Tag Archives: updates

The Seventh Day of Inline Christmas

As before, there’s more…

T’was the seventh day before Inline Christmas…I was off to speed practice so lively and quick, the pace line was swift, even the Fast Kid felt sick; it’s silly t’think at my age I’d compete, with kids twenty seven years younger with much faster feet. But try as I may, try as I might, I hold onto that pace line, I put up a fight. Then with ten laps to go after 90 we’ve burned, the Fast Kid and Coach remind me I’ve much to learn. As they pick up the pace and start pulling ahead, I give all I can to not being lapped instead. Alas I pushed it to fast when it was my time to pull, and at seven to go I dropped off like a fool. When they catch me and lap me with four left to skate, I push through the pain and don’t let them escape. As the speed starts to climb, legs and lungs start to fail, barely finish the drill, this stuff never gets stale.

I came upon this group of seven Swan Uppers when I hit a stray swan that meandered across the Thames River Bike Path.

Here’s one of those bizarre things you learn when using Google to come up with fodder for daily blog posts (I’ll never do this s#!t again)…Swan Upper. No, it’s not a new kind of shoe leather for making exotic inline skate boots, or a strange new type of rare male-enhancement suppository, it’s a job title. These guys count swans on the River Thames for Her Majesty once a year. Seriously…the job dates from the twelfth century, when the Crown went and boldly claimed ownership of all mute swans, because, well, they could. Supposedly, the things are regarded as a delicacy. They’re not supposed to be eating them anymore, as there is a serious conservation effort at the heart of the ceremony these days. But I bet you’ll find the blue bloods in a small, dark, back room off the kitchen at the country house, stuffing their faces in quiet desperation. “I say, finger licking good, eh old chap?” It’s not hard to imagine, considering how close they are to the Frenchies, who still engage in the preposterous practice of eating Ortolan.

So, my Santa list for the day…

For the skater who has everything except the horse he rode in.

This is the low-impact mechanical exerciser that methodically tilts across five axes to strengthen your core muscles, helping improve your balance and posture and relieve back pain. The saddle tilts back and forth, left to right, up and down, and twists in preprogrammed sequences, strengthening your thighs, buttocks, back, and deep abdomen–core muscles that are neglected by traditional training regimens. The gentle swaying of the saddle changes your center of balance and, as you attempt to regain your equilibrium, your core muscles expand and contract. Ideal for both physically limited and experienced exercisers, the device allows you to conduct a 15-minute exercise routine while seated without creating excessive pressure and stress on joints. The exercise routines also provide a beneficial aerobic workout ideal for those who need to maintain low target heart rates. The seven programs (easy, light, moderate, advanced, waist, hip, legs) and nine speeds are easily controlled on the pommel’s LCD panel that also shows calories burned and the muscles being worked during each routine. I wonder if it comes with an expansion slot for the Foo Manchoo Mechanical Bull card. I’d beat 2.7 seconds, that’s fer dang sure. With a set of stirrups and handle to provide stability. (Wonder if the wife and I could come up with some other “excercises.” Hmmm…)29″ H x 18″ W x 35″ D. (77 lbs.)

Bet you’d love to know what this Santa list is costing, huh? We’ll add it all up at the end. Cause you know, if you have to ask, you can’t afford it! “All hail, Her Majesty The Queen, Seigneur of the Swans.”

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!

Damnit

First scuff 9/30/10 – small circles drill, Rink Rabbits practice.

Motherfather, cheeseandrice (say it fast)

Not a happy discovery.

When you think no one is looking…

Stardate 8/23/10

There are lots of things I’ve done when I thought no one was looking, just to discover later that enquirering minds were lurking beyond my peripheral vision, watching my every move. It’s led to some awkward denials and having a few invitations rescinded. All I can say is let those without sin flick the first boog.

$5 says the Windsor kid eats it.

But this post isn’t about my private predilections and deviations from societal norms, it’s about the definition of character and dedication to our sport. And, in breaking with my inner narcissist, it’s not even about me, it’s about some new Rink Rabbits we took into the club this weekend…

The 2010 Rink Rabbits World Team

We were honored to have Joey Mantia and his friends & team mates Michael Cheek, Sara Sayasane and Wouter Hebbrecht to do a technical clinic with The Rink Rabbits here at our home rink, Rollerland Skate Center, in Fort Collins, CO! Not only is this one powerfully talented group of World Class achievement, they’re all genuinely nice people who truly love inline speedskating. Their love of the sport comes through in many ways.

The clinic itself was custom tailored to be an event open to all of our skaters, from the youngest, least experienced on through The Fast Kid, who’d just returned from Outdoor Nationals with 2 Gold Medals. Everyone skated away with something they could use to make them better, faster, stronger and smarter skaters.

Case in point…Horseypants.

My better half has been a recreational skater for just about as long as I’ve been skating. This year, she’s going with me to Duluth, Minnesota to skate her first half marathon at the 15th Annual Northshore Inline Marathon. We upgraded her to 100mm “race cuff” fitness skates (Rollerblade Speedmachine) a month ago, (which I’ve since bumped up to 110’s with the CadoMotus 4×110 Dual Box) and she’s been training regularly to increase her mileage and improve her time each week. She was at the clinic with us but she didn’t skate. She took all of the pictures and video attached to this post so we could document and remember the day for the club.

Horseypants on wheels.

Well, this morning (day after the clinic) she had already skated 5 miles around the neighborhood before I dragged my old, sorry and sore butt from bed. By the time I’d strapped my skates on and caught up with her, she was rolling and preaching the Gospel According to Mantia. She even started to recognize the elements of my stride that need work. Freakin’ know it all…but admittedly, she was 100% spot-on. And I didn’t need a Garmin to tell me she was already faster and more efficient then she was the day before, it was obvious in the speed I needed to catch up with her, and her ability to recover quickly from her burst activity. And to top it off, when we got back to the house, she asked to try my Pro M1’s. She took them for a two mile roll and declared, “OK, I want a pair.” She’d graduated from recreational to speed skater in less than 24 hours.

She doesn't wear pads anymore...

Like any good predatory drug dealer who can spot the future junkie in their recreational customer pool, I quickly moved in for the kill by rushing to my supplier and ordering her a pair of her own. Alas, that was a bit like trying to convert a toker to a tweaker overnight. Too much too soon. She’s in, but it’s going to take some time before she’s ready for the stiffness of a semi-custom speed boot. Nonetheless, she herself will be joining us in the rink this winter, and she’s encouraged other Rink Rabbit moms to join the team too! Welcome to The Rink Rabbits, baby!

So, you ask in your speed-weenie whine, why all this about her, what about Joey?

So much about her because this transformation, from Horseypants to Horseypower, happened…just by watching the Mantia clinic.

It’s powerful, trans-formative stuff, and you, First Loser Reader, you’re in for a treat…

I’m going to share what we’ve learned with you, as much as I can. Over a series of posts, we’ll share in the Gospel According to Mantia, until we’re all converts to his Stride. Yes – Stride is capitalized. As it should be. Mantia is a Skating God…(and hell, I’m no dummy…the longer I can milk this Mantia story, the more readers I’ll get, the higher my unique and repeat traffic will be, and world domination won’t be far off…and all those Ivy League schmucks I grew up with can suck my knee cap!)

Getting it together

Working with Mantia to set this up was smooth from beginning to end, just like his Stride.  We were able to coordinate the event by email, and didn’t really even speak until about a day or two beforehand. He was really easy to work with, to the point where all I really had to do was let people know he was coming and show up to unlock the doors and turn on the lights.

Even volunteer coordination was a snap. One of the great things about a small club is that it was super-easy to get folks to pitch in and do things like clean the floor, set the lunch counter, cook the food, watch the little kids and clean up. The jobs were gone within a half hour of sending out the email call for help. Rink Rabbits Parents ROCK!

The Rink Bunnies - the real backbone of the 2010 Rink Rabbits.

For such a busy guy Joey was amazingly responsive. I got a real kick out of seeing his name appear in my text message in-box. I was in a business meeting when I got a text from him and leaned over to show the name to a colleague…she smiled politely and shifted uncomfortably, not really sure why I was giggling like a 12 year old. Anyway…

No introductions necessary

Our schedule called for check-in and warm ups between 9 and 10 am. Mantia and Michael showed up on schedule at about 10 to 10 and came in with a couple of extended family members in tow…Sara Saysane & Wouter Hebbrecht from Simmons Racing / Team USA & Team Belgium! Two more world champs to make this the second such surprise Mantia pulled on me…the first was when he emailed and asked if I’d mind Cheex coming along with him. I think that was the day or two after Cheex had run an 8.4 flying 100m and taken the 2010 award for Grand Indoor Champion at National Speedskating Circuit. Cha, do I mind? As if…

For the most part they showed up without being noticed, which was great because Mantia just strapped on his skates and rolled out the floor while the kids were all open skating and warning up. You should have seen their faces as they began to realize who that new guy was…it was a classic entrance!

Moreover, it was more revealing of his character than anything he could have said. With his easy nonchalance and good nature, Mantia makes you feel like you’re on the same team. When we were going back and forth by email setting this up, he more than once said he wanted to help our club and was happy to be able to whatever he could to make the clinic happen. Seeing him roll right out there and mix it up with the kids made him the most accessible, everyday skater super-star in the world. He was really right in his element and looked immediately at home with them. Cheex followed closely after him and by that point to gig was up, the guys were in the house and running the show. Mantia took the wireless mic, called everyone the middle and got the clinic rolling.

Jason was just about to say "Over!"

He got the skaters going building their foundations. He got the MILF’s in the room going with his “fluid grace and power.” (That’s a quote.) Facebook was alight the following day with snapshots of the kids with Mantia & Co., and one drooling comment after another about Mantia’s legs…and the obligatory, “and little Johnny looks like he had a good time too. But really, are his legs THAT BIG in person?!? OMG!!!”

This is a picture of Jason...right.

In retrospect, I should have emailed around a pic of the guys in their skin suits with the event announcement. I could have charged for spectator admission and all the local moms would have funded the club for the next three years.

Where the learning begins – the basics

Ah, back to the clinic…bending your knees and getting low. Weight distribution and edges. They covered a lot of ground quickly and made sure all of the skaters got through the drills with individual attention and moral support when it was needed.

We spent lots of time on our skates doing drills that we normally do as dry-land (skates off) drills. Being on skates for drills like these adds a whole new dimension to the workout, and shows you pretty quickly why these drills are important to get right.

No one was left behind or made to feel “less than.” Rink Rabbit spirit was in the air. As our in-house Olympian and head coach pointed out, they covered a lot of the stuff we been working with the kids on for the past year, but Wow! How responsive they become when the current Champ of Everything Speedskating is teaching!

One of Mantia’s gifts for the in-house coaching staff was complete validation.

It was great that our skaters were somewhat prepared to do some of the drills through muscle memory and the basic knowledge we’d passed along up to this point.  They’ve been working hard all year. But there was a lot of new stuff too, which was just awesome…how to “lock in,” and what locking in will do to help you become more stable and unmovable when you’re in a tight pack and particularly into your corners. Not only did he run us through a drill, but he explained the whys of importance too.

One of the Brothers Speed getting a tip on his form.

A constant theme of the day quickly became “Perfect Practice Makes Perfect Performance.” We were shown how World-Class achievement starts with low-level attention to detail. Mantia is very purposeful when he’s training. He’s very precise with his movements, and it was amazing to watch him break down his Stride into smaller parts that he then practiced with a patient determination to get the motion and muscle response as perfect as he could see it in his mind.

Side to side, side to side...can I get an Amen?!

Breaking down the elements of “a skate” or “a race” into smaller, more digestible parts, Mantia worked us slowly through drills that took us from the start, down the straightaway, in on the cone, through the corner and out to the finish line. It’s all in your technique and how you breakdown your form. Wouter said it best when asked to share what it is he knows now that he wishes he’d known when he 14. He told us it’s technique. Form and function are the most crucial things to focus on and get right when you’re just starting out.

What was great about all of these on-skate and dry-land drills was that the kids were familiar with some of them, excited by the new ones, and all of them were endorsed by Mantia & Co. They will now associate “perfect practice” with their visit, and understand that Mantia’s secret isn’t so secret after all – he’s not doing anything they can’t do themselves. He started skating when he was 9 too, so it’s not unthinkable that if they listen to what he said and start doing what he does, they too can be World Champ someday. It’s not out of reach.

We spent a lot of time on starts. Each participant got personal attention and pointed critique and correction of their starts. There’s not really a better example of why this clinic was so worthwhile.

When it comes to starts, opinions vary. As an instructor with the Rink Rabbits, I’ve got an Olympian coach and his method, I’ve got a coaching manual (or two) with methods that aren’t exactly the same but very similar. When you’re teaching a group, you want to be able to get the idea across to everyone in a way that speaks to all, leaving no one behind. Some people progress quicker than others, and eventually someone gets to a place where it’s time they tailor the “art” to their own style. What’s great was having World Champs share their foundational points, but then give the students the freedom to find their own form based on sound principal. They showed the students why the “science” elements (for example, loading up on your front leg in a side start) are important, then they helped the students understand how “feel” (art) takes the sport and makes a custom fit.

Even The Fast Kid showed that active learning is key to future success.

It was during the time that we were going over side starts…which no one except The Fast Kid had ever even tried (we focused on down starts all year)…it was during this time that I spied Cheex, Sara and Wouter being themselves. I looked off to the far side of the rink, and there they all were, discussing the things Mantia was going over with us, over there on there own. They were talking about side starts and running through them by themselves, thinking no one was paying much attention to them. That, for me, was why they were here, and made their dedication resonate with me. I mean, here they were, all Champions in their own right, hanging out at a clinic that their buddy dragged them along to on a beautiful Saturday afternoon, and there they were, “behind closed doors” as it were, talking shop, running drills, laughing out loud and being just as engaged as if they were among the student population. What that revealed was that they all have something in common – they possess an athletic character that’s crystallized in the phrase “pure skating.”

That was a huge take-away for me, and what I think is a good lesson for us all. If you want to make it and stay at the top of your game…the game that’s yours alone, your form…then you’ve got to be a life-long learner, and it’s got to be fun. To keep it pure, you’ve got to enjoy it, genuinely. You’ve got to have an open mind, be ready to take someone’s advice and give it a try. Being able to hang out with Mantia & Co. for a day made it pretty clear to me…their dedication and interest in the sport isn’t different than mine at all. Is their training more intense? Sure it is. But their hearts are in the same place as mine. It’s Pure Skating. When no one is looking, you’ll find us all in that same mental place, where Stride & Glide are all that matter, and that’s pretty cool, to know I have that in common with the greats.

Training log

Now that the outdoor season is done for me, I’ve put the Garmin away. It’s back to the rink, and time to slow it down. Break it all down to build it up again. This training season is going to be more intense, I look forward it…bring it on! More soon…

I’m a freak, this I know…

In a world where it’s news that Mariska Hargitay is proud to be a size 8 – a news story that actually warranted an update 2 hours after it was originally published – I’m declaring my freakdom. I’m a skate spaz, the kind you don’t bring home to mother. I’m a skate-tweaker if there ever was one. When it comes to skating, I think I think too much.

Funkin' up your pace line, b!@#$!

It’s taken me forever to decide which skates to roll in the upcoming Northshore Inline Marathon. It’s a big deal for me. It’s the only race I’ll skate this year. Wanting to beat my time from 2009 and finish with the lead pack becomes a tall order when you consider the field I’m rolling in is filled with the best skaters in the country in this age class – Norm Kirby, Tony Muse, Ryan Chrisler, Richard Cassube, the list goes on…including my bud Noel Creager – we came up together this year! I’m truly excited to have the opportunity to start with these guys. I’ve been visualizing the pace lines, breakaways and speed all year. I’ve watched several of these guys break a few records and win a race or two this season. They’re inspiring to watch. Hell, my coach skated with and against a lot of these guys back in the day…they know how to skate. They’re truly a different class of skater. If you’d have asked me a few years ago if I thought I’d be in the same wave with any of these guys, the answer would be…ah, no.

I’ve been training hard. All with a mind to be able to grab onto that pack and hold on till the finish, just to beat my time from last year. All things being equal in terms of weather and road conditions, that’s my goal. I’ve trained religiously on my Rollerblade Racemachines modified with a CadoMotus 4×110 DualBox frame and Road War Reds (thanks to CadoMotus.) The coach downgrade my wheel size about a month and a half ago, then we ruined a perfectly good pair of Buck Bearings by loading them with axle grease. To top it off, we added in a few extra pounds of weight per ankle with some strap-on weight bands. We came to call this “Beat Feet.” It was brutal, but I did what I was told to do.

I've been training on these all year. Great training skate, at 3 lb, 02 oz.

Hills in the heat. Intervals and sprints. Tabata and Super-slow, 5-6 days a week. In Beat Feet mode my goal was to get my speed back up to where it was before Beat Feeting it. Talk about tough. But I’ve heard through the grapevine that these guys I’ll be on the line with work harder than that. Thus, I’m super obsessed with the idea of doing my best.

When I start thinking about this stuff too much, my mind is a dangerous place. I become my own worst enemy. Like Harvey Keitel in Bad Lieutenant, I go places I know I shouldn’t, thinking things unspeakable, and smoking way to much crack…

How'd I turn my skinsuit inside out?!

Not quite OCD, it’s disturbing nonetheless. I lose sight of the original goal. It gets perverted into something Nick Cage will try to remake 20 years from now, and it’s ugly.

Last year it was all about form. Early in the season I read 10 Minute Toughness and I crafted a performance statement that I repeated as my skate-mantra (Get Low, Down in the Heel, Full Blade to the Side, Fall Forward.) It served me well.

This year it’s been form and function. Function of form and function of equipment. For me, it’s a lot easier and cheaper to focus on function of form. I’d even say it’s more beneficial in the long run. But you know as well as I do that any skate-gear-head will ultimately come around to, (ah-hem,) evaluating his equipment. And when it comes to playing with it, (my equipment,) I have a lot to learn.

One of the things I’ve learned this year…if you’re going to put 110 frames & wheels on your boots, it’s best if the boot was actually designed to be used with 110mm wheels. The Racemachines I’ve been working with were designed for a max 104mm wheel. Since everyone and their Grandma will be on 110’s this year, it’s really where I needed to be. So I got the 110 set-up and discovered that the second wheel wasn’t spinning freely under the mounting block. So, I made a simple retro-fit using slices of credit cards for shims to jack up the front deck height to get the second wheel to clear the bottom of the boot. Easy, peesy…

For most of the training season I was skating just fine with the front of my boot about 1/4 inch higher than the heel. It really helped me get “Down in the Heel” with my push. I was hitting record times! Then, I got the CadoMotus Pro 110’s and immediately learned that being able to “feel the blade” under my entire foot, from ball to heel, made a big difference in the amount of power being generated by my stride. But my heel and toes were level. This was a great discovery, but as fate would have it I would end up trashing the CadoMotus boots before having the chance to really skate in them. Bummer…but great learning experience & knowledge gained.

Shortly after this discovery, Joey Mantia put up a video blog talking about foot pressure. Another validation point along this path to discovery of a new push.

Then, to my horror, my wife and kids accosted me on my birthday…freaking held me down on the ground by my throat, burned me with a crack pipe and forced a new pair of Simmons Pro M1’s on me for my big 4-0. I took it like a man, but in my shock and confusion over their grotesquely violent presentation of this milestone birthday gift I made a retreat to the internet and did a lot of reading about about how the Pro M1 boot was made. Putting aside my PTSD over the gift giving smack-up, I came to learn something new about the power-points that we should all be focused on if we want maximum control and power transfer. It all dovetailed with what I’d learned on my own with the CadoMotus boots, so I knew I was onto something important. I put the trauma of my birthday behind me and moved on.

With all of this knowledge (and a seven week wait for the Pro M1’s) I resumed my attack on the Racemachines. I was steadfastly determined to wear these skates in this years NSIM as a way of saying thanks to Rollerblade for all of the support they’ve given me and Speedy Weezy this past year. So, the next mod was designed to correct the lop-sided deck height.  It was another simple one…I raised my heel with another 1/4 inch of shim. This was too easy!

My wife was very happy to see such a productive use of my credit cards.

Well, the saggy trumpet began playing because I immediately noticed a significant loss of power transfer in my stride. Having the frame separated from the boot by 1/4 inch of credit card at both mounting points pretty much opened the door to have the energy I was creating just swoosh right through the mounting screws and into thin air, leaving very little to be passed through to my push and roll. I also started getting hot spots on my ankles and insole that hadn’t been there before. I had to work a lot harder to make the skate responsive and I started going through a lot of band-aid donuts and eZeeFits (I cut holes in a thick pair of eZeeFits hoping that would relieve pressure on my ankle bone…it didn’t.) All this because I was trying to wear a boot that I was forcing to do something it’s not really designed for…

After Beat Feeting it for the last six weeks, I’d become painfully aware of how much the weight of your skate, deck height and the design of the foot bed impact you ability to achieve top speed. There was no going back on this stuff. Knowledge gained makes half-assed efforts fall even shorter, because you become aware of your massive half-assed-ness and lose ground you once held through ignorance. To make matters even worse, my Pro M1’s arrived, but they were clearly going to need to be broken in before attempting any serious distance in them. And again, being determined to make the Rollerblade’s work, I didn’t really even consider that I’d wear the M1’s in Duluth this year. Sooo…

Changing the frame .05 oz per boot.

With a firm sense of purpose, I next set out to see if I could improve my situation with the Rollerblade’s through chop-shop methodology. The first thing I did was try and shave some weight by swapping out the frames. I took the Simmons 411’s that came on my Pro M1’s and put them on. Not only did that shave some weight, it lowered the deck height and corrected some of the power transfer issues. Wow – that was easy!

Um, yeahhh…not quite. Try as I might, I couldn’t keep my foot down in the bed (the RB boot is a half size too big, which was never an issue till there was a frame under them that fit the boot without shimming) and now my heel was actually rising because of the new method of pushing I’ve been practicing. What to do…

Give in. And that’s what I’ve done. The itty-bitty committee in my head went on way too long, got too far down in the weeds and ultimately lost sight of the goal. Instead of trying to do my best and beat last years time, it became all about trying to “do the right thing” by Rollerblade. And I know that’s not how they’d want me thinking. They want me focused on achieving a skating goal, not a political goal. So here we go…ready or not, I’m rolling my Pro M1’s in Saturday’s race. The Rollerblade Racemachine’s have been an excellent training tool, and they’ll remain in the feet-fleet. But this weekend I need free my mind of the clutter I tend to create and focus on my goal. To give it my best this weekend you’ll see me on the starting line in these…

All that to get to this...Simply The Best choice I could make.

The Pro M1’s are a skate fiend’s dream. Happy birthday to me.

It's how I roll, run and tell that, homeboy.

See you in Duluth. May you achieve your goal, whatever that is!

Training Log: It’s been a lot of the same you’ve come to expect…I skate a lot. Tapering this week has been made easier by all of the smoke in the air due to the wild fire burning down in Boulder. Lot’s of folks out of homes and lots of destruction. All this skating stuff is somewhat meaningless in comparison. Hoping and praying that the fire is contained as quickly as possible and that no one gets hurt.

Rolling to rebuild

I was lucky to catch a Facebook link-share from USARS about Chris Loman, a skater from Minnesota who’s in the process of completing a 4,200 cross-country skate for Haitian relief. Chris is raising money for Haitian kids, by focusing his efforts on fundraising to rebuild schools that were decimated in the earthquake that leveled most of Port-au-Prince.

According to a story published at Seacoastonline.com, for the endeavor Chris needed approximately $7,000 in equipment and supplies to pull this off. My friends at Rollerblade USA, as well as Chris’ friends and family donated most of the funds.

I wasn’t surprised to read that Rollerblade USA was a major contributor. They’ve always been very generous toward efforts I’ve done to raise money through long-distance skating. In 2008 they were a sponsor of the Rollin’ for Carter 100 Mile Endurance Skate that raised $5,000 in cash for my friend John, who is still battling a rare form of Leukemia. In 2009, Stephen Charrier, co-president of Rollerblade USA personally made arrangements for donations and sponsorship of the Rollin’ for Nathan 100 Mile Team Skate. That effort went toward raising money for a little boy born with P.K.U., a rare metabolic genetic disorder. If there’s one thing for certain in this sport, it’s this…you can always count on Rollerblade USA to support the sport. Whether it’s through skate donations or larger corporate sponsorships, Rollerblade is with us on-the-street, doing its part to support a good cause. They truly give back to this sport.

Chris & his father Keith, photographed by Rich Beauchesne/rbeauchesne@seacoastonline.com.

Chris’ goal is to raise $100,000 for Outreach International. Here’s a bit more information about the effort from the story at Seacoastonline.com,

Outreach International, a humanitarian organization and provider of schools in Haiti, supports a network of 90 schools serving more than 9,000 children. At least 20 schools in the Port-au-Prince area were damaged or destroyed by the earthquake. Over the next three years, Outreach International and partnering organizations will build green and more disaster-resistant schools. The three-year commitment is reported to cost more than $7 million, a stretch for the $3 million organization.”

FWIW…I know of the work Outreach International does through my day job. They’re a fine outfit, internationally recognized as an organization that makes a real difference in the lives of those they help.

Chris has a blog too…you can read it here. It’s also linked in under Inline Online links, on the right rail. According to his last update, he’s on day 63. He’s a little past the half-way point. His route is interesting, in that he started in St. Paul, Minnesota heading south. From St. Louis, Missouri he headed northeast over “Down East” to Maine, then he’ll head south again to wrap it up in Key West, Florida. Last night he was in Connecticut. I cannot imagine road skating in Connecticut. I imagine the Merritt Parkway would be nice later in September, but I wouldn’t want to be blading it!

Now that's what I call a workout!

When he gets to Key West, he should go have a drink at Sloppy Joe’s. I wonder if he’ll stop at the 90 Miles to Cuba landmark at the Naval Base down there. I’d run right out on that sand and right into the water…

I wish him well on his journey. Please support his effort if you’re so inclined. You can donate by clicking the Donate Now button below or by visiting: http://www.firstgiving.com/rollingtorebuild.

It’s a very worthwhile effort and it really open your imagination – what can one person, 8 wheels and a dream accomplish? Anything they want to…

Training Log: I’ve been skating a lot getting ready for the Northshore Inline Marathon. I’m done with the torture routine of wearing smaller wheels with axle grease-loaded bearings and ankle weights. I’m back on my race rig for the next week of high-intensity skating leading up to the big taper. I can’t believe it’s almost here again. Seems like only yesterday the photo in the header of this blog was taken. I can’t wait!

Horseypants has been pounding out the miles as she trains for her first-ever 1/2 marathon. Today she cranked out 10.5 miles in less than an hour and had plenty left in the tank when we were done. Her form has improved dramatically since watching Mr. Mantia explain how we do this thing we do when he was here last week. She’s hooked, as I predicted in a blog post I started about a month ago as she started her training. I’ve yet to publish that post, but I will. (The publishing promises are starting to add up, I’d better zip-it!)

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.