Thursday, August 30, 2012

I Can't Wait to Finish Second Again

Since when did this turn into a family soccer blog?  Maybe because I’ve been running and writing about running for five plus years now and I’m looking for new source material.  Anyway, as usual, I’ll loosely connect this post to running so stick with it….if you care at all about puppies and orphans.

Soccer season is in full bloom around these parts.  My colt hasn’t even started high school yet – first day is next week – but he’s already played four junior varsity games, committed a fairly flagrant – but uncalled – tripping penalty in the box, and been knocked to the ground with a two-handed shove WWE-style by a frustrated forward.  There’s been a severe verbal altercation between warring school tribes in the stands enough to bring security over.  And a rousing victory with a goal scored with one second on the clock!  The season is off and rolling.

And he hasn’t even begun to play with his eyes open yet…

Meanwhile, my cantankerous filly started her season with tournament play.  And a new position.  To take advantage of her speed and aggressiveness, she’s been moved from center midfielder to striker.  Since her favorite Team USA players are AbbyWambach and Alex Morgan, both strikers, this fits nicely. 

After a lethargic 4-0 loss in game 1, the team destroyed the tourney’s hometown club 11-1.  Proving once again (are you listening Mrs. Nitmos?) that size DOESN'T matter, here's an image captured of our team competing - and destroying - the slow, lumbering Jolly Green Giants: 
Her head wouldn't fit in the frame.
Then they took down a previously undefeated squad 2-1 to march their way into the finals for a rematch with the team they lost to in game 1.

She was up for the rematch.  Ninety degree heat be damned…

It was a battle.  She was literally physically tackled twice as she continually split the defense with her speed and the opposing team was left to trip and grab to prevent a run at the goal.  A 1-0 lead evaporated to a 1-1 tie.  Outside of a 3 minute rest break in the first half (30 minute halves), the filly never left the field and repeatedly pounded away at the opposing teams D but just could not break through with a goal.  The opposing goalie made a jumping two handed save to stop her 15 yard blast with about 8 minutes remaining. A game saver, as it turned out. 

The perpetual in game scowl….

A regulation tie led to a ten minute overtime. In 90 degree heat.

The teams remained tied.  Unbelievably, the ref blew the whistle to end overtime as my filly stood alone with the ball at her feet 20 feet from the goal.  No breakaway continuation, ref??  Seriously??  Onto a shootout.

Which was lost 3-2.  The team has finished runner-up in three consecutive tournaments.

I’ve won a few race day age group awards in my time.  Whether it’s 1st or 5th, I have no problems celebrating the award, caressing it, being slightly unnatural with it, lording it over everyone’s head and just generally being obnoxious.  This, truly, is the Nitmos Way you all know and love.  But, for my filly, anything less than first never seems to be good enough.

She grumbled and pouted for half the drive home.  And then, from the backseat, we heard her exhale and sarcastically mutter, “I can’t wait to finish second again in the next tournament.”

Suddenly, my age group 2nd place coffee mug doesn’t seem so cool anymore.

Happy trails.
Filly’s totals = 7 goals (of team’s 14) in four games, two crossbars, and one accusation from an opposing player’s mom of “choking her daughter”.  Good times, good times.  
17 miles on deck this Sunday along the Leelanau Trail.  Nice!

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

NYC Marathon Train is Busy Training

So, have you all been behaving since I’ve been gone over the last MONTH?  Yes, I haven’t posted in five weeks.  Missed me?  The Olympics have come and gone since then.  Quick recap #1:  Bolt is still fast.   Phelps can still swim.   American women are still pretty good at soccer (much to the inspiration of my filly.)  Also, Ian has posted three times (?!?) since my last post (though it appears he has returned to the safety of his group home now.)

When I last left you, I mentioned that I take so much vacation because I earn so much vacation.  I was pretty snarky about it, in fact.  Rest assured, I don’t earn that much vacation.  My employer would probably say I don’t "earn" any vacation but they are contractually bound to provide the days that they do, God bless ‘em (and state laws).  The fact is that I got caught up in the summer lazies where writing a blog post just seemed like too. much. work. 

But I have been running.  Oh, I’m always running.   Who needs a blog for motivation and accountability?  Probably the same recreational amateur runners that are hiring other recreational amateur runners as coaches, I guess.  Nope, I run and that never changes no matter how much I post.

I haven’t raced all year.  Wow, unbelievable.  That streak will be ending soon.  The Dances with Dirt 100k team relay is a month away.  Then, the BIG EVENT FOR 2102: the New York City Marathon

Training for a marathon is like boarding a train.  It pulls from the station slowly but then it gathers steam and starts barreling down the tracks uncontrollably.  Just hang on and hope it doesn’t flip you off over a ravine Tony Scott style*.  Days go by, mileage increases, toe nails blacken, gauntness appears in the bathroom mirror….and it ain’t gonna stop until the train reaches its destination on November 4th in Central Park.

It has taken me awhile to get my body back in shape this season.  I’m just now starting to see the times and distances I expect.  Maybe it’s because I’m 41?  Maybe it’s because of the unnatural heat this summer?  Maybe it’s because I need a coach?  Maybe it’s because I downloaded this Vampire Weekend album to my iPod on a whim and then listened as it systemically destroyed a run with its odd syncopated beats?  Weird shit.  I didn’t know if I was listening to calypso-disco or goth-necrophilia.  Ever want to rip the ear buds out of your ear out of frustration while cranking some mile repeats?**  I returned to the safety of some Social Distortion at the very next break.

The long run train is in the 14-15 mile range now.  After a step back long run this weekend, we’ll move along to a nice 17 miler along the Leelanau Traverse City-to-Suttons-Bay trail over Labor Day.  I love this run.  It winds through the country up along the West Traverse Bay peninsula near Madonna’s Dad’s wine farm.  His grapes are fresh and unspoiled.  I like to touch them so they are touched for the very first time.  And when I say “grapes” this is not a euphemism I actually mean grapes.  If I was talking about Madonna's Dad's euphemistic grapes, I would probably have used 'raisins' instead.  Somehow, her Dad failed to cash in on the obvious marketing crossover of cone-shaped wine bottles.  Missed opportunity?  I think so.  Tsk tsk.

Meanwhile, when I’m not hanging onto the NYC train, I’m resting aching muscles along the edge of a soccer pitch somewhere in middle mitten Michigan.***

Quick recap #2:  I’m training for a marathon.  I’m watching copious amounts of youth soccer.  I’m ragging on amateur running coaches.  Heck, I might even end this post with a cliché “Happy Trails”.

Yup, the more things change around here the more they stay the same.

Happy trails.

*Too soon?
**Do they make black eye liner that won’t run under heavy sweating?  Or moisture wicking black combat boots?
***The colt is on his high school soccer team now.  Yes, I have a high school aged kid.  How did that happen?  Incidentally, they won their first game of the season a few days ago by scoring a goal with ONE SECOND remaining on the clock.  We, the parents, felt like we should riot or, at least, burn something in the bleachers but no one had a lighter.  Another missed opportunity...