Sunday, October 31, 2010

I Don't Buy Green Bananas 

17 Apr 1970, New York, New York, USA — Boston's heroes, Bobby Orr (l), Derek Sanderson and Wayne Cashman (r) relax in dressing room at Madison Square Garden — Image by © Bettmann/CORBIS

I play hockey most Monday nights. One night, I had to rent a car to get there so I thought I'd better have a good game. I did. Actually scored a goal (Peter Forsberg-esque walking out from behind the net) and set up a couple of nice ones. For some reason I was into it more. My eyes were open and I was skating well.

Afterward, I looked around the dressing room at the mixed bunch. Some were young and fit but most were aging, and struggling over their paunch to untie their skates. It really makes you think. Mostly I wonder, "Do I look like that?" I also wonder how long I'm willing to go on with this. I need new skates, but is it worth it? How many more games do I have left in me? I'm starting to wondering if it's even worth getting my skates sharpened. I'm like the old lady who, upon hearing a policy will take ten years to take effect, tells a political candidate, "Sonny, I don't buy green bananas."

Last year I had to miss a few games, but in the meantime I swam, biked, and ran. I felt great. I went back to hockey and immediately felt like crap. Lately, I've got over that "hangover" feeling, but I'm not sure if it's because I'm in better shape or I just play slower. I suspect the latter. Oddly, with biking I've found it demands some abdominal and leg strength that it actually doesn't build. In fact, it's recommended you do supplemental exercise to help your biking, things like sit-ups or, hold on to your hat, skating. I started biking to help my skating, now I'm skating to help my biking? It's this sort of exercise loop that will, sometime in the future, kill Chris Chelios (I can see the future headline: Former Hockey Pro Died Like He Played, Exerting Himself).

Am I exercising to stave off the demons of aging or am I only making the matter worse? It's hard to say, but I know when I'm going over 50 KM/hr on my bike, I feel fantastic, or after a 5 KM run I feel like I sweated out every poison or after a 1000 m swim I feel I could finally sleep soundly. It may sound like a bumper sticker, but exercise is my Ritalin. Everyone needs an outlet. I don't know if I knew that 20 years ago, but I know it now and I hope I can keep it up for another 20.

I guess I'm not the only 40-something trying to cling to youth through exercise.

A particularly funny thing from this article is the British term for this type of weekend warrior; MAMIL – Middle Aged Men In Lycra.

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