Here’s my pain tally from today’s parkour class:
Five blood red torn blisters on the palms of my hands. Banged-up left and right shins. Deep bruise on left buttock where I slammed my weight down on a bar right where that annoying sharp bone protrudes in said buttock. Arms I still can’t lift over my head lest I yelp in agony. Bruised elbow. Throbbing biceps. Shoulders that ache even while I sit here and type. Extreme exhaustion of entire body.
All for the sake of my novel.
You know, most writers are smart enough not to emulate the lead characters in their books. Writers of thrillers are especially adverse to risking the kind of bodily harm they so willingly inflict on their heroes. That’s because good writers grasp the difference between reality and fiction. Fiction can be deadly. Fiction can mean the searing pain of irreversible injuries and personal financial ruin from too much costly adventuring. Reality, on the other hand, means that the writer can be a dumpy, frumpy, out-of-shape wuss who’s afraid of the dark and wouldn’t know how to escape from a dangerous situation if his/her publisher’s advance depended on it.
Me? I like to think of myself as smart. People even tell me that the stuff I write is very intelligent. So why am I trying to slowly kill myself for the sake of my novel?
Granted, I laid out the reasons for my one-year plan in the earliest entries of this blog. But that was before the suffering. That was before I had to endure my ninth and final parkour class, the one in which I learned how to hang from a high bar and move along it sideways and forward with only my hands, then with my hands and legs, and then jump through two bars while catching the higher bar and arching my body between them WITHOUT hitting my butt on the lower bar (I didn’t always succeed; see pain tally), and then run an obstacle course of bars to get over /under/ through without slamming my face into any of the metal. At least my face survived intact. And all of this, of course, was preceded by the usual burning workout. (Good news! I can do a handstand/ roll out with the instructor barely spotting me and telling me I’ve now got it.) Then after the lessons with the bar work came a final killer workout involving jumps and weight lifting. Matt (one of our two instructors that day) also took me and another student into the bathroom and helpfully showed us how to rip off the torn tags of skin over our blisters, warned us not to get those blisters in water because they will sting like hell (TOO LATE!), and gave us instructions on how to administer first aid to the now open sores before we go to bed at night.
Anyway, this ninth class in the fundamentals is the last one for me because I’m going to a wedding next Saturday and will miss the final and tenth one. The instructor was disappointed I wouldn’t be there. “It’s the class where we put together everything you’ve learned.” That would mean the high jumps, jump offs, rolls, quadripedal runs, bar work, balancing, tic-tocs (bouncing high off the wall) and more. You know, I really am disappointed too. I want to see what I can do. When I asked about the intermediate course, he emphasized that it would be really intermediate — i.e., above my present level of ability, therefore I shouldn’t take it. Ouch. But what I can do is come back for some open gym time. That’ll be good. That’ll mean practicing on the equipment and walls until I’ve really mastered the fundamentals of the sport. And I can do this at my own pace and without pushing myself until I nearly collapse.
Two of the side benefits of these extreme parkour workouts: First, I’m starting to feel more confident in my physical abilities. Second, not only am I already in much better shape, and not only is my upper body much stronger, but my thighs are firmer and visibly thinner — this despite the fact that I was already slim and not trying to lose weight. In fact, I can even wear a pair of cotton capris I almost threw out last year after accidentally putting them in the dryer with other clothes where of course they shrunk. I pulled them out a couple weeks ago, tried them on, and not only do they fit, they hang loose on me.
Now for you guys out there, this doesn’t sound like much. But you ladies will understand why this makes me very happy.