Ben Wiggins is my new best friend


Two notes and a workout

Note to self: two Clif shots, each of 100 calories each, do not replace a full lunch on track workout days.

Second note to self: one should clue in that if said one tries to put her sports bra on backwards, perhaps a nap would be better than a track workout.

With that said, what was I thinking? "I'm happy my fitness is coming back." Must have been the Snack of Champions™.

Today's track workout kicked my ass. It consisted of:

ladders The usual 12 different ladders
5-10-5 Working mostly on form, start at a center cone, sprint 5 yards to the next cone, turn sprint back 10 yards, turn then sprint back 5 yards to the beginning cone
single leg bounding going for maximum distance, 5 with left leg then 5 with right leg
ice skaters x20 (as quick and explosively as you can)
sprints 50m, 100m, 200m, 400m, 400m, 200m, 100m, 50m (catch your breath after running a sprint, then do the next one, i.e. go at your own pace but run hard when you are running)
sideways shuffle x20
two leg bounding go for maximum distance, 10 jumps
rest 5 minutes 
repeat go back to the single leg bounding and do it all a second time
mile jog 
lunges 10 lunges, 10 lunge jumps, 10 lunges; repeat

I was nothing if not consistent in the 200s. I ran 45-46 second 200s every time. Which is such a blow to the confidence. I could run them in 26 in college. Sigh. My 400 times were 1:46, which also sucks big time. Of course, when I ran the 64 second 400, I had to do it only once.

My hamstring is hurting again, too. I really need to let that thing heal already.


The restoration of Peterson fields

We started the restoration of Peterson Middle School North Fields today. We knew about what we needed to do to make these fields playable for Regionals at the beginning of October. We knew the task might be daunting. We knew we needed lots of man power. And we knew it would be hard.

What we didn't know, however, was that we would find unexpected luck with the water supply, or how many little things can add up to a whole-lot-of-delay.

Today started off in the usual disorganized fashion of too many things to do, not enough direction and being unsure of what we need to do.

We arrived at the fields with 210 gallons of water from my house in the back of Doyle's truck. Although I thought I had gathered the tools we'd need to do our work, I soon realized were missing pretty much every tool we needed. We had a shovel (we needed 4); we had a wheelbarrow (we needed dirt), we had water (we needed pressure).

to be continued ...

Going for gold, continued

Here's the part not publically available:

When I applied for the team, I made it very clear that I would be thrilled to be even an alternate on the team. Being an alternate would have meant that I would have to pay significantly more for my trip, as my hotel costs would not have been paid for as they are for the team members, but that would have meant little for the honor.

Apparently some of the other alternates didn't think so. Two weren't planning on going until they hooked up (including the sex part) and one of them made the team because of an injury. Suddenly the other one has to go. At the last minute. Did I mention that the woman of this relationship dumped another player on the team? How distracted was this guy, I wonder.

This Team USA just plain sucks. Their attitude sucks. Their commitment sucks. Their maturity sucks. Part of me is still bitter, but part of me is angry. Angry at the lost opportunity for the sport I love.

Going for gold, falling flat on your face

As I'm sitting here near the end of my work day, I can see one of the silver medals won by Team USA at the 2001 World Games in Akita, Japan.

It's a lovely medal: big, hefty, detailed, shiny.

And silver.

I look at it and wonder about this year's Team USA. From the rumors I've heard and the stories told directly to me, I have to officially predict another shiny silver medal for the team I so desperately wanted to be on.

Team USA (that would be the self-proclaimed premier ultimate team of the United States) lost in the semi-finals at Potlatch two weekends ago. Given the personalities on the team, I guess I shouldn't be surprised:

On Friday night most of Team USA gathered for a pre-tourney dinner and then continued on with some libations. Those of us still operating on east coast time—or those not fully willing to join the sub-group of our team known as “team evil”—went to sleep. Others (far more evil) stayed out until last call. The core of evil ended up hot-tubbing in the building where Kati Halmos lives. I don’t have the details on how Kati’s condo mates felt about having Alex Nord running the hallways at five A.M., but I am pretty sure the almighty’s name was soon invoked.

Emphasis mine.

Sure, the tournament was supposed to be a fun tournament, a chance to lighten up and play some fun ultimate.

But, they lost in the semi-finals to another American team.

They lost. In the semis.

As ambassadors of my sport, for my country, this freaking sucks. You are supposed to be representatives for ultimate, not a bunch of over-confident, hung-over, undisciplined lushes.

That the team selected thinks drinking and hot-tubbing is more important than playing a tournament well is wrong. That even the coach thinks partying all night and getting drunk is okay and even encouraged, is wrong.

Potlatch was a tournament to practice, to learn how to play with the other players who, up until this point have probably been opponents, to finetune the offense, to learn where the weak points are on the team and how to minimize them. This isn't a tournament to get drunk every single freakin' night (read the rest of the coach's entry).

So here are my words to Team USA. $1 says you'll never hear them:

You suck.

Those words don't go out to all the members of the team. Those who went to bed early, played well, drank little, worked hard, and practiced diplomacy, I would say, "Thanks," and a big "Good luck! You, I'll be cheering for."

Potlatch 2005

Last week's instant karma was, "Give yourself freedom to fail." I managed to use this when I was playing at Potlatch this past weekend. It helped: both Jane and Mark independently told me they have never seen me play better than I played this weekend. I'm very happy to hear those words.

I used that mantra and two others to help me before the start of every game and the start of every point I played. I'm guessing it helped based on Mark and Jane's comments.

Before the second game on Saturday, which was also the second game of the tournament, at the end of the team warmups, someone (I think it was Kris) said, "Do whatever it takes to psych yourself up." I'm surprised I heard the words: they weren't said loudly. But, I took them to heart.

At the beginning of every point, as I stood on the line waiting for the pull, I gave myself the freedom to fail (fail to defend fully, fail to throw the perfect throw, fail to make the perfect catch). And then I did whatever it took to psych myself up, which meant deciding to play hard.

The difference between deciding to play hard and making no decision is a big deal. The team's energy helps in making that decision. If the team is excited to play hard, then playing harder is easier, but it still has to be an individual's (conscious or unconscious) decision to play harder. On the line, I chose to play harder.

Mid-Sunday, I added a third line to my mental chatter on the line, waiting for a pull. During a point, after a turnover, I was jogging back to the stack, when I heard Kris' voice from the sideline: "Run hard."

At the time I wasn't sure if he was talking directly to me, or the team as a whole, but I always seem to hear his voice over the rush of the game and the cacophany of the crowd. Run hard.

And I did.

I ran as hard as I could that possession. I ran as hard as I could that point. I ran as hard as I could that game.

And at the end of that game, after we had won, sitting tired and exhausted in the circle talking about the game and the day, Jane came up to me and said she had never seen me play so well. I had become, in her words, one of those wily veteran handler types.

Thank you, Jane. Those words mean so much to me.

We ended up ranked 16th at the beginning of the third day. Our first game of the day was against Team USA, who was ranked first for the tournament, having been ranked first for the whole tournament. We played scared. I dropped an easy disc thrown to me, but caused a turnover with an aggressive mark. We lost 15-7, handily beating the over/under betting score of 4.

Our next game was against Brass Monkey, who had spent most of the morning before the first game complaining they should be ranked higher than 9th. In as much as they lost the 8 vs 9 game first thing in the morning, I had to agree with the tournament organizers in their ranking.

Worse for them, we beat them by two points, to send them down into the 13-16 rankings, as we climbed up to the 9-12 rankings. The worst we could do was 12th. Hot Damn.

I continued to give myself the freedom to fail, do whatever I needed to do to psyche myself up, and run hard. I had a great time. Mischief finished 10th out of 100 teams. And I had the best tournament of my life.

Maybe there's something to this self-forgiveness: allowing myself the freedom to fail and discovering I can succeed.

Even observers can cheat

Before one of our games at Potlatch today, I talked to a player who is trained to be an observer for games played during the UPA Club Championship Series.

Observers are persons trained in how to watch ultimate in order to dispute calls during a game if requested. The "if requested" is important, as ultimate is still a player refereed game: players make active calls, not referees. The observers are potential referees, in as much as they will settle disputes between two players, but they usually just watch (observe) the game.

Because they settle disputes between players, observers have to know the rules really well. They also know the little tiny nuances of the game, as well as the quite esoteric, but legitimate, interpretations of the rules. In the end, they interpret the rules the way the UPA would interpret them.

The observer and I were talking about fouls on the thrower, and I learned a bit about how various situatuions which are fouls, and some that aren't, but seem as if they should be. It was an interesting discussion.

Later, we played against the team the obsever was playing on. She was defending against me, and behind me when a call was made as I was streaking across the endzone in an open cut for the score.

When I say open, I mean open. I was about three yards or so in front of her when I recognized the call was made. I hadn't seen her the entire point (as she was behind me the whole time), and didn't realize she was my defender until I stopped and turned around to look.

As required by the rules (10th edition and fair play), I started jogging back the way I had run in order to move back to where I was when the call was made. I knew about where I should be standing, but not exactly, so as a courtesy, I asked her about where I should be.

The woman indicated where she thought I was when she recognized the call. I moved to the spot she indicated and watched in dumb-founded amazement as she positioned herself one step in front of me.

In. Front. Of. Me.

My first thought was, "HEY! No freakin' way!"

My second thought was, "Eh. Doesn't matter. I'll still outrun her when the disc comes in."

I was very careful not to move before the disc was tapped back into play (which would be a violation, causing play to stop again), and exploded towards the sideline when play did start.

My third thought as I caught the disc?

"Hmph. Even observers can cheat."

Accepting Disappointment

I've been disappointed, as in soul bruising, bone crushing disappointed, only twice in my life. I'm probably lucky it has been only twice.

Which isn't to say I haven't been disappointed more often than that in life (how boring would life be with no expectations and no hope), just that I've had only two of the really, really difficult to overcome disappointments.

And thankfully, only twice.

The first time was when I applied to graduate school at Caltech.

I was an undergraduate there, and through a bizarre series of course work counting snafus on both the registrar's and my parts, I missed graduating in four years by three credits. Those three credits are the equivalent of 1 credit at most universities, as 436 credits were needed to graduate from Caltech as an undergraduate.

So, there I was, not graduating, but needing only one small engineering elective to be done. Since I would already be enrolled for a full term, I figured I'd use the opportunity to get my Master's degree.

Caltech has a B.S./M.S. program where a student can take up to an extra year and receive both degrees. It seemed to be a good scenario for me, so I applied. I didn't apply for any funding, just the opportunity to get my Masters.

My application was declined.

I was devastated.

I was already taking the courses in anticipation of continuing my studies. As a result, I wasn't taking any spot away from another student for quotas. I wasn't expecting any funding, so I wasn't costing the school any money. My grades were, admittedly, not spectacular, but they were on par with my fellow classmates. I saw no reason for the declination.

I talked to various professors to appeal the decision, to no avail.

I left Tech bitter. Sure, with a B.S., but still bitter.

Eventually, my bitterness faded, and I can now remember the good parts of my undergraduate work, but it took a long time. Time. And the eventual recognition that my expectations were probably unreasonable. Although I still see no reason for declining my application, I also see no reason to accept it. I wasn't a stellar student, nor a successful researcher, so from the school's perspective, it was easier for them to just cut me lose.

Fair enough.

The second disappointment was far more recent. It is also based, tragically more so, on unrealistic expectations. In retrospect, completely and totally unrealistic expectations.

Earlier this year, I applied for Team USA, representing the United States in ultimate for the 2005 World Games in Germany on a mixed gender ultimate team.

Originally, the application process included an online application, tryouts and a by-committee team selection.

When applying, I had nothing to lose. I'm not a well known player (in terms of my play) in the ultimate community. I don't know most of the women's-only players, so I couldn't be intimidated by them. I had been training with Geno for months and had strength and quickness I had never possessed before.

No, I had nothing to lose.

Except the selection process didn't go as planned. I was training hard for the tryouts; they didn't happen. I had no chance to go up against the well known women's players. By name recognition only, I was a complete unknown.

Of all of the 37 woman applicants, I was the only one who was a true Mixed player. I've been playing mixed ultimate since I moved to the Bay Area in 1997. I've been playing with Kris since 1998. All the other women applicants play in the women's division. There was one other woman who recently "retired" to mixed, but no one else whose career was Mixed.

Which I believe helped me in the selection process: I made the first cut and was one of 14 women on the short list for 6 team spots and 2 alternates.

Exciting!!! (And, yes, that excitement deserved the usually avoided multiple exclamation points.)

Unfortunately, it also raised my expectations for making the team.

In a completely irrational way, I began to hope. Wow, I might make Team USA. Omigod, how unbelievably cool would that be?

I started working out even harder. My usual 3-4 hours / day, 6 days a week workouts became 4-5 hours / day, 6 days a week. I gained weight. I gained strength. I gained muscle like I'd never had before.

Yes, I was definitely excited and motivated. For the first time in my life, I was motivated to do well in sports. I wanted to make this team more than I thought imaginable. I worked out physically. I worked on my mental game. I did everything I could do. I ate, slept, dreamt ultimate.

Kris warned me.

He tried. Oh, he tried. He tried very hard to reduce my expectations. He knew what was coming. In retrospect, I should have, too.

Truly unsurprisingly, I didn't make the team. And rightly so, actually.

I can say this now. I realize now that I'm not at the elite women's player level of play. I can hold my own, but I'm really not a Team USA level player.

I can't say it's impossible for me to become physically capable of playing at the elite level. I've tried only once, and that was earlier this year.

What I can say, however, is that I don't have the confidence or mental game to play that game. I can also say if I had started playing years before I did, I might have learned that confidence. But I didn't. And I don't. And I can't play at that level.

Phew! That said (and I can say that now), at the time of team announcements, I was disappointed. Bone crushing, soul searing disappointed.

All the small injuries I had been ignored rushed at me. I lost any desire to play ultimate. Playing became a chore. Every failed throw, every bad cut, every drop became a demonstration of how bad of a player I was.

I stopped having fun.

So, I stopped playing.

I quit Mischief. I took my name off all the mailing lists and team signups. I stopped going to practice. I stopped going to tournaments. I stopped running.

Citing injuries, I started to fade from the local ultimate scene. I pulled away from my friends. I pulled away from Kris.

I wanted nothing to do with the thing that caused me so much hurt.

But it's hard to stay away from something that has been such a big part of my life for over a decade. From something that somewhat defines my relationship with Kris. From something that encompasses my social network in the same way most religious groups form communities.

It almost hurt not to play. It mostly hurt my relationship with Kris. We no longer had the strategy discussions, the after-tournament reviews, the workouts, the commuting time to and from practice and tournaments.

As Kris said, "I knew this day would come, I just wasn't expecting it so soon."

So, unlike my disappointment with Tech, I could actually do something about this disappointment. I started playing again. This time, though, on my own terms.

I've been playing the games I want to play, running the workouts I want to run, and learning, once again, you get out of life what you put in.

And I've learned to accept disappointment. It hasn't been easy, and it's a lesson I should have learned long ago, but at least it's (mostly) learned now.

When I have expectations, I have to be aware of potential disappointments. And the greater the expectation, the bigger the disappointment. I don't think I'll stop having expectations. I will, however, try to put them in perspective.

That way, when I swallow that bitter pill, maybe it won't be so big.

Good luck, Team USA.

Just because they can't throw...


... doesn't mean they can't catch.

Or run.

And if they catch the disc in the endzone, they won't have to throw.

I managed to play for a half hour last night at my first ever SFUL league game. I was terribly late because I had a bug I just had to fix. Managed to do so, then dash up to the City, using Raphael as my carpool buddy.

When I arrived, I put my cleats on quickly and, against my better judgement, didn't run to warm up. When I watched from the sidelines the players weren't running too hard, so I hoped I would be fine in not warming up too much.

I, then, asked one of my teammates to throw with me to warm up my arm. He said sure, and stood about 5 yards away from me.

What the?

Dude, step back to 15.

I threw him the disc, a gentle backhand. He responded, "Oh, good throw. Nice!" in the most annoying, condescending way, and threw the softest backhand ever back to me.


Yeah, mister, I suck. My fingers can't handle your throws, and I don't know how to run.

I actually didn't know what to expect. I wasn't sure of the skill level and didn't want to open my mouth to offend anyone or play at too high of a level.

Deciding to keep the whole skillset underwraps, I threw another two or three throws, then went out to the line. We were down 5-10, game to 15 or time, which expired in 20 minutes. When asked what I like to play, throw or run (heh), I responded, "Sure." They told me to go long, asked if I knew what a stack was, because they weren't stacking, and received the pull.

Three points later, the score was 8-10, with my having caught, threw or assisted each of the three scores.

So much for keeping that underwraps.

I desperately wanted to run around, so I stayed in most of the 20 minutes without subbing. I was worried about taking up too much game time, but the other women, thankfully, didn't seem to mind.

On one swing pass I received, when I turned, one of my teammates was open on her woman, cutting in hard, but still 25+ yards away. I wasn't sure if she could catch, and her "hard" was still very slow, but her timing was brilliant. You have to reward that. I threw the disc right into her chest, a soft throw that bounced out of her hands.

She may have dropped it, but I has very, very happy I threw to her. She'll make that cut again.

We lost the game 12-15, after trading points for the last few. When we went to write a cheer, the stand-in leader (Charlotte, our captain, wasn't at the game last night) told me I had to write the cheer because I had been at this game the longest because of my UPA number.



When I told Kris about the evening, he told me I was Kramer, referring to the Seinfeld episode where Kramer learned karate with a bunch of 10 year olds.

When asked why he was learning with 10 year olds, Kramer responded, "I'm dominating."


Remy started playing with Mischief a few weeks ago, and played with us a few weekends ago in Ashland at Cramp-Up.

That's pronounced like Amy, but with an R.

She's cute (if I were male, younger and not attached, I'd be asking her out), just a bit shorter than I am, and wears her dark blonde hair in a perfect bun when she plays. Now, when a woman (or man, for that matter, but I'm ignoring them for the sake of gender-correct pronouns in this sentence) can play ultimate and keep her hair in a perfect bun, she has really long hair.

And Remy does.

On Sunday, she pulled her hair down and began twisting it into a bun. It was the most gorgeous hair I'd seen a long while. Long, slightly wavy (probably from the bun the previous day), light and dark blonde streaks. Very pretty.

I complimented her on her hair. And, to my surprise, she responded, "Thanks. I can't wait for it to grey. I have two hairs that are grey and I'm excited about them."


Blink. Blink.

"I can't tell if you're being sarcastic or not."

"Oh, I'm not. That's the first thing I noticed about your hair."


She continued. "I love grey hair. I think it looks dignified. Classy. I really like grey hair. Paul has grey hair, too. It's cool."

Pei, sitting next to Remy, readily agreed.

What the?

I'm thinking of coloring my hair to cover up these shocking white hairs and everyone around me loves them? I'm so confused.

Actually, that's not entirely true. I'm not so confused about the white hairs as fascinated. Do they grow in white, or turn white? If they turn white, how? If they grow in white, why do I have hairs with white (and I mean white) ends and black roots? Do the cells responsible for color just take a break, then start back up again?

And is the amount of white dependent on my stress level? Because I started getting a lot of white when the girls showed up.