Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Vicodin, beer, and bowling!!!

Who would have thunk it? One quick stick-and-almost-faceplant-at-the-line moment at the High Roller has gone from a minor knee ache to a full-blown I-think-there-may-be-something-wrong-with-my-knee issue. I get extra credit for using hyphens in case you were wondering.

Less than one month to go before Nationals, and I have knee pain. Like I needed an extra hurdle to jump. Now for a Monday night recap....

I showed up early to throw some practice shots and check the level of pain in my knee (it's my right knee, which is my slide foot). The verdict was not favorable. It feels OK when I move side to side, but unfortunately I don't have to sidestep and break a tackle in order to throw a bowling ball. However, I must stay solid at the line and stay down while I'm throwing the ball. That is not possible in my current physical condition. As soon as I start to slide, the pressure below my kneecap gets very intense. I can just barely stay down long enough to throw the ball, then I have to step out of the shot. I have never been the poster boy for good form, but lately I have felt very, very solid at the line, keeping my head still and staying in the shot. Anyway, I know that I am not going to make it through three games on my own. So I pop two Advil and get ready to see Dr. Bud Light for some medicine. Then Steve offers one of his precious Vicodin to me. I am very hesitant to take any kind of pain pills. I have an addictive personality, and I do not want to turn into Dr. House, popping pills at regular intervals. So I normally suck it up and deal with pain. So I politely said no thank you, I'll be fine. After the third frame of the first game, I reconsidered the offer and he graciously went to his truck to get my fix. To make a long story short, I took the pill, continued drinking beer, and shot 218, 190, 183. My knee pain was gone, but I still couldn't knock them all down. That pissed me off. I should have went without the drugs to bowl like that.

So after that display of bowling greatness, I decide to bowl pot games. Genius! Ken just shot 812, Alan was crushing the pocket in league, and I am loaded for bear. Fast forward two hours...I have $80 less dollars in my pocket, the right handers beat my brains in, but my knee held up through the shitty bowling. Actually, I bowled pretty good. But 220 does not win pot games. At the end of the last game, the Vicodin started to wear off. I knew I had had an icepack in my near future.
And guess what I learned about Vicodin? It shuts down the pain receptors that send the message of "Ouch". It also shuts down the receptors that say "you should stop having more beer, that's enough". So I woke up this morning with a swollen knee and a pounding headache. I didn't even have that many beers, but there is some sort of exponential equation in the relationship between painkillers and beer. If I would have taken a Vicodin and won $200 or shot 300 I would feel a lot better right now. But all I did was donate money and buy a headache. What a waste!

Back to the knee--it's been bothering me since I stuck at the line during the High Roller. I wrenched it pretty good, and I've been icing it a lot to keep the pain at a minimum. The knee brace I wear now during bowling has been good enough to keep everthing in place. Saturday afternoon I helped Kelli's dad install some French doors at their house. Something bad happened inside my knee while I was kicking on the frame to move it into place, or when I was kneeling down to shim the threshold, or some other random event. I don't recall any specific action to cause pain, but when we were done it hurt below my kneecap toward the outside of the knee. Now it hurts a lot. I don't want to see a doctor about it. It seems like a waste of money right now. They will either say that I have inflamed something-or-other and I need to ice it (which I'm already doing now), or they will say that I need to stop bowling (which is not an option until after league is over), or they will say that I need surgery (which I can't afford). All those options added together means that I will continue to score Vicodin off my buddy Steve every Monday, drink NO beer when I take them, and deal with this like a big boy. Maybe it will magically heal in the next few days. You never know......

Friday, February 20, 2009

Brain's full, time to empty

It's been a few weeks now since the High Roller, and I have been throwing the ball pretty good lately. I have subbed twice on Thursday nights and done OK. Monday nights are going well, although I sucked at winning my points last week. Our whole team has really been in a points slump the past few weeks. We bowled against the first place team and struggled to a 7-25 finish against them. That was disappointing. We had a perfect chance at gaining ground, and instead we took it in the hindquarters. Every week 'til the end of league is position round, so it should help to intensify the league night. I need all the help I can get to focus during league.

My biggest problem lately is making good, repetitive shots. I'm not missing by much, and it doesn't translate in league because the condition isn't that tough. But that same small miss on a tournament condition will be costly. While I was bowling last night I relaized that I change my footwork a little bit from shot-to-shot, which is what has been causing these minor misses and inconsistency. Specifically, it is my first two steps that vary. I will be targeting this during practice to get these steps even and consistent. It is throwing off my timing and making me get to the line differently.

The nerdiness justs keeps getting deeper...
I have been studying up on how to read lane charts and graphs. I am learning how to process all this info to get an idea on how to approach the conditions. It is part science, part artform because you cannot use the info to find a guaranteed specific spot to play. However, it does give you a general idea of how the lane should react in certain areas, and where certain OB areas should be. I used to think that it's better to hit the lanes open-minded with no pre-conceived notions about where to play, but that is being a little bit naive. Why not gather as much info as possible and use it to your advantage, right? I can now see these charts and make decisions on where to throw a few balls in practice and see the types of reactions I get. It's better than grabbing "x" ball and randomly picking a spot to start. Now I can make more educated "guesses" and try not to be completely clueless.

One more thing. I have been working on a different release that gets my backswing higher, my hand more free, and my ball speed up. It definitely creates more revs, speed, and power. I thought it might be something I could develop. But after a few days, my elbow started flaring up again. The tendonitis monster is not something I want to mess around with again after two years of being relatively pain-free. I have decided to stick with my current game, keep fine-tuning it and working on the details.

Not as much yucks and ha-has this time. Sorry to disappoint. I'll see about working on that, too.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

This story needs an ending

I'm sure everyone has heard by now...Keith finished tied for 6th place in the High Roller and won $3,600.00. The guy who beat him advanced to the final match to bowl against the winner of the 50+ division, the 40-49 division, and the 39 & under division. He finished last. The winner was the 50+ champ, which happened last year also. I guess that's proof that you don't have to put a ton of revs and speed on the ball to beat your opponent.

Our flight on Sunday morning was at 8:20am. We got up around 6:00 for showers and packing up our stuff. When we left the hotel it was around 7:00. We kind of misjudged the time to get to the airport, drop off the rental car, and get to the check-in. We were going to be cutting it close. At 8:00 we were standing in the baggage check line. We can still make it. When we checked our bags, they couldn't guarantee that they would be on our flight because we were so late. Whatever, get me to the plane. Then I had to stop and pay a bag fee for it being over 50 pounds. Now it's 8:10am. No big deal, the airport in Vegas isn't very big, right? Well guess where our gate was...that's right, the farthest gate away from check-in. We get to the security check, and my bag gets held up. The guard checks it manually and finds my micro-Leatherman in one of the pouches. Because it has a 1" blade I cannot take it on the plane. So I tell him to throw it away, I gotta go. When we finally got to the gate we were the last ones there. Keith hands over his boarding pass, I grab my envelope that the baggage check lady gave me, and there is no boarding pass in it. The baggage lady didn't print one out for me, she just gave me the bag-fee receipt. I am destined to miss this flight. The gate person tells me to go the gate check-in desk and get one. They already had it printed out and ready for me. Cool. Now I have my laptop briefcase, my jacket, my flight envelope, and my boarding pass shuffling around from hand to hand. I head back to the gate, hand the person my boarding pa....where is my boarding pass? I just had it in my hands! I look through the envelope, nope. Briefcase? Nope. Now I am frustrated beyond belief. I looked back at the counter, and there it is, lying on the ground where I dropped it as I came around the corner. Unbelievable. We made the flight, and I was ready to go home.
By the way, our bags did not make our flight. Fortunately there was another flight 20 minutes behind ours. After some lunch at Love Field, we picked up our bags, loaded up my truck, and headed home. This was definitely an adventure that Keith and I will be able to remember for years to come. I had a great time, and even though I only won a total of $200 in brackets and side pots (and spent WAY more than that), I plan to go again next year. It was an awesome learning experience, and although my results weren't what I planned, I gained a ton of knowledge that I can use for upcoming tournaments.

Well kids, that's my High Roller adventure. Hopefully you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it.
Now it's time to start getting ready for Nationals in mid-March. I will continue to post my thoughts and observations as I try to beat my personal best all-events score of 1957, which I shot last year. Stay tuned......