Tuesday, January 13, 2015

I've cracked it!

Before you get excited, my headline refers not to a formula for turning tuna into gold, but a rib; my rib. I’m pretty sure I cracked it, and I’m pretty sure I cracked it a couple of days ago. The reason I’m pretty sure it was a couple of days ago is because a couple of days ago I fell over on the beach. And when I say “fell over” I really mean went down like a fat sack of spanners dropped from a cargo plane. Onto a beach.

What’s particularly annoying is that I’m not someone who ever falls over. I actually go out of my way to not fall over because – from what I remember – it hurts and can crack things.

As we speak I’m in the Bahamas proving poker commentary for the PCA, and during this time the company obviously milks as many PR opportunities as possible while all the big-name players and poker-friendly celebs are present. I’ve always been a fan of the UFC so was rather thrilled to see that Tito Ortiz was here and was running a morning fitness session for anyone interested. I put my name forward and dug deep in my suitcase for the trainers I always bring but never use.

I’ll be 45 this year, but when picturing myself doing physical activities put myself more in the 25 bracket. As an example, while taking a short-cut from the poker room to my hotel room I took a wrong turn and found myself at a loading bay with a four foot drop to the road. Obviously I could have turned around but some burly men were looking at me so I pretended it was EXACTLY where I wanted to be (and that I was 25) and just casually jumped off the ramp.

While in the air between ramp and road I thought ‘oh shit. Bend your knees when you land’ but also remembered ‘don’t forget your right knee gives out when you bend it’. I’m pretty sure some more thoughts were on their way to help out but it was only a four foot drop so there wasn’t a lot of time as gravity took over. The good news is there was no audible snapping or screaming as I plapped onto the tarmac with the gait of a man who’d actually jumped from the roof. I hurried away feeling like Captain America (but probably looking more like a 44 year old man who’d made a bad choice).

 Anyway... at the beach Tito was superb and charming and took control of the 20-odd willing participants. “We’ll start off with a light jog to that red flag and back” he said. No worries; off we go…

60 seconds later I was back from the ‘light jog’ and bent over like girl who’d been punched in the stomach by Hercules. Sand is a dreadful idea when it comes to fitness. As someone who regularly jumps off four foot high ramps I can tell you that adding sand to the mix is never a good idea. How could I be this knackered? All I’d done was jog to a flag and back. Some of the (admittedly younger) group hardly looked like they’d taken a breath. Maybe they hadn’t bothered with the ‘light jog’ at all. Maybe the lazy sods had just stood there all young and lithe, watching us old fuckers trip across the sand like a herd of pissed camels in high heels. I could only conclude that I had just been unlucky in finding some particularly unforgiving sand; I moved closer to the sea where the sand looked less yielding.

Tito announced: “We’re going to do five one-minute rounds”. HA HA HA I laughed out loud, thinking he was jokingly pretending that we were all going to fight each other and would now break into a smile saying “of course not!” He wasn’t and he didn’t; he just meant we were going to do five one-minute rounds of exercise. Never mind; at least I’d identified myself as the weirdo who laughs when nothing funny has been said (I find it’s important to set out your stand early at these things).

First up were step-lunges, followed by sprinting, followed by push ups, followed by burpees, followed by sit-ups. No worries; let me at ‘em!

“Line up here” said Tito (I pushed a girl out of the way to get to the hard sand). “Let’s go with step lunges!” and off we went. In case you don’t know, step-lunges are where you step forward, squatting down low enough so that the trailing leg’s knee touches the floor. Then you step forward again in the same style with the other leg, gradually (and hilariously) making progress. I’m pretty sure I should have been focussing on maximising the ‘burn’ in my quads or something, but I was more concerned that the tiny girl next to me was flying off across the sand like a lizard chasing its lunch.

Thankfully Tito called out: “this isn’t a race; just get your technique right!” Oh thank god. Slow and steady wins the race (or at least gets to watch the race from a more comfortable vantage point further down the field).

We step-lunged our way to the markers set in the sand and I must say I was feeling pretty pleased with myself for not being the last to make it there. But wait; where’s everyone going? “Half way there!” shouted Tito. Oh shit, we’re doing 60 seconds of this aren’t we, not just one stretch. Bollocks.

Luckily being 44 means I have a few tricks up my sleeve. Not only did I take a couple of normal steps before lunging into the return trip, but I also came out of the step-lunges a couple of paces early. Text book.

Good. One down four to go. “OK… now SPRINT!” shouted Tito. And off I shot… mentally. Yes, my brain clearly sent a message to my legs to sprint – I was there, I heard it loud and clear. However, unlike all previous times (barring a few beer festival moments) the message from brain was received, processed and initiated, but something was seriously wrong in mission control. My body weight was moving forward, my arms were pumping to assist sprinting… but my landing gear was still down. Legs! LEGS! WHAT ARE YOU DOING?

Sadly the step-lunges had taken their toll, and the burn had indeed burnt. The vast majority of my body (no comments please) was sprinting, but my legs were taking a moment to reflect on life, leaving my feet somewhat buggered. Most of me took off in the correct direction, but my feet dug pitifully into the thick, luscious, bastard sand and physics decided it was time to take control of the situation; down I went with a muffled crack.

“On your feet you filthy maggot!” I heard Tito shout (actually he just said “Up you get” rather politely (which was somehow worse)). “You can do this!” he called out incorrectly, and off I dragged like some poor atrophied squid. Because of my face-plant, just as I got vaguely going all the kids with normal functioning legs were turning around for the return run. How they must have pitied what they saw shuffling across the sand. If you know the bit in the original Robocop when the ginger lad goes into the toxic tank and lurches back out to be killed by a car – that’s me that is.

I did make it back to the starting line, but knew I was done; exercise routines are really best undertaken with working legs and to do so without a reliable, functioning mode of transportation is just asking for trouble. It’s simple math(s).

I decided the best course of action was to pretend that I never meant to do the whole thing (obviously, snort!) and had really just turned up to support the event and make the photos look more populated. But there were some similarly aged people nearby, and they knew.

I drank some water, tried not to throw up for a while, and then sat back watching the young people enjoying themselves with the professional sportsman. We all went for a swim afterwards which was nice (the buoyancy of the water meant I could appear fully-functioning once someone had carried me into the sea).

I walked back to my room once my legs had returned to operational status, thinking that perhaps next time I’d just pretend to have left my trainers at home (I might even start leaving them behind to avoid temptation).

In my absent mindedness I’d taken the wrong route back to my room and was faced with turning around or jumping over a four foot wall. I looked at my legs, and they looked back. We all turned around.