Friday, March 6, 2009

Winter Thaw

Aside from the excitement of the 7's World Cup going on as I type this (GO USA MEN AND WOMEN!!!) it's been a bit quiet for a while in the rugby world, but with the Northeast (finally) thawing out a bit, I am just as eager as anybody to get back outside and get to work.

This winter has been full of injuries and illnesses for me ever since Christmas, so I have been taking it rather easy. It seems the time off has done me well, however, as I am feeling strong and recharged, and ready to get my lungs in shape to play some great rugby this spring.

Aside from playing, I have been spending much of my time assistant coaching Princeton Women's Rugby as their head coach, ES, has been off globe-trotting around the world with the Men's 7s National Team. Coaching is a whole different thing entirely from playing, and it has been a learning experience, but I'm certain that looking on the situations from a new perspective will allow me to become a better player in the end, not to mention helping out a great group of athletes so that they do not have to go coach-less for much of the spring.

Coming back from illness, I have been putting in some pretty serious lifting and crossfit workouts over the past week, however today will be the first day that I start to get my lungs stretched out from their bout with bronchitis. I've committed lately to putting an emphasis on skills, so fitness sessions are going to be coupled with passing and kicking much of the time over the course of season. At any rate, I thought I'd share what I've come up with for the day in case anyone else would like to give it a whirl.

More updates (and possibly some excitement!) to come as the spring progresses!

Here is the workout:

400 meter easy jog, dynamic WU

Ladders x 6 w/ ball in hand
x 6 side-step movement repetitions

Passing progression
pop to wall (2 each)
pass to wall - no wrist (2 each)
pass to wall - wrist (2 each)
pass to wall - 5m jog (2 each)

rest 2 min

SH Shuttles (300m shuttle w/ passes)
5 balls/passes
30 m
x 5
1 min rest b/w reps

rest 3 min

kicking progression
100 meter down/back walking tap
100 meter down/back jog/tap
100 meter down/back grubbers

kick and gather x 10 (various kicks - box, pop, chip, grub) (50 m sprint, jog back)

400 meter easy jog/stretch

--Approx. 3500 meters total running--

Wednesday, January 21, 2009 I didn't completely think of it on my own. A friendly leprechaun/rugby coach friend of mine gave me the initial idea. is a passing contraption for scrumhalfs who don't have friends to catch the ball for them all the time. A tire, held aloft by a rope, or possible held out from a wall by ginormous nails or whatever you wish, is connected to a net/returning device of your choosing which is angled back toward the passer for easy retrieval.

Here is a diagram:

Unfortunately, I have no place to put such a thing. But SOMEDAY I will create this and my life will be complete.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

I think back to my days as an English major, and I remember those circular class discussions which posed such questions as "Why are we here?", "Who are we?", "Do we even exist?", etc, etc. The questions were never answered, and we mostly laughed about the discussions. However, I always walked away from those talks feeling slightly uncomfortable. "Wait...why are we here????" I would ask myself as I marched away to my next class, or perhaps out to my car for the drive home. I would be prompted to question why it is I do the things I do - which things really make me happy, which things are actually necessary (if there is such a thing), and why I do the things that aren't. Inevitably, these questions would fade after a few hours and I would fall back into my routine, performing the ins and outs of daily life without much thought as to a motive. It's impossible to question every action of every day without driving oneself insane, so this was probably a good thing...

Today as I begrudgingly walked back and forth between the sweaty-man filled basketball courts and lycra infused weight room at LA Fitness in order to fulfill the requirements of my plyo-power day, I hit a wall of "rugby existentialism". "Why the f@#$ am I doing this?" I kept asking myself. Not that it stopped me....even as mentally I was questioning my desire to even BE at the gym, physically I was marching through the program right on cue. 4 hang cleans, sprints off the ground, box jumps, now back to do power snatches...and on and on until the entire process is finished, I'm bundled up, and headed back to my house, exhausted.

At least that's one reason for doing what I do - tuckering myself out. I tend to have a bit of a problem with thinking too much (like right now, for example) and at least when I am tired I am more likely to let things go. However, there are plenty of other ways to get oneself tired. Being social, for instance. Or perhaps getting a job that gets me off of the couch a few days a week...

But okay, let's say that it's good to work out because of health benefits. This may be true, but what I do goes way beyond health benefits. Working out the numbers, it's downright scary how much time I spend on rugby/training in general. On average, let's say I spend 2 hours per day, 6 days per week doing some form of exercise - lifting/running/etc. That's 12 hours. Then add to that about 3 hours per week of skills in some form - sometimes they are outdoors, sometimes it's just indoor handling work, it varies. So that's 15 hours. Now add analyzing at least 3 games per week of 80 min...that's around 4 hours. So 19 hours. Now input all the random stuff I do throughout the day such as pullups, pushups, situps, etc, as well as the transit time to and from all of this working out, not to mention the hours I spend planning my workouts, reading info, doing mental imagery "workouts", talking about rugby, etc, etc, etc....and you get the idea. I spend A LOT of time being a rugby player and I certainly do not get paid for it.

So then, if I do not get paid, why else might I do it. Well, there's the obvious, given this blogsite: I have set goals for myself. Very true. I have in the past (and still may, though I try not to let on so much these days) had a goal of playing on the Women's National Team. This goal used to be at the heart of every decision, every movement, every thought I had throughout almost every day. I never asked why, because I knew. I transferred universities for this goal, I avoided relationships for this goal, I set aside career opportunities and jobs and this goal. I don't say this bitterly, however, because I miss the days of life being so simple. Nothing makes me happier and more purpose driven than to be able to say "I am doing this, and this is why". It's clean, it's simple...A + B = C, that sort of thing.

Yet, somehow, things got muddier over the past couple of years. I still have this goal, though it's much more difficult for me to readily admit it. That's the thing about goals. They get scarier once you actually admit them, especially if the people you admitted them to are all standing around staring at you saying, "Well....isn't it about time??"

Lately I have been thinking to myself, isn't it interesting how we adjust our answers to those observers according to the outcome.....for example, were I to get some sort of tour invitation in the next few years, I'm sure I would say something like, "I never gave up hope, I fell down a thousand times and just kept on going. I worked hard day in and day out, and it paid off". On the other hand, let's say it never happens. I would say something more along the lines of, "Life is about the journey, sometimes we set goals and they have to be adjusted according to the circumstances. I may not have gotten what I originally set out for, but I had wonderful experiences, made wonderful friends, and enjoyed being a great athlete while I was able".

It makes me chuckle just to write this. Because neither statement is true, nor are they lies. I do work hard day in and day out, and yes, life is about the journey. But on the other hand, I have given up hope a million times, and hell NO I don't think goals are 'adjusted to the circumstances', I think that sometimes we just aren't good enough and have to make up excuses and compromises to make ourselves feel better....

So again, back to my questions of why I do what I do. Technically, I could simply let myself off the hook a little, and assume I am never going to reach my previous "goal" - "adjust to the circumstances," if you will. But then what? Something tells me that even then I would keep coming to the gym, keep banging out reps, keep working toward a futile self improvement. I could tell people that it's for my team - though the truth is that my team would be fine with or without me, and has plenty enough (and certainly capable enough!), players in my position to take care of business whether I show up or not.

Honestly, I don't know why I do it. And maybe this random blog will have to end the way those discussions of "Why am I here?" always did...without any answers. I can't say why I work so hard, or why it matters, or why I even choose to play rugby at all. I don't know anything except that I do it, and that I have no choice. No matter how I feel tomorrow, no matter what happens, I will wake up and know that training for rugby is going to be a part of my day. It is who I am, it is the person and the life I've created for myself, and I don't know just is.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

The International Rugby Board (IRB) has just appointed a Women's Rugby Development Manager. This is a big step for the development of the women's game across the globe. Read about it here!

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Today my roommates and I went on a little adventure to get a Christmas tree. We went to a tree farm just outside the city, rode on a hay ride to the field where they keep the trees, and then had to cut down our own tree by ourselves! We struggled a bit with the cutting (as portrayed by the video), but eventually got our little conifer home safe and sound. Now if only we had some ornaments....

Saturday, December 6, 2008

...Pandora Radio is maybe the coolest freaking thing EVER.

Okay....maybe not for everybody, but I listen to music a lot. Like...a whole lot. I work from home and have to sit on my computer for at least 8 hours a day. For at least half of that time I am listening to music. When I am in the car I listen to music...running...lifting...walks with, you get the picture - I am constantly engrossed in noise.

If I'm going to be bombarding my eardrums all the time, I might as well make it worthwhile. I enjoy many different types of music depending on my mood and what I'm doing, and am constantly looking for new stuff to download. There are so many different bands and sounds out there and it can be a lot of work just finding stuff that you enjoy. I tend to search for songs I've heard on TV shows or use itunes new "genius song finder" when I have the time.

Recently, I have decided to delve into internet radio. When I went home I discovered a surprisingly cool station that was "all the rage" in the big city of Pikeville, and decided that it would be cool to listen to it online from time to time. My friend RA also mentioned that he listens to radio from home overseas occasionally, so I thought I'd check out some random stations from abroad to see what's all the rage with the funny-talkers these days.

All that was going okay and I was finding a new, cool song occasionally after sifting through the crap. Yesterday, however, I discovered Pandora. I went to the website and it asked me to type in the name of an artist or a song. I chose Ryan Adams (slightly mainstream, slightly obscure folk-rock artist whose songs make it on a lot of tv show soundtracks). Pandora tells me that it is creating a radio station based on music that sounds like that of Ryan Adams....huh?

As the songs come up, it asks me to tell it whether I like them or not. Thumbs up - it tells me it's glad I liked it and that it will pick more to suit me. Thumbs down - it immediately changes the song and APOLOGIZES for picking that one?!?! Holy sh*t! How fun!

To add variety, I tell it more songs/artists that I like so that it will find more stuff to suit my tastes! I can also bookmark songs that I may want to buy/download, and look at the playlists of other people who have been listening to similar songs as me! AMAZING!! And it is FREE. free. free. free.

I love free things. And I love I am pretty freaking happy about this. Just wanted to share the happiness.....if you haven't already, check it out.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Since I have been "resting" / being sick for the past week or so, I have come to realize something: I do not do well with rest. Not. at. all. Rest makes me feel crazy and pathetic and worthless. Because I am not as tired as usual - mentally or physically - my brain starts spinning a hundred miles per hour and I force misery upon myself to occupy the emptiness. Also, I have lot more trouble sleeping - which sucks, because I don't sleep well to begin with - which reinforces my misery.

Also, I have come to realize something about my general state of emotion. I think that I am naturally a bit miserable and unhappy. Sure, I have days where I am happy and days where I am unhappy like everyone else....but I was thinking really hard about it lately to try to figure out why there seem to be more unhappy days than happy ones, for no apparent reason at all. When I am unhappy, it seems that there doesn't really have to be a cause. If I am relaxing, or if I turn off the "noise" from the world....that seems to be the state I fall into. If I am happy, however, I am usually doing something. I am training or working or outdoors or with someone who makes me happy. Happy is work. Happy is active. And when I get tired on those happy days and feel myself slowing down, I feel the unhappy creeping up. It's why I am constantly in a state of "noise". If I attempt to work or train or drive in can pretty much guarantee that I'll come out on the other side of that a little more angry and dejected than I was when I started. If I turn off the noise on the outside, my brain fills it on the inside with much less positive noise. It sucks because, quite frankly, sometimes I could use a little peace and quiet...

At any rate, in order to spare myself and those who are forced to interact with me a bit of grief over the winter (not my best time...) I have decided to enact weekly skill development.

It is my goal to do/try/learn something new each week. It could be anything from knitting to yoga to a new language or whatever. If, after the week, I decide that it's something I really like, then I can extend my learning period (obviously I'm not going to knit a quilt or learn a new language in a week).

The goal of this is to A) fill the white space in my brain, and B) to "improve myself"

Maybe this plan will stick and maybe it won't....but it's worth a try. I decide on each new thing on Friday evenings, pick up a book or research it on Saturday, and continue my learning throughout the week. I have not yet decided on my skill for today and the coming week, so feel free to offer suggestions!


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