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Taking You Home

February 22, 2010

Last year, I was going to do them both. I was going to be the senior national champion in the 25k and the 50k. I had never gotten a Did Not Finish (DNF) in my life, I had been lapped twice in a two mile race but I still finished. So I figured I could finish the 50k after skating the 25k. Then reality set in and somewhere in the middle of my 50k race; I was done, in tears, and had earned my first DNF. And for the past year I have kicked myself every time I saw the 50k results and there was my name with that DNF. I called it my ‘big fat DNF‘ and I was not going to have one at the 2010 marathon. I was going to finish that *&^%# race.

See there is something truly magical in US Speedskating when it comes to the marathon. Last year I was in so much pain during my 25k and didn’t think I would even finish that race, I had another skater who had finished offer to break wind and work with me during my last two laps. I never forgot the graciousness of that skater. This year, I realized that to finish any of these marathons, put your time aside and work as a team. See during the 25k I watched a father break the wind for his son and another skater break the wind for one of his skaters, to go a few more laps and get his other skater finished. During my 25k I took it easy but still skated a PB. As I was skating I heard Dan say, “jump in our line” and then a few laps later Norm saying, “skate with us.” And for my last 8-10 laps, I skated with Norm who was breaking wind for his 14 year old son.

I ended up skating a PB in the marathon. Still off of my ultimate dream of breaking the sub-hour mark. Which seems to be a goal of many skaters, maybe next year. But this year I wanted to finish the 50k. I had priorities, so killing myself to skate a sub hour marathon and then skate the 50k was completely out of the question. And more shocking was to look up and see Dan capture the moment. It is one of my most favorite pictures. He called it ‘Lisa heading home.’

After the race on Saturday, Norm came up to me and asked me how badly I wanted to finish the 50k. I told him that I wanted to finish the 50k more than anything after the experience last year. So he admitted that he was thinking about skating the 50k, then D said she would skate it as well, and Ann- well she traveled for the race so she was going to do the 50k too. And all of a sudden we had a little pact. The rule, everyone will start together and everyone will finish. People who had done the 25/50 dual gave us tips and tricks to succeed, including telling us that at 40k we would feel like we were going to die.

So during the banquet we nicknamed ourselves the ‘Social Skater’ crew. We were going to skate this 50k and we were going to succeed. It no longer became, I am going to finish the 50k, my job was to make sure that D, Norm and Ann finished as well. One of my favorite memories of the race was when we were coming down the back straightaway Norm’s son and Chantal’s son greeted us with, “Go Social Skaters!” We had a good laugh but back to work.

After a while D and Norm did a bit faster of a lap to stretch out their legs. I couldn’t blame them, they obviously had more energy than I did. So Ann and I kept skating together. After a few laps Norm and Dorothy caught up with us and we began skating together again. Then Ann took a bad crash. But this woman was a fighter and she got up, she was finishing this race too but she had fallen off our line. Each time I would cross the finish line area I would say, “We are going to finish this race!” And those at the finish line would say, “Yes, you are.”

Around lap 30 we had gotten separated (my boot became untied) and I had not a smidgin of energy left to try to race and catch up with D and Norm again. Instead, I was greeted with four little angels. Norm’s son offered to break wind for me, Chantal’s little girl (who I nicknamed Short Stuff) kept saying, “My mom is not out here so I am the coach now, get down low and skate.”, B and another Bemidji skater G. Skated a few laps with me. Actually it was probably more like 12 laps but they were the best little support crew. I wanted to quit but I kept hearing, no we are doing this together and we are going to finish together.

Around my lap 45, Norm (who had all ready finished) skated up to me with Ann in tow and said, “D is going to finish you. Remember we made this pact and we are sticking together.” When I crossed the finish line area D skated up to me and said, “Let’s get you finished. Remember we said we are going to all finish.” During my last 4 laps, D kept asking me questions non-related to skating, including “What was your favorite part of the Spy Museum?” Anything to get my mind off of my skating and the pain I was experiencing. I was delusional as I was skating that I asked for a doughnut on lap 48 and then as I finished I bursted into tears of complete joy.

But that pact we made, all four of us had finished, we had stuck together at the starting line and skated each of us home. It was by far the sweetest feeling.

If you are curious about the power of working together. My husband picked up speedskating about six weeks ago, to skate the 2k community race after the 25k. When he looked like he was struggling- A, B, and Short Stuff headed down the oval to ‘skate him in’. I snapped this picture and it is by far one of my favorite pictures of this weekend.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. Chantal Cermak permalink
    February 22, 2010 11:51 pm

    That is what skating is about! I can’t say more without the tears choking me up. I saw it and it was really special.

  2. February 23, 2010 4:44 am

    Great, great post!! Congratulations on a wonderful skate and I’m with Chantal…tears of joy for you!

  3. March 8, 2010 9:31 pm

    Wow, Lisa! What a great story! The speedskating community shows such teamwork and support for each other. Glad to hear Hubby’s skating, too! Whoo hoo!



  1. February 26th 2010- Long Track Speed Skating News – Speed Skate World- By Peter Doucet- Online Since 1999

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