34 HAT Beach Ultimate Tournament!

34 HAT! The sun, the beach, Istanbul, phosphorus and great people! I think this pretty much summarizes the great weekend I had. What brought all these tohether was the  34 Hat Beach Ultimate Tournament.

For those who has no clue what ultimate is, here are a few links to follow.

http://www.whatisultimate.com/

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PL7P50DupZQ

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IgtAu-tuYm4

In short Ultimate is 14 players running around a 125gr of round plastic disc but that’s just the short boring version! The spirit of the game is what puts the golden crown to Ultimate,  having no referees, the responsibility of the game is left to the players, allowing them to live the game to its limits.

Enough with these, my orienteering team didn’t let me down, and a teammate, Ceren joined me in this amazing weekend. We took the bus from Ankara to Istanbul, and got the opportunity to see a bit of Istanbul before the tournament. We had rice and *** for lunch and took the shuttle from Bhosphorus University to Kilyos Beach. Chatting up with old friends, the time flew by and we found ourselves right next to the sea, and lots of discs flying around! God I missed this!

My friends usually do not understand what there is to love about Ultimate. I could and do throw discs all day when I can, if I can find someone else who has the Ultimate-Fever. In the tournaments, everyone loves this as much as you do and no matter day or night, you can find someone to share this amazing thing.

Changing into our swimsuits we rolled around in the sand and tried to fight the giant waves that was crashing to the shore. I have always been familiar with the sea and open water swimming since I was a kid. I understand that it may be scary for people who are not used to it, but you had though until now that it was something that you could adapt yourself to. Being challenged by these giant waves allowed me to understand once more, that I am not invincible. Being afraid or preferably cautious of swimming in open water is a necessity. You never know what might happen in the middle of your swim and taking a break may not be possible.

At dinner I followed my usual carb-loading sequal, filling my plate with as many carb as I could find adding a little bit of protein on the side, and a rich salad to make sure I don’t have any problems digesting the carb-load throughout the night.

I was the first to be picked on the Yellow Team, and with more people joining me, I got into the tournament mood easily. Yiğit, who is also my teammate in ANKA Ultimate Team, and Melania, who I have always admired with the ultimate skill she has, were in my team. I was familiar with many of my new teammates, but I would have never guessed they were as excellent as I got to know them now.  We named our team , Yellow Submarines and decided that we would sing along the song “ Yellow Submarines” and other Yellow related songs as a cheer.

Sleeping early was not possible as my roommates were, let’s say, not careful about the noise they may have been making. Even after they went to bed, their loud jokes filled the room. Maybe if I had the chance to know them better, I would have joined in with the jokes J.

Waking up early, I decided to repeat what I had done on the morning of my first Half Marathon, Runtalya’13.  Eating only bread with jam or honey on top and sugar-filled tea, I felt energized ready to roll!

I always imagined running in the sand as everyone running a little less slower. What a fool I was! Just standing on the field, surrounded by sand everywhere made me breathe heavily and I could play for only a few minutes before becoming very tired. Having many players we switched in every point and tried to put all we had on the field.

We won 2 and lost 2 of our games, losing with only a 1-2 points behind. The other 6 teams had the same score and the leader team having 3 wins and a loss. Ceren’s team, unfortunately won only 1 game, but it was good to see that she, a first-timer, was having a blast playing Ultimate.

What makes my day, while playing Ultimate, is not how many wins and losses my team has but rather the quality of the game. Having a good team spirit and reflecting that on the field is all that I ask of while playing. It’s always good to do a layout and score but it’s also very exciting to be nicely defended and pushed to my  limits.
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The food ran out pretty soon, as everyone was hungry as a wolf. I did get my share of protein to recover for the day after and filled myself up with more salad. The meat was great, and so was the hard working staff.

After dinner a fellow player from USA who will live in Ankara for a few years taught us a fun drinking game involving accuracy in throwing, sprinting, team work and of course drinking. Although we weren’t too good at playing it, we had a lot fun, especially from the drinking part, as we were more involved in the drinking and losing part of the game. The party started but I got to learn and play a different board game. What a geek right?  With the luck which was nowhere to found on the field, I won the game. Next time I don’t think the old timers are going to help a lot J. We partied, not as hard as we did in Eskişehir (Old City) however the moon and the sea view was a blast. I was careful not to drink so much beer and go to bed early, but the music was so loud that I could clearly hear it in my room.

Morning came, and people started to fill the dining hall. Being of the few that was sober, it was much too fun to watch people trying to fill themselves up with caffeine and try to wake up. I don’t think it’s much professional to drink alcohol before any tournaments or races. It may be motivating but personally my body suffers a lot, even if I consume little bit of alcohol. Race first, party later!

We won the matches in the morning and we found ourselves in the top 4, in the semi-finals. Semi-final match was very exciting. My feet were hurting like hell, but I kept on sprinting up and down. Following a fellow sprinter and making him follow me back. Although we had a lead of 7-1 the other team caught up with us 7-6 but we managed to keep our cool and win the match. The reality hit me that second. We were in the FINALS! I realized that I deliberately hold myself back on the finals. I guess I put too much pressure on myself, and cannot find the will to play hard, scared of making a small mistake that would cost my team a lot. As I am a fast player, they usually match me with the good players on the opposing teams, and being tired after the whole tournament it’s just too much for me. I chose not to play to much, assisting the team as it was needed of me. I tried to keep calm, and not become more stressed than I was, but while doing that I lost track of time and the match ended. We had won the tournament. Of course after this you wish you had played mo.re in the final, but it’s still a good experience. We celebrated by swimming with our clothes until the awards ceremony. Being called up to the stage, we sang “Yellow Submarine” one last time. While leaving the stage, they announced that our team had also won the “Spirit of the Game” Award. With our medals in one hand and our trophies on the other we were joyful and excited.

Returning to the center, I had the opportunity to see Gezi Park, and the places I had seen following the protests for Gezi Park. It was very touching and shocking to be in the place that you had seen thousands have marched a few weeks before protesting the goverments’ irresponsible actions and police brutality. There were riot police**stationed everywhere leashing fear into the hearts of the people walking around.

Overall, I met amazing people and had the opportunity to know them better. 2 day long, all day long, Ultimate was of course what I had needed to motivate me. Istanbul was beautiful as always, however seeing the traffic first hand has made me reconsider my wish to live there someday. I cannot complain about the two trophies our team won, but I would trade them both to spend more time getting to know my teammates better. Go Yellow Submarines!

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