Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Getting my game back

This week marked the first time in about 15 years I have set foot on a basketball court, and after a couple of hours running and jumping and half-ass attempts at shooting, I was surprised to find that I wasn't as far gone physically as I feared.

I never played organized ball other than church league, and in P.E. classes I was obliged to take at Samford. Though blessed with height, I am terminally white when it comes to running and jumping, so even though I liked playing, I was never what I would describe as really good at it.

But skill was not what got me back out on the court this week. I was motivated by boredom, the need to get out and do SOMEthing, and the growing realization that getting back in shape is an important part of my intense continuing effort at self-improvement.

Having bought a pair of shoes and suitable apparel, I showed up at the Civic Center on Monday, bought a membership and prayed no one else would be in the gym. And thank God, no one was. My first few attempts at shots came up pitifully short, but got better as I kept at it. Then, I ran back and forth, dribbled and shot, pretending there were foes opposing me. It was enough to get my heart pumping, but not pounding, and to remind me of what I liked about playing. After a few minutes shooting free throws (I hit about half of them) I resigned myself to the straight cardio workout I knew had to be done.

The elevated track at the civic center has been updated over the years since I ran it last, which was good because it first opened when disco was big. After stretching and being disgusted with the pitiful state of my flexibility, I walked a couple laps, ran a couple, then walked a couple to cool down. I was breathing hard, but not totally winded as I had feared. My legs felt exerted, but not sore or burnt. I repeated the two-and-two run/walk routine, then to finish with flair, ran one lap all-out. THAT was when I felt the heart-pounding, lung-stretching, sweat-pumping burn, but I knew it was coming.

It was on the drive home that I got the biggest shock: I felt good after running around like that! Although I'm still not ready to play for real against guys half my age (and I bet they will be) I look forward to picking up where I left off later this week.