Monday, October 20, 2008

Far from the summit, but enjoying the ride

True to form, I’m continuing to update this irregularly and train even more erratically. That’s not to say I haven’t been in the gym a lot, I just have yet to find that certain groove, that brutal comfort zone of discipline and exertion that I need to be “bout-ready.” But I'm getting there.

Speaking of bouts, I’ve been eyeing a November 1 event for my "return." Yes, that’s not even two weeks away, and yes tonight I sparred for the first time in over two months, but I’m itching for a bout and feel like I’m physically prepared to get back in the ring. Besides, it’s only an exhibition (albeit one that usually draws a huge crowd) and it’ll be a good test of whether or not my experience coupled with my (still-in-the process-of-being-rebuilt) physical prowess is enough to get by on. Then again, my cardio is far from where I’d like it to be…

But I guess that’s the point. I know I’m not back to my peak, but I know I’m (well) on my way. And I’m antsy for a good scrum. So, end of the day, what’s with the second-guessing? It’s disconcerting knowing I’m not peaking yet, but maybe I’ll surprise myself. That, and a swift kick in the ass (or right cross to the chin) might be good for me – keep the fire fueled and help knock some of the ring rust off.

More than my (unfounded?) self-doubts, the main reason that I’m not locked up for the 1st is because the gym owner never asked me if I’m available, per his usual process of signing his fighters up. I shot him an email this morning and he acknowledged it when I saw him tonight, so we’ll see if something falls into place. By the way, I don’t acknowledge him as my trainer anymore – he’s got to get in the ring and, um train me to earn that title. Petty? Absolutely not – dude ain’t training me anymore.

Some bullets about what else is going on:

- My grandma passed away last week, so I had an unexpected and unfortunate trip to KC this weekend. She was 85 and had a long, happy life, so it truly was a celebration of life and good visit home, bbut for the purpose of training it was yet another unfortunate interruption. RIP Grandma.

- But back in Boston, it’s definitely working out swimmingly walking from work to the gym. Not only does it save me a round-trip commute, but it alleviates any anxiety during the day that I’ll have to skip my workout due to a late night in the office. If anything, it helps to intentionally stay at the office a bit later every night – I’ve got that much work but always know that everything will still synch up and fall into place over the course of the night. Last week I even started brown-bagging lunch and a light, pre-workout dinner, a practice I plan on continuing for the forseeable future.

- One of my sparring partners has not only begun working at the gym, but has decided to focus more on MMA. While this has yet to (and shouldn’t ever) cut into our sparring, it’s turned him into a bit of my trainer by default. He’s far more of a defensive fighter than I am and knows his stuff, so I’m optimistic that his new roles will help me a lot. Additionally, his MMA gym has recruited my old (and best) trainer to be the boxing coach there. I’ll have to see how scheduling and logistics work out, but I’m definitely excited to see how this develops and how I can incorporate some additional resources into my training.

- As mentioned in the first big paragraph, I sparred for the first time in well over a month tonight. (Hell, it’s probably been closer to two months.) I moved around with a hard-hitting brawler who never stops coming forward. And by never I mean, never ever quits stepping forward and throwing bombs. I’ve sparred with him before and usually get the better of him, outhustling and outthinking him to the point that I’m "counterboxing" rather than just counterpunching - sticking, moving, landing at will and then stepping back/out before he can even let his hands go. The 1st round was a similar story, but by the middle of the 2nd round I was slowing down and starting to get pinned against the ropes, avoiding and blocking many of his punches but getting all the more tired absorbing so many blows - counterpunching rather than “counterboxing.” (This kid is a solid competitive fighter, but, well, I can literally box circles around him when I’m in peak shape. Or not getting worn down.) I maintained my pace and output in round 3 but felt myself leaning too much, getting caught by a couple (stupid) big shots and just being a little too gassed to box effectively. But that was to be expected. A couple onlookers complemented both of us on our skillful aggression, so I didn’t feel quite as disheartened about being so gassed after three. Besides, an amateur bout’s only three rounds, so what’s the big deal, eh? Aside from constantly striving to be better, that is…

So all in all it was a great first sparring session back, the perfect measuring stick – a talented opponent pushing the pace for the entire fight, keeping me thinking and moving, boxing smart and truly seeing where I am. Which seems like a fantastic place given my recent hiatus.

I’ve got a long way to go and need to really keep buckling down – a little more attention to diet and roadwork immediately come to mind – but I’m enjoying the ride and eager to keep scaling the mountainous distractions, trials and tribulations of training.

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