Pull back the curtain and see how a suspense writer puts the thrills and chills together.


Dear readers,

Well, I did it! I returned to my dojo after a three month+ hiatus, taken to recover from a broken wrist. It rained all day, but I refused to let the weather dampen my intentions. (As I take the bus, the weather quite often provides a handy excuse for missing class…it’s too rainy/cold/nice out, etc.)

I was a little nervous about being able to keep up with my classmates. Yes, I’ve been fairly faithful to the Jillian Michaels Making the Cut workout, but let’s face it–doing exercises in your basement by yourself is nothing compared to having an instructor yell at you (not that my kru, Kelly Westerlund, yells–he’s actually very kind. The above photo is of him training in Thailand–he’s on the right). There’s quite a bit of pressure during a class, because you’re always paired off with another student for pad work. If you can’t complete the drills, you’re basically failing in front of another person–one you may not even know. And if you don’t have the strength or stamina to hold pads for their drills, you’re slowing someone else down and affecting his workout. So you can see how it can be a tad intimidating!

For the first few minutes, I didn’t see anyone I knew, save my instructor and his partner Kara, who helps run the gym. But soon enough, I was able to reconnect with old kickboxing friends, and that felt great! It’s that feeling of camaraderie that can only form when you’ve survived something really intense with another person.

My fear kicked up a notch when Kelly said those dreaded words….

“Welcome to Stamina Mondays!”

Stamina Mondays? Stamina Mondays? I’ve been off for over three months, and for my first class back, I choose the toughest day? Great….

The class began with a three minute skipping drill, followed by a short break, and six more minutes of skipping. I wasn’t that worried about the skipping. At my first dojo, we used to skip for twenty minutes every class, so I’m pretty accustomed to it. But my own rope had been left behind in the basement, with everything else I use for the Jillian workout. No problem–I’ll just grab one of the club’s. One minute into the skipping, I realize my mistake. I’d grabbed a weighted rope, one used for building arm and shoulder strength. Imagine skipping with five pound dumbbells. Groan….but somehow, I manage to finish the drill without too much of a problem.

I asked Kelly to give me a “gentle” partner so I can test the wrist before throwing myself into the fray again. Holding Thai pads is what I’m most concerned about, as your arms absorb the shock of your partner’s kicks. If my wrist isn’t fully healed, this is where I’m going to find out.

My partner for the evening is a sweet-faced girl named Nicole. She said she recently returned to Kwest after a year’s hiatus, so we’re both just getting back into it. But if this is Kelly’s idea of gentle, I don’t want to know what tough is…her kicks are quite strong. Go, Nicole! First drill is three two-minute rounds of four straight (which means four punches–jab, cross, jab, cross) or a double kick on either side, pad holder’s choice. Nicole opts to go first, which gives me a chance to catch my breath. After we’ve both finished those rounds, it’s time for the most challenging part of the evening. 50 hooks followed by roundkicks; 50 high kicks while looking down (a traditional Muay Thai fake out–“I’m looking down, so I’m going to kick low! Whoops–fooled ya!”); and tens up on the cross side. Tens, for those lucky people who aren’t familiar with this drill, go something like this: one punch, one kick. Two punches, two kicks. Three punches, three kicks, and so on, up to ten. There are variations–sometimes you do tens with both legs, sometimes with punches, sometimes without, and sometimes both up to ten and then down again. (Tens up equals 55 kicks in total, tens up and down equals 110.) I think we each had four minutes to finish all three drills, which isn’t a ton of time.

But I did it! I actually had time to spare…I was one of the first ones finished. I was so proud of myself, because I exceeded my own expectations and then some. And, for a special surprise, The Boy was there waiting for me after class! He took me out for celebratory sushi. Mmm, sushi….

I’m so glad to be back!

Thanks for reading!
1 part newsletter, 1 part unnerving updates,
2 parts sneak peeks of new projects.


  1. Story Teller

    Thanks, Elspeth. Went to class on Tuesday as well, and I am starting to feel it a bit today…very sore in the calves. Thankfully, today is my day off! 🙂


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.