Pull my finger (pinch me, we’re going to Nationals)

“A race is a work of art that people can look at and be affected in as many ways they’re capable of understanding.”

Uh, oh – I’m quoting Steve Prefontaine. Quick! I need to shake off this serious air immediately…HA! I’ve got just the thing:

Did’ja ever fart in a pace line? How about off the start? Did it make you go any faster? Did you create a gap to envy? Why just last week I was…

Whew. I don’t think I need to go any further. That did the trick. Now, everyone gather round and let’s talk about the 2010 North Central Regional Speed Skating Championships in Wichita, Kansas!

Not gonna do it. Wouldn't be prudent.

This post was going to be called “The Politics of Speed Skating,” cause there was “oh so much!” to talk about when it comes to gossip, misdeeds, missteps  and unsportsmanlike conduct. But the itty-bitty committee in my head got together and issued an advisement: S.T.F.U. was all it said. I conclude from the terse nature of the advisement that I should instead focus on the positive and “play nice.” After all, some of our skaters are on their way to Nationals, and it’s unfair to let the boorish conduct of adults and malcontents interfere with child-athletes’ day in the sun. So damn the diatribe – let’s talk about how well these kids are skating!

I can't hold back - THAT'S MY BOY!!!

First off – father’s pride! Speedy Weezy is fast on his way to the top of his game. The kid was on fire and he’s really thinking when he’s out there! We are so proud of him and I was really happy that Horseypants came along to see him shine. He’s really in his element when he’s on the line. He won all but one start, and his form was locked in and tight. We’ve got some work to do when it comes to knowing what to do when the whistle blows, but other than that the kid is a skating sight to see. I swell with pride watching the videos:

That was the Primary Boys 400M. You can see going into lap three what I’m talking about with the whistle. We need to practice what to do when you’re lapping someone – what you need to do, what the refs are going to be doing – but that aside, I’ve been watching this video over and over. Love watching that kid skate!

Speedy Weezy, B-Man & Lionheart - boys built for speed!

Some of our team came home with a little less skin, and a few came home a little heavier loaded down with silver & gold. All of our skaters did their best, and that’s what it’s all about. To each his & her own style and effort produced a work of art I’ll remember vividly. Each skater tells us their story when they’re out there – what their passion is, how hard they work at it, how much they want to be there, how great their dedication to improvement, how strong their desire to do their best. It’s palpable, especially with the kids. I can feel their excitement. I’m pinned to the wall by the raw nervous energy fueling the frenzy of speed and performances I’m taking in.

The art gets a lot more interesting when you pay close attention. Take the video above. This race was more revealing of the character of each skater than what might be readily apparent in the footage. Watch closely and maybe you’ll see it – the good, the bad & ugly. It’s all in there. I’ll just say this…I was very impressed by The Fast Kid and the way she held her lines and stood her ground in the face of adversity. She’s a real champ – the kind that will sand up for what’s right, protect her friendships and skate like a bat out of hell!

Lionheart put on another display of courage after taking a really nasty spill. The kid was in bad shape but recovered like the trooper he is. His poor parents had driven a long way and got there early Saturday afternoon. Honestly, they both looked like I felt on the last trip. They were on track to be able to start the 10 hour trek back to northern Colorado early on Sunday but the afternoon began to drag on because of a bunch of shenanigans happening with the relay selections that are best left unmentioned. Going into the lunch break we were about 40 minutes ahead of schedule, but that evaporated quickly. Subject of a future post: “What the hell is it about the relays?!”

Now…here’s where I could go on a long rant about things I know very little about. I won’t. I’ll just say this – it’s a damn shame that we’re not going to get to see one of this country’s top male elite skaters paired up in any relays in Lincoln in July. I don’t know what the hell happened but it just seems damn wrong to deny the guy his rightful place on the floor, where he wants to be. Guess he can tap out a few points in Farmville while others less deserving take home a medal. Nuff’ said. (That was a bit “insider” – sorry…)

B-Man & Katie Bug did great as well and both qualified to go to Nationals along with The Fast Kid & Speedy Weezy. B-Man got banged up pretty badly too, but took it with a smile, almost proud to have a battle scar to prove he was in the action. Everyone skated great, but due to an unfortunate series of events, it’s still unclear if The Shoulder Roller is going to Nationals or not. This was another situation where The Fast Kid proved that she’s got The Right Stuff. I hope it works out well for The Shoulder Roller, she’s a tough competitor and a caring skater, whose dedication over this last year to the team effort needs to be acknowledged.

And on the subject of acknowledgment, I need to fess up. I felt bad about not being more overtly supportive of B-Man & Lionheart when they were out there on the floor with Speedy Weezy. I get so wrapped up in rooting for my boy that I forget that I have other skaters there that I’m pulling for too. It often wasn’t until after Speedy had finished that I would shift my attention quickly to the other guys. Call it the zealotry of being a skating Dad, but I want those guys to know how proud I am of them and their achievements too!

All in all it was a great trip. The takeaways for me this time out:

  1. Always allow Horseypants to arrange the travel itinerary. She revealed Wichita to be a diamond in the rough for us. Not only did she find us a better room than we had last time, but she did most of the downtown driving and made the trip a lot less stressful for me. I love that chick.
  2. Old Downtown Wichita has a lot going for it. We explored it on Saturday after the (great) Team United open practice, hitting The Museum of World Treasures – a great kids’ museum that adults can learn a lot from too – and we explored the Arkansas River Front.
  3. Do not eat at Spangles unless you have nothing to do for the next 48 hours. (Did you know the White Castle & Pizza Hut were born in Wichita?!)
  4. Do eat at Promise Tai and Il Vicino and be sure to stop at Freedy’s Frozen Custad for desert (but while you’re at it, have the cannoli at Il Vicino too!)
  5. Late May is twister season in KS. If you see the Vortex 2 team or any of the NOAA guys driving away from a storm that you’re driving into, stop, turn around, and follow them to wherever they’re going.

"I'm still having a hard time keeping NPR tuned in even with this damn antenna."

As luck would have it, we watched a show on TV on Saturday night called something like “When Nature Attacks!!!” or some such thing and it was all about tornadoes. It was clearly in preparation for the ride home Sunday, where we ended up driving right into a system that was producing the storms with frightening up-close-and-personal-reality. We saw two funnels forming simultaneously over Goodland, KS. From where we were on the road, they looked to be to the south west of us. Well as we rounded the bend into Colby it was apparent that they were actually dead ahead between where we were and Denver. Seeing the NOAA guys and those ‘frady pants’ from the Weather Channel running for cover, we decided to do the safe thing and stay in Colby for the night. Given that the clouds were circling overhead, we thought it best to be off the road and someplace with a cellar.

Pretty much what we were staring down with about 5 more hours to go. That stain in the rental car seat? The dog did it...

I guess the final big takeaway, which isn’t really a revelation for as much as great reinforcement: don’t take this speed skating thing too damn seriously. We’re happy Speedy Weezy made the cut and is going to Nationals, but honestly, with the nature of our region, he could have phoned it in and still gotten a medal and qualification. (Subject of another future blog post: “Regionals – Really, What’s The Point?”) Nationals is going to be pricey, but we’re going for him, for the experience he’ll gain, and for the rest of the skaters in our club. I hope he does well, but that ain’t all there is. Sure, we’ll train hard between now and then, but at the end of the day, if he walks away from this and decides he’d rather play soccer or baseball, we’re going to let him follow that path.

Our Top Gun. I'll be your wing man anytime Speedy!

If however, he decides he wants to be the guy who can out-skate Joey’s records, then move on to take Apolo’s, then we’ll be there for him. But we’re not going to kick his butt on down the track. If he decides skating is his art, he’ll choose the colors, the canvas and the discipline. I just want to be there to clean his brushes.

5/21/10 Training: On the road again, no skating today.

5/22/10 Training: Spent an hour and a half doing the Super-Secret Workout in the pool area at the hotel. Put in a tougher workout than I do back home. It was great, but very humid. Glad there was a pool right there. Hope I didn’t leave a slick in it after cooling off!

5/23/10 Training: Race & travel day, no skating.

5/24/10 Training: Too windy by the time we got home, no skating today.

5/25/10 Training: 10k for a morning skate on the Cado Motus Pro 110’s. Rink Rabbits in the afternoon. Gee it’s good to be back home.

5/26/10 Training: 13 miles on the trail in Loveland for lunch. Found out the hard way that they’re resurfacing a crossover with chip-fill. Thank God I was going fast enough to get through it without falling.

5/27/10 Training: 17 miles in the hood for sunrise. I’m really starting to feel good in these Cado Motus Pro 110’s.

5/28/10 Training: 18 miles in the hood before work. Stronger, Faster, Better. It’s all good. Got another 9 miles in late in the afternoon out at Boyd Lake. Found out the hard way that the trail was washed out. Damn…the boots are gonna stink for sure.

5/29/10 Training: 26.2 miles in the hood at speed. Was less than 30 seconds off my Colorado personal best time thanks to the bozo in the white Camry. Thanks pal! Still, all things considered, this early in the season, I’ll gladly take the time!

5/30/10 Training: 2 hours indoors working on nothing but speed drills. Upgraded my Rollerblade Racemachines with a new set of 84a 110 Hyper Sidewinders and by the end of practice really like I was getting the hang of 110’s indoors. (Needed these wheels on this floor, trust me.) I’m not going back to 100’s indoors at this point. These are my new indoor skates, period.

5/31/10 Training: 29 miles on the Greeley to Windsor trail for Memorial Day. Thanks to all those who’ve given all for our freedom. I thought about you a lot this morning.

iPod Surprise Shuffle of the Week: She Believes In Me, Kenny Rogers. WTF…

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One response to “Pull my finger (pinch me, we’re going to Nationals)

  1. Just for the record, when I wrote “others less deserving take home a medal.” I was not referring to any individual and definitely not referring to anyone being placed on a team in lieu of the sk8er I was referring to! Please don’t read it that way. I was referring to anyone else on any other team who might win who didn’t face the challenge of the sk8er I was referring to. Wasn’t trying to insult anyone or take away from anyone else’s achievements, particularly anyone on our team! Just sayin’, I’d like to have seen whichever relay team it is that ultimately wins the title at Nationals…regardless of what team they’re affiliated with…would like to have seen them go against the sk8er that won’t be there. I’m not a h8er, just a sk8er spect8er!

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