks.  Thanks for that.

The next gym day with the trainer, “I need you to beat someone up.  That’s a thing, right?”  Apparently that’s not a thing.  Hey, it was worth a shot.

Now that you all know, I’ll share with you some of the important things I’ve learned from my trainer.  By the way, her name is Jenn and Jenn is kind of a rock star with an infinite amount of patience especially for my unending shenanigans.  She’s also a great source of Yoda-esque wisdom though she tends to run her words in the right order.

“Beth, I want you to toss that ball up in the air  like you’re throwing it behind you.  Really toss it up there.” For the record, this is a giant 10 lb. ball.  Hey, I mentioned the T-Rex thing; It’s heavy to me.
“What do I do if it’s coming down at me?”
“Oh, most people move, but if you want to take it in the face just stand there.”

Laying on a bench, “Beth, stop lifting the weights over your face.” (pause) “Not over the face, Beth.”

(I like to call this “foreshadowing” for my future accident)

“Beth, you’re not that weak.”
“Are you sure?”

“Jenn, I forgot my water bottle.”
“Well, I guess you’ll be drinking your spit today!”

These are all things  I just wouldn’t get anywhere else. (Ok, maybe from a few/all of my friends.)

Recently I asked:

“Jenn, have you ever fired a client?” (Hey, I accept I’m challenging)
“Yes”
“If you think you’re about to fire me, would you give me a hint? Like maybe say the word “Sasquatch” in the middle of a sentence?”
“HAH! Ok, but I’m not going to fire you as long as you keep trying.” (whew!)
“Deal!”

So, it looks like I’ll be at the gym a bit longer.
Just don’t ask me about it.