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!





First major racing of the Olympic season

Productive on all levels.  Sunday evening now, as I write this, on an airplane going home at 35,000 feet, reviewing the work done during the competition and the important validation of training, etc.

I left Chicago Wednesday morning for Salt Lake.  Skating in the afternoon, getting in some speed work.  At the altitude of 4650 feet above sea level the air is different from my usual training ground of 800 feet at Milwaukee.  The ice was fast and the aerodynamic drag is less, this means we go faster with the same effort.  Accounting for the increase in speed, turn entries are earlier, the lean in the corners is steeper and more dramatic.  Mental and physical adjustments are made, sometimes equipment too.  Not too much volume of training here, just enough intensity to continue the taper but make the changes.

Everybody in the US skating world is here.  My skating family.  Great to see old friends, coaches, officials.  This an open competition so I have some fellow masters here but mostly they are Olympic hopefuls.

Thursday is a day just to touch the ice for about 40 minutes and cement yesterdays changes, building confidence.

This is the US Single Distance Championships, Fall World Cup Qualifier, and American Cup I.  US Champions will be crowned in each distance from 500 to 5000 meters.  The top spots will also be on the Fall World Cup circuit competing in Calgary, Salt Lake and Europe.  The fall world cup events will determine how many spots are awarded to each country for the upcoming Olympic games in Sochi, Russia starting February 7th 2014.  This an Olympic year, everything gets ramped up.  In this country, our sport gets a nice bump in attention each Olympic cycle.  Important to take advantage when the attention is here.

Friday is the 500 #1, also is the ladies 3000 and the men 5000.  Saturday is the 500 #2, total time for both determines the champion, and the 1000.  Sunday is the 1500.

I am racing all but the 5000.  Friday is just the 500 #1, for me.  First race of the season.  Little bit slow to start, 11.31 for first 100 meters.  I am a little bit tentative due to a low back issue that is aggravated by starts.  Not great tempo.  First outer turn building speed well, connected to the ice.  Crossover to the inner, my pair was ahead and not a conflict.  A little hesitant coming into the last inner turn, building confidence half way through, exiting strong.  Great lap time of 28.85, fastest lap all year finishing with good technique at 40.16.  Pretty good start considering changing airplanes in May and flying a full schedule to Europe and training.  Rest is what I lack now, sleep will have to be later.  I was not sure what to expect but this is a good start and something to work on.

Saturday is the 500 #2 and 1000.  Inner lane this time to start, better opener at 11.23, but not really connecting on many strokes.  Higher turnover but less good contact.  29.05 lap, 40.28 finish.  Very consistent from friday, so I am pleased.  Outer lane start on the 1000, pretty good opener at 19.13.  Great next lap, smooth, powerful, in control, efficient.  Settled down, this is where I excel.  29.61, then the lactate builds in my legs, heart rate at max, breathing to match.  Last lap at 31.07, Nancy, my coach, shows me my spilt times on the backstretch and shouts reminders and encouragement.  Right on schedule, only dropped 1.46 on the last lap, very proud of that.  Good take aways from today, confident moving forward into Sunday.

Sunday is the race of truth.  The 1500 taxes every facet of my being.  The physical limit exertion of strength for speed and endurance to maintain self-propelled inertia.  Mental toughness, emotional fortitude, and the spiritual conclusion knowing I have nothing left at the finish line.  Based on the weekend so far, a 2:05 was realistic.  Starting on the outer, getting good pushes into the first turn, smooth around the corner with nice pop in my cadence.  Opening in 27.17, nice, better than planned but comfortable.  Next fast lap at 30.53 right on target.  Now the lactate starts to build.  Maintaining good rhythm and technique to keep the speed two laps to go.  32.28 next lap, then a 34.16.  Any drop less than 2 seconds per lap is a sign of good conditioning and validation of training.  This is what I train for, skating with lactate heavy legs.  The ability to rise up to glide after that last 100 meter strain for the finish line and know “That was all I had”, is satisfaction.  A quick look at the score board shows a 2:04.14.  Fifth fastest 1500 ever for me.  Nice start to the seasons first racing for me.

Champions crowned.  Fall World Cup Team announced.  Many new personal bests and seasons bests.  My hat is off to all those who made it possible, and to my valiant competitors that I get to share this hallowed ice.  This Olympic season will be great fun!  Eight weeks to the US Olympic Trials back here in Salt Lake.  Stay tuned for a great ride!

Photo by Jerry Search

Photo by Jerry Search

Olympic Trials here I come !

US Speed Skating has published the rules for the upcoming Olympic Trials.  My goal last season was to qualify for the trials.  Each year the rules must change to reflect the current dates and places for each competition.  Additionally, the rules for Olympic trials and team selection must be published every 4 years (see the link below for the document).  The Long Track Trials will be held  December 27th, 2013 through January 1st, 2014, in Salt Lake City.  The Short Track Trials will be January 2nd through 4th 2014, also in Salt Lake.  NBC sports will be airing 17 hours of coverage (some of it will be live) of the long and short track trials.  This will be a great build up to the Olympic games in Sochi during February, 2014

Last season I set out to qualify for 3 distances, 500, 1000, and 1500.  I made the time for the 500 (39.00) in January, in Milwaukee.  I skated faster 2 more times in Salt Lake (38.94 and 38.75).  I needed a 1:16.08 in the 1000.  I skated a 1:16.15, missing the time by .07 or about 1 meter.  The rules allow me to skate both the 500 and the 1000 since I achieved the time in the 500.  I skated my second fastest 1500 ever at 2:01.40 in March but fell short of the required time of 1:57.96.  In retrospect, that goal was not realistic.  The overall goal of making it to the trials was realistic and I achieved it!

Having the rules published is the final validation of my goals.  Now I am set to go and compete.  My goal is to improve on my performance from the last trials 4 years ago.  I know this will be my last Olympic trials.  This is my choice.  At the last trials I was 53 and the oldest ever to qualify for this event.  I have just added 4 years to my record.  I am faster now by far as a master than I was as a teenager on the national team.  I do the work and get the results.  I have enjoyed the journey along the way too, appreciating all the work and benefits that come my way.

I have only 3 days left of simulator training in Denver this week to finish my B-777 type rating school.  This is my 29th year at United Airlines.  This will be my fifth type rating, all in Boeing aircraft.  I started out at a B-727 engineer, yes they had those in the day.  I am proud to be a Captain at United Airlines.  Looks like I will be going to Shanghai next weekend and then to Europe a few days later to finish my line training with a friend of mine that is an instructor Captain.   In July I will start flying out of Washington Dulles to Frankfurt.  Onward to my new assignment.
“Let age enhance your dreams rather than define them.”  Bruce Conner 2008
“Getting better and going faster is more about intentions and choices than age”

Bruce Conner  2012

Photo by Steve Penland

Photo by Steve Penland

Link for USS Document

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.

5th Masters World Sprint Championships, Salt Lake City

5th Masters World Sprint Championships, Salt Lake City

World Sprint Champion age 55-59, again!

There were 92 men and women skaters from 10 countries.  Ages ranged from 30 to 84.    There were 19 masters world records achieved.  There were 181  seasons best times reached.  There were 91 personal best times achieved.  We raced the 500 and 1000 meter races each day.  The combination of time from all four races determined the winners in each 5 year age categories.

The Olympic Oval is the fastest ice on earth.  We get to come and skate not only our fastest times of the season but for some of us the best times of our lives.  We prepare for this event all year.  I was not sure until last week, due to work schedules whether I would be able to attend.  This would be the last event of my skating season.  Make it count.  Leave everything on the ice.  Having already achieved a great deal this season, here was an additional opportunity to do more.

Continuing my training taper from American Cup from 2 weeks ago for this meet was easy.  Just recovery work and couple of stimulating bike workouts.  Getting a bad cold 5 days before the competition, forced me to sit down for a couple of days.  I probably needed the rest more than anything.

I flew out to Salt Lake on Thursday early enough to get in 30 minutes of easy skating and the ability to touch the ice.  Since I was just in Salt Lake two weeks ago, the transition to this ice was easy and fast.

My fellow masters skaters were a welcome sight.  Reconnecting with old friends that have shared my journey as a masters skater is a real treat.  I met new friends and made bonds that will continue for a lifetime.  We may not be people who would normally mix.  From such varied backgrounds, and cultures all over the world we have a common ground in our love for this sport.  This is my tribe.  We share a bond in the humility that skating shows us.  This sport exposes our very souls.  It shows us who we are, and  what we are made of.  To share this inward journey with my fellow masters is deeply satisfying.  We get to catch up, eyeball to eyeball.  Laughing, crying, realizing our goals, showing our frustration, learning something new, growing, rejoicing, supporting one another on our individual paths.

Friday evening is the team leader meeting, the opening draw, and a nice reception for all the skaters.  Saturday we start racing at 9am.  Everyone is nervous with anticipation of the upcoming racing.  Andrew Love, a fellow Masters World Champion, and competitor, is the meet director.  From my perspective as a skater the meet came off flawlessly.  We had everything we needed to perform at our best.   Andrew and his volunteers pulled of a great event that culminated on Sunday evening with a banquet and awards ceremony for all.

The masters skating community is like nothing else I have ever experienced.  During the competition you get to see fierce competitors wish each other good luck at the start, then congratulate each other on a fine effort at the end.  Yes, we race to win.  We want the visible recognition of the record, the title, the trophy.  But we also race against ourselves.  You can ask any skater what his personal best time is and without hesitation you get an answer.  We all know where we are and how we are doing.  Progress is the goal.  Celebrating those personal best times achieved is so important and so satisfying.  We train very hard, we put our souls into this work.  We want and need validation that we are making progress and here is the showcase in front of our fellow tribesmen.  We are committed to this work and here is our accountability.  The anticipation before racing is when we coming to grips with the reality I have helped to create by my actions.  I now trust that I will get the results that I am supposed to get.  Sometimes it is a hard fact to swallow but I chose this path and now comes the time for the visible, tangible, reality.  This is the journey we share.

Victor Van den Hoff from the Netherlands is my closest competitor in my age group.  We are paired together in every race, head to head.  We get to skate both distances each day.  Switching starting lanes for each distance to keep everything even.  In a nut shell,  I won every race in my age group.  I also placed very high among all the age groups in every race as well, from 5th to 7th.  I was very consistent, my trade mark.  Technically I was skating very well.  The first 500 I did a seasons best 38.75, masters world record.  The next race the 1000, I also did a seasons best 1:16.46, and masters world record.  Sunday 500 a touch slower at 39.15 but very solid after a slight slip on the start.  The final race was the 1000.  My attitude shifted before this race.  I was having fun!  This is my favorite race.  It fits my personality and style the best.  I love to go fast in this race, manage my energy systems, feel the pressure into the ice, set up the high speed turns, make my technique work to be efficient as possible, give it my all, knowing I have done my best.  Cross the line, 1:16.15.  Another seasons best, world record.  The combination of all four races was also a world record.  Victor was also skating well, he also achieved many seasons best times this weekend.  Great work Victor! Great work everyone!  You can see all the results on  Search for the 5th Masters World Sprint Games Salt lake, March 16-17, 2013.

On my way home now at 35,000 feet reflecting on the great weekend.  Pledging to keep in touch with my tribe over the summer.  I take stock of my goals for this season and reconcile my progress.  I am already thinking about what is next.  Skating has taken a great deal of time this year and my priorities must shift back to a more balanced life.  Connecting to my wife, and family most important.  Rest and recovery work for a couple of weeks.  Then onto planning for the next season and the upcoming Olympic trials this December.  I am already thinking about playing some golf and tennis soon.  B-777 school is coming up as well for me (about 6 weeks in Denver for that).  Onward, upward, higher, faster, farther, the choice is mine.  Getting better and going faster is more about intention and choices than age.

Masters World Sprint Champions!

Masters World Sprint Champions!

photo by Jerry Search

photo by Jerry Search