Pace line etiquette

Welcome to my whine tasting post. Cut some cheese and grab your crackers, I need to bust loose… 

That grown men shouldn't compete with children seemed obvious in hindsight.

Our Sunday indoor practice sessions are pretty grueling. To start the session, we line up fast to fastest and we’re supposed to set a pace we can keep steady for 100 laps, with the pull rotation on each 5th lap. What usually ends up happening is that the pace starts gradually building until the elites rotate through the lead, usually somewhere around the 30th lap, then we try to maintain that pace, whatever they set, through the rest of the 100 laps. (For background – our elites are the coach – a speed skating Olympian – and two nationally ranked girls, aged 12 & 13.) If you can’t hang with the line, you either drop to the middle of the rink or clear to the outside and keep skating till the line is done with the drill. Sounds simple, right? 

Before I fell and hurt my rib, I was hanging with the elite pack for the full 100 laps. Near death when it was over, but I was hanging. And it was fun, because at 2 laps to go, it turns into a race. The biggest thrill I had was after having busted my butt for 99 laps, I was able to come in on the heels of our coach after sprinting it out. If I could have hawked I’d have had him. But a week or so later I fell, and I’m still recovering. That and I’ve also changed my set up with some new frames that are heavier and have a higher center of gravity, so I’m just getting used to them too. Working hard, not quitting, not whining too loud at practice…till Sunday. 

Seems people are always pulling crap in front of me in a pace line. A sure way to cause a pile up.

We got up to elite speed and we were flying. I really felt like I was getting myself back up to pre-fall performance. At about 40 laps to go, it was just the three elites and me. I was feeling great! The coach was even commenting on my form, and it was positive feedback for a change! I finished a pull and got on the back of the pack. And truth be told, that’s something I’ve had to work on too, being able to stay with the pack at speed as I rotate out of the lead. And I did it! I was right back on without missing a stride. But then one of the other skaters, who had bailed on the pack when it started to speed up to take a 10-15 lap breather in the middle of the rink decided she wanted back in. So in she came, and aggressively cut in front of me… 

At first I was taken back by the blatant disregard for my hard-earned position in the line. But then I thought it would be fine because she could take a pull before my next turn. No biggie. What I didn’t expect is that after a lap, 1 freaking lap in 4th position back, she quit again. Right in front of me. There was nowhere to go, and the elites were getting away. 

I was able to get around her and catch the pack, but it took a lap of sprinting to do it, and when I did catch them, they were keeping their same, steady, fast pace. There was to be no rest after all that sprint work. Then they started to get faster. Having spent too much energy catching them, I was struggling to hang on for the next 10 laps. I was cooked and knew I wouldn’t be finishing this one with them. My stride being broken and with nothing left in the bank, I stood up and watched the train leave the station. I was torqued. 

Is it too much to ask the coach to enforce some etiquette out there? If you’re going to drop from the pack, fine, skate at your own pace in the middle. But if you want to get back on the pack after taking a breather, you need to get on the back of the pack, in the tail position, and work your way back to a lead pull. Seems fair enough, don’t you think? I said as much to him and he agreed to lay down some rules. 

This is why practice is great, because you learn some important lessons. For me here, I should have pulled a quick leap frog after she got in front of me. Because when you’re going that fast, a quick burst is going to be a lot easier to recover from than a lap worth of sprinting. Good experience, despite my inner cry baby. WAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH

12/18/09 Training: Day off. The big cookie contest at work. First Loser took first place with a Scandinavian almond cookie cake! No skating, but I’m going to need to – these cookies have 2 cans of almond paste and 2 1/2 sticks of butter in them. YUMMMM

I skate so I can eat things like this. THAT'S motivation.

12/19/09 Training: Indoor practice. Wasn’t really into it. Some laps I felt really strong, others I was wondering why I was out there at all. Slight burn out day I guess. On a high note, my daughter is coming out of her shell and starting to be very competitive with David’s daughter. It was fun watching the two of them duke it out in a 200m race! 

12/20/09 Training: Full indoor practice – 100 laps, plyos, lap the pack. Rib is feeling much better and I’m more confident in the new set up. 

12/21/09 Training: 14 miles outdoors on 110’s with John. This was my first time on 110’s. Lot’s to talk about with that experience, post to come. 

12/22/09 Training: Snow is coming so I did a quick 10 miles outdoors solo on the 110’s in the wind. Light indoor practice, lots of work on staying low. Quad burning drills and wall sits when I got home. I’m going to feel this tomorrow…

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4 responses to “Pace line etiquette

  1. Pingback: Pace Line Etiquette – Speed Skate World- By Peter Doucet- Online Since 1999

  2. Forget the coach, you should have gone straight to the skater and laid down the law. Or you could have pulled a Tonya Harding and axed her legs with a crowbar. Works everytime.

  3. Pingback: Skaters do it in-line « First Loser

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