Practice, not so bad


I wasn't sure I was going to go to practice today. I was worrying about my knees from yesterday, as they were both hurting so badly in the last round that I could barely walk on the field. I wasn't sure if less than 24 hours would be enough for them to recover, or if practice would make them worse.

I went, though I showed up a ittle late (boo).

The first part of practice was very rough for me. I felt I was always a half step behind my woman on defense, and clueless on where to go on offense. I know that I haven't really played seriously for a long time, and that all of the training at velocity sports is supposed to help me, but my mental game is shot, and I wasn't having any fun.

About an hour into practice, after a particularly frustrating point, I walked to the sideline, allowing another player to sub in on my team. As I walked off, Doyle commented, "That was good defense on Steffi over there." I was surprised, as I was thinking I had done nothing but completely screw-up. His words were just enough to check my downward spiral.

The next set of drills concentrated on the horizontal stack. I lined up against a teammate who would be playing pretty much the same position as I do, so that I could listen to how the offense moves. The first time the ho-stack was run, I was a half step behind my player and she scored easily. Just after she scored, she called out, "Wow, I love ultimate!" She commented to her teammates about how easy the ho-stack was, which annoyed me.

Never one to miss a chance to learn, I adjust my defense and, on the next run, the offense attempted the same play. I stopped my opponent's out cut, forcing her back under to the disc, and marked very hard. She was unable to throw downfield, and eventually turned the disc over on a dump pass. Her teammates started talking to her about how she had to make that throw, she had to throw downfield in this offense.

No comment was made on how perhaps, just perhaps, my defense had been strong enough to stop that throw.

So, offense starts up again. I shut down her downfield cut. She received the disc back under and tried to throw downfield again. Once again, I marked hard, moving back and forth to prevent her throwing, trying to stay lightly on my toes. Her throw is downfield, but short and out of bounds.

Once again, her teammates (my teammates, too, but not at this practice) again start telling her what she needs to do. Once again, no comment is made about my defense.

Just as I thought it was going unnoticed, however, Paul walked by with a huge grin on his face and a little fist pumping. Okay, someone had noticed.

The next point, the woman I'm defending (same player) runs to the endzone. As the huck goes up, I key in on it, successfully position myself well, and knocked it away.

On the next point, the same flow happens, and the disc goes up long for my opponent. I run just as hard to that disc as I had previously, and successfully defended the next huck, receiving a clobber on my right arm which bruised spectacularly later.

At this point, practice doesn't seem so bad. Sure, I'm tired and sore, but I can still play this game. I need to work harder than some people, but, hey, that's the fun part.

I wonder if I can get Doyle to join Kris as the small voice in my head.

Today's track workout


Stupid girlie tears.

At today's track workout, I ran pretty much by myself. The warmups and the plyometrics were in a group, but the rest of the workout was "at your own pace." On our way to the workout, Kris warned me again, "don't overdo it." Although this is really good advice in general, it essentially gave me permission not to finish the workout, and giving me permission to slack is never a good thing.

The full workout was supposed to be:

For those not at homestead, here's the track workout:

Warm up 800m

Form running/dynamic stretching

squats (x30, x25, x20)
lunges (x15, x15, x10)
ankle hops (x25, x25)
squat jumps (x10, x10)

4 lap fartlek (sprint first 50m of straights, jog rest)

2x400m (90s rest between)

4x200m (60s rest between)

... but the rest between sets was actually much shorter for the 200s and longer (to 120s) for the 400s. I ran the first 400 in 96s, beating my goal by 4s. The first 200 of that 400 I ran in 46 seconds, much to my pleasure when I realized how consistent I was in that 400.

After the first two 200s, I was thinking UGH, my legs are beat. I considered just being done with the workout. Then I thought about two weeks ago at the Stanford workout, and how I hated not finishing the workout. I then realized my legs were tired, but it was the achy sort of tired that I really like.

Suddenly, not finishing was no longer an option. Stupid of me to think it was ever a possibility.

When I crossed the finish line after my final 200, I looked down at my watch. Before running the 400s, Doyle told all of us to pace ourselves: we wanted to be running the 200s as fast as the 400s, and not jogging them.

Well, sure, 46s is a crappy 200 time (a VERY crappy 200m time, in fact), but it was certainly quite consistent.

I even cried with joy when I realized I managed to finish my first Mischief workout this season. Only took me long enough.



Last night, we had another Mischief track workout at the Stanford Dish. Instead of running the Dish loop, however, we ran up one particular hill.

Up. And up. And up. And up. And up. And up.

The workout was three sets of six sprints up the hill. The hill wasn't particularly short, nor was it unnecessarily long. But it was hard. After the first set, my legs were moosh. After the second set, I wanted to puke. Apparently, I'm not the only one who wanted to puke: several others admitted to the desire, though no one actually vomitted.

Kris commented to me, "Don't overdo it. You get injured when you overdo it." My response was something like, "I need to overdo it, I have a roster spot to hold onto!" Unfortunately, the thought of stopping was appealing, and I stopped.

After about 10 minutes, my heartrate had dropped to normal, I had rested, walked around, and relaxed, and was completely regretting my decision to stop.

This morning, as I was half asleep, but rolling out of bed anyway for our morning workout at VS, Kris commented to me, "Consistency. As long as you're working out hard each day, you'll improve."

So, that's my new motivational word for the next few months. Consistency on my way back from injury.

Ego limits


At dinner last night, Kris, Brynne, Beth and I talked about various Mischief recruits. There are a couple women recruits who would fit really well on the team, both in terms of skill sets, as well as personality, the latter being one of the big traits for the team: haters need not apply.

One woman in particular had come out to a practice a month or so ago, but hadn't come back. The captains, and by captains, I mean Shirley, had contacted her via email several times, asking what's up, what's her schedule, what is she thinking, was she still looking for a team to play with? The recruit was remarkably poor at communicating back, so Brynne decided to take matters into her own hand and go to dinner with the recruit, ask her face to face what was up.

Turns out, this particular recruit wasn't interested in playing with Mischief because she 1. felt if she joined, she'd be the top women player on the team, 2. thought the team was full of egos and 3. didn't think we throw to our women. That water I was trying to drink? Yeah, I nearly choked on it when I heard this.

That the team doesn't throw to the women players is clear bunk, just watch the various Nationals videos. This is a myth that's perpetuated as near as I can tell by the other local elite Mixed team in their recruiting attempts. I find it hard to believe when we play four women in the semis at Nationals that the women wouldn't receive the disc. That, and as the person who recorded every single pass at every game at Nationals, I can say with confidence that our women not only received the disc, they also threw the disc and had their own share of turnovers.

Personally, I don't know how good the recruit is, but to say she'd be our top woman player without having actually played more than a practice with us sort fulfills the second part of her concerns: she'd definitely bring an ego onto the team if she joined.

Most of these thoughts were reactionary. Recognizing them as such, I tried to see the team from an outsider's perspective. If I didn't know the group of players, these people with whom I've shared a large portion of my daily life for the last four years, would I think of them as full of egos? Would I consider them unfair in their sharing of playing time? Would I really think our woman suck so bad that a random woman could come in and dominate?

Clearly not on the last one. It's hard to win Nationals playing just over half our players, and if they sucked that would happen. The level of play at Nationals is high enough that everyone on the field has to carry his own weight. There were a couple teams who played their men nearly exclusively, who didn't have strong women. They did poorly at Nationals. Their playing style was called out, a men's team with token women. I'm confident that the top half of our women's roster would play just fine against most of the women's teams at Nationals. But, perhaps that's just ego.

Thinking about the egos further, however, I had to wonder how accurate this stranger's opinion was. I thought about Donner Party and tried to make the comparison of Mischief to them. I hated playing against Donner. I thought they were unfriendly, unspirited, aggrogant players. Any call that went for them on the field was "Good call! Good spirit! Good spirit!" Any call that went against them was "What?!? That's wrong! That's bad spirit!" They muttered under their breath on the sideline about how the other team wasn't playing fair. They didn't interact as players with any other team, they stayed with their clique. They were poor ambassadors for the sport of ultimate, which is unfortunate as they represented ultimate at Worlds.

Now, this is my perspective as an outsider, as an opponent. In ultimate, a call is a call. It's a statement of fact of the play, of a potential violation of the rules. If a player breaks a rule, calling him on it doesn't make the opponent unspirited. Spirit has nothing to do with making the call. One could, though I never do, argue that not making the call allows the opponent to continue to break the rules, thereby violating the spirit of the game. Making the call is therefore the spirited action, done to preserve the quality of the sport.

As a result of my dislike of Donner, I try very hard not to be the horrible player on the sideline who mutters, who views the other team as the enemy, and not just as an opponent. I recognize the other team loves this sport just as much as I do, and that, contrary to my gut reaction, they are not deliberately cheating. I try to keep my mouth shut, my perspective may not be the best one, and my opinion doesn't count for anything when I'm on the sideline.

I fail sometimes. The heat of the moment, I'll call out what I saw on the field. I manage to get into arguments on the field, still. If I'm not a player, I'll remind myself to shut up. I'll bring out the rulebook and offer it if requested, but I try very, very hard to both keep the discussion on the field, as well as between the players directly involved.

It's the rulebook I think that bothers some people. Our team knows the rules. We know where to find the rules in the rulebook. We will use the rules to our advantage, just as we expect our opponent to use the rules to their advantage, never breaking them, but always knowing them. I think this also intimidates other teams. Some action may not seem "fair," but it's well within the bounds of the rules, often both the letter and spirit. Speaking of fair, the 11th edition pick rule is the most retarded rule change ever. My tournaments will be 11th edition rules with the 10th edition pick rules until it changes back to something reasonable where reasonable is defined as play goes back to when the pick happened, not when the thrower acknowledges the pick.

So, perhaps the recruit's opinion isn't really that dissimilar to what mine was for Donner Party.

Though, if she's really good enough to be the top woman on our team, she'd recognize that she's just bitter her team never won it all.

The Dish's City view


Tonight we ran the Stanford Dish Loop for training. I've walked this loop a few times, but run it only once, last season also for training. Last year, I was told we were running counter-clockwise around the loop, so I promptly ran clockwise. I have no idea how I mixed those two directions, but apparently I went the easier way: counter-clockwise starts with one ginormous hill that basically thrashes your legs, making the rest of the run more of a mental workout than a physical one.

I struggled with the middle third of the run, having severe cramps on the backside hill, and having to walk up most of it. The backside of the run, however, once I reached the top, was smooth sailing at a nice, fast, comfortable pace.

The nicest part of the run was when Brynne told me to look up, hey, you can see the City from here. It was faint, but visible. I'd never seen San Francisco from Palo Alto before. It was quite lovely. I wish I had had my camera.

I blame Andy


Today at practice I worked on my low release backhand throws: I'm determined to make that throw on Beth well before the end of the season. Tyler also worked with me on catching before practice. He doesn't like the claw catch, but it works for me, so I won't be changing that one any time soon. He did, however, recommend than I attack the disc on any catch, pull it closer to me on impact, always have my hands moving aggressively towards the disc. Lessons to practice.

After practice, it was clear Andy wasn't doing much to minimize his disc charm. After most everyone had packed up and headed off, Kris, Andy and I wandered to the cars. Instead of just heading straight over, each step was practically a moment in a playful game of "What can I do with this disc now?"

As we approached the batting cage, I asked Andy if Kris had told him about his 30th birthday party, where we recorded various disc throwing speeds. Andy said yes, and, after sliding under the netting into the cage, threw a disc fairly hard at the far end of the cage.

The netting, of course, caught the disc, and gently dropped it to the ground. Andy went, picked it up, and threw it straight at us. I flinched. Kris laughed, and tried to catch it. And tried, and tried again. The net kept deflecting the discs Andy threw. After about ten tries, Kris finally caught one and Andy crawled back out of the cage.

We made it all of maybe 10 yards closer to the cars when Andy threw his disc into the open shelf of a file cabinet on the side of the shot put field. He missed, but Kris immediately followed by trying to throw his disc onto the shelf. A few seconds later, another disc came flying in from Tyler, as he tried his hand. The three of them spent a few minutes playing with discs and the file cabinet, seeing who could both hit the target opening and have his disc stay put.

Normally, the walk from the fields to the cars is uneventful. Today, it was entertaining and fun.

I blame Andy.

Clearly twice as sexy


Roshan heard that babies are chick magnets. In an attempt to realize this potential, he walks around with Danger and Mirabelle every chance he gets.

My only suggestion would be to ask non-married women to enhance his chick-magnet technique.

First practice of the season


Today was the first practice of the season. We played at Baylands, where it was unbelievably windy. Not quite hurricane winds, but fairly crappy conditions none-the-less.

Unsurprisingly, my entire focus was on my hamstring. I warmed it up well, but it was still uncomfortable. I played fairly well in the drills, but didn't touch the disc once in scrimmage. Part of me was okay with that, but part of me was completely frustrated, as expected. Unfortunately, I played not to play as well as I could, but rather played not to look bad, not to make a fool of mtself. In other words, I played badly.

I talked to Tyler about it briefly near the end of practice. We were both working on the barbecue pit, his not playing because of a bronchial infection, my not playing because of hamstring exhaustion. I mentioned to Tyler my goal was to actually play at Nationals.

Tyler responded, "Kitt, start with playing at Sectionals."

He has a point.

Totally crushing on Andy


We won DUI today. I didn't play very much, opting to watch instead of fighting for line space with nine other women. I'm frustrated that I was one of five players to play with Mischief the whole weekend, while the women who went to tryout with a women's team show up for the semis and finals after they were knocked out of the women's tournament, and expect full playing time with Mischief. They didn't ask if we needed women, they just assumed they could play. I'm frustrated, because I had psyched myself up to play, I had mentally prepared to play well, and then felt beat down when they showed up and rushed the lines.

On the other hand, I'm totally crushing on Andy.

Now, this would normally be a problem, but for two reasons: 1. Kris knows about it, and 2. the entire team has a crush on him, too. The women are all swooning and the men, well, the men all have man crushes on Andy.

I'm clearly one of two dozen people in this crush.

It's one thing to know of someone, to watch a video of someone playing, to see the highlight reels of some spectacular plays. It's another thing to see him in person, talk with him on the sidelines, realize that, even if for only this tournament, this legend is on my team, playing on the same line as I am, calling out to me from the sidelines, encouraging me. I played few enough points that I remember most of them, which is probably bad, but I lost count of the number of spectacular plays he had.

During the weekend, as during most ultimate weekends, each of us told stories about various highlight moments of our careers. The stories from Kris and me weren't older than about five years, which is about when we started playing for higher level teams, with our eyes looking at playing at Nationals. Andy's stories all started over ten years ago, and nearly always ended in victory. He's used to being on top, having been part of the King of the Mountain for a while, but also knows the effort involved to be there. Kris and I just arrived, and we will have very little time there. We learned only recently the effort involved in being there, and the sacrifices and commitment that comes with that effort. A very different perspective.

Admittedly, I googled for more info on Andy after I found a wireless connection. Well, I googled for information on his ultimate career, figuring the number of different Andys in google would make any non-ultimate information both difficult to find and suspect at the same time. I'm not crushing that much. It's his ultimate prowess I find so compelling.

I am, however, sorta torn. Andy has known of me longer than any of my ultimate friends, has known of me since college. I can't say I'm particularly proud of those years. I often wonder what he thinks of me, how much of that past affects his current opinion. I'm not that person, but it's often hard to know how much someone has changed when you've seen them only really twice in the intervening decade.

Ultimately (heh), I do hope he decides to play with us, in some capacity. I know he's worried about some things, but it's always exciting to see an accomplished athlete perform. And if it's with my team, even better.

Especially if I'm crushing on him.

You know, I'm really glad Kris can laugh at me about this, because it is funny.

As funny as his man crush.

Apparently, Mischief sucks


During our third game, as a long point had the disc moving back and forth down the field, turnover following turnover, I sat on the away sideline, next to the Brass Boar, ne Brass Monkey, sideline. Clearly the players didn't recognize me, as they were talking quite freely, as if no Mischief players where nearby.

One player watched the game briefly, then turned to his teammate and declared, "Mischief sucks."

Now, as an up-peninsula rival, an exclamation of the opponent sucking isn't really that unreasonable. Kris in a drunken fit declared "Brass Monkey sucks!" last year at Nationals, when they failed to win their semi-finals. They thwarted us in our chance to prove that yes, we are the best Mixed team in the country. Oh, wait, we did that anyway.

Today, however, the declaration from the Monkey wasn't one of general frustration with our team, as perhaps one might think. As I sat and listened to his talking, I realized that, no, he was saying that Mischief is actually not a good team. He continued, "They have four male players that can play. When they're not on the field, the team just sucks. They can't play."

I sat there quite still, and thought about his assessment. The four men of the Mischief Apocalypse? Tyler, Mark, Kevin are clearly three of them. Who is the fourth? Kyle? Wade? Pickett?

Of course, if his assessment was true, then I'm not quite sure how Lori managed to score one third of our goals in the finals at Nationals. I'm also not quite sure how our women touched the disc in approximately 37% of the throws at Nationals. Clearly they were actually the phantom disembodiments of the Four Horsemen of the Mischief Apocalypse. How else could all but those four players suck, but still contribute to our National Championship?

Unless, of course, said Monkey player doesn't know what he's talking about, and makes himself look better by declaring other people are worse.

Good thing his voicing is clearly mistaken opinion doesn't make his observations fact.

We have the trophy to prove it.