Thursday, May 5, 2011

Chapter 24: Dank Tank

Beads of Sweat is a novel about running.  Click the fiction tab to access previous chapters.  Today's chapter is about a core workout in the Dank Tank.

6:05 and every last one of them on the brink of sweat.  Even Hartman, he did the Dank Tank workouts alongside his upperclassmen.  He called the sets and reps and kept one eye on their form.  They tried to keep up.  Eschewing embarrassment courtesy of what to them was an old, old man remained paramount if they were to maintain any semblance of a high school ego.  They gutted it out hard for this reason.  Sometimes harder than they should have.  Hartman himself would have to backoff if he had a difficult workout planned for the afternoon. 

The regiment was designed to last forty minutes, which gave the boys another forty minutes to shower, change, grab breakfast, and maybe even do a little homework.  They always started with pushups.  Three days a week they did them and each day a different form of them.  Mondays it was straight sets.  Three sets of forty with forty seconds recovery.  This is where they were now.  Set three was about to begin.  In between each, Hartman had them stretch out their backs the way cats do after awaking from a nap. 

-Let’s go guys, Hammond said.
-Last set best set, Torres said.

They did them in unison.  At least the first twenty in unison then things got a little pell-mell.  Smitty started to fatigue then Galiozzi then Jenkins and Coetaine.  Hammond and Torres were the corework paratroopers.  They never flinched.  They stayed right on Hartman’s count.  Torres jumped up and went over to the stereo.  Smitty’s “A Long Way to the Top” was playing and Torres turned the volume knob all the way to the right.

-Come on Smitty, Coetaine yelled.

Torres ran over to him and got down into his ear.  Push it, Reggie.  It’s a long way to the top.

Up on his knees Jenkins said, This song has a whole new meaning to me after Saturday.

-No shit, me too.

Hartman had made his way over to the early nineties stereo.  He put his hand on the volume controller. 

-No, no, not yet, Torres implored, one more verse.

Smitty, now finished with the set, got up from his decumbent position to play air guitar along with Torres.  All the guys yelled “it’s a long way to the top if you wanna rock and roll” and repeated it a couple more times before they noticed Hartman had reduced the volume. 

-You’ll wake the dead with singing like that…Let’s go.  Next exercise.

The boys continued through their trunk work: planks, abs, bridges.  Awake now, they started to talk between sets.  Unlike in class or with certain cliques, the boys were at ease and worried little about what they did or said.  Sure, they still gave each other a hard time when it was warranted but that hard time never left the Dank Tank.  Seldom did it ever even trickle to the rest of the team.  They told bad jokes, they fantasized about girls, they even talked about what they might do on cross-country courses throughout the state.  Half the time they were impervious to Hartman’s presence.  He said little during the Dank Tank sessions.  He did, however, quite frequently remind them that they were the only cross team in the state waking up and doing the supplemental work.  The work of champions he called it.  He never made guarantees or talked to them as if they were the best, instead he talked about being in “the position.”  And how one gets into “the position” and what one does when in “the position.”  You are putting yourselves in the position, he told them every morning three days per week.  Usually said it at the door as the guys, bleary eyed and far from bushy-tailed, lumbered into the tank.  The man had an uncanny ability to cut things off at the pass.

-Hard stuff’s over.  Let’s get the legs going.  No squats today.  No wall sit today.  Instead we’ll do some more stuff with the hip girdle.

-Oh wonderful, the hip girdle.
-Oh yeah, Smitty, I still have your mamma’s girdle from last night.
-Franklin, let me tell you about your sister’s birthmark…
-The little strawberry, Galiozzi interrupted, right under the…

Torres jumped on Gales then went over to Smitty for the nuggie routine.  In this motion, they crashed onto the mucid blue mats for a round of fire hydrants.  First with two arms for support, then one, then one with arm moving with opposite leg.  They worked rhythmically through the reps, sets, and exercises.  The juniors still needed to get the hang of some of the more technical movements but the seniors were fluid.  After all they had a year’s more experience in coming to the Dank Tank. 

In ten more minutes, they had completed all the leg work for the day.  That part of the corework came pretty easy to them in comparison to the upper and trunk exercises.  Sensing completion of the morning workout, they started talking about who had what for breakfast. 

-I didn’t bring anything.
-I ate on my way here.
-I have some poptarts in my locker.
-I brought a banana but I’m not sharing it.
-Hey, we have one more exercise to do, Hartman said.
-We do?
-Oh no, we’re doing pullups.
-That’s right.  But we’re not maxing out.  We’re doing three sets.  Divide the number you did at the conditioning test by three then add one.  That’s how many reps you’re doing for each set.  The first and third sets, face your palms out.  Face them in for the middle set…To the chinning bar gentlemen.

The tank had three bars on the far wall.  Each had to jump up to grab the bar then jump back down when the set was done.  Whenever their knees swung into the cinderblocked wall, Hartman reminded them of their poor form.  He didn’t watch them today; he was tending to a brown paper bag in the corner by the door.  The boys counted each other’s reps. Hartman remained by the door and from there watched them finish up their sets.  They were done in no time.  They dallied for a minute or two, some of them even voluntarily did a couple of stretches before meandering toward Hartman’s door.  He had the brown bag in his hand.  He reached into it and from it tossed each boy an apple.  Franklin dropped his, breathed on it, rubbed it into his sweaty shirt, and took a bite.  

-See you in a few hours, he said.


Glenn said...

KG, as a coach, I want to tell you I am taking notes! Hartman knows how to produce a champion's mindset with these boys!

Also, I watched the James Joyce footage and I have to say that you are one positive dude. You need to be coaching, since I believe that you are the real Hartman!

P.S. You need to make a video of your core workout. I know it's legendary and the stuff of great American novels!

KG said...

Hey Glenn: Thanks a lot. About the core workout: I think I look much better behind the camera than in front of it...I read this cool poem about Spartans recently (I'll have to find it and post it), and I've been telling myself that the core work is The Spartans Creed. Thanks for reading. Hope to catch up with you soon.

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