The Russian Princess knocked on my door quietly at 5:45 a.m., a small courtesy to other guests who weren’t participating in the 6:00 a.m. stretch class. Unlike every other session, the early morning stretch was completely voluntary.
We had attended every one of these classes in Malibu 3 years ago, and planned to do the same this trip.
Dedicating a full 45 minutes to deep stretching is a luxury that neither she nor I could afford in our day-to-day lives, so while waking up at that wholly un-holy hour wasn’t fun, it seemed a reasonable way to prepare our bodies for the abuse they would be asked to endure each day.
Immediately following stretch, we headed into assessments. You know, the ones we had missed the day before because of the cluster-fuck with the rental car.
I knew the news wouldn’t be great.
I knew I had taken my workouts down a few notches after my gallbladder tried to kill me. And by a few notches I mean about a million.
I knew there were a couple of days when I was so busy with work that my ass never left the chair for 12+ hours. And by a couple of days I mean approximately half the work days in any given work week for the past several.
I knew the news wouldn’t be great.
I stepped on their fancy machine and held my breath.
And then reality showed up to the party.
Reality is a goddamned asshole.
I have some dignity, so I won’t share my specific weight, BMI, % Body Fat or % Lean Muscle Mass stats with you but, because we like to keep things real around these parts, I will tell you that my starting weight was just a few pounds lower than my starting weight was 3 years ago. And by a few, I mean exactly 2.
That after having lost ~18 lbs in 2013 and maintaining that loss through 2014.
The sting of reality’s cold, hard slap stopped me in my tracks.
I don’t remember what, if anything I said to head trainer, Sharon. Dejected, I left the office, walked up to The Russian and declared, “Well that was depressing.”
She commiserated. We even joked for 5 seconds about the fact that she was 1 lb heavier than me. Of course she is a full 2 inches taller, so there should be a lot more then 1 lb difference in our weight.
During breakfast and even during the drive out to our hiking location, my mind fixated on my weight gain.
In other words, I brought a really unhealthy mindset to the assessment hike.
Big mistake. Big. Huge.
The Day 1 assessment hike is the one that allows the hiking guides to observe and assess each individual’s hiking abilities and speed, and report back so that the hiking program manager can group them into suitable hiking groups for the balance of the week.
What I didn’t realize at the time, but now know to be true, is that the Day 1 hike is pretty much the toughest of the week. They will go as far and as fast as the fastest members of the group. It ended up being one of the longest of the week, and featured no rest stops. If you needed to stop, you could, but the hiking guides were not making stops, per se.
Coming off the disturbing news about my weight re-gain, I went into this hike with a chip on my shoulder. I had something to prove.
So when a small number of hikers (2nd, 3rd and 4th week returning guests who were well acclimated to the hiking thing) had gotten out to a fast start and created a gap between them and us, I decided to run to catch up.
Even The Russian admonished me, “What are you doing? Don’t kill yourself on day one.”
I poo-pooed her, “Nah, I’m feeling good. Just a little run to loosen things up.”
I may have actually believed myself.
And then reality showed up again.
The Southern Utah altitude (I hadn’t acclimated yet) when combined with my preparatory exercise regime (basically the equivalent of a senior citizen mall-walker) turned out to not be the best set of circumstances for success.
And this hike never ended. It just kept going. And going. And going.
The climb seemed relentless.
When do we finally get to go DOWN??? Why is it ALL up???
The pace was relentless.
Who ARE these people and why don’t their bodies need rest breaks? They must be some sort of hiking cyborgs. I hate them all.
And then we hit the sand.
Sweet baby Jesus. …What fresh hell is this??? Who put sand dunes in the middle of these mountains? What in the actual fuck?
That sand did everything it could to break my spirit. It most certainly broke my knees. I felt them creaking the rest of the hike.
And yet the hiking cyborgs never slowed down. It was a freak show and horror movie combined into one.
I hated my life with a passion in that moment.
While I’ve blocked out most of the trauma of that hike in much the same way I’ve blocked out the horror of natural childbirth, here is what I had to say in my daily Facebook recap:
The hike was awesome, and then brutal, courtesy of a long stretch of deep sand which did a number on my knees. Gave that hike everything I had (perhaps not the smartest choice on Day 1, as that will set the pace for my hiking group placement for the rest of the week).
My knees were a hot mess by the end of the hike – but I iced them down during the lecture, then had some acupuncture done on them this evening + chiropractic for my messed-up neck. Hoping the neck adjustments end my headache because I can tell you that doing what I did today with a massive headache was a monumental effort. Proud of myself for pushing through.
I think it’s kind of cute that I was acting all optimistic and cheery on Facebook when I was so hating every moment of my existence that day.
After that ass-kicking hike, we mercifully had a lighter afternoon with one Circuit Training class and one torture session known as, Court Challenge, followed by stretch class.
Final stats for the day:
- 27,801 steps
- 11.8 miles
- 2,342 calories burned (vs. 1,200 consumed)
- 3 blisters (2 for me, 1 for the Russian)
- 1 new pair of hiking boots (for her because she had somehow outgrown the ones she brought with her.)
- An unknown # of toenails at risk of falling off (to-be-continued…)
- 1 chiropractic appointment (me)
- 2 acupuncture sessions (one for each of us)
- 1 deep tissue massage (her)
With spirits mainly unbroken, we agreed to do it all again the next day.
p.s. If you’re interested in details on the various workout programs, please click here and scroll down to the workout called “Court Challenge”.
p.p.s. To jump right on over to Day 2, click here.