Tag Archives: basketball

Badass pictures

Yesterday I rode for the first time in months. I ventured down south of the James and rode on the beautiful low traffic roads that I remember once believing were hilly. It was an amazing feeling to be mobile and fast again. Despite the occasional tweak in my ankle, the pain couldn’t compare to what I experience when running or swimming. And the pain from my lack of training was an adequate distraction. For the first time in many, many years, if not ever, I was passed on a solo ride by another cyclist. It was awkward as hell and I’ll admit my heart sank when I heard the whir of his spinning chain slip by. I felt broken but I remembered I had vowed to not let my insecurity be my motivation and I continued to enjoy my ride. With my hairy, skinny legs, I was determined to accept the state where I had arrived with acceptance and pride.

I had my MRI yesterday morning. Ever since learning about the basic of an MRI in my organic chemistry class, I have been fascinated with that form of medical imaging. For the twenty-five minutes I lay with the magnets clambering around my leg, all I could think about was the amazing feat of human knowledge and engineering to be able to create such a machine. Continue reading Badass pictures

Fitness as a consequence, not a goal

I don’t believe in working out. This may seem shocking to many of you, especially those who believe I am a working out fanatic. Some people think, “Wow he exercises a lot for someone who doesn’t believe in working out.” But working out is done for the purpose of health. Training is similar to a basketball player practicing free throws or a tennis player working on serves. I don’t work out. I train.

Continue reading Fitness as a consequence, not a goal

Today, champion is just a title

On the patio, away from the sight of others, my mom comforted me. I didn’t race poorly. I had won my age group and the title of Junior Mid-Atlantic Regional Champion. What upset me was that I didn’t have fun, I didn’t want to be there, and it hurt way more than it should have. I had suffered for the last hour and twenty minutes and after I crossed the finish line, I cracked. I had pushed my body to its limits physically, but more importantly, I was not emotionally capable of handling five races in one week.

Two days ago I laid in my bed with thoughts of pain and suffering swarming me. I wanted to be free of it all. I wanted to take the weekend off from racing. Racing is like burning a fuse and mine was merely a nub before the race even began. My attitude is usually that pain is life and should be embraced but the middle road is looking really enticing right now.

By the start of the bike, the lactic acid burning my thighs uncovered my negativity from the lies of optimism surrounding it. Towards the end of the ride, a typically unthinkable thought swarmed me. I wanted to drop out and return home to comfort and peace. But the shame of quitting still outweighed the overwhelming agony.

I raced on and still fourteen hours later, comfort has not returned to me. I have napped. I have eaten ice cream and pizza and let carbonation of soft drinks settle my stomach. I have bathed, watched movies, and wrapped my withered body in cozy blankets. But none of this has brought a feeling of comfort to me. My fuse burned its way all the way to an explosion of sadness, and I am still trying to return the flavor to my life.

I am ready to train hard but another race lies a ways in the distance. That is comforting but not quite enough to restore my usual full throttle drive. Maybe I need a hug.

At this point I wish I had not raced and I am not sure if it was macroscopically beneficial for me to have stuck it out today. I am now the junior regional champion but what good does that do if the champ did not have fun?

Sometimes I pump up my old basketball, move the cars out of the driveway, and goof around on the court or I go to the local public golf course and lose a few balls. And sometimes I head to a baseball field with a bucket of balls and a bat. I feel at peace when I do those things. There is no pressure and I can just mess around for however much time I want to. The other day I made eighteen out of twenty free throws.  I practiced none but there was no pressure. I just goofed around and ended up impressing myself.

Maybe if I raced with no pressure then I could do the equivalent of my free throw shooting. If I just relaxed and had no expectations maybe I could exceed my high goals. I’ll save that idea for next time. Today I try to restore the damage done from last time. What is being a champion without the feeling to match it?

The Ultimate Goal

A summer between two middle school years, my dad took me on my first bike tour, Bike Virginia. At an average of forty miles a day, me and my dad, my best friend Nat and his dad Tim, enjoyed an week of spandex and saddle sores. Nat and I sported mountain bikes for the tour and it was slow going. Not wanting to creep at the pace of prepubescent boys on mountain bikes, our dads took turns riding with us while the other enjoyed riding at a faster speed.

The next year, I begged my dad to do the tour again with me and so we did. Other than getting sick from e. coli in my water, the trip was awesome. I loved it. I loved the thrill of seeing the countryside at the perfect pace. Not so fast you miss the views and not so slow you never get to any views: the perfect compromise between running and driving. I love the thrill of hearing wheels whirr when I felt strong. I loved the dehydration and fatigue and the end of a long day in the saddle. And I especially loved lying down in a bed after a good hard ride. The pain from cycling brought a unique sense of pleasure I had never felt before.

I was a chunky kid when I was little. To give you a sense of measure, I weighed 140 at 5’1”. I am the same weight now, just five inches taller. My goal for 10k’s was to not walk. I enjoyed my food but I was not yet exposed to exercise. After the right combination of exposure to exercise from my dad and drive for healthy eating habits from my mom, I was on my way to being one of the fittest adolescents there was.

Multiple years later, the summer before my sophomore year in high school, Nat, my dad and I returned to complete the ride again. This time however, Nat and I came with road bikes, some strong legs, and full intentions of completing our first ever century, one hundred miles of biking in one day. This year the burden was on me and Nat to wait for my dad. No worries, the old man did the same for us.

After years of trying to whoop my dad’s butt at anything and everything, I finally knew I was better than him at something, even as superficial as it was. I was happy even though I still knew I could never match him at brains, basketball, golf, soccer, maturity, and basically everything else.

And for the century, my dad waved the white flag and chose to sleep in. Nat and I pushed each other the whole day. One of us would get down and feel tired, but the other one would feel great; it was a perfect combination to get us through the day. The ride was in essence a figure eight with another loop on top. We had the option of cutting miles off twice, but we kept going. We ended up riding 104 miles that day due to a small detour. We didn’t care. It just made us feel tougher.

As for my dad, I was finally better than him at something. He is always the standard to me. And although he was not in the NBA, or a professional at anything I wanted to beat him in, he was always my toughest competitor. I had to work for it if I wanted to beat him.

My eighth grade year I picked up basketball and every night my dad would challenge me to be better and better. We would play one on one in our driveway. Every night after dinner I would say “Come on old man.” Typically I would hear a refusal and the old fart would use the excuse of gout. Crystals in his joints, psh what a pansy. After calling him Sally or Betty or Elizabeth enough he would give in. Sometimes his ankle would be the size of his head so we would just play horse.

After battling him all year, I finally won. I won once more, accepted my goal had been achieved, and stopped playing. He will always be my standard. Someday I will try to match him at being a dad. I hope I will be able to make my kids laugh as much as he did us. I hope I can provide for them like he did for us. Maybe I’ll even try to match his business management skills. None of those goals will ever be fully achieved but if I can be half as successful as he was then I’ll be happy.