Where Have I Been? 41


National Indoor Championships March 2018

I know. You have been wondering where I have been. No journals about tournaments since the 2015 National Clay. Well a lot has happened. I moved to Colorado. I didn’t want to leave this amazing place. Even for a tournament. Even to spend time with my buddies who I have been competing with since 1983.

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I was just loving life with Jo Ann, looking at the Rockies, hiking and biking and just being.

Then my book hit the market and I had lots to do to get it out there. Marketing a book when you are a first time author meant calling everybody I ever knew and begging them to buy the book and to tell all of the people they knew to buy it. And then having to follow up because people tend not to act on the first ask. I was not very happy spending my time doing that.

As for my tennis, I needed to retool my game. I had to adjust to playing tennis on hard courts, the surface I played on the least. I needed to adjust my game to deal with the altitude where, for about a year, my forehand would, mysteriously, land ten feet long and my serve would rarely find the box. The altitude contributed to me being late in setting up and, often, late to the ball. And these Colorado hard court players would attack fast and early, taking me out of my game of developing a point. It felt like every time I won a point I was reacting. I rarely felt like I was controlling the point.

So I wasn’t happy with how I was spending my time. Instead of feeling the excitement of being published I was not in control of my days. Add to that I was frustrated on the court while trying to maintain a good attitude while playing out of control and losing a lot. Outwardly I talked to my hitting partners about how much fun retooling my game was while, at the same time feeling impatient in the process. I was living a bad story.

So I skipped the National Grass, Clay, Hard and Indoors for all of 2016 and 2017. And then the unimaginable. My back started to seize up on me. I would play and, when done, I couldn’t straighten up. I was climbing up the steps at night using my hands. I would wake up in the morning so stiff that I actually, for the first time in my life, felt my age. I couldn’t play without two days of recovery. I got scared. I thought I was done competing. How can I compete if I can’t play consecutive days.

My team of orthopedist Mark Austerlitz , muscular skeletal expert Phil Wharton, healer Helen Grigg and accupuncturist Ting all told me that there was nothing really wrong. Sure my lower lumbar discs resembled pancakes but the speed with which I went downhill made no sense. I hadn’t jumped out of a plane. I wasn’t doing anything different. This went on for months. Just going for a walk would land me on my back. The fear kicked in. Maybe something is really wrong. I reread Dr. John Sarno’s book about back pain. I felt a little better. What is the stress? I couldn’t get a handle on it. Then I did. The stress was that I was not comfortable being at such a good place in my life. With my work. With my wife. With my family. My relationship with time. My relationship with money. I realized that all was good and I had found contentedness. What I always wanted. But I had always aspired. For more. To win more. To have more. To do more. Strange I was stressed out because things were so good. And with that awareness my back started to loosen up.

Phil told me that I was overly focused on my back and the pain. He said, “Bob, you know how to detach, to create distance from thoughts that don’t support you. Do it.”

And I did. I had a better story. In the space that I created flooded realizations and solutions. I am happy. I am young. I can do what it takes to strengthen my body. For years I used tennis to be fit and, though I worked out in the gym, I never really addressed doing the exercises right. I was often hurting myself by using the wrong muscles.

I found trainer Kirk at the gym that I had been going to regularly. He taught me how to build strength in my glutes, my chest, my upper back and my core. I trusted him. Twice a week with him and three times a week on my own. Training like I never had. My posture changed. My shoulders moved back and down. My chest built up. My shoulder stopped bothering me. My core, the holy grail that I never wanted to work on turned solid. Crunches became easy. Planks that I couldn’t hold became my friends.

In October my dear friend and doubles partner of many National titles and Cup teams, Brian Cheney called and said, “where have you been? You are coming into the 70’s in January. Let’s play the Indoors.”

When Brian asks to play doubles, you don’t say, “let me check my calendar.” I said sure, still not knowing if I could play consecutive days. I figured I could get to a point where I could just play the doubles so I felt ok saying yes.

By December I was feeling stronger and more fit than I had felt in years. I was playing consecutive days. I was running into the corners and recovering. I could play and then work out in the gym. I was playing well.
By January I knew that I could not only do the doubles but that I would be ready to do the single and doubles by the March start date.

When I was 69, I felt 75. When I hit 70, I felt like I was 50.

That’s where I have been. This is where I am.

More coming later this week as I will share my preparation.

So happy to be sharing this journey with you again.


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41 thoughts on “Where Have I Been?

  • Ned

    Old Friends…sat on their park bench like bookends…how terribly strange to be 70…but not us..not yet…52 years my old friend.
    Glad you are feeling better…but what did you expect!
    I see another championship in your future…
    Go Blue!

  • Ed Schroback

    Keep at it Bob, It’s not how many times you get knocked down that count, it’s how many times you get back up….ps…
    (and i thought i won some games from you legitimately??? LOL)

  • Marilyn Weber

    Hi Bob, It was so good to hear from you and read about what you have been going through the last couple of years. You have won “again” and conquered the pain and made your body stronger and even better to participate in the sport you love.

    Your blog was insightful and inspiring. My husband and I try to keep moving constantly. I have found weight lifting helps me to feel younger and not so wrinkled, ha. And, we have started Pickle Ball, which I suppose you think it for wimps, but I just can’t run as fast and as far as I used to on a full court.

    Keep sharing your journey with us.

    Kindness, Marilyn Deppe Weber

  • Rosenblum

    Good commentary on effects of stress on physical and emotional well being. Great that you don’t wallow int but made changes to effectuate a great outcome
    Love your writing.

  • Marty Judge

    Bob, your post rings a bell with me. Having just turned 66, I have increasingly for the last year or so been feeling like I am 75. Not only my tennis, but my entire psyche and sense of self worth have been suffering.
    While I had already deduced that I need to find a good trainer myself like you found Kirk, I haven’t been acting on it but, rather, I have been procrastinating (something that I am REALLY good at, by the way). As usual, you have inspired me into action. Good luck in the tourney. I will be thinking about you from my gym.

  • Lloyd glazer

    Great hearing from you. Sounds like you’ve got your act back together and happy to hear you love Colorado. Lois and I are very busy with our 9 grandchildren. I am still working and playing tennis and golf in Boca and Cape Cod and doing my special stretching daily. Love to Jo Ann…stay well, good health is everything!.Lloyd and Lois

  • Diana DiGiacomo

    Loved your blog! It truly is a visualization of life as we want it. You have done it. You found great mentors, “when the student is ready, the master appears”. This is only the beginning. Transformation has its own momentum. Keep sharing the joy.

  • Corinne Joye Cole

    Happy to hear that you wrote a new chapter. Circumstances can box any of us in if we feed the tiger in our minds.

  • Debra Razzano-Nerud

    Hi Bob! I so enjoyed reading your Blog! I too, began weight lifting with an excellent Trainer 2.5 years ago…It has changed my life and my running program. I have no need to see my ART chiropractor any longer and I’m stronger and faster at the age of 58, than I was in my late 40’s and early 50’s. I am a competitive (Masters) Runner now, thanks in part, to my daughter Brianna’s influence! Like you, I had always lifted on and off over the years (since my mid-20’s, except for a 9 year hiatis between the ages of 38 – 47, while my 3 children were young…I had my 3rd child at 42)! Anyway, during those early years of weight lifting, fortunately I did have some experienced friends who showed me the ropes. Regardless, I wasn’t as consistent and focused as I am now. Moreover, those early lifting years were very different, contrary to the last 2.5 years. My weight training has recently been at a totally different level, thanks to my terrific gym Trainer, Dennis, here in Sea Cliff, NY. I alternate working my upper body 2X/week, with my lower body 2X/week, thus usually weight training 4X/week, in addition to my running program. Like you, my entire body is overall fitter and stronger than it has ever been, at 58!!!

    I’m competing at the Master’s level for the Northport Running Club, on the road and on the track. I competed the last 3 years on our 4X400 Master’s Relay Team at the Millrose Games in NYC. Last Feb., in 2017, we came in 1st Place on the Master’s level and broke the LI Record. Simultaneously during that race, one of the relay teams we beat happened to be a younger 40+ team, while we were all in our 50’s….This past Feb. at Millrose I was unfortunately injured with a broken toe in 3 places (ironically I broke it in my kitchen, while cooking for the Holidays…Silly injury), so I couldn’t race with my Relay Team. At least they found a substitute Runner.

    I must add, I was very happy to have placed 2nd Overall in my Age Group (55 -59), in 2017 for USATF LI Road Races. This was calculated from a cumulative point system from the overall Official USATF LI Road Races in 2017.I competed a lot and usually placed 1st, 2nd, or 3rd. By the way, while my toe was broken I still cross trained on the encumbent bike and elliptical AND never stopped weight lifting! I made it work while wearing an orthopedic sandal on the injured foot and a Birkenstock sandal on the other! I was even able to do my squats (free standing with the Olympic Bar plus weights, equaling 75lbs. in total) and I am a 58 year old woman…P.S..I’m one of the very few women at my gym who can do DIPS..and the others are all in their 20’s!

    Good Luck to you and staying healthy and fit!!! Looking foward to hearing about your future accomplishments and hopefully a Championship…I also hope to eventually race and place on a National USATF Master’s level…Brianna is doing well, by the way..She made the Olympic Trials for the 3K Steeple in 2016..Graduated from Univ. of Oregon last June of ’17…She’s running every day for fitness, but currently pursuing a career in Modern Dance (long story, lol)…She’s headed back out west to Portland, OR soon, for a Work/Study Dance endeavor..She may come out of her Running Retirement to try for the Olympics in 2020…To be determined? She’s young and adventurous! I’m very proud of her! She will find her way!

  • mel di giacomo

    I fowarded to many tennis friends.Diana loved the story and wrote you a note.

    As always our best to you and la famiglia. Abbracci forte.Melchior

    Hope to see you in the 80’s.Watch out for those pesky Parkers.

  • Laura Jacobs

    It’s always good to hear from you and be reminded the power of our stories
    The reminder to receive the good stuff and savor it is equally valuable
    Good to have you back

    Warmly
    Laura Jacobs

  • Ken deutsch

    Nice to hear your story Bob . My wife Wendy remembered having lunch with you many years ago at
    Shelter Rock. You made a lasting impression her. I am seeing Dr. Roy Dividowitz in a couple weeks for hip surgery. I keep thinking of hitting with you after your hip was done. You are a truly an inspiration to all.
    Best
    Ken Deutsch

  • Sharon Moskowitz

    Hi Bob,

    You continue to be inspirational! So glad you are back on “your” track and feeling ready to continue

    doing that which always made you look to tomorrow with a positive attitude. I look forward to your next “chapter”. Good luck in life and on the courts! xox Sharon

  • Kiba

    The new owner has health issues and the transition to dirt was taking longer than anticipated So at minimum they are taking 2018 off to retool Spoke with Nick Berry at an ice race at the NHMX flat track a couple of weeks ago and he seems to think it’s still gonna happen. That guy is tuned in with anything dirt in New England (as he started the Sprint Cars of New England series when he was 15)

  • Josie Mitacchione

    Nice hearing from you and to know you are doing well…miss you terribly and your
    Beautiful house…

    So glad you are back in the swing of things…
    Hahaha
    Love Josie

  • Mike and Jackie

    So happy you are well You are my favorite role
    model and the story tells why Not only Tennis
    but life on general. My focus friend Be well

  • Harriet Werner

    So great to hear such wonderful healing news from you Bob. You are really a trooper. Stay strong and keep up the great mental and physical work. Hope the family is well.
    Miss you lots at the club.
    Harriet

  • Gasper

    Wichita St. OF Greyson Jenista went 6-17, 2 R, 5 RBI, 6 BB, 2 K, 1 HR in 5 games played last week. On the season he is at .314/.462/.627 with 13 BB and 9 K in 14 games. I”d take McClanahan at #5 if he is there. The top 4 picks before the Reds at #5 are #1 Detroit, #2 SF, #3 Philadelphia, and #4 Chicago White Sox. Detroit is just entering the rebuild stage. SF is reloading and retooling. Philadelphia is at the end of their rebuild and exiting the rebuild stage. Chicago White Sox are about 1 year from end of their rebuild. Cincinnati is almost at end of their rebuild stage, kind of in between PHL and CWS. All 5 teams are at a different stage of their rebuilds, or in SF”s case, a retooling. I can see all 4 teams ahead of the Reds selecting pitchers first. I can also see a scenario where all 4 teams could select hitters first. Or some kind of combination. If the draft were held today, I think it would shake out to DET- Mize SFSinger PHL-Liberatore CWS-Gorman (I hate the WhiteSox as much as the Cubs now). McClanahan would be hard to pass on in this scenario for the Reds at #5.

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