Archive for ‘tennis’

August 10, 2012

Before Title IX

My son and I are lazing around, watching the Olympics, dreaming of glory days.

The Olympics got me thinking. How do I compare with most women my age in terms of fitness? Could I take them? I would have to say, honestly, that I can bike, play tennis, swim and dance slightly better than most women my age. A contest that involves running, softball or bowling? Not so much.

But why do I have to compare? I usually blame my three brothers for making me so competitive. And I blame society for not offering me more girls’ team sport opportunities. I came of age just when Title IX was introduced. The requirements had not yet trickled down to suburban Chicago. So I didn’t get to benefit. This is Title IX’s 40th anniversary. So YAY! Lucky for my girls. Unlucky for me.

Still, sports were essential. I played in a Saturday night high school volleyball league at Mary Seat of Wisdom church and I loved it. I loved volleyball again years later when I was in the cast of The King & I at the Depot Theatre (the alpha and the omega of my summerstock career!). We had games right before the matinee. I loved the sting on my wrists when I landed a bump. I think that is the technical term — a bump!

I loved the camaraderie of sports and the room for showboating (Hello, Usain Bolt!)

In high school we had gym every day. I was chosen to be the demo girl when we had gymnastics. I was proud. But then, in front of everyone, on the unevens, I could not kick myself up from the low bar to the high bar. The very next day, Ms. Sellers picked another girl to demo. That stung. Worse than a sore wrist from volleyball.

While I do not have to be the best, I prefer it. And I prefer that no one see me as I slip from my pinnacle — an inevitable decline from my Numero Uno standing in my own mind. (I’m not sure, but it is possible, that this post is about the downside of aging.)

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May 24, 2012

Moving Is Better than Exercising

I bike to work and do Pilates twice a week at lunchtime in my workplace. Sometimes I feel that I should have nobler fitness goals. This is why I love this blog post by Nick Crocker about Finding Exercise in Life’s Margins at Harvard Business Review.

Weaving exercise and intentional movement into the fabric of my life feels way more possible (though less sexy) than training for a triathlon.

I let our family gym membership lapse because I just wasn’t going. And I felt guilty — for not going, for the expense, for the lack of family pool time. I felt I was a fitness failure. But I wasn’t. Just because exercise is easy — like slowing down on my bike past the flower gardens in Riverside Park — doesn’t mean it’s not valuable.

You don’t have to hate exercise in order to get fit, feel good, or even lose weight. (The same goes for time at work — you don’t have to hate it.) Why not love what you do? I love playing tennis. Consistency is more important than breaking a personal record.

Personal brag: my son just won an athletic award this week. He was a triathlete — competing in three varsity sports as a 9th grader. But of one of the sports, track, he said he lacks passion. I say, Fine, drop it, if you like. Just keep moving.

Drop your gym membership too. Just stay active.

Weave fitness into every day. A little moving regularly is way better than a lot of fitness once in a while.

20120524-080911.jpg

A guy on the bus seated in front of me was carrying
this bundle of flowers. A rosy outlook only costs $3.99.

February 17, 2012

My stupid feet

Yesterday I was back at the podiatrist’s. I really have to take care of my Plantar Fasciitis. The bottoms of my feet hurt all the time, but especially when I wake up in the morning and after I do any sports.

Tennis season is coming up. I want to keep running. I want to be an active person, beyond doing my beautiful pilates and yoga and occasional swimming.

My podiatrist told me I MUST do the assigned stretches for my feet every day. She gave me a (cortisone?) shot in one foot and told me to come back for two more on that foot and then we’ll do three shots on the other foot. The shot hurt. I don’t want shots.

I know as we get older, like an old car, we start to break down. But I need to stay fit so that I stay sane and can destress. I don’t want to break down. I want to keep running smoothly. With Chris’s illness, I have to and want to stay healthy for the kids (and for myself).

Last night I couldn’t sleep. My forehead is still recovering from the basal cell carcinoma surgery two weeks ago. And now I’m concerned about my feet. These are small, even insignificant problems, certainly not life-threatening.

But even ordinary health problems can be irritating, slow me down. I’d like to write more about this, but I have to wake the kids and do my stupid physical therapy for my stupid feet.

August 6, 2011

Doubles with People with Parkinson’s

My nephew, YC, and I played doubles with my husband, C, and his brother, J, who both have Parkinson’s Disease. In their day, the brothers had killer shots. But on this summer sunny Sunday morning, it wasn’t their shots that failed, it was their legs.

J was my partner. He fell several times. Even though he landed face first on the clay court, he usually returned the volley within our opponent’s white lines.

“I’m fine. I’m fine,” J said as he struggled to stand. “Keep playing.”

“The point’s over. We won,” I said. He and C’s shots were still, many times, unreturnable.

I glanced across the net at YC, who is about to be a college Senior. We smiled at each other, asking with our knit eyebrows, “Should we keep playing? Is this crazy?”

Just last summer when playing one of these tennis games with my husband, he fell and we landed in the ER. He had dislocated his pinkie.

from creative commons. Tennis balls on a clay court.

That day, C had said to me, “Just pull my finger. It’ll be fine. Then we can keep playing.”

“No, I won’t,” I said. I have my limits and apparently relocating a dislocated pinkie is one of them.

So I knew that tennis with a Parkinson’s partner was fraught with possible negative consequences. But this summer morning we played on. My nephew and I continued smiling, almost laughing, sympathizing with one another. We were trying to take our cue from each other. But neither of us wanted to call off the game. We all wanted to keep playing, to stay competitive, to win.

Fortunately, I had to shower before Sunday chapel service. We didn’t play much longer. There were no serious injuries; although there were minor ones, like scraped knees.

While the people with Parkinson’s may believe they’re “fine, fine, keep playing,” those around them may wonder if that is true or wise.

If you ever do play mixed doubles with two brothers who have Parkinson’s Disease, I advice you to smile a lot. Even laugh. Because life is ridiculous. And everyone wants to keep playing for as long as possible.

May 27, 2011

Love Tennis

I love biking, tennis and soul food.

That’s what I was thinking when I was riding to work yesterday. But I couldn’t think long, because I kept stopping to snap pictures of peonies.

I played tennis two nights this week. And thus, my energy for blogging has waned. I’ve been waking up all creaky from the tennis, but then anxious to play again. Last night Dan invited me to play for the third night in a row (Thanks Dan!). But instead, I chose sangria and soul food with girlfriends (Thanks Angelique & Cindy) at the fabulous Melba’s in Harlem (Thanks Larry for the recommendation).

I discovered when we walked back to unlock my bike after Melba’s that Harlem was spinning and there was something stronger than white wine in those white sangrias!  So I stuck to biking through the safety of Central Park not the mean city streets.

And even though I didn’t play tennis last night, I woke up today, again, all creaky and achey. Tennis or sangria? Pick your poison. You’ll pay in the morning.

Just stop on the way to smell the flowers.

July 27, 2010

Zennis

Dan doesn’t get mad if he misses a shot or double-faults. With the same mess-up, Hayden has thrown his racket and cursed himself. I fall somewhere in between. I like to blurt out, “Bastard,” in a quiet, English accent when I miss a shot. I did note when playing last night that my blurting out, “Bastard!” is ironic, given that I am playing against my own son.

Still, “Bastard!” Hayden really does have a nice little drop shot that he inherited from his dad. And what do I have? I have tenacity. The more I play, the better I get. Dan is really good overall. I think he’s taking a class in Zen Tennis. He has the mind game and the real game down. He’s unflappable, consistent.

There is something totally satisfying about the Thwack of hitting a ball. Something very healing about whacking at a ball flying through space. The sound, the feel, the shudder. I am not great at golf or softball, other thwacking-type sports. I just like being outdoors. And as I’ve mentioned on this blog, I love the bonding of playing sports, doing yoga, or running with friends. Only the camaraderie of Happy Hour comes close.

A few of my work friends and I occasionally find a cheap place for Happy Hour beers on payday. I like that part of work — the socializing part after work. (Okay, I also like the socializing part AT work.) But working out with friends is really, really fun.

You learn a lot about people playing against (or with) them in sports. The biggest surprise? How good the IT people are at tennis — Fred and Cynthia, for example — are really athletic. And you don’t always equate computer nerd with jock.

Becoming a grown-up teaches you that people are not simply the high school labels we might impose upon them. People are complex. It shows through in their game.

May 16, 2010

On my way to 5K

Jen, the gorgeous lunchtime exercise teacher, told me all I really need to do to achieve my 5K goal in a couple of months is carve out six out of seven days of 20-minutes everyday of cardio. So no problem that was Mon. Jen’s walking class got my heart rate up as we walked in Riverside Park. That night the girls and I did our usual Monday night work out of swimming lackadaisical laps and synchronized swimming at Open Swim at the JCC.

On Tuesday, I did lunch-time yoga/pilates/exercise. Okay maybe it’s not as cardio as the walking class but Shane (equally beautiful and inspiring as Jen) does make us do five series of 15 Jumping Jacks. That counts.

Wednesday, I joined the Global Ministries Walking group. For 30 minutes we walked down from 120th to about  106th. Nice group, fun.

On Thursday, I did four intervals of running for five minutes and walking for one. Felt I could’ve gone more but I was taking a Comp Day and needed to get on the Communications Conference Call.

Friday was the most strenuous of exercises, one hour of tennis after work with Dan. Even with the generous handicap Dan gives me, it was exhausting and I lost.

Saturday may have been equally strenuous. Dancing Salsa at the PS Dual-Language Fiesta Latina. I got a little choked up at that party, remembering that I’ve been celebrating Fiesta Latina for eight years. I worked the drinks table this year. In previous years, I’d emceed the performances. Tough crowd. Doesn’t matter how I contributed. The point is I always dance at it. And this was my last Fiesta dance.

So there you have it — six out of seven days of cardio. So point me in the direction of the Finish Line. What? Hunh? You have to run a race before you grab the trophy? You can’t just run through the tape and call it a day?

In other words, I have no idea (although I have my doubts) whether I could really run a 5K in a couple of months. People say you can walk for a few minutes in the middle.

And the other night when my bro Brendan and I were walking together in Riverside Park, he suggested that I not start in the front of the pack.

But hey I’m not doing this exhausting training just to cakewalk the 5K or launch my race with the riff-raff in the back of the pack. I am in it to win it. Just cue up the Salsa music, please.

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September 2, 2009

“Mom, you’re just too good for me.”

I swear to God my son just said that to me on the tennis court. I swear to God. This is the happiest day of my life. The best thing anyone has ever said to me.

Okay, okay, I’m a little competitive. I take a lot of (too much?) joy in beating people at tennis. I know I should be a bigger person. I should hit the ball gently to a 12-year old. I should hold back. But, God help me, I love to win.

The game was kind of crazy because we played Australian – or is it Canadian – doubles. The two of us against Chris, but Chris’s adding was getting a little funky. It was deuce and he’d say it was 15-30 – that kind of thing. He wanted to sit out. He dozed off on the bench, watching us play. Well, he wasn’t watching. He was dozing.

Hayden and I kept playing. The game was 3 to 0 in my favor. And he said that ill-fated line. “Mom, you’re just too good for me.” Oh God. I can’t tell you how good that felt. I asked him if he minded if we put that on my gravestone. I felt the endorphin rush.

Then he came back. It was 3 to 3. And it was game, set, match point; we were playing to 4 games.

Hayden served. It was deuce, add in, deuce, add out.  It was deuce, add out, then he double-faulted. I hate when anyone double faults, but in this case, I took the victory. It tasted sweet. I’m just too good.