By Robin Jovanovich
For those of you who don’t rely on a printed calendar anymore, the fact that September 9 was Grandparents Day may have escaped your notice. But as someone who spends most of her cerebral life in the late 19th or early 20th century — in great part to escape Tweets from DT, comments about those Tweets, and the decline of all civilizations — it didn’t escape mine.
I’m generally opposed to the celebration of non-legal holidays, because there are so many, but a funny thing happened on the way to growing old.
It’s bad enough to be married to someone who is close to 70 much less approaching that age yourself. It gets a girl thinking. My thinking was colored by a random remark by our 4-year-old grandson that he was the fastest runner in “the whole ginormous universe.”
“Define ‘ginormous’,” I countered before encouraging him to think more modest thoughts.
When that didn’t happen, his grandfather turned to YouTube and a video of Usain Bolt. The grandchild was transfixed for a good 20 minutes before hopping up to ask if I would race him in the backyard.
The annoying thing was not getting up from a comfortable perch but the fact that I lost — to a 4-year-old! Is that humanly possible unless the tyke is the future Usain Bolt?
We raced again, and despite a little crossing over on the little guy’s part — he ran diagonally and across my bare feet to the finish line — I could see that it wasn’t a “photo finish.
The very next day I showed up at the Rye Y, after a fairly long absence, and asked for guidance.
“It’s not that I’m one of those typical Baby Boomers,” I explained to the ever-patient Laura Laura, “who thinks they’re eternally young and has to win at everything. But how do I beat this kid?”
Laura sized up the situation pretty quickly after meeting the young man in person. “Your grandson looks like a 6-year-old and has got calf muscles to match.”
“So, what do I do?” I implored her.
My diet was already good, other than the occasional liter of wine and pot of fondue, so we moved quickly on to exercise.
She put me on a regimen of stand-on-one-leg exercises for balance; a variety of range-of-motion exercises because sitting shortens muscles; lunges; and low-impact activities — playing on grass or soft turf rather than concrete surfaces (to avoid injuring those old bones), running bases on a field (by myself?), and aqua jogging (do I have to put on a bathing suit to do that?)
After watching me run, she concluded that I ran like a hysterical chicken, which was one of the reasons I was no longer able to outrun my grandson. “You’re wasting energy, flapping those wings of yours. Keep your arms close to your side unless you’re sprinting.” And as for my scrawny legs, she observed, “The spring in one’s step comes from their back legs. Work on yours.”
I left the Y a little defeated and thoroughly exhausted after an hour of bumping up the incline to Mt. Everest on the treadmill, pushing up the pace on the recumbent bike as well as adding intervals, and doing the arm bike backwards and from a standing position.
The takeaway was that exercising hard three days a week isn’t enough. “Exercising every day, even if it’s only for 30 minutes each day, is the best way to prevent injuries, especially as you get older,” said the longtime Y staffer and mother of two young children, both of whom she can beat in a race.
So, I shuffled back to my office to sit and mope, before jumping back up and figuring out a way to get those 15 minutes of cardio, ten minutes of moderate weights, and five minutes of stretching every day.
If I don’t see some improved race results soon I’ve decided to admit defeat and ask my granddaughter to race. She’s not even 2 yet, so I like my odds.
The author and her grandson on their mark in the Rye Y Exerzone
Let it be said that this grandmother isn’t down for the count yet.
While marriage, business partnerships, dates with somebody you met on