|Friday morning, Feb. 4th, 2011. Big day has finally arrived. Flying to Chicago to defend my #1 World Ranking vs. #2 Billy Stubbs.
I almost didn't want to write this entry, as it was so painful, I want to forget it. Mid-West and East Coast had severe snow storms the whole week and Friday was the first day things cleared up a bit.
Got dropped off at the airport, weather was perfect in CA, 65 degrees, no clouds. 4 hour flight was great. I messed up in that I forgot to buy lunch and bring it on the plane, airlines aren't serving food anymore. When I landed in Chicago, I should've eaten at the airport. Instead, I hopped into a cab and got totally carsick on the way over to the University of Illinois Chicago campus. I ask the cab to drop me off at a nearby pizza place, Giovanni's. I ask if they have slices, and it wasn't that type of joint. I couldn't go anywhere, as it was 12 degrees outside and I wasn't dressed appropriately. I had to order a small pie and wait like 40 minutes for my first bite of food in like 8 hours. I'm not really feeling too well at this point as you can imagine. The travel, weather change, blood sugar issues. I dry heaved a few times in the bathroom, luckily had nothing in my stomach.
I walk the 4 blocks and actually get there on time. The Photon we were to play on was fast, this affected me the entire match. Billy blows me away the first set, as expected. I was pretty on the second set and beat him 4-0. Our next three sets are just ridiculously close, all ending 7-6 in the 7th game. Billy won set 3 and then was just rolling me in set four, where he was up 3 games to 1, and I wasn't putting up any resistance at all. It looked like the match was over. I slowed it down and just tried to make every possession count, and got it to the 7th game. I fortunately squeak out the point, and even the sets at 2. That was basically the match, no way I'm coming back from 3-1 down. Next set was more back and forth and again, I get the last point of the set to go up 3-2.
At that point, I have nothing left in the tank. I was using up everything I had just to stay with Billy. Billy's defense was playing so tough, he was making me work hard on every point. My defense was never on, so I was not getting possessions. My offense had to carry me. He looked pretty drained and he and I both strained our arms in the last game of the 5th set. He looked like he might forfeit in set 6. This always messes me up when I play against a wounded player, I couldn't go for the kill and he beat me 4-1 setting up the 7th set.
The scenario is the same as before the 2nd set of the finals. We are both mentally and physically drained from 4 grueling hours and 6 sets of max effort. I was able to dig deeper and win the 7th set.
I get about 5 hours sleep and fly back. It would take my body 5 days to recover from this exhausting event. Hopefully I won't overestimate what my body can actually handle in the future, but I doubt it.