Having fun in the pain cave.

It’s been a cold December already.  We dipped into the single digits earlier this year than in the past.  I’ll admit it, I really wasn’t ready.  Thankfully, we didn’t stay there too long, so I can’t complain.

We’re also getting closer to the holidays, so there’s no racing that’s pending right now.  There’s no training plan, there’s no push for mileage.  To the pain cave I go.

For as long as I can remember, I’ve had workout equipment at home.  Growing up, dad always had weights down in the basement.  I used to follow him downstairs when he was going to workout.  From as early as about 7 or 8, I was allowed to hold the tiniest dumbbell he had and pretend to workout with him.  We would watch Mr. Olympia together, and I became very familiar with Lee Haney, who won almost too easily.  I admired the hard work that went into body building and sculpting everything to look just right on competition day.

I had also been a big fan of the Incredible Hulk, back when the show was on TV.  I wanted to look like that, although my father convinced me that I would change my mind as I got older.  I also remember seeing Rachel McGlish win a few competitions on TV, and I thought she was pretty amazing.

I continued to work out with the water polo and swim team during high school.  One year, my max bench and leg press were even talked about by the JV football team.

When I moved out on my own, I slowly began to accumulate weights here and there.  While I was building up my arsenal, I was heading to the gym a couple of times each week during my undergraduate studies at OSU.  I remember the old days of the CAM II machines, weight stacks, and Cybex equipment.  (I know, I’m dating myself).

After graduating, I went to work at a gym as a personal trainer and manager.  I would workout sometimes during lunch break.  I always loved that feeling after a good workout.  Complete fatigue.  It felt so good.

By the time I was in my twenties, I had everything I needed.  My brother had even bought me a nice bench for my birthday one year; I still have it to this day.  After Dan and I got married, my bench and my barbells moved in and we continued to add toys to our basement play area.

After moving into our new house about a year and a half ago, the basement area had taken on a new persona…. what I fondly call the “pain cave.”  This room that holds my implements of self torture is also the place where I go to pray, to work, and to sweat; all in one.

We have amassed our own personal gym of sorts.  These days, there are more bikes on trainers, a treadmill, a swim bench, rower, lat pull down, smith rack….plenty of things to entertain anyone that is willing to enter.

The pain cave is also where I spend time with my almost 13 year old, Vince.   This is where he comes to life.  Vince is our baseball and basketball player.  He’s the kind of kid that can play any sport he tries; a true athlete.  And he’s always willing to try something new.  He likes to keep things exciting.  And he likes to lift with me. This kid is solid.  He’s going to be a big kid, a strong kid.  Heck, he already is.

So, we head down into the pain cave together and do our thing.  Afterwards, we have a little protein shake together if it was a tough workout.  I look forward to this time with him, just like I used to look forward to spending time with my dad in the basement.  It’s how we connect.


The end of the year is always the off season and the springboard for spring and summer endeavors. I know I will eventually get back into triathlon mode and the training mindset I get into every spring.  That’s when it’s fresh, new, and exciting….at least in the beginning.  When the mileage goes up eventually, I may change my perspective.

But, that’s later.  For now, I will enjoy this time of year and look forward to my pain cave and hanging with Vince.

It’s nice having a gym that’s open 24-7.

Run happy. Run long.


Amy is a trail runner and triathlete, a coach, a mother of four, an Exercise Physiologist and a Physical Therapist. She lives with her husband, Dan (also an ultramarathoner and triathlete), and kids in Ohio.


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