I’m a freakin’ self-fulfilling prophecy. I knew there was a different path, but I stubbornly refused to skate it. Where I’m from, any extra-curricular activity called “turn & burn” would have probably raised an eyebrow or two and landed me in rehab. It even sounds addictive, and probably not something I should have ever tried – not once. After all, I’d seen the type skulking around the rink and in packs at inline skate marathons. I didn’t want to be one of “them” – those skin suit freaks that do nothing but talk about, think about and post crap on the internet about speed skating. I knew I had the potential of becoming “the thing that should not be” but, alas this self-knowledge availed me nothing. I was an outdoor skater who wanted more in the off-season. A way to keep the buzz going. So I went to the rink. And what happened? In classic Frankie Machine style I thought I could control it. It’s clear I could not. One lap was too many and one-hundred would never be enough. Yes, I’ve become a Speed Weenie.
Yes, I refer to myself as an inline speed skater, a label usually reserved for indoor or oval track skaters. To me, that spells Speed Weenie. My weenieness doesn’t end with a label or venue preference though. Another dimension has emerged as I continue to learn and grow in the sport, and it’s anything but “manly.” It’s borderline whimpiness, and for a New Jersey native, that crap jus’ don’t cut it. As someone who trades in the currency of fear that my home state carries with it, I’m not allowed to let my guard down – not for a f$%*&ng minute. Because it’s true, anyone who’s driven over the Verrazano Narrows is connected to the mafia.
Anyways [sic] we’ve got a few skaters at our Sunday speed practice who’ve been at the top of the game. Tough guys. Their skills and accomplishments are intimidating. I really enjoy skating wit deesguys, but when the speeds get high and the passes get nutz, I back off. Fuggetaboudit. I don’t engage. I hang at the back of the pack and watch, thinking I’m pretty smart to stay out of the fray. What I really am is a freakin’ wussy. My mob name should be Big Wussy. I have a fear of passing competent skaters, of inflicting a skate-bite that’ll whack me and the rest of the line off in one ill-conceived move.
Maybe I could be forgiven if that’s the only thing I was afraid of, but I got a big friggin’ mouth. Talk, talk, talk it up! My mouth moves faster than Mantia & Cheek combined – miles a f*&*%in’ minute. It was HorseyPants that called me on it, tellin’ me I was almost obsessively talking about “being scared” – scared to fight it out off a tight line; scared to make a full-on run at the first cone; scared to set up and attempt a power pass in a race situation; scared of slipping across the floor in the turns. Essentially she said I was being a bad example and that I need to just shut the f*#k up and skate.
In the interest of full disclosure, not to mention an overwhelming sense of pure defensiveness, it would be easy to say that I was making a point of telling the little kids in the group that yes, it’s scary even for a grown skin suit weenie like me to be on the floor going fast with these other skaters. What I was talking about was how sometimes it’s hard to face that fear and stay in there, but that it’s the only way to grow and that’s why I stick it out, even if I don’t win or finish at the front of the pack. Lofty ideals yes, but f&%$*ng bu)(*$#!t nonetheless. HorseyPants don’t let me get away with dis stuff. She don’t buy it. She says I’m punkin’ out. She’s right.
What I’m really doing is making excuses for not skating up to my potential. I’m being f@#$%ng lazy. In the words of one of ‘da boys I’m talkin’ ’bout, I’m setting myself up to lose, every f!@#$ng time. I’m too worried about what the f#$k the other guy is gonna do, and by doin’ dat, I keep myself behind them. I let the race get away. Cause it’s not like I can’t keep up, I gots duh endurance for that. It’s that I let them get away cause I flake on the effort, and I’m holding myself back. It’s a shrink-a-logical set-up. A head fake that I’m on the losin’ end of. HorseyPants also thinks it’s a weak display and likens the behavior to our dog rolling over when I’m exerting the alpha male role at home. It was that image that struck a chord and woke my sorry butt up.
From now on, I’m gonna fight the urge to “be safe.” I’m not talkin’ ’bout bein’ a stugots or somethin’ like dat. I’m talkin’ ’bout taking a well thought out opportunity to pass when I can, sprint when I have to, and hold on for dear life when they race to the finish. Cause while I’ll never give up point-to-point thrills on the marathon trail, inside it’s all about going fast and turning left, and not ending up in a ditch somewhere in the Meadowlands when the hawks are at the line.
4/16/10 Training: Super-secret new training regimen started today. OMG…OMG.
4/17/10 Training: Did a 10k in the hood to get the legs moving. The new workout effects are almost devastating. Won’t be posting this 10k time out at SkateLog any time soon.
4/18/10 Training: Rink Rabbits to start the day, then kicked butt at indoor practice. Missed the sprint because I didn’t hear it was 30 laps then sprint 3. Held on longer than I ever have.
4/19/10 Training: 22 miles in the wind. Ticked off a couple of cyclists, especially one who asked for a 1/4 mile head start at the turn-around point. He got the downhill with a tail wind and I let him keep his lead till the next uphill…heh heh heh, or as they say in Japan – sayonara suka! He was not pleased…
4/20/10 Training: Super-secret workout followed by racing with the Rinky-Dinky-Doo’s, or Rink Rabbits as it were. Love this stuff! One of the kids tried out speed skates for the first time today. The kid’s a natural. Very talented. The rest are getting so fast I don’t quite know what to do with them next.
4/21/10 Training: Mandatory day off due to new workout schedule. Not sure I like this part. Makes me feel like this guy.
4/22/10 Training: Super-secret workout, making progress, increasing the exercises. Brutality!
4/23/10 Training: Did a half-hour on the elliptical, level 7. Don’t know how many miles that was, the computer readout is acting up.
4/24/10 Training: Went to Lionheart’s birthday party at Rollerland and skated for 2 hours for fun. For the two prior years I’ve always skated my first timed marathon distance of the season to coincide with the TX Road Rash. I call it my Symp-a-thon because I never go but the rest of the Speed Weasels usually do. The wind was too fierce to do it today, will look to get this done next weekend.
4/25/10 Training: Rink Rabbits followed by indoor. All racing, no plyos. 1,000, 700, 500, 300, 100m races plus passing drills. At least I didn’t come in last, but I acted like a weenie. Done with that junk. Re-read this post for details. Fuggetaboudit.
4/26/10 Training: 13 skate trail miles at lunch. Beautiful day!
4/27/10 Training: Super-secret workout. It’s intense. Did that for 45 minutes then did practice with the Rink Rabbits. Speedy Weezy took a nasty spill chasing me and bruised his hip. He’s OK but took the day off of school to recover. He’s tough though – skated a 300m after the fall with gusto! That’s my guy!
4/28/10 Training: Mandatory day off. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.