Thursday, July 07, 2011

2011 mid-year recap

Last year, of course, I had surgery in March and spent the rest of the year recovering. I managed to play in six tournaments anyway, but at only somewhere between 50% and 85%. I was still feeling a little stiff at Nationals, and I was definitely not at full strength due to the seven months of inactivity pre- and post-surgery.

But by springtime, I was back to 100%, though of course 100% ain't what it used to be. I did some sessions with a personal trainer through an online coupon, then I discovered a cardio/core group workout in town and have been going once or twice a week since then. Add in the usual basketball/softball/tournaments/other workouts and I'm actually feeling pretty strong these days (again, see above 100% comment).

Because it was free, I applied for the World Championship of Beach Ultimate team, and got picked for the Masters team. When applying, I thought that I probably wouldn't go if selected, but once the selection actually happened, I got a bit stoked about it, so I'll be heading to Italy this August.

My frisbee season kicked off at another Italian beach tournament, Paganello, which is like Spring Break but with a four-day ultimate tournament thrown in. I played again with the team known this year as Los Rabbit. We had 17 players, up from about 11 two years ago when we lost in the finals as Los Ox. (The team won last year as Los Tiger but I couldn't make it.) This time I spent the day in Milan on my way there and walked around the city. I'm always impressed by the huge churches, in this case the Duomo, which when built was supposed to be able to accommodate all 40 000 of the city's inhabitants. As always, hanging out with friends and taking part in the event's festivities are a large part of the tournament. We had cocktail hour at the seaside hotel every night, including one night where the hotel had a wine and cheese party for its guests (we assumed at first that there was a private function, but then we found out it was for us, fresh off a late game). The big tournament party as always featured lots of people wearing weird costumes to fit the theme.

This was the tournament where I felt most like a role player. I belonged on the team, and I could have played more without the team getting worse as a result, but I could have also played less without the team getting worse. PT was fairly even in pool play (we never called subs), and I was moving and playing very well. Prior to the quarterfinals, for some still undetermined reason, I completely hit the wall and felt like I was running in very thick and deep sand. I couldn't even play without feeling like I couldn't make it through the point if we turned it. (I did get a layout block early but am pretty sure it was gift-wrapped for me by the thrower.) I took myself out of the game because it was so close and we had lots of options. I recovered a bit for the semis later that day but still felt pretty crappy. Even the next day after a relatively calm Sunday night, I still felt like crap, so in some ways, my performance in the finals should rank among my career highlights, even though I only played 4 or 5 points (about half of our O points), since I had to go all-out just to play (and I distinctly remember hearing myself breathing fast while running down the field). Anyway, got my first Paganello championship. Perhaps my biggest accomplishment, though, was in making my flight back despite the Italian transportation system doing its best to thwart me. Don't believe it when you hear "at least the trains run on time."

A few weeks later was the White Mountain Open. Rain forced us to move to a multi-purpose sports facility in Quechee. But never before had I seen a combination driving range/inclined polo field. We started off the day with only 7 players and added two late in the first round. We played well enough through 1.5 games before collapsing. I had to start calling timeouts to give us some extra rest. (It didn't help me that I had done a particularly hard cardio/core workout the day before.) We got a few extra people on Sunday and that made a big difference, and we stormed back to take 9th place. At 13-13 in the finals we threw it away in their end zone, but Alex made the defensive play of the day. He ran "full speed" into an opponent and his girlish yelp of pain/fear threw off the cutter enough that he stopped his cut to see what was going on and the disc (which was in the air) hit the ground. We punched it in, then got a break to win 15-13.

Next was the GM qualifier. One of the teams bailed and blamed the USAU for their not knowing what was going on, so we played only two games. Again I had a hard cardio/core the day before so was a bit fatigued, but it didn't matter. Our whole team played a bit sloppy. We won, though, and qualified for the GM championship, which is this weekend in Ohio.

A few weeks later was the Boston Invite. The Masters RC was able to work it out with the TD that we could have a pool of Masters teams on Saturday, thus counting as a Masters tournament that will require one fewer team at fall Masters Regionals in order to avoid the anti-wildcard. We had our best day of DoG Masters in quite some time, winning all four games, including 15-10 against the Canadian team GLUM (who weren't at full strength). We played a team of Dominicans + Brodie + a couple other Americans in the 9-24 pre-quarters, jumped out to an 8-4 lead, and limped home to a 14-12 win. This put us in the 9-16 quarters against Mephisto. We were already starting to lose players and so did open subbing. We started out well, going up a break, and even had a second break but it was called back on a pick that the defender would have had no chance on, we turned it, and they didn't look back. We were then scheduled for two consolation games, but we were down to fewer than 10 people who _could_ play and nearly 1 who actually _wanted_ to play, so we discussed with the other teams and arranged it so that we didn't have to play and the teams who wanted to play could play.

And as I mentioned, this leads us to today. We are seeded 2nd in the GM tournament, with a likely semifinal matchup against Surly. Top seed and defending champ Old And In The Way is most likely not going to be as strong as last year due to having to leave Colorado this year (and the rest of us will not have to acclimate). It's always a pleasant change to go from playing against young kids who are eager to lay out into you to playing against old guys who are even more afraid of hurting themselves.