Monday, March 30, 2009

So Much for Momentum...

I haven't written since a few days after my last bout because I (unfortunately) don't have anything to report. At all. I haven't been to the boxing gym in almost two full weeks, I haven't even watched boxing in just as long, and I don't have working Internet at my apartment to be able to post random musings on here in the meanwhile. So to my few faithful readers, I apologize. My lack of activity has been frustrating to the point of heartbreak, especially after such a great bout to start the month.

This isn't to say that I don't even know a guy named Gym anymore (hardy har) - I've been cross-training my tail off and am in as good of shape in the weight room/on the track as I've been since high school, back when I was a full-time athlete, part-time delinquent, er, student. So I haven't lost all my momentum...but the following has certainly slowed me down:
  • Rest. Necessary for any athlete. I took a whopping 0 days off after my bout and after training hard for another week, I was hurting. I was sore and achy, with something clicking in a knuckle on my right hand, my back acting up and far too many consecutive days of those icky, "bad" workouts. You know, the ones where you go through the motions, your arms get heavy earlier than usual, you cut a corner or two for the sake of finishing the workout because you're just...spent. Before you even began. Sick of the trend, I rested. Like any athlete could/should/does after a bout when his body's "check engine sign" is flashing. But my few days of rest quickly turned to a few weeks because of...
  • Work. Yes, most everyone lucky enough to be employed right now has a demanding, full-time job these days, but I've learned the past 1.5 years that PR is far from the most conducive industry for competitive sport. Long work weeks are not only time-consuming (duh) but can devour a workout schedule and leave it in shambles starting on Monday. Sometimes the hours simply don't align - meaning I'm not going to start a workout at 9 p.m., be too amped to sleep until 1 a.m. and expect to wake up at 6:30 a.m. all warm and fuzzy inside to repeat 4 more times before the weekend. All work (and work OUTs) and no sleep make Jonathan cranky. And not function, in the office as well as the ring. So hats off to a superstar like Juan Diaz, balancing school and a world-class pro career. I don't know he does it. Maybe I should find out. Aside from his studies though, like me, I don't see what he'd be able to avoid...
  • Death and taxes. And laundry. And grocery shopping. And sweeping up the dust bunnies. You know, the things you have to do. They suck, but seem to reer their head once/week this month and forced me to skimp a workout for the sake of not living in squalor. Speaking of living...
  • Life. I like mine to be well-rounded. From March Madness to a long-time friend in town, my social life has hindered my training lately. No complaints here...aside from not training, that is. As such, in the struggle to carve out a few more hours a few more nights a week, this bullet is definitely going to be the first to go...
So I feel like I'm stating the obvious, but the past few weeks have been a crappy reminder of how difficult it is to find the time to commute out to the boxing gym and keep on keeping on. I feel like it's all backwards - I want to sweat, I want to bleed, I want to work myself to exhaustion, I want to put in my ring equity and do what I love. There's no lack of heart (insanity) or capable muscle mass here. It's just an issue of truly pulling out all the stops and making it "click," even during chaotic stretches like the past few weeks.

On the same note, it's good to be reminded what "this" is - my struggle to balance all these things with my love for the ring. There have been highs and lows the past eight years. Right now I've slipped from my climb to the top (whatever my peak may be) but I haven't fallen far. I'm still hungry, I'm still primed and as determined as ever. I just need to regain my footing and start my upward ascent all over again, with or without momentum.

First step's always the hardest. Luckily, this one's going to be up.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Overdue recap

A write-up of my bout last Friday is more than overdue, but has been delayed by, well, life. My hectic schedule outside of the gym has continued - part play, mostly work - and kept me from putting together a colorful post about fight night.

But, long story short, my bout could not have gone better.


The biggest problem with trying to give a first-person narration of a boxing match is that, in the heat of battle, you're a little (way) too preoccupied to take detailed mental notes and outline your blog post in real-time. Each and every step, bend, punch and fluid movement gives way to the next so quickly that each is instantaneously forgotten - melding into the gelatinous mess of adrenaline-laden memories, while setting the stage for each of its successors.

As such, I remember flashes of each round - the satisfying pop of a counter right down the shoot, "knowing" a hook was coming next and beating it with one of my own - but am nowhere near able to piece together a semblance of a play-by-play.

I don't know why I keep thinking I ever will be...

So Reader's Digest version: Round 1 was very much the typical "feel-out" round. I've come to learn that I'm very good at these rounds - more often than not my opponent is more wound up than I am, so I'm able to dictate the pace by just keeping my guard high and jab in his face, conserving some energy, not showing all my cards and only throwing power punches when they're absolutely appropriate. I used this efficient - but effective - approach to win the first round, taking some detailed notes (do's and don'ts) back to my corner.

Round 2 didn't go as planned, as my opponent made some adjustments of his own and, rather than cooperating and keeping his head on a tee, busted out some lateral movement that made by punches hook and loop a little too wildly. Luckily, this was more me missing big (and wild) than me missing badly - the difference being that missing badly gets you rocked, while missing big just makes you look like a jackass for finishing every combination with an errant haymaker.

My cornermen scolded me between rounds - as if I didn't know I had gotten ahead of myself throwing bombs - and told me to go back to keeping my jab in his face and let the right hands come to me - shorten them, quit loading up, and throw them when there's an opening rather than, well, when there's not.

Round 3 was mine. Mine mine mine. Controlling both the ring as well as the tempo with a healthy diet of 1-2's, I figured out my opponent's shenanigans and kept catching him with rights as he tried to dance away. I caught him with an especially hard cross as the 30-second bell rang, so, smelling blood (as if I didn't already need the motivation - the 30-second bell in the 3rd round unleashes something alien and angry in me) I was all over the kid in a heartbeat, ripping hooks and body shots as he leaned against the ropes. Knowing how much trouble he was in, I stepped back and nodded, spitting out a "let's finish strong, baby!" through my double-end mouthpiece to make sure he was still with me. He nodded, we touched gloves, and he took his beating like a man.

Which isn't me talking trash - he was a classy kid, got gassed, caught, and whupped in the final round. It's hard to explain - it was part warrior's code, part exhibition-mentality, part me just wanting to make a point rather than leave a mark.

Whatever the case, the sum result was that I simultaneously put on a hell of an exhibition while getting some very quality rounds in. When I got sloppy, he made me pay. When I kept it tight and fought my game, I took over. And most importantly, when I had to dig deep in the final seconds, I found a huge reservoir of energy that let me finish the fight with a resounding, dominating sequence. It was a competitive bout that gave me some more direction and experience, but all in all I could not be any happier with how I prepared and performed.

While my training didn't reflect it this week, I plan on taking all the steps necessary to be able to build off this fight and repeat it. However good it's felt basking in a strong performance, my work has only just begun.