Category Archives: General

You reach the conclusions.

Like a supreme court nominee who drinks and thinks with his entitled, tiny, little gavel, my training schedule is on auto-pilot. It’s that time of year where I’ll go into drunken black-out mode – I’ll do what I do, what the animal in my loins tells me to do – and I don’t need to think of it, won’t remember it, will probably lie about it, minimize it or deny it altogether when it’s all over, when I sober up and zip up in Spring. Yes, it’s off-season & dry-land time!


We should pray for the skaters.

Why do I do this? Because it’s what I know. It’s in my DNA. It’s that time of year when Plyo’s are the New Black and Advil becomes something I need to list on medical screens as a permanent medication.

But it doesn’t stop there…nope. Time to get out the crud bearings and smaller wheels and make my trail skate as daunting as possible. Find every damn hill and climb it in full, gale-force headwind. It’s what makes skaters great again. And that should get me where I want to be next year…standing next to you on the podium in Duluth. Ya, you betcha.

Gettin’ some trail

Like Judge Roy Moore finding out there’s a new mall opening right next door to the high school filed hockey complex, I felt a twitch and jumped for joy when I read that they were finally connecting the paved trails between two of the most skate-friendly towns on the planet – Loveland and Fort Collins, Colorado. It was too good to be true, and long overdue.


But sho’ nuff, it’s done, and open, and glorious! Two pristine new miles of smooth concrete connecting the 35 miles of trail network in Fort Collins to the 18 miles I lost me belly on the first time in Loveland. I’ve spent countless hours striding and gliding in both towns, and now it’s all come together. Eventually, this may be integrated into a bigger project, the larger Front Range Trail system, which will extend from New Mexico to Wyoming. I imagine a trail like that would see more action that a Ficus tree in Harvey Weinstein’s private casting room, but in a much more wholesome way…gives me a chubby just thinking about it.

The new two mile stretch cost an estimated $1.2 million dollars to build. At $600,000 a mile, it’s cheap compared to the hundreds of millions of dollars being spent on medical facilities being built to accommodate the deteriorating American couch sloth. We’re now the most obese nation on the planet, with nearly 40% of the population tipping the scale harder than Kevin Spacey groping for glory in the Newsies dressing room. It’s obscene!

And so, hats off to the region’s open lands and trails managers, who’ve done the community a huge service with this extension. If more people are encouraged to get out there and recreate, maybe we can all pull back a few inches on the belt by this time next year, a payback and ROI that’ll be well-worth the investment in the long run.

But I just read that they’re estimating 250,000 people are going to be out there, using the trails. As much as I’d love to see a healthier planet, I don’t want them out there when I’m skating. Especially with their dogs on their 50 ft. extenda leashes, and definitely not those Lance-Wanna-Be’s – because you know how I feel about them. So I’m all for sharing, just don’t be out there early in the morning, unless you know how to keep right. Passing on your left…



The obligatory “10 Things All Inline Speed Skaters Must Do” post – part 1

If you open the pages of any of your favorite magazines (mag-a-what?), at some point you’re going to come across one of those obnoxious “Our Top 10 Things Our Editors Got Bribed To Tell You To Do Before You Expire” lists. Well, in the spirit of trying to give you something to think about as you’re out there thinking about all of the skating you’ll do in this new year, here’s this skater’s attempt at joining the club of overblown bucket list wonks…

In a nutshell, on this list you’ll find ideas, activities and excuses to spend your hard earned cash on in pursuit of more time on wheels. Take it for what it’s worth, and keep the change ya filthy skate animal.

7 months later, it hasn't gotten any better.

All kinds of good crap, labeled A through K, that I can’t live without. Now where’s my skate wrench…

10. Build the ultimate skate bench. Get all those spare frames, beat bearings, stripped axls, worn wheels and stinky boots out of the boxes and onto the countertop of your very own workspace. As the skater of the house (or Alpha Skater if there’s more than one of you and you need to quickly jockey for this coveted position of ultimate dominance) you need a space to call your own. That quiet, peaceful, wondrous place for you to fine tune your equipment and spend long hours stroking a hair dryer over your carbon fiber. (Makes a good spot to stash girly magazines too.)

"No worries General Kenobi, we'll overtake the Separatists on the highway. Victory is ours."

“No worries General Kenobi, we’ll overtake the Separatists on the highway. Victory is ours.”

9. Skate a marathon. Point or point or crit-skate, there’s really no better way to get a real bang for the buck with every dollar of that entry fee than by skating 26.2 or more miles with your fellow masterblader’s in all your spandex-clad glory. Put it this way, when you’re skating outdoors in a skinsuit alone…you’re a wannabe. But in a large group going incredibly fast in tight packs, you’re a spectacle. You’re part of an unstoppable force to be reckoned with, fueled by tiger’s blood, adrenalin and big wheels strapped to your feet. No one will make fun of you, and you’ll have had the experience of a lifetime, even if you place second.

It was his indulgence of pre-race whip-its that ultimately undid his indoor career...

It was his indulgence in pre-race whip-its that ultimately undid his indoor career…

8. Skate an indoor meet. I haven’t done this yet but they tell me it’s fun. Actually, that’s not true. I used to approach every practice as if it were Nationals, so in that sense, I was skating an indoor meet several times a week. And I was winning, big time. But that was against 6 year old beginners on PlaySkol blades. (Crushed them ankle biters.) But if I had to register in my age division with anyone skating more than three months, it’d probably be a different story. I had planned on skating indoor meets last year, and the year before, but now I’m not so sure it’s in the immediate future. Still, it’s a bucket list item, so on the list it stays. I encourage everyone reading this to at least give an indoor practice a try.

Nothing feeds my ego more than dusting a cyclist on the trail...

Nothing feeds my ego more than dusting a cyclist on the trail…

7. Skate outdoors, preferably on a mixed-use recreational trail. This goes the other way. I’m continually surprised when I meet indoor skaters that don’t own outdoor wheels, and have never even tried skating around a parking lot. Look…there’s a whole wide world out there beyond the funky smell and bad carpet of your local sweat shop (rink). Set your frames in a neutral, middle of the boot position, get some beat up indoor wheels and at least go for a short skate on a wide sidewalk. It could quite literally open whole new worlds for you, not to mention simulating the feel of a WIC event. Dude, the rest of the world competes outdoors…

The closest I'll ever get to that many medals...

The closest I’ll ever get to that many medals…

6. Send me money. You know you want to. IM me for details. It’s the right thing to do.

That's one way to express yourself...

That’s one way to express yourself…

5. How do you keep a skater in suspense? Come back next time, I’ll tell you. Till then, keep it rollin’…

Why stop when it doesn’t have to end?

Like Phil Robertson at a GLAAD convention, I’ve been getting a lot of attention lately. Ever since publishing part one of what I’m now calling the Larson Trilogy, I’ve been getting hammered both online and off for more content. Now I know what George Lucas felt like between Star Wars and Empire, just, you know, without the gobs of money people threw at him.

“Just gonna need somma dem roller skates, duct tape and extension cords. Won’t be a minute to fix all this sinnin’.”

Our story picks up where we left off, but not exactly. I agree to meet Jim at an abandoned roller rink on the outskirts of town. The place is dark, deserted, and still smells like Team Pigpen just finished two four-hour double-up practices. I squeeze through the busted front door, hop over the rusty turnstile and make my way to the concession area. There’s a loud bang as the lights over the skate floor fire up, and I can see Jim standing in the middle of the straightaway in full gear. He’s ready to skate, or just enjoys dressing this way…
"It hit me in the face at cone four, I don't know where it came from! It's a helmet cover, REALLY!"

“It hit me in the face at cone four, I don’t know where it came from! It’s a helmet cover, REALLY!”

FirstLoser: Yo man, WTF? What’s with all the theatrics?

Jim Larson: (Rapping)So get your ideas, stack your ammo, but don’t come unless you come to battle, now mount up, jump in the saddle, this is it – it’s what you eat, sleep…

FirstLoser: Whoa, I just came to interview you man, I didn’t even bring my skates.

Larson: Damn son, you blew my groove! (Throws his helmet across the rink) It’s all about you, isn’t it?

FirstLoser: No man, no one wants to hear about me, they’re sick of that. This is about you.

Larson: Yeah, well hell man, I got more to tell, so let’s get this going.

FirstLoser: That’s what I’m saying Jim.

Larson: Next question then.

FirstLoser: Well, looking over what you gave me last time, it’s clear you’re a man for all skates. I mean you’ve pretty much cleaned up on inlines and quads, both in speed skating and in Roller Derby. Have you ever done any aggressive bowl skating? Skateboarding? Downhill? Roller skiing? Any other roller sport you want to dominate in the years to come?

Larson: It’s funny you ask this question, because I am surprised I haven’t had a serious injury before the one that happened this past June (2013, when he jacked himself up real good). Back in like 1987-1989, a buddy of mine that used to skate with us back home in Illinois had a huge half-pipe I used to quad skate on. We spent a lot of days and nights on this thing, under the lights. I actually got pretty good at it! I mean I wasn’t doing McTwists or anything like that, but just cruising and getting air off the coping. Grinds were some of the coolest things on quads, brother! We had a lot of fun!

FirstLoser: Wow, that memory lighted the mood in this place. I didn’t know what the hell you were setting me up for walking in here.

Larson: It’s all about the show man.

FirstLoser: So, obviously, you’re a guy who lives for this show. What’s keeping you going after all these years?

Spending time giving back and having fun.

Spending time giving back and having fun.

Larson: I really think that in this sport, we tend to make a lot of friends, and those could be good or bad, but for the most part, the sport is smaller than back in the day, so there are more good than bad. I stick around because being at the track, being at a meet with my friends, it’s home.

FirstLoser: I get that, and there are a lot of people who just hang around having fun with it, staying in touch. But you, you’re not just here having fun, you’re growing, even after all this time. What’s your motivation to train as hard as you do? Why do you keep skating, (getting in my way, taking all the damn medals)?

Larson: It’s the money bro. Hahaha – yeah, print that! No, for me, the motivation to keep going is the adrenaline rush of the competition, pure and simple. I’ve never really done any sport half way, or at fifty percent of max. Speed skating is called speed skating for a reason. You want to go slow and not put the work in to go fast, well, someone else like me will. If you’re that guy that just wants to leisure roll, then this might not be the sport for you! Try something more sedentary, like BINGO! Haha. I’ll tell you this; it takes a strong person to compete in this sport.

FirstLoser: True dat, Jim. This isn’t a sport you can “phone it in” on. I tried that at ODN in 2011, learned that lesson the hard way.

Larson: But you’re still here man. Why? Because it’s a part of you. Look, you’ll have some seasons that are better than others. This sport, it will bring you down both mentally and physically sometimes, but you have to be prepared to take those lumps along the way and get right back up and go back at it! You’ve got to be tough. The losses will come, maybe more for a guy like you, but for all of us, we’ll have them too, trust me. But you have to remain focused, stay positive, and set those goals to be successful in this sport! This is one sport you cannot be on top putting in half ass work, like you did that year. That was pathetic bro.

FirstLoser: Thanks man.

At this point, I contemplate jetting out to the “rest room”, finding the gas main for the pizza oven and letting the place go up in a ball of space-carpet glory. It’s the only way I’ll get rid of this guy. He’s not ever going to go from the sport quietly. But then, my competitive spirit awakens, and I decide to press-on. I’ll take him on the track one day, as it was meant to be. So in the meantime, might as well try to dig further into his psyche, see if there’s anything I can use to further my own performance…

FirstLoser: So, tell me, do you have a career goal? You know, like breaking all the records in any and all age divisions you skate? Something like that? What is it? TELL ME!

USARS 2000 with relay partner and frequent divisions challenger Norm Kirby.

USARS 2000 with relay partner and frequent divisions challenger Norm Kirby.

Larson: Chill out bro, what the hell is wrong with you? Yeah, I have tons of goals, some I’m still trying to reach, some I’ve set before and achieved for a third, fourth and maybe a fifth time. There are some that are similar to ones I’ve achieved before, but with a variance in how to achieve them next. For example, go out in a race to try for a record, but do it from the front! Lead every lap and the record is yours. Or change it up, and maybe come from behind to set the record. Little things like that. Or lead every lap of every race at Nationals from start to finish. That would be some stuff brother! But you know, just changing it up. This also keeps me going strong, makes it fun.

FirstLoser: Sounds like a great way to structure a practice. Get the record book out, establish the lap times, and go for the gold.

Larson: Now you’re talking. Wow, that’s not something I’d think you’d come up with.

FirstLoser: Yeah, um, thanks again, Jim. So, how old are you now and how long do you plan on doing this?

Larson: Your line of questioning is odd man. I’m seeing a pattern here. Well, what the hell, it’s not like you’re really any kind of threat to any record I hold now, or have ever held for that matter. I’m forty-seven this year, and plan on still competing as long as I’m having fun. And winning IS FUN, so, as long as I’m winning, you’re not! Haha! Yes! But I’ll tell you this; one goal I’d like to accomplish before I get out would be World Team Coach.

FirstLoser: OK, now you’re talking about giving back.

Stars & Stripes Forever - not Jim, but they share the spirit!

Stars & Stripes Forever – not Jim, but they share the spirit!

Larson: Yes. I truly believe I could be an asset if USARS would use me in this position, or even utilize me as part of the World Team Staff. Whether it’s a coaching position, a trainer or a manager, I have a strong desire to give back and contribute to our country’s success in residency and track-side at Worlds.

Niece Megan Gillis, on Right, with hard-won hardware.

Niece Megan Gillis, on Right, with hard-won hardware.

FirstLoser: I think there’re a lot of us who would support that. And it’s truly exceptional that you’d be willing to make the sacrifice to contribute at that level. But let me ask you this. And I know I’m not the only one who wants to know…why aren’t you skating NSC (National Speedskating Circuit

Larson: Yeah NSC, I KNOW, I KNOW (caps for emphasis, he’s yelling, clearly agitated by this.) Well, back to another 2013 goal, it goes like this…I broke my leg in June, four weeks before Nationals. I was ready to take down the Veteran division and defend my title in Veteran Men, and then go off to Federal Way Washington, for the NSC. I had spoken with Miguel (Jose, NSC league president and co-founder) about trying out and he was like, (imitating Miguel with a funny little back and forth motion, waving his hands around, sticking out his front teeth) “that would be soooo freaking totally AWESOME bro!!!” (Regaining his composure,) trust me when I say I was ready. I was feeling good. I was skating the fastest I’ve ever been skating, and I know that Pattison’s floor well, so it would have been pretty entertaining, I would have crushed it. And after watching the tryouts, I can honestly say I would have had a good shot at breaking some hearts of those young guns. Who knows, (looking off into the distance, like Richard Gere in Officer and a Gentlemen) maybe again this next season. We’ll see how I heal up.

Yep, he knows that floor at Pattison’s REAL WELL.

Yep, he knows that floor at Pattison’s REAL WELL.

FirstLoser: Going pro in NSC and medaling at forty seven would be an accomplishment, no doubt. So, in thinking about your accomplishments, you know, the entire first half of this interview’s content, what’s been the most significant medal and/or record you’ve ever won or broken?

US National Inline Master 2 Man Champs record holder 2008 with Jon Elliott and coach Joe Cotter.

US National Inline Master 2 Man Champs record holder 2008 with Jon Elliott and coach Joe Cotter.

Larson: I’ve got a couple of these, but probably the most significant medal that I’ve won would actually be my first Great Lakes Regional Medal, in 1978. It was in Elementary Boys, I took second place. Even though it wasn’t a win or a gold medal, I remember earning it like it was yesterday. I can still recall each race from that meet, who got what and who placed how, over thirty-five years ago, brother. Then there’s a record I’ll truly cherish forever, and that’s the Master Two Man in 2008 with Jon Elliott. We were skating for Team Hyper and Team United, and we won and set the National Record. After the race, I fell out with a smile on my face. My legs were burning and I had a couple little tears in my eye!

FirstLoser: Sounds like you left it all on the floor.

Larson: Indeed.

FirstLoser: Let’s talk about other skaters. As a skater and coach, tell me, who’s the best inline skater to study for form and function?

Larson: Well this is kind of a tricky question, ‘cause there are so many technical aspects of our sport, particularly when it comes to form. Man, I’ve learned so much over the past fifteen to twenty years, on both inlines and quads. There’re a few inliners, both male and female, that I’ve watched endlessly on performance, technique, strength, exceptional sprint speed, and conditioning. A few from today’s crop, and a whole bunch from the past. Before I name them, let me just say, each of these skaters has a different, unique style they employ, but they all achieve the same goal in their own way.

FirstLoser: Ok man, how ‘bout it then? (yawns)

Larson: Pipe down, son. OK, here’s an obvious one, Chad Hedrick. He’s the man to study for outdoor. There’s no other. He’s a 50 time World Champion, he’s a master technician in his outdoor capabilities with that double push of his, and the strength this guy possesses! Let’s jump right to a contemporary super-star, Joe Mantia. Same background as Chad, but Joe is flawless in his technique, and no one has ever been so efficient. And Derek Downing…

FirstLoser: Look, Jim. No offense, but those guys are too obvious man. People are gonna read that and say,” c’mon Jim, tell us something we don’t know.” Tell you what, let’s get in the TARDIS and go back a few years…

Larson: (Standing up, clenching fists, veins bulging in his temples…) What did you just call me bro?

FirstLoser: The TARDIS is Dr. Who’s time-machine. It’s a BBC television show. Sci-fi classic.

Larson: (Taking a deep breath, sitting back down.) Dude, you’re nerd-dom almost got your head knocked in. Dr. Who? No one is going to get that reference. Anyway. Alright, I see what you’re saying. How about this…One that stands out in my mind, that I used to watch on his path coming up over the years is Dane Lewis, from Sacramento California. His technique, his power, and his sprint speed were beyond that of any other skater at that time.

FirstLoser: Now we’re getting somewhere.

Larson: But I’ve got to go back to the head of the class with Dante Muse. Sorry, you cannot ask me this question and think that I won’t bring this guy into the picture. Having had the opportunity to skate against him back in the day on quads was truly amazing. You know there are some skaters that come to an event that you just simply hate getting beat by, but if you got beaten by Dante, it’s no big deal because it’s dang near expected, and he’ll beat you! He was amazing. And you can’t mention Dante without another Muse that’s closer to my age, a champion in his own right, Tony Muse. He’s a good friend of mine and derby teammate. He’s also a legend and he’s has taught me stages of the mental game, not only as a competitor, but as a friend.

FirstLoser: Give us some names of guys that are still out there, doing this thing we do.

Larson: You bet. I used to pay close attention to a bunch of guys that I’ve either skated against in division or a relay. Guys you know like Norm Kirby, Rodney Green, Russell Parmely, Ron Dillow, Terry Palmer, Michael Fortner, Rich Russell, Paul Santana, Scott Thomas, Jim Bourgeois. These are just some of the guys that have had their day in the spotlight, all with great abilities, strengths and endurance to go with it, they are amazing.

FirstLoser: OK, what about the women? Tell me ‘bout them womens!

Larson: Chill out Superfly! I’ma have to throw some water on you! Well, on the female side there’s Julie “smooth as” Glass. Her technique is as smooth as it comes. Then there’s Theresa Cliff, Jessica Smith, Debbie Rice, Vicci King, Heather Gunnin. Just naming a few. I could name a ton more, but all of these skaters are the ones I’ve watched most over the last 10 years.

FirstLoser: Clearly you’ve rattled off a few great talents there. But in the final assessment, who are the skaters you look up to? Not the one’s you’re learning from, but the skaters you hold above all?

Larson: Well there’s you of course. HAHAHAHA! (Spits and laughs hysterically.) As if. No, no. There are a few on this list. I look up to current and past skaters alike, guys like Buggy Allmond, Jeff Foster, Curt Labeda, guys that have been doing this a long time, still skating strong, suiting up, showing up. Then there are some of the past skaters like Tom Peterson, Chris Snyder, Tim Caldwell, Tim Small to name a few. These guys through the years were and are devoted to this sport, whether it be skating or as a manufacturer. These are guys I look up to for real. Much respect (pounds chest with fist, warrior like.)

FirstLoser: I appreciate that, really. But let’s talk about those that have been inspirational. Who are those that have been the most influential to you in your skating career?

Jim backbone, his wife Denise.

Jim backbone, his wife Denise.

Larson: You trying to get me in trouble man? The most inspirational? Well, this might have to go out to a couple people who have inspired me. First, I’ll say my wife Denise, who also skates but is also a mental coach to me. She’s my backbone. A couple others over the years, yeah, I have a few more. My niece, Megan Gillis. In my coaching paths, Megan made the Junior World Team at thirteen years old, one of like four or five to have ever done this, and then she went on to win a medal at Worlds! Then there’s my good pal Jon Elliott. Jon’s been that friend anyone would want in this sport. We’ve been through it all, the ups the downs, you name it. I’ll also have to give a couple shout outs to a few coaches in my career. People like Jan Porter, Kelly Springer, Joe Cotter, Mark Muse, Sonny Felter, and Linda Wood. Each one of these coaches helped me somewhere in my career along the way! I thank them all from the depth of my being!

FirstLoser: It’s like you just brought it all right back home, to where your heart is.

Larson: Look man, there are more out there, but we’ll be here all day listing each one. I look at and watch everyone. There isn’t any one special person that I just look up to. Actually, I look up to every skater participating in this sport. It takes a lot of money, dedication, drive, and adversity to do well, and I look up to anyone that can overcome these hurdles to be successful. That’s why I really want a place with the World Team organization. And I think we need a few of those folks I mentioned to come forward and volunteer too, to get our program back on top.

At this point, it’s been another long session. I’m feeling confident I’ll get away from this one without bleeding, having brought him to a place where he’s clearly reflecting on the good time, good people and glory of a path well-blessed with quality people and experiences. In an effort to end the session and get to my Pokémon League game on time, I try to end it on a light note:

FirstLoser: Well, I’ve got to get…um, home, and um, record the Duck Dynasty marathon. One more question for today…what’s the funniest thing that’s ever happened to you at a skate meet?

Larson: Hmmm. Hahaha, yes. The funniest for me would be the Easter meet in 2010 in Hickory, North Carolina. It was the Master Men’s 500m final. There’s video of this out there too. (Laughs to himself again.) Yes, on the 4th lap. I was leading. The corner four cone was placed on the wrong mark the lap before and when I came around, I had to take the corner a little differently and chirped my wheels. It completely caught me off balance and I did a three-sixty on the Bell Lap! But check it out – I had a big enough gap to hold corners one and two, skate the back straight away, skate the last corner and win the race with a hawk! That put me over the top for the overall win for the meet! (Laughs to himself one more time.) Might not have been funny to the others in the final, but it made my day! Hahaha. It’s pretty funny when you watch it!

FirstLoser: Yeah, sounds like you’re pretty full of yourself…

Larson: Hahaha – yeah. *BAMN*

So much for getting out of here without getting cracked in the teeth. I didn’t need that incisor anyway. Tasting the metallic warmth of blood pooling in my mouth, I head for the door and make my way to FanBoy Comics, 15 minutes late for round one in the Pokémon tournament. As I sit down to shuffle my cards and deal my hand, I can’t help but think ahead to what his reaction’s going to be to the final round of questions. The state of USARS and the US World Team, 125mm wheels, his injury, his run for the Presidency. Things are going to get interesting, to say the least. Next time, I’d better wear some hockey gear, just to be safe.

You want testosterone with that?

Like the very-nearly legendary rivalry and podium skirmish between Chazz Michael Michaels and Jimmy MacElroy, I come at this blog post with a full-on head-butt that’s gonna set the skating world on fire. Jim Larson, the man, the myth. Yes, my arch-rival and nemesis, here, now, EXPOSED! That’s right – with this post I set out with one objective – to topple his reign of national medal counts for men my age, everywhere! But, you know, not quite for all of you, but for myself, ’cause that’s the way I roll…

How long you gonna be?

How long you gonna be?

When I got news earlier this year that the winning-est skater of my age divisions, dare say one of the greatest skaters of all-time, was sidelined with a broken leg, I smelled blood in the water. Being the skate-shark I am, I decided that if ever I had the opportunity to mount a comeback and go home with a national gold medal, the time was neigh. Forget about that whole thing of having to qualify up through regionals, I was going for the buy in my region. That’s right – with Larson out of the way, the podium was mine. I just needed to pack 9 months of training into 15 days and I was golden. Time for a comeback, yo.

Yeah – well, that was when I remembered how humiliating it was to take a third place medal in the 5,000 at ODN behind Jim and Norm Kirby, having been lapped by them. That’s when I decided it wasn’t a good idea to compete without really training. (I know – gimme a medal for profound insight.)

A pic so bad, you know I didn't photoshop it. (or did I?)

A pic so bad, you know I didn’t photoshop it. (or did I?)

In thinking about it, I went into that race with arrogance and poor preparation. I hadn’t paid my dues, just thought I’d phone it in. It’s clear that Larson pays his, every damn day. So there’s that, and because there are a lot of other tough competitors out there, all taking Larson out of the mix does is level the playing field, which makes everyone more aggressive. He’s in a class all his own.

Truth be told, I was cheering him and Norm on as they were passing me in that race, cause these guys are the bleeding heart of the sport. Cheering them on and cursing under my breath. But they’re a breed-apart, having come up in the sport, and still pushing it forward & faster, still dropping records, training hard, suiting up and showing up. They’re inspirational. And it dawned on me that while they’re generally well-known in skate circles, guys like this don’t get the glory like NSC skaters or World Team members. There’s a lot the rest of us can learn from this species of skater, so why not focus a lens on what it is they’re doing to achieve consistent results? They’re getting stronger and faster, year after year. I need to know how they’re training if I’m ever going to race against them with pride, so I need information. Thus, the idea was born, use the blog as cover to gather intelligence. Write a story that digs deeper into the training methods and mind-set of the warrior. We have a plan.

The only view of Larson I had in the previously mentioned "race".

The only view of Larson I had in the previously mentioned “race”.

It took a year, but I got it all! And I was ready to keep it to myself, but then he started asking about when I was going to publish it. Damn-it! Hadn’t anticipated that. No one reads this thing, so I thought I’d be safe. Crap. I’ve got to share this. But maybe I employ some counter-intell tactics like disseminating misinformation. Ah, that’s it. I’ll keep the real secrets to myself, tell you all the exact opposite of what he shares, and rack up the medals next year. (maniacal laugh, MANIACAL LAUGH!!!)

Yeah, well then there’s that detail of him still being among the living. If I’m ever going to show my face at another meet, I’ve gotta keep it real. Shoot. All this work…now for public consumption. Well, so be it. Game on.

Setting a record at ODN 2011

Setting a record at ODN 2011

If anything, this is a story about survival. Jim Larson is a a Home-Grown Champion in the truest sense of those words. This isn’t a guy who’s gone to Worlds and swept the field, but here at home, the guy has been accumulating titles, records and medals for years, at a rate unmatched by anyone else in any Division, period. So it’s not that we’re arch-rivals in it’s truest sense, because, after all, he’d have to know who I am first off, but also, I’d have to be on some sort of level close to his too. So the rivalry is all mine, but I see that as a good thing. This is a skating record to aspire too. So instead of using my Garmin’s training assistant, I load my goals on Larson pace, cause that’s public information. But what makes this guy tick? What’s he doing before he hits the track? Ah, I need to get inside his head. That’s it! If I’m ever gonna have a chance to pace him in a race, I need to be on his level. So let’s do some recon…

That's one team'o'talent, son.

That’s one team’o’talent, son.

FirstLoser: First off, thanks for agreeing to this. We’ve been trying to get this together for a while, and I appreciate that you’ve made the time to talk to me. So, for those who are meeting you for the first time, let’s drill into your credentials. Exactly how long have you been skating, either quads or inlines?

Jim Larson: Thanks bro. The pleasure is mine. I started in late 1974 on quads, the wood and powder days. I picked up on the inline scene in 1995 and actually didn’t compete indoor until 1997, when I made my first regionals and first nationals. I’ve gotta say, we all have to start somewhere. My firsts were not pretty, to say the least!

FirstLoser: Been there, done that man. I lost half my butt at my first Nats. Fun! So, let’s fast-forward fifteen-sixteen years, you’re older, wiser, been doing this consistently all this time, and you have a freaking huge year. How many Inline indoor, Outdoor, Marathon, (takes a breath) Quad indoor, Rollerderby titles & records did you win or break in 2012?

Larson's 2012 Season Recap

Larson’s 2012 Season Recap

Larson: Oh man! You want me to name them? If I’d known there’d be a test, I’d have stayed home. Just kidding. Let’s attack this by discipline. In 2012 for Outdoor Track (inline) I set the 300m time trial, broke the 500m record in the heat and the final, and I also set the 1500m record, so that’s 4 records. Moving to Road, I set the 200m and again broke and reset the record in 500m, and then again in the 1500m, so that’s a total of 8 records at the Outdoor National Bank Track and Road Championships.

FirstLoser: And some of those records were fresh, so none of this “it’s the wheels” crap.

Larson: Freshened them up myself! To continue, Indoor Inline, I went into 2012 setting goals and breaking down each individual race, determining how fast I could be and holding a lap average in order to set all the records, in hopes to set them in the heats and break them again in the finals…

FirstLoser: (internal monologue) ‘Heh,heh,heh…that’s it, reveal your strategy. He’s playing into my trap!’

Larson: …so, in order, I set the 700m record in the heat and broke it again in the final, same with the 500m. But the 1000m didn’t turn out the way I thought it would. I was on record pace through 8 laps and fell off pace a little at the end and missed the record by .30(tenths) of a second. Going into the final that night I thought well if I was that close, I know in the final the pace could be a little faster, so barring any mistakes it could very well be mine at the end of the race. But at the start of the race I was caught sleeping on the line and wasn’t able to nail the start like I normally can do without any hiccups, and I was second going into the first corner, and was passed by 3 people in a corner and a straight. That kinda set me back, and the guys really made me work, so I missed my opportunity in the 1000m, and that was when I realized the record wasn’t going to be touched. At that point, I was racing for the win and placement for the overall title. So records set on inlines in division was 4.

FirstLoser: That was Divisions, but you’re a big relay player as well.

Turning and burning for his relay team.

Turning and burning for his relay team.

Larson: Yes, The Relays. Well, we set the Veteran’s 2 Man record by over 4 seconds, and the Vet 2 Mix by 11 seconds! Choose your partners wisely, mine are always the best.

FirstLoser: So we’re at 6 on inlines for indoor so far? Dayum!

Larson: Yes, but hold on! Moving on to quads…

FirstLoser: Jeez…

Yes, quads too.

Yes, quads too.

Larson: Well, I was counting, son! I wasn’t planning on stopping at 6. I wasn’t totally satisfied missing that 10 lapper in Inline Division, so I set out on Quads to just dominate, and that’s where my head was at after coming off a good Inline season. But with some tough competition out there on Quads, I knew I would have to compete in solid fashion.

FirstLoser: Were you phoneing it in on Inlines?

Larson: (Laughs) Not at all, man! Stop trying to cause me trouble. So listen, on Quads, I set the 300m record in the heat, set and reset both the 500m and the 700m in the heats and finals. So that would be 5 more national records to add on Quads for 2012. So that would be a total of 19 records in 2012.

2012 USARS hardware

2012 USARS hardware

FirstLoser: Oh SNAP! That was just records? Dayum.

Larson: Yeah! As far as titles go, Indoor, Inline & Quad Veteran Men Champion, Inline & Quad Veteran 2 Man & 2 Mix Champion, Overall Track and Road Champion at Outdoor Nationals with 6 Gold Medals. That was just Nats, but then there’s NIRA National Champion, and the MRDA Rollerderby National Champion with my Rollerderby team “YOUR MOM”. So all in all, adding the titles, grand total…

FirstLoser: 14 National Titles in 2012. Goodness. Well, that’s just 2012. You’ve been knocking down records for years as you move through different Divisions. How many standing records do you hold now?

Larson: You’re really going to make me think about this one… (Long pause, at which point I head to the bar to drown my sorrows.) …where were you? Didn’t bring me one? This is over!

FirstLoser: Be right back…

Larson: Good, I need a little more time to think – got a calculator?

FirstLoser: (completely soused now, handing him a beer)

Larson: About time! What, no shots? (mutters something, can make out the phrase cheap bastard) Well, some records we don’t keep track of because USARS has done away with certain Outdoor and Indoor distances and Divisions, but I currently hold in Master Men Outdoor the record for the 300m on Road, which I’ll own forever because they eliminated the race . I also have a Quad Classic 2 Man 3000m record, another eliminated distance, then there’s the 3 Quad Veteran Men Records, 2 Inline Veteran Men records, 2 Inline Veteran Relay Records, 6 Inline 45-54 Master Divisions Outdoor Records on Road and Track…so where we at man? 15? Sounds good to me. That’s what’s standing right now.

At home on the podium longer than I've been skating.

At home on the podium longer than I’ve been skating.

FirstLoser: Yeah *hic* but we know we’re not done yet. You’ve had a long career, and some of your records have been picked off. Not by me of course.

Larson: Of course, you lousy drunk!

FirstLoser: Now, now…focus on your *hic* career records, and the titles you’ve won through the years. Count that s#!t, b!^%h! Yeah!

Larson: Wow, you’re a nasty drunk too. Simmer down or I’ll smack you down, punk…Hmmm, not sure how many career records, but I think I could honestly say it’s in the 30-40 range. As far as titles go, if we count Outdoor Nationals in there as well, each race is a title for Outdoor.

FirstLoser: I can’t feel my face…what did you say? You’ve earned a title for each race and distance? Dayum…(glug, glug, glug)

Larson: Drink till ya stink, son! I can say, on a real good guess without archiving all of them, I’m close to the 50 range for Indoor and Outdoor, Inlines and Quads.

He'll be doing movies next, and taking all those awards too.

He’ll be doing movies next, and taking all those awards too.

FirstLoser: *hic* What about skateboard and scooter? Flying Turtle?

Larson: Not yet, but I’m working on it. (BAMN! Smacks me upside the head with an Iron City empty.) Sober up.

FirstLoser: OK. Have you ever skated on the world team?

Larson: Nope. I never had the opportunity to try out for the World Team back in the day, but looking back I wish I knew then what I know now. Just a dream, but I believe it would have been interesting.

FirstLoser: OK, so, of everyone you’ve skated against, who stands out as the toughest competition you’ve ever faced?

Larson: Well I do have a couple people I have battled against over the years on Quads and Inlines. You’re not on that list, but on Quads, I could mention Dante Muse all day long. Simply put, he’s a Technician skater. On Inlines, Jay Ingram and I had our battles, along with heated races with Russell Parmely. Both guys are great competitors and OMG, hella fast! My hat’s off to them and their great careers as well!

With longtime friend and team-mate Jon Elloitt.

With longtime friend and team-mate Jon Elloitt.

FirstLoser: One more question, before I pass-out…How the hell do you do it, man? (Starting the drunken cry)

Larson: I do all of this on pure high self esteem, integrity, motivation, drive, success, and positive mental preparation.

FirstLoser: No, no, HOW do you do it, man?

Larson: My secret? Hard work bro. I pay my dues. We practice Indoor 4 days a week. During specific times of the year, we’re on double sessions, plus, weather permitting, outdoor as well. I’m in the gym 4-5 days a week, doing total cardio, weight training, core training, cycling, you name it. On the average, I spend 2 hours a day. It doesn’t hurt that I work at a gym as well, so I really take advantage of that! I really eat very well too. I’m not big on fast-food, candy, an overabundance of soda, but I do have an occasional Diet Pepsi. When I’m in-season training, I’ll slam a protein shake diet.

FirstLoser: Do you sleep well? Does that play into it?

Larson: I never had irregular sleep patterns, and my wife (speed skater Denise Larson) gets mad when I fall asleep before her and leave the TV on!

At this point, the room is spinning, I’m bleeding from the bottle to the head, and decide to call it a night. I’ve got more, very specific questions designed to really get in his head, but I need to be sober to get them straight. So stay tuned, there’s a lot more where this came from…

Happy Tanksgivin’

Like the repentant death-row con granted clemency in his eleventh hour, I’m very thankful and grateful for second chances, not to mention all this life affords me.

Fresh-molded and right to your table this Thanksgiving!

Fresh-molded and right to your table this Thanksgiving!

So many times it’s easy to get wrapped up in first(loser)-world problems, that I need to remind myself of the simple things that make life worthwhile:

– Family
– Friends
– Life itself
– The Universe
– Everything else

Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.

For all you brothers and mothers

Like Sylvester Stallone’s 1983 sequel to Saturday Night Fever, I’m Staying Alive. After a shockingly poor attempt at a blogging comeback earlier in the year, I’ve dusted myself off and I’m ready to try it again. Looking to pick things up where I left them off, my goal is to give the inline community reason to keep coming back with quality, in-depth, thoughtful and well-reasoned inline commentary, not embarrassing, unnecessary, uninspired and self-indulgent rants. Oh wait…that’s what I’m known for. So it goes…

You can try to understand, but really, why?

You can try to understand, but really, why?

Making my way back to the indoor, 100m oval, has been…interesting. I’m not the skater I used to be, and I’m about as far forward in the pace line as I ever was. Having gotten over the idea that I was once one of “the fastest” in my group, I’m satisfied at being counted among one of “the faster” these days in the pace line hierarchy of fast-to-fastest. I’m focusing on my form and trying to catch my breath. I’m sure none of you can relate.

In addition to my forgetting just how different indoor is, what’s happened while I was away is that the line’s gotten faster, from front to back. Those that have been faithfully suiting up and showing up have moved on up in the pecking order. The line’s gotten thicker in the middle – in a good way, not like I have. But the back of the pack has grown a longer, faster tail too. There’s new, old blood that’s been showing up, creating an air of excitement and higher expectations.

Ummm, OK. What THE HELL was that?

Ummm, OK. What THE HELL was that?

Yeah, that pic is blurry, and for good reason. Check out the color scheme in that suit. Look familiar? Look like the colors of domination, and long standing outdoor records? Anyone who recognizes the colors in that skin suit knows that whoever may be wearing it would be someone to be reckoned with. This one in particular is none other than four-time Olympian KC Boutiette.
Don't call it a comeback, call it a reconnection.

The Skin Suit of the Age of Greatness.

Having been the first inline speed skater to make their way to ice, the man is a legend among us mortals. Well, a legend shoulder to shoulder with the other legend we get to skate with, two-time Olympian Jondon Trevena. Jondon went to ice right after KC, and as the story goes, many others have followed them both. KC and Jondon paved the way for what Joey Mantia is doing today, and have a long history together. Getting to be a part of a group with them, sharing the floor with them and learning from them is, for me, inspirational and an honor. And for a guy like me, who’s been looking for the inspiration to get out there again myself, to give it my all and do my best, it couldn’t be happening at a better time, ’cause you know, it’s all about me…
From left to right Dude 1, Jondon, Dude 3, KC

From Left to right Dude 1, Jondon, Dude 3, KC

Both of these men love skating. And the thing is, they’re both at very different places with how they’re approaching it these days. But no matter how long they’ve been doing it or how high they’ve soared, they’re here among the terrestrials, giving it all they’ve got, and smiling every stride of the way. They’ve reminded me that it’s a relationship we have with this thing we do, each to the depth of our own commitment. My skating means just as much to me as theirs does to them. It’s our relationship to do with as we will, as we must and as we can with the lives we live today. If you want to skate with Jondon, come on out to Rollerland any given Sunday morning. No matter how long you’ve been doing this, how many World or NSC races you’ve skated, who you skate for, what configuration or how many wheels you have on each foot, he’ll gladly share the floor with you, and tell you what he can to help you get more out of this. And if you want to skate with KC, come on out, but know this, he’s here, working. He’s not pleasure cruising. He’s testing equipment, wearing weight vests, skating extra laps and nailing his form. He’s friendly and all that, but he’s got his game face on too, so be prepared to get over when he comes screaming by. And if you don’t want to come to Fort Collins in the winter, just wait a few months…he may just be on his way back out there to skate with you.

Yes, I was looking for inspiration, and I found it. These guys, just being around them, inspire you to seek the next level. And now our group has a World Team member too, with the Fast Kid having graduated to the World Class Kid while I was away. It’s a rink full of top talent, that’s fo sho’.

KC, The World Class Kid, Jondon

KC, The World Class Kid, Jondon

Yep, I’m in the right place at the right time. I feel the city shakin’ and everybody breakin’ and I’m stayin’ alive. Now I just need more chest hair, a wider, whiter smile, bigger hair and some medallions to go with. Look out world, here I come.

World Class Kid

Our hero, The World Class Kid, Brianna Bocox, 3rd from left. Way to go kid. You wear those colors well!

20130831-174217.jpg Bri took a nasty fall in her first World marathon, requiring a trip to the hospital and observation for a concussion, thereby in a single event giving more to the road than I’ve given over my entire “career”, if you can call it that. True to the form of the Champion she is, reports from Facebook said she was more upset about not finishing than her injuries. In my book, that’s what true Champions do.

Having watched her transform from The Fast Kid to The World Class Kid, it’s been a privilege to be on the fringe of her inner-circle, to have been there to see some of her struggle to get where she is. Just in this last year, she’s gone from all but giving it up to making the World Team! When this kid gets an idea about her skating, she puts it to work like nobody’s business. Keep her on your radar and expect great things! She’ll go as far as she wants, and nothing will stop her. She’s driven. She’s The World Class Kid.

Happy Valentine’s Day

I skate because I love…20130214-182102.jpg

Happy Valentine’s Day

Afterburner engaged

My Facebook newsfeed is cluttered with status updates from a lot of those “I have nothing to do all day but post memes” profiles that I jump on to steal from and re-post sos I looks *relevant* to all my FB Friends. The memosphere I subscribe to is a vast wonderland – a colorful playground of the glib and snarky. Well-selected images of cunning pets, maniacal babies, Victorian drunkard folk art, 50’s commercial kitche, fools in unfortunate situations and teenagers standing in the bathroom with their iPhones wearing facial contortions that look like they’ve been sucking Atomic Warhead Sour Candy dipped in peanut butter. “Yeah. Uh-huh. Gonna show her my Jiffy Face.” Mmmwwwaaahhhhh!

How you like me now?

How you like me now?

Moron, oh, I mean, more on memes later. So…I made the decision right before New Year’s to go vegetarian for 4 months, as a test. A colleague suggested I watch Forks Over Knives, a documentary about how with what we’re eating we’re lining our pipes with enough sludge to make the New York City Sewer System look like a clean, un-crowded out-of-the-way-place you’d want to take a first date to impress her. I’ve never been one for watching medical footage on television, but when I saw the scene when they extract a tube of plaque from a guy’s main artery, and another scene where they conduct a bypass operation, I couldn’t help but think that maybe it would be a good idea to consider what the filmmakers were saying – namely that animal fat & processed foods are killing us and that maybe I should consider healthier eating alternatives. So, being a guy who likes to jump right in on the next great idea, I did what any red-blooded meat-eater would do starring down the barrel of another hasty decision, I celebrated by going out for one last burger with “The Fam” to Five Guys Burgers & Fries. That was the best damned burger I’ve ever had…

3 days into it, had a Marshmallow Peep and blew the whole thing. Damned things have Gelatin in them. According to Wiki-Know-It-All, Gelatin is a translucent, colorless, brittle (when dry), flavorless solid substance, derived from collagen obtained from various animal by-products. Not just for breakfast anymore! So much for the technicalities. I didn’t realize till after, so it wasn’t like I ran stark raving mad for the nearest In-N-Out Burger to gorge. In my mind, that’s not a reset. I’m in this to win. Or wind, I should say, which is the point of this post…stereotypes about vegetarians and truth in memes.

Here’s a surprise…the vegetarian diet gives you gas. I knew this beforehand, and it didn’t scare me off (“PullMyFinger” is my middle name) butt wholly shite, I had no idea HOW gaseous I’d become. Gaseous Clay is my new boxing name. I break like the wind and stink to high heaven. My farts were never particularly odiferous, but now, bow-wow-wow-yippy-yo-hippy-stench do they reek! Seriously…no pinching a loaf on the sly in my office anymore. It’s my busy season at work, and I’ve already had a few unfortunately timed “drive-by’s” by key executives right after I’ve popped the cork on a vintage veggie boof-bouquet. Gotta get up and get myself to a safe place before the spoiled slippage seeps. Seeping isn’t quite right. I mean, yes, sometimes. But they’re packing more force, like the Psi has been cranked to 11. Hard to control and man they break bad. Really. Freaking. Nasty.

It was the same week that I sniffed out a “FART FACTS” meme that was loaded with fun nuggets of intelligence on flatulence…

– Vegetarians fart more than non-veggies (I now have proof)
– Termites fart most of all (buggers)
– Most humans fart 14 times per day (that’s an average and I’m a high-end outlier)
– You cannot suffocate in a chamber filled with your own fart gas (time for a Dutch oven, baby)
– SBD’s smell so bad because they’re produced by bacterial fermentation, which produces small amounts of noxious gas that doesn’t build enough pressure to create noise upon release (ain’t that some shite? Yes, actually.)
– Women fart just as much as men (and they smell just as bad – butt you knew this)
– Yes, farts are flammable (strike a light homey)
– Fish and turtles both fart (apparently there was some debate)
– It is not possible to get high from inhaling 2 or 3 farts in a row (butt I got a serious buzz huffing a bag of 12 – try it)
– Farts travel out of the anus at 10 feet per second (7 mph)
– You can, in fact, taste a…

Jeez, I could go on all day. But it was that second to last one – farts travel at 10 feet per second, 7 miles per hour – that got me to thinking…how could I use my newfound super-power to help my skating?

Lucky me, I’ve got a physicist in the family. I hit him up on Fartbook:

Still waiting to hear back from the lab in Cern.

Still waiting to hear back from the boys at Cern.

So there’s your proof from The Prof – Farts Make You Faster! The meme was right. I don’t need to do the math to know that I can convert a tailwind to a headwind with a right old toot of the heiney horn. Yessiree, my heat-seeker sphincter song will propel me to the top of the podium, where I’ll be smelling like roses, or at least the King of the Heap! I knew this new diet would pay off – yeah boyee! And hey, if my butt-cracked-pot theory doesn’t help boost me ahead, at least it’ll keep people off my tail, ’cause, you know, who’d wanna be there?

Go on, pull my finger, I dare you.

Let ‘er rip.