Tag Archives: inline skating

Do the namaste

Roll out your stinky mat, light the incense, rub some coriander oil into your pecs and get ready to get downward D-O-Double-G. This is another one of those things I said I’d never do. But here I sit…and I think…they say change comes from within, so the next time I break one off I want to pass a Grant, two Jackson’s and a Hamilton, with interest, ’cause I’ve been holding this exploration for a long time. That’s right Boo-boo…bang a gong and strike a pose as we endure initiation into the world of Yoga. Who’s your Yogi, baby?

A few more inches and I'll never have to leave the house again...

It started innocently enough…Horseypants invited me to attend what her friend Mrs. Needle Pusher (SpeedLord’s Mom) sucked her into…Core Power Yoga. I’d done a Yoga class with her a few years before, so I knew what I was getting into. And since I’m down a few sizes since my Jabba-The-Hutt Mu-Mu wearing days, and I’ve been told that I need to get more flexible, I decided it was time to try again.

My first observation: Yoga isn’t just for unbathed hippies, flatulent vegans or chicks that like their partners hung like a doughnut anymore…not only is my own MILF regularly going, but there were plenty of would-be yogis in what Mr. Needle Pusher calls “distracting” outfits. The talent has really come along since the last time I tried this 10 years ago. But other than the influx of Cougars and Co-eds, not much more has changed, particularly the smell of sweat steeped patchouli and the heat.

The ambient music helped create a mood that allowed me to drop my cynicism just long enough to relax and flow with the experience. We start in Balasana, or Child pose, which I imagine is a very familiar posture for your average practicing Muslim, but instead of chanting prayers toward Mecca you’re silent on your knees, driving your hips and weight down over your heels at the same time pushing your forehead into the mat under you and stretching out your arms on the floor over your head. It creates an expansive cavity for you to focus on your breath and release tension in all of your major muscle groups. It’s very effective as a warm up all by itself.

Child pose...don't eat pork and beans the night before class.

As I’ve come to learn, the practice is centered on synchronization of timing and motion. Timing the motion of your body to be synchronous with your breath. With focused practice, Yoga becomes a moving meditation. In the first few weeks I was moving with nothing like what you’d call Swiss accuracy, but by the third week I began to get just a slight feel for the fluidity that the instructors move with. I’ve got a long road ahead of me, but it’s just like those first few times you nail a good double push. You know this can only get better the more you practice, and you start to think about it obsessively, living in anticipation of your next training session to do it again. At least, that’s how I know it’s right for me.

And like skating, you’ve got to start slowly and build a foundation. I’ve chosen to spend time with the breathing, as breath control is something I always struggle with. In Yoga practice, the breath work starts right in Balsana. In pose, it’s simply a matter of taking purposeful long, slow breaths, and timing them so that as you enter a new posture, you lengthen your musculature on the inward breath, and find depth upon the breath release. In some postures, that’s lengthening your spine by lifting your chest to the ceiling as you’re breathing in, and going deeper into a twist or a stretch on release.

A number of these postures were familiar due to the inordinate amount of time I spend being down low as a speed skater or sitting on the crapper. With inline speed skating I’ve built a pretty solid core, so to get down and hold Utkatasana, or Chair pose, isn’t a problem for my quads, but man, it takes on a whole new dimension when you raise your arms over your head and straighten your spine.

Let's see Cheney do this! Heh, heh...

We also use runner’s stretch, and a lot of the Warrior poses put you into a forward lunge that’s familiar. I was surprised at how hard it was to find balance in some of these poses considering the amount of time I spend doing one-legged drills, both on inlines and ice, but I found that as I focused more on my breathing, it was easier to achieve the balance I was looking for. One of the coolest poses is Eagle pose, where you move from the Chair pose to this pose shown below:

Eagle pose: what I usually look like on the floor after attempting a Hawk. To pull this off while standing is a bird of a different feather.

My problem with Eagle is that I can’t seem to get my foot wrapped around by calf, because my blood is tiger’s milk and I have the legs of Adonis. But I digress…The dude in the pic above isn’t fully there, as this one also requires you to get your elbows up to shoulder level. Talk about brutal, but that’s not the worst of it. There’s this inversion pose called Crow pose…

Seriously, WTF am I doing here?

In Crow, you’ve got to balance yourself on the shelf you create with your triceps after you’ve been doing this in a hot room for 45 minutes. This gets slippery…and the danger of face plant is high. Go ahead and try and do this one, naked in front of a mirror (just for added kicks.) Oh, and hold it for a minimum of 5 deep breath cycles. Yeah…Charlie Sheen couldn’t even hang with that s#&t, boyee! It’s Epic!

There are many other poses that skaters can benefit from. And with the Core Power program, they run you through other core building exercises like bicycle crunches. A lot of the poses really stretch out your hammies. After an hour, I’m spent, dripping wet and smelling of rotten feet (but that’s because I hit the Yoga class after having spent an hour on the ice. The chicks really dig the aroma.)

If anything, I’m thinking Yoga will allow me to get deeper in my seat, and improve my core strength, stacked alignment and balance when I’m skating, both inline and on the ice. Am I more flexible? Hard to say at this point. I do know this…I feel a lot more vulnerable, and sometimes really dirty, like I need to take a shower to wash off the ugliness…

I got worried when the instructor introduced herself as Yogi Strap-On Sally.

This might have something to do with Happy Baby pose.

Inline texting

Texting. It’s something you just have to do if you want to communicate with anyone too young to remember the original line-up of KISS. I have to admit, I take a dim view of it, best summed up by Bradley Cooper in the movie The Hangover. My great fear is that one day my sorry butt’s gonna get clipped by someone texting while otherwise engaged…

It took 57 blocks to catch the jam skater, 2 seconds to get a 28" wheel up the keister.

Still, I do appreciate the shorthand nature of texting. But being a marketing consultant working with Baby Boomers, I’ve come to learn that it’s going to be a while before the older set gets on-board with anything other that LOL or LMAO.

So…in an effort to bridge the generational divide, here’s a quick study in texting for skaters. No matter how old you are, you’ll be able to use these to let your skate buddies know URHIP:

FS – False start

BFF – Back four feet

LOL – Last off line

WTF – Way too fast (What did you THINK it meant?!)

LPWO – Late pass wipe out

PPPANTS – Power pass placement advancement needs top speed

ROTFSMAO – Rolling on the floor, skating my azz off

NOHOMO – I really admire your form

NSIM – The one and only Northshore Inline Marathon (can’t joke about that)

CSOT – Can’t sit on toilet

K – Okay (because OK wasn’t short enough)

CWDS – Can’t walk down stairs

BOTP – Back of the pack

LEGS – Mantia spotting

GFTL – Go fast, turn left

BMTB – Broke my tail bone

RROMK – Rink rash on my knees

RROMA – Road rash on my azz

360 – SDotCarter just threw a signature pass

FART – Fell attempting right turn

SWTO – Speed Weenie twelve o’clock

T2TB – Time to turn & burn

LOLL – Lapped on last lap

911 – Call an ambulance, I think I broke something

911!!! – Call the next of kin, this guy is toast

CAT5 – I’m going to eat this guy’s lunch (Go on, get upset about it)

CAT4 – Well, look at you! See ya!

CAT3 – Damn, that was fun but I broke a sweat…and I think I have a hernia.

CAT2 – Can I draft behind you? Uh, wait…this was a bad idea…why don’t you just leave me alone… please…sorry.

CAT1 – Hey, that’s a sweet bike you’ve got there. Can I buff your seat?

BIFF – Bit the big one

There have got to be others…feel free to share!

Don’t forget the live NSC FEED happening tonight and tomorrow, live from Roanoke, VA. Click the link below, it’s T2TB.

Zen and the art of speedskating

Like a chronic wanker with Parkinson’s, I often find amusement and get sidetracked for hours…inadvertently. I don’t mean to, but when something piques my interest, I grab hold and shake it for all it’s worth, squeezing every last drop of fun out of it before moving on. Blessing or curse? You decide. I can do the same within the realm of thought, and sometimes, that endeavor proves more productive…

The Thinker, 2011. I got nothin' but time (and a case of silver bullet long necks.)

This ice fascination has really taken tenacious hold of me, and it’s making me do things I once thought…improbable. Like even entertaining the idea of blowing off inline speed skating practice to get some time in at the public ice skating sessions at our local ice rink. Because when I’m out there, I get lost in another zone, where hours speed by like minutes, and the experience leads to a higher level of enlightenment every time.

When skating, I just skate.

It’s deep…I’ve been focused on the sound of silence. That state where you’re no longer toe-pushing and hearing that horrible crunching sound at the end of your stride. For me, it was truly a Zen experience the first time I made it around the entire oval without making a sound. It took three solo practice sessions and three regular classes, but I’ve finally got it. Worked on the straightaways first for a week, then the corners. It was time well spent.

I’m continually amazed at how easy it is to get lost in thought while I’m on the ice. The time goes whizzing by when I’m out there. Well…it’s not like I’m really “lost” in thought, because I’m very aware of what’s going on around me. Rather, it’s that I’m elevated above what’s happening by the thoughts going through my head. Does that make sense? It’s not like I can see myself, but it is a whole lot easier for me to visualize my form when I’m on ice.

I think it’s because I’m so much more into my form. I’m becoming very aware of the subtly of the art of speedskating on ice. It’s really a perfect mix of science and art. I’ve become a mad physicist, conducting experiments, tests and proofs on each lap. I’ll take one stiff-shouldered, then another loose. I’ll push my knees way forward on one lap, and sit back into my heel in the next. It’s so much fun making mental notes of the results. With these notes, I’m kinda coming into my own, referring to them often when I get tired or hear that familiar crunch. Taking instruction from the coaching staff becomes so much more meaningful for me when I’m able to spend more time playing with this stuff on my own. Having their guidance and my own notes, I’m able to make corrections easier when my form starts to break down. I’m able to pinpoint what was wrong, and for me, it’s more apparent and easy to see on the ice than it is on inlines.

That said, WOW! Has the ice ever helped my inline speed skating form. And honestly, I’m back to a place where that’s REALLY got me fired up about inline. And as it turns out, I haven’t actually gotten to a place where I’ve blown off inline practice for ice. Not yet at least. For as any Zen master would ask, “What am I?” And deep down, I know that answer as it relates to skating. I skate, therefore I am.

Freezy Weezy Rising

Okay, look. Once in a while, we all get…a little soft. Soft in the middle, soft in the pants or soft in…the heart. This isn’t your usual First Loser pull-my-finger and tug-my-womprat blog post, this one’s for my bud Speedy Weezy. He’s my skating hero.

Speedy Weezy transitions to ice at seven. Say hello to Freezy Weezy.

We started the new year with a new competitive sport. If you’re a parent, you know that with a seven year old, that’s not too hard to do. With year-round opportunities to play soccer, baseball, basketball, hockey, cycling, football, lacrosse, curling, swimming, phart boxing and Pokemon, I was pleasantly surprised when Speedy Weezy said he wanted to do competitive short track. Not wanting him to specialize with anything at such an early age, even my beloved inline speed skating, for fear of causing burnout, chronic repetitive motion injuries and a host of other reasons, Horseypants and I actively encourage him to try as many different sports as we can find. That he keeps coming back to skating on his own makes me happy. Inline and now ice, the kid obviously enjoys it. And in my mind, while they’re essentially the same sport, as many of you know, ice and inline are such completely different disciplines that I really do consider them separate, but mutually supportive, sports. (That’s my “avoiding specialization” loophole for the more astute observers amongst you.)

Converted Rollerblades with custom "Hairy Monster" blade covers.

Having spent Christmas vacation getting our ice legs under us in preparation for the Mile High Open on January 2nd, we went into it with no expectations other than to just have a good time. This is actually just like we approached our first trip to Wichita last year for him to compete on inlines in the Team United Inline Speedskating Classic, so in retrospect I’m not surprised by his performance on ice. He did really well. Better than what we could have prepared him for. He just got out there and skated his heart out. He’s a natural.

Freezy starts his competitive ice career.

It’s a father’s pride that starts to step on my journalistic objectivity here. I even have to put my inline coach role to the side on this one, because a couple of our really talented and hard working skaters were competing too. All great kids, but now I’m speaking as Freezy Weezy’s Dad, and here’s the unvarnished truth…I wanted Freezy Weezy to WIN at this. Not just win, but CRUSH IT. Beat everyone, friends and strangers alike. And I say strangers because I don’t believe in foes in all of this.

But back to my cleansing…deep breath…when it comes to my boy I wanted to see him win everything at this meet and for once I want to drop the pretense of political correctness that says I need to tell EVERY kid who skates how great they are. Just once, I want to look MY kid in the eye and say, “Damn Dude, you’re the best!” I want to do it and not worry about hurting anyone’s feelings. Just like every other parent. There, it’s been done. As a coach, I’ve just committed a carnal sin. So that’s why I’d never in a million years say such a thing when wearing my coaches hat. But I’m not now and it is what it is. I know at this point I’ve pissed a few people off. So it goes…

Freezy Weezy did great for his first meet. Really. Not a “fish tale” here. He was out there skating against quite a mixed group and qualified for every final in every distance. He came in First Loser in many of the races behind one of the Brothers Speed.

Ohno! We got photobombed! At least he got the FirstLoser hand salute right, but placed in front of the forehead would have taken the gold.

It’s great to see him competing with his friends and have it be a healthy competition. Freezy and the Brothers Speed have a great friendly rivalry that pushes the three of them to really try and do their best. Freezy almost won a race straight up, but slipped in the turn. It was a final, so at least he’d gotten to skate the full set.

The organizers of this event, Colorado Gold, did an awesome job from soup to nuts. In the end, Freezy took home a First Place ribbon for his age group and a really sweet Hersey’s bar. All of the participants got something, and in my heart I know that was a good thing. And all of the kids and skaters who went to this meet did great. Really, they all skated well, had a great time and fell deeper in love with the sport. All great outcomes, and truly what I want for all of them. But…

…you know, there are times when I think we’ve lost something as a culture when we can no longer sing We Are The Champions without worrying about losing friends, hurting feelings or trying to make everyone feel good about themselves. Does that make me a schmuck? I think not. It makes me a sports parent, and human. It’s all about having fun…yes. But winning is a lot more fun than losing or just doing your best – WE ALL KNOW IT! For me, I’ll take First Loser and truly be good with it. But for my kid, it’s nothing less than world domination and gold on a rope. I’m very proud of him. He’s working hard, he’s got talent, and he’s applying himself. It’s hard when you’re seven. Hard to control the urge to goof off, hard not to be distracted. But he’s doing his best and he’s doing great. Sometimes he needs help, and that’s why Horseypants and I are here. He’s fighting against natural and powerful forces to become better at something that’s really difficult to master. He’s well on his way and there’s nothing anyone can take from him. He’s got the world ahead of him, and nothing but good times in the rear-view mirror. At least for now. I hope he can keep it that way, but at the end of the day it will be up to him. I’ll support him through it all, by being honest and being there. He’s my hero, and I’ll love him forever no matter what.

Short track hijinks

So I’ve developed an interest in short track speed skating, and I’ve been out here making jokes about figure skating, but man, did you know how bad-ass the sport of figure skating has become? I’m not talking about a relatively good natured competitive knee knocking, I’m talking serious s#*t…vehicular manslaughter, sex tapes, drugs, multiple DUI’s, various and sundry “alleged” assault charges, several divorces, bankruptcies, bars, nightclubs & strip joints, hair metal, groupies and girls, girls, girls.

"Ponytails make for a competitive disadvantage guys. Maybe it's time for a haircut?"

The world of figure skating has become a Theater of Pain in which Dr. Feelgood has taken center stage, Shouting At The Devil for the enjoyment of Captain America and the Minions of Media Consumption. Amazing…yet another 80’s metal icon, Motley Crüe front-man Vince Neil, has become a TV darling that my mother would love…just like Ozzy F@#%ing Osbourne, Bret Michaels and The Demon, Gene Simmons. (Whoops…I don’t mess with Gene man, he’s my idol. The man has been a mentor since I was seven. Forget I mentioned him.) Vince Neil on Skating With The Stars. OMG…

This is SOOOOOOOO painful to watch. Fall of Rome type stuff man. It might actually be more fun to watch them feeding believers to the lions, cause this is just pure hell. How much farther can we fall?

As we wait for the imminent collapse of Western Civilization, my son and I are having a great time learning how to take what we know about inline speed skating and apply it to ice. He’s a quick learner, very adaptable, and has taken to it more naturally and a lot quicker than I have. It’s taking me time, but I’m enjoying it.

US Jondon Trevena skates in the mens 5000m speed skating finals 09 February 2002 at the Utah Olympic Oval during the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City. AFP PHOTO TIMOTHY A. CLARY (TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images)

Picking up where we left off…Last time I went to Jondon’s ice class, I was slipping and sliding, going slow and falling at slow speed, which left me wet & sore. I didn’t go back. This time though, I applied some of the technique I’ve learned on inlines and had a much better result. Long straight-away glides, leaning into the turns, shoulder & hip alignment…that and I’d learned enough watching the others that I knew I could survive a turn by loading up all of my weight on my right skate. Choosing not to fall over form, I avoided crossovers for the entire class. I didn’t create any real power and I couldn’t stay with the line when they powered out onto the straightaway, but I didn’t care, I was just having a blast getting a feel for the edges…which for me was just one at this point, and mostly on the right skate! (Double push is hard to un-learn, but completely necessary at this early stage. Oi!)  By the end of class though, when no one was looking, I started doing a circle drill by myself and lo and behold, when I put some weight on my left skate I was actually getting some traction and felt comfortable crossing over. It was at that point I knew I had to go back for more. I was starting to see why technical skaters do so well going over to ice, and I liked it.

With my addictive personality, it quickly became an obsession. So compulsively, the very next day, we went back. The day after that too, hitting two public sessions for up to three and a half hours of additional ice time that week. By the end of the second day, I was getting low in the turns, able to crossover the whole way, and combined with long straight away strides, was going hella fast. More importantly, Speedy Weezy was making incredible gains. It was perfect. Another kid from the speed class was there at the second open session, so we were both able to chase him around and do a quick study of his form. By the sessions end, Speedy was keeping up with this kid, touching the ice with every turn and really having a great time experimenting, falling, spinning, slamming into the boards and doing it all over again with the goal of staying up next time. (“Dad, if you’re not falling you’re not working hard enough!” he shouted as he left me in the ice-dust.) We giggled all the way home, laughing and bragging to each other about our spectacular wipe outs. Sliding into the boards at high speed, spinning on our tails (or on all-fours doing 360°’s halfway down the straightaway,) getting dizzy, bonding over ice. I’ll never forget that ride home with him.

And here’s the best part…what we were really doing with these extra sessions was getting Speedy some extra time on the ice before his first meet, which was coming up that weekend…to be continued.

HEY! Check out the Training Log page for self-incriminating detail of how I work it. Or not.

Carnage

If you haven’t seen this video yet, check it out. S.Dot.Carter is my hero…

Man, there’s so much going on in this video, and the commentary at the end really helps put what NSC is all about into context. Seriously, this video is far superior to any of those, well, not too convincing, dry FIRS videos they make every few years to get inline speed skating sold into the Olympics. The guys at NSC know what they need to do to sell their vision in today’s media environment. This is great stuff.

Spread the word – share this video with your friends who still call you a “Rollerskater” and snicker behind your back at your spandex-clad keister and the idea that you spend hours participating in a sport that involves little more than chasing other grown-ups around a roller rink with what amounts to a child’s toy strapped to your feet. As if.

To all the naysayers…come out and play.

Ice, ice baby

For me, prefacing anything with “I’ll never…” unleashes a mercurial power that brings to life that to which it’s been applied. (Wow, that was a mouthful of a sentence, eh?!) This power…I need to be careful with it, because I distinctly remember saying once that I’d never figure skate…

My butt was so cold it cracked. Get it?!

When it comes to skating, there’s now one thing in which I have complete faith. It’s this power, the power of the phrase “I’ll never…” Some would consider such power…unnatural. It’s become my fool-proof system to subliminally program my brain to do things I’d never thought possible. I’ve proven it, scientifically. If I really want to get into something, all I need to do is say I’ll never do it. No matter what it is…switch from fitness boots to speed boots, skate a marathon, wear a skin suit, skate indoors, be a coach…speed skate on ice.

Confession time: today I joined US Speedskating. Frealz…I’ve never even gotten an amateur card with USARS.

How’d it happen? It was all his fault, the guy second from left:

Short Track Skating: 2002 Winter Olympics, Portrait of USA Speed skaters (L-R) Marc Pelchat, Jondon Trevena, J,P, Shilling, and K,C, Boutiette with USA flag at Olympic Oval, Kearns 1/18/2002 (Photo by Peter Read Miller/Sports Illustrated/Getty Images)

I went to my inline coaches ice class once over the holiday break with my son, Speedy Weezy. Speedy and several other kids from The Rink Rabbits/Team United (Lionheart, The Brothers Speed and The Fast Kid) have been taking the class and having a great time. I’d gone once before back some time last year but at that point, it didn’t leave much of an aftertaste. But this time, for whatever reason, man I’m hooked. I’m hungry for more. I can’t get enough. And I know why…

It’s because I’ve spent so much time focused on my inline speed skating technique. Little things that mean so much – foot pressure, hip placement, arm swing, body alignment, balance, being able to get my skates underneath me and distribute my weight properly. Strengthening those little muscles that your really don’t use for anything else. Building my core. Breaking things down and studying the effects of subtle changes in position and timing. All that and I’ve been trying to get more flexible, and I’ve been pounding myself on the foundational drills. A lot of what Jondon’s taught me that was reinforced when Joey Mantia came and gave an inline speed skating clinic at Rollerland back in September. The new stuff I got from our time with him. I’ve been working on all of this stuff. It’s actually been a lot of focused work, even when I was off-skates for a while and thinking about ditching it all.

There’s so much more to tell…about the class, the two public sessions we went to the two days after the class, and Speedy Weezy’s first meet this past Sunday. In a week’s time, I’ve found something in me I didn’t know existed…the heart of a speed skater that knows no discrimination.

To be continued…