Welcome to My Pain Cave

Daniel destroyed us this morning at boot camp.

It didn’t help that I pulled a rookie move and showed up to the workout without having any sort of snack beforehand. Usually it’s just half an apple or a handful of blueberries – it doesn’t seem like it should make that much difference, but it does.

I got a brutal reminder of that this morning as I suffered the wrath of a Week 4 Thursday muscle-burner.

Fifteen minutes in I was holding a push-up plank, dripping a near-steady stream of sweat onto my mat and seriously beginning to wonder if I was going to make it. Daniel’s voice reached me through the ether of my suffering: “I know you don’t think you’re going to make it but you are. I know you are.”

He wasn’t talking to me. He was talking to everyone. In fact, he was on the other side of the court when he said it but it came through loud and clear. I tightened my abs, gritted my teeth, and started counting the drops that were falling off the tip of my nose.

I went into my pain cave.

Sal and his cycling teammates talk about the “Pain Cave” a lot. It’s that place you go where you are enveloped by a complete and raw brand of pain. You reach it after feeling the seering inside of you and then ignoring it. You reach it when every voice inside of you has screamed for you to stop and you have silenced them all. The quiet of the pain cave is eerie and horrific.

It’s still but not calming. It’s excruciating and peaceful all at once. It’s simultaneously transcendent and brutally immediate. The agony is almost tangible.

It is the best and the worst feeling.

To be honest, The Pain Cave is one of my favorite places in the world. It is hugely rewarding and ridiculously satistfying. Of course, I have been known to exhibit masochistic tendencies now and then. :) (And Daniel was right – I did make it. Just barely.)

I made the obligatory stop at Stumptown on my way home and picked up an Americano to bring home to Sal. Walking from the car to the coffee shop I was euphoric… or delirious… one of the two.

At home I discovered a new equation:

The Pain Cave + raging hunger + post-workout high = Cocoa Puffs

Well, modified cocoa puffs, anyway. With the early morning light streaming in through the kitchen window I combined Fiber One, non-fat milk, and a scoop of chocolate protein powder.

The milk turned brown and chocolaty, the Fiber One crunched just so, and the Pain Cave drifted slowly away.

I’m heading north to a family reunion, shooting a wedding on Sunday, and then staying with friends in Seattle on Monday so posting will likely taper until my return.

In the meantime, go find your pain cave already – it’s calling to you.


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  1. Dude, I found my pain cave! I had to actually get up to find the remote AND I’m out of beer. I think I pulled something.

  2. thetracksuitceo

    I couldn’t help but be reminded of the song by Wayne and Garth by that very title. So you’re going to a family reunion? Talk about your own personal little Pain Cave! Have fun.


  1. The Everyday Athlete » Blog Archive » Favorite Things: 2007 Version - [...] This moment in bootcamp (pain cave) [...]
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