Lori is staying with us tonight. I picked her up from the airport tonight. We were like this -> <- with our timing, synchronizing her exiting baggage claim with my slow down drive-by-then-stop arrival at the curb. I think she might have waited one second.

On the way home from the airport, we were talking about life, catching up with the ins and outs of life, work, and, of course, ultimate. She's visiting this weekend to visit friends, but also to par-tay at tomorrow's End of Year Extravaganza, because, well, Mischief is so cool.

At one point, I asked her if she was going to Kaimana next February. I had been invited to play with the same group of women Lori is going to play with (said group being a fantastic group of women), but wanted to stop playing ultimate for a while to heal, build strength, and develop better generic athletic skills. That, and I'm probably going to have shoulder surgery for the shoulder I jammed on that (wonderful, glorious) layout.

Lori said she was going to go, and asked if I was going to go. When I said no, she said, "Oh, yeah, you're one of the quitters."

I laughed, and said, no, I was RETIRING, expecting to drop down to lower level of play in order to keep playing, but I wasn't expecting to stop playing ultimate completely.

The conversation moved on, but her words stuck with me, maybe more than they should have. Her words weren't meant in any mean way, but they still hurt a bit.

Quitting has such negative connotations. "I'm not a quitter!" and "Winners never quit!" and other platitudes about quitting. Why would I want to quit playing ultimate, some still in the passions of the sport might ask. I've certainly been in that state where I couldn't understand why anyone would want to retire, stop playing. Those people must have been insane, I'd think.

Yet, trying to rationalize why leaving elite utlimate is a good thing is hard in some respects, yet easy in other respects. I stopped developing as a player when Mischief started doing well. I've been injured for the last three years, barely playing at Nationals went I've gone. What fun can it be to take stats for Regionals and Nationals? What fun can it be to watch and never play? It's fun for a while, but it becomes less interesting the more you realize what you used to be able to do and can no longer do.

Though, I'm clearly not completely comfortable with the thought, though, as I refer to my decision as "leaving elite ultimate" instead of "quitting elite ultimate."

Eh, maybe I'm reading too much into this. It's only December. If I can heal over the winter and develop the skills I feel I'm lacking (think: 45 yard forehands, consistent backhand and forehand breakmarks, better form on my forehands, stronger hamstrings, and quicker feet on marking), then I'll probably continue playing at higher levels.

However, it'll be on a team where I actually play. And more than just practices.

SCRUW's Sean Ryan


This morning, I drove to Santa Clara, picked up three of the women I'm coaching on the women's ultimate team, and drove to Santa Cruz with them for the 2007 Sean Ryan Memorial Tournament. Kate and I seem to be consistent in our time availability with the team: every day I'm not available, she is, and any day she's not available, I am. As a result, I was coaching this one on my own.

And Kate's the one with the calm demeanor and beaucoup experience, not me.

The team had 13 women today. That's a lot for the team, even if it was about half of what the other teams brought to the tournament. What they lacked in numbers, they made up for in heart.

The first game was against Berkeley X. Berkeley had a large number of players tryout this year, so they split the team into two teams: X and Y. We played X, which had 3-4 players who could catch, throw and defend well, and another 20 who couldn't. So, the game was really, really close as both Berkeley and SCRUW, the Santa Clara women's team name, worked the disc down the field and scored sometimes, turned it over sometimes. The score went something like 1-1, 2-2, 3-3, 5-3, 5-5, 6-6, 8-7 (yay, we took half!), 9-7, 10-8, 10-10, 12-10, 12-11. Here's where the heart breaker is. If, on the score where they scored that 11th point had happened 20 seconds later, as in, a second after the hard cap went on instead of 19 seconds after they scored, the game would have been over, and Santa Clara would have won the game. As it was, the hard cap went on as the team was walking down the field to start the next point. Berkeley scored the next point, tying the game, and the following point to win the game. The game finished 15 minutes after the next game was supposed to start, so the team immediately ran over to the next field over to start the next game.

I forgot to suggest they eat something between the rushed games.

The second game was against UCLA BLU X. This team was in much the same boat as the Berkeley team: a few good players (as in, really good players), and a whole bunch of not so good players. The problem was, however, that they had three or four of these good players, compared to Berkeley's two or three. BLU was able to play three of these women pretty much in all the points and move the disc very effectively.

After a number of points of SCRUW moving the disc down the field, only to turn it over within yards of the endzone, and watching the three BLU moving score on three throws, I suggested a change in defense. We'd still force the team one direction in general, but the three women on the line who could play we'd play straight up. With a quick tutorial on how to force straight-up, and the calls incoming defense should make (left and right, brilliant, eh?), the team received the next pull, turned it over, forced straight-up on the good players, caused a turn over close to the endzone, and scored. Molly came up to me after a few points of playing straight up on BLU's top player and excitedly said, "Wow, that's totally working. She's throwing it away, and struggling!" I was so excited to hear my advice was so well received.

The final score of the second game was 4-12, so we missed our goal of 5 points by one. If we could count the "within 10 yards of the endzone" as a half point, though, the score would have been more like 10-12.

The last game was against UC Santa Cruz. Having watched the team earlier, I really thought SCRUW had a chance to win this game. I told them as much before the start of the game. However, they played more of their top line, and, well, pretty much crushed SCRUW. The team had run out of steam, run out of legs, and, well, it showed. I think they were done when the score was 1-6.

All in all, it was a great day. We need to work on initiating a stall count (rather than letting the opponent stand over the disc directing traffic, actually get that stall count going!), keeping on our opponent (no turnstile defense), and throw, throw, throwing!

What next?


On the ride home from the airport tonight, Beth asked me, "What are you going to do in the off-season?"

Although my first thought was, "Sit around, eating bon-bons, gaining weight and just healing," I did pause long enough to think about her question and give her an honest, non-flippant answer.

I'm going to continue with my Monday-Wednesday-Friday morning fitness classes at Velocity Sports. Partly because I've already signed a contract with them for another six months, partly because I really like the instructor, and party because inertia keeps me going that way. Tuesday and Thursday mornings I'll stsart back up at the yoga/pilates fusion class I've been going to off and on. It's a good stretching program, if nothing else. I don't feel I get a good "workout" going, but I do use my abs for about 3 minutes. That part, the stretching part, and fact it gets me up in the morning so I can keep my regular sleep schedule means I'll keep going.

The part that I'm toying with, however, is the third idea I had for what to do over the winter. A few years ago, I asked Lisa what her fastest mile time was. My plan was to add a minute to her time and try to run that time.

I didn't realize when I asked that her personal best was a 5:30 mile.

Meaning I just set my goal at 6:30.

Gee, that's only 45 seconds faster than I've ever run a mile, and that success was on a treadmill with the machine helping me along. My fastest ground time was around 7:45.

I mentioned my goal to Kris, and, in his wonderful, adorable way, he immediately drew up a training schedule that would, in his words, have me running gazelle-like to a 6:30 mile.

I didn't make that mile time that year, but I'm seriously considering trying this winter. Until I commit to it fully, it's just a idea, but I'm thinking I'd like to try. I'll dig up the program Kris designed and add a tweak to it. Following the thought, "A person cranking out 7 minute miles never learns how to move his arms and legs fast enough to run a 6 minute mile.", I'd like to try Kris' workout with a twice-weekly or so workout where I run a 6 minute pace as long as I can around the track.

A 6 minute pace is a 90 second 400m. That's a completely doable pace for one lap. So, I start at one lap and run that pace for the lap, then continue for another 100 meters. If I can keep up the pace, then I'll keep going. I might try 50m increments instead of 100m increments, not sure. But, my watch has an interval timer on it, so I can use it to beep at me at 11 second intervals: I'll need to have run about 50m in each of those 11 seconds.

With this plan, I'll be learning how to move my arms fast enough to run a 6 minute mile.

Of course, the goal is a 6:30 mile.

I just need to decide if I want to commit to it. If I do, it'll be a lot of hard work, but oh so very worth it in terms of personal satisfaction in the end.

Today went much better


Today was better than yesterday. We played Brass Monkey in the first game. We have their number, though it was close, close, close, and won 15-13. I wasn't at the field to see the end of the game, as I took Steffi's friend Janie to the airport (thankfully close!), leaving as the score was 12-12.

The second game of the day was against AMP. We took half 8-5. Shirley let me know when we were up by four points, I should sub in. I asked if I should go in, or if I should wait for her to call me in, and she said just go. Three points later, and we were up 10-6. On the line, Kyle told the women to front their women. After the pull, I ran down, and was fronting my woman, but the sideline started screaming at me to back my woman. I did, and tragically she caught the disc three times going in on the way to their scoring the next point. Sigh.

Winning two games, however, meant we don't have to play a third today. The other games finished such that we have probably our best possible path to the finals. One game, one point, one cut, one catch at a time, not looking past the next game.

However, if I had to request a path, given yesterday's results, it would look like this:

I miss Megan


Kris and I travelled to Florida today for this year's UPA Club Championships. It's the same tournament we won last year, and return as defending National champs. Travelling isn't something I like to admit, but, well, we have someone staying at the house and another someone taking care of the dogs so I guess it's no different than our being at the house and I can admint it.

I just realized the comma isn't working on my keyboard. Oddly enough the less than symbol (or shift-comma) is.

After an annoying flight, a mad dash, and an entertaining flight in the back of the plane next to the bathroom, but next to Kris, so who cares, Kris and I arrived in Sarasota, rented a car, and drove to our villa.

Although it was only 11:30 or so here, 8:30 at home, we were tired. Too much travelling today. Way too much. However, we were also very hungry. The Waffle House didn't tempt Kris enough, and we were unable to find a grocery store on the way to the villas, so we went back out to find food.

We drove along the road perpendicular to the freeway, on the way back to the freeway. Kris asked if I wanted to go to the ghetto Safeway, or the upscale Safeway. I said surely the upscale one was better, though I didn't realize the ghetto Safeway was actually a Publix (and how to you pronounce that name? Similar to pubic? Or like public?). After we passed the one with a Hooters next door, I asked Kris if the Publix we were going to had the coffee show close to it, did it have a dark brown brick strip mall near it.

Kris said yes, and, oh, crap, I do remember where we were going. The moment seemed very deja-vu. I realized I thought the strip mall we were going to was associated with a different tournament. I couldn't place the tournament until we turned into the shopping complex, but when I did, it all came back very quickly.

And then I thought, argh, we're at Nationals, and Megan isn't. Gah! What is a tournament without Megan? And Mirabelle?

Crap, that's what it is. A crappy tournament.


I miss Megan already.

Regionals, day 2, with a low


Patrick Hard used to play for a top Open team, Ring of Fire, which played in the finals of the 2002 Club Championships. Watching the various videos of him and his team, many people would say something to the effect of Patrick's being one of the, if not the, top players on the team. I recall phrases like "carried the team to..." in reference to Patrick and the team. Not only is he that good of an ultimate player, but he's that good regardless. One of the good people I like in my life, if only at the edges.

Patrick plays Mixed ultimate these days. When asked why he switched, he said, "because I don't like the person I become when I play Open." I think he was 22 when I first heard him say that, and was impressed with the wisdom and maturity of the statement. Had I known Patrick, I wouldn't have been surprised (see above reference to "good people").

Regionals, day 1


Today was strange.

I slept like crap last night, to be greeted with an overcast morning, no breakfast items I could really eat as most were bread or wheat-based (oh, waffles, how do I miss thee? Let me count the ways!).

Guy was there to help with the camera work, so I handed him the video cameras, showed him where the tapes were, and sent him off. A few minutes later, I was handing him my hat and my rain jacket, as the weather was crappy. Yay, Regionals in Burlington, Washington, where even the locals ask, "Why again aren't we having Regionals in California?"

We knew we had to be on this weekend, so we had a long warmup before the first game. Based on how the schedule was, and what we knew about the teams, I planned on playing the first two games, maybe the third game, then stand on the sidelines the rest of the tournament.

Our first game was against Shadrach, the second against Sleepover. Both teams were ranked fairly low in the tournament, both managed a few points on us, I played in both, while Guy used the games to practice videoing and Gillian practiced taking stats.

The third game was against Golden Spike, which gave us a game at Labor Day this year, and beat Brass Monkey at the same tournament. I didn't play in the game against them. We lost 13-15. The game was close the whole time, with our biggest lead at 9-6, and their biggest lead 10-13. Yeah, a 1-7 run for them. We faltered. We faltered, and the game was ugly. Almost every goal was called back on a foul, or travel, or pick, or other call. The wind picked up, and the game was ugly, and we lost.

By the time the fourth game started, I had already taken off my cleats. However, instead of playing Brass Monkey as we expected to play, we played Bozos, from Bosemon, Montana, originally seated 10th. The game wasn't really close. We were disheartened, yes, but they had lost before they even began. Crystal suggested I put my cleats back on, and play a few points, so in I went. I caught one throw just outside the endzone on a swing pass from Shirley, but didn't have the confidence to release the low release throw to Warren who had the perfect continue for me for the score. I had another score called back on a pick call that I mostly disagreed with, having seen my defender on my left as I was starting my cut, when I heard the pick call on my right. However, she said she was picked, so I lost my other goal. Sigh.

The bad thing about the last game was the headache that started in the middle of a point. Instead of my usual both sides migraine, this one was the right-side only headache that sent bolts of pain around the side of my head with every minor effort, such as standing up, running, lifting my bag. Two advil, a meal, and two more advil didn't do much to help it, I'm afraid.

So, we we'll go into Sunday without a first round bye. I think this'll work better for us. We're not always a first day team, and having a good game early on will fire us up.

Sectionals 2007, day 1


We start the journey again. The fall series starts today, beginning with the Ultimate Players Association's Northern California Sectionals. We finished the day at the top of our pool and the winner of our quarter final game.

More importantly, we danced the best.

Infinite levels of crapola


Three weeks before Sectionals, so part of me should be infinitely careful woth my physical well being. Three (two?) sectionals in a row with injuries, and you'd think I'd be more cautious with my muscles and joints.

But no.

Second drill, having felt very good through the warmups, and the first drill, second run, where we were practicing the give and go, the going on the mark after a throw, which I athink I'm actually good at, and *zing* pulled right quad.

At least it wasn't the left leg, as every other injury aeems to be. It's still an injury, though.

I'm frustrated. I cried.

I'm tired of sucking at this game. I'm tired of working my ass off and being injured. I'm tired of every telling me everything I'm doing wrong. I'm tired of not being quick, or skilled, or useful.

I'm tired of playing an entire game without once touching the disc.

I should have retired two years ago when the sport broke my heart. I wish I'd had the strength and wisdom then to leave, instead of torturing myself with self-doubt and self-frustration.

At least now Kris agrees this will be our last year at elite. I wonder if we'll keep playing at some other level.



Well, bound to happen.

Better sooner than later.

As I reached with a double fisted claw catch for a disc thrown by Will, the wind jerked he disc just over my outstretched hands, and pushed it down after passing over my arms.


I stood still for a moment before I realized the sound I had just heard was about to be followed by the sound of my wailing. The disc had landed squarely on the bridge of my nose, and it hurt. A LOT.

I sat down, as Will rushed over. "Are you okay? Are you okay? Did that just hit you in the face?" he asked.

"I don't know. Let's see," I responded, clearly still in surprise. I took a deep breath and exhaled forcefully out my nose, my hands blocking my face.

The handful of blood immeduately showed me that, no, I was not okay.

I sat out during the first drill and waited until the blood stopped running from my nose. I was able to run a little bit, but not much, which was probably good, as my legs ached a bit from yesterday's workout.

I'm thinking now, sure, I should have pancaked that catch. It was windy, and I was standing directly in the path of the disc (a habit I've been trying to develop, actually). But this isn't the first time a disc has hit me in the face, where other people can go an entire career without any discs in the face.

I guess if I'm going to have injuries this season, better to get them out of the way early in the season, rather than late in the season.