Month: October 2012

Certainly didn’t see that coming

Lately I happened to observe an interesting behavior of mine. Whenever Arsenal loses a football match or India loses a cricket match or Nadal loses in a major tournament, I don’t write about it. I wait for the teams or players at fault to get back to winning ways to venture forth and record something. Writing about losses involves revisiting the scenes in my mind and I tend to avoid that. Like if I don’t write about it, I can pretend they didn’t happen.

Conventional wisdom will have you believe that being a man involves accepting victories and defeats on equal terms. That’s easier said than done. Generally, if the team I support wins a match, I feel a certain lightness in myself.. like the feeling I have even as I write this piece (The cause of said lightness discussed below). If the results go the other way, I tend to get depressed and in order to cope, I avoid thinking about it altogether.

Now this behavior may be a common trait among people, but I can only talk about myself. It may seem childish, but it is something that comes naturally to me. Something my subconscious mind does without my conscious mind being aware of it, although I can write about it so I know its happening. The question is: do I continue living this way or do I try to elevate myself to incorporate the ideal mentioned above. Victories and losses happen in my personal life too although they feel more intense and are generally more difficult to ignore. So can I develop a mechanism whereby I can handle losses or disappointments more effectively in sports that I follow and by an extension in my personal life. Something to think about..

Onto chronicling sporting news.. which is the primary reason for the existence of this blog.

Formula1

The Indian grand prix ended quite well for Ferrari given the starting positions of Alonso and Massa. Alonso finished second behind Vettel and Massa finished 6th in the race. Vettel now leads Alonso by 13 points and Ferrari trails Red Bull by 89 points. With three races to go, I don’t think there is any chance of Ferrari winning the Constructors title but if they can beat Mclaren to the second position, it would be a good season overall for them.

So 3 races to go and Red Bull definitely seems faster than Ferrari right now so Alonso will have to work his ass off if he hopes to come out on top. I hope some luck comes his way.

Arsenal

So Arsenal was back among victories as they labored to a 1-0 victory over QPR on Saturday. We weren’t at our fluid best and started quite sluggishly but we definitely improved as the game wore on and pressured them over the later stage of the game. Their keeper had a great game as he made a string of fantastic saves but Arteta secured the winning goal for us in the 84th minute. He was offside during the goal.. but who cares about that. We got 3 points and then Chelsea lost 3 points so we are 7 points behind them.

Then came yesterday’s remarkable match against Reading in the league cup. I thought it was an easy match and we would go through given the strength of the team. Boy was I wrong. I start off thinking that the match will start at 12:15. Come 12:15 there is no commentary about the match so I checked the site again and found that the match was actually starting at 1:15. I didn’t know if I would be awake by then but I still continued what I was doing.. nothing worth mentioning.

So 1:15 arrives and I feel too lazy to search for any streaming so I start the Arseblog Liveblog page. 10 minutes into the game and I see that they have a goal. I think.. okay we have a bad start. Come 20 minutes they have another goal. Really bad start. Then they have 3. The blogger is going on about us playing like shit. I check again later and they have 4. This is embarrassing. Losing this way to a team that was in the lower leagues last season gave me a shitty feeling. But the hopeful guy in me says.. it would be awesome if we made it 4-4. Not 5-4. I’m not thinking that far. Just 4-4.

Just before the break we score a goal through Walcott. I think.. okay we might just have a chance here. During the break I reach my objective and promptly fall asleep. I wake up at 3:00 and think the match might be over by now. So I check my phone. No its not over. We are into the 80th minute and the scoreline reads 4-2. I lose hope. Go back to sleep again. Wake up in the 87th minute. Still 4-2. We score another in the 90th minute. I think wow.. it would be fantastic to get another one. And voila! we have another in the 90+5th minute. Extra time was only 4 minutes so where did that minute come from?

Anyway in my sleepy state, I seem to have recollection of a knowledge that matches that end in a draw in the league cup are replayed. So I fall asleep. Wake up at 7 and open Goal.com to check reactions to the match. And Surprise!!! the page shows a picture of a gleeful Walcott and a headline that read along the lines: Arsenal win 7-5 in a 12 goal thriller. So while I was sleeping, the match went to added time and 4 more goals were scored. Walcott finished with a hat trick and Chamakh!!! scored a brace.

During my 2 year career as a fan, football has thrown at me a string of unpleasant surprises. But there have been a few pleasant ones too. A victory is a victory. But the manner is important if it has to stick in the mind. A 1-0 or 2-0 or even a 5-0 victory would have slipped from my mind. But to come from being 4 goals down and win is something that I wouldn’t want to forget. In the future, everytime we find ourselves in a similar position, I will remind myself of this match and tell myself that we can win from here. Even if we end up losing, the knowledge that we had won a similar game in the past would give me a measure of comfort.

Enough said for today I think.

Cometh the Bad Patch..

The last couple of weeks have been disappointing for me given that the teams I support have been performing quite poorly.

Arsenal

We went into the International break riding on the high of the win over West Ham and would have wanted to continue at the same pace but that wasn’t to be. We lost 2 matches in 4 days, first in the league against Norwich who then sat one above the bottom of the league and then we lost to Schalke in the Champions League. The loss in the league is more significant as the gap between Chelsea and us is now at 10 points. We sit 9th in the league currently behind West Ham, West Brom , Fulham etc. If we mess up today’s match, out title challenge will be practically over.

We need to win today’s match and hope that Man U wins over Chelsea tomorrow for there to be any chance of us having a shot at the title. In the Champions League, we sit 2nd in the group, 1 point behind Schalke. We will have to beat Schalke away to finish at top of the group and that is not an easy proposition. We will be playing some very important matches in November.. against Man U and Schalke away and Tottenham and Montpellier at home. The next 9 matches will decide our potential for this season.

Formula1

Alonso qualified in 5th position for the Indian Grand Prix tomorrow. Vettel had constantly chipped away at his lead in the last couple of months and will start tomorrows race in pole position, his 4th consecutive pole. He is currently having a 6 point lead over Alonso and with 3 races to go, tomorrows race is extremely crucial for both of them. I think Alonso’s aim would be to get the best possible position in tomorrows race and keep Vettel’s lead over him to as low as possible. Vettel will probably win tomorrow.

Cricket

So all 4 teams from the IPL crashed out of the Champions League. I don’t know why I am even mentioning this. I wasn’t very interested in the event in the first place. Anyway after the last two editions being won by Indian teams, this time we can’t even make it to the finals. Real cricket will start come mid-November when the first test between India and England starts. I’m waiting for that.

Training for Half- Marathon – Week 4,5

My training in the last couple of weeks was disrupted by rains. Monsoon comes to Chennai in October and I hope my schedule is not disrupted a lot. I still managed to clock 42 Kms these 2 weeks ending with the 15k run which I did today.

The early part of last week went as scheduled and I did the 5k hard run and a 7k moderate run but the rest of the week got washed out. I could do a 7k moderate run on Tuesday and had a 15k planned for Thursday. Rain came in my way again but I decided to run nonetheless. The result being that I ran 8 Kms in the drizzle and came home completely drenched. It was difficult to run in the rain but I had fun.

The 15k today started well. The climate was a little drier than usual which I think helped me a little. I made an arrangement to change bottles after 8kms so I had sufficient water for the whole run. I started slow and built up a good pace but after 6kms, I could feel myself tiring. At that point I didn’t know how much I could run so I decided to slow down a little and push on. At 10kms, I felt that my body was holding up pretty well compared to my previous long runs so I decided to push for 15. In the end I thought I made it easily. I finished strongly although I could feel the lower part of my body going a little numb. Stretching and recovery were good as I wasn’t overly tired by the run. Good signs I must say. Timing of 1:31 hours was also good. Adding another 6 kms for the marathon, at my current pace, my marathon timing would be 2:05 hours. It will be good if I could get it under 2 hours.

I have 5 more weeks to go. I’ll be able to do 4 more long runs before the marathon. I’ll have to pay attention to my body and see how it holds up in my long runs. My next long run will also be 15 kms.

Training for Half-Marathon – Week -3

Last week saw further improvement in capacity and stamina. On the runs on the weekdays, I was able to finish strongly with little or no muscle tightness. The recovery was also good. Earlier I had to sleep for a while after returning from a run but I was able to avoid that last week. I guess that indicated an increase in strength. The long run on the weekend went as planned. Finished the 13k with some energy to spare. Muscles were a little sore but it disappeared after a little stretching.  I didn’t need a long rest after the run so that is a positive sign as well.

I have noticed the fact that I seem to be losing lean muscle mass from my body. My chest is getting a little deflated and I can feel a change in my biceps too. I guess this is a byproduct of all that running but increasing protein intake should address that issue. I will be able to check my weight this week but I think I may have lost about 1 k.g. Will have to check. Anyway I have decided to increase the number of eggs I consume from this week.

Total mileage covered in last week was 29 Kms. I have planned a 15k run this weekend. The water I carried on the last run was barely enough for 13k. I will need another bottle for any more running. I’ll have to think about that. So the positives from last week are that my legs are shaping up very well for longer distances. My stamina is also increasing. My goal for this week would be to keep up the rate of improvement. Planned mileage for this week is 32k. Should go well.

Training for Half – Marathon week 1,2

A while back I was checking out Facebook and I happened to stumble upon this post about a BITSAA 5k run. I immediately felt that I should do the run. I was running  4 Kms up till then so I figured taking it to 5 would be easy. While browsing the web a few days later, I found out that there was a marathon event in Chennai in December. I went through the website doing more research about the event. I liked what I saw. So, I decided that I’d participate for the event and do a 10k run. I had 10 weeks to train which I figured would be enough.

That week I woke up early one day determined to run as far as I could. So I started off and ran and ran. After 6 Kms I felt my body drained of fluids so I had to stop. I ran 1 Km more in breaks and reached home strong. I had surprised myself. If I had carried water, I could have completed 8 Kms. 2K more at It’d be 10K. The 10K run didn’t seem like a challenge anymore. I wanted to push further. One step above was the half marathon. I decided I’d go for it.

I did some research about training schedules and diet and found lots of material. One particular website gave me a 10 week schedule for a half marathon aimed at beginners. I had 9 weeks left but I had been running a lot lately so I decided I could forward myself 1 week. I started training with 9 weeks to go.

The training involved running on alternative days and building on mileage. Easy runs on weekdays and a long run on weekend. The schedule mentioned doing cross training on one weekday but since that option in not available to me, I am running on that day too. I did a 10k on the first weekend. I could do about 6k after which I had to take a break. I was carrying water in a half liter bottle so hydration wasn’t an issue. I had to take  4 breaks to complete the rest 4 Kms but I still completed the 10 K within an hour.

The first run was difficult. My legs were sore and I was exhausted. I timed 58:30 min which meant I was running faster than 10 kph. I reached my room , did some stretching and slept for a couple of hours. I felt a little down the rest of the day and couldn’t really call upon my usual reserves of energy. This was on a saturday. The BITSAA 5k run was to be held the next day. I wasn’t sure if I could participate in the event. I woke up the next morning and felt pretty strong. There were no after effects or soreness so I decided to do the 5k. I did the run with a timing of 28:30. mins. There were a lot of nice people assembled at the run so I decided to stay back and attend the picnic also. It was fun.

To complete the half marathon and finish strongly, I have to do two things. One is to build my stamina and the second is to  train my legs to be capable of doing 21 Kms. The second week started with a hard run on Tuesday. I realized the importance of the hard run while doing it. In my normal long runs, my pace was slow and the range of motion of my legs was limited. In a hard run, I had to raise my pace so I lengthened my stride along with quickening my pace. The result was that my hips were experiencing an increased range of motion. I could see how this was helping my training. By freeing up my hips, I was enabling myself decrease the amount of effort I put into each stride.

There is a threshold beyond which if I increased my stride, I would start tiring quickly. So the challenge is to increase the stride yet not to tire myself in the process. The hard run also contributes towards building of stamina. My training on weekdays currently involves one hard run and two easy/moderate runs. Out of these, the hard is the most important and needs focus. The easy runs are just to get some mileage into the legs.

I had planned a 13k run at the end of the second week. During the week, I bought a powder called Isotonik which said it would help in replacing lost salts and provide glucose. Something like Gatorade. I managed to complete 10k by the end. Even that was a push. There were a couple of mistakes which I think I made. There was an Arsenal match scheduled the night before and I slept at 12:30. 4 hours sleep was obviously not enough. Another mistake which I did was to start at a fast pace. I should have started very slow and built my pace. I felt that the Isotonik powder helped a little.

I completed 26 Kms the first week and 27 Kms the second week. My target for week 3 is 29 Kms, ending with a 13k run. I’ll have to see how that goes. My diet during the training period hasn’t changed much compared to 1 month back. I feel I have been on a very good diet all along. Two eggs with milk and a banana for breakfast. Half the banana before the run. The rest half after the run. 1 cup rice for lunch. 1 cup green tea, 5 almonds and 4 dates in the evening. 1 cup of rice for dinner. Going ahead I think I could add a second glass of milk in the evening along with cereal and decrease the amount of rice I have for dinner. The eggs and milk cover the protein, banana and rice will provide me fiber and carbohydrates so it’s a pretty good diet. I just need to make sure I keep myself well hydrated.

Arsenal beat West Ham + Alonso crashes out of Japan

Arsenal

Arsenal beat Olympiacos and West Ham last week, both games with the scoreline reading 3-1. Gervinho , Podolski and Ramsey scored against Olympiacos while Giroud , Walcott and Cazorla scored against West Ham. We lost our home tie against Chelsea the week before so coming back strongly was essential. The matches weren’t as smooth as the scoreline suggests but still we won and got 3 points each.

So we sit at the top in Champions league table with 6 points.  In the league, we are in 7th position, 7 points behind leaders Chelsea who have won all but one of their matches. In the tight 7 match run that concluded, we won 5, drew 1 and lost1 match. I think that was a decent run for us. Comparatively, Man U won 6 and lost 1 match, Man City won 2, drew 3 and lost 2, Chelsea won 5 and drew 2 and Tottenham won 5 and drew 2.  So our league position might not be great but considering the teams we have played till now, I think we have started the season pretty well.

After the international break, we play Norwich, Schalke 04, QPR  and Reading. 6 points out of the 2 league games would put us at 18 points, probably in 5th position. We will then play the crucial away tie against Man U.  By the end of the Man U game, we will have an indication of how good the team really is. 6 goals scored by 6 different people in the last 2 games is a good sign. Hope we continue the good work.

Cricket

India crashed out of the T20 world cup in the super sixes stage. We won 2 matches beating Pakisthan and South Africa but losing to Australia by a big margin meant that we couldn’t proceed into the semifinal. West Indies and Srilanka entered into the finals which was eventually won by West Indies. It was their first major cup after many many years so congratulations to them. Felt sad for Sri Lanka. This was the third world cup final that they have lost in the last 5 years.

Fomula1

Alonso crashed out of the Japanese Grand Prix in the first lap due to a mechanical failure. He had a decent qualifying session and he started the race in 6th position. If not for the failure, Alonso could well have been on the podium given Ferrari’s pace demonstrated by Massa, who finished second in the race. Alonso still leads the table by 4 points but this weekends Korean Grand Prix should be crucial to Ferrari.