Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Busy On Monday

Practically everybody was in on sparring action Monday night.  "It's busy in here tonight," Eric commented.  It reminded me of the old days when sparring was back to back, usually on Friday nights. 

I went two rounds with Shay.  "I'm going in with a professional!" she joked.  Not long ago, Autumn, a young lady at church, told one of the boys that I was a professional boxer.  Ruth, another person at church, often introduces me that way, too.  I chuckled.  Matthieu told Shay, "She beat me up when we were in the ring.  My eyes were shut for three days."  He was exaggerating, of course.  While sparring, I kept telling her not to turn her back on me, and so did Alan.  "You have to return the punches.  Hillari's not hitting that hard," Alan told her, and I wasn't.  Afterwards, Shay told Alan, "I need more practice."

Evangelina sparred with Joan.  Joan did not extend her punches all the way.  Meanwhile, the longer armed Evangelina came over Joan's punches with her own.  Like Shay, Joan kept turning her back a lot in the ring, which is a major no-no.  Joan did not want to go a second round, so Alan stepped in.  "Where's your headgear?" I asked.  "Don't need it," he said. 

I called out directions to Evangelina from the side, especially when I saw Alan preparing to use a bolo punch.  "That's Alan's sneaky punch," I warned her.  The coach usually has his left hand down, leaving himself open to left hooks.  Evangelina popped him right in the head.  "Whoa!" I exclaimed, before laughing.  Eric was on the other side of the ring watching.  He told Alan in-between rounds that Evangelina must have had a lot of brothers at home, which is why she punched so well.  "She hits hard, and keeps her composure in the ring," Alan would say later.

Alan and Matthieu sparred, and I noticed that the younger man often used both hand to deflect punches.  Not a good habit to have because that means both hands are down for a second.  The opponent can use that time to throw a good combination.  He was also crossing his feet which throws a boxer off balance.  Once I pointed that out, Matthieu corrected himself.  Alan caught him up against the ropes a few times, and Matthieu grabbed him to slow down the assault. 

Just realized that I forgot to tell Danny to check out my church's web site for White Sox tickets.  Danny's a big fan.  Pastor Roger has some that he got for participating in judging a youth essay contest.  Hopefully, Danny will come in on Wednesday.  I need to tell the other guys that, too, just in case they are interested in baseball. 

At the end of the evening, Alan, Nick, Matt (Alan's son), and I passed BK on the way out.  Alan mentioned that he heard about a fight that took place outside of the field house.  BK had broken it up.  It was the first fight that had taken place around the field house this season of which I'm aware.  "I'd rather them fight on the outside than inside the building," BK said.  On my way home from work earlier in the afternoon, I saw a group of kids scrapping briefly on the corner of Morse and Ashland.  One kid literally kicked the seat off another kid's bike.  Have no idea was the fight was about, but it looked unnecessary, as most youth street fights are.  Like BK said, it would better if they'd use that aggressiveness to good use in the boxing gym.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Big Man Returns

Alan mentioned that John contacted him.  Turns out that the high school teacher is out working in San Franscisco for a little while.  He told Alan that he'd be back in Chicago in August.  Anthony was sure that John had given up on boxing since he didn't win at the Golden Gloves.  I told Alan and Anthony a story about Sean, a guy who used to come to the gym a few years ago.  He had a fight in the Golden Gloves.  Before he even got in the ring, Sean was bleeding.  I remember Josh and I exchanging looks when we saw his towel laying in the bleachers.  Sean lost that fight, and stopped coming to gym after that.

Joan and I only went one round in the ring.  I went light, but Joan kept coming.  I covered up most of the time to give her the opportunity to get punches in.  After that round, she was tired, but she said it was fun. 

Alan caught me in the left eye again, and then flicked out his left jab and caught me in my nose.  It still stings today.  Alan said he was sorry afterwards, and that sometimes, he's not sure how hard he's throwing a punch.  "I guess you must have been okay because you answered my punch with some hard ones of your own," he smiled. 

While Alan and I were in the ring, he also got me in the stomach with a right.  Then both of us heard someone say, "Bully!"  I didn't have my glasses on, of course, but I made out the figure of a tall, muscular guy.  "Is that Leon?" I asked.  Sure enough, it was.  He has slimmed down, but he's still a buff man.  "I'm ready for some fights, Alan," Leon told the coach.  When he said he could beat anyone in the gym, Ralphie laughed and pointed out, "Except for JJ."  "I can beat JJ and his twin," Leon replied. 

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Girl With The Hard Right

I went two rounds in the ring with Matthieu on Monday (that's the correct French spelling of his name, I believe).  "Please don't kill me," he laughed before the bell rang.  Matthieu is tall and gangly.  I went easy, but it would have been difficult to do any real damage because he has long arms.  He kept me off of him for the most part.  Alan said to me, "Because of his height, you'll have to use the overhand right."  It worked once or twice, but I couldn't use it much after that.

Evangelina and I were in the ring next, and she had no mouthpiece.  I had to be conscious of not hitting her dead on in her face.  I also had to remind myself to keep my left guard up.  Evangelina has a very good right, which she relied on a lot. 

My head was on fire when I took my head protection off.  I sat on one of the chairs/stools near the lockers and fanned myself furiously.  Eric noticed and said, "It's hot, huh?"  "Hot flashes," I replied.  "Not already?" he said.  "Yeah.  I found out a few months ago," I told him.  "That just makes this more complicated, doesn't it?" he smiledd, and I agreed.

Anthony showed up that night, too.  He said that he wasn't in the last session because he had been told by someone on the field house staff that registration for adult boxing was closed.  That's odd he was told that because that program is never packed so much that there is no room.  The gym does get crowded often, but people drop out all the time, only to be replaced by others who sometimes sign up in the middle of a session.

The showing-too-much-skin issue arose again.  It seems to be coming up a lot lately.  Yesterday, I worked out in the church gym.  Just at the end of the hour, an older woman rang the doorbell.  She wanted to speak with Pastor Roger, but he was out to lunch.  "Are you on staff?" she asked.  I was wearing an oversized shirt, the straps of my sports bra was peeking out, and the shirt covered the shorts I was wearing. 

Later when the pastor returned, he said that he was familiar with the woman, who had been by the church several times in the past.  "She would have a problem with the way you're dressed," he told me.  Noticing that she had given me odd looks, I wanted to tell her, "Yes, ma'am, I am wearing a pair of shorts, even though you can't see them," but I held my tongue.  She's not buying my clothes, so she had no say so over my choices, therefore, I was in my right to put her on ignore.  Besides, it was 90 degrees yesterday.  If I wanted to have a heat stroke while working out -- or walking around outside, for that matter -- I'd worn a snow suit.

Friday, June 18, 2010

No, I'm Not Pregnant, Just Fat

My thumb and middle finger on my right hand (that finger was injured on Monday as well) was good enough to tolerate sparring this past Wednesday.  Once again, I was paired up with Alan.  We started in the middle of the first round, ending up doing two rounds and a half.  Before the last round started, Alan told me, "I'm going to get you in this next round."  Shay and Evangelina were watching from the other side of the ropes, and their eyes grew bigger.  "See how he treats me?" I joked to them.

No knockdown this time, but I was hit in both eyes, and took some shots to my stomach.  Try as I might, I could not break through Alan's defense to give him an uppercut.  That punch is the least used when I spar, and I wish for once I could get one in and make it count. 

The gym was filled mostly with newbies that night, with the exception of Danny, Ralphie, Jamil and Eric.  No sign of Stacey, Roshawn or Toya.  Eric showed me a picture of his oldest son (another child is on the way), an adorable boy who was posed on top of a motorcycle. 

I'm still adjusting my schedule to accommodate school and the studying/homework that comes with it.  Normally, I would have done a boxing workout at church yesterday.  Since the weather was cooperating, I rode my bike for a few hours instead.  The trail I took -- the North Channel Trail -- has some uphills that are hard, hard labor to manuever.  I kept adjusting the gears on my bike, but that didn't help a lot.  "I wish had taken some Advil before I left the house", I thought to myself after my knees protested.  Some of the city streets I rode along weren't any better.  Encountering speed bumps are just as annoying on a bike as they are when one is driving a car. 

I was supposed to start doing crunches this week.  I used to be able to do 50 of them at a time about a couples of years ago.  I fell out of the habit.  Now I have to build myself back up to that number and beyond.  If I do 10 a day, or every other day, I should be able to do it.  The strongest indicators that my gut has gotten out of control was a) when my stepmother asked me suspiciously back on Thanksgiving, "Why is your stomach so big?" and b) too many guys on the street asking me if I'm pregnant.  Apparently, a lot of people can't tell the different between being fat and being pregnant.  Not wishing to be mistaken for any woman who is, I need to whittle down my middle. 

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Too Close To The Mirror

I was a bit surprised to see several people waiting outside of the gym on Monday night.  It was the first evening of the summer session and all of them -- Shay, Mike (not to be confused with Country--the other Mike), Evanglina, Joan and Matthew (not to be confused with Matt from last session or Alan's son) -- were curious about what was to come.  Alan came in later with his son and Nick.  Country, Jamil and Diana were also in attendance.

Alan began working with the newcomers right away, while the rest of us did our usual workouts.  Country and Jamil sparred, but I only caught glimpses of what they were doing.  I was shadowboxing in the mirrors while they were in the ring.  In between rounds, I was fanning myself because it was warm.  Matthew, who's from France commented, "It is a workout, isn't it?"  I agreed with him.  He's very tall and has long arms.  Alan was impressed with how he picked up on punching form. 

Diana is improving, too, but she still struggles with the soreness that comes from using muscles that aren't utilized often.  Many who first learn to box have to deal with being sore in spots where they never were before. 

Then there are those who have to deal with the constant knocks that come with having boxed for awhile.  I iced the thumb on my right hand up when I got home, but woke up to it being swollen this morning.  Alan and I sparred, and my thumb caught him in an odd way on his elbow.  He had to remind me to go for his head.  I still struggle with going for anyone's face unless they are roughly my height.  Unfortunately, outside of people like Maggie and Oscar, who attended the gym in the past, there's nobody as short as I.  A few shots managed to catch Alan in the head and face a few times, but that was it. 

A common problem for boxers -- having one's hands down -- was literally my downfall in the second round.  Alan hit me square in the face, and I fell backwards onto the canvas.  He kept apologizing over and over.  "It's okay, I'm fine.  You just caught me, that's all," I assured him, and I was.  There was a little bruise on my lower lip, and I tasted a little blood, but nothing else.  We finished out the round. 

Earlier, Alan sparred with his son Matt.  He kept backing the younger man up into the corners and getting him with shots to the middle.  After awhile, Matt would automatically cover up, anticipating the body blows.  He got his father with a few head shots, but the older man proved to be very cagey.  I sparred with Alan right after he sparred with Matt, thinking, "Coach is going to be tired," but I underestimated him as well.

Matt is planning to come into the gym more now that he's home from school.  He also trains elsewhere in MMA.  "You've lost some weight," he said.  "I need to lose some more, but thanks," I told him.  "No, you look fine," he said.  I was wearing a red workout shirt and red shorts, but I was regretting the fashion choice.  I thought I looked like a sausage that has been stuffed into too small of a casing.  Other people have said that I've lost pounds, but I'm guess I'm too close to the mirror to really see it. 

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Stripping In The Gym

Sorry. . .it's usually not like me to forget to post here.  I did attend the gym this past Wednesday.  My mind's been on school.  Had a hard time signing up for paralegal classes, but it appears that things are on the way to straightening themselves out.  In fact, I had a Legal Writing class today that was quite interesting.  I was doing a bit of studying when I realized, hey!  I didn't tell the loyal readers about the latest adventures in the gym.

I was not in the gym this past Monday because I had another class.  It was basically a one-day seminar, so Mondays are free again for me to hit the bags.  Wednesday was somewhat of a light night.  One new person came in, a guy named Nick who's a friend of Alan's son, Matthew.  Ralphie and Jamil came in a little while later.

I don't jump rope often at the gym, even though I need to do so.  Surprised myself by going four rounds with the jump rope, and not being overly winded.  Unfortunately, my speed rope, the one I use when working at in the church gym, broke in such a way that it can't be fixed.  I might buy another one to use there, or just run around the gym for several rounds like I've been doing.  The running (roadwork) seems to be helping a lot with stamina.  But yet I turned down going a third round of sparring with Ralphie on Wednesday.  I could have done another round.  I think I was just being lazy. 

Jamil took a lot of body shots from Ralphie while they were sparring.  Alan was amazed.  "I'm surprised that Jamil is still standing after that," he said.  Josh, a guy who hadn't been in the gym for awhile, stopped to observe them.  I might have laid down on the canvas after that series of punches.  "That guy," he said, referring to Ralphie, "really handles himself well in the ring."  Ralphie has always been in control whenever he's in the ring, if you ask me.  Also, Jamil has become better each time he's in the gym. 

Earlier in the evening, Alan changed out of his dress shirt to put on his workout shirt.  Nothing usual there -- I've seen most of the guys with their shirts off from time to time.  I was at my locker rambling through my stuff when I hear Alan say, "Hillari, turn your head."  I looked at him, not catching on at first.  Then I noticed him unbuckling his pants.  "Oh," I giggled before turning my back to start doing my stretches.  "I know you want to look," he teased, and I just kept laughing.  I told him about the time when Steve was the coach, and he pulled down his pants to change into his shorts.  Steve forgot that I was in the room, and my niece Jalissa , who was a teenager then, was there that day also.  Jalissa didn't see Steve with his pants down, but I did.  She and I were looking over the ring, and both of us had our back to him.  One of the guys hollered out, "Whoa!" to Steve, who then realized what he was doing.  I turned around in time to get a glimpse of his briefs. The man grinned and turned a few shades of red before hastily pulling his britches back up.

Another time, Steve asked JJ to get on the scale.  I believe this was around the time of the Golden Gloves, so Steve wanted to make sure that JJ's weight was where it needed to be.  "I think your pants are adding weight to the scale.  Take them off and see what it reads then," Steve told him.  I was standing behind JJ near the ring.  JJ turned and noticed me and said, "But Hillari's in here."  "Eh, she's seen it before," was Steve's answer.  I chuckled and said, "That's true."  At least JJ wasn't wearing an ugly pair of boxers like the ones my late dad used to wear.

I changed my clothes in the gym once, but no one was in there except me.  I was the first one to get there, and I didn't want to leave the room unattended, so I quickly got into my workout clothes.  Good thing none of the guys walked in on me.  I wouldn't have wanted to be responsible for traumatizing them with the sight of my middle-aged body.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Last Day of the Session

You know how someone you haven't seen in a long time crosses your mind, then you happen to run into them?  Danny walked into the ring Wednesday evening.  He and Jermaine used to be regulars at Loyola Park Gym when Steve was still the coach.  Danny is now 24 years old, a born-again Christian, and he supervises a building in Evanston.  I was really surprised to see him, and it was great to see him in the gym again.  He wants to start working out again.  He told me that he sees JJ from time to time whenever he goes into Home Depot (JJ works there). 

Carlos was back in the gym, too, and he sparred with Mike, Jamil and Ralphie. During the session with Mike, I heard a commotion and turned around to see Carlos down on on knee, coughing.  He pulled off his headgear, then he rolled over onto his back.  Oh, no. . .not another low blow, I thought.  "What happened?" I asked him.  "I just got tired out," Carlos said.  Diana watched the sparring with interest, but she told Alan she still wasn't ready to get into the ring. 

Later, Jamil stopped in the middle of his sparring session with Carlos, clutching his chest and doubling over.  Ralphie grabbed one of the buckets, and Jamil threw up into it.  "I just couldn't breathe," he told us, and the sparring match was over.  "That's what almost happened to me!" Carlos said, referring to his time in the ring with Mike.  "I've never seen someone throw up at ringside before," Alan said, taking Jamil's headgear.  "I saw a kid throwing up during a match at Garfield Park a few summers ago.  It looks as if he had eaten too close to the match," I said. 

I sparred with Jamil for three rounds.  I was winded afterwards, but not as bad as I usually am.  Earlier that day, I had run to catch a bus to get to work.  The regular exercise must be working, because I wasn't wheezing once I caught it. 

Barry left me a message that JJ is on his way to the Nationals.  JJ stopped his previous three opponents early on during the matches he had with them.  Mike told me that JJ's story was featured in the Chicago Tribune; Danny told me he saw a story about JJ in the Evanston Review.  Very exciting stuff indeed.

Am I showing too much skin at church? I wondered. Virgina had told me that someone else who came by the church earlier in the week saw me and thought all I had on was a long T-shirt.  I could probably get away with wearing a long T-shirt as a dress as short as I am.  All I would have to do is accessorize.  I've known women who are more petite than I am who've done just that.  But I'm always worried about a strong wind blowing the T-shirt up at the wrong time, so I don't dare. 

The shorts I do own are, well, short, but they don't quite qualify as Daisy Dukes or hot pants.  Most of my T-shirts are long, so, yes, sometimes it appears that I'm only wearing a T-shirt.  I have to be mindful of pulling my shirt up a little (or stuffing part of it in my shorts) once in a while so that my shorts are visible.  A guy on the street was admiring my legs yesterday as I made my way to a mail box to send off some birthday cards addressed to church members.  "I saw those legs, so I had to get fresh," he smiled.  I just laughed and thanked him.  That's how I got my last boyfriend; it was summer, and he kept seeing me walking by in shorts.  "Nice legs," he told a friend of his before finally getting my phone number. 

The guys in the gym make no comment about my shorts, but then that's the gym, not church.  I asked Pastor Roger about it, and he said basically, "don't do -- or wear something -- that might make your brother stumble."  Every woman has at least one part of her body that she really likes and tends to show off.  It used to be my eyes, but these days, I look more like my father around that area.  More Oil of Olay is in order.  I've fallen back on showing off my legs.  Of course, it's not my intention to play a like a "fast girl" (as my grandmother used to say) at church.  I don't have to dress up every day there, so I'm just wearing what's comfortable. 

However, on the street, it makes the 'ol middle gal feel good to get catcalls on her legs from men, especially the younger ones (smile).