That is quite a name for a combined competition. 163 men, women, and juniors came from 6 countries to compete for 3 days in Salt Lake City. Skaters represented the US, Canada, New Zealand, India, Taiwan, and Finland. We had hundreds of personal best times, hundreds of seasons best times. Two national records, one for India, and one for New Zealand were recorded when I was composing this post. This is the end of season for some of us. Some of may race once more this year. We tapered our training, and perfected our craft through the season. Here is the opportunity to go faster than we have all year on the fastest ice on earth.
When walking into the Olympic Oval for this competition I felt exhilarated! Here were so many great skaters. This is my tribe, my skating family. This is where I belong. I met new friends and reconnected with old ones. We share a sport that touches core of our being. The people who hang around for a long time know this. We are cut from the same cloth.
We work very hard to achieve our performances. These races validate all that work that we do.
My goals for the 3 day event were to improve on how I had raced this year. Not being sure if this would be my last competition of the season, I gave it my all. I want to walk away with the knowledge that I did my absolute best. Final preparation starts weeks ahead with decisions about training loads and tapering to be at my peak. Many decisions are made everyday that build to this conclusion. When I approach the starting line, it is only me and my execution of the race ahead.
I can honestly say I gave it my all. Executing as well as possible, race management set but flexible, finishing with nothing left. Results are exactly as they should be. I trust that today.
On Friday, the first race was the 500. I slipped a couple of times and did not feel as confidant as I have been. 39.06, second fastest time of the year. A friend and fellow master skater said I might check my blades. In doing so, I found a loose bolt on my right skate attaching the front of my boot to the blade. I guess I knew something was not right. Next race, the 1000, I skated a 1:17.01. Seasons best! I felt a little flat but still improved. Nice recovery.
Saturday, 500 was better at 38.98, seasons best and improved over Friday. Felt better today with a little pop in my skating. Maybe the tapering just kicked in. Then the 1500. This was my only 1500 this year and a real measurement of my fitness. Great execution, nice opener, good first lap, right on schedule, very consistent speed all the way through. 2:01.41. Seasons best (of course). This was the second fastest 1500 I have ever done, the fastest was 3 years ago. I was so pleased to know what I was capable of. A great reward like this helps me feel lighter, knowing I am on the right track and making good decisions along the way.
Sunday only the 1000. Good warmup, nice pop again like yesterday. Good start, good speed, nice feel, low and smooth. This is my race. I love going this fast, for this distance, on the edge of max speed, managing energy with the distance and keeping good technique to keep the speed. The last turn was the toughest, hard to hold. Third day of racing taking its toll now. 1:16.95, seasons best, second fastest 1000 ever. Very consistent with Friday, with a little improvement. Nice cap to the weekend.
The competition is fierce here, but mostly with ourselves. Many of these races were won in the weight room last fall, or training during the season. We get out of skating what we put into it. It is a very simple but hard equation, like most everything else in life. It was fun to be with my tribe and to ask “How did it go for you?” Almost always the responses were positive. Seasons best, personal best, etc. Pretty cool to hang out with and share this special journey on the ice. The reflection from the ice shows us all what we are made of on the outside as well as on the inside.
On the airplane now, going home. Racing is still going on. I want to know how all of my tribe is doing. When I land the meet will be over and the awards handed out. The true rewards are still to be reaped, on the inside, over time. That is another story….