Tag Archives: insights

Carry that weight

Last week I noticed we’re spending more on groceries lately. Innocently enough, I asked Horseypants where all the grocery money is going. She says, “Take a side-long look in the mirror!” So it goes…but I thought this skating thing took care of those details. These past few weeks, I’ve been feeling like a guy I once knew,  a guy I’ll call Crossfire. He would consume cubic tons of Bolivian marching powder, in all it’s forms, on a daily basis, all the while cutting and maintaining a figure that would make Jackie Gleason slim by comparison. If you know anything about the physiological effects of nose candy, you’re thinking this is nothing short of impossible. But it is possible and it’s exactly how I feel…despite how much I skate, I need a wheel barrow to cart around ma belly.

"I'm gonna eat your pace line."

I’m just back from a week in Pasadena, California. I was there on business, but my only carry-on was my CadoMotus Travel Bag stuffed with a week’s worth of corporate casual work-wear and spandex. Seriously, I didn’t even bring a brief case, but that’s because I’ve become a simpering, Angry Bird playing, App wetting iPad devotee and no longer feel the need to travel with my “adult viewer,” er, I mean, laptop computer. (We’ve been SO over-sold on technology…but I digress.)

It's quite the tidy bowl I tell you.

3 out of 5 days I was lucky enough to get in a sunrise skate at The Rose Bowl loop (big UP to R (O) (O) (O) (O) GER for the tip!) There’s a great 3 mile loop around the perimeter of the world famous complex.

East side stretch along the golf course.

Along the east side, (I think it’s the east side, as it was closest to the mountains. Might be north…) a 3/4 mile long hill. It’s the gradual kind, it had me crying about half way through. Tree-lined but not too much debris, it was a welcome challenge after having spent much of the winter indoor on flat tracks in Colorado. The West is just the opposite, and I was hitting speeds of 28mph, which got scary on the approach to the parking lots.

The west side...see the cars? They stop for walkers...skaters, not so much.

The first day there I was clearly pissing off the locals by going to the left. The looks said it all. Several of them shouted something, but I couldn’t hear them over the sound of my squealing bearings. I don’t think the hand gestures had anything to do with looking up, despite where their fingers were pointing.

Coming around to the west side (I think).

Nonetheless, I got in a few really incredible workouts. My schedule was such that I skated Tuesday & Wednesday. I rested on Thursday, and by Friday, I was eating that hill on the east side for breakfast.

But it was what I was eating the rest of the time that did me in. Since my wife has scored so well with finding great restaurants in strange cities using TripAdviser.com, I decided to do the same, and man, did I end up packing on the pounds.

If you’re ever in Pasadena, you’ll want to check these spots out:

Lovebirds Cafe: Incredible breakfast burrito. I bought one and it was breakfast one day, lunch the next.

Saladang & Saladang Song: Simply some of the best Thai food in the US. Seriously, the food and atmosphere (particularly Saladang Song) are out of this world and deserving of their Zagat’s ratings.

Smitty’s Grill: this is the one that killed me. I’m still skating off the filet mignon burger. The Chicken Pot Pie is the size of a manhole cover and truly to die for.

Cafe 140: Great food, great atmosphere, with a signature Blue Corn Salad.

Wolfe Burgers: You know it’s good when the entire Pasadena police force is taking shifts on the front dining room and there’s a big guy named Fat Al sleeping at the center table in the back dining room. Another belly bomber of a breakfast burrito, made to order.

And of course you’ve got your Starbucks, Whole Foods, Barnes & Noble and Apple Store all within easy skating distance. But thanks to these restaurants, I’ve now got some work to do. Time to bust out the fitness skates, crank up Something/Anything? on the iPod, and hit the trails here at home. Ah…it’s winter coat shedding time. 12 pounds to go. Let’s see how quickly I can do this. I’ve got a feeling it won’t be such a long time…gotta love inline skating.

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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.

Anatomy of a skate bench

Ah, hoarding. The excessive acquisition of items, and the inability to discard them. I’ve seen that “reality show” on A&E and while some of you may find entertainment value in these people who are desperate enough for fame that they’ll allow cameras to document their squalor, and sit idly by as their family and friends besmirch their reputations and community standing, others look on with sympathy, seeing the human tragedy and emotional neglect amid the rubble of these people’s lives. I tend to empathize with the show subjects…does that make me one of them?

I really am researching ways to recycle pizza grease in speed bearings. Really.

You might be a hoarder if you look at the clinical definitions of pathological hoarding or disposophobia and defensively argue in favor of the term “collector with purpose.” While my buddies the Collyer brothers and I would tend to think our shared behaviors more in line with the eco-friendly mantra of Reduce, Reuse, Recycle,  I think we all know that deep down inside most serious inline skating enthusiasts, this twisted psychological disorder claims a small part of us all. One look at my skate bench tells my story. Why is it that I can’t seem to part with that 100mm wheel that’s been chewed down to 76mm? HA! Because it will come in handy some day, I just know it.

As I sit here looking at my skate bench, waiting for the A&E film crew to come in and hand me a big ‘ol slice of public humiliation pie, I decide I’m going to take the first step and inventory my accruement. When the hazmat team comes to dig me out, here’s a sampling of what they’ll find in my little corner of the garage…NOTE: this picture was taken in May, 2010. The bench is now much worse than this, but I’m too ashamed to show it:

Touch anything and you'll never write again Slim.

I’ve got everything exactly where I want it:

A. SpeedyWeezy’s first “speed” skates – a pair of adjustable kids rec Rollerblades with the cuffs cut off.

It was a start...

He actually did pretty well on these for a month before we ordered his first pair of Luigino Mini-Challenge. We’ve been saving these in case he becomes the next Joey Mantia, because surely The National Museum of Rollerskating is going to want these for the permanent display.

Can't believe he didn't snap his ankle. Bad Daddy.

B. My first pair of Rollerblade Lightning 10 fitness boots. I’d just popped off the buckle to use on my buddy John’s pair of Powerslides pictured here on the bench. The liners for the Lightnings have been used to make a pair of boots I use on my slideboard.

The chicks really dig these, especially when it's all I'm wearing.

C. Mailing label with Stephen Charrier’s home address so I don’t forget to send him a Christmas card.

D. The Black & Decker heat gun I used to put a hurting on…

D1. …a brand-spanking-new pair of CadoMotus Pro110 boots, now with nasty burns on the inside lining of the left skate.

E. A foam earplug used to make ear-candy bud covers. (Do you know what that means?)

F. Set of Buck Bearings I used to become First Loser in Duluth in 2009 (I think they’re still there, rusted to the table.)

G. 2nd Gen iPod 8GB Mini that I used as the soundtrack to my skating for 4 years. Needs a new battery, works when it’s plugged in so I can’t throw it out. Worth -$10 on Gazelle.com.

H. One of Jondon Trevena’s Rollerblade Lightning race skates – 5 x 80mm set up, all plastic frames, all leather upper, zero support. He actually won races on these things, he thinks he even wore them on MTV back in the day. Yowza!

I think I had a Members Only jacket that would have matched these.

I. eZeeFit Slider Gloves – they’re just sweet.

J. Bowl of miscellany (stripped axles & mounting screws, cut washers, credit card shims, small screws, all crap. But you know…useful crap.)

What my camera missed, but the A&E crew would find…the boxes of used wheels, bowls full of beat bearings, 4 or 5 empty skate boxes, 1/4 full bottles of lube and WD-40, old pairs of protective pads, 1/2 gone boxes of fabric softener, full box of industrial latex gloves, open tube of synthetic axle grease, 16 98mm scooter wheels with bearings rusted firmly in place, cut pylons, instruction manuals and spare Allen wrenches from every new pair of skates I’ve ever acquired, 6 or 7 heel-break assemblies, a set of wheels with disc breaks built into the axles, wheels from my very first pair of fitness boots, old wrist bands, a broken heart rate monitor, two helmet lights, a fanny pack, 2 hydration belts, and holy crap…and a stainless steel coffee pot full of, um, well, it was for those pinch situations when you’ve got your skates on already and can’t go back in the house…we don’t have a floor drain – you figure it out. And all of this is just what’s on or under the table.

Then, there’s the 6 ft. shelf…

Yes, those ARE anti-gravity bounce boots (no homo.)

The shelf is actually a place where I’ve made a little progress since May, in that I rearranged some crap and actually got rid of 1 pair of skates…

These Problades now live in Kenya. Frealz.

Then there are all of these pads, which I’m saving on the bottom shelf for some poor little field mouse who’s going to want a warm place to live this winter…

Seriously, I found a dead field mouse in my knee pad last winter. It was the salt in the liner that killed him.

So in surveying all of this, I think I counted 13 or 14 pairs of skates out there. Some belong to my family, but yes, most are mine. Imelda Marcos ain’t got nothing on me. I’ve got a deeper selection than Zappos. And I can’t ignore all of the frames, cracked helmets and old Ezee Fits out there too. There could be a Yeti living out there in the corner for all I know. It’s a complete disaster.

In May, the lead in to this post was: “I swear, this bench was completely cleaned off two weeks ago…” And it was man. And it was my intention to keep it clean so I could have a place to hang out. But that didn’t happen. With each passing day I was more interested in gearing up and heading out. I’d just keep the important stuff (CadoMotus torquing Allen wrench, indoor & outdoor wheels, Garmin Forerunner) in my skate bag, dump the garbage or unnecessary accessories on the bench and go on my way.

The junk really started piling up once I got my Pro M1’s. These skates don’t live in the wilderness of the skate wasteland I’ve documented here. No sir, they stay in the house, in my ventilated skate bag, with charcoal Stunkies, in my climate controlled closet. Once I got these it’s like nothing else mattered. I didn’t really have time for any of this stuff I’d been “collecting.” And now it all just sits there, a living monument to my mental illness.

What does all of this say about me? That I’m lazy? That I’m a slob? Probably both. But I’ve definitely got a bit of that hoarding gene, and I know I need to shed some gear, toss some crap and get in touch with Dr. Phil. And when he asks me how it’s workin’ for me, I’ll tell that snide bastard to go to hell, cause you never know when your extra junk is going to come in handy and help your kid with his “simple machine” project.

Speedy Weezy's Popcorn Flipper

But seriously, I can’t even find a good way to close this post out…it’s embarrassing. WTF is that all about? Look for some gear to be posted to Nett Racing’s used board soon…maybe. I’m not sure. Ah, I should probably just keep it. You never know…

Droop Doggie Dogg

The Nutcracker…it’s that time of year when Tchaikovsky’s beloved libretto can be heard and seen daily, even in the aisles of your local Wal-Mart. But I’m not here to talk about ballet, (though the outfits and leg mass of dancers and inline speed skaters are similar in many ways…) No, I’m referring to a painful indignity that comes with age and crossovers…Testicularasarus. That’s right…boxers, briefs, bikinis…bollocks! It don’t matter how you dress ’em…we’re talkin’ balls, baby.

There's a reason you don't wear boxers under your skin suit...all great performers know this.

When it comes to gravity’s impact on the human body, it’s all too common to hear about how those lovely “Dolly Partons” head south for the winter of life. Yeah, yeah…we get it. Especially if you’re talking to a group of women who’ve nurtured their cubs the natural way…”Ah, the ‘girls’ aren’t what they used to be. 7 kids and two reductions later and you’d never know I looked better than Lee Meriwether in that Catwoman costume when I wore my first skin suit.”

"I was on Star Trek too and I know what you did when you were watching...meeowww."

But women have ways of making the best of what they’ve got, for as long as they’ve got it. They can lift, separate, compress, go strapless, hands free, get full coverage, make a special occasion sexy…the list goes on and on. Men, on the other hand, suffer the ill effects of gravity in silence and without the aid of a “ballssiere.” Thus, with our seed sac’s hanging between our legs, a right leg crossover becomes, well, freaking dangerous. It doesn’t seem to matter which kind of underwear you wear either, although certainly boxers are by far the stupidest choice for skaters. As you get older, the berries fall further from the bush, and you need to know how to handle yourself. It’s not like the coach pulls you aside and say, “here’s your skates, helmet and jock strap.” They may prepare like that at the Pro level, but your average rink rat isn’t getting that type of advice. I’ve never heard anyone mention the perils of dangling do-dad’s, and the distress of the aging male indoor inline speed skater. It’s an open, albeit lonesome secret, only ever spoken of in hushed tones in the center of the rink, outside of earshot of the young’uns and lady folk.

The Danger Zone of which Kenny Logins sang.

My friends…our days of silent suffering are over. Cod-busting is a very real danger we face as *mature* indoor inline speed skaters, and it’s time for a frank discussion of the realities of drooping nads, and how to prevent injury and preserve the pelvis ornaments…at least until I perfect these zero gravity shorts. All you young guys can take a seat too, here’s what you’re in for someday…

The first and only real step toward ensuring your pendulous cobblers don’t become ensnared in a crossover is adequate warm-up before you attempt such a move. Strapping on your skates and rolling right out onto the floor in a  chillackadaisical manner brings on Testicularasarus quicker than you can say…”OWWWWWWW!” You’ve got to give ‘the boys’ time to elasticate…let that blood flow be redirected to other parts of the body that need it, like your legs. Start with some easy laps and don’t be too quick to tuck into base position in the corners. Take those first few corners standing. Get the legs moving in the straightaways, then get back up and glide to turns. 3 to 5 rolling minutes and discrete adjustment once your sling shrinks will help you avoid those sharp facial contortions that elicit the obligatory, “What happened? Are you OK?” inquiries from innocent skate moms sitting on the bench…

There’s really not a lot more you can do…As we age, our skin loses its taughtness, no matter how toned we are. I’ve heard it said that as men age, our noses, earlobes and kerbangers continue to grow. The truth is, it’s gravitational force causing our noses, ears, eyelids and manjigglies to grow longer. It’s gravity literally pulling on all those fleshy, non-muscular masses that have slowly lost their ability to resist over time. Sadly, your pecker won’t elongate, but your bobber buds will someday find the floor, relatively speaking.

Just take it slow to start, and let your tenders have the time they need to get up and out of the way of those vice-like, monster Quads. And for goodness-sake, don’t panic when you hit the showers after your workout and you look like a pre-schooler in the pants. Package shrink is an important part of athletic performance, protecting your hanging brain from permanent damage. At some point in life, you really do need to stop worrying about size…

So here’s to you, Speed Weenie. You suit up like a sausage with your junk on full display for all the world to see. You put your nuts on the line every day for your sport, risking your scrot just for the hell of it. So what if there’s no fame or glory or gold on a rope in it for you? You flirt with testicular trauma when others are off bowling, knowing that at any moment your Cracker Jacks could be crunched, leaving you on the floor, crying like a four year old who just discovered that you can’t take a flying leap and land on a sofa arm in a full straddle. You know the meaning of cojones, you’re the keeper of the family jewels. Let them laugh at you and call you a “roller skater,” because you know the definition of what it takes to be a real man…you and your rolling rocks and a need for testosterone-fueled speed. For those about to turn and burn, we salute you!

Cuckin Fold

Cold weather skating never used to bother me but I guess ol’ fart syndrome is catching up with me, cause as I’ve gotten another year older my tolerance for the cold has shriveled up quicker than George Costanza’s manhood in a cold pool. I want to roll on up inside a warm cavity and stay neatly snuggled beneath a warm downy blanket, only to be coaxed out of hiding by a warm shower or a vigorous rub down. (The later with the former being the ideal of course…)

They didn't tell me the skates came with the latest bluefoot technology.

This is my first winter in boots that were built exclusively for speed. Having ordered my boots 1/2 size smaller than my true shoe size, and after heat-molding them to my feet, I can’t wear them comfortably with socks. Yesterday I figured out just how much I’m going to miss the extra padding and warmth when I’m heading out to trail skate this winter…Mmmm, yeah, looks like I’ll be putting in even more time indoors this winter than I did last year. Could be worse, right?

As a lot of you know, indoor inline speed skating is a lot different than skating outdoors. Almost everything I’ve learned indoors has helped me become a more efficient technical skater outdoors, and that’s the primary reason I love it so much. I don’t leave it all in the rink. The knowledge is portable and adaptable. It works when you work it, no matter where you’re using it. But, of course, you’ve got to think it through, find your strengths and improve on your weaknesses if you want to get faster. Since that’s what I want, that’s what I’ve been doing…thinking about the basics and also doing a lot of foundational drills.

This year’s been great, in that I feel like I’ve made a lot of progress, both indoor and out. Indoor, this was the first year where I’d set and achieved a personal speed goal. Getting that out of the way toward the end of what I’d call the regular indoor season, it was hard not to immediately set a new speed goal and go for it once I hit the one I was shooting for. But I’ve purposely resisted the temptation to push it further before the year is out, opting to simply stop, claim some progress, and set myself up to have something to shoot for in 2011. I’ve still got a lot to work on, that’s for sure, and that’s the reason I’m sticking to the basics for the rest of the year.

I’ve been concentrating on balance, body position and simple mechanics. I’ve also been stretching more cause I’m just not very flexible. Never have been. But anyway…Over the last few weeks, I’ve been getting some great tips from my coach on how to position my shoulders, use my arms and feather step into turns at high speed. It’s been paying off, but it’s a lot of work. It’s required me to break things down a bit and work on my stride in small pieces, rebuilding from the ground up. I’ll admit, it’s easier for me to actually do this because I teach the Rink Rabbits class, and we’re hammering on the basics all the time. Honestly, I don’t think I’d be where I’m at today if it weren’t for the Rink Rabbits.

Here’s a video of one of the drills that’s been very helpful in attacking a lot of my problem areas. Both Speedy Weezy and I watched and listened and tried to do what Mantia was telling us at the Technical Clinic we had with him and his friends back in September

As you can see, I was all over the place with my arms, swinging and turning my upper body. I was also rushing into the crossover, not really getting my weight distributed properly, ending up with a weak under-push. Speedy Weezy was setting up in an A-frame, and bobbing up and down. Having all this pointed out has helped me help us both, and I’ve been able to in turn help the rest of the Rink Rabbits with their problem areas. We’ve all been working hard at fixing these foundational pieces, and for a lot of the team, the work has really been paying off. Young and old, experienced and noob alike, these simple foundational type drills are really proving to be just what the speed doctor ordered. We’re becoming better skaters from the ground up, especially Speedy Weezy, Speed Demon, The Brothers Speed and Speed Lord. They’ve been much more determined to do things right since the clinic. They’ve become very purposeful. It’s been great to watch and be a part of their growth.

So, not wanting to deal with the cold and the wind anymore, I got up at the crack of sanity and went to Rollerland to “treat” myself to a private practice this morning. Armed with a big cup of Starbucks and an iPod full of instructional video clips that Mantia gave us, I set out to prove to myself just how much I want to be a better technical skater. Seriously, my goal is to do these early morning rink runs at least once or twice a week now through the rest of the year.We’ll see how that goes…

Here’s what my workout looked like this morning:

– 100 Laps Warm Up

– Right Leg / Left Leg Balance – 3x each leg

– Base Position Roll – 6x total

– Right / Left Leg Rolling Leaps – 3x each leg

– Large Circle Drill (Video Above) – 1 minute, 3x total

– Right / Left Leg Glide – 3 laps (6 corners each leg)

– Crossover Glide – 6x total

– Right / Left Leg Push – 1 minute, 3x each leg

That took an hour, and I was back to the house well before I needed to be to work. I wonder if I can get the survailance video to see what my form looks like? Or maybe just ask the coach to review it and give me some pointers. In any event, it was a great way to start the day, and I’m really going to make an effort to get more of this training in.

Or…hell, I could suck it up, get used to the bluefoot sensation and give ice a try, but that’s something I swore I’d never do…just like the rest of this stuff.

Happy Thanksgiving – Gobble, Gobble HEY!

I needed that

In the dizzying spiral of days that wrapped up late summer and started the fall indoor inline speed skating training season, life got faster. Not necessarily on the track or trail, but in general. Somewhere along the way, the rules changed too, and the expectations I have of myself got higher. Commitments and responsibility are starting to get in the way of my inline skating. WTF?

11 days off and I'm right back to where I started...

I’m not the same skater I was a year ago, and training took a toll I didn’t expect this year…it led to fatigue and low-grade burnout. Like Pooky in New Jack City, all I want to do is high-step it into the Enterprise room and get beamed up to Scotty. All these years of smoking polyurethane seem to have caught up with me…

I tried to kick... but that s#*t just be callin' me man, it be callin' me, man... I just got to go to it!

It’s been a great year, the best so far that’s for sure. My involvement in the sport has run deeper than I would have volunteered for at any one time, and it’s all good, too. It’s been a gradual progression, albeit quick. One of those things where you just decide you’re going to do something, set about getting it done and sit back and say, “Wow…how did that happen?” Do that over and over and the s#*t starts to pile up. I don’t know if you’ve ever experienced anything like that, or if that statement makes a lot of sense, but I don’t have a lot of time to over-analyze my writing or edit myself if I expect this blog post to get done anytime soon…

The burnout symptoms came out of nowhere, but yet in looking back I guess I could have seen the warning signs if I’d been looking for them. I’ve been in that special place reserved for those that over-train before, and I can tell you…this bout of burnout was something different. It grew over a few weeks of Indian Summer, where the world of long distance outdoor inline skating was bumping up against the foundation building of indoor inline speed training. Here’s my takeaway, the two disciplines play really well together when it’s early in the year and you’re working on building up speed indoor, but that relationship goes to shite faster than Lucy finding Ricky in the back bedroom with Ethel and a sixer of Four Loco when you’re still burning up the trail outdoor, and you’ve torn it all down to rebuild your foundation on the indoor oval…it can snap your will to skate.

Before this, I thought I’d done a stellar job of creating a better skate / life balance this year. I’d put my house in order, allowing the changing needs of my growing little family to take priority. I’d changed my training routine in so many ways this year that at a certain point, although I’d been skating harder than ever, with more purpose and intensity, I felt like I was cutting myself short and not training frequently enough. Of course that was all in my head, but in years past that feeling and thoughts like it had always been motivators to make the time I needed to skate and just get out there and put in the miles. Not this year. Those thoughts and feelings of not doing enough started to weigh more and became de-motivators…

Your passion is...illogical.

The burnout warning signs glow like neon in the cold, dark night now, but I couldn’t see it when it was happening…started taking more days off for “healing” than I used to…was satisfied with shorter distance skates at lunchtime…stopped skating in the morning all together…let a little wind stop me from gearing up…put off updating this blog…stayed away from the chat forums…started to think all of the pros ARE doping and didn’t give a s#*t…was actually happy to tell Horseypants that I wouldn’t bring my skates for 11 sun filled days in Naples, Florida…really didn’t care that we wouldn’t have an internet connection to watch the Inline Speed Skating World Championships when we were on vacation…didn’t miss my skates at all while we were in Florida…found it very hard to get back into the swing of things when we got back to Colorado…for the first time found myself thinking about the logistics of canceling a Rink Rabbits practice the day of practice…gave up the idea of chartering a team…there was actually more.

In all of this, except for our trip to Florida, I’ve been skating. But my heart was a half-beat behind. I just didn’t feel like I was sitting comfortably in the pocket. And it dawned on me that it was fear that was driving me when I was actually skating…fear of losing my legs, destroying my base, that fear drove me to keep skating and doing dry-land exercises. It wasn’t that I really wanted to be doing any of it. And that, for me, is the key. The desire and passion to be on my skates was really just not there like it has been for the last six years. For me, that’s just not right…

My passion for inline was in perfect hibernation.

When I started to realize that it wasn’t so much fun anymore, or at least as fun as it used to be, I started thinking about other sports…and concluded that I’m not a jock and really don’t care to participate in any competitive sports at all. All or nothing thinking crept back in. I’m either in this or I’m just not. Well, at least that was a comfortable emotional place to be for me. And I think it was from there that I started feeling a little bit better. I know I’m in it, it’s to what level, that’s the question.

I don’t know how long the gray skies would have lingered, but I do know what snapped me out of it…

¿Dónde está el baño?

It was a blog post by a writer named Matthew DeGeorge about Alex Cujavante’s, ah, mistake, at the 2010 Inline Speed Skating World Championships in Guarne, Colombia this year. If you haven’t seen this video, it’s really horrendous. Alex is rounding the last corner of a 20,000 meter race and he thinks he’s far enough ahead of the pack that he can stand up and showboat across the finish line in front of a hometown crowd. Sang Cheol Lee of South Korea didn’t stop skating and came right up his rear…taking the gold from Alex and making him a viral internet superstar. Watch the video. I’d love to know what the Colombian commentators are saying.

Anyway…this blog post. Mr. DeGeorge has a way with words. He essentially tears our sport to shreds, writing things like, “…Cujavante was competing in the 20,000 meter race, which, if it seems like a ludicrous distance to cover wearing a child’s toy on your feet…is. (I can only imagine a mile long pogo race as its equivalent.)” And, “…Colombian speed roller skater (seriously!)” Topped off with a third snark, “…Lee’s winning time in the marathon (actually, they have one of those, too!)”

Reading all that I was like, “Dammmmnnnnn. A child’s toy on his feet.” Now I’m not generally known to have a thin skin, and I thought the “pogo race” comment was pretty snappy, but I was ready to call it quits. What a joke. Here in the US, the sport will never be taken seriously. World Champ Wouter Hebbrecht thought it might be a good idea to track Mr. DeGeorge down and bring him to an inline event. Would it help the perception of our sport out there on the internet and in the world? I don’t know, but I bet Mr. DeGeorge would walk away with a new appreciation for our sport after having seen, met and watched some of our best athletes in action.

That aside…At some point it occurred to me…I remembered…one of my problems is that I end up taking things too seriously and THAT’S what feeds the burnout. THAT’S what saps the joy and fun out of skating for me.

DON’T TAKE THIS S#*T SO SERIOUSLY…As it turns out, DeGeorge’s blog post was just what the doctor ordered. The video IS funny. It’s a damn shame that Mr. Cujavante had to learn that lesson in front of the world, but seriously…looks like he needed the lesson. And c’mon…after re-reading DeGeorge’s comments, what he wrote was funny. A child’s toy indeed! This sport does keep you young. Young in fitness and young at heart. And if you’ve lost the ability to laugh at yourself, all is lost. At least in my mind. Hell, I remember when I first heard about the “serious” side of this sport – I was incredulous to the point of ridicule too. Even when I started skating outdoors, I swore I’d never be a skin-suit weenie like you. But hey…look how far I’ve come, despite all of that and crap like it.

Here’s our reality…and sorry if it’s hard to read but it’s the truth. If DeGeorge’s comments are hard for you to swallow, just realize that there are just too many people here in the US who have no clue that our inline world exists. So even coverage like this is good, because it builds awareness. Ain’t that some s#*t?!

It was only after I was able to think all that through that I was able to laugh it all off. All of the months of ambivalence and doubt. The time off was good for me. It’s time to get “serious.” Time to get back to what I love doing, for the reasons I love doing it…I love to eat pizza – like 5 slices on a Friday night – and skating allows me to eat whatever the hell I want with impunity, despite my slowing metabolism. THAT’S why I do this…cause I love to eat and I like being thin. Simple. Oh, yeah, and skating IS actually fun. Almost forgot…

So with that, I went downstairs, got my skates out of the trunk and skated with a renewed passion and interest. The next day it snowed. So it goes…

That Lovin’ Feelin’

The World’s Fastest Powerlifter, Lamar Lovelace, gets a skate upgrade…

This video caught a magic moment for all skaters, didn’t it? It’s that moment we’ve all shared. We ALL know how Lamar feels. Doesn’t matter how long you’ve been inline skating, how many pairs of skates you’ve owned, whether you’ve bought them, inherited them, been given an old pair or put the smack-down on a trash talking Junior and taken them, does it? There’s nothing like that new skate feeling to bring out the kid in all of us, no matter how old you are. Hell, my wife knows that when odd shaped rug burns pop up in places the sun don’t shine, it usually means there’s a spit-shined pair of new skates in my bag, ready to wear and tear up a track near you!