beige_alert: (skates)
During the weekend of January 18 through 20 the Pettit National Ice Center in Milwaukee hosted the Icebreaker indoor running races and the national and North American speed skating marathons, as well as some hockey events.

long... )

PB (no J)

Oct. 21st, 2012 10:18 pm
beige_alert: (skates)
Apparently skaters like the term "Personal Best" (PB) while runners tend to favor "Personal Record (PR) for their best time in an event. Call it what you will, I set one in the 1500 meters yesterday at the long track speed skating time trials at the Pettit. My best 500 was at the very end of last season, and I was 0.07 seconds slower this time, at 48.81. My only other 1500 was also at the very end of last season, and I beat that by 1.9 seconds, with a 2:44.72.

There were a lot of skaters this weekend, which makes things go slower, but that's not necessarily bad. This is, after all, also something of a social gathering of like-minded crazy people. I had a chance to have some nice chats in between events with some people who I've known to varying degrees for a while but don't necessarily have much time to talk to. We see each other and wave and say hi, but generally people are busy working on whatever they are working on, or else are talking to their coach to find out what to do next.

You can't spend any time speed skating in Milwaukee without meeting coach Bob "Yelling Bob" Fenn, or at any rate, I guarantee you'll become familiar with the sound of his voice. He's a friendly guy and we chat now and then, and he can't resist giving out some advice from time to time. He asked me on Friday if I was racing, and he gave a few pointers and something of a pre-race pep-talk, which, since he is after all a professional at that, was nice. At the finish of the 1500 our announcer Jeff noted over the PA system that that was a PB for me, and as I glided from the finish around the turn to the back straight where Bob was sitting he called out "See! I told you you could do it!"

Also, I'd like to note that the very young man who was paired with me in the 1500 took a moment to introduce himself and shake my hand before the race, and congratulated me afterward. Also, he was faster than me. His parents and coaches should be proud.

random photo )
beige_alert: (skates)
My second long track speed skating time trials of the season went much smoother for me than the first, as you'd hope.

You know, my first thought, driving in the pre-dawn darkness in the rain, is that someday I'm going to start the Early Afternoon Sports League, where we will hold our competitions in the early afternoon after the sun has fricking risen.

I had a minor bobble in my first few steps starting the 500, which happens. One of the Real Athletes I know says that he wants to practice starts so much that he can do every practice start perfectly and thus save up the screw-ups for the actual races. Me, you should see some of my practice starts! Anyway, first 100 meters in 12.87 seconds, the flying 400 meter lap 36.18 (that's 39.8 km/hr, which feels mighty fast on ice, yet of course if I did this paired with one of the Serious Athletes he'd disappear into the distance. The young kid I was paired with was faster than me, too.) Total time 49.05. I did a 48.74 at the end of last year, so not too bad considering my start.

My 1000 was a new personal best, 1:44.33, 0.07 better than last season's 1:44.40. That's why we have all this timing technology, to measure those hundredths. First 200 in 23.44, first full lap 38.77 and second 42.12 (yeah, tired...). This was another example of how the smoothest, best laps you do are not the ones where the timer is running. Still, new personal, that always feels great.

The other thing I was thinking, while wandering around between races dressed pretty much like everyone else—brightly colored skin suit half off, the top half dangling from my waist, shirt and jacket on, yellow and gray shoes, hat—is that for those of us who have an impaired sense of fashion and who maybe dress funny, this is the perfect sport. You just literally cannot stand out as dressed funny among this group. We make runners look normal. You never see a runner with sleeves and a top with hood dangling from his waist. (The skin suit is cut for the skating position and isn't so comfortable standing around, plus you have to peel the thing down to pee—men too, the zipper doesn't go down that far.)


gratuitous photos )
beige_alert: (skates)
My first long track skating race of this season was this morning's time trials at the Pettit. The waking up before dawn on Saturday morning aspect isn't so fun, but other than that it's a fun experience and it's great to be back in the skating season.

I would describe my 500 meter experience as "wow, it's been a long time since I last did this!" After the false start...my start went OK, but somehow I ended up settling into a really high position, so much so that it was obvious to me during the race (I must have basically been standing up straight) but, you know, 500 meters goes by pretty fast, and I didn't settle into a better position. My 1000 time was pretty poor, but it went a lot more smoothly for me.

Overall, between this being my first race in a bunch of months and that I've only been skating two weeks this season, it went well enough, and it's always a learning experience.
beige_alert: (Default)
I ran in the Icebreaker Indoor half marathon yesterday. It's held at the Pettit National Ice Center running track because, as I always say, if you are holding a running race in Milwaukee in January, you probably want to hold it indoors. This is my third year running the half marathon, and I think it's a great event and I highly recommend it for anyone who enjoys running in circles. I think it's a lot more fun than people think it sounds like. We're all in there as a group, they have music playing and an announcer announcing, you go past the spectators constantly, and you go past the hydration table every 443 meters so you never have to worry about water. Unless you are one of them, you get passed repeatedly by the really fast runners, which is quite impressive to see. It's like they are doing some sort of interval workout, except the interval is 21.1 kilometers. And many of them are coming back the next day for 42.2km. If you aren't among the slowest then you in turn get to lap other runners, which makes it really feel like some sort of race. It takes about two laps for the field to spread out and start to sort out by speed, and after that for the most part it's not much problem to pass and be passed.

My time this year was 1:46:16, 64 seconds faster than my previous best half marathon, which was last year's Icebreaker. Best of all, nothing in particular ever hurt. There are ups and downs, times I felt good, times I felt really tired and just plain beat, but no foot blisters, weird knee pains, muscle cramps, or any other sort of specific injuries or pains.

I started long track speed skating because of the Icebreaker run. I signed up for the half marathon back in the fall of 2010 and did quite a bit of running in the Pettit center in preparation, mostly after work during the time the speed skating sessions are running. I saw the speed skaters and thought I wanted to try that, and now I'm out on the oval regularly. I thought it might be fun to do some speed skating during the running of the marathon today, and it was. I found out that I can match the speed of the marathon winner, but only if I have speed skates on. A few of the runners chatted briefly while I was gliding around the outside of the ice, and the skaters thought it was interesting that I'm also a runner and had run the half the previous day.

After a little more than an hour of mostly easy skating I went to Lapham Peak to ski. It was cloudy and a bit foggy today, but it turned out to be a really beautiful day at the park, with a frost effect coating trees and pine needles in parts of the park with ice crystals. After all the other activity I was going to take it slow, and it really was a pretty day to just ski around (and take some photos) and enjoy the place without athlete-ing around trying to achieve a fast time.

photo )

Fall

Sep. 30th, 2011 11:18 pm
beige_alert: (somethingahead)
I know a lot of people really love the in-between seasons, spring and fall. I've never much liked them. Summer has long long long days and warmth and lots of fun summertime activities. Winter is cold and dark and features snow and ice upon which you can ski or skate, and there is a notable lack of mosquitoes. Spring is dead and brown and wet and muddy and cold and wet. Fall is wet and cold and dark and covered with slippery dangerous dead leaves. We're very near the point where there is no time at all to go and stop anywhere on the way home from work without ending up traveling in the dark, and I'm waking up in total darkness.

This year I've got new speed skates (Bont Jet boots and Maple Blizzard blades), and the (indoor) long-track season has already started at the Pettit National Ice Center here in Milwaukee. I'm seeing my speed skating friends out on the ice again, and I'm getting back in the swing of our crazy sport. Early fall is looking like a lot more fun this year. I have lots of fun in the summer but aside from the organized multi-thousand-runner race I was in, mostly it's fairly solitary activity. You wave to people. Very rarely have some sort of chat. The Pettit center, whether running or skating, is a much more social experience, and I like it a lot. I'd sort of forgotten how much I like it. It's now my third year speed skating, and I'm getting to know a lot of the skaters. It's also fun to now go from being the crazy exercise guy (running 14km to work!) to being the slow guy who obviously hasn't been working out very hard. My tribe of crazy people, they is here! And they are crazy. One young woman I could just manage to keep up with last year has been working very hard over the summer and now maybe I can stay with her for a lap if she doesn't go too fast, but not longer than that! On the other hand, I've been cycling and running all summer and I really do feel strong, and now that I have my own skates (with my own blades that I obsessively sharpen) I can focus on improving and not on getting adapted to different skates. Even just today I feel like I'm really getting a better position and, though it sounds minor, better arm swing motion, which is really making a difference. (Seriously! Swinging your arms right is important on ice! As far as I can tell, everything is important.)
beige_alert: (SlippingMan)
In the book Speed On Skates by Barry Publow, as the last item in a list titled "Interesting Research-Supported Facts about Speedskating Biomechanics," we find this:



  • Speedskaters are regarded to be generally better-looking than other athletes, to train harder, to have a higher tolerance for pain, and to be more friendly than most sport athletes, in the author's unbiased opinion.



I'm sure that's unbiased. I will say, based on my experience looking at athletes, speedskaters sure are, on average, a really good-looking group of people. It's also a generally friendly group of people. I see speedskaters who train very hard, though I don't really see the elite athletes in other sports whereas I do see really elite skaters at the Pettit Center, so of course they train like monsters compared to normal people.

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