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Hills are cramping my style

It doesn’t seem that long ago that I was recapping my horrendous Pasadena run and, simultaneously, vowing to do a better job of preparing for future races.

It actually wasn’t that long ago. Like two weeks ago.

So how’s it possible that I’m already woefully behind in training for another race? I have 12 days left before LA Marathon (1/2).

Now, I’m behind in mileage and waging uphill battles both literally and figuratively. And only in my world does a 10-mile recovery run turn into 6.5 miles of crap, cramps and cursing. Damn hills. I’m going to call it: Hills are overrated. Who needs them?


Week 5 update: Preparing to fail

Coach Wooden is everywhere at UCLA. And rightly so! But I’ve had him ringing in my ears all week. More precisely, this little truism…


Alright, Coach! You got me. I’ve been slacking on my training. The half marathon is 16 days away and I still haven’t run 10 miles. I did no running this week (again). I could blame it on the wind or the freak Achilles’ heel pain. But really? Would you believe that?

I hereby pledge to run 10 miles this weekend, come hell or high winds or sporting events. Furthermore, I pledge to conscientiously put on my socks (no wrinkles) and look deep within for my own personal Pyramid of Success.

I am a Bruin, damn it. It’s in our stock. I will not fail.

PHOTO: Wooden wears the net after winning the 1975 NCAA championship.

The Tragedy of SPARE-Ta: Act 3

Act 3

Scene 1

(THE ONEDER, TUMULTY, and MERRITT hold a team pow-wow to strategize for the second game.)

THE ONEDER                        Alright, guys. This last game sucked for both of us. We were outright robbed. Our new plan of action is simple and straight-forward: Bowl our averages!

(Turns to give MERRITT a look that should be interpreted as… you’re the reason we lost the first game!!)

TUMULTY                        “Bowl our averages.” Got it.

MERRITT                        Ok, Captain. We’ll follow your lead.

THE ONEDER                        (mumbles to herself) Ugh!

THE INTERNATIONAL            You first.

(THE ONEDER bowls. Nothing special. No strike, but enough to be on track for her average. THE INTERNATIONAL bowls. Hits a strike. TUMULTY bowls… average. OL’ REICHY goes and does far better.)

THE ONEDER                        (to TUMULTY) Wow, it may be time to rethink that strategy.

TUMULTY                        What? Already? We’re barely in the first frame.

(MERRITT bowls shittily.)

THE ONEDER                        Yeah, now!

Scene 2

(Halfway through the second game, each member of WPS has picked up their pace. They’re not that far ahead of their averages, but they’re killing SPARE-TA. It’s not looking that great.)

THE ONEDER                        What are you laughing at?

OL’ REICHY                        Oh, nothing.

THE ONEDER                        I call bullshit. You’re laughing at us.

OL’ REICHY                        No, not at all.

THE ONEDER                        Look, dude. We’re a force to be reckoned with. Maybe my whole team cannot at the moment take you down, but individually, I’ll beat you.

OL’ REICHY                        hahaha I’m not worried about you. I’m more worried about her. (motioning to TUMULTY) That series-high 130 is impressive.

THE ONEDER                        You should be impressed by that! (Points to her name on the Season-High scoresheet for handicap series.)

OL’ REICHY                        Do your best, then.

THE ONEDER                        Challenge accepted.

(OL’ REICHY gets up and picks up a spare. THE ONEDER follows and knocks down nine pins, leaving the No. 10 pin in the far left corner up.)

THE ONEDER                        Don’t worry. That’s my favorite pin.

MERRITT                        It’s true. That’s her favorite.

(THE ONEDER approaches, bowls and misses by yards, miles even.) 

THE ONEDER                        I didn’t like it that much. Next frame… it’s on!

(The competition continues between OL’ REICHY and THE ONEDER, but SPARE-TA is all talk at this point. MERRITT has been flailing the whole game.

At this point, NICOLE comes down with another round of drinks for WPS.)

OL’ REICHY                        (to THE ONEDER) What? What are you thinking about?

THE ONEDER                        My evil genius plan to win.

OL’ REICHY                        Care to share…

THE ONEDER                        Getting you drunk.

OL’ REICHY                        hahaha We’re alcoholics. The more we drink, the better we do. If you want to actually make us play bad, we’ll have to drink, like, 20 whiskey shots.

THE ONEDER                        20?! Sheesh… how many have you had already?

OL’ REICHY                        I dunno. Maybe three.

THE ONEDER                        Look, all I need is for one of you to fall and my money is on HIP CHIMP. I’m sure another shot will bring her down.


Scene 3


THE ONEDER                        We want to order some shots.

NICOLE                        Sure, what do you want?

THE ONEDER                        I guess, whiskey is drink of choice. Let’s see… (She turns around and starts counting four for WPS plus their cheerleader RAINMAKER, one for her and one for TUMULTY. and MERRITT….?)

                                    It’s going to be six whiskey shots and a lemon drop for MERRITT.

            (to MERRITT) That’s what you said, right?

MERRITT                        I didn’t say anything.

THE ONEDER                        OK, then six shots, please.

MERRITT                        (quickly realizing he’s about to lose out on free booze) Wait, HIP CHIMP wanted the lemon drop.

THE ONEDER                        Ok, then. Like I first said… six whiskey shots and a lemon drop. On my tab, please.

TUMULTY                        Whoa… are we really doing this?

THE ONEDER                        Yes, suck it up for the team!

TUMULTY                        Ok, then I’m going to need a Coke chaser.


NICOLE has returned and placed six large whiskey shots on the counter… and a lemon drop.

BRANDIFER                        Oh, what’s going on over here?

THE ONEDER                        War

TUMULTY                        Wait! Where’s my chaser?

THE ONEDER                        Sacriice, woman. This is for our place in the league!

Everyone toasts and drinks.

End of Act 3

PREVIOUSLY ON The Tragedy of Spare-Ta!: A comedy of errors: Act 2

UP NEXT: Game 3, will Spare-Ta! get a win? Will MERRITT survive the night?

The Tragedy of SPARE-Ta!: Act 2


Scene 1

(All teams have paired off and gone to their respective lanes. THIS IS SPARE-TA! and WPS PAY ROLL have set up on the far right side. There’s about seven minutes left of practice before the games begin.)

MERRITT                        Motions with a stupid little bow to THE ONEDER

THE ONEDER                You want me to take some practice bowls?

MERRITT                        That’s what this time’s for.

THE ONEDER               (Still putting on her shoes) Bowl for me, then. I’ll be ready soon.

Team players have been bowling in both lanes a couple times already. THE ONEDER finally gets up to join them. Takes a 9lb ball and chucks it down the lane, knocking all 10 pins down.

MERRITT                        Nice. See that’s why you practice.

THE ONEDER                It’s wasted in practice.

Scene 2

HIP CHIMP gets up to bowl. She knocks down nine pins. THE INTERNATIONAL follows suit with a spare. All this is still practice time. Everyone takes this time to introduce themselves.

TUMULTY                          Those are cool nicknames. Who came up with them?

OL’ REICHY                        She did. (motioning to HIP CHIMP)

HIP CHIMP                        His was supposed to be SCOTCH N BURN… but he changed it.

THE ONEDER                   Why didn’t you like that name? It’s awesome.

OL’ REICHY                        I dunno. (bursts into laughter)

THE ONEDER                    Why’s his name THE INTERNATIONAL?

HIP CHIMP                        He speaks Mandarin. And his wife’s in China.


NICOLE                                Hey guys, here’s your Blue Moon. That’s 5 bucks each.

(She proceeds to set down three shots and a couple beers in front of the other team.)

Do you guys want to keep a tab open?

Scene 3

[Game 1 is about to start. At this point, it’s necessary to stray from the play format and delve into some narrative.]

THE ONEDER is looking over the stat sheet and mining for any clues to the weaknesses of the WPS PAY ROLL team. It doesn’t look good. There is a reason why this team has been in the No. 1 spot since the league began. No one has gotten close to dethroning them. Even seated comfortably in second place, THIS IS SPARE-TA is still a few games behind. In order to take the lead, THIS IS SPARE-TA will have to win two of the three games.

It’s time to start bowling. THE ONEDER and THE INTERNATIONAL are the first members up for each team. Still unsure which is the best course of action, THE ONEDER quickly looks at her average — 79 and aims for at least eight pins in the first frame. She gets up to bowl, hits her mark and hurries back to her homework.

The Area 15 league works with a 210-point handicap. Every week the players bowl their three games. At the end of the night, their individual game points are averaged and the difference is the handicap. Wins and losses are based off that 210 points, not the individual frames. That’s the only way a team with a member that averages 79 points can still hold on to second place.

The realization THE ONEDER came to was heavy. WPS was good, yes, but more than that, they were consistent. They didn’t have a star bowler on the team, but rather all three of them fluctuated around the 100-point margin.

On the other hand, THIS IS SPARE-TA did have an obviously more experienced bowler in MERRITT. Unfortunately, he’d been hitting a wall the last few games and the recent wins have come from surprises from THE ONEDER and TUMULTY, who just came off a week where she bowled a 130, or a 257 with handicap.

The two top-scoring teams last week were WPS with 1994 points (over three games) and SPARE-TA with 1949 points. Both teams swept their competition. WPS peaked in the second game with 698 points among the three bowlers. SPARE-TA likewise peaked with 680.

THE ONEDER knew it would be close and that the best chance they had was to bowl their averages. She was off to a good start. TUMULTY, whose average was 87, was similarly doing well. But MERRITT, that black sheep with a 147 average, he still couldn’t get out of his bowling funk. Perhaps someone should have taken a few more practice bowls.

The game stayed fairly close between the two teams. One would be up in one frame, and then the next would be up in the other frame. Because WPS was so closely matched, it was hard to tell who would be the standout bowler. Late in the first game, however, it became clear that THE INTERNATIONAL would carry the team. On SPARE-TA’s side, no such leader emerged. What did emerge was the bane of the team…

It came down to the last bowler in the last frame. SPARE-TA was up by a few pins and up strolls HIP CHIMP. She bowls and quickly turns around. That’s her M.O. refusing to watch the ball hit the pins or fly into the gutter. She knocks down just enough to put them over the edge.

Five points! They took the game by five measly points! 607 to 602.

THE ONEDER couldn’t believe their luck. It was such a low-scoring game on both sides. How could this have happened? She beat her average by 2 points. TUMULTY beat hers by 10. MERRITT, oh MERRITT, he bowled a 107…. yuck… on anyone else that would be decent. On him, that’s 30 points below his average and grounds for some ancient Greek discipline.

[and back to play format…]

THE ONEDER                        Son of a #%*#!

OL’ REICHY                           hahahahaha

TUMULTY                              We have to take the next two games for first place.


end of Act 2

PREVIOUSLY ON The Tragedy of SPARE-Ta!: A comedy of errors: Act I

UP NEXT: Game 2, guerilla warfare, a sinking ship

The Power of One

For three weeks, eight teams have been competing in one-one-one bouts of the most ferocious competition at Mar Vista’s AMF. The Area 15 rookie league has brought out the best and the worst of mankind. Including the liars… those who so obviously are NOT ROOKIES.

This league isn’t for the timid or the weak-hearted. There are 10- 12- 16-pound spheres being chucked at record speed. Blink and you’re dead. Always keep a weather eye. Or if you’re bowling near me, it’s the deceivingly light 8-pounder coming at you.

After two weeks of play, Team 5 came in second place. That’s me! yay!!
[Our official name: This is SPARE-ta!! Our inspiration:  300 get it, get it]

-pause for adulation-

I redeemed myself after that abysmal 38 pins in Game 3 the previous week. I got over my final-game fatigue and posted my highest score to date: 115. My average skyrocketed from a 68 to 75 or 76. I’ll have to double check those stats.

Amazing, but short-lived.

I was back to form this week. But learning some lessons, nonetheless:

1.) Embrace the older bowlers

After the initial week, Tumulty (teammate’s bowling name) and I were paired with another bowler to make a complete three-person team. I initially ho-hummed at the guy because he had spent the first week telling me all the rules of league play. Obviously, I didn’t care. But after I bowled and after Tumulty bowled, I realized that our team’s salvation would rely on him. The older bowlers, the ones who don’t have to order a new bowling shirt and can provide their own ball, bring a level of skill that will obviously benefit a team.
EVIDENCE: Ranked second.

2.) Looking legit doesn’t make you play any better

I already own a pair of bowling shoes and Week 3 was the first time I had my shirt and Tumulty had hers. They’re plain turquoise bowling shirts with our nicknames on them. We look legit-ish. We played terribly. Even the guy who was supposed to be holding up the team wasn’t at peak performance. I didn’t break my 38-pin record, but I came mighty close and was only able to make my target once, in the final frame.

Game 1: 49           Game 2: 53           Game 3: 97

3.) Wishes do come true

Early on in my bowling career, I kept noticing a pattern. The number 1 kept haunting me. It got to be kind of ridiculous. If I didn’t out right throw a gutter ball, I only managed to knock down ONE pin. If I didn’t luck out with a strike, I only left ONE pin.

I decided to call myself The Wonder. Well, actually — The Oneder, straight out of That Thing You Do! That’s the name that’s on my bowling shirt. It was funny.

Only trouble is… it’s now annoyingly accurate. ONEs… everywhere! Damn, self-fulling prophecies!!

PHOTOS: The Oneder’s bowling shirt and shoes.