Tag Archives: sports

Ice to meet you

In the course of events in this thing I call my life, I need to mix things up. I’m not the kinda guy that you can expect to sit still for more than a few minutes at a clip, at least with my pants on…

REVEALED: This is how I cop so much time on SkateLog Speed Skating Forum.

I need to be busy. Need to be doing something. And no matter what it is, if I really find it interesting, I can become very disciplined, very quickly and develop routines that I’ll adhere to, religiously, for years without interruption. But once I start getting bored, the routines get hard to maintain, and I need to find something to spice things up, or I’ll start getting lazy and I’ll start relying on anything I can find to use as an excuse to get distracted from that thing I was so engrossed with that it became a part of my daily life and part of the definition of…me.

My career as Skatey Spice was short lived...I just couldn't bring myself to shave my legs.

I’ll admit it…I started getting bored with this thing of ours. That’s right. I started to become a slacker skater. If you’ve been reading this blog for any period of time, you’ve seen the ups and downs. What I’ve published here really only scratches the surface. And yes, my posts do tend to exaggerate the state of things, and go more for a cheap fart joke than any real substance, but that aside it’s a pretty honest portrayal of my skating life. I’ve added emphasis there because my skating life is truly more than roller skating, or, you know, inline speed skating. Ice has become a part of this thing I do. To the extent that I should really just say I’m a skater, as opposed to an inline skater, because the latter implies a singularity of purpose that just isn’t in my make up anymore. It’s like saying “I’m a road-skater,” or “I’m a trail-skater,” or “I’m an indoor speed skater,” or “I’m a marathon skater.” The label “inline skater” has become too restrictive. And since freedom is so much of what I love about this sport, I think saying “I’m a skater” is about as liberating as I can get. That said, inline is really my core so I’m not dumping the label. I’m just more open-minded about this thing I do.

We're just not coming at this from the same place.

Being one of such open mind, I decided that since nude speed skating is flat-out too dangerous and just wrong (God knows the view would be hanus trying to catch a draft,) 2011 is the year of doing things differently. By that I mean setting new goals, tackling new challenges and stretching past my comfort zone. It’s one thing to try to break a personal best time, whether it’s for 100m or 26.2 miles. It’s another to try to become somewhat competent in another discipline, and that’s what I’ve chosen to focus on. I’ve moved to ice. Not in the epic sense of a Jondon Trevena or Derek Parra or Chad Hedrick. No. Just in the sense of being me and trying something new. And it’s been a humbling experience, one that’s done the ego some good.

Taking a similar track to what I did my first year on inlines, I jumped right into the deep end of training and competing. Honestly, the main reason I haven’t been updating these pages all that much lately is that I’ve been using all the spare time I can find to get me some quality ice time on my new Marchese One boots and Marchese Zero blades. (Full disclosure…CadoMotus makes these Marchese’s, and CadoMotus is a sponsor of First Loser.)

These skates kick butt.

Yep…I’ve become a short track slut, puttin’ out on the ice as much as I can, and gettin’ my money’s worth out of the Ice Center Super Pass I bought in February. But I digress…

To really kick up the excitement a notch, I competed in my first ice meet earlier this season, The 2011 Colorado Speed Skating Championships. The meet was organized by Colorado Gold Speedskating, and they’re just awesome! anyway…this meet was a quick test of my ego-resiliency. Considering that my only real competition was a self-described “old lady” and some guys that have been doing short track for all of maybe eight months to a year, I was thinking I was on my way to gold, or at least the claim of having my First Loser status carry over in my ice debut. That wasn’t to be the case. I did pretty well, in that I got the entry fee’s worth out of the event by placing in my heats and skating all the finals, but the podium was a bit further away than I thought it would be.

Turns out I was competing in the masters division. So even though I was on the ice with the Bony Pony’s, or whatever we were being called, I was skating against those guys I was watching and going “Holy S#!t look at that!” So needless to say I didn’t come home with any medals (not even a freaking participation award or a chocolate bar) but I did skate away having had a great time and really falling for this new discipline. (Father’s pride: Freezy Weezy took third in his division!)

Freezy Weezy takes Bronze!

As it stands right now, I’m on the fence about NSIM this year. I honestly don’t know if I’m going to go. It’s a lot of effort for a little better than an hour’s worth of skating time. Yes, it’s the premiere event for me, no doubt. But I’m not excited about the idea anywhere near as much as I’m stoked to go to a short track clinic at the Oval in SLC in June, and compete here in Fort Collins at our first ice meet in October. I’m truly excited and I’m working hard to try to improve my technique so that I can show improvement versus what I did down there at the World Arena in April. That’s got me fired up man. Honestly, I miss that about inline. That same fire just ain’t there anymore.

DON’T GET ME WRONG DAMNIT! I still love inline skating more than any other sport. And now that the weather is somewhat improving here in NoCo I’ve been able to hit the trails with gusto again (94 miles logged last week!) and I’m truly amazed every time I skate in my Pro M1’s on the trail and feel truly in command of every facet of my stride, but it’s that, I don’t know, maybe it’s the novelty of new-found passion that I just don’t have for inline anymore. With inline, it’s like I have something to maintain. I’ve achieved a little something. With ice, I ain’t done s#!t, so I’ve got the world before me. And with a 1:07 500m time, I’ve got nowhere to go but up…at least I hope.

AND NOW A WORD FROM OUR SPONSOR

Crazy F’in Glenn is at it again! Just to make things nice and tidy, he’s offered up a really schweet deal on Bont Patriot Short Track boots and Bont ice blades. Check it speed freaks:

Any in-stock Bont Patriot short track boots, normally $225, this month only, $175. 

Any  in-stock Bont Platinum blades (top-of-the-line!), normally $450, this month only, $375.

NEW – full custom Bont Patriot boots and Platinum blades, $1000!  Note that the blades alone normally retail for $450.  Shipping and applicable taxes extra, please.

Email Glenn today: glenn916@yahoo.com to get this crazy azz deal before it’s too late. Sorry Rick! (Inside joke.)

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.

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.

Power play

I’m generally a realist…meaning that I know how far I can push my influence with those people, places and things I come into contact with. When the highlight of your day becomes telling your favorite barista how you want your coffee prepared, then being happy if they got even half the order right, you’ll be able to connect with my experience. You’ll come to know my power…

The smell was a bit..."put-off-ish" but it went down smooth.

As the new year rolled into being, I was struck with that once a year resolve to be the master of my universe and make things happen. I enjoy doing this blog, and being a slave to ego, I want to see it grow, because when it comes to my narcissistic tendencies, this blog pays the bills. So I started to think about finding more sponsors, and I drew up a long list of prospects…Skate manufacturers, wheel makers, online retailers, race directors…I was on a roll. But then I stopped, because the itty-bitty committee in my head was getting out of control. I was looking at piles of logos to fill up the right rail of the blog page, and thinking to myself…”Is that really what this is all about?”

The short answer was no. This blog is about my experience as a skater, and my humble exercises in writing. I’m engaged with my sport in a “literary sense” and that’s pretty cool. Not something I thought would last when I started this thing. So now that it’s rolling into its second year, I thought I could do more with it to promote the sport itself. That would be a noble outcome.

So I thought that reaching out to the National Speedskating Circuit would be a great way to start. I have a lot of respect for what Miguel Jose and Joey Mantia are doing with NSC. They are truly bringing the sport up to a more contemporary entertainment standard, and that entertainment is pretty intense if you like your action fast (and clad in spandex…but I won’t go into that here.)

So I fired off an email to Miguel, and, in the spirit of full disclosure, told him I was willing to sell-out all of my journalistic integrity for an NSC t-shirt and free access to the Live Feed for the events. He wrote back and told me that the Live Feed was going to free for everyone this year. So I just put 2 + 2 together (for no good reason) and decided I’d take credit for his decision right here, because I’m always looking for an opportunity to self-promote!

IMHO…NSC is the best thing to hit indoor inline speed skating in the time I’ve been following the action.


Support your sport and watch the best of the best battle it out next Monday, January 24, 2010 – ON ME…ONLINE…FOR FREE!

Monday Night Mayhem is coming, and season 2 is gonna be the Bomb Track of 2011. It’s turn and burn time, baby!

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…