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Race Results

February 21, 2010
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It is Sunday and I am home tired but happy.  Tonight’s post will be the results from the weekend and in the next few days I should have the energy to blog about the great weekend.

Saturday 25K:  D skated a personal best and earned a silver in her age group.  L skated a race that would leave her the energy to skate the 50K on Sunday but also did a personal best and earning bronze.

Saturday 1K: Both A and B earned gold metals as they came in first in their heat and also first in their age groups.

Sunday 50K: I decided to give this race a try.  The day was calm and with the encouragement of A and B, I decided to give it a try.  L and I made a pack to see each other through to the end.  We also included Ann from Peoria and Norm from Bemidji into the pack to ensure all four of us finished.  The support lasted from the starting gun to the last lap skated today.  We all finished and all four of us earned a metal!

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It is race day!

February 20, 2010
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We are all in the lobby eating breakfast and checking out the competition.  In about 1.5 hours we will leave for the oval take a quick warm up lap or two and then the race will begin.

Some of the skaters were on the lake last night and said the ice is beautiful.

Our blog will be updated with race results later today.

This Is Why…

February 18, 2010
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Erik and I went to Bemidji a week early this year. We did it because both of us needed a bit of a stress reliever and we thought it would be fun to do a mid-winter vacation. The last mid-winter vacation we took was to Norway/Sweden in 2004, so this little trip was overdue to say the least. I additionally, wanted to be relaxed before the marathon.

This year we also wanted to help out the Cermak’s who put on the National Marathon over the past three years.  Chantal does most of the race organization, with the help of Carolyn, and Dave does most of the work on the ice, with the help of Carolyn’s husband Norm. This year we figured we could help take some of the load.

This week has absolutely flown by. For some reason Tuesday and Wednesday have blended together, and Thursday just flew by as well. Although over the past week we have done some cool things. First, Dave taught me how to drive Big Oly (the Zamboni). This was one of my life’s big wishes was to drive the Zamboni but who knew I would drive it on the track for the National Marathon- no worries competitors we are going to have Dave actually do the final swoops and it will be absolutely pristine. Erik also got to play with a man’s toy- the bobcat to remove snow along the rinks that will be used for Pond Hockey.

Today, however, I figured out really why I had returned to Bemidji, that nagging question that had been bugging me for quite some time. On Wednesday night, Chantal, Dave, their kids, Erik and I all had dinner together, we laughed and laughed some more. In fact, I had not laughed that hard in a long time. Including the dryland training at midnight.

Today as Chantal and I were talking to the local news media, he asked us to skate. Now being paired up with a former Olympian was a bit of a disadvantage but I survived. Well, that was until I hit a crack smacked down on the ice and slid into the cameraman- I did not try to kiss him even if Chantal claims that I did. Although, as I peeled myself up and realized I had banged up my left knee good and was done skating for the day. I went and wobbled on my skates downtrack to where my husband and Dave were surveying the track to try the shot again. What surprised me was the care and concern of the smacking of my knee from not only my husband but the concern from Dave as well. So tonight when I watched the news report, I was a bit frustrated with the story but someone I am incredibly proud to call my coach, calmed me down and taught me a lesson and told me to stop kissing the camera man.

That is why I have returned- for the laughter, the friends, and skating.

64 Hours to Go.

February 17, 2010
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The race I have been working towards all year is just 64 hours away.  The time is so close that I just have to say I am ready.  I am excited to pack my bags and hit the road for Bemidji, but am I really ready to skate?  On my normal day of practice last week I was home not feeling well and this past weekend I lived vicariously on the couch watching the Olympics.  Now with just a few hours to go I have a total of 1.5 hours of ice time tonight and 1 hour on the ice on Thursday but that will be helping out the Novice program.

My children and I are leaving Friday morning for Bemidji.  We have already decided once we arrive in Bemidji we will head for the lake, lace up the skates and do some practice laps.  Those laps will feel great as I hear the big oval calling my name.  Roseville’s oval seems so small this time of year when my heart and mind are focused on the 1K oval out in the open on beautiful Lake Bemidji.

As I do my final preparation for the race this week I will be focused on a few things.  First is that I have a goal time in my mind and it will be a personal best.  I am confident that I will succeed unless the wind and snow is blowing around the lake.  Additionally I am very excited to have another woman in my age group to skate against.  At this time the only thing I know is that she is from New York.  How cool that she is coming this far to skate for the national championship.  I am looking forward  to meeting her and skating against her.  I am not sure what color metal I will earn this year but I will earn it, not just win it like last year.

Now here is my final comments prior to the race.  All of you who follow this blog come to Bemidji this weekend to cheer on the skaters.  You do not need to be Dutch to love speed skating and wearing orange is easy if you live in Minnesota as you can just dig into the deer hunting clothing.  Of course you do not need to wear orange but the skater from Holland would love it if you did.  We could use a few more people hooting and cheering us as we pass by and if any of you play in a band come play like they do in Holland, that would just be cool.  So in other words; do not just sit on the couch and watch speed skating this weekend.  Come out to the National Marathon Championship to cheer us on!

Image from the Olympics care of NBC.com


The Dutch Pretband: Kleintje Pils

http://www.kleintjepils.nl/uk/fotos.html

Blowin’ in the Wind

February 16, 2010
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Well, we have arrived. Soon I will be skating in the National Marathon for the third time. While I am not terribly nervous, I am hoping that there is a good skate ahead of me. Maybe the breaking of the one hour threshold- but I know it will take me to be mentally tough and confident on my skates… and no wind.

When we arrived on Sunday our first stop was the Bemidji Oval, which it has been in our latest visits. The oval and I don’t have the best relationship, I think the biggest detractor in making us good friends is the wind. Bemidji has notorious wind and when it is cold the windchill becomes brutal. When I was in college the 80 yard dash from Tamarack to Birch (the only place where tunnels at Bemidji State don’t exist) used to make me really hate the cold. Although, I have grown a thicker MN skin, I still have an extreme dislike of the wind on Lake Bemidji.

This year when Erik and I arrived, my first thought was… Thank God the 50k was not today. The wind was blowing hard but Erik and I foolishly decided to put our skates on and try to skate the oval. Not the most smart idea as trying to skate the straightaway was brutal. No matter how hard I did the straightaway stroke I found myself going no where. Then I was suppose to turn around, again not a brilliant move on our part. The wind pushed so hard that I had lost control and I was going much too fast on my skates, blowing past where we were suppose to stop. Erik stopped by crashing into a snowbank.

The wind had not died down on Monday yet, so Chantal and I spent the day running errands. Getting t-shirts ordered, programs printed, handling registrations, and laughing like friends should. There are still little errands needed to run but all in all, I am so excited to be back for my third National Marathon Championships.

So today, we were out on the ice. Chantal and I were skating and she had our FLIP camera to tape my skating and critique it… As I was skating, it was trying out that mental toughness thing… It is not that big … I can do this … I am a speedskater…

The love of skating.

February 3, 2010
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It is now February and the race that I have been working towards all year is just seventeen days away and this is very exciting.  However the start of February also means the season will be ending in 28 days and this makes me sad.  To make myself feel a little better I have begun to look at the gardens pictured in my magazines.  The thought of spring and my peonies blooming makes me smile.  However, I will miss skating.

The reason I will miss skating is not just that skating is a good workout, you get lots of fresh air and have the ability to move fast.   To accomplish all of that during the other seasons I turn to my bike.  What I will miss; the people, specifically the speed skating people.

My friends and I are not members of a club so when we skate we do so during the open skate at the oval.  On the weekends I skate with my children.  I view this time as endurance training as the rink is often crowded with skaters of various skill levels.  My plan each weekend is to just maneuver around them and continue moving for an hour and a half.  This continual movement is perfect training for 25 laps on a 1 k track where cross over steps are not required.  Wednesday evening open skate is very different as the rink is not very crowded. This allows us to train a little harder, learn how to go faster and how to do a cross over step.  I can say that I now can do them!  Wednesday evenings also brings out a variety of other speed skaters.  Steve from Twin City Speedskating conducts adult learn to speed skate classes which I sometimes take part in. Additionally other skaters come out and enjoy the quiet ice.  On one particular Wednesday in January there was 9 of us on the ice with long blades.   That night was the best of the year!

Here is why it was the best.  Every person that I have met that is associated with speed skating is kind, thoughtful and encouraging.  I have met people who skate but are not a part of a club and others associated with Midway Speedskating, Pioneer Speedskating, Twin Cities Speedskating, and even people from a club in Wisconsin. All of these people share the same qualities; a love of the sport, a desire to see others love the sport, and a respect for having all skaters, know matter their skill level, learn and compete.

This past weekend when I skated with my children we were the only speed skaters on the ice for the first hour.  It was a good skate but in some ways a lonely skate.  I enjoy talking with the other speed skaters and both giving and receiving encouragement.  About the time my children and I were ready to go home for supper two other speed skaters joined us. Just having them on the ice made a difference in my enthusiasm for being on the ice.  This made me realize how much I will miss seeing these people when the season is over.

To all of you that have welcomed my children, my friends and I into your group a great big thank you.  Your encouragement has gone a long way, as the three members of my family are much better skaters and we have new friends who are an important part of our lives.  I also have grown in my desire to compete in shorter distance races.  This will take a lot of work and coaching but I am up for the challenge.  All three of my family members have the desire to become official members of the speed skating family.  So for the 2010-11 year Midway you can count on adding two skaters to your roster and Twin Cities you can add one to yours.

For now though the good news is that I will be on the ice in just over an hour.  I sure hope to see those other eight people on the ice with me tonight but if not maybe next week.

15 Years Later

February 1, 2010
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When I was kindergarten I seem to remember being lined up by our birth dates. I proudly stood next to C-Dev and found out his birthday was one day after mine, so I boldly told him, “I’m older than you.”  Side note here, I seriously think only kindergartners think it is cool to be older than someone else, then they realize that they want to be older than they really are and then at some point before turning thirty they revert to wanting to be young again. Back to the story, I was so excited to be older than him, well that was until he pointed out that he was all ready six and that shut me up real quick.

Chantal in 1995 Nationals, photo Jerry Search

So what does that have to do with my story? My coach Chantal Cermak and I share one thing that is pretty cool still in my eyes… the same birth date (separated by 15 years). While we have had different routes in our speedskating careers, she was  a figure skater turned speedskater and I was a Nordic skier turned speedskater, she was a mid-distance skater and I enjoy the distance events, and she went to the Olympics and I.. well, I haven’t made it that far. 🙂 But what little kids think is cool by sharing a birthday, I realized something that was a bit more cooler. As I began to mentally prepare myself for the races and turning my marathon mentality into a sprinters mentality, I realized that Chantal had stood at the same start line fifteen years earlier and now I wanted the same end result… the title of Senior Ladies National Champion.

Me accepting my medal

So I skated my heart out in each of the five distances (500, 800, 1000, 1500, and 3000) over Saturday and Sunday with the end result in mind- get the overall Senior Ladies title. I also had looming over my head two National outdoor records that Chantal had set during her run for the title and had been standing for 15 years (a 3000 in 4:54 outdoors is smokin’). So needless to say, I didn’t have a shot with her two records and they will stand into their sixteenth year (and hopefully longer).

But what I did get was what I set out for… I got to hear, “Senior Ladies National Champion from the Pioneer Speedskating Club…”

Chantal if you are curious… that smile hasn’t worn off.