Taylor spotted some of the San Diego guys getting out of their car as we combed the parking structure for a spot of our own. The drive had been decent but traffic made us half an hour late, which of course made us on time in pkcali time. As we rounded yet another level, King greeted us with a drop kick to my side door (a fake one :).
Our entourage headed down to the pier, you could already feel the energy among us. Lonnie, Jason, Tim, John, Taylor, Jacob, Cliff, King, Greg, Jo, and I... Made me laugh so many of us had shown up at the same time in the same parking structure. That alone gave a glimpse of how many of us were around today. "Holy crap, is that ALL us?" someone asked gazing at the steps which was our meeting point. And when I say steps, I mean that in the loosest of terms; they were levels of concrete, for people to lounge around on and look at the beach. Except instead of lounging, people were climbing, jumping, konging, tictacing, cat crawling, stretching and everything in between all over them. Sometimes it was difficult to tell which people were with us and which were just beach goers caught up by the show.
I was inwardly pleased to see more that a few tracueses present who looked earnest in their practice. 'Friends!' my mind flashed. 'Hopefully,' I shot back to myself. It's frustratingly difficult to find other females who become as infected by the discipline as many of the guys do... and I intend to figure out why that is and then go about remediating it. If I can.
I took a head count. "... 34, 35, 36, 37, 38, 39. And I bet you missed some, so it's probably over 40."
"Jeez," Brain exhaled.
I was outright giddy looking around at everyone training or gathered in loose groups chatting and stretching. Cliff lead a small warm up around the area with jogging, grapevine, lateral shuffles, cat crawl, cat hang traverses... people were free to join in as they wanted, the warm up was never announced. A few cops showed up just as we were getting ready to move on. Once a couple of the guys explained what we were doing, the authorities were okay with it, except "They literally just got done telling us we could do whatever we wanted, just don't touch the mosaic. And two minutes later you do a wallrun up the mosaic!" Brain sighed, scolding King. "Whoops, my bad," he grinned eyeing the cops who were eyeing us. Feeling the itch (and taking the hint) to move on, we migrated under the pier to a 11 foot wall. The funny thing is that as the guys did tic tacs and other tricks to scale the wall, a crowd was gathering on the staircase above us. It started making things difficult when the guys had to hunt for a place to go after they made it up the wall; some had to climb over a trash can before they had a place to step down. The railing of the upper level was filled with people. Eventually our buddies the cops came to break things up since pedestrians were having trouble using the staircase to, you know, get up or down the stairs.
We worked our way along the beach hitting different spots, the last being another large area with "steps," and a switchback ramp with a great set of rails. Tim invented a fun little run he showed me which was cat, turn vault, 180 cat, 270 cat, then spinwalk the curb back to start. I loved going for the 270 cats there because if I missed ..I just hadn't landed on the tiny cement ledge. I wasn't gonna skin my shins or something. Wasn't long before Taylor and Cliff started some conditioning sets going. We did qm crawling sideways on our feet and hands on the curbs and our bodies stretched across the walkway, then crab walking backwards up one level, forwards up the next, then sprint the last and back down the stairs :) It continued on the grass area with cat walking five steps, then roll, then catwalk, then roll... and once we reached the end we catwalked the whole thing backwards. Once I finished the course, I looked at my palm to see what had been giving me pain I hadn't been able to rub off on the grass. A thorn had gotten shoved into my skin. "I had a thorn stuck in my wrist!" I reported to Cliff who had questioned my distracted halts at the end of the course when I was trying to shake off what the hell was stinging me. "SO?" he shot back. Inside I laughed. It was the tough love response I'd come to expect from the pkcali community. "You broke your arm? So what?! You've got TWO. Now dash."
Grr, tough guy. I'm tough too, yeah. Pulled the thorn out and went right back to training.
Dinner time came and we all went off to hunt grub before we met back up at Huntington Beach High. The place was partially under construction, but there was more than enough space to keep us busy. When I rolled up with Nozz, King Cliff and Silverton already had more conditioning going. "20 box jumps on this ledge, then cat walk the side wall of the staircase up to the second floor, cat crawl the floor until you reach the second staircase, then duck walk down the stairs and sprint back to the ledge for five more box jumps, and you're done." I missed the first 20 jumps since I wanted to stretch a little after eating cause Nozz and I had arrived 'late,' but i threw myself into the rest. After that little gauntlet, we ran and got some water before Cliff yelled, "Alright, who's up for more?" Most of us returned and gathered in a mob around him. "Hold the squat position while we're talking!" King instructed and followed his own orders to set an example. "If you get tired of that position, hold the push up position or the plank. Keep switching up if you need to, but hold something!" He and Cliff then went on to talk about the importance of conditioning and how it benefits one's training, how parkour is not a set of moves but the overall strengthening of the human body. "If you do a kong over and over, all that does is strengthen that specific movement. If you condition your entire body, it benefits all your 'moves.' Because of your overall strength, all those 'moves' will come much more easily, AND you will be able to do what you do for longer, hopefully the rest of your life." I died during the last few minutes of the lecture, I couldn't hold positions anymore, and I saw that I wasn't the only one, but the guys had done well with the speech. People looked tired but were listening intently, and when the guys began the next round, the lot of us followed.
"Faster! Let's go! Oh you guys wanna do parkour but you don't want to work on coordination," King chided while we grapevined around a rectangle of cement curb. The exercise really helps you get down your foot placement and keeps your movements light.
"Go! Sprint! Cat!" Cliff directed to a planter wall where Silverton was leading people in muscle ups. "Five muscle ups," he dictated, doing so himself. At this point I was beat and only attempted one, giving myself a carte blanche on the issue. That move's still got the better of me, but I watch Jo do them and know there's hope :)
"Press your shoes up against the rails and walk your hands on the ground like this. When you reach the end of this railing, sprint to the end of that one and work the opposite direction," King explained and guided.
"So this is like, standard procedure for you," one of the San Diego guys gasped to me in between breaths. "Yeah sorta," I laughed and breathed hard, "King and Cliff are especially on fire today." "Aren't you tired? How do you keep doing it?" he asked. "I'm dead tired!!" I exclaimed back. "But I just do whatever the next thing is..." and at that moment I focused all my thought into picking up one hand at a time and placing it further to my right as my feet did the same.. moving down the path with the rail, fighting the mounting load that was my own weight...
"Sprint sprint sprint!" Cliff yelled. "20 quick steps up and down the bench, starting with each foot," he instructed as I got there. "Good job, guys, good job..." Did I forget to mention that they encouraged us? Yeah, they aren't all army sergeant, they have heart :P "You done yet? Okay, sprint over to King," who was by now guiding people through duck walking the planter wall. "Yeesh, I dunno if I have this," I said as some guy motioned me to go ahead of him. "I'm pretty tired, I might fall off." "Come on Haley, you got this," King leapt up and walked backwards ahead of me, encouraging me forward on the narrow path. "Okay, now hold a squat against that wall and that's it." I looked up at the line of people 'sitting' against the wall. "Holy crap, I thought you guys were on benches!" I said, genuinely shocked and slightly disappointed cause I thought I'd finished the course.
"King! How long do we hold this?" I shouted after a while, but he didn't hear me. "You hold it however long you want to," Brian replied, squatting next to me. "Oh really? ... Cause I'm done," I replied and pulled myself to a standing position. It's actually really satisfying to be able to decided that at the end of a gauntlet. Like Alright, good job self, that's enough, get up.
"Who wants to play TAG?" Greg yelled. It was literally five minutes after we finished that second gauntlet. "Raise your hands!"
It was like zombie tag. When whoever was It tagged someone, they became It too, and the last person to be tagged was the new It for the next round. This made it kind of confusing for who was It and who was not, but it didn't matter because you just ran like mad from everyone. First round was good, but second round people got too spread out, so third round some places were labeled off limits but by that time I'd decided to explore the school more and join in a bit with Cliff and Silverton's additional conditioning rounds. It was like recess and P.E.
Sirens. Everyone froze. "BAM we all take off in different directions..." one guy joked. Joked in that funny-cause-it's-true sense. "Nah, that's ambulance sirens," someone dismissed it. Either way, nobody came for us, and we'd all begun to cool down anyway and stand around or sit around in groups to talk. Some people continued on like, their 5th game of tag. 'Jeez Greg never stops,' I marveled as he blew past, chasing some guy down who was egging him on to tag him.
FOOOOOD. It was past 8. I forget really but people wanted to eat. The Meetup guys had already taken off in their cars, and the rest of us gathered in the parking lot to decided where to go together. Ended up being Chili's because the japanese buffet place would have been $28 a head, waaaay out of most peoples price range. Yes we all sat together and yes it was a massively long table. 18 of us stayed to eat and chill afterwards. People were already asking about the date and location of the next monthly, and I can't wait to figure it out with them.
Jam 2 = greater success
Here's some video I took with my phone of the 11 foot wall :] Now that I realize I can upload successfully I might do this more often.
Jason: "Today we just lost two of our most seasoned traceurs.." Ahaha, coulda been a trainwreck.
Anyway Lonnie got that wall eventually. In fact 4 or 5 guys did.