I did a full (but modified) Cross Fit workout yesterday.
How do I feel today?
I feel good, but dude, even my hair is sore.
I can only think of a handful of times in my life where I’ve felt this sore, in fact.
One would be after starting a “boot camp” at the local gym. (You all remember that one, right? Where it was me getting my rear handed to me by Doris, the woman in her 70′s? Yeah, that time.)
And one of them was after I spent three days with the Army ROTC in the middle of the Utah desert.
(I know, right?!)
I am a girl of varied interests. While I wish I had stuck to a quicker path to graduation in college, I had a GREAT education. Why? Because I took classes in anything that interested me. Political Science, Anatomy, Art, History, Human Sexuality, Food Science, Literature, Psychology, Anthropology…with the exception of the harder sciences (because, well, that is just not how my brain ticks) I took a ton of classes and thought of a ton of different career paths.
Given my intense fascination of law enforcement and the legal system, I considered being a cop for about thirty seconds.
And then I pictured actually, um, having to arrest someone.
And it went something like this:
“Excuse me? Mr. Criminal? HI!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I’m Loralee, your arresting officer! I’m here to make sure you have a fantabulous incarceration experience! Could you scoot over here and put your hands on the hood of my car?? Yah, she is a cutie, huh?! I named her “MUFFY”. She is a super sweet little car, thanks! Are those cuffs comfy? GREAT! Oh, and can you pinkie swear that you don’t have any contraband on you???? SUPERLICIOUS! Ok, watch your head getting in, we don’t want any nasty boo-boos! Have an awesome day!!!
Ok, this MAY be a wee bit of an exaggeration, but not much. :)
Before I attended Utah State University, I had a semester at a local college. I was walking around the orientation with my friend, Spencer. Spencer was dating my best girlfriend, Susie. They are actually married now. They are the two on the left. (Go ahead. Mock my butt bow and yuppie sweater. I understand. :))
Spencer is just like a huge bear and he is very comfortable in the outdoors. He was an Army brat and is just inclined to do all things hunting, shooting, and running around the outdoors in cammo.
“LORALEE! Let’s sign up for this class! Three credits in three days for Mountaineering! Come on! It will be FUN!”
In case you all hadn’t noticed, I am sort of an INDOOR girl.
BUT, I also love trying new things. And, hey…hiking in the mountains sounded appealing, so, sure, why not?
We signed up.
A month later I received a phone call.
“Is this Loralee Mitchell?”
“This is SGT. Joe with the Army ROTC calling to give you information about our practice rappel from the stadium next week.”
(The silence was deafening as I blink, blink, blinkity-blinked on my end of the phone.)
“Army?! Rappelling from A STADIUM?!!!! WHAT??!?!?!?!?!??!?!”
Apparently, there would be no easy nature trail, meandering through the trees and eating S’mores by the fire.
I was going to be gone for three days WITH THE ARMY.
I was going RAPELLING with THE ARMY.
FOR THREE DAYS.
Really, if I was in the army it would look something like this:
And did I mention I am scared of heights?
And I am not fond of rappelling?
The only time I had ever been rappelling before then, my hair got caught in the ropes and they had to hack half of it off to get me out. Not a good sign.
But it was too late to drop the class and sign up for a new one and if I withdrew, I would lose my vocal scholarship, so…a week later I found my butt in a harness trying to repel off of the football stadium without dying.
I didn’t die, but it was close.
The week after that I was sitting on an old bus headed out to the desert of Calleo, Utah, with my friend, Spencer (who was SO in the dog house). We quickly realized that neither of us got the required packing list.
Like I said, I am sort of an “indoor girl”. My family does not “camp”. In fact, I had the only outdoor gear our family owned with me, which was exactly ONE 20-year-old orange sleeping bag with a broken zipper. It was stuffed into a garbage bag because I had no idea how to roll a sleeping bag up.
That was it.
I was also 17 and stupid, so it did not occur to me to think of the more practical things I would need.
I had no warm night clothes. No coat. No extra blankets. No bug spray, sunscreen or practical clothing.
I accidentally left my tennis shoes on the porch so I was in PENNY LOAFERS.
Oh, and WE DIDN’T KNOW WE WERE SUPPOSED TO BUY OUR OWN FOOD.
Between us, we had one box of NutraGrain Strawberry bars, a six-pack of red cream soda and a bag of Funyons for three days.
It was really that bad.
There were only 5 civilians in the group and I was the only female. So, I was in a tent with the 4 ROTC females that were in attendance. They were really sweet. They knew I had no freaking idea what to do and helped me a lot.
We hit the ground running at 5 am and didn’t stop until well after dark. I don’t think I have ever been so subjected to such physical hell. I weighed WELL into the 200 pound level and was not exactly in shape.
Have you ever tried doing a chimney climb in penny loafers? Well, I have. Try doing a 1,000 ft forward repel in them, too. It’s a treat.
Even though I was woefully unprepared and inexperienced and the youngest person in the group, I did my best.
I didn’t complain.
I (as usual) made everyone laugh.
Nobody made me feel bad that I was always last and they were very encouraging and helpful. (I look back and feel really bad at how much I slowed them and their training down, but they never even hinted it was a problem. That group was rad.)
In many ways I was having a great time.
My commanding officer and I really didn’t see eye to eye. He was understandably appalled at me and my complete lack of ability and probably frustrated I was there in the first place. I thought he was an ass, so we were even. When we were doing the 1,00-ft boulder repel and I couldn’t get a secure footing on the rocks (WITH MY PENNY LOAFERS) and kept slipping. I would swing into the side of the cliff and bang against it pretty hard. The 7th or 8th attempt, I caught a rock with my forehead. They hauled me up.
As I sat there, shaking and BLEEDING FROM THE HEAD, he let me have it:
“Dammit, Mitchell! I have never sent a soldier home from these exercises on medical and I am sure as hell not going to have the first one be a civilian. GET UP AND DO IT AGAIN.”
I am not really an aggressive person. Maybe it was my hunger, cold, exhaustion, or the fact that during the last repel my brand new Mickey mouse baseball t-shirt got caught in the ropes AND HAD TO BE CUT FROM MY BODY, but I wasn’t in a good mood.
“NO! I am NOT doing it again. I DON’T HAVE TO. I AM A CIVILIAN TAKING A CLASS. FAIL ME!”
He did a double take and took a good look at me.
I think he expected me to cry, but I didn’t.
I can’t be sure, but from the look on his face, I think he re-evaluated my situation. I was a civilian, I was 17-year-old overweight, out of shape girl in freaking penny loafers that clearly had NO idea what she was getting into. And I had been trying my guts out without complaining for 2-days and I had a bloody face.
He cooled off and so did I.
I did the rappel.
And I kept going.
I’m glad I did because if I had given up, I would have missed my one moment of success.
I was the only person in my group to make it across the canyon ravine on the single-strand rope bridge without falling off and having to start over. (A rope bridge is NO BRIDGE. You have a single rope to step sideways on and a rope above to hold on to. It’s highly unstable and scary as all get out.) God directly intervened because there is NO way that one person should have been me. I was terrified and I knew that there was no way I would get back up if I fell. It was a good, no, it was a freaking AWESOME moment for me. The CO even gave me a surprised nod of approval.
(This may sound weird, but I think that some part of the guy actually liked me by the end.)
By the last (freezing) night, I was in pretty bad shape. It helped that we would be leaving in the morning. We just had the awards ceremony that night to get through.
Then there was an announcement. THEY HAD DINNER FOR US! Hot dogs and beans. Dude. I was so grateful I bawled. It was one of the best meals I have ever eaten. I think Spencer and I consumed half of their supply by ourselves. When the commanding officer caught on to what we had both been going through, he was really pissed.
“Mitchell, why the hell didn’t you say something earlier?”
I don’t know. I was just used to solving my problems by myself. It didn’t even occur to me to ask for help. It was my own fault, I should just suck it up. It’s nice to know he would have been willing to help if I had asked him.
When they gave out certificates of completion, the CO just stood there shaking his head.
“I can’t believe she did it, but she did. Mitchell, get your ass up here!”
I got a standing ovation.
It was way better than most standing ovations I’ve gotten for my singing because, well…I worked way harder on this trip.
It was one of the proudest moments of my life.
I came home battered and bruised with a healthy appreciation for people in the service. They do stuff like that all the time, and THEY THINK IT IS FUN. I also gained a sure knowledge that there is NO WAY I would ever, EVER DO THAT AGAIN.
I will take brutal Cross Fit work outs any day of the week, yo.