Monday, August 10, 2009

Up the steps and through the woods

There are two ways to hike up Stone Mountain. The hard way and the harder way.

On Saturday afternoon, we chose the hard way - the 4.5 mile Stone Mountain Loop trail. During the two-hour hike up, we passed brooks and splashed through creeks. We lingered at the big waterfall, and raced up a flight of stairs.

We finished our frolicking at the 2,305 summit overlooking tree tops and listening to the waterfall hundreds of feet below. It was so quiet up there. A flock of really big birds soared by.

If you go: Stone Mountain has numerous trails. We parked in the Lower Lot. If you take the trail to the right you will pass the waterfalls. It takes about two hours. If you take the trail to the left from the upper lot, it's a shorter distance, but it's more strenuous. You can also park in the Upper Lot for a shorter hike - assuming you go in he correct direction. The park also has nice camping facilities for tent and RV camping. It's only about an our north of Charlotte up I-77. Easy day trip.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Graduation day at bootcamp

Day 5: Sgt. Roy's Bootcamp - Graduation

I'm participating in Sgt. Roy's Bootcamp. It's a one-week intense exercise program lead by Sgt. Roy Lewis, a real Army drill sergeant.

It was the last day of bootcamp, but Sgt. Roy didn't go easy on us. One woman was late, and she had to do 10 push-ups during warm up.

After warm-ups we moved out onto the field. We formed a huge circle. Each of us had a piece of paper with an exercise on it. We performed the exercise until he said stop, then we moved to the right and did the next exercise. The exercises included mountain climbers, jumping jacks, pushups and about half dozen more.

After we did three minutes of exercises, he would stop us and make us do an agility drill. We ran through rings, around corners and through an exercise ladder. Then it was back to the circle for more exercises.

My legs screamed. I totally have second-day muscle soreness from climbing the steps on Wednesday.

After we finished and did a cool down, Sgt. Roy handed out certificates. He gave us another pep talk about motivation, and shared some of the personal struggles he's endured, such as being laid off three teams and his daughters illness.

We also got some goodies from Murray Fitness. Sgt. Roy will be hosting another bootcamp next month. Maybe I'll see you there.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Swimming in jeans isn't fun

Day 4: Sgt. Roy's Bootcamp - The Pool

I'm participating in Sgt. Roy's Bootcamp. It's a one-week intense exercise program lead by Sgt. Roy Lewis, a real Army drill sergeant.

Wearing blue jeans and t-shirts, we climbed into the pool at the Mecklenburg County Aquatic Center. We started with one minute of power jumps, followed by a minute of flutter kicks on the wall and pushups.

Jumping wasn't so bad, but the flutter kicks killed me. I can barely swim and being weighted down by blue jeans didn't help. After three rounds of that, we swam the length of the pool using kick boards. I ended up walking because the kicking thing wasn't working for me.

We finished the day's workout with a fun game. We split into two teams. The objective was to get a volleyball to the other side. We quickly learned that passing was the only way we would get the ball past each other. My team went up three to one, but Road Dawg's team came back to win.

Next time, they're going down.

Oh, and next time I'll bring a change of clothes. Duh.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

More tears, claustrophobia and no-shows

Day 3: Sgt. Roy's Bootcamp - The Stairs

I'm participating in Sgt. Roy's Bootcamp. It's a one-week intense exercise program lead by Sgt. Roy Lewis, a real Army drill sergeant.

Today was the big day. Running up 45 flights of steps. I'd been dreading and looking forward to the challenge for the last 24 hours.

When we arrived at the Dowd, I noticed or group was smaller than usual. The guy who felt he let his team down yesterday didn't show up. I was kind of disappointed. I had hoped he'd tough it out. As Sgt. Roy said, the bootcamp wasn't about finishing anything first, it was simply about finishing and doing your best.

We alternated between jogging and walking from the Dowd YMCA up South Tryon Street to the Bank of America building. We passed construction workers and a few joggers on the street. They looked at us like we were crazy as we sang whatever silly song Sgt. Roy made up.

At BofA, Sgt. Roy told us to take our time and do our best. He said a medic was at the top in case anyone needed help. That was comforting. (I guess).

I thought we were going to jog all the way up. I entered the stairwell behind some veterans so I could follow their lead. After walking three flights, I knew jogging up the tower stairwell was never really an option. By stairwell 10 flights I was winded. By 20, I was holding onto the rail occassionally. A couple of women stopped in the landing to catch their breath. Others passed me on their way, and several women didn't finish. Road Dawg stopped at 11, and greeted me with a big old smile when I came down.

She'd done her best, and I was glad she even showed up. She told me quitting was never an option.

Two women battled claustrophobia, but Sgt. Roy coached them through it. They went all the way up. The kid cried again, but she finished. No one needed a medic.

Oh and it wasn't really 45 flights of stairs -- only 39.
I wished I had timed myself. Next time I want to see if I can do it faster.

Afterward, Sgt. Roy told us he was proud of us. He said the motivation to climb the steps didn't come from him.

"It was in you all along," he said. "If you can go all the way up there, you can do anything."

He said bootcamp was a chance for us to motivate ourselves to try harder in life.

"Find out what you are made of and bring it."

Today we jog up 45 flights of stairs

I'm participating in Sgt. Roy's Bootcamp. It's a one-week intense exercise program lead by Sgt. Roy Lewis, a real Army drill sergeant.

Today we're supposed to jog from the Dowd YMCA to the Bank of America building. Then we're supposed to jog up 45 flights of steps. I'm excited and nervous.

I'm pretty sure this will be the most physically demanding exercise I've ever done. Sgt. Roy says it's okay if we don't make it to the top. He says it's okay if we only get to the 18th floor as long as we try our best.

It's not okay with me. I just hope my body agrees. We'll see.

(Did I mention, we have to jog back to the Dowd YMCA after we run the steps?)

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Day 2: Tears and disappointment at bootcamp

Day 2: Sgt. Roy's Bootcamp - The Rope

I'm participating in Sgt. Roy's Bootcamp. It's a one-week intense exercise program lead by Sgt. Roy Lewis, a real Army drill sergeant.

Today's workout was tough, but tomorrow's will be hard.

This morning we separated into groups of four. Each group had a rope. We jogged one long single file line. We had to jog as a unit and we couldn't drop the rope or leave a teammate behind.

We jogged about a 1/4 mile then stopped for calisthenics then we jogged a 1/4 mile and stopped for more calisthenics. While jogging, Sgt. Roy also made us do a "wagon wheel." The lead group circled around to the back and then jogged to the front. We did this for 30-45 minutes.

Did I mention we started with 100 jumping jacks for our warm up? Yeah, it was that kind of day.

By the end of the workout, we had our first set of tears and one guy felt like he let his team down.

Sgt. Roy used both moments to encourage us to dig deeper. He said it wasn't important to finish first. It was important to try your hardest and finish. He congratulated the man who felt like he'd let his team down because at least he came to camp and tried his best.

He was a little less gentle with the young woman who cried. Apparently, she plans to enlist in the Air Force. He told her to get all of her crying out at this camp. He said she couldn't go to basic training acting like girl.

She stuck her tongue out at him.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Boot camp with a real drill sgt.

I spent my morning crawling and lying in wet grass and yelling things like "Bulldogs train to win!"

Today was my first day at Sgt. Roy's Bootcamp, and it's unlike any other I've attended this summer. Sgt. Roy Lewis, a drill sergeant who trains drill sergeants, runs the one-week camp. He applies military technique to his camp.

We started the morning in formation and we respondee to questions with "Yes, drill seargent." Sounded cheesy until we responded incorrectly. That cost us an extra set of exercises.

Lewis pushed us firmly, but gently. We spent the morning at Dilworth Elementary School crawling and sprinting in the cold grass. We finished by doing too many pushups and crunches.

This is my first time, and I'm doing it with my friend Road Dawg. I don't think she likes me anymore. She was looking rather salty by the end of the first days camp. Something about being covered in wet grass didn't appeal to her. Oh, and the sprinting and pushups weren't a picnic either. Deep down -- way deep down -- I think she likes it.

Many of the participants have attended before. Thankfully, they know the correct responses to his orders.

The class is a mix of people in their 20s and up. One woman is working with her two teenage daughters. Very cute.