MILLEDGEVILLE — Unfortunately I received another punch to the gut this past week — another gentle reminder that the old gray mare ain’t what she used to be. This has become standard operating procedure as of late and this particular one unnerved me pretty good. Before I give you the particulars of this incident we should delve into a little background.
I’ve always loved to participate in sports, but as the years have chugged along it became painfully true that some of those things I liked to do were going to have to fall by the wayside.
As one example I quit playing basketball with the young whippersnappers in my early 50s. When it got to the point where I could put my best move on them and they were still standing right in front of me smiling I knew the end was near. It did not help matters that I was routinely the last one chosen when the game began. I also gave up recreation softball when a fly ball that I was in hot pursuit of, hit me in the foot instead of the glove. I took these things as signs that it was time to gracefully retire before things spiraled completely out of control and my legendary status as a multi-sport star was tarnished beyond repair.
I have continued to play golf but it is currently on the endangered species list because my hand-eye coordination and strength is such that most of my shots are short and crooked — not a good combination for that sport.
It’s kind of annoying to be getting on in years. I can tell that age is definitely taking a toll. I’ve even begun to resent the swimsuit issue in “Sports Illustrated” because all those pictures don’t leave much room for articles to read.
But I digress — on with the story.
The point is that there aren’t that many sports left, but I’ve continued to enjoy walking and hiking to help keep my blood pumping and stay in some decent semblance of physical condition. Regrettably this form of exercise may also be in jeopardy.
Last week I decided to go on an ambitious overland hike on the forest service land across from my house. I boldly struck out over the hills, ditches, creeks and all the rough terrain there was to offer. It was kind of like one of the old explorers — going where no man had gone before. I was looking for undiscovered country so to speak.
It was a mistake in judgment – a huge miscalculation. An hour later, after climbing up the sides of numerous steep ditches on my hands and knees and fording creeks it occurred to me that fatigue might be setting in. I knew this because I was sucking air in big gulps and to make things worse I didn’t even know where I was. Normally the compass inside my head would keep track of little tidbits such as that but my brain function was about level with my exhaustion factor. I headed out for home in the wrong direction and wound up on a road that was several miles from the house.
To say that I walked on in from that point would be inaccurate. Those last few miles might best be described as trudging — a near death march perhaps would be a better way to define it. Anyway I got back and upon plopping down in a chair was immediately beset with foot cramps, backache and sleepiness. All signs of having recently done something stupid. My wife laughed at me and told me later that when I went to sleep in that chair my snoring sounded like a plane going down. It took me three days to fully recover.
Giving up sports is tough, and I don’t want to go gently into the night. It seems sad to just forsake them altogether, so if anyone has suggestions for outdoor diversions that don’t require speed, quickness, agility, hand-eye coordination or stamina shoot me a line.
Columnist Alvin Richardson can be reached at email@example.com.