This morning hurt.
As soon as I woke up, I was pretty confident that I wouldn't play at all today. I couldn't really straighten my leg and it hurt no matter what I did. Well... get ready like you're going to play and we'll see from there. This included stopping at CVS, stretching out a ton, and constant massaging to keep my right quad warm.
The day was another gorgeous fall day. Abundant sunshine indeed.
I made the decision/came to the realization very early that I wouldn't be able to play more than a game or possibly just a half if I managed to play at all. I discussed this with our captains, Dono and Heckman, and we agreed that I should only warm up if there was a fourth game today. Okay. Time to get my coach/fan hat on. That's the round one that keep the sun off of my head. Especially with the new haircut.
vs Los, 15-13.
We got the disc on D for the first 5 points of this game and only converted one goal. That's terrible. It was very frustrating to watch as that is pretty much my job on the team-- to help us convert break opportunities. We had different personnel on the field for long stretches and we were running different O's than we would with me in the game. Unbelievably irritating. They had the advantage of an overall bigger team across the board than we had. Both teams tried pretty hard not to win this one, but we learned that these guys are very aggressive defenders (in a complimentary way) and we learned what to expect if we saw them again.
vs MedMen, 15-10
We started this while I was in the bathroom. I missed the first couple of points, but by the time I was over there, we were up a break or two. By about halftime, it was pretty clear that MedMen were handing us this one to rest up for the next one. Crazy formats... Not that I blame them.
I got a chance to check out the end of the Ring/Truck game and I overheard something about how efficient Ring's offense had been to the tune of no turnovers for most of the game or something ridiculous. 15-8 Ring victory. Ouch for Truck.
The end of the Burgh/Los game was a bit more exciting, although Los's vets seemed to make the difference late in the game, and Los won their first matchup with Burgh when it counted, after losing the previous 4. Wow. Not shocking, but still... that sucks for Burgh.
vs Truck Stop, 6-15
Hmmm.... That is not at all how I pictured this game going. And I won't ever picture it that way against anyone. They just kept making little runs on D while we may have gotten one or two breaks. By about halftime, the decision was made that we had a more important game after this one and unless we could string something together immediately, we should be resting our top guys. Nothing materialized, and the bench emptied. Congrats to Truck Stop, y'all beat us hands down.
Now, the time has come to awartd the last bid to Nationals from the Mid-Atlantic. Los (who managed to dispatch MedMen) vs Pike, who lost to Truck Stop. I didn't see any of the Los/MedMen game as I was trying my damnedest to get ready to play. Items used: Copious Tiger Balm, 2 Heating Pads, Ace Bandage, Tape, Compression Shorts. Get that thigh as HOT AS POSSIBLE to keep it loose. Take some painkillers/anti-inflammatories and figure out how to make all of the normal motions on an ultimate field without putting undue pressure on my quad. This meant changing acceleration patterns and carefully anticipating certain types of direction changes. Get my adrenaline up and remind myself that pain isn't the same as weakness...
vs Los, 16-15
We got the disc early and often on D, but did not convert. My pulls were pretty solid at making them start from their own endzone, but I wasn't getting quite the hang that I had earlier in the week because I couldn't really push off of my plant foot with full strength. I managed to throw a pretty much perfect huck in this half, but it was dropped by a normally phenomenally sticky-handed receiver. I then threw a Callahan later. Possibly in the same point. It had been a while since I did that, so it was good to end the streak. I was getting worried that I might never throw one again.
At half, it was about 4-8 Los or so. They had broken us and while our D team had put some great pressure on them early, we had not converted a break yet. As the second half started, they got up one more break and we traded for a while. It was clear that we were down big. I talked to the D on the sidelines and tried my damnedest to make my teammates believe. When our O scored, the D came out with blood on our minds. We made a three point run. I needed a sub. One of these points was possibly the longest endzone O in the history of ultimate. Tim Johnson and Trey worked the disc back and forth in front of the goal line somewhere in the neighborhood of 10-15 times from side to side. I was stuck in the stack and wanted nothing more than to get into the handler motion. Eventually I got my chance, and joined the dance for a little while, trying to attack the D and force them to give something away. Then it happened. I got to throw the break to Jon Fink who then threw a goal to the breakside of the endzone. This was the last of the three-point-run, methinks, and I needed a sub here after the three previous points. I think that I helped force two turns with my mark as the guy I was covering didn't seem too overly comfortable with the disc.
After I came out, we scored another D point, which I think tied the score. There was some amazing grab by Matt Schmucker in there as well. (Note how all of the shorts numbers make it easy to identify the players in this picture.) Game to 16 with the cap going on at some point. Los scored the next goal. Our O came on, down 14-15 and turned the disc over somehow ON THE FIRST PASS. Los worked it up to the endzone and turned it over. Unbelievable!!! I don't recall how, but I know I was shouting from the sideline at the time. Our O eventually got a huck off to Trey, who was completely uncovered. The throw came back on some sort of call. Huck goes up again, perfect bomb from Brandon. Goal!
15-15. Double Game point. Starting on D. WOOOOOO! Love this sort of stuff! We had a great line out (Me, Tim Johnson, Trey, Dono, Spanish, Schmucker, Player X [Who I suspect to be Ben Kleaveland]), and Los ended up turning the disc over. We started working it up. Eventually, I end up downfield somehow. I cut under, my guy falls down, so I go deep. The throw goes up and I know that there is someone behind me. What I didn't know is that it was Trey, flying in to save the day. (You can see me either cowering/protecting myself from big people in the right of that picture) He then threw it to someone else (Spanish?) who then threw the goal-to-go.
Every feeling other than joy left my heart and mind. I couldn't even stand up. I just kinda fell over in disbelief. I laid there, loving it. We ended up in a huddle soon thereafter and realized that *well* over half of our team has never been to club nationals before. It was great to get them there, and to have them play instrumental parts in getting to the best tournament in the world. The Show. It was at about this time that someone informed me that we were down 9-14 at some point in this game, and in fact made a 7-1 run to close it out. Unfuckingbelievable. That is the greatest comeback that I have ever been involved in in any sport, ever. It was incredible to be on the field with the crowd getting into it (So much so that I thought about them when I was pulling the last two, which both went OB. I suck.) with so much on the line with my teammates. Fantastic.
Los gave us a great challenge, and we rose to the occasion. I managed to get through the injury and play at least one game. I took 1 D point sub during this one. I, also, apparently, got a deep D, although I don't really remember it.
My car went to Waffle House in celebration and watched Ariel's footage of the game-winning point to much applause. That's right, the whole thing is on video and is a fantastically exciting game to watch, even if the quality of ultimate is not the absolute best from either team (long weekends do that to everyone).
The ride home was solid, much better than the terrible ride home last season after we lost. Now that we've got the team to Nationals, we've got to get the team prepared for Nationals. The competition is unlike anything you see anywhere else, no matter who you play. Peak Form. The best teams in the world (though there are obviously other great teams in the world, these 16 teams can generally hang with any of them). The Beach in October. Everything about this is incredible...
All the work was put in in anticipation of this day and the days that now follow was worth it.
It was worth it a thousand times over.
Qualified for Nationals
Sunday, September 30
This morning hurt.
Saturday, September 29
Game Time, baby!
Started the day off with a game against Foss's team, As Good as Advertised.
vs As Good as Advertised, 15-10
More important than what is mentioned in the above link is that they have a 6'7" dude on their team who was apparently almost a member of the Penn State Basketball team. Uh... I correctly mention before the game that their best strategy to win is to throw as many as possible 500 discs into the endzone to this guy. They do. I believe that the tall guy scored 8 goals in this game. There was also a bit of a dustup in this one with some guy laying out into my back after I caught the disc and landing on me after dislodging the disc. I have been informed that I yelled "Get the fuck off me!" before I jumped up while throwing a minor elbow into his chest. I definitely jumped up aggressively as I don't particularly appreciate bids for discs that you have an absolute zero chance of touching, let alone D-ing. After that there was a bit of shouting match and a call for me to leave the field or something. Just good hard, fun, thugtimate non punches, no shoving. "Like being back in the yard, isn't it?" (Ctrl+F Search for that phrase on that webpage).
vs Warriors, 15-13
Well, we take half at 8-4. I had thrown two terrible hucks directly to the backs of Warrior defenders. That was bad. But prior to that, we scored the first two points on D (I seem to remember catching the first one and enjoying some spikage). And after that, we (I?) calmed down and went on a D run to close the half. The O did get broken once in the first half. Second half, I played the first point and realized that I couldn't run at all. My guy ran me downfield and I couldn't stay with him at all. He scored on me easily. My leg just wouldn't move that way. I came off the field and told Dono and Tim that I was done for this game. It looked like we had it in hand anyway. That would give me time to figure out what was wrong. It was a pain shooting from just inside my hip down through my quad and across my knee. It was from the outside to the inside (and it was not the IT Band-- that goes straight down the outside of your leg). Raph took a look at it and wasn't quite sure what it was, but we figured out where the pain was. I stretched it out and massaged it, and that was a little better, but still... it was pretty unpleasant. I carried on like that for the rest of the game while Pike choked away as much as possible of the lead we had built up (maybe even being down at some point?) until the D made a run at the end to win 15-13.
Long Bye. This is so much better than plying 5 games on the first day. I kept checking out my leg and eventually Liz from Wicked came over and told me, after some investigation, that I had pulled part of my quad. If I wanted to play, I would need to keep it ridiculously warm and take note if it started changing the way I ran. I told her that it had already done so, in that I couldn't run forward, and she said I probably shouldn't play. I pretty much agreed and shut it down for the Truck Stop game in hopes that I would be ready for the next day.
vs Truck Stop, 12-15
I was just a sideline cheerleader in this one. Trying to be as loud and as useful as possible from the sidelines. We were up 2 breaks early in this one before Truck broke us back twice to take half 7-8. Boo. We *needed* to score that one to preserve the break through half!! We started to realize the different Stout makes on that team. It frees up their other height (Jack and George) to do what they do. It also gives a guy who can straight up get a D on your best player in open space. As the second half carried on, we traded for a while and then just after we hit double digits, Truck Stop made their move on D to close the game out by 3. I think it might have been as close as 12-13 in their favor, but I'm not sure.
The first day closed, and we got back to the hotel to clean up and then get some Italian food. It was largely uneventful except for the growing, aching pain in my quad which did not make me think happy thoughts about my prospects for the next day. It hurt laying down, sitting at the table, standing up, walking, whenever. Not good times. It was decided that when the morning came, I would get myself to a CVS or some reasonable facsimile thereof to get an ace bandage, some heating pads, tape and the like. I iced on and off all night and used a good amount of ibuprofen.
Whew. Went right to bed at ~10pm. No laying on the pillow for a while, straight to sleep. Dreaming of being able to run/play the next day...
Friday, September 28
Here ya go, you vultures:
Favorite to the title again. You know they feel it is a failure if they do anything other than finish first in the Region. I don't recall the last time they played more than 4 games at Regionals... Maybe it was just before my time. They're not unbeatable by any stretch, they just have the best track record. I always look forward to playing Ring. Them boys play hard.
Believe that they can take Ring down. And they just might. I can't see these guys finishing out of the top 3. I'll bet that they externally put their goal at finishing one, but on the inside they're expecting to finish 2. I could be wrong, and if I am, more power to them. I always look forward to playing Truck Stop.
Expected to finish third or lower. I believe we've got a lot more in us than that. I've seen positive things from this team that I haven't seen from past Pike teams, even in the Semis-Quarters years... There's also a phenomenal team attitude this year. Based on the results of the season, we certainly look like a team who could lose to anyone, anytime. There is also no real proof that we can hang with the big teams on the block. A lot of unknowns with this team. All I can say with certainty is that I want to go to battle with my teammates this weekend.
Pretty clearly the 4-seed. I don't see them knocking off any of the top three, but they don't suck either. They do, however, seem to be an almost entirely college-age team. That means that their experiences will pay off in the college season, but this weekend could be tough.
Some big free-agent acquisitions seem to be helping them up from their spot last year. I bet that they're a dangerous team saddled with some early season losses. If you need a darkhorse pick for your office pool, they've pretty much got to be it. Gelling late in the season can be tough without playing together as a team for the season as a whole. Especially with an influx of new players. It'll be interesting to watch them this weekend.
I still think they're always dangerous. I could be wrong.
I know they're always dangerous. That's just the style that they play.
Looking at the schedule, I see almost no way that we'll end up seeing these guys.
I think they have orange jerseys, oddly.
I know some people on this team. If they get on a run, emotion could help them big time.
?? Stall 12 seeded 12? That can't be right.
I heard a rumour that their name means "All Cuts D.C." That's funny if true. Actually, it is funny regardless of truth.
As Good As Advertised--
Foss'll have those kids whipped into a fury, I imagine. He's still good. I hear they have some 6'7" dude. That's crazy. It should be an intense first round at least.
Roots of Rhythm--
Mercer County summer league team and Pennsbury kids. Young. I don't understand why they and Philly aren't one team...
?? I think I've played them before.
So, the most likely scenario is Ring, TS or Pike winning. The loser of the finals winning the second place game after conserving energy in a losing finals effort. The 3rd place game will involve whichever of Ring/TS/Pike has not qualified playing against one of: Burgh/Los/Warriors/MedMen.
That will be a brutal game, as always. I would wager that the team coming out of the second place game will be better equipped to win this one. The losers of the 9am backdoor games could stagger into this one, but that is a *serious* uphill battle.
Game/sub management will enter into the plans for every team in this format. Even if you don't sub that way, your opponent may, which will affect the outcome of your game.
I'm overwhelmingly excited. If I can, I'll put something up mid-tourney, but who knows how that'll fare.
10 min throwing
30 min stretching
Thursday, September 27
That's not exactly what I asked for...
There I was, on a Thurday night with a little time ot kill before heading out to dinner. Seemed like the right time to get a haircut, as I often do, before a tournament. You know-- you look good, you play good. Some would say "well," but that ruins the parallel phrasing. Fools!
I strolled over to the usual place after procuring some coffee for the next morning, sat and waited. Once I got up to the chair, I said the usual thing. Now, I won't go into details about what was said, but apparently there's a language barrier of some kind. I'm also no expert in stylistically different hair-cutting techniques (some guys use clippers for different lengths, some don't, etc), but there was a moment that passed during this particular hair cut that qualified as a point of no return.
Suddenly, as I snapped out of my little daydream in the barber's chair (something about a weekend of ultimate ahead) I noticed that there was a TON less hair on my head. Holy Hell!! What has happened here? Well... as it turns out, the hairs that got cut, got cut a lot shorter than I expected or asked for. Once I realized what was going down, there was no changing the decision. No going back. Buy the ticket, take the ride. Let this wild ride play out until the end. At this point, I can't correct him, and if I try, he'll likely just resent me. Or more likely, not understand me, becasue I'm not sure he speaks English aside from "Okay."
Turns out, he interpreted what I said to essentially mean "crew cut" or some reasonable facsimile thereof. Interesting. I don't think my hair has ever been this short. It ain't the cut I asked for, but it's the one I got.
Crazy. Now I've got a playoff haircut. I didn't expect the haircut to be mind-altering, but I think it was... Shed the old weight, be a new man. Hungry. "Like a monkey, ready to be shot into space. Space monkey! Ready to sacrifice himself for the greater good."
(space monkey last)
30 min stretching
10 min throwing
Wednesday, September 26
So, with a wonderfully thoughtful belated birthday gift, Julie made my week.
I had a 90-min massage this evening. partially in prep for the weekend, and partially because this is possibly the craziest stretch of time I've experienced in a number of years. Pike, work and personal stuff all working in tandem to fuck with me. (Un?)Fortunately for y'all, this ain't not neither a work nor a gossip blog, so I won't get into the non-Pike stuff.
Regardless of why, there was some unreal tension and knots in my upper back, neck and calves. This is not at all normal for me and the masseuse was confounded. The next 90 minutes were completely awesome. I felt like my whole body was being realigned. Some of it hurt, and some of it actually brought tears of relief to my eyes. Not pain, but relief. There were things going on in there that I had no idea could even happen.
Anyway, afterwards I was unbelievably relaxed and a bit out of it. I made my way home while drinking copious amounts of water. Not only was I relaxed physically, but I was relaxed mentally as well. Perfect. Once I arrived home, I stretched out and passed out while watching the Warriors play the Lakers from the '91 playoffs (as chosen by ESPN's Sports Guy). Great shootout is right! The other great thing about this tape is looking at Tom Tolbert's hair. It is so phenomenal that even the announcers mocked him. Something to the tune of "There's tonight's winner of the Hair MVP award." I wish I could find a satisfactory picture, but the phrase "Vanilla Ice-like" should suffice. And now he's a commentator. With a shaved head becaus ehe started going bald. That's high comedy and I'm still an asshole.
The game is also further evidence that Chris Mullin was a baller. If you didn't know, you better ax somebody.
90 minute masssage
30 minute stretching
Tuesday, September 25
Lots of rest, short-distance sprints.
Ran over to the track, took more rest than usual.
Got to the track, ran 8x30yd sprints. 1:30-3min in between. Cleats on.
Threw with Zac for 20 minutes or so.
Saw some Pony fellas puttin' in their work.
Ducked out as NYU practices started.
Daydreamed about playing on the walk back. Just got lost in the city with my music and my thoughts. Don't really know which streets I took, but they must've been the right ones because I got where I needed to go.
When I got home, did some more stretching and some more visualization. In long form. Picturing everything from Saturday morning to Sunday afternoon... It should be a beautiful weekend. Phrases like "abundant sunshine" are pretty awesome to read.
This is a tough week for the ultimate journal... I mean... At this point, I've done all the prep. I am already the player I will be on Sunday. There isn't a ton of physical training going on. Just a little work to make sure the muscles don't foger what they're doing. There's a ton of thought put into getting my attitude correct for the weekend and picturing success, but really... the waiting is just killing me.
And there's nothing to be done about it.
Starting last Sunday, I've pretty much woken up every morning thinking that I couldn't get more excited. Then the next morning came, and I was more excited. By Saturday morning, I'll be lucky to avoid a heart attack.
Anyway, that's all from the home office in Omaha, Nebraska.
10 minute interval run
15 minute sprints
20 minute stretching
Monday, September 24
Obviously, the surprise news of the day is that there will be three bids to Nationals from Mid-Atlantic Open Regionals.
Now, this is good. No lies, no bullshit. Anyone in the region who tells you otherwise is full of shit. No matter if it is Ring or Floodwall. Mo Chances is Mo Betta.
Also, the word on the street is that we won't have to play some backwoods 14-team cock-face format with 5 games per day either. This is also good. This will be the same as 03-05. 16 team double elim.
I'll talk more about the tourney itself later this week, but for now... it will be very exciting. Ring, TS and us are pretty clearly the top 3. Burgh is back again, though they seem very young. Los is improved (new additions always help), Warriors are always dangerous with Mike G at the helm, MedMen, HOV and Sir Duke can all upset "better" teams, and 10-16 are all better than their opponents expect, though they're all pretty young as well.
I love this time of year.
More to type on this later.
New Orleans looks terrible and Drew Brees is killing my fantasy team.
30 min Full dynamic warmups
10 min throwing
30 min stretching
Sunday, September 23
A little light running and the like.
Did the full dynamic warmups at ~8am as if I had a game to prepare for.
Got to watch NFL Matchup, which is still the best NFL show anywhere. I just wish it were longer. I could watch that for 2-3 hours, easy.
Eagles did their job today. Looked like a game of Madden! Much more my style. Somebody better put a body on Kevin Curtis! Kevin Curtis??
I'll take it.
30 min dynamics
30 min stretching
Saturday, September 22
Practice was a battle today.
O v D in scrimmages with specific focuses. 10 pull, essentially, with the D starting at Half-field. Go for one turn only. Starting with the D picking up the disc in the endzone they're defending. O gets one chance if they force a turn. And the like.
I think I may have been overly angry at this practice. Aside from blaming my brother, with whom I got into a heated argument, the tension is just bubbling under the surface. That same fighting and clawing instinctual play that helps me beat other teams, also gives me a short fuse in practice. It's tough because at practice you simultaneously want to build your teammates up and challenge them. Balance that with my own personal constant need to win, and, well, I can be a real asshole. That's just me, I guess... The same things that make me a tireless competitor can make me a bad teammate from time to time.
After practice we had a BBQ. Yesssss! Perfect weather for it.
Team flutter was had. Now THAT's a game.
Got a ride back to the train station, took the train home.
Thoughts of Regionals filled my head... Daydreams of the weekend to come. Images. Feelings. Expectations. So close...
4 hours practice
Didn't do much in terms of ultimate-related stuff today.
Stretched, did some running-form and range of motion stuff.
A coworker asked me if I wanted to go to the Yankees game this evening, so I said yes. Why? Fantastic Seats. Roy Halladay. To be fair, I'm not really much of a baseball fan any longer. Ever since I found out that my favorite players as a kid (Dwight Gooden and Darryl Strawberry, in that order) threw away the world for cocaine while MLB took the year off when I was 14. That pretty much did it for me. As a fourteen-year-old, that stuff doesn't make sense other than "I want to watch baseball and these assholes won't play." I mean, I am aware of baseball and I do love watching from about Mid-September on when playoff races really become interesting and then the playoffs start.
Anyway, I still love going to games, especially if the seats are good and this would be my first foray into the House that Ruth Built. The sultan of swat, the king of crash, the colossus of clout, the Great Bambino. Even the trip there was interesting as the subway fills with Yankees fans and hardly stops on the trip there. I can only imagine what this would be like in the playoffs or when the Sox are in town.
Once I got into the stadium, it was phenomenal, as every ballpark is. The grass is gorgeous, the lines are perfect, and each stadium has its own take on the same basic design. More or less foul territory, different sized outfields, different stands, bleachers, etc. But the game itself is the same. History is a great thing in baseball.
Game starts, and while Wang looked pretty solid (even working his way out of a serious jam) his pitch count was rising meteorically while Halladay was just mowing down the Yanks. I love watching great pitchers work. Especially those who work at the pace of Halladay. As the game went on, the Jays scored 4 runs, two of which were after Wang was left in for "Two Batters, Two Long!" as my coworker argues that every Yankee starter is left in exactly 2 too long.
Now, the bottom of the ninth, home team is 4 runs down, and Halladay looks invincible. Damon doubles, Jeter grounds out, Abreu moves Damon to third with a single. A-Rod singles to center and the place erupts as Damon scores and Abreu gets to second. Matui grounds out and the place deflates. Just because two out hits get you to heaven doesn't mean you should expect them to come.
Unbelievably, Posada reaches on an error and Abreu scores. The place is nuts all over again. Halladay gets the hook, and you can tell he's not happy about it. They bring in a reliever and Cano and Giambi single in A-Rod and Posada's pinch runner. Unbelievable. How many times do you get to see a furious 4-run rally in the bottom of the ninth? Melky Cabrera then grounds out to end it. 4-4 going into the tenth!
Over the next 3 innings, we see Mariano Rivera come in and get 3up-3down and Joba Chamberlain bring the heat for 2 innings. Meanwhile, Toronto keeps brining a seemingly endless supply of quality relievers to keep the Yankees quiet. In the bottom of the 13th, the Yanks threaten to score for a bit with a leadoff single from Jeter, a FC for Abreu, A-Rod popping out, Matsui walking, and then Molina ends the chance by striking out swinging.
In the next inning, some guy named Zaun puts one into the seats and everyone in the Stadium knows it is over. The bottomof the 14th features no one threatening up to bat for the Yanks. Game over.
It was a good time and I wished that I went to see more baseball games, but y'know... I still don't really love it the way I used to. In the future, I think I'll try to make it to a handful of games every year. Just like ensuring that I get to basketball games every year, I think I'll add baseball to the list.
20 min stretching
10 min running form
10 min range of motion exercises
Thursday, September 20
On the heels of Tuesday's Work, I changed it up a little to lengthen stride and work on top speed a bit.
Rest between each sprint of a group was 1:30, rest between sets was 2:3o after the first 2 and 2:00 after the 3rd and 4th. Each sprint was completely dialed in and focused on acceleration and getting to top speed. Then, for the longer sprints, riding that speed out. The thing that always gets tired in these workouts are my hips. Not in an extreme way, but they can feel that I 'm pushing them to the limit by taking really long strides as I get going. I find that this is a great challenge to my body, and a great boon when I'm chasing down hucks and getting down on the pull. Getting the most distance out of each stride (after the acceleration period) really conserves my energy on a given run without sacrificing speed. This, obviously, makes it difficult to change directions which is why it is only useful in open-field situations.
The weather outside was beautiful (not frightful) today. A great shining example of a fall day. Chilly in the morning, warming through the day and about body temperature by evening. I love this time of year. I've been thinking about that a lot recently. I asked myself why I love this time of year and decided that would be a post before regionals.
I also discovered the *liter* can of Faxe Beer today. $2.99. For a liter of Beer. Not bad beer either. I also discovered that I love comically oversized cans of beer that make Fosters look like little bitchcans. As an aside, I hope that the english version of this site happens soon. I don't really know what's going on (I mean, aside from pictures of beer cans) but I cannot look away.
So... I'll do that fall-post later.
15 minute interval run
25 minute sprint workout
30 minute stretch
Wednesday, September 19
Today was light as well.
Just stretching, low amounts of pushups, pullups, squats and the like.
I've been working a lot on my mental preparation recently. I mean, visualization and that sort of stuff is regular part of preparation for me (I'd say 5-10 minutes every day) but the problem now is that I see ultimate in my sleep. I picture plays whenever I close my eyes. The danger is becoming worried or letting the weight of expectations and expected challenges weigh me down. But there's a trick to it.
The emotional connection I have to the outcomes for Pike 07 has to be embraced, not fretted over. The excitement I feel becomes second nature rather than something foreign. Each time the nervousness or butterflies or goosebumps come, I imagine the state that I want to be in and push myself in that direction. Calm and confident, but still energized by participating in something I enjoy. The work that I've put in over the year (most of it chronicled in this very blog) gives me something on which to base my confidence. I know that I've put in the work, and now the challenge is not a matter of Failure or Success, but a matter of self-revelation.
I have laid a challenge at my own feet. That is, all pressures foist upon me are my own. This allows me to change the way I view and accept or reject those pressures. In the wise words of Steely Dan, "It's your game the rules / Are your own win or lose." So, when that tightness or excitement wells up within me, instead of fearing it, I take it as a sign that I am just anticipating the challenges that lay ahead. That tightness is just energy getting ready to be unleashed. I take hold of that emotional response and own it. Drink it in. Enjoy it as a moment to be experienced as a part of life.
Just like that sinking feeling after a loss, tightness before/during a game is not something to be denied. You've got to reach in and feel that moment. Experience it deeply and fully for a time (I like 7 deep breaths, for some reason-- I think I may have read it somewhere) and then separate your experience of the moment from your judgment of the moment. They are not the same. The first is a part of life and you must accept it, the second is a second-level choice (whether currently conscious or unconscious) and you can alter that response.
I take those seven deep, slow breaths and experience the feeling fully. Let it wash over me. Then, step back and acknowledge my judgment of the experience. Center myself and proceed. The more I do this, the closer to second nature it becomes. The ability to move on after something painful is a key skill for being successful in both sports and life. It is becoming an automatic process that doesn't' fully require the space of seven breaths. Just as I work to become physically stronger and more skilled as a player, I work to sharpen my focus and remove all distractions so that I can play on instinct without hesitation.
At least that's the way it works for me.
10 minutes strength work
20 minutes stretching
Tuesday, September 18
Did a track-esque suicide workout tonight.
16 minute run over, stop and chat with Frantzen (NYU Violet Femme) and Zac (Femmes coach), and then get on the turf to sprint it out. Cleated up an all!
4 x 120 yard suicide w/ 1:15 rest
6 x 80 yard suicide w/ 1:00 rest
Focused on staying balanced without putting my hand on the ground and fighting through each turn by leading with my hands. This seems to get my weight out in front and over my toes a bit more effectively. Pushing my center of gravity forward seems to make my muscles respond better.
The rests were certainly adequate. Times for the first were ~20 seconds, time for the second were ~15 seconds. Not too bad. The cuts all felt good and the acceleration was there, which is what I've been banking on returning at about this time of the season. I followed this up with a 3 sets of 5 pullups/10 dips, and headed on down to visit the NYU practice.
Talked with Zac some more, got some throwing in and then left as the teams started going over things like "how to throw backhand" and "how to throw a forehand." I love coaching, but I hate teaching this kind of basic skill shit. Just a means to an end. And, I found that I was my own best teacher in terms of skills. Me coaching you probably won't solve your problem. Just go out and work on it. Actually, I take that back, buy The Inner Game of Tennis, read it, and then go work on your throwing skills.
15 minute interval run
15 minute track workout
10 min throwing
20 min stretching
One of the results of the focus and work I've put into this season is that I've become far more interested in health. Both my own and others. This (old) article from the Washington Post I was forwarded cast obesity in a somewhat different, if obvious, light. That is, it makes sense upon reading it, but I don't usually think in those terms.
One of my quibbles is the argument that women int he workforce is a detriment to our national health. That's just inaccurate. The issue is not that women are in the workforce, it is that a given household generally has 2 parents working instead of one. I'm neither strengthening or weakening the overarching argument, but rather that this burden should not be laid at the feet of women specifically.
Anyway, while this article seems to actually be in favor of the "fat economy," which I am not, he does shed some light on it that I may not have actually thought of on my own. This is because things like "economics" are still a black box to me. Especially in terms of how it affects things other than the directly observable effect on economies and markets.
Anyway, food for thought.
(Fucking puns always sneak up on me...)
Monday, September 17
So, those myriad aches and pains that you've got really starting to take their toll at this point in the season.
It feels like tournaments and practices and workouts have been going on for eternity. Personally, I don't often mind this feeling mentally, but my body does take a beating. Moreso now that I'm playing D than O, but not that significantly different.
While, as I mentioned before, massages are an important part of my preparation, I don't always have time to get one. Also, there are some things that, while they are temporarily calmed/relieved stick around or return without more focused work. Stretching is a vital component to this, but that alone will not work for everything. When a muscle, or a section of a muscle, is sufficiently tight or balled up or whatever you'd like to call it, stretching that section out may only serve to aggravate the injury.
That's where The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook comes in. I know it all sounds crazy (referred pain and all) but if you check it out honestly and with an open mind, (that is, expect it to work instead of expecting it not to work) you will find these tiny points in your muscles that, when dealt with, will alleviate seemingly unrelated symptoms and pains. I dealt with a significantly painful shoulder injury by massaging my neck. I managed to make my hand feel better by massaging my upper forearm. And so on. I recommend this very highly for repetitive stress-type injuries and also for traumatic event-type injuries.
Just another useful resource that helps me get through the grueling season of this ridiculous sport.
30 minutes stretching
10 minutes wobble board
Sunday, September 16
Day two started much earlier than Day 1.
Jamie his lady friend and I all left PA at about 6:30am. He assured me that this would be enough time to get to the fields and warm up at 8am. Didn't happen. We got therei at about 8:15. fortunately, no one else was warming up. We got our cleats on and got prepared for our first game against Roots of Rhythm.
Roots of Rhythm, 13-6?
I don't know the final score, but we started this game off with a hiccup rather than a bang. Our 2nd throw was a turnover (YAY O-Team!) about 15 yards out of the endzone. Roots converted to go up 1. We then scored on O and broke twice to go up 3-1. Never looked back. I got a half-D in one of these points and threw a goal or two. This game reminded me of how the biggest difference between levels of play is the quality of the mark. Bad marks mean bad defense. No matter the force or what you're trying to take away, if the marker is a non-factor, the team will fail. I don't remember much else, but this game was ours.
We watched the end of the other semi, in which Burgh lost to OLD SAG (whose name, One Last Ditch Shot at Glory, has really gone on too long. Great name, but "LAST?" They've been around for a bit too long for that modifier) on double game point. The last goal was scored as Tom Maroon went up to make a huge sky for the goal, tipped the disc, and then his brother, Billy, who had followed the play made the layout grab for a goal. Fantastic. Quite the, uh, stationary crap-simulating spike afterward as well.
We then had a bye. This meant that it was time to get breakfast because Jamie's timing for our drive in the morning was a bit off and we didn't get anything on the way. Dono and I got to a deli and ordered breakfast sandwiches. These were good and all, but the coup de grâce was as I got my coffee, I realized that I could get a Choco Taco for breakfast. You can't go wrong there-- Choco Taco plus coffee equals happiness.
As we returned to the fields, the conversation about bacon making everything better was rehashed. As it so happened, Dono didn't want his whole sandwich, which was a bacon egg and cheese. Jamie the vegetarian said he wanted it without the bacon. I leapt at the opportunity for bacon. I was then told that I could only have it if I ate it with the Choco Taco. I was sold in an instant. I opened the packaging and laid the bacon on the first bite. As I chowed down, I was sure to chew completely and take in the full flavor of this complex treat. Good texture variance. Good balance of salt plus sweet. Meaty aftertaste. In short, phenomenal. I would eat it again. right now.
vs Old Sag, 13-11
We broke early and got complacent. I hate playing masters teams. They throw all of their throws near-perfectly, which causes me to near-miss about 4 Ds in this one. What a waste of energy. One of their players was just as surprised as I was to find that the game was close as he said "Even in the first half when we were down by one, it felt like we were down by 4 or 5." I guess. It was a bit anti-climactic to win the Section playing poorly in the last game, but it still counts as a W, and was much better than some of Pike's previous foibles at sectionals, including a loss to Run in 2003 and a double-game point victory over Burgh last year. At some point in this game, I was guarding a dump, and shuffling my feet really well. As I went to plant and change direction, I realized that I was planting on thin air. Just afterward, my locked knee hit the ground. Why? Big fucking hole. I hate crappy fields. I took an injury as I felt the inside of my knee (top of the shin-bone and bottom of the thigh-bone) sort of bang together. As Raph said "Like jamming your finger, but with your knee." I was pretty sure I would be just fine, but I stayed off for a little bit and checked out the structural integrity. No problems, just sore. Got back in the game and felt fine. I bet it'll be sore tomorrow though. I hate the turf monster. But not as much as Wendell Davis.
Feeling good this weekend, if not entirely mentally there. Sectionals is tough mentally. Pulls were good, none OB. Most, if not all, were 5 yards in front of the endzone or deeper. Some were, frankly, beautiful. Some were a bit low. Some didn't go quite where I wanted them to, directionally, for the D we were running, but they were all acceptable. Throws were good, defense was, well, I got Ds, but they were easy. Offense was good, but I made one or two dumb errors because I just wanted the point to be over already. Ah well. Practice next weekend will be solid, which leaves just...
*two* weeks until I find out if my preparation and obsession pays of in 07. I'm really excited. It's gonna be a blast, and I know I'll be prepared like no other for the challenges ahead.
2 games of ultimate
Saturday, September 15
Just like every other Saturday playing ultimate in Jersey, today started off with a train ride.
But, since we won the schedule, my train didn't leave until 9:11. That's because our first game was at 12:45. Hooray? I'm not so sure. The late start always feels strange and I'm not nearly as excited to play at that time of the day. But I'm sure I'll manage.
The trip was uneventful.
Got to the fields early enough to lazily get ready and start taking in the environment. Loud cheers from teams celebrating goals, familiar faces and the feeling that the season has started in earnest. Teammates trickle in, largely on time or early. throwing, goofing off and then it is time to warm up. Get your jog on, get your dynamic warmups on, get your deep throws on, game time.
Oh, and then we found out that the D team would play the first half, the O team would play the second half and then we would reverse that for the next game (O then D). Each team would do sprints for however many points they gave up, and then the points allowed would be compared at the end of the day. The difference would indicate how many beers the losing team would have to buy the winning team at dinner.
D team immediately decided that we would not be giving any help from the sidelines when the O team was playing. In fact, we would be cheering for the other team. Beer is a powerful motivator.
vs Columbia HS, 13-3
Sure, they're in high school, but that doesn't mean they're bad. They're just, y'know, in high school. Uh, they gave us the disc and we scored. Zander got a goal for them going deep on us and something else silly happened. I think it was 7-2 or 7-3 at half. The O team then came in and (I think) held them scoreless in the next half. Much arguing was had about how it is easier to hold a team scoreless int he second half than the first. O team is up for now.
vs Jive Turkeys (Dickinson), 13-5
O team started this game and gave up 4? goals. D team came in in the second half. I don't really recall much from this,but not because I wasn't paying attention. Maybe the second point after half, I was covering a the dump in their endzone. I was playing pretty tight and I turned my head to get a quick view of the thrower. As I did that, the throw went up to my guy (who hadn't really cut at all) and he cut in the opposite direction of where I turned my head. The next thing I remember is that I'm laying on the ground, face-down and confused. My face hurts and I'm starting to feel a warm trickle toward my mouth. I'm a little disoriented and I hear Jamie asking me if I'm okay. Not knowing the answer to this question, I say nothing. I lay there for a while and do the mental check to make sure nothing other than my face hurts. Okay. Time to move a bit. Get up slowly and get to the sideline so that the game can go on. This proves to require more concentration than anticipated. Bleed on my nice new white jersey on the way. Sit down, take stock. Feel the nose, OUCH. Yup. The whole thing hurts. Still dizzy and a bit out of it, I try to get up and walk over to the team. Not the best decision as when I stand up I stumble a little bit. Embarrassingly. I don't think it was broken (Having broken the nose ~5 times already, I'm familiar with the feeling) but it sure hurts like fuck and when I try to think, it feels like I'm thinking through a thick soup. Like a bisque. Or chowdah. Not good times. I tell our D-team sub-master that I think I'll sit out the rest of the day. No need to push through this at sectionals.
vs PSU X, 13-1
I think PSU didn't really want to play at all at this point in the day. It was their 4th game and our 3rd. They had ~11 guys, maybe. We had well over 20. Not much else to say other than the O team gave up another point to increase the beer lead.
vs Messiah, 13-6
The D team started letting a massive beer lead slip through our fingers in this one. Catchable D's were instead tipped for goals. I'm pretty sure this was the game in which Jeff George was tackled twice by the turf monster in the same point while making open deep cuts and instead of catching a goal, was just laying helplessly on the ground. Terrible fields strike again.
Games over, 4-0. Time to get paid in beer. Sprints were run. Reservations at Chili's for 25 or so. As we arrive, there is some confusion as the reservations were made a couple of days ago and confirmed twice today, but apparently, instead of actually holding the reservation (search for the word "Reservation" on that page) they gave our table to some other random group of 30 people looking for immediate seating.
We instead go to a BYOB dinner, get a whole back room to ourselves, and the evening, believe it or not, was filled with talk about how various members of Pike proposed to their wives as well as advice on how to do so effectively as well as what not to do. Yup. Buncha guys sitting around talking about marriage. Perfectly normal...
.57 games of ultimate
Friday, September 14
Pike's at Sectionals this weekend.
As one teammate commented, "We won the schedule!" That is, we don't start until 12:45 on Saturday. Not sure if I like this so much, but I guess it gives me a chance to wake up at a reasonable pace instead of rushing around to get to the train and then get picked up. I suppose that's nice. If things go as they should, we'll be playing on Sunday at 9am and then at 1:45pm. That's not winning the schedule as much.
It should be a weekend about Pike instead of about anyone else. If we bring it, we can't be touched... Er, by that I mean... If we play our game... Damn... how do pro athletes do it and why? Why the hell shouldn't I be arrogant about my team's chances?
I know we're the best team in the tournament hands down. If we play like a team with passion, we will win going away and get home to watch football. If we play without passion, or at least professionalism, we'll lose and have a longer day which gets in the way of football-watching.
Low Level Strength
10 min wobble board
20 min stretching
Thursday, September 13
Distances ranged from 30-90 yards.
Mixed starts-- shuffling away, shuffling toward, backpedaling into, backpedaling away from. Did some other sorts of shuffling and direction changes, some harder than others. Some running form stuff including different skips and the like.
I had run a 15min variable (stoplight controlled, from 1-20 seconds of rest and 5-150 seconds of sprinting/running fast) interval run to the park and decided to walk back, as usual. I always enjoy the walk through the different neighborhoods on the way. These are all streets I walked on in college and wandered down drunk at some point. Fun to take in the memories...
I remember talking about Fight Club when it first came out with some guy named Tim who was an actor, hardly ever showed up, was really athletic and had some of the most ridiculous throws I've ever seen. By ridiculous, I don't mean good, I mean straight up silly. Yet he had no compunction about throwing them in games. The disc would go anywhere at any time in any ridiculous throw. He disappeared at some point.
The first time I walked to practice, thinking that I would be the only person who had ever played before (Once at CTY!) and finding out that I had a ton to learn. Like a forehand.
The skateboard (longboard style) rumbling down the street as Dan, the surfer guy, would cruise to and from practice. he had some crazy backhand hucks. By crazy, I mean really good. He couldn't do much else though. He disappeared.
The time that we walked back from our first practice with about 25 new players who all seemd really excited about playing. They ALWAYS disappeard.
Later on, the runs to practice from Coles were always fun. By fun, I mean not at all. On the other hand, running back from practices to go play 3-4 hours of basketball were always short.
Getting Indian food on 6th street was always a blast after a good practice. A full meal, plus a beer for 7 dollars or whatever when it was on special. Phenomenal.
Learning about Deltron 3030 from the irrepressible law students, Jim and Alex. In fact, I think I'll put that on right now.
To end it, it was a nice, leisurely walk back to work, then to pick up my work clothes and then take th PATH train home. The evening was beautiful, but not yet chilly. That means my favorite time was just around the corner. Mornings when the air is brisk, but not cold as the sun pierces down to give a hint of the coming warmth...
15 min interval run
30 minute sprint/agility/explosiveness workout
20 min stretching
Wednesday, September 12
Strength Exercises are toning down a bit, but not too much.
This was a good one to focus on explosion with ample recovery and minor general fatigue:
Bent Over Ankle Bounce (like the plyo version of a RDL), 20xeach leg
10 slow, full ROM pushups
Depth Jump, 24 inch box (aka my bed), 3x
On-box Jumps with variable 3-step lead-ins, 4x
10 clap pushups
1 min rest
1 set of Tabata burpees
Good, highly explosive leg work with a focus on *really* hitting my peak on each jump. Good slightly tiring upper body work in between each set. Solid whole-body finisher at the end.
After that, got in some focused visualization corrections after this past weekend's pulls. Feeling very good about that. Just picturing that perfect pull and dialing in is useful
Finally, got in about an hour of throwing in the lights in a parking lot in Jersey City. Seems appropriate somehow, considering the origins of this ridiculous sport. If you've never been to the birthplace of ultimate, stop by some time and throw. Just 'cause.
lower body explosive work
upper body general strength
20 min stretching
1 hr throwing
Tuesday, September 11
I was a senior at NYU, living at Water Street.
I woke up on a Tuesday much like this one (A little chillier, but a *beautiful* day) a little before 9am and rolled over to watch Sportscenter from bed, as was my wont in those days. There were a ton of sirens outside, but that was nothing unusual in NYC. I mean, sirens are about par for the course, really.
I don't recall who the anchor on SC was, but I recall being upset that they cut over to some news show. I started flipping through the ESPN channels to find sports news, but to no avail. I accepted that I should probably figure out what was going on and was shocked. So, of course, I went outside to see what was going on for myself. As you can see from the earlier link, I was about seven blocks from the World Trade Center, so all I had to do was walk to the corner and look down Fulton Street to see the towers.
There were so many people just staring into the sky, mouths open. Some were crying. Some were running toward the buildings. Some were running away. I stood there for a couple of minutes and took it in. I saw some things that I won't repeat here, but suffice to say that the images are seared into my mind. I thought to myself "That's crazy. I hope they get the fire out soon. I'm sure they will." I then went back inside and fulfilled my RA duties by going to see the Hall Manager and ask what I should do.
Went around knocking on doors of residents to make sure they were up and and aware of what was happening and then went to visit some friends on other floors in case they didn't know.
Then, a huge noise and a powerful rumbling/shaking rattled the building. I rushed to the TV to figure out what was happening a mere seven blocks away. Holy Shit!!!!!! A building collapsed? A building that big? That I had seen every day that I had been in New York for the past 3 years? No fucking way.
Yes, fucking way.
Time to evacuate the 32 floor dorm. 2000 residents. As an aside, during RA training, when we were going over fire safety and the like, we were told that the building was fireproof and as such we would never have to evacuate more than 3 floors. Never. I asked the annoying question of "Well, say that we DO need to evacuate the whole building. How would we do that?" The answer came back, with a laugh, "If we have to do that, there are bigger things to worry about." THIS, apparently, was the bigger thing. We had no plan. We were dispatched to 3 floors a piece (some people were already at class) and told to knock on all doors, shout, and do what a reasonable person would do to get students out. We were assured by the fire department that while we were in no immediate danger, soon enough no one would be allowed down here. As I stopped at my dorm, I packed up a bag of stuff because I didn't know how long I'd be gone:
Not too bad, considering it took me less than 5 minutes to packand I was terrified that the building would come down around me...
I then decided to trek to the Broome Street dorm to catch other frisbee players who lived in an big 'ole suite (8 people?). When I got there, there weren't any. They too had been evacuated. I had my cell phone for about a month at this point, and while I had managed to get through to my father (thank god!) right after the building came down, I was entirely unable to make any calls after then as the network was overloaded. So I just kept walking north.
I met people along the way and offered them beer. This was a good tactic as they understood that I was an okay guy and were a little more open with me. The conversations that day were surreal. I walked all the way up to Central Park that day. Why? I don't have a fucking clue. I just kept going. I remember stopping on the way in Washington Square Park to gaze south through the arch at the remaining tower. It was very obviously on fire. I discussed the possibility of classes resuming with a random NYU student and the odds of that building coming down. We decided it was impossible that the building would come down.
We were wrong. That was the last I ever saw of the largest buildings I've ever seen.
Eventually, I managed to get in touch with the NYU ultimate players. One of whom, Man-Fai Tam, was offering us a place to stay for the night. That was fantastic of him. We all huddled together with familiar faces and watched the news until we passed out. Glued to the screens, watching another building fall in NYC as the enormity of the plot unfolded before us. Wow. Just, wow.
I decided to get on a a bus the very next day and go home to see my family. A good choice.
More interestingly, Jamie and I had been planning to attend a Hat Tournament in New Jersey that weekend. This was my fourth year of ultimate (and his, I think) and I was coming off of a torn ACL. This seemed like a good place to get out and run early in the season. As you can see by the website (I love the permanence of the internet!) it was a associated with the wedding of Denise Ryan and Zach Bressler. I had never met them before, but I was overjoyed that they were running this tournament this weekend. Anything to get my mind off of September 11th...
We begged the tournament directors to let us play on the same team together, as we were brothers and all, and they let us. Not sure why exactly, but it was the first time we had ever actually played together outside of pickup at Lehigh 2 summers ago. The events of the weekend are murky, but I did meet eventual Pike teammate, Matt "Bones" Dufort and congratulated him on his college title with Carleton (which I had watched in person). The bride and groom also played in a wedding gown and a tux, respectively and were wildly entertaining. 3 or 4 years later, I met them as well, playing pickup in NJ.
All in all, there couldn't have been a better place to be that weekend. I was in cleats, clothes and everything else borrowed from Jamie, and I was still having a hard time shaking some of the thoughts I from the Tuesday before, but while I was playing, it was all gone. Nothing existed but the game itself. Teammates and opponents were nice and all (And it was fantastic to play with Jamie for the first time-- He made one of the craziest catches I have ever seen in our last game) but it was the game itself that took me away from it all. Remove all outside distractions and get lost in the game.
As ever, when things were going crazy in my life, I found sanity in competition. Sports, marching band, board games, card games, you name it. They are all something to take me away from reality, for better and for worse. This is still one of my individual favorite memories of ultimate. There are better tournaments, and there have been bigger games, but never has a specific weekend of ultimate meant more to me.
Full Dynamic Warmups
10 min wobble board
20 min stretching
Monday, September 10
Not much going on today.
Work is crazy right now. Updates become sporadic and delayed. Tougher to maintain the pace of posting as I actually have to do, y'know... work.
Ultimate-wise, all I did today was stretch out and catch up on sleep. Recovery is progressively more important as the season continues.
Did watch the ridiculous Raves/Bengals game on MNF. Ray Lewis broke himself on a huge tackle. Ed Reed is incredible, nearly knocking himself out on a massive hit and returning a punt for a TD after BJ Sams went out with an injury. Steve McNair is finding it difficult to play with a giant fork sticking out of his back. He's still better than Boller. Palmer looked okay. Chad Johnson is a ridiculous athlete, no matter his need for attention. Sloppy game, but endlessly entertaining until the end. Yup. "Endlessly... until the end."
35 minutes stretching
Sunday, September 9
Wait... Where the hell am I?
I seem to be in a bed. Not my own. Why is someone sleeping on the floor? Oh... must be ultimate. Hmmm.... I think it's Chicago. Yup. Time to shower and stretch. Rounded up the troops and ambled down to the van.
Got going a little bit later than Saturday, but still within the acceptable margin of error. That's what good planning is all about. Allowing yourself a solid margin of error. I had to try the Bacon Lover's Supreme sandwich at Dunkin Donuts because, well, I mean there's bacon, love and supreme. How could I go wrong? While not fantastic it scratch the bacon-itch. A theme of the weekend was trying to come up with some food-item which bacon does not improve. I couldn't come up with anything. Someone said "Ice Cream" as a suggestion which is just erroneous. I, for one, bet ice cream with bacon would be fantastic.
Anyway, we got the fields at ~7:50 and started warmups at 8. Nice jog, active stretching, drills, throwing and live play. It was pretty solid. This led us to play our first game:
vs Chuckwagon, 13-3
Focus in this game was the D-Team's early-game energy. Coming out of the gate firing on all cylinders and not letting the wagon think that they're in the game. It was a matter of getting that confidence on full display. That fighting, clawing feeling of "every pass must be challenged." As we rode out a 7-1 lead at half, we seemed to accomplish our goals. Coming out of half, we started on O, the O scored, and then the O team stayed on for D. Well, they didn't get one, so they had to stay on for another point. Clowns. That's a pretty poor 0% scoring rate on D points. I guess that's why they're the O-team...
vs SD United, 10-12
This was not my best game, by far. When playing defense, (Like against the last 4 teams) I was basically standing around watching someone else put it up deep. This time it was Kubiak. Yup, he's still good. On offense, I ripped some upwind hucks that I felt were pretty much perfect, but none of them connected. One came back on a foul call (on our receiver), one had confusion between receivers on my team, and another (actually, this was in the Chuck game) was to a cutter who I didn't realize was being covered by a defender about a foot taller than him. Whoops. I had one other TO in this game, which was on the goal line. I broke the mark around as we were being forced backhand, and it bounced off of my receiver's hands (although he had to make a bid to get to it because it was a bit low). Gotta balance the risk/reward over the course of the game. Shooter's gotta shoot and all, but we would have won this game if I didn't throw three turns. That sucked.
Overall, the 5-2 weekend was pretty bad, but there were encouraging signs. The O-Team was no longer hemorrhaging points. The D team looked very solid on D, but not as smooth on O. Personally, I played well overall, but my pulls sucked ass. I had ~10 OB pulls. That's completely unacceptable. It won't happen again because I won't let it. Pulling is a matter of focus and concentration on picturing the throw that you want before the pull and then emptying your mind of anything but that image just before you pull. At least, that's what happens when I'm pulling well. I match the real world to the image in my mind.
As a defender, there was only one guy that I had a hard time covering. It was some white-hatted handler on Frontline. That guy was given a lot of space by his team and always cut full-speed. I loved covering him because it was a challenge. There were some other guys that beat me on a cut or a throw or two, but he was hands-down the hardest to cover of my matchups. I got a couple of Ds over the weekend, which was fine as any Ds that you get while covering handlers are gravy for the D team.
My best play on the weekend was actually not a D! I was covering a Madcow handler in his endzone, and as he was cutting back, I knew the disc was not going to be led out as far as it needed to be. I bid for it and tried to catch it, but it hit me in the fingers and I couldn't wrap it up. Instead, I tipped it up, the guy caught it and threw a break. If only I could have grabbed it, CALLAHAN! If only I could have slapped it down, TO IN THE ENDZONE! Instead, they scored in 3 passes. Boo.
After the game ended, the van knew that we needed to get to a bar to watch football. I mean, with no games left to play, what am I doing at an ultimate tournament? Exactly. Nothing. Get thee to a bar! Buffalo Wild Wings it is. Apparently, this is a chain. I'd never seen it before and haven't since. In any case, my feelings on the place are summed up thusly, after I looked around the huge-screen filled establishment, "I'm so overwhelmed... I love it."
Eagles lost, Randy Moss outran a triple team and some other games happened too. I'm happy that football is back. I'm upset with the Eagles punt returners, but that'll pass. The problem is that they've given up their "one dumb loss" this year and can't afford another. Ah well.
The journey home was pretty bland for me, but Dan Yi had an exciting time of it. There was a ton of traffic on the way to O'Hare and he, sadly, missed his flight. My flight landed at 11:50 or something. Got on a NJTransit train, got on the PATH train and got home at ~1:45. Damn. Exhausted. Can't sleep... Ah well... so goes another weekend of ultimate...
2 games ultimate
Saturday, September 8
So there we were, point diff screwing us...
Or rather, there we were, being screwed by our own point diff, something which we had total control over and knew could hurt us. Ah well, now we get to play familiar foes, the Medicine Men:
v Med Men, 13-8
Man, these guys still just bomb the disc, don't they? It was pretty close in the first half as we still seemed surprised by their non-standard throws. One of the differences from the past times that we had played them was that they were way more organized on defense. This included some sort of 2-3-2 zone that seemed to just let the O walk it up the field. Something must have been amiss there. On their O points, it still took us a while to adjust to their aggressive play, even though we knew what they would do coming in and we had just played against Tussin who bombed it all day too. I say that Med Men are always dangerous, but the flipside of it is that they could also lose every game by 10. The looks they take are just unbelievable. If they connect on them, you might well lose to them. If they don't, well, see the comment about "the flipside."
It was near the end of this game that I started feeling pretty out of it. I think it was the combination of not having my trusty Ultima Replenisher (d'oh!) as well as eating a bit too much food to compensate. Add that to a poach bid I made on a disc that just passed over my outstretched fingers for a goal and landed a bit awkwardly and I just needed to ask out of the game for the finish.
vs Sir Duke, 13-9
I sat out the first 3-4 D points in this one as I recovered a bit. It always amazes me how much better I can feel after just a slightly longer break than usual. most of the time this just means a point or two here or there, but in a 5-game day, an extended break is a huge help. Though the points would suggest otherwise, I think Med Men are a better team than the new Sir Duke (Though with the love I've got for Stevie Wonder, I might have to be a bigger fan of Duke). This team is similar in that they (Banyas in particular) launch the disc to the endzone over and over again. Again, as a handler defender, this is completely frustrating. I don't really get to do much of anything. As we adjusted to their particular style of "huck first ask questions later," we pulled away to end the day at 4-1.
One loss by one point and the best we can do is ninth? I'm guessing this is karmic retribution for Sockeye in 04's pool play. Fair enough. Now, can we never do this again?
As we gathered our stuff, we had a team vote about getting food first or showering first, and food won. I like food. Then again, I like showering, so whatever. We ended up at a Carraba's in the area, largely because the team has an inexplicable soft-spot for this chain. I don't really get it. The food ain't bad, but it's not really anything to write home about either.
Eventually, we were seated and it came time to make a critical decision. how many of us are having "Italian Sangria?" The answer was "Enough for three pitchers at my end of the table, the rest of you be damned." This, of course, made the dinner far more fun. Why we didn't stay for the FREE beer at the fields is beyond me, but as Pike goes, so goes I.
After getting lost on the way home due to an ill-attuned driver (not me, I was drinking!) and a hapless Navigator, we managed to get home in time to get about 8 hours of sleep before we had to get up at the same time as Saturday because we hadn't earned a first round bye. Fucking A.
There was Blokus to be had, but I never made it there. I showered and laid down on the bed only to be disturbed a number of times over the even due to a certain Dan's unbelievably Hall of Fame-worthy snoring performance. He got hit with a launched shirt at least a handful of times. I'll give the guy this, he's a creative snorer-- each snore is something new!
5 fucking games of ultimate
As usual, my flight to O'Hare was delayed.
I'm used to it at this point. The van was chock full once everyone arrived-- Me, Jamie, Dan Yi, Heckman, Art, Ben and Pribicko. We saw Eagles fans coming in and rumor has it that they were rather drunk on the flight. And then they'd have to find a way up to Green Bay for the game. Of course, they rented a van and put pink Eagles flags on the top. Of course.
Managed to get to the hotel and get to sleep quickly, but that still left us with about 4 or 5 hours for sleep...
Got up at 6am for out 6:37 departure for our 9am game. Shower, stretch, get on the road. Surprisingly, we only left 8 minutes late. That we pretty sweet. Hit up the classic Dunkin Donuts and grocery store breakfast. Coffee, sausage egg n cheese, golden kiwis (perfectly in-season and ripe!), blackberries, peaches and trail mix.
Arrived nice and early to warmup before the warmup. One of my favorite things to do, that is. Felt good and got ready for Game One...
vs Frontline, 12-13
There was a total of one break in this game, and it came on double game point. We received, turned the disc over (I don't recall how) and then Dono got a sick catchblock on the dump, jumped up, completed a pass, and then we turned it right back over. They then completed a stall 9, 40 yard straight up the line deep shot to a guy covered by one of our O-team handlers. Game, set, match, Frontline. We had our opportunities on D early and didn't take advantage. I'm pretty sure we got turns on the first two points and didn't convert. That's terrible. Especially in a game to 13. Especially against a team you've never played before. Especially against a younger team. We dug our own grave in this game and Frontline put us to rest. For a young team, they did a great job of taking care of the disc.
vs Madcow, 13-12
After an hour or so bye, we got the rematch against Madcow. Pallaver and the Meyers brothers, present and accounted for. If I remember correctly, we started this game off with a break to take the early lead. The game then continued in a back and forth fashion until we were receiving, again, on double game point. We turned the disc over and Madcow started marching it up the field. Eventually, about 20 yards from the endzone, they force up a OI flick hospital pass. As the crowd of hopeful defenders and recievers inevitably congeals where they think the floating disc is coming down, Trey comes flying in at 123rd gear from the spot at which he started (somewhere from the opposite side of the field). The crowd starts to jump for the disc, but it's too late. Trey's arm has alreays extended waaay above the crowd and he's got the disc in his hand before anyone on the sideline imagined it was possible. Incredible catch from an All-American deep cutter.
Arguments presented: He made contact with me before I could jump to get the disc. He jumped into a group of people. I was backing up as he landed on me.
Counterarguments presented: I caught the disc before anyone else had a chance. You moved into an unoccupied space that I was planning on landing in. That was a hospital pass and I caught it without any significant contact. The fact that you were backing up meant that you had no chance at the disc anyway.
Sideline arguments presented: "That's the worst call I've ever seen in my life." "The rules shouldn't reward terrible throws." "He was 4 feet over you, stop cheating." "This determines who enters the next round-robin." (Sideline arguments presented by players from Pike, Machine and Tussin)
Sideline counterarguments presented: "Just send it back, Trey. It's a foul contest." (From Madcow)
This argument ensued for nearly 10 minutes as Trey stalked around with the disc in his hand, yelling at the player who called the foul and refusing to send the disc back. The aforementioned player would not give any ground, and to everyone's surprise on Pike, was yelling just as loudly and aggressively as Trey. Most players on the sideline from Madcow, Pike Machine and Tussin (as well as others who wandered over later) had yelled themselves out and were now seated along the sidelines.
Then, Trey tossed the disc into the air and walked away. Much sideline confusion as a Pike player picked the disc up and the game resumed. Apparently, the resolution was to flip a disc. We scored. No one on the sideline responded to the flipped disc because a) We didn't have a clue what was going on b) we didn't hear anyone call up or down c) We were all sitting down waiting for a resolution we thought would never come.
As I was discussing with my teammates before this game, I hate ultimate. Bogus travel calls, rampant uncalled traveling, pervasive cheating, no care for the rules or the way in which they are laid out. Ultimate, yet again, seems to be stuck in a place where there are different acceptable levels of contact and the like depending on which teams you play. When it comes down to it, many teams/players (this is NOT directed at Madcow or anyone in particular) use the rules to gain advantages they would otherwise not have. Other times we make terrible calls out of ignorance of the rules or even the unknowability of a particular event. I'm just tired of it.
Anyway, on to game 3 vs Tussin, 12-9
Well... they're a college(+?) team and they like to put it up. They did. Early and often. They came down with their fair share and challenged us for most of the first half. In the second half, our D team stepped up and went on a 4 or 5-1 run to close it out. We need to get those runs early before we NEED them. This would start a string of 3 games in which playing defense on a handler amounted to "Run down. Stand. Watch them huck it. Either A) play offense or B) walk off the field." Very frustrating.
3-way tie for first? Fuck. We're losing this one. Madcow beat frontline by one, we beat madcow by one, frontline beat us by one. Madcow beat Tussin by 6, Frontline beat Tussin by 7, we beat Tussin by 3. We're out and on our way down to the 9th-place bracket or something. Boo.
3 games to 13.
Friday, September 7
I'll be listening to that upon touchdown this evening.
Probably both the ZZ Top version and a Phish cover. The easy choice is from Slip, Stitch and Pass, but I think I'll root through the archives and find something from a show I actually attended. We shall see.
This weekend we'll be in a pool with Frontline (Madison), Madcow (Columbus) and Tussin (?). I don't know the first or third team at all. We've got a loss to avenge to Madcow from Chesapeake. Definitely looking forward to that game.
Chicago is always a painful stop on the tournament circuit. Too many games to 13 on hard hard ground. Not sure that Pike as a whole or I personally have ever had a good experience there. Time to change that, I suppose...
20 min stretching
Thursday, September 6
Enjoyed the track today.
Well, as much as one can enjoy the track, at least.
Walk slowly back to the start for rest (usually 1 minute or so). For each, work on getting up to full speed as quickly as possibly and then riding out the acceleration. For the 40s, I did the first 4 with a standard standing start. For the last 6, I started 2 each with a 2 yard sideshuffle to my left, a 2 yard sideshuffle to my right, a 2 yard backpedal turning left, and a 2 yard backpedal turning right. In each of those, focusing on getting the mechanics of turning and accelerating down. That is, take as few steps as possible to turn and get cover ground while turning.
After that, it was time for some football. Drew Brees may have single-handedly killed my team this week. It doesn't help that I'm playing against Josh, who has Manning.
Julie and I also played spades, Manhattan-rules, against two self-proclaimed experts. What are Manhattan rules? Well, I don't really know, but it felt like they were making up rules whenever they wanted or at best not telling me what the rules were until I missed an opportunity to take advantage of them. Regardless, Jules and I triumphed with much shit-talking. Spades is a Jawing kinda game. If you don't think it is, you're not actually playing spades, you're palying something else.
40 min Track
20 min Stretching
Wednesday, September 5
When I covered my favorite stuff for ultimate, I was remiss in not mentioning Melatonin.
I would go into detail about why it it so awesome, but Mark's Daily Apple (A Pretty Phenomenal Health Blog, if you ask me) just had a post that covered it in more depth than I could possibly manage on my own. Essentially, if you're traveling through time zones for ultimate (or work-- JP, I'm look at you) this will help keep you somewhat attuned to the world around you and help avoid the jet-lag nightmare.
It ain't perfect, and like anything, you don't want to become dependent, but it does work. The only downside I've had is that sometimes I sleep waaay too well. Like a log. And then I'm groggy for an hour or so after I wake. The regular sleep pattern is definitely worth a little grogginess, for me.
For a workout today, I did a three-parter. The first was a little circuit of pain including some plyos and general strength work:
10 ankle hops
20 sec rest
20 sec rest
5 4-star jumps (each leg)
15 sec rest
15 sec rest
30 yard *backwards* slalom jump
10 sec rest
5 frog jumps
5 clap pushups (try clapping behind your back if this is too easy)
10 seconds rest
Repeat 3 times
The second was simulating Field-Like Cutting (aka, me on the parking lot behind my apartment):
Set up 3 cones in an equilateral triangle, about 8-10 yards per side. Assign the cones names like this:
Get your stopwatch set to everyone's favorite interval: 20 seconds on, 10 seconds off.
Start at cone A. Backpedal to cone B, Sprint to cone C, backpedal to cone B, Sprint to cone A. Do 8 reps of 20 seconds on 10 seconds off. Dial in on your balance. Keep your weight low and over your toes. Focus on your footwork. Are you taking more steps than necessary to stop? Are you balanced to go in the other direction as soon as you hit the cone? Can you accelerate faster?
Take a 3min break to throw (in my case against a fence with a bunch of discs) and then repeat the exercise, but sideshuffle facing the inside of the triangle instead of backpedaling. Take a 2min throwing break and repeat with sideshuffles while facing outside of the triangle.
The third was an absolutely *killer* set of general-strength Tabata intervals. (Can you tell I love this protocol?):
8x20sec on/10sec off: Burpees
8x20sec on/10sec off: Bodyweight Squats
8x20sec on/10sec off: Pushups
12 minutes, no rest. When you finish this, you know you've done something. In fact, the pushups almost made it impossible for me to take a shower afterwards because I couldn't lift my arms. I started off with 24 pushups, then 22, then 12, 10, 10, 8, 5, 5. After I could no longer do regular pushups in the 12-5 range, I swallowed my pride and did pushups on my knees instead of my toes. These were what did me in, I'm sure of it.
Off to the track tomorrow before the NFL Kickoff!
15 min circuit
20 min agility/throwing
12 min interval
20 min stretching
Tuesday, September 4
Dropped by pickup today in Prospect Park.
I only got 2 games to 3 in as the sun was dropping, but I played aggressively and got a D or two. Almost got up to full speed on a couple of cuts. Got some throwing in before I could get on the field as well.
Good to see some of the "local" players as well. I say local mostly because there isn't any pickup in Jersey City at all, or, for that matter, in Jersey at all that I can get to without traveling much further. And with a car. Which I don't have.
20 min pickup
10 min throwing
20 min stretching
Sunday, September 2
Roof BBQ in Harlem today.
Food was excellent (Jeff Ho's meals are not to be missed!) as was the company. Eventually made our way to the Beer Garden in Astoria. Conclusion: Overrated. Almost wildly so.
Also, Happy Birthdays to Dono (30), Spanish (21!) and Julie (Somewhere south of 30)!!
Workout Total (All done in the morning):
20 minute agility workout
10 minutes wobble board workout
20 minutes stretching
Saturday, September 1
D-Team rocked at practice today.
The day started as every other practice day does, with me rising at ~6 or 6:30 to eat and then get on the train at 7:11 to get to Edison at 8:04 to get picked up and driven to practice by Dono. Except that this time when I got to the car, it was completely packed with Dono, Mellen, Dono’s brother and a bunch of luggage. We had to fit both Mio and myself in there, plus all of my crap. And by crap, I mean beer. Specifically some PBR (which I purchased at Whole Foods, of all places, at a $6 per 12-pack rate) for the team after practice and some Old Speckled Hen for Dono’s birthday.
D-Team’s focus at practice was to play as aggressively and with as much hunger against our own O-Team as we do against other teams. Hammering home the mental identity of being a team that fights for everything and never gives up is a key component at this time of year as well. It’s all about “Dog,” dog.
We worked on a couple different zone/man variants paired with small-score scrimmages (to 3 and 5 points) to dial in the specifics of playing the defenses as well as playing against them. The D-Team beat the O-Team down in each scrimmage—and we were sure to tell them all about it. We made some errors, but they were errors of aggression rather than passivity. That is exactly what the D-Team needs to be. We had 8 guys, one of whom is an O-Player who was heard to comment “It’s just so much fun playing with the D-Team…”
Also of note, I vomited at practice today. This is the first-ever workout/practice/whatever related vomiting of my life. I’m sure it had to do with Ben’s inability to count to 45 at 1-second intervals (his 45 seconds is far closer to 2 minutes), but more than that, I killed myself at practice today. I did everything I could to demolish the other team, just like I do in games. It’s time to make that level of intensity the norm now that summer league and fun tournaments are done until after Pike finishes up. Making sure I switch that on every single time I step onto the field is a priority right now. I mean, I find it so easy to do that during Pike’s games, but practices have always been different for me. I put in the effort, but what I call the “life-or-death” switch has not been, uh, switched. That’s the one that makes me take that bid on rock-hard fields. That’s the one that makes me fight through contact instead of avoiding it. That’s the one that removes The Fear. I can’t play like that all season at practice—I’ll end up injured (sure I’m sturdy, but not *that* sturdy). But from late August on, I can’t accept less.
It is an interesting mental gymnastic event, to convince yourself that something as silly as ultimate is a matter of utmost importance, but in the end, so long as you don’t let that obsession spill over into the rest of your life, I feel like it may be good for me in some sense. That extreme stress of being in that flight-or-fight mode seems to contrast the day-to-day low-level stress of modern life rather well. It puts things in perspective, actually. When I really manage to amp myself up like that, I realize how stressful all of that other irritating shit isn’t. It’s just life, that’s all.
After practice, Mio and I got shitfaced on Margaritas and PBRs on South Street in Philly while Jamie cleaned out his apartment so that he could drive to New York to move to Baltimore. Yeah, I know it doesn’t make any sense, but that’s what he said he was doing. We played it smart and went to get food. I think he had to see about a girl—at least that part of his day made sense. The ride back consisted of a ton of irritating chatter on my part, as well as Mio’s, but at least Jamie had some noise to keep him alert.
4? Hours of practice