Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Goal Achieved

As has been the case with several recent blog posts, this one will have nothing to do with running, for which I apologize. I don't have a blog for which this post would be appropriate, so running friends, please indulge me. It is, at least, about a physical activity.

I started bowling at the wee age of four (way back in the early 70's) and have bowled on many leagues, on and off, since then. I'm not particularly a gifted athlete (an understatement), yet having started so young, bowling is one "sport" (okay, a game, really) that I'm pretty good at. I usually carry a league average of 205-210 and, many years ago, my dad taught me how to throw a pretty sweet hook (if I do say so myself). However, the one thing that has eluded me in that world was the Perfect Game. The old 300. 12 consecutive strikes. Three times I've come close (once during league, twice in practice), rolling two 290 games and a 289. To be honest, the 290 games, as close as the scores appear, weren't even close to being perfect games. In both of them, I rolled a 9 and a spare in the first frames, then — with no pressure of a potential 300 — rolled 11 consecutive strikes to finish those games. The 289, however, was very close. I had strikes lined up for 9 frames. Crushed the pocket the first ball of the 10th frame for my 10th in a row. The next ball, I left the ten pin, which I spared for a 289. My wife was the only witness to that one, so it wouldn't have been sanctioned. Not that she doesn't have the power to sanction things. Just not with the USBC.

Last night, before my weekly league (my team consists of my dad, stepmom sister and myself, dubbed "Lightning Strikes"), I told my wife and oldest daughter that I was going to roll a 700 series, a 300 game, or both. I've made similar claims before, but I honestly felt like it was going to be an "on" night for me. After a very slow start to the season in late September, things have finally started clicking. I'm using a new ball and learning what it can do (it plays down and in very well, even on heavy oil.) Two weeks ago, I rolled a 669 series, followed by a 662 series last week. I suffer from pain in my right hand (tendon damage, I believe), so I've had to modify my delivery a bit, which helps to alleviate the pain. Last night, I switched to that delivery exclusively during the third game (incidentally, my new delivery involves keeping my hand flat during the backswing, then quickly flexing my wrist and lifting on the release, as opposed to cupping my hand & wrist during the entire approach.)

I started the night with a 234 game, with 5 consecutive strikes out of the gate, which felt good. This season, my first game has usually been my lowest, so it was nice to start well. Game two was down a tad (217), but I managed to stay "clean" (no opens) for both games. I mentioned to my dad that I needed a 249 third game for a 700 series, about which I wasn't terribly optimistic. Fortunately, the lanes seemed remarkably consistent all night. The only adjustment I made, aside from modifying my delivery, was to move 1 board left during the 2nd game while still throwing over the 2nd arrow. The pocket felt big all night, but it grew even more during the third game. After my 5th consecutive strike, my dad stated that he would no longer talk to me (a common practice among bowlers en route to a potential perfect game, much like a pitcher throwing a no-hitter).

I was eager to get up and bowl as quickly as possible, feeling like I could lose my groove if I waited too long. In the 8th frame (I believe), the 7 and 10 pins taunted me, eventually falling to save me from a big split. When the 10th frame arrived, my nerves were kicking in. It took all my willpower to keep my head out of the game and let me body take over on auto-pilot. I was really grooving my swing and my delivery had been consistent. I obviously wanted to keep it that way to finish off the game. My first ball in the 10th hit light, leaving the 7 pin to wobble before being tripped by the 4. Ten in a row. My hands were just starting to sweat and shake a little and my mouth was getting dry. "Just two more, Colin. Just like all the rest." I couldn't look at my teammates or any of the others gathered behind the lane to cheer me on. I honestly don't remember what the second ball looked like, but the pins fell, thankfully. I remember clapping my hands together so hard that they stung. Before the third and final ball, I managed to block out the sights and sounds around me, although I was afraid that my nerves were going to affect my delivery. Four steps, release, POW. One of my most solid strikes of the game...and a very heavy and old monkey off of my back.

I also managed my lifetime high series (751) and a clean night (no opens). I'll be ordering my 300 ring next week. We also swept our opponents, which was a nice bonus.

It was a fun night. I'm not sure how I'll top it. How about another 300 next week? Why not? This one has only taken 40-something years!

Trying to do my job as anchor!

Blurry. It's about how I felt after that last ball.
Here's how the night played out.

The Brunswick Mastermind Genius (the ball, not me.) Absolutely LOVE this ball, for obvious reasons.

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