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Parkour: Week 5, Day 2- More Cat Leaps

Okay, I gotta try to do this somewhat quicker than normal - my buddies will be lurking on xbox live to kill some zombies.

Today was both awesome and total suckage. I'll talk about both, but first an intro to the suckage... yesterday playing softball, I did one of my trademark monster throws from way out in right field to home plate. The kind where I scoop up the ball at speed and in one smooth motion spin my entire body into a leap, throwing my arm around with all the momentum of my legs and spinning body and wail it. The good news, it got home and prevented a run. The bad news - I released the ball with my arm torqueing outwards against my elbow, instead of inwards bending the elbow. The result was all the force of the momentum of my forearm and hand pushing against my elbow the wrong way. Ow.

I have done this before, you'd think I'd learn. Alas. The end result was instant pain and I could not play the rest of the game. Even with two tylenol in me I wasn't sure if I could make it home on the bike. On the plus side, no pop or swelling. And today it felt okay, so I thought, we'll see what's up...

(oh, tried timelapse again but this time I was screwing with the focus and they all turned out blurry... doh)

Warmup (x3):

1 lap (4 blocks)
5 burpies
12 squats
10 pullups
5 burpies

Not a horrible warmup, but frustrating. I've never really been good at sustained exercise (I'm fast twitch not slow twitch), and I find the warmups annoying knowing that when I am at my limit and can barely move, I just need to rest for twenty seconds and I can keep going again. Ugh. Regardless, warmup went cool.

Instantly, back into cat leaps. Rob told us that today we were going to do leaps onto the 8 foot "wall." Victory! To start, we did a quick refresh of three leaps each against the 4 footer, and everyone did okay. Then, before the "big" jumps, Rob insisted we learn the proper way to fail.

This is obviously good. It seems obvious, but it's very important. The trick is to simply absorb all your momentum, then only push off just enough to land properly. The risk is missing your target and either face planting into the wall, or pushing off unbalanced and rolling over backwards - possibly hitting your head. So we spent around five minutes just running into a wall then "failing" against it properly. Quite fun, fairly easy.

Then, we moved into a real cat leap! Rob stuck a ~four foot high box (about 4 feet long, enough for one step) about four feet away from the eight foot box. Jump from the box onto the eight foot box, hang, release. Easy as pie. I didn't really have any problems with this again, aside from the fact that it was really hard to land feet first against the wall from a standing jump.

After the first go around, we added some momentum and then it was easy sailing. This was a phenomenal rush though. It sounds so lame... but trust me. Until you have jumped onto an eight foot "wall," absorbing the momentum with your legs and catching your weight with the tippy tips of your fingers, you will never know what I mean. This, like vaulting, is what I signed up for. It just feels GOOD.

After a couple rounds, Rob asked who wanted him to move it back - I immediately threw up my hand, as well as a couple either people. "Six inches?" he goes and starts to move it back and a couple of us go "What? A foot, we can do a foot!" He grinned and said okay and moved it back a foot.

What a rush. Jumping a solid five or so feet onto a wall. Haha. There's no other way to describe it. After a few of these we moved it further back and did it more! This was totally awesome! And everyone in the class was sticking them, though some were struggling. I really wanted to move it back even more.

After a bunch of this, Rob stopped us and explained that the next step is getting on top of the wall from the cat hang. Saturday we would work on technique, but today we would do a few climbs each to get a feel for it and so they could sort of assess. This was interesting.

Travis explained that there are basically five phases of a proper climb out of the hang. The first phase, the beginning phase, is scrabbling with your hands and feet, slowly getting one elbow sort of up, eventually flailing the other elbow over, using all your weight on the edge, slowly kinda dragging yourself up until you could finally sorta climb onto the wall.

The second phase is smoother, simply moving into one elbow up, then the other elbow up, then putting your weight over the box and driving it forward and onto the box.

The third phase is again, even smoother. In this phase, you get one arm up clean while the other elbow comes up, and you push yourself onto the box in a single motion from the second arm.

Fourth phase is obviously smoother and no elbows are used at all. From a full hang, you simply leverage yourself up and onto the box in two motions - first clearing it with your upper body, then bringing your legs up.

The fifth and final phase is the holy grail, where you use all the momentum of your upper body and simply bring yourself up and onto the box in one smooth motion. Travis demonstrated each phase, and of course they looked *easier* as they got harder, because they were smoother.

Travis then explained that this motion is the ultimate parkour benchmark of upper body strength, and that none of us would be able to hit the fourth or fifth phase right now, it would take a lot more conditioning and practice. Then I think Rob chimed in and said "unless any of you guys are rock climbers or well, just some kind of freak."

I apparently am some kind of freak. I had absolutely no problems from a strength perspective hitting the phase four climb. Actually, to be honest, I thought I would be able to do the phase five... and the first time I tried, I was totally shocked to realize how immensely hard it is. Right as my arms were leveraging up they just sort of stopped and I needed to lock my weight with my muscles then push up against, hard, to complete the motion. I totally enjoyed this - and, to be honest, I totally enjoyed the look on Rob's face when I jumped down off the box. He was clearly impressed.

No one else in the class managed to hit even phase three the first couple times, everyone was phase one and two. Some of the guys did manage phase three after a few tries. Regardless, this was AWESOME. The feeling of power here was great, just all that motion - run, jump, catch a wall with your legs and your fingertips, then pull yourself up onto it with your fingertips... wow. Such a rush.

On my third climb, right as I was pulling myself onto the box at the point where my elbows crossed from 90 degree towards going straight, I felt something give out in my right elbow (the one I hurt yesterday). I carried the momentum on my left and locked up my right and made it up, but it hurt. A lot. As soon as I got off it though, it felt all right and I thought I would go for another try.

On the fourth try, as soon as I stuck my landing and started to pull up I got a spike of pain in my elbow and I was so surprised I let go and fell off the box. This is the first time in every cat leap attempt - from the very beginning - that I failed to stick a landing. I was grabbing my elbow and determined to get back up and Travis noticed and said "What's wrong? Are you tired or did you hurt yourself?" I climbed back up on the box and looked at him and said "I hurt my elbow yesterday, it's not working properly."

Then, like the terd that I am, I did a perfect cat leap onto the box and pulled myself up. Once again the elbow gave out, this time enough that I started to fall back down, and I basically just overrode it. Forced myself through it, up onto the box with a grimace and maybe a bit of an "ahhhh."

As I got down Travis looked at me and went "Yeah, you're done, that's your last one." I guess he could see at that point. And honestly, I'm really grateful - I would have kept trying, and I might have hurt it a lot worse (that's how I tore my quad). It's good to have someone looking out for me, I always push myself through injuries too much.

So that ended the class and off we went. Now it's time for xbox live! (elbow is gonna be iced and tylenol is in there)


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