Sunday, June 27, 2010

Are we crazy?

When I first joined a pool league, I never imagined that I would become so involved in the competitive aspects of the sport. I just enjoyed playing pool.

It never occurred to me that there were people who would spend a week of vacation in Vegas, at a tournament, that would require you to start 4 hour matches at 11pm, and then get up the next morning to do the same thing at 8am. I have a love-hate relationship with this part of pool. On the one hand, there's nothing more exhilarating than pushing through the exhaustion to play well when it really counts after a marathon of a tournament. On the other hand, sometimes I dread devoting a whole weekend for an event, knowing I could come up empty handed and completely spent at the end. (Okay, never really empty-handed because you always come away with the experience).

I watched some of the stream from Vegas OMGWTF v Borana match in May. Their match started around 11pm, and I fell asleep around 1:30 or 2:00. I woke up about 7, wondering what the outcome had been. If I had gotten my butt out of bed to restart my computer, I could have watched the end of the match live, because it was still going!!! It was inspiring.

But then sometimes when I try explain what I'll be doing on my vacation this year, or talk about how impressive the OMGWTF/Borana match was, I kind of wonder if we're just not at least a little bit crazy?

Fortunately, we're in good company, as there are plenty of other past-times (read: obsessions) that make all-night pool seem like rose gardening. Back in May, RadioLab aired an episode on Limits, and people who try to ignore them, which really puts it into perspective. Also, they discuss some interesting research that shows that physical limits, as we know them, are not necessarily absolute, but a way to keep our bodies from using up all its resources. Even better, there seem to be some ways to trick our body into giving up the extra reserve (although one of them involves exhaustion so extreme that it causes paranoid delusions. But hey, whatever gets you across the finish line, right?)

A couple of stories featured:

Julie Moss who entered the 1982 iron man without any serious training, or serious competitive intentions, and then found herself in the lead, without carbohydrates.


Race Across America, an eight-day bicycle race across the continental U.S. Jure Robic, a Slovenian cyclist has won the race 5 times ( he won again earlier this month after the RadioLab show aired). The guy reportedly slept only 8 hours during the entire race.

Anyway, the next time I'm feeling sorry for myself that its late, I'm tired, hungry and don't want to play my match, I'll be thinking of these guys.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

A return trip to the desert buffet....

You know stuff like this really does deserve more of a build up, but I'm tired and kinda busy, so I'm just going to lay it out there: I'm headed back to Vegas for APA Team Nationals.

Of course, because I haven't been blogging much lately you can't really appreciate how crazy that is. At the beginning of the session, I joined a team that was designed to be a serious Vegas contender. (Basically a sister team, to the team I went to Vegas with last year). Then we had handicap issues and I was forced join a second team to guarantee I could play from time to time. My handicap issue was short-lived, as I returned to my average average, but by that point, I was stuck on both teams.

My original team never really took off. It was my second team, my B-team, that managed to rise to the occasion. Just to make things a little more twisted, in the finals, we played my Vegas team from last year. After I sunk the match winning 8-ball, my opponent, a player I deeply respect and admire, turned to the captain and said "I think we taught her a little too much."

It was bittersweet, but I was proud that I came through for my team. You gotta dance with the one that brought you.