Tag Archives: training

Brand new inline skates…

Seems like 90’s commercial grunge / pop-punk won’t go away…

You’ll be singing it all day. Earworm courtesy of my high school friend John.

And I’ve got a brand new pair of roller skates, you got a brand new CadoMotus 4mm Hex Torque Control Skate Tool…admittedly, not as catchy lyrically, but more inline with…me.

Skate Porn

Rock & Roll S8ers!

Oh baby...

I’ve been actively training in my 2009 Rollerblade Racemachine skates with a 4 x 110 CadoMotus Dual Box frame for this years Northshore Inline Marathon. I’ll be wearing those skates when I roll Duluth, but I’ve been breaking in these Pro M1s a little bit every day. A full review is coming, along with a bunch of other piled up blog posts.

Training Log: Oh yes, I’ve been training. Skatie, skate, skate. I skate so much it’s ridiculous. And really, really great.

The loneliness of the long distance skater

On Friday, June 28, 2010 I set out to skate 140 continuous miles in 10 hours or less in celebration of my 40th birthday. I chose 140 because for the last two years I’ve taken part in 100 mile skate events, so doing the classic “40 for 40” just seemed…anti-climatic. 140 felt like it would be a challenge.

It was. I didn’t finish 140 miles.

I was able to knock down 100 before the sun got the better of me and I had to pack it in. Sun stroke wasn’t on my bucket list, but a personal best record for 100 miles could find its way to being a suitable outcome for the most challenging skate of my life…

The challenges didn’t just come in the form of many miles of trail to conquer. They started the night before. Like the lead up to the other two times I’ve done an ultra-distance skate, or a duraskate, I had a lot of nervous energy to burn that night before. So I did what I normally do…I prepared my skates, hydration pack, energy bars and got my clothes laid out and ready for pre-dawn departure. I was in the process of making a protein shake for my breakfast when Horseypants leaped out of her seat and did a Triple Lindy over the back of the couch. Our dog was having a seizure at her feet. This isn’t new for him, but it was outside of his normal seizure routine, which usually happens around midnight and in his bed upstairs. This was 9:30 in the evening and downstairs in the living room. We have a very specific protocol we run through when he’s having one of his moments. We clear the room, close the door and wait for him to snap out of it and come back to his senses before we approach him. He’s a big dog, and in the post-seizure confusion state he can become aggressive. Well, this time out there was nowhere to run. Horseypants high-tailed it for upstairs to close the kids’ doors and shut herself in our bedroom. I stuck it out downstairs and waited for him to come to. He finally did and his recovery was uneventful, but it was now going to be a long night, as the second half of our routine is for me to stay up with him on a leash to make sure nothing aggressive happens.  This usually means my sleep is shallow, and that I can be sure I’ll be up several times as he gets up and reorients himself. By the time I was able to lay down it was 11 p.m. I had planned on being up at 4:20 the next morning to get dressed and be at the trail head by 5 a.m…

5 a.m. came and I awoke, groggy from being woken up several times throughout the night.  I tied the dog’s leash to the bedpost, got dressed, sucked down some coffee and rolled out. (FWIW: I know coffee is a diuretic. It’s a necessary handicap.) Anyway…I got to the trailhead at about 5:40, a little late but I wasn’t too concerned. At this point I had already sucked down the protein shake and 4 cups of coffee, so I was feeling pretty awake and good to go.

Good to go…yep, thank goodness there was a Johnny-On-The-Spot at the trail head. I’d visit it 4 times before rolling out. Nerves of jelly and a peanut sized bladder will do that to you.

I parked my truck at a mid-way point on the course I’d be spending the day on. Figured this would be a good idea in case of any emergency, as I’d have to pass it at least a half dozen times throughout the day. What I didn’t anticipate was the epic battle of self preservation vs. will to succeed that this simple parking decision would spark as the day went on and the mercury climbed to year-to-date highs…we’ll get back to this.

BEFORE - Overconfidence is strong in this one.

This was a beautiful morning. With all of the final prep and gearing up, I was on the trail by 6 a.m. There had been earlier concern about this trail being flooded and obstructed by massive fallen trees, but fortunately all of that had been cleared up and out in the week prior. Fortune was shining brightly on this skater and his ambition to prove that life really begins at 40…

My plan was to establish a pace that was a little faster than 15 m.p.h. for the first 52.4 miles. After that I figured I’d be able to “coast” the rest of the 80+ miles at a leisurely 14 mph and I’d finish 140 in well under 10 hours. I’d seen the records for A2A and while I think I could probably maintain an average of 16+ mph in a small pack over this distance, this was solo so I didn’t want to over do it. Plus, I knew it was supposed to reach about 90 degrees around 2 pm, so I needed to be sure to have something in the tank to deal with the heat. Strategy firmly in place, I rolled out.

At mile 26.2 - not killing myself, having fun with the plastic wildlife.

The first 26.2 were a breeze. The temps were cool, the trail was clear and my spirits were elevated. This stuff gets me high. Like Alan Sillitoe’s Smith, I felt like the first man ever to be dropped in the world. I was King of the Daylight World. And while there wasn’t a soul or subject in sight, the trail was loyal and subservient, and I was in a benevolent mood. To the trail, my every stride was a gift…something to make its meager existence somehow part of a grander scheme and profoundly worthwhile. I knew that 140 miles were going to be a complete cake walk.  At one point I even stopped to have a “Mark Wahlberg Talks To The Animals” moment with a turtle. Indeed, tis good to be the King:

I had so much fun with him that I had to turn around, go back and get this photo:

No s#*t...the tortoise WAS doping after all!

By 10 a.m. I was done with 52.4 miles and still feeling great. I’d sucked down only about 16 oz. of H3O Hydration drink and had 1 protein bar on the trail for a morning snack. My right ankle was starting to get a little irritated from my un-molded boot, but other than that my legs were in good shape, my heart rate was a cool 60-70% max, and I was keeping a great pace. I spent a lot of time focused on foot pressure, forward knee bend and double pushing.

What became clear to me was that 110mm wheels are going to be a blessing at Duluth this year. For distance skating, big wheels and good form make the difference. It’s both, not one. But if it were one over the other, form rules. Focus on form and the rest will follow. These long skates are great for training!

For the next 8 miles I was totally in love with this sport. I resurrected an idea I had to publish an e-book to be called “Slow to Podium: Form, Flow, Power, Speed & Grace Through Inline Skating.” My iPod was blaring out all of my favorite songs, the sun was shining, a light breeze was blowing, the trail was smooth and my form felt right. I was enjoying the freedom and looking forward to telling everyone how surprised I was that the 140 were so easy to finish. I was thinking about all of the great races that I’d not gone to this year – the Planet Adventure series in Indiana, the Apostle Islands Marathon, the TX Road Rash, all of them. Even thought about A2A and how I’d be sure to do great there if I only went (despite what I know about the road surfaces!). For the past few years I’ve only done the Northshore Inline Marathon, but now I was ready to take my 2011 calendar and load it up! I was ready to get into the action full on…

Then, somewhere around mile 60, (adopting a Sean Connery Scottish brogue) it all went to shite quicker than BP’s stock price.

First it was the ankle, which was now more than a twinge. It was full-out pain. One unassuming stride around mile 59 and I felt a shooting pain go up the right side of my calf. Became a stabbing needle point with every stride after that. And my feet and calves were starting to feel the effects of being on firm wheels for 60 miles straight. It’s amazing was a few points in duometer will buy you in terms of comfort. I should have been on softer wheels for this. I won’t make that mistake again.

It was at this point I started to think that I couldn’t stop, even for a quick pee break, because it might be really, really hard to get rolling again. I was still keeping a good pace by ignoring the pain in my ankle, but I was standing up more now due to the tightness in my lower back. There would be no more rolling videos or still photos till this thing was over, because I wasn’t even at the mid-way point yet.

With that realization…that I wasn’t even half way there yet…the mental challenge grew exponentially and took on mythical proportions. It became the Seven-headed Hydra that I’d have to be Hercules to overcome. But there’d be no help, I was on my own. It seemed that for every mile I lopped off, another 2 would appear, and taunt me. It was as if the miles went on forever. I started to think that even at the halfway point I’d be counting down as many as I’d just come. And with each mile getting more difficult as the sun grew hotter; the pain becoming sharper with every few strides; the will to finish growing weaker by the moment, I was doomed. This was horrible. What a stupid idea. Why the hell was I doing this to myself?

It was around mile 65 that I seriously considered calling Horseypants and asking her to, “just tell me I can do it!!!” I just needed to hear someone in my corner, cheering me on. I’d just come off a night of being pilloried on the SkateLog forum about a post on cycling. I started to feel like I didn’t have a friend in the world. I had become the last man in the world. It was a lonely place. Hell, I’d even considered a 911 prayer for a benevolent cyclist to come along and allow me to draft him! I was really starting to crumble under the pressure. What a f@#$%&g disgrace.

No more Skatey-My-Wanky, the Loser need moral support!

Alas, I knew that calling out for Horseypants’ reassuring voice would not only make me sound like a drama queen, but that I’d probably start bawling and yelling that I just couldn’t do it. It would be the thing that let me quit. I just couldn’t do it. So I pushed on…pushed those thoughts out and focused on form and music. Just pure skating. No grand plans, no love of the sport, no blog or message boards or new Simmons Pro M1’s on the way, just skating the best I could. That seemed to work for a while.

Then, around mile 75, I came up on my truck again. Each time I’d seen it earlier in the day, I was immune to it’s wily, cool charm. Sure, it was calling to me…”Come, have a little rest. Relax, no one will know.” But each time before I’d been able to shake it off. Being able to resist that temptation gave me power; made me stronger. It was a good boost that would last for at least a mile after the encounter.

This time though, the urge to throw my stupid goals to hell, get in the back seat, crawl into the fetal position and cry myself to sleep held very strong appeal. It was a battle I didn’t expect to have to fight, and one that nearly cost me the war…

I shook it off, but this time it left a bitter taste. There was nothing empowering in the stupidity of pushing on in this heat, through this pain, and into God knows what kind of fatigue or injury on the trail ahead. Each little pebble in the trail was now, for some reason, finding it’s way under my wheels on the interior push of my double push, nearly taking me down with what seemed like every single stride. I found myself muttering in the foulest of terms, very much akin to the way my Grandfather did when playing golf. (That’s where I acquired my command of the finer f@#$%&g points of our c@#ks$%^#ng language. Fine church going man that he was and all…) Seriously, at this point I threw it all away:

  1. I’m going to just stop and call it a day.
  2. I’ll take the rest of the year off – maybe next year too.
  3. F#$k it – I QUIT! QUIT SKATING FOR GOOD!
  4. My KIDS QUIT!!
  5. I’M GOING TO SELL ALL OF OUR CRAP ON NETTRACING!!!
  6. Screw this stupid blog!
  7. SkateLoggers can bite my REAR END!
  8. I’M GOING TO TAKE UP CYCLING!!!!!!!!!!

It’s rare, if ever, that I’ve been so completely convinced that a decision was right. I was near tears. All I needed to do was find the coordination to plow my way to a stop, turn around, go back to the truck and cry, cry, cry and then cry some more. I’d have to plow stop because my right ankle was at this point about to fall off, and I thought for sure I’d spin out if I tried a t-stop with the left. This s#%t was for the birds man, I was done. I started to see weird reflections of myself in the glossy finish of the Sequoia each time I passed it…

It's getting Hot Out Herre - I don't feel well but I look Divine!

Then, I don’t know how it occurred to me, but I realized I was going crazy from the heat. I thought about those guys that do those endurance races across the Sahara Desert. Surly this couldn’t be as bad as that. But wow, even with the way I was steadily hydrating, it would do nothing to stop the heat madness from creeping in to try and spoil the party. The survival instinct is not a friend when trying to face adversity.

I b-slapped myself…”SNAP OUT OF IT MAN!” I started negotiating with the itty-bitty committee in my head…here I was, 40 years old, everything to live for, and really nothing to prove. I was making good time, better than I had the last two times I’d skated this far in a single skate. If I could just hold out another 25 miles, I’d make a personal best record and be able to walk away having achieved something. I could justify stopping – the heat was to the point of being unbearable. It was about 12:45, so it was just about the peak of the afternoon heat. I had enough SmartWater to get through the rest of the course. And I could eliminate the hills and try and stay in the shade by doing the truck-to-east run just 2 more times.

This was the responsible thing to do and it felt good. I could be happy with the outcome. I’d be able to look my family, the Rink Rabbits, the Sunday Morning Speed Team, my co-workers, my Facebook friends, my friends at SkateLog and you, the FirstLoser reader, and know that I did the right thing. For the first time in a long time I knew “a moment of clarity.” It was exhilarating. There was absolutely nothing in this world and there’d be no one, including the man in the mirror or the Monday morning quarterback,that would ever be able to convince me I needed to do anything different. I’d never second guess this. I felt it through the core of my being. I knew the insatiable need to be completely satisfied had been met by one effortless sigh of relief knowing that I could walk away from this with what I’d already done and be proud. All this transpired over a 5 mile negotiation and settlement, followed by a 3 mile Roman orgy of back slapping, and congratulations. From here, it would just be another 17 miles to glory!

Then the phone rang…it was Horseypants. She was telling me that I needed to stop, that it was 102 degrees. I told her what I’d just decided, assured her I could finish and that I’d be done in a little over an hour. From here on out, I found a new purpose in each stride. Even though I wanted to gnaw off my right ankle, I pushed through. I knew I could finish this. I was afraid of what my ankle would look like, and was pretty sure I wouldn’t be skating again for a couple of weeks, but I was going to finish 100 miles in less than 7 hours, and that was a goal I felt really good about. I executed my revised plan and skated the “bunny course” two more times to round out an even 100 miles. I sprinted the last 1/2 mile and hit a 2:48 pace as I was finishing mile 100. That was a rush, but I’d overshot the truck by about a 1/4 mile, so I had to double back before I was truly done. In the euphoria that came in the moment after hitting the little red button on my Garmin to stop the clock, I dropped my right foot back into a t-stop and let out the loudest “AHHH FUDDDGGGEEEE” you’ve ever heard. I was sure I’d snapped my ankle. It was the exclamation mark that was the cap off of the day!

It's less than 7, that's all that matters!

In the end it was all about being prepared to do what was necessary to walk away from this event satisfied. I took from it what I gave it, 100% of all it was worth. It wasn’t about cunning, or brute strength of will, it was about passion. I was able to spend 7 hours outdoors doing what I love to do most. I was able to really focus on trail form and find a comfort zone with a new stride. I’ll never do another skate like this in the summer again, but to do it again, and go further, faster, is something that’s going to happen. It’s in my blood.

As much as I love skating indoors, I’ll never lose my passion for the trail. Outdoors is where I was smitten, and where I’ll forever be in passionate love with this sport.

As it turns out, my ankle was just responding to carbon fiber pressure on a pressure point. I didn’t even have a blister! I’d overcompensated with the padding around my ankle bone doing more harm than good. I was able to skate the next morning with the Rink Rabbits, and on Sunday I was timed doing 100m 2 /10th of a second off my personal best lap time. Hydration and recovery nutrition are key with something like this. I skated the rest of that week, and I really came to feel the power of that session. I call it “getting my 100 mile legs.”

AFTER - Maybe just a little wiser.

My big take away from all this is really nothing new…don’t take any of this stuff too seriously. Be open-minded and flexible. Set reasonable goals, don’t back away from a challenge and be happy with your decisions. If you can look yourself in the mirror and say with 100% honesty that you gave it all you had, than that’s worth owning, no matter what it applies to.

Where do I go from here? I spent a lot of time thinking about why I do this, and I’ve come to some conclusions and I’ve revised some long terms goals. More on that in a future post. For the time being, I’ll keep training like I do, and get ready to meet up with all my friends on 9/11/10 in Duluth. Then, maybe next year, I’ll try A2A…

Training Log – I’ve been skating a lot. A whole lot. More than I care to detail here. It’s summer and this is what I do. Every morning, every lunch time, and now most evenings too. Taking rest days here and there, but mostly having a great time on wheels. I’ve been getting ready for Duluth. I’ve downgraded my wheels, put axle grease in my bearings, strapped weights on each leg, and do a lot of interval work on hills. My coach tells me this is going to help a lot. It hurts a lot, I can tell you that. But I want to beat my time from last year…that’s what it’s all about for me.

I’ve been going to races too. Spent some time at Outdoor Nationals…see if you can tell who SpeedyWeezy & I are hanging out with as we watch Jim Larson make a new record for the Master’s Mens 300m (5 legends, 3 you can spot):

One grenade would have taken out a whole lotta talent.

It’s a busy week…a couple of guys under that tent are coming to Fort Collins to give a clinic at Rollerland on Sunday. More to come…Jamaican style (so don’t hold your breath – “soon come, mon!”)

Out sk8ng

Sorry – I’ve been lax in the posting department this month. It’s actually been a huge skating month, and I rather be doing it than writing about it. Sorry to burst your bubble.

'09 Rollerblade Racemachine & Cado Motus 4x110 - Problade Updated

It’s all good…what a month! Indoor Nationals, 100 Mile Skate from Hell, Making heat molding work at Cado Motus’ expense, Reorganizing my skate bench (a major freaking accomplishment) and Sum, Sum Summertime skating in Colorado. I’ve got lot’s of material saved up. But the biggest “up” I’ve had…Horseypants is coming with me to Duluth this year to skate her first 1/2 marathon! Can you say “BOING?!?!” My skinsuit just got tighter in the pants. Her training started today…I’ll be working hard on her.

So, consider July a “build up” month. I’ll pop a writing laxative soon, and have lots of blither blather to dull your senses. Until then, I’ll just shut up and skate…

7/2/10 – 7/19/10 Training: I took the week of indoor nationals off and gained like 5 pounds from eating at Perkins & the Pershing Center concession stand every day. I was able to take all that weight back off in the first four days back home skating (7/10 – 7/13). I’ve basically been skating outside as much as I can, mixing up days between 16-18 mile or 10k morning skates and light mid-day skates. The afternoon sun has been intense. Just sk8, sk8, sk8!

Off to Lincoln

Skaters from across the nation are on the road this holiday weekend in search of gold and other precious medals in Lincoln, Nebraska. It’s time for the 2010 Inline Speed Skating Indoor Nationals! I thought it only appropriate to pause for a moment and reflect on a word from the Most Interesting Man in the World, on Rollerblading:

Good luck to all of the competitors, may the best boy & girls, men & women make us all proud!

Be sure to watch all the action live starting on Sunday at SkatersPlace:

http://www.skatersplace.com/

SPECIAL OF THE MONTH!

And now…when you purchase any Bont skate package (boots, frames, wheels and bearings), stock or custom, you’ll get a free black Bont Skate Backpack, value $70!

The backpack everyone wants!

Not valid with any other specials or discounts and available exclusively from Glenn Koshi. Email him directly at glenn916@yahoo.com. Tell him you heard about it here at FirstLoser!

6/24/10 Training: Did a light 10k for breakfast. Promised Horseypants I wouldn’t skate in the afternoon due to tomorrow being “the big day.”

6/25/10 Training: 100 miles, 6:59:41:84…but who’s counting? War & Peace Post coming soon.

6/26/10 Training: 1 1/2 hours with the Rink Rabbits. Actually felt pretty good. Focus on Nationals.

6/27/10 Training: 2 hours with the big kids going round & round. One of the former Pro’s was timed at 9.3 on a fly-by for 100m. The rest of the fast crowd, including the coach, tied at 9.4. I was 2 1/10th of a second off my PBR, so I wasn’t complaining about that. Did spend plenty of time complaining about my ankle though. Tweaked from the 100 mile skate.

6/28/10 Training: Took a day off. So sue me.

6/29/10 Training: 10k for breakfast, Rink Rabbits for an afternoon snack!

6/30/10 Training: 17 miles for breakfast, getting my “100 mile legs” under me for a pretty good time. Did another 12 at lunch, but didn’t feel as good about it as I had in the morning.

7/1/10 Training: 12 miles for breakfast, another 13 for lunch. Finally fixed the ankle problem in my right skate and have been as giddy as a schoolboy all day as a result. DAMN – woulda, shoulda, coulda done that BEFORE the 100 mile thing…

National skate to work day…interrupted

Nothing like a National Day of “Boogie Flicking” (“insert sport/activity here”) to get a nation of weekend warriors off their collective duff and out on the roads and trails and in the way of those of us who’re out there everyday workin’ it.  Like so many couch-commandos that flock into the gym every January 2nd to stink up the place for three weeks of paying their resolutions lip service, these people are generally a menace to society, my senses and themselves.

"I SAID ON YOUR LEFT ASSCLOWN!!!"

I mean, come on, even most of of the regular recreational cycling crowd are a laughable lot. (Dramatic note: here I take on the role of elitist inline skater snob…the speed weenie.) Most of these guys, and unfortunately some gals too, cut an impressive Big Bad John figure in their phantastic spandex get-ups. They seriously believe that 2 hours a week spent pedaling around town clipped onto their $7,000 carbon-fiber, rolling 2nd mortgages with a long and firm leather saddle jammed up their crack is akin to a healthy, active lifestyle. God bless ’em, I don’t know how some of them do it…

Screw that biggest loser diet, I'm making progress with this bike, one mile at a time. Mmmm, is that Burger King I smell?

While it’s true that I foster a general disdain for cyclists of all sorts, it’s the “roadies” I’m speaking of here. It’s only because of their own arrogance, ineptitude and outright stupidity. I’ve witnessed Lance-wannabes doing some very dangerous stuff on the trails, and I’ve got friends who’ve met a few of these crank-wankers up close and personal-like, with blunt, traumatic force and righteous indignation.

I don’t deny the Rancor-like brute strength of the need for speed, but left unchecked by reasonable restraint in the hands of Johnny Sprockets and the Saddle Stains and it’s a recipe for rec-trail run-ins that you end up reading about in the police blotter. It’s the hot dogs who zig-zag in and out of everyone’s path going 30 miles an hour that are the single greatest cause of bad reputations, poor inter-sport relations, unenforceable trail speed limits and unnecessarily perforated colons. (Actually, that last one is a twisted revenge fantasy not unlike the NYPD/Abner Loima incident that I indulge every time I see a cyclist in full-moron mode.)

At this point, responsible adults would start to wonder about this public display of unbridled hostility…after all, I do coach a team of younglings. My skill at outsmarting nationwide criminal background checks with Force abilities that some would consider “unnatural” notwithstanding, I like to think of myself as a reasonable, safety-minded person. By that I mean that when I’m on a multi-use trail during high-instance of human encounter hours, I have a healthy respect for limits, personal space, common courtesy and trail etiquette.  I can’t say that for most of the Tony Trek-offs I see on a weekly basis. And today was the icing on the cake.

Can you say copyright infringement? Go get 'em Team Rollerblade Legal, LLC!

National Bike Your Slack Butt Into Work Day always brings out the fork-flakes. It’s bad enough when Schmucky Shimano thinks he owns the trail when you come up on him and he’s out there by himself, but put him out there with multiples of other pedal pushing pecker-heads that dust off their seats once a year for “the big two mile ride!” and you really see some amazing stuff. Really – these folks are driving cars the rest of the year, I think that’s an even scarier thought. It’s as if their IQ drops 40 full points just clipping one foot in. All knowledge of basic road safety and decency evaporate quicker than Lady Gaga’s popularity in the Seinfeld home. In the 6 measly miles I skated from my start point to my office I saw 2 stem-rods in Discovery Channel jerseys terrorizing young children and a new mom, a dog walker, a jogger and an elderly woman by flying by unannounced, then flipping the bird when one of the spazed-out victims had the unmitigated gall to call them on it. It’s pedal-power-tripping and it’s disgusting. Really fires up the ‘ol Irish in me. That’s why I enjoy dusting them when I can, every time I can, just because I can. I was able to get one chain-grease choker, and it felt good. Could have been the good Reverend Smedley out there for his morning 5 mile ride, I could give a rat’s tail. No more Mr. Nice Guy. From now on with all of these guys, you see me coming, you’d better move…over…as far right as you can. On your left, Louima!

(Editorial note: Please be sure to start flaming me when I begin posting that I’ve begun cycling cross-training later next month.)

6/12/10 Training: Just did indoor with the Rink Rabbits, helping a certain someone get ready for Nationals.

6/13/10 Training: Got my butt kicked by the kids for two hours in the morning. Set a personal best 100m lap time so I’m not complaining. 110 mm wheels and better technique are helping me level the field with some of the faster guys too.

6/14/10 Training: Day off from skating. Still one of the hardest things to do of all the training, but absolutely necessary!

6/15/10 Training: 19 miles in the hood in darn good time. Happy with the way these training skates are going. Spent the evening being filmed for a music video at Rollerland with Speedy Weezy, Speed Demon and Lionheart, and a few dozen friends from work. Will post it up here someday…

6/16/10 Training: Tabata Protocol for lunch, up the big hill in 85 degree heat. Had to rush back for a company meeting, at which I was sweating profusly, coughing uncontrollably and wondering aloud why the hell I’m doing this to myself…

6/17/10 Training: 10k for lunch, just to keep the blood flowing and the motivation up. Did a special make-up practice with the Rink Rabbits in the afternoon, working on foundational drills and this. If you’re smart, you’ll click that link.

6/18/10 Training: Day off from skating, but took a one hour power-walk at lunch. Sorry, power walking is for people who want to desperately convince themselves they’re working out. Brahahahaha – NOT!!! (Someone is gonna hate me for that one – can’t shake my cycle-rant character!)

6/19/10 Training: 19 miles at sunrise. Beautiful day but I wasn’t happy with my pace. Felt like I couldn’t get out of my own way. Rink Rabbits were awesome, these kids are flying! And the rink now has air conditioning! Wahoo!

6/20/10 Training: 20 miles at sunrise followed by 2 hours indoor with the fast kids. The Fast Kid and Smiley Sk8s are burning down the barn, but of course they don’t feel ready for IDN! Father’s Day was awesome, Dadioso had a very good day!

6/21/10 Training: 10k for breakfast,20k+ for lunch, could not stop eating! Nice sunburn on the back of my arms from wearing this jersey.

6/22/10 Training: Tabata Protocol for lunch. A little easier to breath afterward this time. Rink Rabbits in the afternoon, had fun playing chase the rabbit!

6/23/10 Training: 29 miles today total. Getting ready to skate 140 continuous miles this Friday…oy vey, what have I gotten myself into?

Inline hunters

Horseypants just emailed me links to one of the craziest things I’ve ever seen…Inline Hunters! “Finally a sport we can do together,” she said.

The bumber sticker on our Arabian...

I nearly fell out of my chair! Check this out…there’s finally a good sporting reason to own a pair of Rollerblade Coyotes!

Indoors…

or Outdoors…

Good Lord…I hope she didn’t let our son watch this $#!*. I can’t let him try this…at least till after Nationals.

6/11/10 Training: 12 miles in the morning, another 12 at lunch. The lunch routine included the Tabata Protocol going uphill. Seriously could not breath for a mile afterward.

CadoMotus Test Drive (Pure Skating)

My review of the CadoMotus Pro 110’s I’ve been testing has been posted to the CadoMotus site. You can read it here: http://www.pureskatingnews.com/2010/06/chris-howleys-pro-110-test-drive.html.

The FirstLoser story is in the works…

Smell The Skate: The New Album from FirstLoser

Suffice to say…I use *different*pictures in my story. And maybe more colorful language too.

Now…you can get the FirstLoser Special of the Month from Glenn Koshi before it rolls away…

Hyper Sidewinder 110mm (black hub) Green 86a or Yellow 84a, regular retail is $110 a set, First Loser readers SOM, $80 a set.  VERY limited quantites.  Shipping $7 per set. Sorry, no 100’s available.

Email Glenn directly to get the deal today! Click here: glenn916@yahoo.com

Glenn has been so busy he’s let me bring this back and hold this deal over a few more days. I’ve seen the posts at SkateLog…any stragglers are going to want to jump at this quickly! I’ve been using them for the last three weeks and can’t say enough good things about them…great wheels and a fantastic price!

6/9/10 Training: 18 miles around the hood. The last 4 minutes was the Tabata Protocol, which seems to make a lot more sense when it comes at the end of your skate. I’m already noticing an improvement in performance…

6/10/10 Training: Eating like a horse because today is a rest day. The weather this morning was of course…perfect. As always on an “off” day.

Silly Wabbit, speed is for kids

Thanks to everyone for the warm 40th Birthday wishes. I spent the day… skating…surprise! I’d planned on doing 40 miles at speed outdoors but got cut off at 22 by the rain. Oh well. Speedy Weezy was just about to join me for the last 18 when Mother Nature let us know she had other plans…

My birthday skin suit didn't go over so well with the women and children, but the new guy Lance sure dug it.

Warmed up and washed out, I headed over to Rollerland and took in a special practice session with The Fast Kid, The Shoulder Roller, Smiley Sk8s and B-Man for 2 hours. They’re all preparing for Nationals, so it was one of the fastest 2 hours I’ve spent in a long time.

Seriously. These kids are pounding out the drills at top speed and getting faster by the day. We even had the sound system cranked. At first the kids were sweet, allowing “the old man” to reflect on glory days gone by with music from Def Leppard, Robert Plant, The Rammones, Bon Jovi, Queen, The Romantics, etc. At one point in the playlist it became necessary for me to point out that I’d seen three of the five bands we’d just heard live on the supporting tour for the albums that the songs appeared on. (To date myself, the songs were: Def Leppard “Animal”, Robert Plant “Tall Cool One” and Bon Jovi “Livin’ On A Prayer”) Well, it was at that point that the eyes rolled, their kindness evaporated and as quickly as you can say Armageddon It, The Black Eyed Peas abruptly took over the sound system, the kids picked up the pace and there was no more looking back. The last hour and a half were a speed freakin’ paradise!

I ended the afternoon with a great Rink Rabbits practice in which I put a group of 7 to 14 year olds through the Tabata Protocol BEFORE timing them on rolling and flat starts. They all either met or beat their times from previous timing sessions! This little “kids only” club is quickly becoming The Mighty Rink Rabbits. They’re a force that’ll need to be reckoned with someday soon…

All in all it was a perfect end to a perfect birthday. At 40 I’m in the best shape of my life, having the time of my life and there’s no place I’d rather be. My wife and kids allow me to indulge my passion, and they’re even sharing in it now too, which is not something I would have dreamed possible a year and a half ago. I can’t wait to tell you about my big present…but I won’t be able to for another 7 weeks!

I’m truly skating the dream, and I’m looking forward to skating the next 40 years worth of sunrises and practices with eyes wide open, getting low, down in the ball and heel, pushing the full blade to the side and falling fast forward into the rest of this skating life of mine!

6/7/10 Training: Day off. Mandatory as a part of the Tabata Protocol. (No, this isn’t the Super Secret workout. For details, check out Barry Publow’s The Science of Speed.)

6/8/10 Training: 22 miles before the rain, 2 hours indoor at high intensity, and hour and a half timing the Rink Rabbits in the afternoon.

Why relays matter

I’m a little slow on the uptake sometimes. This is due in part to a tragic fall I took from a taxiing Cessna (a small, personal aircraft) when I was an infant. Dad hadn’t strapped me in and the door was ajar. We started rolling and I left the seat like an errant Weeble, wobbling right out the door and onto the tarmac. Landed right on my noggin. I like to rely on this event any time something doesn’t immediately compute. When I’m stumped I bring it up and people don’t quite know how to take it. Stops the conversation dead in it’s tracks. I let them linger on the thought as a stall tactic so I can take an extra second to grasp the bigger concept they’re trying to convey to me, like why a Medical Marijuana dispensary within short walking distance from a skating rink is a good idea…

Yep, shoulda worn a helmet. But Chubsey-Ubsey bounced like you wouldn't believe.

Anyway, I’ve been thinking about why relay teams matter so much to the indoor crowd. I wasn’t really getting it. I had my own great “Sports Illustrated Cover Story” idea on how “The Relay” is the only team-play aspect of our otherwise solo sport. Because inline skating truly is a solo sport, where most records are set and broken by individuals. In my grand thesis, I was going to drone on like a certain Sports Illustrated writer and NPR commentator about how being on a relay team is really the only (allowable) time when you’re inline skating as a part of something larger than yourself, working with others to achieve a mutual outcome. How that feeling of camaraderie and a unifying, single minded purpose congeal to form a solid skating machine where timing and precision transform even skaters of modest ability into a cog in the wheel of a high performance engine. Alas, I was really just thinking out my butt…

Everyone's entitled to their opinion, right buttface?

According to The Fast Kid and her friend, Smiley Sk8s, relays are about opportunity. It’s the last chance a skater has to place and/or medal if they didn’t do well in their division. Even if they did do well, it’s another chance at the podium. That’s it. Wow – not much of a story there, eh?

The kids also shared with me that for kids on larger teams, it’s hard to ever know who you’re going to be paired with for any given relay event. Kids from smaller clubs that are always paired together do have an advantage, but it’s because they each know how the other one skates and they can practice together all the time. Those teams are apparently annoying because they win a lot. Hmmm, go figure.

I asked Speedy Weezy what he thought. He says relays are cool because they can make you go faster than you usually do and they’re just fun. I know the Rink Rabbits have been having a great time learning how to time themselves and get set up for the tag. Heck, I’ve been learning a lot too from the guys in the advanced class. It is pretty cool, and yeah, it’s a lot of fun.

And something pretty cool happened yesterday at the Rink Rabbits practice…I had the kids lined up in a single line doing a simple 2 lap, 3 time relay drill. Speed Demon was behind Speedy Weezy so that she’d be the one to take the pass and move on. Speed Demon was scared, but we convinced her that she could do it. That Speedy would make sure he read the timing to know if he should give her a push or a simple tag. (Speedy Weezy is exponentially faster than Speed Demon, and three years younger.) Well, the full-on push tag went off smoothly! I mean, really incredibly well. She absorbed the push without tensing up or losing balance and took off like a shot! What surprised me was what happened next. As Speedy Weezy came back into the box, he came over to me and said in a hushed tone, “Dad, I’m going just a little slower than I usually do so she can get to feel what it’s like to get a real tag since she’s going to be competing next year. I’m going fast enough so she can really feel it and get used to it.” Man – that was a million dollar moment. He’s taking care of his big sister, and actually working with her. I’d never have seen that coming…both of these kids were ready to call it quits 7 months ago! (Insert Dad beaming with pride here…)

If you’d asked me what I thought of relays two months ago, I’d have probably said I can take them or leave them. But seeing how much Speedy Weezy, Speed Demon and the rest of the Rink Rabbits are enjoying them, I think we’ll keep practicing them. If they happen to pick up a few “high-falutin” ideals about sportsmanship, team work and team ethic in the process,  let me get set up, I’ll take that pass!

6/1/10 Training: 17 miles in the hood for breakfast. Rink Rabbits in the afternoon. This is my time of year!

6/2/10 Training: Barry Publow is right – if you want to race fast you need to train fast. So I got the lead out for a 18 miles skate in the morning. Did another 12 for lunch because the opportunity was there. I’ve learned a new technique and it’s really showing promising results.

6/3/10 Training: 10k for breakfast. Not as much as I’d have liked but I’ll take it!

6/4/10 Training: A somber 18 miles this morning thinking about my friend Bill who lost his son in a car accident the day before. Hard to do anything but roll with stuff like that going through your head.

6/5/10 Training: Tried a Tabata drill within the first ten minutes of the skate. 20 sec. 90-100% sprint, 10 sec. rest, repeat 8 times without puking or crying. I did it, but then needed to finish 18 miles to skate off the 5 slices of pizza from the night before. Won’t do Tabata before a distance and speed skate any time again soon…oh yeah, then another hour and a half working with the Rink Rabbits. I like to roll it, roll it.

6/6/10 Training: 12 easy miles on the Windsor/Greeley path followed by time trials and two hours of punishment with the advanced indoor team. Took a face plant trying to avoid the spill in front of me and got banged up pretty nicely. Even with that, managed to pull off my best lap time ever, and keep pace with the lead pack through their high speed warm up and passing drills. Going into 40 with blood vessels in my check splattered, my brow bruised, my pinky looking like an Oscar Meier Wiener and rink rash on me arse. But it’s all good…this is living man, I’m truly livin’ the dream!

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

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

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

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

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

Not gonna do it. Wouldn't be prudent.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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