Saturday, October 16, 2010

Favre at 41

Despite the recent firestorm around Brett Favre, I have to admit that I still find the guy impressive.  If there's one topic that divides Packer fans, it's Favre -- still now more than two years after he left Green Bay (though perhaps less after this week).  But the one aspect that even the biggest Favre hater can agree with is his longevity is truly unbelievable.  Favre turned 41 on October 10.  I will turn 41 in December.  So we're almost the same age.  The idea of stepping out onto the football field at my age is horrifying.  Favre gets tendinitis from throwing passes as a starting NFL quarterback.  I get tendinitis from typing.

Like many people, when I turned 40 last December, I made a resolution to get back in shape.  Not NFL-ready shape, just not out of shape.  One month later, I made a similar New Years resolution.  Now it's October, and I'm finally getting to that particular item on my "to do" list.  I used to be an avid runner -- actually managed to finish the New York Marathon, twice, back in the day (the second in 3:28, thank you very much).  But running at my age takes a toll.  It's too high-impact.  Hurts my back.  So I've decided to try to take up swimming.

Everyone says swimming is "such great exercise."  And you certainly see swimmers with broad shoulders, six-pack abs, and 0% body fat.  I've never particularly liked the sport because I don't have a great affinity for that feeling you're going to drown.  My retort to the "it's great exercise" refrain is "no kidding, it's amazing how willing you are to exert yourself when faced with the threat of imminent death."  Escaping a pack of wolves or climbing a tree to avoid a bear mauling are probably good exercise as well.  Doesn't mean I want to do them.  I prefer my treadmill with a TV, headphones, and a handy caddy for my water and towel.

But I decided to give swimming a try.  The first thing that's daunting about swimming is the suit.  I was standing at our local SportMart, holding up Speedos and trying to determine which one I'd look the least ridiculous in.  No guy revels in the idea of a Speedo (at least, no American guy -- Europeans can speak for themselves).  I finally selected a pair of black Speedo briefs, which was neither the full-on banana hammock nor the long, biker-short style, but something in-between.  Dignified and classy.  Babe magnets.  The ostensible purpose of these suits is to make you more streamlined in the water, but I think the real reason people wear them is to humiliate yourself into getting some exercise.

Exiting the locker room with that suit on felt like walking into a ladies auxiliary tea party without pants.  But, after a final check in the mirror (confirming that I do, in fact, need to get on an exercise regimen), I shuffled bashfully onto the deck of our local pool.  After the first lap, a few things became quite clear to me: first, swimming is, indeed, excellent exercise -- as evidenced by the fact that I could no longer lift my arms above my head; second, sucking wind under water doesn't work so well unless you want to end up wheezing on the pavement with the lifeguards debating who should give you mouth-to-mouth; and third, my swimming form was absolutely horrendous.  Something between a dachshund trying to make its way to shore and an alligator digesting its prey.  I really needed a lesson.

I saw a perfect opportunity -- a walk-in adult swim class offered every Tuesday and Thursday.  This would save me the embarrassment and expense of a private lesson.  Just give me a few tips I needed to improve my form.  I showed up promptly this Thursday for the lesson.  Most of the lanes were full with fit, middle-aged women effortlessly doing laps to warm up.  The instructor, upon seeing my first flail down the pool, suggested, "Why don't you share lane one with Walter?"  Walter, it turned out, was an octogenarian with a kick-board and flippers.  And water wings.

By the third lap, and three near-collisions with Walter, I was starting to cramp up.  I decided to try a few of my signature strokes.  Like the sideways crawl, back float, and, my favorite, grip onto the wall and catch my breath.  But I needed to get back in there, or Walter was going to lap me.  So, after some suggestions on my kicking technique by the instructor (some of the spectators in the adjacent pool had complained about getting splashed), I punched it into the next gear with several consecutive laps of front crawl.

The class finished after an hour.  I had to ask the receptionist to lift my right arm so I could sign-out of the membership book.  I wish I had torn a rotator cuff so I would have had an excuse for getting out of the pool earlier.  Fortunately, the next class isn't until Tuesday, so I have a few days to recover.  I hope I can muster the courage and physical strength to get back in the pool.

Speaking of getting back in there, it sounds like Rodgers will start Sunday (though these concussion things can be unpredictable), and Donald Lee is probable as well.  However, Clay Matthews is likely out, so is Brandon Chillar.  Ryan Pickett and Mike Neal are both listed as questionable, which could mean we're starting someone named C.J. Wilson on the defensive line.  And Mark Tauscher will miss another game.  Kinda makes you miss the durability of Favre.

1 comment:

  1. Well my friend, you have written well over the past two years, but this is a classic. I'm going to suggest another exercise regime. Reading Trigg Pack. Great for your building up your cheek muscles and abs, as you laugh over your morning coffee and donut preparing for NFL Sunday!