Gift of Dog

The truest gift of Dog is when they walk us into the morning, noon & night, and we can be alone with our thoughts, yet never lonely.

Q & A

Question: So Pat, I think I have you figured out; you skate because you want to live longer.

Pat Knox: Nope, I skate because I want to live right now.

This is now one of my favorite skating quotes ever, and is how I feel too.

I know I have images of Pat, but my external hard drive holding 250GB of skating images/video is being funky this morning, so here is an image of Pat from the talented Teri Willingham.

Pat is the one with the grey hair and the huge smile

Heart disease runs in my family like a wild stallion, so even if all this working out I do does not give me one more minute of life, it has enriched the life I have so much, it’s worth every moment.

This quote also applies to the following post:

whither blog?

But pain… seems to me an insufficient reason not to embrace life.

Being dead is quite painless. Pain, like time, is going to come on regardless.

Question is, what glorious moments can you win from life in addition to the pain?

-Lois McMaster Bujold

I am not so sure about glory while pursing one of the minor sports, but I am sure that you can find meaning, and certainly pain is quite easy to find. In bucketfulls actually.

I’ve been racing bikes a lot recently, and in the race I did tonight, all I saw for the entire race (& I made the decisive breakaway) was this-

Just a wheel driving in front of me- Literally, for the whole race, All I could manage was focusing on the gears & legs driving relentlessly onward.

It was tunnel vison, a long dark tunnel dripping with lactic acid…

It was all I could do to barely hang on to the insane pace of the 13 man breakaway, and do my turn when it was my turn to pull, That light at the end of the tunnel was a ragged, leg searing, ugly sprint. I was 4th or 5th, my memory of it is somewhat broken.

When I got home from racing, I was shaking with exhaustion, I had some dishes to do in the kitchen, and each plate felt heavy like a 45 lb plate in the gym.

I’ve thought a bit in the last few week of taking a break from blogging, or even shutting the blog down.

I’ve just been overwhelmed, work & training have built up into a toxic cocktail. I really try to post every 2 or 3 days, which has always been my mantra.

But I’ve only posted 4 times this month, I have lots of stuff half done… Bleah…

Usually I have a bit of a downturn in the spring, but this feels like a nosedive. By nature & nurtue, I’m a pretty energetic fellow, but right now I’m just so, so tired….

Brain Boudreau, whose freaky-strong legs are the ones in the above photo, has been bike racing too, and this past week is now back on the short track.

Either I need a break, or I need to get back on my skates, or.. I don’t know…..

From a speech

“I believe sports is one of the best places you can learn about yourself,” Ohno said. “Sports puts you head-to-head with the demons you face, and you have to deal with it — right then and there.”

Apollo Ohno

This is from a speech Apollo recently gave at the University of Arkansas

and he is absolutely right…..

I did my first bike race in about 4 years on teusday (on the evening of my close encounter with that car) and although bike racing is certainly a very hard sport, and FAR more dangerous than long track, the nature of the Demons speedskaters face are unique, and in my own experience, nastier….

(of course, I never was able to dream about being anything other than an average cyclist, on the skates, it’s different for me.

So maybe the size of the demons correlates directly to the size of one’s dreams)

Opinions?

RIP Norman Mailer.

When John Lennon died, part of mourning that loss for many musicians was listening to & playing his music.

I’ve been silent on this blog for the past week mainly because of Norman Mailer’s death. I’ve been reading & re-reading the work of his that hit me like a literary sledgehammer roughly a decade ago (he hit that same sensitive spot that Kerouac & Pink Floyd nailed when I was a teenager).

Mailer could be a difficult fellow, pugilistic, rude, brillaint, cranky, barely in control at times, and he pointedly tried to explore some of the darkest, nastiest, most brutal parts of a man’s heart. Many people dislike him for this.

However like watching a world-class speedskater, I frequently see Mailer doing things on the page that leave me as awed as watching Wotherspoon or Kramer on the ice.

His retrospective The Time of our Time, is specifically the “greatest hits album” I’ve been listening to.

Mailer was fascinated with boxing, was great friends with Muhammad Ali, and opened his retrospective with a selection describing another writer who dabbled in boxing, Hemmingway, getting the snot kicked out of him in the ring.

This is how he ended that bit, I think he meant this to describe himself as well-

Most men find their profoundest passion in looking for a way to escape their private and secret torture. It is not likely that Hemingway was a brave man who sought danger for the sake of the sensations it provided him.

What is more likely the truth of his long odyssey is that he struggled with his cowardice and against a secret lust to suicide all of his life, that his inner landscape was a nightmare, and he spent his nights wrestling with the gods.

It may even be that the final judgment on his work may come to the notion that what he failed to do was tragic, but what he accomplished was heroic, for it is possible he carried a weight of anxiety within him from day to day which would have suffocated any man smaller than himself.

There are two kinds of brave men. Those who are brave by the grace of nature, and those who are brave by an act of will.

Inspiration can come from many directions of one’s life, thanks Norman, for what I have felt & thought while reading your words.

Happiness

Y’know, I’ve been a national champion. I married and divorced a super model. I’ve owned fast, expensive cars and I’ve put three wonderful kids through college… Still, nothing brings me happiness like an adventure on my bicycle

-Davide Cassani
Former Italian Cycling champion

There is something very true, and yet very wrong with this aspect of the human mind.

The world of people should be more important! why is it that certain passions give us so much satisfaction?

The most true moments of peace I have felt in the past year has been on my mountain bike, by myself, on the incredible roller-coaster terrain of the Bonneville shoreline trail overlooking downtown Salt Lake.

There is peace & happiness to be had on the ice too. Especially when you have just figured out something new, feel really fit, or those rare days when EVERYTHING JUST WORKS!!

(any skater, no matter the level, can tell you of those rare, wonderful days)

It’s easy to let the world spin away, like snowfall on a car accelerating to the freeway. It’s easy to ignore the fact that my “ol’ comfy shoe” Viking blades are truly dead, and that my hip, knee and ankle on the right leg are all injured in 3 unique ways.

Michael Drews of the Wasatch speedskating club & I had a conversation after stepping off the ice, where he basically said “Don’t take this wrong, because I know how intense you are about this sport, but there is something fundamentally weird about the dedication & focus it takes to go fast.”

I agree with him, quite strongly, yet would not change this spot within me for anything, even supermodels & fast cars.

How we seek

Tell me ‘how’ you seek and I will tell you ‘what’ you are seeking.”

-Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein

In the foreground of this picture are the skates of the very fast Norwegian Masters Athlete Jon Arthur Olafsen.

In the middleground is 2002 Olympic Gold medalist Chris Witty.

In the far background against the pads is 1976 USA 1000m Gold medalist and current Norwegian national team coach Peter Muller, with one of his athletes.

How we seek is steel sliding across the ice… But of course that is not truly “how” and is so far from “what

A close friend of mine from high school, who is currently a professional pianist/organist in New York City, once told me that there are an infinite number of ways to touch a piano key and produce a tone, as opposed to something like a church organ, that will always create the same tone from a single keystroke. Aleeza has played Carnegie hall, so this is the opinon of a true pro who would know.

I have thought about her words for a really long time, and never felt like I really understood them….

But is it possible that there are an infinite number of ways for the soul to tell the body to skate that same 400m frozen circle? so the “how” & “what” of our seeking, changes constantly?

Is speedskating more piano? Or organ?

Hmmmmm….

A Universal Quote

This quote is on the stairwell leading up to the ice at the Pettit Center in Milwaukee..

I am trying to remind myself of this over and over before tomorrows races. I think it’s interesting that one can replace the last two words of this quote with other words, like “office”, “family”, “fishing pond” etc, etc, and it still holds truth.

Just as I was leaving the Pettit yesterday, and ruminating about this, I thought I saw Bonnie stepping onto the ice. I have only met her once, but it looked a lot like her.

Its alright Ma, (I’m only bleeding)

Disillusioned words like bullets bark
As human gods aim for their mark
Made everything from toy guns that spark
To flesh-colored Christs that glow in the dark
It’s easy to see without looking too far
That not much is really sacred.

While preachers preach of evil fates
Teachers teach that knowledge waits
Can lead to hundred-dollar plates
Goodness hides behind its gates
But even the president of the United States
Sometimes must have to stand naked.

An’ though the rules of the road have been lodged
It’s only people’s games that you got to dodge

And it’s alright, Ma, I can make it.

-Bob Dylan, It’s alright ma, I’m only bleeding

I’ve been on a huge Dylan kick recently, somehow his words just seem to fit this transitional time of blustery spring weather, and the violent uncertainty in the world at large.

Here is the view of the wind torn spring sky over Salt Lake, click on it for a bigger panoramic image. This park is my new favorite place in the world, a good place for dryland speedskate training -or a picnic lunch, depending on your mood.

Sorry for the recent quiet on the blog, I have started training again, and my body is in complete shock from starting up Boris’ intense jump/pylometric program.

However it’s much better than the soreness I felt this time last year. Now I can walk after workouts! but it is quite a funny looking walk, and I eat advil like M&M’s, but at least I can stand!

(its alright ma, it’s just soreness)

Why is it that when you are experiencing pain (emotional or physical), certain musicians seem to make more sense? At least I am not on a cheesy disco kick, what kind of mood would bring that on?

Ok, gotta run to the gym for workout #2 today,

more soon….

Eat hard, work harder, rest hardest!

Eat hard, work harder, rest hardest!
-NY mets 47 year old first baseman, Julio Franco
From the Salt Lake Tribune

These are good rules to live by. It took me many years of bicycle racing to realize that training hard actually makes you slower! It wears you out. Hard training, however, does create a narrow window of physiological possibility to become faster, but what actually makes you faster is recovering properly after hard training. Julio’s quote emphasizes this in his ordering of priorities.

There are so many people who take training & their equipment soooo seriously, but if you don’t take care of the recovery needs of your body, sleep-food-rest-etc, then hard work is often wasted.

I am very good about proper timing of food and workouts. I get enough sleep. Honestly I am still sometimes weak on my diet. I was eating a seafood salad sub with a chocolate chip cookie and a giant glass of water, when I was reading the above linked article.

Then the article, and Julio went on:

On willpower, Franco said: ”All the time people tell me that they shouldn’t eat something but they do anyway. They don’t need cake. They don’t have to have it. I walk by bakeries, see things that look good, smell good, but I know I don’t need that cheesecake. It’s not worth it for me.”

On his easygoing nature: ”If it’s hot outside, great. If it’s cold, great. If it rains or it’s windy, I don’t care. They’re out of my control. The things in my life that I can control - my diet, baseball, my interaction with friends, family, teammates - that’s what I can control, and that’s what enriches my life.”

On his predecessors: ”The smart ones were the old ones,” he said, between forkfuls of egg whites.

I stopped munching on my cookie, considered its half moon shape, and then finished it anyway.

There are lots of articles about Franco on the web right now, and the sudden plethora of professional athletes in their late 40’s

Here is a good one from the New York Times (you do need to register to read it, but the Times is a good read). Dr. Steven Foster, quoted in the beginning of this article, is actually a speedskater himself, and has written for many of the skating magazines.