All posts filed under: Sports & Outdoors

How Flying on a Trapeze Helped Me Defy My Age

I twist and turn my way up four sets of metal stairs. Breathless, I finally reach the roof. The sun hits my eyes, obscuring the blue sky momentarily. When my eyes adjust I see a man swinging back and forth from a narrow bar, the skyline of New York in the background. Muscular legs wrap around the bar, his arms and shoulder-length blonde hair hanging free. Finally I spy the sign: Trapeze School New York. I stand next to my boyfriend. He is 29. I am turning 45. Today. When I told him I wanted to go on the trapeze for my birthday, I thought he’d pick me up afterward and take me to dinner. Instead, he wanted to come. Reluctantly, I let him. We’d already talked children (I’m too old, neither of us are interested) and managed late-night concerts (I went home at midnight, he at dawn). And yet, I was still afraid he didn’t realize what my age really meant. That I was at risk for osteoporosis and a host of older-age ailments. That …

The Necessary Hell of Exercise

I played rugby in college and was the captain of the team my senior year, but my time as a rugger was cut short when I tore my ACL and had to have reconstructive knee surgery. If I stopped here and didn’t say anything else, you might be left with an image of me as an athlete — and I wouldn’t mind being thought of that way — but my tragic flaw is that I am painfully honest, especially when it’s at my own expense. The truth is that I am not, nor have I ever been, athletic. I played one season of T-ball in kindergarten, and a highlight reel would consist of that time I stood too close to the batter and took a bat to the head and the occasion in which I slid into first base on my face. I did play volleyball in seventh grade, but only because my mom made me — and I quit two weeks later because I took a ball to the mouth. And I hated the …

My Best Sports Moment Ever: That Kickball Homerun 35 Years Ago

The daily recess kickball game told you pretty much everything you needed know about the pecking order at our tiny school. The little kids stuck to the swings and slides on the grass; the fourth-graders were allowed to play the fifth- and sixth-graders in a parking lot kickball game. There were just 16 of us in the fourth-grade class versus twice as many older kids. None of them particularly liked me, the new girl. I had bushy hair and an annoying habit of showing off my vocabulary. One day at lunch the kids formed a circle around me and demanded I recite big words. I probably deserved it. I had never played kickball before. The game made enough sense, but I was not what you would consider “sporty.”  The whole sequence of running up to a rolling red rubber ball, calibrating your speed just so to get a good “smack!” and kicking the ball beyond your opponents’ reach confounded me. In the outfield, I usually misjudged where the ball was going to land and let …

(Not) Born To Run: Why I Finally Stopped Running

I always wanted to be a runner. That’s why I invested in good running shoes and a heart monitor and an iPod Nano. I read Born to Run, the bestselling book about the greatest distance runners in the world. I bought summer-weight leggings and cold-weather pants, lightweight gloves and a thick pair for winter mornings. I even got a runner’s beanie. I’m not sure why or when this notion of being a runner got lodged in my head, but my yearning to be athletic dates back to childhood. When I think about the girls I admired in grade school and at summer camp, they were athletes. They were the girls who could dive into the lake like a dolphin or do back handsprings across the gym floor. I wasn’t completely uncoordinated or chosen last for teams, and I had other strengths, especially in the classroom. But there was something about their natural athleticism, physical confidence and innate competence that made me feel inadequate and envious. It’s easy to tell who’s good at sports just by looking. …

TueNight Labels Nancy Gonzales

The Unapologetic Soccer Mom. Got a Problem?

You’ve probably seen the Soccer Mom video that explains the three different types of soccer moms: the one that sits and reads a magazine or book and has no concept of the game; the overprotective mom slathering sunscreen on her kids, with orange slices at the ready during half time; and the one that knows every detail and every player in the game. The last, while well-intentioned, is probably the most annoying of the three. And that’s me. I am a Soccer Mom of the highest degree. I didn’t start out that way, hell, I didn’t even know much about the game. I’m a creative type, a graphic designer who would spend more time making elaborate birthday cards for my kids or sifting through estate sales for fantastic, bizarre finds. When my daughter was in the second grade, my husband was our daughter’s coach and I’d just stand on the sidelines yelling, “Go Purple People Eaters!” or “Go [insert team name].” But after a few years of this, a competitive nature began to emerge. I tired …

Wish You Were Here: Campers, Glampers & Me

People can be divided into three groups: The Campers, The Glampers, and the “I Won’t Go Anywhere Without Hot Water, Flushable Toilets and Soft Beds.” The Campers are an amazing bunch. My father-in-law Steve and his wife Jill are in that group. They pack their tent, their bikes, some water and some power bars and head off, sending us pictures of the Appalachian Trail, the Mason Dixon Line and Civil War historical sites from the road. They look so blissed out, relaxed and in love. Their missives to us are like siren songs from the natural world: gorgeous, live, oak trees and shade giving sentinels, weeping willows bending and dipping so gracefully, Spanish moss that makes me feel damp just to look at it, pine needles on the ground that we know smell of dirt forest floor, and lakes sparkling in the sunlight just begging you to take a dip. “Wish you were here.” The Glampers, God love them, are seen in super porny shots in magazines and travelogues — their pimped out Airstreams, yurts, …

Rolling on the (Delaware) River: The Church of Tubing

I’ve spent most of my life along the bank of one river or another, including the San Lorenzo in Santa Cruz and the Tiber in Rome, but the river in which I’ve washed away my most of my sins is the Delaware. I’ve lived in tiny towns on Delaware’s eastern banks and the largest city on its western shore. I’ve seen it from its most picturesque to its filthiest, and have certainly smelled its remarkable spectrum of aromas. From ages 10 through 17, I lived directly on its banks. When my family arrived in the ‘70s, we landed in the village of Titusville — the site of Washington’s crossing of the Delaware. Over the centuries, it’s been a town of lumber mills, mule barges and summer homes for the wealthy. At the time we moved, it had evolved into a sleepy working-class hamlet. The main road was paved with gravel and lined with three churches, two bars and a soft-serve ice cream joint. Not much has changed since then except for the gravel — it’s …

Building the Perfect Picnic

Who doesn’t love a picnic? When the weather gets warm and the grass gets green, there’s nothing better than filling a cooler full of food and drink and heading out for an afternoon at the park or the beach. But in order to make it a truly fabulous picnic, you’ll want to make sure you have the following five essentials. 1. The Basket Buccaneer’s Grill and BBQ Set, $160, is the mother of all picnic baskets. It not only chills your sodas and holds your food and supplies — it also turns into a grill! Now that’s hot. If you’re more of “a jug of wine, a loaf of bread and thou” type, then you’ll love Picnic at Ascot’s Wine Carrier and Purse, $44. Pick a favorite bottle of spirits, tuck a baguette under your arm and let the party begin. The creators claim that this cute tote can also be used as an evening bag, which will come particularly in handy at those pricey bottle service establishments. Cheers. 2. The Blanket This is the …

Back in The Woods: Finding Magic and Memories

I’ve been a city girl for nearly 30 years. But I grew up in the suburbs of New Jersey, where the little bit of leafy woods that remained after our homes were built was a source of both solace and mystery. As a child, I sought out the quiet calm of the scrubby forest behind Thomas Jefferson Junior High School. But at the same time, I found the solitariness a bit frightening. Who might I encounter there? Older kids smoked cigarettes and drank warm beer in those woods, and there were ridiculous kid-fueled rumors of deranged child-killers and bobcats. Taking a shortcut through that place to the pizza parlor on Saddle River Road was a brave undertaking for ten-year-old me. Still, nothing could keep me out of the woods for long. That’s still true today. I’m fortunate enough to spend my weekends and summers at an old farmhouse in the foothills of the Berkshire Mountains. Formed about a half a billion years ago, the Berkshires sit mostly in Massachusetts but also border Vermont, New York and …

Why Running is the Sport That Makes Me Feel Like “Me”

When the great geneticist in the sky hands you a pair of legs like mine, you gotta put ’em to work. But how? No, I never played basketball. Nor volleyball. There were no long jump and hurdles for me. I tried those and failed miserably. Just because you’re tall doesn’t mean you can fly. Or play well with others. But, as I emerged on the other side of my awkward teens, I laced up some sneaks and started to think I might have found a decent use for my lanky sticks: running. “Teamwork” could be a team of one, I didn’t have to be that coordinated (good, because I’m not) and I didn’t have to have much gear money at all. All I had to do was run. It felt good, too. The muscles in my legs got stronger. I felt in command of my body, which is something I never felt in my adolescence. And my mind got to dream and wander while I felt increasingly accomplished. Cool. I started running for real when I …

Gym #FAIL: Athletic Moments We’d Rather Forget

We all have those moments in our athletic careers that we’d like to forget — from that unintended split-fall on the balance beam (ouch!), to the remedial gym class we had to take to graduate college, to yesterday’s yogic fart (also known as “zen wind”). It happens. Here are some of our own memorable Gym #FAILS that we’re still trying to forget. The Cat Ate My Gymsuit In middle school, I discovered a foolproof way to skip gym without technically skipping gym. After our gym teacher took attendance, we were split into groups and either sent to a smaller gym or outside to do something horrible involving cheap plastic balls in varying states of deflation. Those few minutes of chaos created the perfect opportunity for me to slip undetected into the dusty, mustard-colored locker room and spend an hour doing homework (nerd alert!), and read various “advanced” (read: sex-inclusive) Judy Blume books. Did I feel like I was missing out or did I feel like a loser? Neither. It was a rare hour of junior …

Here’s Why I Did the Polar Bear Plunge

Usually, I spend the first day of the new year like any normal person would: hanging out in flannel pajamas, watching TV, nursing a hangover and maybe going to a movie or a New Year’s Day brunch with friends. But, to usher in 2014, I jumped into the frigid waters of the Atlantic Ocean. Accompanied by my sister, boyfriend and nephew, I joined hundreds of others as part of the 20th Annual Polar Bear Plunge in Margate, New Jersey. I have to admit that I always thought the people who participated in Polar Bear swims were completely nuts — albeit fun-loving lunatics. Most of my knowledge about them came from those images of the New York City’s annual Coney Island dip on New Year’s Day. (Cue my father, pointing to the television, saying: “Can you believe these people?”) The Coney Island Polar Club was founded in 1903, making it the oldest in the nation. It attracts thousands of zany polar bears and onlookers every January 1st, including my brave Reuters colleague Peter, who participated in the group’s 111th New …

Football & Me: Where is the Love?

It’s that time of year again. Every year, around Labor Day, a virus creeps into my household (and 99.9% of America’s households), settling into its primary host: a television screen. In an effort to try to understand this phenomenon, I’ll occasionally stand in front of this screen, watching colorful dots of moving, huddling figures grouping to the left, then to the right and then to the left again. Accompanying this is a persistent, roaring noise that crescendos as the swirl of dots mash into each other or break-off from the pack. Usually this culminates in a piercing whistle. “Honey, can you please move, I’m trying to watch the game.” Football season. The time when my husband deeply considers the value of buying an NFL Sunday Ticket (access to every single football game). A time when the couch becomes something to be negotiated. And as hard as I try (ok, I don’t try that hard), I can’t seem to follow the game or understand why it holds so much all-consuming passion for so many people. My …

Tri Hard: How I Woke Up to “Go Time”

Before the start of my first triathlon, I had a couple of random thoughts. As I waded into the Hudson River, the first was that the water looked really murky, and equally disgusting. The second was, “Oh, just get over it.” Dipping my body down into the brown water, I put my face under for just a second. The water was cold through my wetsuit, and my feet squished on something underneath through my dive socks. Ewww. When did the jock in me get this precious? In our black wetsuits and yellow swim caps, bouncing up and down in the water, all of us women in the first wave looked nearly identical.  I remember thinking how comical it must appear from the shore. Waiting for the horn to sound, I looked quickly up at the beach to see my husband, family, and friends, who had come to cheer me on. Like a distant safety blanket. *** At some point in my mid-40s, I began to notice myself aging at a rate that seemed like hyperspeed. …