Watching Gulls Fly


As I was sitting around this morning, working (I know, shock), Kate texted me, "Hiya." After my typical "Hi hi hi!", Kate told me that Liza was playing ultimate at the local middle school, did I want to swing by?

H to the F'ing YES. So many reasons YES. I think the least was that, geez, how many times did Liza sit around watching Kate and me play ultimate? MANY MANY TIMES. The most was because, omg, this person who first had a disc in her hand when she was 3 days old is playing ultimate omg yay! Besides, I hadn't seen her in a year, and wanted to say hello. I put away work and zipped over to the school.

I didn't recognize Liza.

She is 5'11" tall. Let's just think about that for a second: a year ago she was my height. Now she towers over me. And likely isn't fully grown.




Tonight's ultimate game


I went to play ultimate tonight. I've been finding playing very difficult these days, for a number of reasons. I'm out of shape. I'm not playing with people I've known for years, so my jokes fall flat and, let's face it, there's no butt smacking or tan line comparisons or group hugs when the people you play with are also your coworkers. I'm also not nearly as committed to playing as I used to be, so my energy level is surprisingly low.

That, and the field we usually play on doesn't have a toilet anywhere handy.


Today, a teammate needed nail clippers and I had mine in the car, so I ended up warming up beyond my usual lap or two around the field. Instead I warmed up by running back to the car to grab the clippers. It gave me time to think about my fitness and enthusiasm levels. It gave me time for Sage Kitt to surface and talk to me in a way I needed, in a way I would listen.

Of cleats and toenails


"Hey, Todd, you still play soccer a lot?"


"Do you have all of your toenails?"

"Heh. Yes, of course."

"Have you ever lost a toenail?"

"Does that still happen these days?"


"I heard my dad talk about how he used to lose toenails playing soccer. I don't think anyone has that problem any more."

"... Okay."

Apparently, crazy toenails are a thing of a previous generation, and not something that currently happens with modern shoe technology. I was unaware of these advances, and continue to do cleats incorrectly.

Ah, yes, ultimate


I went out to play ultimate tonight. I have to say, it was an adventure and a half. I had forgotten so many things that suck about ultimate, and remembered only enough of the good things to head out, and, yeah. Hello, injuries! I had fallen down the stairs at home last week, and was uncertain if my shoulder would be okay. With my achilles tendonitis from last season, I knew I'd be risking more injury. My knees have *knock on wood* been feeling pretty much okay. I'm way out of shape, which is depressing when I remember what I used to be able to do. I'm also slow, and it was cold so I risked hand bruises and... and... and...

And sometimes you just have to f---ing get out on the field and play. Sometimes the joy of movement outweighs the heft of the mind telling us "too cold, too old, too slow, too hurt," and you just have to play.

F'ing disc width


Patrick Hard came to mind again today, as I was playing ultimate this evening. I kept thinking, I don't like who I become when I play ultimate [in certain circumstances], thinking of how Patrick stopped playing open because he didn't like who he became when he played open.

When we arrived at the game tonight, the score was already 4-0, good guys winning, and it didn't improve much for the other team in any appreciable way after we started playing. The good-guys team was playing a woman down, as only two women were there, and I was going to be the third, so zone was clearly working for the team, and not working for the other team.

Teams, like people, tend to focus on one thing and ride it, er, obsess on it, for all it's worth. The opposing team was no exception. Their obsession was one of those rules that very, very few people even notice, and only beginning teams pay attention to. Their obsession?

Disc width.

Right. Disc width. One of those calls that no one who can throw makes.

They called disc width a number of times on one of our women players who was marking the thrower, clam in a zone actually. She didn't know what was going on, so they would call it repeatedly. After the third or fourth instance, I yelled back, "You're fine! You're more than a disc width away from him!" to which one of their teammates called to me, "She can't wrap her arms around the thrower."

This is true, she's not allowed to. She also wasn't.



I was holding my shit just fine for a short while, and then the main woman handler called disc width on me.

When I was an arm length away from her.

There are some things I find inexcusable. One of those is bad sportsmanship on a team beating another team 9-0. I was that bad sportsman tonight. I ignored her, as she was clearly in the wrong, and kept counting. Even if I disagreed with her call, the correct actions were contest or drop two counts and keep going.

I did neither, and kept counting. She called double team again. I stood up from my mark, called violation, and she threw the disc. It came back, and explained to her, "THIS," holding the disc between us, "is disc width," and stepped back to where I was marking, "and this is not." I continued, "I don't care how big your boobs are, or how big my boobs are, even at the narrowest point, we were still more than a disc width apart. Learn your distances," and handed the disc back to her.

I then went round-the-world on her, and marked as hard as I could. It pissed me off that every single other person on the field was standing still, flat footed as we moved. One guy even laughed at my marking, which only served to piss me off even more. The woman complained about my arms being in her way, when neither were they in her way, nor was she even fucking pivoting. She stood there like a blob and spun around.

Give me a fucking break.

If you're going to make bad calls, at least have the skill to fucking back them up.

Given that their whole team was travelling left and right, never bringing the disc up to the line, bringing it to the line 2 meters off from straight up, and running with the disc after catching when they didn't need to take any steps to stop, and making these dumb-ass calls, I did the only thing I could do to stop being a raging bitch.

I left the field.

I left the field, took myself out of play, left my other teammates hanging since we didn't have any subs, and sat at the sideline.

What the fuck was going on? We were winning 9-0, I DIDN'T CARE ABOUT THIS GAME. What was wrong?

I found out about an hour later, when my vision disappeared. That rage? Hello, migraine.

So, I am now 3 for 3 with migraines after ultimate. I even jogged today during the game. I took it easy. I sandbagged. I didn't run hard except for maybe one or two sprints tonight, and I still triggered a migraine. My inexcusable behavior has an excuse, the migraine, and it feels dirty to forgive that behavior. I wouldn't have it from any of my team when I was coaching, I shouldn't have it in myself.

Worse, I injured both of my achilles.

I am now blind, hobbled, and in so much pain from the daggers stabbing in my head that, well, come near me and I'll show you what a raging bitch can be. In the meantime, yeah, to the woman who can't throw, can't pivot, and doesn't know the rules, yeah, I'm sorry for my behavior.

Image of my cleats



Nicole and I went to see the San Francisco Dogfish game today. Dogfish are the San Francisco team for the new Major League Ultimate professional ultimate frisbee league. I wasn't sure what to expect, but was very excited to go watch high-level ultimate.

Stop making foul calls


I'm reminded today of Kris years ago telling me about an on-field confrontation between two top women ultimate players. The two women played on rival teams; the game they were playing in was being played intensely, each point fought tooth and nail.

The one woman was putting on a particularly hard mark, and the other one as thrower called foul when the marker fouled her. The marker said, "No contest," and play restarted.

After a few pivots, the thrower called foul again, and play stopped. No contest, play restarted.

This continued for a few more foul calls, until the marker cried out in exasperation, "Stop making foul calls!"

To which the thrower calmly responded, "Stop fouling me."

I remembered this story today, when I overheard a conversation where one person said, "Yeah, stop talking shit about me." I could help but think, "Well, stop being a shit, and people will stop talking shit about you." Same thing with crazy: stop acting crazy, and people will stop calling you crazy.

Seemed simple enough to me.

If only it were so obvious to some other people.

2010 season workouts


This is the workout I've done twice (as the coach of the SCU women's team and way back when in the final year of Special K) to great success. It builds sprinting endurance, which is needed for ultimate, and better than just "putting in miles."

Several people asked for it today, so I modified it for starting this week. It'll get you in good shape for the season, front loading at the beginning of the season so that you can maintain fitness and work on speed in the second half of the season. The workouts start easy, but are rather hard at the end of the season. Worth it though.


There are three workouts a week, which should be done on days when we don't practice. The schedule assumes you'll be playing ultimate twice a week also. If you can, run these in the morning (running in the morning will train your body to be ready to move in the morning at tournaments), though DOING the workout is more important than doing the workout in the morning.

The three workouts are: straight sprints, shuttle sprints and "long" distance running. You can substitute sprint-8 workouts for the distance running. I've put days in the workout (Monday, Wednesday, Friday), but you should adjust the days to what works best for you.

IF YOU MISS A WORKOUT (travel, illness, work, life, they happen), run a make up workout as soon as you can (within a day or two of the scheduled day). If you cannot do a workout at all, skip the workout and continue with the schedule. If you skip two workouts in a row, don't skip the week, redo it.

Straight Sprints

The straight sprints consist of multiples of 20m, 40m, 50m and 90m sprints. For each of these, sprint down as hard as you can. These are 95% sprints, not jogs, not runs, but SPRINTS! After ending the sprint, immediately turn around and jog back to the starting cone. This is a good jog, lift your knees, use your arms. When you're back at the starting cone, start your rest time.

The shorter distances (20m and 40m) you are working on your acceleration. Keep good form. Lean from the hips, use your arms. Breathe.

The rest times between sprints are:

20 m = 25 seconds
40 m = 30 seconds
50 m = 45 seconds
90 m = 60 seconds


For the shuttle workouts, there are three types of runs: a stinker, a stinkette and a suicide (or eye/I of pain, if you use that term). These runs are done so that you can FINISH the workout. You want to run as hard as you can (start the first ones at 70% in the beginning so that your final run's 100% time is the same as your first run's 70% time).

Concentrate on form on the stops and starts. This means, two steps before a cone, pump your arms really fast. This will cause your feet to start moving faster, which will enable you to plant, sink into the step and turn quickly. Talk to me at practice if you want more details on this.

For this workout, put markers (cones) at 0, 5m, 10m, 15m, 20m, 25m and 50m.

A stinker is:

Start at the 0 cone, sprint 50m out and back 3 times in a row for a total of 300 m. If you are feeling really ambitious, do this in under 1 minute 5 seconds. Rest one and a half minutes afterwards. On the last one, pick up the 50m cone.

A stinkette is:

Start at the 0 cone, sprint to the 25m cone and back 6 times in a row for a total of 300 m. If you are feeling really ambitious, do this in under 1 minute 10 seconds. Rest one and a half minutes afterwards.

A suicide is:

Start at the 0 cone, run 5m out and back, then increase to running 10m and back, 15m and back, 20m and back, and 25m out and back. Rest 25 seconds afterwards.

A sprint-8 is:

This workout is done without cones. You will need a stop watch. Start your watch and sprint as hard as you can for 30 seconds. At 30 seconds, stop and rest for 90 seconds. You can walk back to your starting point, but reaching your starting point isn't important. You can just stand around, if you'd like. Repeat the 30 second sprint as hard as you can followed by 90 seconds of rest seven times, for a total of eight sprints.

This workout finishes in 14.5 minutes, not including warmups, so use this when you're in a hurry.

The workout schedule

The workout schedule, 3/01/10 - early June

3/01/10 Monday
  7x20, 5x40, 3x50, 3x90

3/03/10 Wednesday
  1 stinker, 2 stinkettes, 3 suicides

3/05/10 Friday
  2 mile run or sprint-8

3/08/10 Monday
  7x20, 5x40, 3x50, 3x90

3/10/10 Wednesday
  1 stinker, 2 stinkettes, 3 suicides

3/12/10 Friday
  2 mile run or sprint-8

3/15/10 Monday
  7x20, 5x40, 4x50, 4x90

3/17/10 Wednesday
  1 stinker, 2 stinkettes, 4 suicides

3/19/10 Friday
  2.5 mile run or sprint-8

3/22/10 Monday
  8x20, 6x40, 4x50, 4x90

3/24/10 Wednesday
  1 stinker, 2 stinkettes, 4 suicides

3/26/10 Friday
  2.5 mile run

3/29/10 Monday
  8x20, 6x40, 4x50, 4x90

3/31/10 Wednesday
  1 stinker, 2 stinkettes, 4 suicides

4/02/10 Friday
  2.5 mile run or sprint-8

4/05/10 Monday
  8x20, 6x40, 4x50, 4x90

4/07/10 Wednesday
  1 stinker, 3 stinkettes, 5 suicides

4/09/10 Friday
  3 mile run or sprint-8

4/12/10 Monday
  9x20, 7x40, 5x50, 5x90

4/14/10 Wednesday
  1 stinker, 3 stinkettes, 5 suicides

4/16/10 Friday
  3 mile run or sprint-8

4/19/10 Monday
  9x20, 7x40, 5x50, 5x90

4/21/10 Wednesday
  1 stinker, 3 stinkettes, 5 suicides

4/23/10 Friday
  3 mile run or sprint-8

4/26/10 Monday
  10x20, 8x40, 5x50, 5x90

4/28/10 Wednesday
  1.5 stinkers, 3 stinkettes, 5 suicides

4/30/10 Friday 
  3 mile run or sprint-8

5/03/10 Monday
  10x20, 8x40, 6x50, 6x90

5/05/10 Wednesday
  1.5 stinkers, 3 stinkettes, 5 suicides

5/07/10 Friday
  3 mile run or sprint-8

5/10/10 Monday
  12x20, 8x40, 6x50, 6x90

5/12/10 Wednesday
  1.5 stinkers, 3 stinkettes, 6 suicides

5/14/10 Friday *Regionals
  3 mile run or sprint-8

5/17/10 Monday
  14x20, 9x40, 7x50, 7x90

5/19/10 Wednesday
  2 stinkers, 4 stinkettes, 6 suicides

5/21/10 Friday
  3 mile run

5/24/10 Monday
  14x20, 9x40, 7x50, 7x90

5/26/10 Wednesday
  2 stinkers, 4 stinkettes, 7 suicides

5/28/10 Friday
  3 mile run or sprint-8

5/31/10 Monday
  16x20, 10x40, 8x50, 8x90

6/2/10 Wednesday
  2 stinkers, 4 stinkettes, 7 suicides

6/4/10 Friday
  3 mile run or sprint-8

Maintenance: repeat or increase the last week, as needed. The maximum runs should be:

20x20, 15x40, 10x50, 10x90
4 stinkers, 6 stinkettes, 10 suicides

This morning's practice frustrations


I went to the Cows practice today. I felt a little bad about leaving Kris and his parents for three hours on a Sunday morning, when they were going to be here only a few days. Soon into the morning, however, when I realized that Kris and his parents were going to watch the Pittsburgh football game on television, I decided that being outside and moving around would squash any feelings of guilt, and left.

Unlinke most weeks, we actually warmed up as a team, instead of having individuals dribble in, hang out, socialize, maybe throw a little bit, jog a few steps, then jump into whatever game was happening. I feel warming up as a team is important, so I was happy we did.

After playing a game to three, Adrian suggested we run a couple drills. The first one was a timing drill, where a cutter runs out about 15 yards, turns and cuts back for the disc. At the same moment the cutter begins his cut, a second cutter runs deep. The first cutter catches the disc, turns and fires the disc out to the second cutter running deep. We were practicing sharp cuts in, cutting out and back across the field preventing same-lane hucks (though Adrian didn't make that statement as succinctly as Kris does), and the timing of both.

There were details that we needed to work out in this drill: was the first cut out and straight back along the path, or flared out to the side? The answer was the former, but even when I cut that way, the thrower who initiated the drill threw far outside me and I missed my catch. Eh, it happens, I picked up the disc, threw a good huck, and without checking if it was caught, ran to the second line.

On my second cut, my insides disagreed with everything I was doing, and I cramped spectacularly badly. Walking off the field was an effort of heroic proportions, and figuring out what to do more than that was impossible. Eventually, the pain subsided and I was able to make it to the restroom and, eventually, back to the field as the second drill started.

The second drill was a defensive drill of sorts, run in a line. The thrower stood in one spot, the receiver started in front of the receiver facing her, the defense stood 8 yards or so back, facing the thrower also. The drill was for the receiver to run backwards, facing the thrower the whole time, and catch the disc. The thrower couldn't throw the disc until the receiver had passed the mid-point between the thrower and where the defense started. The defense ran forward to block the disc.

When I arrived, the two groups had just split into boys and girls, I assumed because the girls were worried about being clobbered by the boys. I was an itty bitty small bit annoyed at the separation, because, well, we play a mixed game, boys are part of that game, and in game situations, boys are going to poach off onto the girls. Separating the two in practice creates an artificial situation that doesn't accurately reflect real games.

Okay, fine. Whatever. I went to play with the girls.


After half-heartedly running the drill two times, while the boys were kicking ass, laying out to get that defensive block, aggressively reaching around to deflect the disc before the receiver catches it, the girls degenerated into a talk / complain fest on how stupid the drill was, and how did we make this drill meaningful. I don't know what happened at that moment, but, wow, did I immediately switch to coach mode.

Yes, Santa Clara women, I want to thank you once again for teaching me how to take control of a group of unfocussed women and focus them again. I should probably thank Kris, too, for teaching me that every drill is a chance to practice an aspect of the game, but that works only if you know what to apply the drill to.

In my coach mode, I immediately suggested everyone look at this as a zone defense. You have the thrower, you have the receiver, and you're over on the side as wing. You see the thrower looking at the receiver, so you pull away from your area and go hard hard hard to the receiver. You want to see how the thrower is standing, is she going to throw forehand or backhand, which side of the receiver is she going to aim for? As the receiver, you want to be aware of where a defender might be so that you can block her out with your body. As both receiver and defense, you want to be aggressive to the disc. Both of you want want want that disc.

I totally became animated in the way that I do. As Paul calls it, the full body talking. I don't know where that habit came from, but it's there, and that's how I talk when excited, and I look like a dork and I don't care. I really shoudl, however, get a picture of myself doing it.

After my rearrangement of everyone's thinking of the drill and gift of purpose, we ran the drill a few more times, with my standing on the side, giving encouragement and cheers. We went from a gap of maybe four feet between the defense and the receiver when the disc was caught to maybe 2 or 3 inches. I encouraged everyone to be aggressive to the disc, go go go go go! We started getting blocks. And the receivers adjusted so that we had close calls, but good body box outs. It was great to see the adjustment.


As much as it was great to see the adjustment, I was frustrated by everyone's (well, all the women's) lack of ability to see how a drill could be applied to the game. Instead of trying to understand why this drill may be helpful, they just wanted to modify the drill into something known, something comfortable, something where the defense is at a strong disadvantage and there's no motivation to be aggressive on the disc. Turns out, though I was wrong as to when I thought the situation of the drill applied (not zone, but in a poaching defense), I was right in how most of the drill, as well as the aspect of aggressiveness to the disc the drill was trying to improve.

The drill was also supposed to show us how to look past the receiver to the motions of the thrower to help anticipate where the disc would go, in order to improve the defense's line of attack, according to Adrian's after-drill summary, so even I learned something new. Unfortunately, Adrian didn't explain this before the drill, but after, in a Socratic method of learning. I felt I had been the only one to have even TRY to learn the lesson, though.

Mischief has this problem, too, where, instead of respecting the drill and running it, trying to figure out what to get out of it, everyone wants to change the drill or improve it (or maybe "improve" it). While I recognize that some drills are poorly designed and may result in enforcing bad habits, most well-run drills enforce good habits even when they're new to the player. That those players want to alter the drill before trying, before fully committing to running the drill with fire and intensity, frustrates me.

I don't know if the fundamental issue I had was lack of personal responsibility to take the task at hand and find the good in it, or an issue with lack of respect for the person who cares about the team and has has taken the time to set up and explain the drill, or some other issue entirely. I see this is the team I'm on and I want the team to play well. Even if they lose, if they played smart, we can leave the field heads up.

I must be channelling Kris McQueen again.

On a completely separate note, I really wish I had been fearless as a tiny person. Adrian's kids just climb up to high places and climb back down, not seeming to worry about, oh, I don't know, FALLING or such?

Crazy kids. Heck, I wish I were that fearless even now.


Ask nicely


There are nice ways to ask for help. And there are sucky ways to ask for help. This weekend, I have to say, I'm far less likely to want to help those who ask for help by first insulting me or the people I'm working with, before asking for something from me.

The thing is, most of us here at this event are here because we love the sport of ultimate. I didn't have to help keep the servers up and running. I didn't have to stay up until 2:30 am, risking a migraine and an awful day the next day, to fix the damn scroll bars so that you could visit the scores page on your iphone without calling the site a hater. I didn't have to tweet score updates. I didn't have to put the rosters under the videos, or add the pretty pictures.

I chose to do all those things. And I did all of this because it was what I wanted, and I was willing to give my time and put forth some effort to make it happen. Maybe it'll happen again next year by someone else, maybe it won't. But calling the site a hater, and that you'll go check out the site to find more problems and report them back, doesn't really inspire me to help you out there as volunteer work.

Yeah, you get more flies with honey. Though I have to admit, I'm not particularly interested in gathering more flies, I have to say the honey part is right on.

Next time you want help from me, don't ask me if I fail whale much. If you do, I'll just block you from viewing my updates. Don't state the server wasn't ready because your computer is broken, I will call you out on it.

It's easy to understand: be rude to me, stop receiving the fruits of my efforts.