Triple Play Day

Hey, do you want to do anything fun this evening? Bike riding? Pickleball? There are only so many summer evenings.

Jim texted back. What say you pedal down to Sherwood Park and we’ll toss the frisbee around for a while? That’ll give you one of those triathlon days you like.

That sounded fun. And Jim was right; that would be two more exercise opportunities for the day on top of the hiking I had done early in the morning.

The triathlon idea started with day trips to Glenwood Springs, where I would choose a hike or a run, ride my bike down the canyon, and then swim laps and relax at the world-famous Glenwood Hot Springs. This was an individual event, made up entirely by me, and done at my happy pace, which included having lunch between legs and reclining in a chaise lounge with a good book between laps. The whole point was not to go my fastest and get the event over as quickly as possible, but to fully embrace and enjoy each aspect of it, making it last all day and taking pictures along the way.

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So I met Jim at the park that evening and we tossed the frisbee back and forth in the low, late evening sunshine. To add some oomph to the workout, we did what we always do with a frisbee or a ball, we counted how many times we could get it back and forth to each other without dropping it. This extra challenge of throwing more accurately and running to catch throws that were slightly off got our heart rates up. At first, we did 18 in a row. Then 19. Then 26. And our record for the evening was 56. Fifty-six tosses back and forth with the frisbee never hitting the ground.

After, we sat in the cool grass. “Good idea, Jim! I forget how fun it is to throw a frisbee.”

“Good exercise, too,” he said. “I’m going to feel this tomorrow. All the bending over and reaching and sudden bursts of running.”

“You know how in your text you called this a triathlon day? I was thinking we should come up with a different name. Triathlon implies swimming and biking and running. But, really, any exercise counts. Even the work you do all day long at your job.”

“But the three different things is what’s important,” he said. “I think it’s a good goal to shoot for every day. It doesn’t have to be three big things, like your all-day Glenwood Springs triathlons. It could be walking down to the farmers’ market, paddling around the lake. Anything.

I pondered my locale and exercise tastes and all the options, especially in the summer months. “Yeah, Jim, there are so many fun things to do around here–hiking, trail running, walking, mountain biking, road biking, pickleball, racquetball, swimming laps, open water swimming, kayaking…”

“Frisbee,” Jim added.

“Yes, frisbee. And this would remind us to play more often. Plus, things like strength training, push ups, stretching.”

“Yeah, just stretching at some point in the day. It wouldn’t be that hard to get three things in.”

“And most of this stuff is fun. I’m thinking triple play, make it sound fun, like a triple play day.”

“Triple Play Day.” Jim tested out the sound of it. “I like it. Because most exercise is fun. Or it should be. People should try to find exercising options they enjoy, that make it seem like they’re playing.”

“It’d be really good for me,” I thought out loud, “to try to do triple play days as often as possible, especially when winter rolls around. I always slip into this horrible thinking that I need to be home and safe and locked in my house once it’s dark. And in the winter, that means 4:30. And that’s not good. It’d be great if I had a reason to go and do one more type of exercising. Go to the gym. Walk around the block on a snowy evening. Whatever. It would just help me change my mindset.”

“Yeah, we should keep it in mind. Think about it every day. See what happens.”

“There’s also housework and yard work. They’re not exactly fun…”

“For some people, they are,” Jim interrupted.

“Agree. And, even if they’re not fun, they’re rewarding, once you’re done, and that makes them fun in a different sort of way. So they’d be included. Included in this idea of ‘playing.'”

“What about long runs or climbing a 14er or something like that?” Jim asked. “Would that count as three things?”

“It should.”

Jim thought for a minute. “I’m thinking it shouldn’t. I mean, the whole point is to get in the habit of doing three things each day. To ask your body to do three different types of activity. And even if you do a biggie, you can still come home and stretch or vacuum or pull a few weeds in your yard.”

“I agree. Plus, it’d be too easy to start counting more intense exercise as two or three things for the day and then the whole triple play concept would be lost.”

I went on a week-long road trip right after I had this conversation with Jim. It was a good opportunity to test whether back-to-back, ongoing triple play days were a possibility. Some days were easy, like the day I went for a short run around the lake where we camped and then later that day played hard in the ocean and then took a long walk down the beach. Triple Play. Other days, the ones with seven hours of driving, were more difficult. But I could always get in some walking, some stretching, some isometric exercises while sitting in the driver’s seat. It was on my mind, a new challenge, so I made sure I did it. And I liked it.

Triple Play Day.

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It’s What We Do

Today my daughters and I drove seven hours to my hometown where 84% of my relatives still live. We weren’t in town but an hour before everyone started gathering at the swimming pool.

It’s what we do. We’re a family of swimmers.

My mother is partly to blame. She did synchronized swimming at some point in her younger years. And when I was a kid she used to have my siblings and me swim around an island every time we were out for a day at the lake. My dad contributed, too, with comments, while we were young, like “Go play on the highway” and “Go play in the riptide.” Later, it was, “We didn’t come all the way out here for nothing! I don’t care if it’s 55 degrees and raining, you will water ski!” as he picked us up and threw us overboard.

My sister and I ended up on the high school swim team by default. We couldn’t run, but man, we could swim in anything and do it for forever. And I lifeguarded back in the day, the most coveted summer job in town. My sister’s three children all grew up with USA Swimming and were outstanding high school swimmers. My girls were raised at the pool, too—USA Swimming for many years, high school swimming and diving, and now lifeguarding during the summer. My brothers’ boys, who are about the same age as my kids, were excellent on USA Swimming, too, as well as on their high school team. And they also lifeguard.

Often times we’ll meet at the pool to swim laps or just visit while treading water in the deep end, but this time it was mostly about the next generation. My sister’s kids are all grown and married now (and all three have returned to the hometown) and are starting families of their own. There are three young ones so far with another due in a couple of weeks. The main purpose for being at the pool this time was to play with the kids and ooo and ahhh at their nascent swimming skills.

I went to the pool a bit early to swim some laps before the relatives arrived. I thought my sister might appear and do the same and that we’d meet in a lane, totally unplanned. It wouldn’t be a coincidence if she had; it’s just what we do.

Owen again

Holding my great-nephew, three-month-old Own Daniel, in the locker room after swimming.

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Owen’s tired after an hour and a half in the water. He’ll get used to it. It’s what we do.

Soon my niece was there with her two little ones, the youngest of whom—Owen Daniel—I met for the first time tonight. Then everyone else trickled in. 14 of us. (A few stayed home.)

I was in the water for two hours, swimming laps, playing with the little girls, treading and visiting with my nieces and nephews, and then holding my easy-going, mellow grand-nephew for about 45 minutes in the baby pool. He was fascinated with the lady with the purple head (I had a cap on) and four eyes (goggles up on my forehead ).

We stayed not until the kids got tired but until closing time, catching up on everyone’s lives while hanging out in the water.

It’s just what we do.

Daily Prompt: Playtime

Yesterday was Friday, the last day of teaching before a week-long Thanksgiving Break. It was also a particularly gloomy day, on the threshold of dark and rain all day long. So it would seem that, as soon as the students left, I would hurry to my cozy home and settle in for the bliss of that “I have a whole week off” feeling, right?

Not so fast.

First I was going running. My friend and I had planned it out a few days in advance. We wanted to get in a fairly long run sometime during the weekend before we went our separate ways for the break. Precipitation was in the forecast for the next few days and it looked like Friday night was our best bet.

As I drove home to quickly change into my running clothes and grab my dog (he, too, was due for a long run after being cooped up in the house for several days), I intermittently ran the wipers to erase the mist settling, and resettling, on my windshield.

Mist. Rain. Sun (what sun?) setting. Temperature dropping. Rain turning to snow? Should we go out for a long run this evening?

But that’s the thing about scheduling something like this with a friend. Neither wants to be the one to call and say, “Meh. I think I’ll just go home and sit on the couch and eat.”

I quickly texted her:  On my way!

The misty rain had stopped by the time we started. We ran on a packed gravel road behind her house, turning our headlights on almost immediately to find our way through the gloom. The temperature – 34 – was perfect for running since we had on hats and a few layers. I knew though that the slightly above freezing temperature would result in sleet, if the precipitation started up again. A few miles in, we noticed particles of moisture dancing around in front of our lights.

When we were four-and-a-half miles along, we turned around. The rain/snow was coming down harder now and we could really feel it once we turned in the opposite direction. Feel it on our cheeks (refreshing!), feel it on our arms and legs where our clothing was thinner (wet!), feel it in our eyes (difficult to look up, look ahead, to see the small pools of light just in front of our feet on an otherwise utterly dark road!).

We kept chatting. Kept running. I kept an eye on the amount of moisture building up on my fleeced arms. Nothing I was wearing was waterproof. “This isn’t the type of weather you want to be caught in too far from home,” I told my friend. “We’re not dressed right to be getting this wet.” We weren’t worried though. Only a couple more miles.

I felt great. There was nothing telling me to slow down, to walk for a bit, not my legs, not my head, and not my dog as he led us onward through the darkness. And certainly not the weather.

When we got back to her house, she asked if I wanted to come in for a bit. No, I needed to get home and get out of my wet clothes, have some hot food from my crock pot, and settle in to the bliss of that “I have a whole week off” feeling.

Today’s prompt – playtime – made me think of last night’s run. Running with a friend is always fun, but having the added elements of precipitation and nightfall made it even more so. It was exhilarating and refreshing and exhausting and just the teeny bit worrisome. And all those things made it all the more playful.

To me, doing anything outdoors is considered playtime; adding in one small, different, perhaps unexpected, element makes it all the more fun, such as:

1. Running with a friend

2. Skiing with a helmet cam

3. Running in the dark

4. Playing frisbee and counting the number of consecutive catches

5. Running in a red dress with a black clutch purse

Clutch Purse

6. Running up the switchbacks and through the tunnels on the Colorado National Monument

7. Pedaling, cooling off with a swim, pedaling home

8. Swimming around an island or across the lake

9. Running in the snow

10. Having a dinner date 20 miles out-of-town in the camper

11. Making a goofy instructional video while cross-country skiing

12. Showering on a slab of slickrock

13. Kayaking upstream

14. Hiking alone

15. Pedaling through a canyon and sleeping in a cabin

16. Hiking with my daughters to a class II archaeological site that cannot be found on a map

False Kiva

17. Playing racquetball at 5:00 a.m.

18. Pedaling from the brewery, out and back, and then celebrating with a local microbrew

19. Kayaking in the snowy desert

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20. Hiking to see petroglyphs

21. Playing racquetball round robin style

22. Cross country skiing to an overlook

23. Keeping a tally of wins during a month of racquetball

24. Floating a river with all of my relatives during a family reunion

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25. Climbing a 14-er and relaxing, afterward, at the clothing optional hot springs

26. Camping under the stars in the backyard

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27. Going on a super moon or meteor shower hike

28. Letting photography be the point of a hike

29. Trail running while Jim ATVs around and stops by with water, smiles, encouragement

30. Taking a day off work with a friend, the sole purpose being outdoor playtime

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Obviously, the list can go on and on. What do you do to get out and play?

How others responded to this prompt:

http://dailypost.wordpress.com/2013/11/23/daily-prompt-play/