Give the Gift of Motivation and Inspiration!

Give the Gift of Motivation and Inspiration!

What could be better than passing on your enthusiasm!

The best is yet to come!

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Faster as a Master Your best is yet to come!





Rest, Recover, and Reflect

Now that my training and competition season is over, it is time to rest, recover, and reflect.

This season has been hard, physically, mentally, and emotionally.  I need to respect the recovery of all three.

First, the physical rest.  I have managed to increase my volume and intensity of training very gradually over the years, and this season.  Working into my off-season I need to be gentle with myself.  Stopping suddenly, my body will revolt.  I have experience with this.  Stopping before, due to injury, I have paid the price.  My legs don’t get what they are used to for activity, my hamstrings tighten up and pull my lower back out of alignment.  That is just one of the symptoms of a poor recovery process. Taking a couple of days off, then easy biking and stretching for the next couple of weeks.  I am giving my body the best chance at recovery.  It seems to take a certain amount of low intensity heartbeats to get the job done.  Waking up the other day to the thought of playing tennis was refreshing.  Tennis can be hard on me physically but getting the activity, doing something different, is part of my recovery.  Golf, walking, easy jogging with our dog Lilly, swimming, yoga are some of the things I can do for rest and recovery.  A few weeks of this and I will be ready to increase to hard levels of training.

That is the physical.  The mental and emotional rest and recovery is not so cut and dried.  I need to listen to myself for the direction.  Pumped after a great season I want to go hard again.  The danger arises when I run out of gas physically, mentally or emotionally later during the training season because I have not rested enough, or taken a long enough break to be hungry again.

Reflection on the season and my goals are also essential.  Setting out to qualify for the upcoming Olympic trials, I met my goal in the 500 meter race.  Three races skated at 39.00 (the standard) or better, improving as the season progressed.  In the 1000, finished my last race with my seasons best 1:16.15.  Needing a 1:16.08,  I missed by about 3 feet.  Qualifying next fall is still possible.  Leaving everything on the ice, I am very happy with my result.  In the 1500 I missed by 3.44 seconds.  The 1500 was not a realistic goal and that is ok.   I was proud of the only 1500 I raced this year, the second fastest ever for me, and the consistent laps.  I will concentrate on the 1000 this coming season.  The 3000 this year I skated was for fun and the last 4 laps were progressively faster.  What worked, and what did not, is also essential during the review of the season.  Building on my strengths, correcting the mistakes, moving forward.

Recognizing my support network and sharing the rewards with everyone involved in my success is a joy.  My wife Maripat, my father Harold, my coach Nancy are all indispensable players in my journey.  I hope they know how much I appreciate their help and share in “our” success.

Onward to new goals, being patient with resting, and giving my legs and my head a well deserved rest.

Racing results for me are available at

Our Lab and a half Lilly ready to run.

Our Lab and a half Lilly ready to run.

American Cup Final, Salt Lake City

American Cup Finale, Champions Challenge, and North American Long Track Championships.

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….

Photo by Jerry Search

Photo by Jerry Search

Sunday 1000 first crossover backstretch with Brandon Molenda and my Coach Nancy Swider-Peltz, Sr. giving encouragement and spilt times.  Photo by Jerry Search

Sunday 1000 first crossover backstretch with Brandon Molenda and my Coach Nancy Swider-Peltz, Sr. giving encouragement and spilt times. Photo by Jerry Search

Tapering and training for the end of the seasons races

I never knew about the concept of tapering, training volume, and intensity in my youth.  That is why I was burned out at 19 and was not able to compete at the level that I trained for.  My concept back then was the person who trained the hardest would win.  Putting all you have into training hard, all the way up to the competition.  You can be so fatigued that your technique suffers, muscles are so worn out that it is hard to skate well at all.  My legs ached everyday for 18 months after retiring at age 19, they were screaming for recovery and rest.  I have learned what the concept of tapering is and how to use it.  One thing that is essential is planning for the major competitions.  In the beginning of the training season I will plan out my goals relative to my major competitions for the year.  I may have 3-4 major events in a year that are important.  I compete at other times but they do not have the importance and subsequently do not have the impact on my training.

Using my ithlete everyday gives me feedback to fine tune my workouts and more.  Getting an indication right away in the morning of how rested I am is very important.  My HRV number validates my training and tapering to help me achieve maximum performance.  It helps me understand all the factors that affect me.  Training, resting, stress, and numerous other factors make a difference in my rested state and as a result my health and athletic achievements.

In the start of the training season I will start off slowly, and increase slowly.  I will ease back into training by increasing my volume and intensity slowly.  It is better to increase too slowly than to go too fast and get hurt or burned out.  At the peak of my training season I may  be doing a great deal of volume and with high intensity.  I have been doing this for years and it has taken a long time of slow progress to get to this point.

Taking into account my major events of the year I make a plan on tapering back my workouts.  The idea here is to put the body under a load during hard training, then approaching the competition, back off the volume but keeping up the intensity.  This way the body can recover and be at its peak for the event.  The time allotted for the taper will vary with many factors.  The biggest factor will be how long was I working hard.  If I had been working hard and building for several months, then a taper of 3 weeks might be necessary.  It is also important to keep up the intensity.  Between major events in a season I will vary what I am doing.  First, I must rest after a competition.  It is probably harder on me physically and emotionally than I am willing to admit.  I take an easy week to regroup.  If I have a lot of time between events I can load up again.  If my time is short, then only a short time for loading up again will work.  The length of the reloading then determines the next taper.  If I can only reload for a couple of weeks then I may need only 1 week of taper.  My age is a variable as well. I find that I do not recover as well as the younger skaters.  I need a little longer to recover and so my taper should be a little longer.  As we age, you realize that you can keep up with the younger skaters as long as you take a longer rest.

The whole idea of tapering for a major competition is that I should approach the starting line feeling totally rested and ready to go.  That is when I race my fastest.  There is a great deal of science behind all of this.  This has been my experience and it obviously works for me.

Looking forward to racing this weekend March 1st-3rd in Salt Lake in the American Cup Finale and North American Championships.

Photo by Steve Penland

Photo by Steve Penland

Mental And Emotional Support

Over time I have built a network of support.  Part of my network is for my mental and emotional health.  I operate on many different levels, physical, mental, emotional and spiritual.  I need to tend to my mental health just as I would my physical health.

Everything starts with a thought.  If I stay isolated with my own thoughts, and not sharing what is deep down, what is going on in my mind, I will develop some very sick thinking.  I need to get those thoughts out into the light of day.  I need to see them in a mirror.  Then I can start to heal.  When I start sharing my deepest thoughts with someone I trust, I start getting better.  I start the healing process by seeing and then changing the way I think.  By changing my thought process I can affect all areas of my life.

I am not alone.  I cannot get better by myself.  I need some outside influence.  It is important for me to realize that I have other people in my life that share my path.  I can say that I share a path with people who are my same age and background.  I can find someone who shares a path with me in many areas of my life.  I grew up as a self-reliant person.  I felt that I needed to do things myself and with little help from those around me.  This concept helped me to forge my own way, be accountable and responsible to myself.  My self-esteem was built upon my own free will and was reflected by my accomplishments.  I believe that this made me unique to the world.  It is true that there is no one exactly like me.  I have learned that if I look for those differences then the world is a very cold and lonely place.  If I look for the similarities, then the world is an inviting, open, and all-inclusive place that I can find help and support.  I used to think that asking for help made me weak.  I know now that great men of courage ask for help.  I have a humility now that helps me find my rightful place in the universe.  I am but a small part, not the center.  I can realize that I am not alone in my journey.  I can find help and support in any part of my life.  I can find the similarities in so many areas of my life if I look for them.

I find people to share with, in many walks of my life. These are my “peer groups”.  I can separate my life into many meaningful areas and I can seek out groups that can help me find solutions to my problems.  It is not possible to find one person that can support me in all areas of my life.  I need to seek out many different support groups or people to support the many areas of my life.  By being honest about my problems I can seek solutions from people who have had similar issues.  They may be just a little farther along the road than I am.  I do not need to reinvent the wheel everyday by myself.  I can tap into great resources this way.  I believe that based on my education and background that my possible solutions to any problem are finite.  If I tap into a group, then my choices can have much greater base for possibilities for solutions.  I believe that God can speak to me in a number of ways.  One way is through other people.  Another way is through inspiration.  If I am open to it, solutions can come to me this way.  Tapping into peer groups, or other people that have similar issues can have some profound effects on my ability to help me along my path of learning and growth.  Sometimes even the innocence of a child can provide me with help, if I choose to see it.  I never know what can happen sometimes so I try to be open to all sources of inspiration for help with my mental state of health and well-being.

The important part of this equation is to be as honest with myself as possible.  The great news is that there is no limit to good mental and emotional health.  The product of my mental health is physical, emotional and spiritual.  I am happier, more accepting, peaceful and serene if I work at it.  The journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.  I take that first step everyday and enjoy my walk.

Longs Peak Colrado

Longs Peak Colrado

Lessons Learned

I went to Salt lake City this week to race on the fastest ice on earth.  My training and racing was progressing.  I had a little time off and wanted to see what kind of validation I could find.  I flew out on Wednesday evening from Chicago through Denver.

I skated Thursday afternoon.  I was able to do some speed work.  I was pleased with what I was able to accomplish.  I did some fast laps, much faster than Milwaukee.  The altitude is about 4650 feet above sea level.  Milwaukee is about 700 feet.  About 80% of our drag is aerodynamic.  With thinner air you go faster.  The ice was pretty fast too.  The Utah oval is preparing for the upcoming World Sprint Championships next weekend.  This track has many world records.  My best times of my career are here.  I was able to adjust to the speed by setting up my turn entries earlier and making visual markers.  I needed to get a feel for the pressure in the turns.  My strength in my skating is my pressure through technique, not explosion.  It is a fine balance between all out max speed on the edge of a 1.1 milimeter blade and going slower to stay in control.  Falling at 35 plus miles per hour is not something I like to do.  I have a strong desire for self preservation.  On the other hand I can push my muscles and heart to their limit.

Friday I did a race warmup with some extra work at top speed.  Good nights sleep.  I mentally prepared for all contingencies.  I felt ready to race Saturday morning.

Racing was delayed somewhat (15 minutes) due to some electronic timing issues.  I tried to stay warmed up.  First is the 500 meter race.  I started on the outer lane.  I was off the line well.  Got down low early and felt a pretty good connection to the ice.  My pair on the inner was a runner.  I was taking 3 strokes to his 5.  He was ahead at the 100 meter mark by a couple feet.  I started my outer turn well and built pressure through out.  I exited behind my pair as expected since he skated 15 meters shorter than me.  I crossed over gradually and set up the next turn.  I got my marks.  I started the first crossover right on my mark.  Then, I am not sure what happened.  I slipped.  In order to stay on my feet I had to stand up and put both feet on the ice.  My arms were not swinging as I was trying to stay up.  My legs were frozen, I do not remember taking any more crossover strokes.  As I exited the turn I was able to get back down and resume skating.  I was even with my pair.  I got as low as I could and tried to make the most of each push for the final 100 meters.  We finished almost side by side.  My time was 40.63.  His was 40.45.  The distance was about the length of one skate blade.

At first I was not pleased.  I was expecting a much faster time.  Hard to believe I could not skate the second turn and still skate a 40.  I was disappionted that I had slipped and had to salvage something.  I put myself in this position.  There is no one but me out there skating and racing.  Training is one thing. Racing is another.  I spend 99% of my time training.  I am very good at it.  I also practice racing during training.  Actual racing is different.  I have to figure out a lot of stuff about myself and racing.  When expectations and ego are involved approaching the starting line is different.  I am realizing, as I write this on my way home, I have more to learn.

About 40 minutes later I take to the line again for the 1000 meter race.  This is my favorite race.  It suits me best.  I get a good start on the outer.  I build nicely during the turn and really crank the first long straight.  I set up the next turn and really get good pressure.  I come out of the turn even with my pair.  I have the right away since I am ahead by 15 meters and am going faster.  I power ahead to get clear and set up the next corner.  This was my nemesis 40 minutes before.  This is fastest I have gone all day and I am now skating the same inner turn.  This time it goes well.  Maybe a little hesitaion to make sure I got it.  Nice pressure, out of the turn, one lap to go.  Now I am feeling the lactate in my legs.  Set up the next turn early and crank it hard again.  I drift to the outer at the crossover and set up the last outer turn.  I have trained for this feeling.  This is very familiar territory.  Nice pressure and contact through the turn.  Exit and stretch for the line.  I know I have skated a technically good race.  I have given my all.  The heartbeat, respiration, and legs tell me that.  This is a great feeling to know at that moment. So my time is a true reflection of what I am capable of producing.  It is a seasons best 1:18.85. I feel much better about today’s racing.

As I sit here at 35,000 feet flying home I reflect on my day and more.  I get to do what I love.  I get to feed my soul.  I get to share this with all of you.  That is priceless.  Yes, I can do better in my execution.  I can change my training to help that, and I will.  Nancy (my coach) and I have some talking to do after this.  I am not done yet.  I still have my goals.  I will continue to learn and grow as long as I keep pushing.  That is the good news.  The lessons learned will unfold over time.   Breaking down barriers, mostly mine.

Photo by Steve Penland

Photo by Steve Penland

Masters Racing at its Best!

I am part of an incredible masters movement.

I was the meet director and competitor for the 3rd USA Masters International Single Distance Championships in Milwaukee, Wisconsin this last weekend January 5th and 6th, 2013.

We had 60 competitors from 4 countries (US, Canada, Romania, and Germany).  The ages started at 30 and go to 80 in 5 year groups.  In fact, Vern Kappes (our 80-year-old) has been in continuous competition since 1939.  His 74th consecutive year of racing speaks volumes about the sport of speed skating and about the masters movement worldwide.

We had at 2 masters world records broken. We had numerous Mat 1 times reached, which makes skaters eligible for the honorary Masters National team and some state of the art skin suits.  We had many personal bests reached as well.  We had a great banquet after racing on Saturday that led to an open forum discussion of many masters issues.  Fellowship was continued at the home of the meet registrar Olu Sijuwade for a pot luck dinner and to watch videos he made of the first day of racing.

This meet is always a great time to get together with my fellow masters competitors.  I get to see old friends and make new ones.

On Saturday we raced the 500 meter #1 and the 500 meter #2 ( the total time of both races determines the winner) and the 1500.  On Sunday we raced the 1000, 3000, and the 5000 meters.  At the end of the meet we had an open 12 lap mass start race ( everything else was time trials ).  About 25 men and women put in $5 each. The pot was split between the first man and first women racers.  It was a very exciting race with some breakaways around the mid-point and with about 3 laps to go.  The final sprint was the most exciting.  The fastest man won by the length of a skate blade.  We sure love to race and our competitive side shows itself very prominently.  In fact the mens 5000 meter race was won by .01 of a second.

On a personal note I was 3rd overall in the 500 meter race and first in my age group.  I skated a 40.27 and a 40.22.  The two men that beat me were in the 30-34 and 40-44 age groups. In the 1000 meter race I skated 1:20.42. I was also 3rd overall ( same two guys faster than me) and first in my group.  I also skated a 3000, 5:06.53.  I do not train for this event but treated it as a fun race.  I was 4th fastest over all and first in my group.   I am very proud of the fact that I was able to negative split the last 4 laps.  I am a sprinter!  Go figure.

All in all it was a very successful meet for everyone.  Thanks to all that participated.  Thanks to all that helped to put the meet on.  Thanks to my wife for her support and help as well.  Also, thanks to my father Harold for coming in from Oklahoma for the weekend to support me.

This is a time to reflect and be grateful for the incredible support network we all work to hard to build.  This support is essential so that we can do what we love, live into our passion for our activity, our sport, our competitive sides and connectedness to each other.

Congratulations to all who are involved, we all win together!184580_586763418007099_1298278958_n