The word savage is defined as "cruel, vicious, hostile," and when applied to ultimate frisbee the definition does not lose its meaning. In ultimate, the word savage is used when one player has to play the entire game. Games are played to 15 points, but seldom do you ever play just 15 points. At a maximum, you play for two hours with a break at half time. Sunday, we only had two girls (including myself) show up to play ultimate. Therefore, I had my first experience with playing savage.
When I go out for my runs, it's always the first mile that's the hardest, but once I'm closing in on the 2 mile mark, I realize that I'm already invested in this run and I just need to keep pushing. The same was certainly true for ultimate, with the first few points being the hardest and then it slowly got easier, probably once I realized I wasn't going to catch a break. I was switching back and forth between the role of a cutter and a handler. I was sprinting all over the field, chasing after the person I was defending and trying to sprint to an open spot on the field. After about 6 points, my head was in a fog from all of the running and strategizing, and it would be at this point that I would take a break and sit on the sideline so I could gather myself and bring my intensity back up. Unfortunately, this was impossible, and I was required to use the brief respites between points to try to clear my head and remain amped for the rest of the game.
I haven't handled in a long time, so my dump cuts definitely needed work. In ultimate, there are usually two handlers who move the disc back and forth between each other and to the cutters in the field. When the handler with the disc does not have a throw upfield, he or she will look at the other handler for a bail out. The other handler (who is being guarded) needs to make a series of jukes and cuts (referred to as dump cuts) to get open to bail that handler out, resetting the disc and hoping for another cut upfield. There are many different kinds of dump cuts you can make, but most of mine did not seem to be working.
By the second half of the game I had got a second wind, but I was still exhausted. I decided that if I wasn't going to be sprinting all over the field when we played offense, I would need to step it up on defense. I love guarding the second handler because I love blocking off that dump cut and forcing the other handler with the disc to throw it away. I tried to guard the second handler as much as possible, telling myself to stay on my toes and really follow where the second handler (the dump) was going. Even when I was in the stack, guarding one of the cutters, I kept telling myself to stay on my toes so I could block the girl trying to cut in, making sure she didn't get on my outside. I shut them down a few times, they got the disc a few times, but in the end we won the game and I had a lot of fun.
When I woke up yesterday morning I was not as sore as I originally thought I would be (yet even as I am writing this I can feel some tightness in my calves). Two weeks ago I was sore for two days after we had played, everything from my hips to my ankles. This either means that I am in better shape than I thought or I didn't push myself enough during the game. At least now I know my threshold, so if this situation ever comes up again I know how hard and fast I should be running in order to have the endurance and stamina to play throughout the game.
Now that I know I can run/jog for 2 hours (more or less), I should really be pushing myself on my 4 mile runs. I'm also going to be incorporating some sprint workouts into my training in order to boost my speed on and off the field. During college, I was really only somewhat competitive when I played ultimate. Sure, I wanted to win, but I never really felt like I had that "edge" that would push me on the field to play my best and my hardest. This summer, I hope to achieve that edge and turn myself into a competitive player. Because I won't be doing any races this summer, I hope to use ultimate as my motivation for my workouts during the week. Oh, and speaking of motivation, I have a story that I'd like to share and also to keep for myself as a motivator for when I do my runs.
As some of you may remember, I was in an article about running your first 5K a couple of weeks back. Around the same time, my mom joined Weight Watchers. She went to a meeting the other day where she saw the mother of one of the girls in her class. My mom was talking to her about joining WW and the woman said she had just signed up for a 10K. My mom asked if she had been reading the series in the newspaper and the woman said that she had been skimming over it but there was one particular article that caught her eye about a young woman who had just picked up running and had just ran her first 5K and was running another one and she inspired her to get back into running. My mom asked if there was a picture attached to the article and the woman replied that there was and it was such a nice picture and had such an inspiring quote. So finally my mom couldn't hold back any longer and pointed out that the young woman in the article was her daughter, and the woman got so excited. She told my mom to tell me that I was in part her inspiration to start running again. When I had been interviewed for this article I doubted that people would actually read it. It was extremely flattering and humbling to hear that someone was motivated by my story and what I had said and it inspired her to start running again. It was really all I could ask for. I hope that other people out there (whether from reading this blog or that article) would be inspired to start running, even if it's just around the block or track a couple of times or running while playing a sport. I cannot stress enough how good running is for you, and I hope that today is the day you decide to put on those sneakers and go outside for a jog. What will be your motivation?