Where did the year go?
So much has happened in 2007... most of the ultimate-related stuff is here in the blog, but even outside of that... Every year gives something so different. I mean hell, once we get to June 08, I'll have been out of High School for 10 whole years!
Which also means in September 08, I'll reach my tenth year of ultimate. Well, to be accurate I had played one or two games before that at CTY, but then again, I never played in a tournament until April 99 (Yup, Sectionals with 8 people).
In either case, I have often read that the 10 year mark is when you really begin to learn how to do it. That seems about right to me, as there are things I'm learning about ultimate now that I never even thought to think of before. The levels of strategy, skills and the like that reveal themselves to the dedicated player are endless. Little tiny cues that I used to have to actually process when given (my defender is shifting his weight, I can change direction now, or the thrower I'm marking is unbalanced-- he cannot recover from this fake and so forth, the defender has turned his head-- my man is open, and so on) now are just things I react to without consciously processing.
Anyway, looking forward to practice tomorrow.
20 min stretching
20 min explosive strength
90 minutes throwing in Central Park
Friday, August 31
Where did the year go?
Thursday, August 30
From yesterday's workout.
Not surprising, but still... REALLY sore. I originally had a workout scheduled today, but work and ridiculous soreness got in the way. I'll just move the workout to Friday morning instead.
Pike's got practice this weekend, and I'm pretty pumped about it. It is time for the D team to stop letting the O team play poorly and win. If the D Team gets that same swagger in practice that we get in games, our team will be stronger for it. The lack of consistent practice attendance is killing us right now in specifically this sort of way, as it is difficult to determine what your team's attitude is when you have a different team every weekend.
Just another obstacle to overcome, and I have full confidence that we will.
We, quite simply, MUST.
20 min stretching
Wednesday, August 29
Repeated the Deck of Cards workout from 3/15.
This time around, I had a goal. To get under 20 minutes for the whole deck. That's 8min, 9sec less than the first time around.
As I mentally prepared myself for the pain of the coming workout, all I could think about were things like getting Ds in big games, pushing through that hell point to help my D team score, and other thoughts of domination.
The other thing was that I had a goal and I like to reach my goals. What happened with this one? Well...
I FUCKING DID IT!
I turned in a 19:27!! I think I could have broken 19 if I had dialed in just a little bit more, but I didn't. All I know is that it is a phenomenal feeling to put out a goal for yourself, put in the work, and reach it. I love it.
This was a great workout. It let me know that my feelings about my fitness and levels of preparation are not just in my head. I am actually in better shape than I have been. I can't wait for Chicago, Sectionals, Regionals and Nationals. I'm unbelievably excited right now. We're coming up on the best part of the year in terms of weather and ultimate and nearly everything else...
20 min Circuit
20 min stretching
Tuesday, August 28
Did some track work today.
I was excited to push through some longish distances (200s) as I've been missing that last10 yards of acceleration when tracking down deep shots. I also finally tracked down the distance of my runs to the track. I found out that it is a 1.8 mile run to get there. 1.8 miles in 15 minutes while doing intervals determined by stoplights is pretty solid, I think. Hard sprints followed by rest at the redlights. Good stuff. Also, the 1.8 mile walk back to the office to get my stuff before I go home is a great opportunity to stretch out the legs and calm down before I deal with people again. Also, keeping up a brisk pace on the walk with long strides is a great way to get ready for the stretching that is coming after the walk.As an aside, I also discovered that I walk at least 1.5 miles to/from work everyday. That probably helps me stay in shape on a somewhat minor level, but it is way better than commuting by car and the like.
Somewhat analogous to yesterday's entry on ultimate stuff, I also thought a bout what makes my workouts not suck:
I need music when I run. This is because I don't like running.
No specific link, but it needs to be able to do repeat intervals and intervals of various lengths. Otherwise it is a waste. I find that rest seconds go by so much faster when they are actually seconds as opposed to me counting to myself.
I'm feeling great about my fitness level. Especially knowing that the things I need to improve are already scheduled as a part of the plan.
15 minute interval run from office to track (rest/sprint times dependent upon whims of stoplight gods)
4x200 (1:15 rest between each) Times: 27, 27, 28, 26
8x100 (walk 100 for rest) 13s all the way through, focus on quick, powerful steps early for acceleration. Then ride out the speed with longer strides. Rest the walk back to the start line.
8x20 seconds on 10 seconds off of burpees.
30 minute walk back to office
20 minutes stretching
Monday, August 27
Unbelievably tired today.
I called off of work due to the aforementioned dehydration and the like. I would have been completely worthless at work. I did manage a low-level stretch/workout today, but nothing to major. I did, however, take a moment to think about some of the things that make tournaments better for me, personally:
This is a perfect tournament chair. Travels easily, comfortable and larger than you think. Very sturdy Swedish-made. As a fellow nordic-type, I feel comfortable recommending things from Sweden. This chair is pretty much awesome. Too bad I left mine behind after a 4th of July Hat Tourney at Edgely. All attempts to locate it failed miserably. The chairs are a little expensive (40 bucks? I don't recall.) but entirely worth it, so long as you don't lose yours.
Completely dopey website, but a perfect drink for me while playing a tournament. No sugar, plenty of good-for-you vitamins, minerals, salt and the like. Maybe a little pricier than Gatorade (I don't know since I don't drink the stuff) but wholly worth it. Also, a great hangover recovery beverage.
As mentioned before, dry cleats are better than wet cleats. Hands down.
New Balance Cleats
These cleats are phenomenal. And available in widths. I can't put to words how much of a difference getting a pair of great cleats that actually fit my feet has made. Unbelievable. I can cut without pain, play without damaging the bones in my feet, and actually move quickly on the field.
Tons of cushioning, moisture wicking socks. I switched to these 5 years ago and have never looked back. I'm told they have thin socks too, but who wants that?
Under Armour HeatGear
Everyone asks me if I'm hot when I wear these during the summer, but I'm not. It keeps the sun from bearing down directly on my skin, it keeps me cool by helping the sweat evaporate, and it minimizes the number of open wounds I have at the end of a tournament. All good things.
Patagonia MLC (All the way down on the right)
This bag is the perfect size for ultimate-related (and other) travel. Two pairs of cleats, all jerseys and the like, other clothes and assorted accoutrement (like the Walkstool above) all fit into the bag. It fits into the overhead carry-on compartment. Perfect. Back when we had the extra-sweet deal from Patagonia (now we're down the regular deal) I picked this one up and it has paid off. No wheels, but that's for pansies. Who carries enough heavy stuff to ultimate tourneys to need wheels?
This, interestingly, keeps your hands dry. I don't find rain to be much of an issue int he first place, but those days when I can't stop sweating, my grip is a little off. So, beforehand, I put this on. Problem solved.
Dr. Bronner's Soap
Liquid Soap. Great for traveling/camping. I prefer the peppermint variety because it really wakes me up in the morning while stretching in the shower on gameday.
On those rare occasions when my body isn't cooperating, the unique smell of Tiger Balm fills the air. I don't question it. I just know that it helps loosen my muscles up when I need it. I've also had at least one teammate who swore by rubbing some just under his nose to "tiger himself up." He felt that it woke him up when he wasn't quite in the game. I bet it did...
Works all day for me. Put it on just before warmups, don't worry about the sun for the rest of the day. Looks girly, works like a charm. I only get burnt when I forget to put it on, or use some other sunscreen that I expect to work as well.
Recovery drink. This stuff just works. End of story.
30 minutes full active/dynamic warmups
10 minutes wobble board
20 minutes stretching
Sunday, August 26
After we finished off Burgh, there was beer to be had.
I managed to get a ride home with Min from Ambush (Thanks Min!) who was still playing, and due to the aforementioned lightning, there was more than enough beer left at the fields for everyone. This was a joyous discovery.
Tangent the First (aka the Lightning Tangent):
Lightning is awesome. When I'm on vacation with the family in North Carolina (Outer Banks, Bitches!) one of my favorite experiences is always to sit on the deck overlooking the ocean and watch the storms out on the sea. The lightning strikes are incredible and ever-present. There's something about the power, speed and, well, light that completely mesmerize me. There's a chance that my eventual death will be caused by sitting in a rainstorm marveling at the lightning strikes all around me until one decides to strike me down. And when it does, "I shall become more powerful than you could possibly imagine." Or at least that's one ending.
Tangent the Second (aka the Beer Tangent):
Beer, much like lightning, is also awesome. I don't mean in terms of getting hammered (Please Drink Responsibly!) and all that, but after a hot day of ultimate, there's little in the world I want more than a nice cold beer or two. Say what you will about the health effects of downing a beer right after you play, but sometimes you gotta follow whatever makes you happy. Beer after playing makes me happy.
Now, back to the afternoon at hand. I picked up some beer from the kegs and meandered over to watch Ambush. In the process, I ran into a bunch of people in the ultimate world that I haven't seen in a while (which is bound to happen) including heads from Kaimana. I love being reminded of that tournament. Sat down to watch some ultimate and talk about Taxidermy (!) while enjoying the Remains of the Day. No, not the book itself. I just love the phrase. And the book. But I wasn't reading the book at the tournament.
Now that we've put that behind us, we got ready to get home. Ended up stopping at a burrito joint, which was pretty good, really and discovering Julie completely forgot her stuff. Not at all surprising. We sent out a search party to find it consisting of Julie and someone else (I'm completely blanking on who) who returned triumphantly in ~30 minutes.
As the ride continues, I start getting really warm in the car. Unbearably warm. And thirsty. I drink all of the remaining water, and suddenly I'm cold. This is not at all a good sign. I alos feel like I'm going to vomit. I know that I won't (I'm fervently anti-vomit) but I still feel not-so-good. I know that what I need (my body can feel it) is water and to lay down somewhere cool and quiet. I also know that we're close enough to being home that I don't need to require anything crazy of the car/driver. That being said, I feel awful.
Julie thinks it might be food poisoning. I don't know since I've never had that particular issue. I'm sure it is exhaustion/dehydration setting in on some level. I've never really been one o pace myself while playing. This leads to humorous things like me passing the hell out after most ultimate tournaments and not-so-fun things like the end of this particular car ride.
When we got home, I drank water and laid down. I felt better, but not good. The AC was nice to feel. I fell asleep soon rather than stay up and deal with feeling awful. When I woke up in the morning, I was still out of sorts. I even called in to work to let them know that I would be unable to make it in until at least the afternoon. I had breakfast and kept drinking water (both helped).
Eventually, I felt good, but still strange. After speaking with my mother (a doctor) we both agreed that it was exhaustion (mentally/physically) and dehydration (I did drink a ton over the weekend, but by the last game I didn't and then I had beer) combined into one fun evening/morning of headaches and general related unpleasantries. Not good times at all.
We all pay the price for playing this stupid game all day in the hot sun. Some of us cramp, some of us have traumatic injuries, some of us have a horrible car ride home. This was the debt I had to pay for playing as much as I did at Chesapeake. Whether it is worth it or not, I don't know, but I do know that I'd make the decision again in a heartbeat.
Woke up easily at 6:45 this morning.
Got in the full morning ritual of stretching while taking a hot shower and catching some Sportscenter. Those three things are the constants with which I start my tournament mornings. No matter where I am, it gives me a center. The first two give me some time to focus before the day really gets going (waking up teammates and figuring out where to eat and finding the directions to the fields and all of that) and I have yet to have a teammates complain about Sportscenter in the morning while getting up. Sure, I can definitely start the day without these things with little to no deleterious effect, but y'know what? I like it better when I start the day on my terms. The start of the day goes from "pretty nice" to "awesome" in such a short time.
This morning I was lucky enough to find some mystery bruises on both quads. That's always fun. These are one of the ways that playing ultimate is like a night of drinking. You wake up sore and discover that you have unexplained injuries. Well, at least at first. Soon enough, you can replay the tournament/night and recollect vaguely when these things were likely to have occurred. This morning, however, I was entirely unable to determine from whence the bruises came. I wondered for a second if we had stayed at the bar with some of Ambush (Yet another out-of-date ultimate site) until someone did something dumb and I joined in. If so, I must not remember it. It must have happened while playing. That's good, I think.
Apparently, even with the much-ballyhooed snoring of one of the Dans, I was the big winner at night. At least according to my brother. We'll assume for now that he's trustworthy enough to make that call. We gathered our belongings and waited for Dan Yi, who apparently folds all of his clothes at ultimate tournaments. Or, to borrow Jamie's words, Dan "Packs like a Woman."
We roll down to the Einstein Bagel place where I am roundly mocked for suggesting that it will be packed. Well, as it turns out, it was packed. But not until after we had ordered and started eating. We're apparently trendsetters. I did break down and go to Starbucks about 300 feet away to get my coffee because when I can, I like to get really good coffee. I'm just a snob like that. Before we can get to the fields, we stop at a supermarket to get ice and the the like. I knew we were going to be late (Dan's girl-packing set us back) but I also knew that stopping there for ice and such would pay big dividends again. Speaking of big dividends, the cleat dryers were clutch for day two. After sweating buckets into them for a full day, they were perfectly dry and non-stinky on day two.
Once we got to the fields, it was patently obvious that we were late. Shoot. When this happens, I feel like a heel, but I know I'll still be ready for game time. The problem is that I'm supposed to lead warmups for Pike 07 and now I know that I'm letting my teammates down. That sucks. Get in my abbreviated warmup and then jump into our drills. I'm feeling pretty damn good for day 2 of a ridiculously hot tournament...
vs Madcow, 12-15
We come out on D and immediately go up two breaks. We have the disc after a third turnover and completely fail to capitalize (some terribly high degree of difficulty shot is taken here) and as such, hand the keys back to the O team up 2-1. The next thing that I remember is thinking, "Wow, it has been a long time since I played." At this point, I think the score is 2-3 with Madcow winning. The D team comes in and scores on O to make it 3-3. After this point, I think the D team only generated one more goal (2 maybe?) and the O team gave up a couple more breaks over the course of the rest of the game. That's not good ultimate. I had the misfortune of matching up on Pallaver early in the game after I tried to no avail to explain to my teammates that he would be cutting downfield. Not a terrible matchup for me, but not exactly to my advantage either. This game was a contentious early on as there were a number of strip calls on our part that Madcow did not agree with. I didn't really have a good view of any of them, so whatever. Pulls were good.
vs New Noise, 15-7
Well, we came out hot and stayed that way. I had a couple of dumb turnovers in this one, precipitated in large part by ex-Skidmore ex-Metal Micah playing a particular type of poachy D. I turned it around in the second half though and took advantage of those same defensive decisions and turned them into goals. This game was a little testy, especially after a ridiculous D by Spanish that came back on a strip or foul or something. Anyway, we notch our first win on the weekend (how depressing that it came in consolation) pretty handily. Pulls were pretty good. Our O got broken either zero or once in this one.
vs Burgh, 15-10
We traded for the first 4 or 5 in this one, then the D got a break or two right before half, followed by a break or two just out of half. They were connecting on covered hucks for most of the game, which was frustrating to watch. I don't think our O got broken in this game. My pulls were a little too linear in this game. That is, they were going the distance, but they were also getting down waaaay too fast. Just have to dial that in late in the day at Chicago to see where I"ll be at for the series. Also, I won't be pulling quite as often once Tim's back in the lineup full-health.
2-5 is a pretty awful tournament record. I mean, we did poorly here last year too (also 2-5) so maybe us Jersey Boys just ain't built for the heat, who knows. Actually now that I look at the Score Reporter from 06, the only difference on the first day (06 v 07) is that we lost to Clapham instead of Chain in pool play. We have a ton of stuff to work on as a team, but I won't get too into that here.
Personally, (and that's what this blog is about) I actually had a solid, if unspectacular weekend. I got some Ds, marked well, rarely let me guy get the disc in useful positions and even during the half where I threw 3 TOs, I didn't make terrible decisions, I just made them too slowly or didn't accurately anticipate what would happen next. Pulling was good, but it can be better. The legs felt great all weekend, and I stayed positive, on the whole. I think I even caught a handful of goals (Including one on a pull play when I was in on O. That was pretty sweet.). Some of the negatives were that sometimes I got too dialed in on handler-movement and the like at the expense of looking downfield which did not help our D's O and that once or twice I had complete positional lapses when covering guys downfield, even though most of the cutters didn't recognize/take advantage. I could also, verbally and on-the-field take a little more charge of the D team's O when we're having difficulties.
Anyway, the weekend sucked, but I think that we learned about the team and I know I learned about myself as a player, so it wasn't a complete loss.
Practice this weekend, Chicago next weekend.
And, possibly more importantly, the NFL season is nearly upon us!
3 Games of Ultimate
Saturday, August 25
Up at 4am to start it off.
Not sure why exactly I keep doing this "get up early and drive to tournaments" thing, but I do, nonetheless. This time it is Jamie, Dan Yi and "Spanish" driving down from Emmaus, PA to the Chesapeake Open. The trip supposedly takes 3.5 hours. Last year, I think Jamie and I did it in 3. This year, we got off to a good start and, as always, had some good driving music (Kings of Leon are easily at the top of the list right now).
The three of them were in various stages of sleep for most of the trip. Which is exactly what I expected and wanted, both for their well-being and for mine. They would get more sleep (even if it is of dubious quality) and I would get time to think. This is why I always like driving the first leg of an early AM drive. That whole American Dream of an open road and a full tank of gas still grips me to this day. Never mind that we were driving a large minivan (yup, "large mini") instead of a "very fast car with no top." As the trip continues, the scenery changes, the light gets stronger, and I'm still smiling. My mind is all over the place on the drive from ultimate to life to news to whatever. The Silence of the Morning, so to speak.
As the drive continued, we rolled through Gettysburg and got onto smaller and smaller roads. Eventually, we ended up stopping at some crazy market/trucker experience a little before the fields to unsuccessfully procure food. This is in part because I was out of it and didn't realize that they sold sandwiches (I'm an idiot) and partly because the three passengers didn't feel the need to tell me that they sold sandwiches after I left the place to stand out next to the van. We did, however, get Ice and Water. This was a money decision. No other way to put it.
Anyway, we get to the fields and warm up and all of that and get into the games:
vs Clapham, 9-13
I don't think it was as close as the score indicated. Especially since the Ribbit-men were up 7-2 at half. Ouch. Our defense was porous and our offense was groggy enough that the D didn't get enough points to get into a rhythm. This game also had the most turnovers I've ever thrown in a single game with Pike. Either 4 or 5, I can't recall now. A misunderstood eye-contact throw, a swing pass that was faster than the receiver, some other piece of crap, a second throw turnover (also an eye-contact misunderstanding) off of the pull (yes, we were so bad that D players were both playing O *and* called in the plays...) and something else that sucked. Three of them were in the first half. Ouch. The worst part? My astronomical number of turnovers were NOT what killed the team. Yow. I did play some pretty good defense, including at least one sweet block and a bunch of irritating marks.
vs BAT, 11-13
This never really felt close either, even though I know it was close for a good part of the second half. We, once again, started off like straight asscrack and slowly picked it up. For the record, Ricky is still no fun to cover and Colin is still a baller. Personally, my pulls really started picking up in this game and, while I was too tired to keep notes, I remember playing well overall. That being said, I also managed to pull my first OB pulls of the tourney in this game. The worst part? They were the last two times the D was on the field. I was definitely guilty of trying to do too much with each pull. Frustration can affect us in a myriad of ways.
vs GOAT, 9-13
This game started off with one of my teammates telling me to cover one of their "handlers" who actually turned out to be their main lane cutter for that point. Not only that, but he was about 6-8 inches taller than me with long arms. All I could hear from their sideline (the sideline on which he was cutting) was "Take that guy deep! You're so much taller than him!" which is emblematic of the way I perceive GOAT as a team. They will throw to matchups when it is favorable and they will put up unexpected deep throws to the breakside. I wanted to rise to the challenge, but the cut never came. Historically, we've had some battles with these guys, but this was not at all like that. Pulls felt great in this game. I think I had a couple nice deep looks in this one, but the hazy memory through the ridiculous heat may be messing with me. Oh, I also threw the deepest OI bladish pull I've ever thrown in this game. I was behind the line by a step or two (working on not going "Over the Line," Smokey-Style) and I launched this thing waaaay out to my left. Not only did it stay up forever, but it also sailed all the way out the back of the endzone and into the foot of the woods behind the field. I was shocked, but at the same time, I knew as soon as I released it that it was pretty much a perfect transfer of energy to the disc. Take what positives you can, y'know?
vs Ring, 7-13
Well, this game started off well. We may have even gotten a break right out of the gate. At half, I think we were down at half 5-7. The second half did not go nearly as well. In fact, it was just depressing. The pulls were good and I don't think I had a turnover in this one (or the Goat game, for that matter, but I could be wrong about both) and had some good matchups against Tuba and Hinkle. The more I play these guys, the more patterns emerge. Not systemic patterns as much as individual patterns. That's kinda the game they play though.
All in all? It was a spectacularly craptacular day. I stayed in a positive mood for *most* of it and after I personally shat the bed in the first half of the opener, I picked up my play significantly. Oddly, I felt the best in the Ring game. I guess Regional Rivals will do that to you, no matter the heat.
We had a little team meeting after the last game, which I felt was a really positive experience. It is always good to hear how your teammates are feeling at the end of a trying day. We addressed to some deeper issues with the team and I feel that we made some mental progress. Before you ask, no details will be forthcoming.
After our games ended there was much debate about dinner and the like, and we eventually decided to go for the free beer and 5 dollar pork at the other fields. Pork and beer were both good. The ridiculous lightning display was mixed. It was awesome. Both in terms of incredibly cool and really scary. After we got chased away from the fields by the storm, we left for the hotel to clean up and then go out for more food. Passed out soon enough (11pm?) to get ready for Day 2.
4 games of ultimate in 95 degree heat.
Thursday, August 23
Well, that's pretty much it.
Workout was explosive lower body stuff and a mix of explosive/interval upper body stuff. Finished it up with Tabata (8x20sec on/10sec off) Burpees. I did a better job counting this time. The first two sets were 8 each, the next 4 were 6 each and the last two were about 5.5. I find that the quality of my burpees is significantly increased if I have something to jump up and touch. It forces me to explode out of each jump instead of doing it half-heartedly.
Speaking of burpees, here's some crazy stuff. I've tried a handful of those out, and they pretty much rock. It illustrates that you don't need to own or purchase anything to workout like a champ. Just think of something reasonably full-body/ROM and do it. If it is too easy, change it. Keep altering and training. You can make a workout of anything. We all have enough time and space to take care of ourselves. Why then, are there things like this or this? Well, laziness and poor eating habits start it off, but the biggest thing, in my opinion, is that people are looking for excuses. Gyms, diet foods and the like simply provide easy excuses for us. Things like "I can't afford a gym" or "I won't workout because I ate my 100 calories of wheatthins instead of half a box" or whatever.
We're missing the bigger picture. A "good life" (I know that's a subjective term) involves more than just one aspect of health. Mental, physical, emotional, intellectual, et al are all components of enjoying life. We tend to be so focused on the little details or distracted by the marketing of the American Dream that we lose sight of the ability to craft our lives into whatever we want them to be.
I know I'm getting soap-boxy here, and I'm on a tangent, but, to say it again, this is my blog. I'll say what I want. (I do love making that point) I feel that there are so many paths to live a rewarding life and if you completely neglect any of them, you'll be left out in the cold wondering why everyone else smiles so much more than you.
30 min lower body explosive
15 minute upper/full body mix
Wednesday, August 22
Now I'm starting to get more excited.
The last hurdle to my undivided attention was removed this evening.
That's right, the NYU Alums+ had the annual fantasy football draft last night. I'm not entirely sure who's on my team yet, but highlights of the evening included one owner forgetting the draft entirely, Jamie calling in his picks while getting yelled at at work, a number of classic homer picks, some actually asking the question "Who's the best kicker left?" before the last two rounds and much general tomfoolery (possibly some ballyhoo as well).
It was a fun time. Had to do a quick AM workout to avoid another complete day of rest (which would be a bit gratuitous at this point) while not doing anything too crazy. Just did 1 Tabatas each of pushups, squats and burpees as well as some wobble board work. I'm feeling pretty good in the muscular endurance realm. The number of pushups completed was over 20 for the first 4 (of 8) reps, squats was over 23 each time. Burpees... well, I kept losing count. I'm not sure why exactly, but I'm never able to count properly while doing them. To paraphrase Raoul Duke, "I was pouring sweat. My blood is too thick for [Burpees]. I've never been able to properly explain myself..." (If you want to find the exact quote after following that link, search for the word "properly" in that script. It only appears once). I'm feeling pretty good about those numbers, but I know I can do better on the pushups. I think that will have to wait until after the club season to really get some work in on upper-body endurance.
Anyway, looking forward. Chesapeake, Chicago, Sectionals, Regionals, Nationals. Not that long left. The best part of the season started a couple of weeks ago (Colorado, by my count) and rides through Nationals. We actually start to see full teams and nearly-full teams. Strategies become more solidified. Roles become defined. Nothing is definitely good or bad, but results begin to carry weight in addition to the experience you gain. Everything before this was exhibition. Now we're in the preseason. Sectionals/Regionals is the season proper and Nationals is the playoffs.
That sets it up a number of ways, mentally. The exhibition season is just that. Sure, you use it for tryouts and all us competitive folk still play for the Ws, but no one cares by Monday morning. Once we get to the preseason, training camp is through and teams are making "internal cuts." That is, you can be on the roster, but that doesn't mean you play a large role. These are the tournaments when that really gets sorted out.
Once the season roles around, we know our roles and our strategies and our teammates, but we've never really put it all together, full force playing-for-keeps style yet. It is always at sectionals, while still a joke for most teams, that the high-level teams begin to prove it. Sectionals is where, if you play summer league, you'll be likely to see some league players who don't really know what the big difference between "club ultimate" and "summer league ultimate" is. That is, until they match up on those same club players that they covered effectively in summer league only to learn that resistance is futile. A club player surrounded by his teammates is 1000x more difficult to cover than he is in summer league. This is something that I have always been entertained to hear people ask: "Why is so-and-so on [Team X]? He doesn't seem that good to me." Because there's more to it than that. That's the best I can say.
And then the Playoffs. If you have not been to Nationals, you have not played high-level club ultimate. There, you get the very best of each of the very best teams in North America in every round. Every point is played at the highest level possible. Oh yeah, and its in Florida in October. I love it and I need to get back.
The experience is absolutely worth the effort.
12 min Interval
10 min Wobble Board
Tuesday, August 21
The Good, The Bad and The Ugly?
Not really. Just the good and the bad. Frank got some crazy ideas, but he's not as mad a everyone thinks, he just doesn't seem to deal with people well.
Here's what it all breaks down to with me:
His *ideas* have more merit than most want to admit. I agree, specifically, with the notion that we should all be able to throw with both hands. Possibly not at the same high level with your non-dominant hand, but still. For those of you who have broken your throwing hand, you know that it isn't that hard to become serviceable with your off-hand in a season. Take a period of a year or two and you can become dangerous with both hands. I do not understand why more people don't agree with this.
Also, the idea of emphasizing the give-go and the various extensions of the triangle offense within ultimate is a worthwhile concept. There are similarities between basketball and ultimate. Certainly not a 1 to 1 correspondence, but there are enough similarities that the strategies are related to each other. We've all experienced covering/being that handler who never has the disc more than 1-2 seconds at a clip and never stops moving. Irritating as hell, right? Well, imagine that being the whole basis of the offense. Irritating as hell. All Game Long. And no, the defenses that we currently use will be unable to consistently stop this sort of movement. Then again, the defenses that we use today are unable to consistently stop high-level offenses anyway.
There's the issue. Right there. See it? Frank doesn't seem to accept that ultimate is a sport (despite his complaints about the rules, which always sound, to me, like someone looking over the rules to Bridge and complaining that it isn't more like Magic: The Gathering). As such, the prevailing strategies in sports are determined by the winners. You can complain about elite teams all you want, but until you beat them, they have no reason to take note of you or your ideas. No incentive other than common courtesy and curiosity. That's the deal. Not that it isn't a raw deal, but that it is still the deal.
The other logical gap that Frank moves past via ignoring is that one strategy cannot be optimal for all defenses and conditions. Teams will build a defense against your chosen offense designed to take you out of your comfort zone. At this point, you'll need to mix your strategies. This is something that his view never truly seems to allow for.
To summarize: I agree that an increase in base-level skill is needed (including, but not limited to throwing with your non-dominant hand). I also agree that many teams hold the disc too long and fail to utilize the types of strategies and moves that Frank prefers.
If he could just stop being so over-the-top and 100% sure that he is 100% correct, perhaps he'd better communicate his ideas. The problem is in presentation and extremism. There should be more of his-style of ultimate, but that should not be the only style. There should be huge hucks and lane cuts too, but that should not be the only style. There isn't one right way or wrong way to play and when the argument is couched in black and white terms like that, Frank's side loses every single time. There is no evidence that the offense will work against a good defense. Until he convinces someone to take him on as a coach/coordinator/something, it'll stay that way. Either that or some rogue team taking his ideas and adapting them as needed while taking the ultimate world by storm.
Barring either of those? He's just an interesting footnote in "Ultimate: The Next Couple of Years" (the obvious follow-up to Ultimate: The First Four Decades).
30 min Explosive Strength
10 min Interval
Monday, August 20
Not to get too into the details...
...because then I'll just be a whiny little bitch, but the combination of both traveling and playing a ton this weekend was pretty rough. It left me with some sore muscles for once (my arm was worn out after Saturday and then pushed to about a limit on Sunday) and a couple of occasionally recurring injuries to my feet. Nothing a couple of days without cleats won't fix. Although, I'll be sure to get my boots back on for a field session or two before Chesapeake this weekend.
Speaking of which, the schedule is apparently up. I can't really quibble with our bottom-of-the-pool seeding, and even if I could, who cares? I just want good non-intra-team competition! Clapham should be a good way to warm up. We last played at Boston back in 04 or 05. Nice to play good teams that you don't have an established relationship with. Without preconceptions of "how a game will play out" you are often afforded a glimpse into the actual attitude/talent level of your team. We always seems to have close games with Goat, no matter who is having an up or down year. Similar with BAT . At least as far as I can remember (exception: Last year at this very tournament). Finishing straight through with Ring in round 4 should be fun. I haven't seen them all year and don't know what to expect from them in 07.
Last year at Chesapeake, we got pasted to the tune of 0-4 on the first day and 2-1 on the second. I expect much better things this year. I don't know exactly how or why, just that my confidence level with Pike v.2.007 is much higher than Pike v.2.006 at this point in the season. That makes me happy. Same with my level of confidence in my own abilities as a player and comfort with the role that I play on my team.
That last thing is very interesting to me. As I've progressed in ultimate (Roughly: Best freshman -> 3 years of college captaining w/o knowing anything -> bench on Pike -> starting cutter on O w/ Pike -> starter handler on D w/ Pike -> ???) has been very informative in terms of learning my own preferences and tendencies on the field and as a teammate. I've been increasingly happy at each stop thus far. I wonder what can top this role? What's next? That's a thought for November, not for August. I will return to it.
For now, I'll note that I'm still really sore this afternoon and will be sure to take a brisk walk after work to stretch the muscles out and then do a short/moderate intensity/low-impact bodyweight workout. Just to keep the muscles active and get through full ranges of motion of major joints. Yoga will be included.
I will then follow it up with Madden!
20 min walk around the city (rain be damned!)
20 min stretching/yoga
10-15 min bodyweight strength workout
Sunday, August 19
It rained for practice today.
Yay? I'm not sure. Attendance was far from perfect, and, for the most part, all those who were in attendance had played in Summer League Finals yesterday (PADA/Wudi) and/or today (PADA) and were unreasonably whiny.
I did myself a favor this morning and started stretching as soon as I got out of bed. It improved my practice experience by a ton. I stretched for about 30 minutes this morning and then did some stretching in the evening as well.
We played 3 scrimmages, and we (the d-team) lost each. I can't remember what this puts my record at, so I'll just start over at 0-3. That kinda stunk. We had crazy drops int he rain, including one that I dropped well after I caught it. All that I could think was "Well, that never happened before so it won't happen again" and move on.
My throws/pulls felt really solid in the rain/wind/cold, which was a good sign. I think a good goal for me will be to make sure I get out and throw in "conditions" as the series approaches. It helps remove the adjustment period (however brief) when I play in non-optimal weather. This weekend's finals and practice were all in either wind or wind and rain. I love that weather. It separates the wheat from the chaff, so to speak.
The other thing is that the errors that are occurring now are the sort that just require more team-level familiarity. This is a good thing. There will be no more turnover in the roster now, so we can just learn to play together. Fine-tune the split-second decisions. We've got the basic concepts and forms down, now we've got to work on our improvisational skills.
3 hours ultimate
30 min stretching x2
Saturday, August 18
In the end, we weren't good enough...
But it was a blast nonetheless.
Pregame: Got up to drop by Johnny L's this morning, only to discover that Johnny has found this website and now wants to know what "Pike" is. I didn't anticipate that! Regardless, the ham egg n swiss breakfast sandwich was perfect as usual.
Eventually got the fields with Jimmy in time for a good, though not exhaustively complete, warmup. Got a *ton* of throws (blade after blade!) in with the wind, and felt great for game time.
First Game v Purple, 15-9
This game was in the bag from jump street. I think we were up 6-0 before Purple realized what was happening. They tried zone and man and everything in between on us, but really had no shot. The team stayed positive and kept on cutting hard in man, and kept sitting in the soft spots in their zones. They made a predictable second half comeback to keep it close. I think I threw ~10 goals in this one as there was a significant wind for this whole game. This puts me at a huge advantage in summer league. Why? Well, the defense plays like the wind is overbearing, but it isn't. At all. This leaves players open everywhere. This might have been the best summer league game I played all season.
Second Game v Black, 15-13
This game sucked. We played 7 on 6 the whole time and kept getting scored on. It was a sign of bad things to come, but I didn't take it as that. I just played passive O (Get their best defender out of the play!) and solid D. Evan took me deep twice (one he skied me hands down, another he caught .3 seconds after I D'ed) and some other guy (Micheal?) skied me as I got my fingers on the disc too. He was also tall. This game sucked both because we didn't do a good job taking advantage of our extra player (who works on that???) and because 7v6 ultimate is no fun at all. The other team should have just forfeited so we didn't have to play. I mean... really. Who is that game fun for? In playoffs? C'mon.
They lined up all of the still-present MVP candidates and took pictures. Yes, I was nominated from my team. As for my predictions, Will Reed did win the Open MVP, but Tucker did not win the Coed MVP. That honor went to Seth "But I look so innocent!" Cannetti. The darkhorse candidate!
Finals v Moss, 10?-15
I played slightly above average in this game. Our downfall was the depth of their men. They had enough good men that I couldn't poach to help that much and the remaining men were matched up well to run the offense without whomever I was guarding. Frustrating. I did ahve a couple of nice deep grabs in this game. One I had a better read on than Ramsey did and got to the spot first to box out, the other I just went up excessively early because a really tall guy was on me. That was a pretty sweet feeling, to go up knowing that the 6'2" (taller?) guy guarding you hasn't jumped yet and come down with the disc in your hands as he says something to the effect of "Shit..." I've got to relish in it, because with the amount of time I've spent handler of late, I haven't gotten the opportunity very often. If we were going to win this game, we would have needed to either A) Find Success in Zone D B) Throw deep to me more often because our dudes were really tired C) Have wasted less energy on beating the team with 6 players
Anyway, the day was great fun, our team stayed positive, and despite dragging our a 7v6 game far too long and eventually losing in the finals, there is no other team I would have wanted to play for. All kidding aside, Julie is one of the best summer league captains in the biz. I'd put her up against the SL captains round the country.
Pike Practice tomorrow. I bet my arm will be sore.
6 hours of ultimate
Friday, August 17
For Summer League
1. Rebecca Tucker (Deceptisomethings!) wins Coed MVP.
2. My team faces hers in the final.
3. Will "Trash" Reed wins Open MVP.
4. Who knows what happens in the open final.
It should be a fun time. I think the biggest lesson I learned about my summer league team is that we play better when we're having fun. It seems obvious, but it is vital to our success. It can be tough in this particular league full of people who are constantly on the verge of fighting over any perceived sleight.
I, personally, have no problem getting into it with people when they start the argument, as my play isn't really affected, but I've discovered that when I do that while I'm playing with this summer league team, I negatively impact my teammates. Which is never good.
Anyway, tomorrow should be fun!
10 Min Balance Board
10 Min Core
Thursday, August 16
After the, uh, festivities after the final Regular Season Summer League Game, I decided to rest today.
My feet were also in big-pain territory as the whole "not wearing cleats for two weeks" thing caught up to me a bit. Doing workouts when your feet hurt are terrible. I did get a handful of core work in though, just to leave my total-rest day before a weekend of ultimate (Finals and Pike practice) until Friday.
Of other note, I've been reading Everything and More, by David Foster Wallace. It's about the history of how math deals with the notion of infinity. It gets into calculus and set theory and all of that, which I'm getting a kick out of. His writing style is still unique and somewhat abrasive. Sometimes he gets too much in his own way and obscures the matter at hand. I still enjoy it though. I think I'll be looking into more books that cover this sort of thing. Books that, while they don't shy away from technical explanations, also weave them into actual words and text that give context/history.
So, if anyone can recommend some good "History of Math" type books (specifically for a guy who got through Calc 2 and is willing to write out examples on scrap paper so that I understand what's going on), let me know!
12 minutes core/upper body work
Wednesday, August 15
That's right, we lost our last regular season summer league game.
9-14 to Dark Green. Kinda unbelievable in the way that we lost too. One guy on their team (Jon Palmer?) scored well over half of their points by essentially standing in the endzone and asking for a jump ball. Which his teammates would inevitably throw because, well, the guy is 6'3" and can jump and catch. When I was covering him, it almost comical. The very first point that they scored on us (to put the game at 1-1) was a perfect example of it. As I went to jump, I realized that he was already in the air and just gave him an extra boost. I mean, I play pretty good defense, but this guy's got 6 inches on me. Even my extra-long monkey-arms can't make up that much if the player I'm matched up against is smart and aggressive, which he was. After that first one, I would consistently get my fingers on the disc just after he caught it, but that just ain't good enough.
The other thing that was killing our team was a terrible case of the dropsies. It was strange because our receivers would come down with some fantastic catches for goals and then everyone would drop wide open passes in the rest of the field. This was particularly irritating as the other team tended to play zone D against us in no wind. I handled a lot and threw many things into the open dead space downfield that hit receivers in the chest with no defender within 3-4 yards only to have him/her gack it. So strange.
I played well overall, aside from letting that tall guy sky me repeatedly, as my throws were on the money all night. this was a welcome change from Monday night's game when it seemed like I had never throw before in my life.
90 minutes ultimate
Got an email from Zac today.
Yes, he of the ankle injury from Monday's SL game. As it turns out, even without significant contact, he managed to break his ankle. Something about the ligament being strong enough to shred the talus.
Fuck me. Sometimes your brain knows it wasn't your fault but you continue to feel shitty about it anyway.
I repeat: What an awful game.
Tuesday, August 14
I got up this morning and fell out of bed.
As it turns out, my hip is far more painful than I expected. I can feel exactly where the swelling is, and while I can definitely move on it, it came as a total shock when it hurt this morning. Time to start massaging that pain right out... I'm not looking forward to it, but I know i'll be fine, which is good.
Apparently, Heng-Scheng had a similar experience when he tried to get out of bed this morning. He's decided to see a doctor about it though as his injury seems a bit more severe. He told me not to feel bad about it, which was very considerate, but still... I don't want to injure anyone in summer league, let alone a club teammate.
This afternoon, I did a "track" workout, which was more of a field workout. It consisted of 8 sets of suicides of the 0-15-0-25-0-40-0-40 variety with 1min 45 sec rest between each. Times were: 33, 35, 33, 33, 37, 33, 32, 35. The 37 involved me choosing not to kill a kid as his father kicked a soccer ball into my path. Fucker. It's one thing if the kid does it, but the dad should know better. It was tough to do it in sneakers instead of cleats, but I didn't have cleats with me, so it had to do.
I followed that up with a 4x20 pushups with a rest of how long it took me to do the previous set (19, 19, 22, 30) and then 1min rest followed by 4x10 clap pushups with the same style rest (15, 15, 15, 25).
Good workout, overall. The hip held up, but I know I'll be a bit sore tomorrow.
30 min track
5 minute upper body strength
Monday, August 13
In the list of top two worst summer league games in 2007, this could occupy either spot.
The short of it is that we lost 8-10 to Red in a game that would have been very useful to win.
The long of it is that not only did I complete zero hucks (while attempting more than zero) but I also injured 2 guys from Red on unrelated and completely clean plays. Worse than that, on the first play I injured Heng-Scheng (a Pike teammates) and on the second, I injured Zac Roy (fellow NYU alum).
The first play, I was playing short deep in the zone, and I read the thrower perfectly as the disc was about to be realeased, I started my move toward the space it was headed into. I took a couple more steps, accelerated and laid out at about shoulder height to get my fingers on the disc. Just after I got my fingers on the disc, I felt a seriously powerful collision. I felt the contact on my hip and realized that Heng-Scheng had been coming from my blind spot to make a play on the disc. As we both hit the ground, I was aware of a bunch of pain in my hip, so I stayed down for a bit to check myself out.
Once I realized that I was okay, I also realized that Heng-Scheng was not. Apparently, my hip made significant contact with his quad. He was in much more pain. It didn't seem like anyone else was going to help him (or me for that matter) so I got up and calmed him down a bit before we figured out exactly what was wrong. The bet at this point is that it is just gonna be a nasty-ass bruise.
Later in the game, a pretty terrible huck went up to me on a broken pull-play with Zac covering me. Zac, being 3-4 inches taller than me, has a serious advantage when we're both stationary under the disc, so I did my best to box him out and not give him space to jump. I thought I had him, but he went up anyway, and righteously skied me. The problem, however, is that when you jump high, you have to come down at some point. When he came down, he landed on some part of me or something and twisted his ankle. I didn't even know what to do at this point. I just wanted the game to be over so that no one else got hurt.
The game plays tricks with your mind sometimes. I know that neither is my fault, but they still made me tentative. It also made me a big ball of negativity which did not help my team or engender me to the players on the other team with whom I had no prior relationship. Ah well. Just another experience from which to learn.
One more game on Wednesday to determine our postseason seeding, and then playoffs on Saturday.
Vacation is over.
Ultimate is back.
I'll get back to posting on a pretty much daily basis in the coming days. To that end, I figured this is as good an event in space-time as any to explain some of the process that I go through for this shit-can blog.
As you've undoubtedly noticed, I try to write everyday. As I'm sure you've also noticed, I don't necessarily post every day. This is because I actually have a job and a semi-charmed/so-called life and shit. Okay, that was probably the worst pair of references I've made thus far on the blog, but I've got chances to one-up them yet. If you really want the awful references/puns, you'll just have to listen to me in person.
Anyway, the way it works is that every day I at least jot a couple of thoughts down either in the blogger interface or on a good old-fashioned pen and paper interface that I keep in my bag. I try to just type an entry, but time is a bastard, what with only 24 hours in the day and all. If I was only able to jot notes, I then go back and start with those ideas, aim at the second star to the right and type straight on till morning. Sometimes I don't get the opportunity to do that for a while. In this particular instance, I've got a backlog of about a month's time. Not 30 entries, mind you (I will not be recapping my vacation, for example) but more like 14 entries that are all in various states of incompletion.
Oh yeah, I also get distracted by shiny objects on something approaching alarming regularity.
Back to the vacation for a couple of quick notes:
That's all for now. Gotta finish up the work I left for myself after vacation before I get to summer league...
Workout Total (planned):
90 minutes ultimate
8 minutes Tabata Interval work ("dump D shuffles"/90 sec rest/burpees)
Saturday, August 4
Relaxin' in Avon, NC. Have been for a week. Will be for another week. Vacation is a good thing. So is training on sand.
Wedding to attend tomorrow.
PiKE/PoNY scrimmage(s) on Sunday.
Past and future updates will be comin' 'round the mountain when they come.