Friday, March 11, 2005

Zen and the Art of Raquetball

I look at myself often, and wonder how old I really am.

Chronologically, I'm 38. In the mirror I feel like I look younger than that, but I don't know. Some of you have seen me in person and can judge that better than I.

Physically, also, I don't feel I'm on the tail end of the 30's. Well, usually. I'm still pretty active - get up out of the bed and the chair with a minimum of creaking and groaning. I still roll around on the floor with the kids, carry Tink on my shoulders, endure charging-rhino assaults from my 100+ pound BrainyBoy. I've actually lost almost 20 pounds myself since Christmas, I hope due to my new workout routine.

So, in the spirit of thumbing my nose at the advancing 40's and a thirst for real exercise and competition I joined a racquetball league.

Now, when I was a teenager I played a good deal at CourtSouth on Merchants Road. In college I bummed around at the HPER building at UT with some friends, but since then I haven't played at all. So I was a perfect match for the "C" league at the Fitness Center. Those who were just learning, or who had played before but not for a while.

Last night was the first game. I had gotten a new racquet for Christmas, new eye guards, about 75 new balls and a spiffy carrying case. I was ready to rock and show these guys how to play ball.


Something about my cardiovascular system renders me useless after a some kinds of physical exertion. My chest tightens up, I get a pain in my lower side and my breath gets short. Nothing dangerous, just years of couch potato-ism and keyboard jockeying taking their toll. Since I started working out and doing cardio training back in November, I thought maybe I was going to move beyond that and actually be able to pursue a semi-rigorous session of physical activity without feeling like I was in the throes of a boa constrictor. On crack.

So, my opponent and I get into the court. He appears in his late-20's/early-30's or so. Better shape than me, to be sure, but hey - racquetball is supposed to be a great equalizer. Height/weight don't matter as much as quickness and stamina.

Traits I apparently no longer have in any particular abundance, if I ever did.

By the 3rd point I was breathing heavy. By the end of the first game (which I lost, natch, 15-6) I was dying. A short break, and then game 2. He won that one, too, this time 15-5 and most of the game he was serving up gimmes. Which I thoughfully returned only about half the time. Since it's best 2 out of 3, after that game was over we were done. I collapsed on the couches outside the courts while he, after a short break, agreed to join two other guys in a game of 3-person cutthroat.


I took my own time changing and going home. I was so exhausted, mentally, physically and emotionally over this past week even though I went to bed at 12:15, I didn't get to good sleep until after 2am.

So, next week is game #2 against a guy that looks even younger than my first opponent.

Pray for me.

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