It’s not that we’re frenemies, per se, but we’re definitely rivals. We are cordial to each other, but we compete over everything. Who is in the professor’s better graces. Social networks. Grades.
Until today, we have never competed in fitness. We ran together once, but it became pretty clear it was an unfair competition. Four years of cross country played to my advantage. Plus, she hates running, so she doesn’t practice often.
Still, she can’t lose, and the run left her bitter. She challenges me to join her at a kickboxing class.
She goes twice a week. She has an obvious advantage. Sounds like a challenge. I hate losing, so I say yes.
I’m pretty fit, right? I did a half marathon last month, and she can’t even run five miles.
This is such a typical workout class. I’m one of two men, and one of three people under 30. I remember why I don’t like workout classes. Even though I’m not, I feel like I’m on display.
We begin with jumping jacks. How tame.
As we move through the warmup, I narrow my focus. It’s just me and her. She has challenged me to this duel. I will not crack first.
I need a little mental readjustment as we switch from kicking our right legs to kicking our left. But after swinging the wrong arm three times, I get the syncopation down.
Is that all you got?
Step-and-kick is a little tougher — mentally, that is. Physically, I feel great.
Me and her. That’s all there is in the room.
We’re now doing a strange box step combination. We’re still kicking. Always kicking. This is taking some serious focus. I feel as if I’m cheating myself because I have to mentally readjust to kicking in the opposite direction every time we switch legs. She transitions as if she’s done it a hundred times.
I then realize she has done it a hundred times.
We step up on the box. We kick. We step down. We back up. We jump squat. We pirouette. We repeat.
She’s still chugging along. I have slightly less physical energy than when we started. Mentally, I’m exhausted.
Drop down and do three push ups. Jump up. Step up. Kick right. Kick low. Kick high. Switch legs. Switch back. Swing your partner do-si-do. Do a barrell roll.
Slide to the left. Slide to the right. Now kick! Now kick! Now kick! Now kick!
Suddenly, she stops.
I pretend not to acknowledge. I’m getting somewhat tired myself, and it’s taking all my mental capacity to keep up with the current Macarena absurdity.
We turn, and I get to look at her full-on. Yep, she’s definitely taking a break. She glances at me and smiles, conceding.
I’ve won! I mean, we still have 30 minutes to go in the class, but I have won this battle. I have outlasted her yet again.
Now, it no longer becomes about winning, it becomes about how much can I win by? Bolstered with adrenaline, I soldier on. We’re now doing the Dougie.
Thirty minutes later, my physical exhaustion catches up with my mental exhaustion, and I’m grateful we’re now stretching. The hard part has ended.
Afterward, she doesn’t directly acknowledge that I’ve beaten her, but that’s okay. We both know what happened.
The next day
It’s really hard to stand up. My hamstrings … no, my glutes (I think?), aren’t working. My calves are tight. My quads feel useless. Cross Country races placed less strain on my body.
Refusing to admit what has happened, I hop in the shower. The stiffness will pass, I tell myself.
I have a four mile run scheduled that day. I could do it in my sleep.
I start the run and begin to wonder if I am, in fact, asleep. My legs aren’t moving correctly. It’s as if the nerve signals are only being sent to half of my muscles.
Running feels like a foreign act.
It will get better after a few minutes.
It’s worsening. Filled with stories about over training and injuries that result from pushing too hard, I decide to call it a day.
“Are you walking?”
How is she here? Did she plan to come here to see this happen? How does she look so good? Why are her leg muscles working?
A thousand other questions run through my exhausted brain.
I smile and mutter something about a rest day. I don’t directly acknowledge that she’s beaten me, but she knows that’s okay.
We both know what happened.
Image from: Pixabay.com