E.M Noll Classic 5K

Happy Thursday! I got back to NYC from Philly late Monday night, and aside from working, I’ve been trying to take a little rest from training. After my final match Monday, the medial part of my left calf was hurting and overall my body felt pretty tired, so I knew a few light days would do me some good.

I took Tuesday and Wednesday off, and yesterday I did some ghosting plus a light 30 minute bike. After a few light days, I thought my HRV would be green today and I’d be good to go, but I woke up “amber”! Nevertheless, I traveled up to Stamford to hit with John and some other pros, hoping I’d feel better after moving around a bit. About 30 minutes into the hit, I could tell that my HRV was right, as I was struggling to get into it, mentally and physically. I really tried my best to work hard and not get upset, but I can’t lie- it was pretty slow moving.

That’s a lot of amber days for one week…

John advised me to take the next few days off court (aside from coaching), to regain the “spark”. I’m planning to focus on my off-court training (strength and conditioning), while letting my mind reset!

Anyway, let’s back up a bit and recap this past weekend, as it was a good one!

E.M Noll Classic 5k (Philadelphia, PA)

This weekend I competed in my second tournament of 2018, the E.M Noll Classic, held at the Racquet Club of Philadelphia. Ever since I lived in Philly for the summer between Junior and Senior year of college, I’ve loved coming back and seeing friends and the city. (That summer was actually when I first started my blog, in 2014!). I love how Philadelphia has all of the aspects of a big city, without actually being that big. Furthermore, it has tons of history and museums, all within walking distance. While I didn’t get a chance to do sightseeing this trip, I was able to spend some quality time with my friend Kelsey, as I stayed with her at her parent’s place in the suburbs.

Thursday (travel day)

I arrived Thursday evening, after having had a practice hit with Will in the morning, followed by a few hours of coaching. Needless to say, I was tired when I got off the bus downtown Philly. Kelsey and I had plans to hit at 7:30, and since we were both tired from the week, it was a bit of a lacklustre 30 minute hit, but nonetheless we got out there and got moving.

Friday: Match vs Hayley Hughes (Round of 16)

The next morning, I woke up very tired, and couldn’t shake the feeling. I decided to stay off my feet until 30 minutes before match time, when I hopped on the bike for a solid 15 minute spin, followed by mobility and movement prep. I had a pretty slow start, and lost the first game 14-12. The next three games I buckled down and got it done, dropping only a few points each game. Although the scores reflected that I had a strong hold on the match, I didn’t feel very comfortable out there, and didn’t think I was watching or moving very well.

Surprisingly, the rest of Friday absolutely dragged. I was so tired, and despite the fact that there were a number of high quality matches going on, I felt out of it and “squashed out”. I hoped a good rest that night would help me recover for the next day.

Saturday: Match vs Ryan Morgan (Quarters)

After a good sleep Friday night, I felt much more rested. Ryan was in the city this past summer, and I got on court with her a lot, so I knew a few things about her game. However, about 20 minutes before match time, I had a bit of a panic attack, as I broke the strings on both of my racquets while practicing. With 15 minutes to go and no racquet, I rushed into the pro shop in hopes someone would be able to string one of my racquets in time for my match. Rob, one of the pros, claimed he is the “fastest stringer on the East coast”, dropped what he was doing, and proceeded to string my racquet right then and there. I was very relieved and grateful!

Sunday: Match vs Marina Stefanoni (Semis)

Although I felt good coming off my win against Ryan, I couldn’t help but feel nervous before my match against Marina, a 15-year old from Connecticut. Yes, you read that right- a 15 year old. However, Marina is no ordinary 9th grader. She has been winning the U-19 category in US tournaments for the past year or two, and is certainly one of the most talented young American players to come through the junior ranks. I watched her match against Nouran Gohar (world #5) at the Tournament of Champions on SquashTV, and was very impressed with how she played. Marina shows such little emotion when she plays, you might almost think she doesn’t care, but this is so not the case. She has a mature game, makes very good decisions, and very few errors. I tried my best to leave the whole age thing out of it, because I knew those thoughts wouldn’t be productive.

I ended up winning in 4, dropping the second game 11-4. My squash definitely did not feel free flowing, and I credit that to all to Marina’s tactics. She kept me off my game very well, by hitting cross courts I could not volley (to put me behind her), and then dropping it short at any chance (to drag me to the front). As a player who typically likes to attack mostly from the mid-court and volley straight balls, these tactics put me on edge, making it difficult for me to execute my game plan. Still, I was happy and relieved to win the match, and look forward to training with Marina in Connecticut soon!

The rest of Sunday was spent watching matches, blogging, and hanging out at a Super Bowl party. Although the party was really fun, Kelsey and I left with two minutes to go in the last quarter. We were right downtown by city hall, and didn’t want to get stuck in the post-game mayhem. While reading the news the next morning, I felt relieved all over again that we left when we did, otherwise we would have been stuck in the riots.

Monday: Match vs Maria Toorpakai Wazir (Final)

My match against Maria wasn’t until 6 pm, so I was able to get a practice hit in at noon with David, a fellow Canadian. We hit for roughly an hour (it wasn’t too intense), mostly doing some drills and a couple condition games. After a quick cool down and a shower, I headed next door to Real Food Eatery for lunch.

I got the same exact order I’d had the previous 3 days (!!):

  • mixed greens/kale dressed with EVOO and lemon
  • parmesan roasted broccoli
  • roasted beets with walnuts and goat cheese
  • 1/2 avocado
  • lemon herb marinated chicken thighs
  • almond basil pesto

Oh my goodness. This bowl is so filling and delicious. There were tons of “side” options to choose from, all of which looked delicious. Furthermore, the portions were really quite large! I think I got at least a full cup of beets and a cup and a half of broccoli- maybe more! I ate most of the bowl and saved some for later as a post-match meal.

My match against Maria started right on time at 6pm. I played well in the first game and came out on top, but lost the second 11-7. The last two games were strange, as the rallies weren’t very long, so I wasn’t tired, but I did feel very tense. I found myself hitting the ball back to Maria when I could have taken it in short, but I was so tight that my short shots were pretty heavy, and sat up to allow her to counter. Maria has ridiculously good hands, and if she’s at the ball, will pretty much hit a winner every time. We had several rallies which consisted of a serve and a return winner. It was a bit reminiscent of U13 junior squash!

Despite the unorthodox squash, I was able to win the 3rd and 4th games, securing my first-ever PSA title!

A big thank you to the tournament promoters and sponsors from the Racquet Club of Philadelphia, Salming, my coaches, and my billet (Kelsey). You guys helped make the weekend a great success!

Next up: National Training Camp (Windsor) + Windy City Open

The next 6 weeks is going to be so busy. On Monday I’m heading to Windsor, Ontario, for a national training camp, immediately followed by the Windy City Open, held in Chicago. After that, I’ll be back in NYC for a couple days before I head to Bermuda (!!!) for a 5k, which will kick off a 4-tournament road trip all over North America. Woo!

Hello from Narnia… I mean Sarnia!

In the past couple weeks, whenever I would tell someone I was headed to Sarnia for a tournament, I’d almost always get a confused look in response. “Sarnia? ” they’d ask, and then make some reference to Narnia ( you know, the lion, the witch and the wardrobe).

Anyway, I made it to Sarnia, without much trouble. On Sunday morning I flew into Toronto, where Nikki picked me up and drove us both to Mayfair Lakeshore. She was competing in the final of the Ontario Closed championships at 3 pm, and once she won, watched the men’s final, and picked up a few snacks for the road, we were on our way! It took us a little over 3 hours to drive from Toronto to Sarnia, and by the time we arrived, it was dark and starting to snow. After meeting my billet, Ati, and another fellow competitor, Ali, I ate a bit of leftover pulled pork, and then called it a night.

Monday

My HRV was amber on Sunday, and after a full day of traveling and a few days of training without rest, I wasn’t at all surprised to wake up on Monday morning a little tired. Nevertheless, I had to get a practice in, as the tournament matches are all being held on an all-glass court. Don’t get me wrong, it’s very cool and feels very professional, but takes some getting used to. We use a white single-dot ball instead of a black double dot (dot refers to the bounciness level of the ball), which means although it is more lively, the contrast between the ball and the wall isn’t as great, making it harder to see and react to.

I felt slow and slippery on court, which was troublesome, since I’ve been having some issues with my right ankle. I’ve injured it a few times in the past couple of months by slipping when taking a hard lunge into the front court. It’s not serious right now (knock on wood), but I am extremely cautious when playing on a court which is a bit dusty. (I am happy to report though, that today the court felt much better!).

After hitting, Ali and I returned to our billet’s to have some lunch and rest. I worked on a client’s program online, while watching a very girly and mindless movie, The DUFF. It was very corny and predictable, so I’m not recommending it, but made for some good background noise. Around 4 pm we headed back to the courts to watch a few of the qualifying matches. I watched squash for about %50 of the time, and spent the rest catching up with people I met at this event last year. Everyone who is involved in the Simon Warder memorial tournament is so incredibly nice and generous, and I really enjoyed hearing news from the past year!

Tuesday

This morning, I had some Greek yogurt chia seed pudding for breakfast, along with about 4 cups of coffee (oops). I think that chia seeds are going to start making a regular appearance in my diet. They’re convenient to transport for tournaments, and give you a good amount of good fats, protein, and fibre. Chia seeds could be my new travel staple!

My first practice hit was from 10:20-11 am, which wasn’t great, but I felt a bit faster than yesterday. However, I was still having trouble seeing the ball off the front wall. Not good! I stuck around for a little bit afterwards, hoping someone would need a partner to hit with, so I could spend some more time practicing. One of the English girls, Jasmine, didn’t have anyone to hit with, so I was happy to jump on with her around 1 pm. Physically I felt a bit better, but my shots were pretty bad! Hopefully I’ll shape up a bit better tomorrow morning.

Alright, that’s the latest from me! I don’t usually have the opportunity to chill for a couple hours in the middle of the day, so I took advantage and thought I’d blog! I’m just hanging out for a bit longer at home before going back to the club to watch some more matches. There should be some close ones! If you’re interested in watching online, check out the Youtube live stream here.

 

 

Carol Weymuller + Granite Open 2017

Happy Friday! Coming in a couple weeks late here, but better late than never for a tournament recap! Since the US Open, I’ve had two tournaments: a 50k close to home in Brooklyn, and a 15k in Toronto. In between the tournaments I had a chance to rest, and also get some solid training in.

Does watching squash while I cook count as training?

Although my in-season training schedule is always in flux, I’m doing a better job of staying consistent with on-court practices, off-court training, and rest. Last year I found myself overtired/overtrained all too often, but at the same time felt I wasn’t fit enough. So far, this season has started off much better in that respect, as I feel more confident in my game, and in my base level of fitness.

Carol Weymuller : Match vs Mayar Hany (EGY)

I went into my match vs Mayar pretty positive and optimistic. Since the US Open, I’d been practicing a dominant style of play, and felt confident that I could implement it.

What went wrong? Simply put, she implemented my game plan better. Mayar took the ball very early and crushed the ball, putting me under consistent pressure. I found it very difficult to retrieve both her hard drives and short shots with the fast front wall and 17 inch tin. I popped up a lot of loose shots in the middle (perhaps due to nerves), which she had no trouble taking advantage of. This frantic style of play kept me from gaining much confidence and settling in.

Although I lost rather quickly, there were some key takeaways from the match.

  1. I should really take advantage of practicing on the courts before. I only had one hit and didn’t feel very good on there. Since I live so close to the facility, I should have made more of an effort prior to the tournament to practice.
  2. I need to realize and accept that opportunities are going to be harder to produce when playing a higher ranked player. This is obvious, but is hard to accept when you’re in the match!
  3. Keep trying to play the right way, even if you make some “good errors”. In the end, this was a learning experience!
  4. Improve my game at the back of the court. If you’re losing the back-court game, it’s going to be difficult to produce opportunities and a dominant position.

Thank you to the sponsors for putting on a great tournament! It is amazing to have such high quality squash come to New York, and these events are not possible without the time and support of countless volunteers.

Granite Open : Match vs Amanda Landers-Murphy (NZL)

I arrived in Toronto on Friday in plenty of time for my match. I was originally supposed to play Sunday, but my match got pushed back to Tuesday due to a couple of withdrawals. I wasn’t too upset by this, as I used the time to rest, train, and acquaint myself with the courts at the Granite club.

 

Spent a good amount of time in the awesome gym at the Granite!

Danielle, Mary, Colette, and I also spent some time cooking at our billet’s house, which was a fun way to pass some of our down time. (I also watched several episodes of Narcos and the Mindy Project…).

Greek yogurt, cinnamon maple roasted butternut squash and apples, almonds, and more cinnamon

My practice hit on Tuesday morning was rough, to say the least. I felt slow and lethargic, which was concerning as I knew there would be no path to victory if I played like that in the evening. I tried not to focus on it that day, and made sure I got a good warmup in before the match.

I started off the match against Amanda pretty slowly, managed to work my way into it. Unfortunately, by the time I had found a groove, it was already the third game and I was down 2-0. Amanda did a much better job of taking advantage of any opportunities I gave her, and neutralizing some of my attacks. If I had started the first game the way I started the third, the 3-0 scoreline might have been different. However, once I started to feel comfortable with my racquet and footwork on court, I was cautious not to get too carried away. One of the habits I’ve been trying to break is attacking soon and at the wrong time. Against Amanda, I worked myself into the match, making sure I didn’t open up the court too early. In retrospect, I could have attacked a bit more to the front, perhaps not to win the rally on that shot, but to produce an opening.

All in all, I learned a lot from the match, and was relieved to finally feel like myself on court and feel comfortable. I wish it could have been a best of 7 match, as opposed to a best of 5!

I’d like to thank all of the sponsors and billets that helped out with this tournament. There is a lot of work behind the scenes that the players and spectators never see, but it is crucial to the success of the event. Thank you, Granite Club and Slaight Music, and everyone else who helped make the tournament possible.

What’s Next?

I’ve been back in NYC for a week or so now, and have another 10 days before I head up to Sarnia, Ontario for a 5k. Following Sarnia, I have a week to gear up for my last PSA tournament of 2017, the London Open! I’ve never been to London (Heathrow airport doesn’t count), so I’m looking forward to not only playing squash, but also checking out popular sights of the city.

Alright that’s all from me for now! Have a great weekend.

 

 

US Open 2017

Happy Monday!

I took most of the weekend off of training, and feel much more energized today. Thursday, Friday, and Saturday I was pretty shot mentally and physically (especially Friday and Saturday), so recovery was certainly in order. Although I was a little fatigued on Thursday, I pulled it together, because I got a last minute spot in the US Open!

I woke up Thursday morning to find an email from the PSA office offering me (and the rest of the reserve list) two last minute entries into the US Open qualifying draw in Philadelphia. Given that Philly is only a bus/train ride away, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity, so I taught my lessons and clinics in the morning, and then caught a mid-afternoon Megabus.

Match vs Misaki Kobayashi

I arrived around 5 pm, in good time for my 7 pm match against the Japanese #1, Misaki Kobayashi. Although I’ve never competed against Misaki, I’ve seen her play several times, and had a rough game plan in mind. From what I remembered of previous tournaments, Misaki had a deadly boast, and does well with angles. Going in, I planned to attack to the back of the court with straight length, to try to limit Misaki’s options.

Unfortunately, a game plan is only as good as its execution. I wasn’t quite able to find my range until the third game, where I managed to get the lead and even a game ball, but was unable to close it out. The entire game I felt as though my spacing was off, and never got my full confidence in order to attack short or take the ball early. Most of my shots to the back were slightly defensive, which allowed Misaki to step in and put pressure on me. Although I came close in the third, I ended up going down 3-0.

I think the outcome of the match was partly mental, and partly physical. Physically, I didn’t feel confident hitting the ball, which certainly affected my tactics. Furthermore, Misaki did a very good job of taking the ball in short on the backhand side, and with the 17″ tin, those shots can be virtually un-gettable.

Despite the fact that this was a last minute match, I was stoked to be given the opportunity to play in such a big tournament. Although geographically close, it is a different atmosphere competing at these World Series events, and gaining that kind of experience is invaluable.

Next Up: Carol Weymuller in Brooklyn, NY

My next tournament is a 50k in Brooklyn next week. The qualification draw will be released a day or two before the tournament, so I don’t know who I play yet, but I do know that it will be tough. Until then, I’ve got about a week to train up, rest up, and get ready!

 

What I Eat During Competitions {WIAW}

Hi hi hi hi hi!

As you know from yesterday’s weekend recap, I was up at Yale for the Ivy squash scrimmages. Since this was my first tournament/competition in a while, it really got me thinking about my pre-match meals.

IMG_5386A while back, my coach, Chris, interviewed me for his own blog (Serious Squash). I already shared part of the interview here, but have been saving the rest of it for this post- What I eat during a tournament!

Although I am a big believer of the “train how you want to compete” philosophy, I find that my nutrition during a competition really does need to be extra precise. Over the years as I’ve learned more about proper nutrition and training, my rituals and habits are now almost down to a science. Although I’ve got it pretty down pat now, I do have to warn you that almost all of my knowledge has come from trial and error. What I mean by this is: what works for me, may not be best for you. If you do try some of my tips, please keep this in mind!

Breakfast

My Breakfast Guidelines

  • Most of my breakfasts are around the 500-600 calorie mark, and although I don’t count calories, I’ve found that I feel my best on court if I have a healthy well rounded breakfast that is in this range. More than this will send me into the lethargic stage, whereas less than this will leave me hungry by the time I am getting on court.
  • Some exceptions: When I am extremely nervous (usually before races, which are also early in the morning), or before a really big match, I don’t eat as much, and try to listen to my body. I find that the adrenaline compensates for the under eating, and that I actually perform better on a slightly empty stomach under these circumstances.

Image 8

What are some typical pre-match/pre-race breakfasts?

  • Greek yogurt with PB/AB and a banana (or half a banana)
  • Greek yogurt with protein powder + almond butter and a couple bites of banana
  • Oatmeal with peanut butter and preferably a banana as well
  • And, if I can’t find oatmeal or Greek yogurt, I can do a whole wheat bagel or toast with PB or AB and a banana.

IMG_2980

Breakfast Foods I Avoid

  • Eggs and omelettes. I find that if they’re not cooked properly, they can sit funnily in your stomach. Also, I don’t crave salty things in the morning. If I have an evening or afternoon match I can eat eggs a few hours before, but if it’s a morning match, I try to stay away from them.
  • Pancakes and french toast. When I was in high school, I was famous (well, not famous, but it was a trend) for getting a large crepe from DeDutch, French toast, or chocolate chip pancakes (with whipped cream!) before matches. And you know what? It worked just fine for the most part. I don’t know if it’s because “ignorance is bliss” or because my body actually can’t function at the same level with those foods in my stomach, but I don’t touch them before matches anymore. They are too heavy, and sit in my stomach making me feel lethargic. I don’t even eat them before training sessions (mostly because I like to train how I compete), and try to leave these special indulgences for off-days, or as a post-tournament/race treat.

Lunch

I like to keep it simple, have a sandwich or substantial salad. My body is pretty good at telling me if it “needs” a sandwich, which usually happens in between tough training sessions, when it’s craving carbs.

IMG_5247

My Lunch Guidelines

  • Nothing fried or greasy.
  • No red meat (it takes too long to digest)
  • Must have some lean protein (fish/chicken/turkey, or beans)
  • Vegetables (they also help re-hydrate you!)
  • Keep it on the lighter side (around 500-600 calories for a healthy meal)

Dinner

I am much more flexible when it comes to dinner, and I don’t have to do the boring” grilled chicken and vegetables” route. I actually like having Indian food, Mexican food, or something even more exotic, just as long as it’s not greasy.

Of course, I make sure it fits the “eat clean” bill, but I don’t worry about straying from red meat or any other specific foods.

Questions:

Do you eat any differently during competitions? 

What are some of your favourite pre-race/match foods?

Last but not least, I’m linking up with Jenn for What I Ate Wednesday, since, let’s face it, this post is all about food!