Monday, February 28, 2011

The Art & Grace of Losing

The very somber and quiet post-trophy-coaching-pep-talk.
The girls! Rach, Aiko, Katie, Kels, Dave, Rebecca, Sky, Lauren and 'Coach Alex'
REAL COACHES coach in vibram-five finger shoes!!!

For those followers of this blog, you know that this year is my first year coaching girls basketball for my buddhist church (Oakland Buddhist Church, AKA 'da OBC' or, the more politically correct: 'BCO'). The girls I coach are 11 year olds who have discovered the frustrations of the Angry Birds iPhone app, Justin Beiber (don't get me started), what 'Veganism' is and most recently, how to lose with grace and dignity.

Now, I'm not one to gloat and boast my, definitely not that type :-) But let it be known that in my first season coaching girls, my girls completely ran the tables! In our division, we played NINE GAMES AND WON ALL NINE GAMES. We were a perfect 9-0 heading into a tournament which was held in Berkeley this past weekend.

Game 1, we win, easy peezy. My girls are well-coached (thank you, thank you), well-balanced and well-versed in the battle arts known as women's hoops. As a result, we sail into the championship game against an opponent we have man-handled 3 out of 3 times. Little did we all know that going into our final game of the season, my newly 10-0 team would become a 10-1 team. And what a championship game it turned out to be. It went into overtime and for girls ball, overtime = sudden death (first to score = the winner). We ended up losing the game against this team by a free-throw. Game over. 14 to 13.

At which point, I saw my girls starting to tear up, and they came running to me apologizing. 'For what?!' I asked. But in reality, I knew they were apologizing not for their performance, but for losing the game. In my heart of hearts, I have been there. In fact, I have lost the game for my team twice and uttered the same words and cried into my dads arms. Those long faces full of sadness and disappointment. Ahh yes, it brought it all back to me. The other team rushed the court, the parents were up in arms for their kids and everyone was happy for them. My girls lined up to shake hands, faces dejected watching the on-going celebration that didn't stop. Few times have I ever felt so gutted; gutted because I too, had been exactly in their shoes. I too understand and can sympathize with their feelings.

Needless to say, we had a long team hug and the trophy celebration was a very somber one. Little did I realize that in all my teachings of basketball, my girls would turn around and teach me something about basketball and life. In order to win, one must lose. IN order to succeed one must know failure. Ask Michael Jordan and he'll tell you the same thing (google: Jordan quote failure). My girls played like all-stars and they stepped off the court as all-stars too. This post is dedicated to them and their effort, heart, ambition and desire.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Back to Bike Racing...YET AGAIN

And so, here we are, days away from my first bike race since...since....gosh. It's been a while. I'd say May of last year? Sheeeeeesh! And why the long hiatus? Well, much like Will Hunting [movie: Good Will Hunting] I was 'finding myself'. Asking the deep questions, eating like a walrus doped up on steroids and trying my hand at triathlons with little success. I'll be tee-ing it up in Cantua Creek on Saturday in what looks to be a pretty rainy and overcast day; quite the departure from 'warmish-around78-degrees' that Hawaii is huh??

But rest assured the beat goes on. And not long after that I'll be doing a time trial and then learning the ropes of track cycling - where I honestly believe I have found my calling with respect to racing. One thing that is different from this year as opposed to last year is my approach towards racing my bike. Granted bike racing is serious business and as always, I'll be looking to attack, attack, attack and attack with the intention of challenging myself. Because I've found in my journey that I do much better psychology when it becomes me vs. me rather than me vs. the field; and hence, my love affair with the individual pursuit. I believe there's something to be said when it's athlete vs. athlete, will vs. will where there is no draft, no wheel-sucking or any shennanigans allowed. I'm all for this type of competition.

In other interesting news, I've been eating waaaaay too many bananas as of late and have switched to more strawberries much to my liking. In California, oranges, strawberries and apples seem to in season and that's great news for us weeeeeegans! I've also become a big fan of making my own pasta sauce; something that, until recently, I defaulted to Molto Mario's sauce from Whole Foods [check this out, very clean ingredients!]. Pretty simple stuff and I'll describe it here:
1) Heat lots of EVOO and garlic in a pot.
2) Add strained tomatoes (you can buy these at whole foods comes in a glass jar)
3) add salt to taste. Finito.
Easy as 1-2-3, literally!

Thursday, February 10, 2011


HOURS on the bike!

Breakfast of champs!

Wow, I've been gone a long time haven't I. Yes, I know I shouldn't take these 'leaves of absence'..yea I know I left you all stranded, hanging, and feeling like you are [soon to be] President Mubarak of Egypt. Well have no fear, after a nice break from my social life [i.e. blog] I'm back to being a person, finger in-tact. Ms. Denise thought it funny that I show a picture of my bleeding thumb but I thought it best not to. Frankly, I got grossed out just by looking at the cespool of my hemoglobin that was left to be mopped up using medical scrubs. Ugh..enough of that.

Anywho...I've been busy riding the biccicleta on the trackeez and on the roadeez. In short, I <3 the track. Did ya notice that? I just used a 'young persons' emoticon for 'love'. Oh yea. I'm up with the times...are you?! Track cycling is like the first time I ate at Cafe Gratitude and experienced what raw food could be [i.e. more than blended beverages and LaraBars...not that I have a problem mind you!]. I had so much fun I kept going back and back and back. Difference between track vs road bike: No brakes. Difference between track vs. road efforts: Races aint that you better make it count and pick your spots carefully. S*it happens in the blink of an eye on the track and normally that's all one needs to get away and STAY AWAY. Thus far, my favorite events that we work on during the Saturday morning nerd-newbie beginner sessions are: flying 200, INDIVIDUAL PURSUIT [oh yea...putting that V02 max to use!], the Kilo and the Team Pursuit. Essentially, I'm in favor of anything that pits athlete vs. athlete in an endurance event where there is no draft. I dig this. I dig this like the first time I laid eyes on vegan donuts. Like...DIG EM DIG EM.

I digress. Apologies. HOLY FRITES AND MAYONAISSE!!!! I just realized I have to show you what pics of breakfast look like! Okay so the above pics show how you make the ideal breakfast for weegan cyclists. If you follow the instructions of the previous blog, then this breakfast is a whopping 800 calories in one sitting! Love it! Best part: lots of sugar, carbs and fibre [and not that shit sugar Aunt Jemima be putting in her shit pancakes either!]. I argue this is exactly what the racer/competitive cyclist needs before a long training ride or serious effort. Easily digestible food that provides carbs, some protein and puts glycogen into the body. At my hungriest, I can only take down 2 bowls of this and I highly suggest you take down at least one each day. Hell, I've been doing that for so long, I forgot what 'regular' breakfast tastes like. Then again, I am a waskally weegan in the words of Elmer Fudd.