Savage Rocky Training

Kip Carpenter is not just one of the fastest sprinters in the world; he also is a talented photographer, web designer, and fundamentally inquisitive dude.

He has completely redone his website, kipcarpenter.name, and it’s a wonderful look inside the DSB pro team & how Kip sees the world. He seems happy, healthy, and as the photo on the right shows, working hard and looking ripped.

Reading through the website you can find images and videos of acupuncture, savage rocky training, video of Kip’s Italian Greyhound sprinting at 35mph, images of his “lady in red”, and as a bonus one can discover what triple gold medalist on the DSB team is known as “Tinkerbell”.

As the ice season begins, inline speedskating is winding down. Worth noting on the web are blogs two Canadian inline speedskaters kept of their experiences during Inline World Championships in Korea. Here is Peter Doucet’s illustrated journal with links to loads of videos & prehaps the most incredible finish line photo I have EVER seen, it’s worth the click.

Sprinter Andrew Hegarty also did a Canadian inline world team update page. It’s not as obviously visual as Peter’s, but the links on the sidebar have TONS of stuff available to the skate obsessed.

Andrew has also just launched his own blog, I wish him well on his journey.

Since the mainstream media pretty much ignores all but a handful of sports, and seeing that most media outreach efforts by speedskating governing associations have minimal impact, it’s efforts like blogs by the athletes themselves that become authentic news, the fascinating news, not just the results, but the human aspect of the journey.

Zen 10 Questions: Chris Shelly

After a long search, US speedskating has hired Chris Shelly as US All-around National Team coach. Chris has quickly made his easygoing personality an important part of the community at the oval. I have enjoyed many conversations with him on a broad range of subjects.

In one of my rare moments of clear thinking, I concluded he would be an ideal person for the next Zen 10 interview! Welcome Chris!

These pictures are of Chris competing, some years ago, in both Austria & Montana! They are from the Baystate speedskating galleries; where they grant permission to use these images “respectfully” (I hope this qualifies!)

Chris is very funny, and he made me laugh here and there as we did this interview (so forgive my giggling behind the camera). This interview is a gold mine of information about skating, training, and Chris’ memories from his decades in the sport.

Click play to listen to each interview section:

Part 1
Chris talks about his own unique path he took towards becoming a national team coach, his experiences in Canada & how the Canadian system is different than the American one, and his opinions on old school training vs. modern training.

P.S. turn your computer volume up to max, my little camera has a fairly crummy microphone, and even though I edited the audio track on this interview extensively, Chris is a bit quiet.

Zen 10: Chris Shelly, pt.2

Part 2

Chris talks about what coaches influenced his own style, shares a fun Bob Fenn story, talks about his good friends in the sport, and recalls his own personal memories of the 1992 Albertville Olympic games.

Zen 10: Chris Shelly, pt. 3

Part 3

What rocks about lake placid? What sucks? What is the single most incredible thing Chris has ever seen a human being do on skates? How does the emotional challenge of being a coach differ from what athletes go through?

Haiku Speed Round-Chris Shelly

Short questions & fun answers! Thanks Chris, and I hope you and your skaters have an excellent year!

Shiny car in the night

Whither goest thou, America, in thy shiny car in the night?
-Jack Kerouac

I think I have published that Kerouac quote here before, but there is so much inside those few words, it’s worth repeating.

And where are we going in those pre-dawn hours; In this long night of individual and national awareness, in our overly technological, sealed & car-encapsulated life?

Fall is in the air, frost is starting to glitter in the grass, the mountains are touched with snow, and in my own thoughtful car I drive to the Utah Olympic oval for a long weekend of racing.

Arriving at the parking lot & looking into the lit windows of this crazy building, I can see Canadian, Japanese and American national team skaters jogging & stretching; shiny cars from all over the world, many nights.

My weekend of racing went well, when all was said and done, you can see the results here.

In the past two seasons, I have consistently started the first month of racing with 10.5 to 10.7 for my opening 100 in the 500, and the first 200m of my 1,000’s in 17.8. This weekend I did 10.32 and 10.31, 17.47 & 17.35. If I follow my usual freakish consistency with skating, I should drop both of those times (or maybe I am already at my physiological & technical maximum already, just earlier in the year.. hmmm..). My final times were 37.39, 37.14, 1:15.14, 1:15.21. I am pretty happy with that, especially considering that both 500m races had significant corner mistakes that cost me speed.

Here is my 17.35 1000m start, paired with the previously mentioned “gentle giant” Nate DeFranco.

When you are doing it, a 1000m start feels as rushed & hard as sprinting up a staircase. But with the stop motion of video, one can see so many small (& not so small) correct & incorrect bits of technique.

Nate’s back curl, leg extension, driving the knee forward in front of the ankle, and arm swing are miles better than mine. The things I have going for me is my skate blade direction is a little better, and oodles of fast twitch fibres snapping me around that first turn very quickly.

It’s easy, so easy, to nitpick, but judging by our split times, the two of us accelerated from zero to 32mph/50kph within 200m, so we are doing something right…

‘Doing something right, in that shiny car in the night…

25.9

I am blessed (or spoiled, depending on your point of view) because slowly and surely I keep improving. I know so many rockstar hard workers who get stuck at on speed plateaus that last whole seasons, or who have health issues that take away the accomplishments they karmically have earned.

Yesterday I skated my fastest lap ever! a 25.9 second flying 400m. Just before my PB 500 last march, I skated a 26.19, so hopefully, technically and physically I am picking up where I left off last year. If I can keep improving on relaxing the upper body while at top speed, good things will continue to happen. Technique, technique, technique.

I could have been even faster if I had not kicked my right skate during the entry to the final turn. Luckily duct tape is the most powerful force in the universe, and the piece I had in place to try and protect this oft-kicked area kept the cracked shard of carbon fiber from disappearing forever. So it’s nothing superglue & nail polish can’t fix.

Some who have known me for a while might note from this picture that after my last 3 season using Viking blades, now I am on Maple steel blades. I don’t think there is truly a “fastest” blade, any more than there is a “fastest” material for a bicycle to be made out of.

But certainly, like bicycles, different rides/blades “feel” different, and I like how these groove. They are also longer & rocked flatter (a 26) than what I was skating before, so the effective “gear” I am pushing is bigger.

I race Saturday and Sunday this coming weekend, so hopefully I can translate good practice speed into race day velocity.

Jessica’s Triathlon

(the following words have NOTHING to do with speedskating)

Yesterday my wife did the Ogden Valley Triathlon. I try not to blog about her out of respect for her privacy, but she was quite proud of doing her first triathlon, so I was given the go-ahead.

The day started with a moment that I will remember till the day I die. 6am; I am monosyllabic/brain dead & fussing with my morning coffee. Jessica is out walking the dog. We will be on the road driving to the race in minutes. The wind is rattling the house. Jessica comes in the door with a sly smile and smacks me in the chest with A SNOWBALL!!!

Its frigging snowing/sleeting outside! A perfect day for her first triathlon!

Here is the view as we were driving to the race. Not a lot of accumulation, but it was sloppy & NASTY out there.

After we arrive at the race site, we discover the triathlon has been changed to a Duathlon. A run-bike-run instead of a swim-bike-run. This is because even with wetsuits (mandatory for this event, Jess had rented one) the 35 degree air would freeze athletes after the swim if they started the bike ride soaking wet.

So a slight change of plans, and one that bummed Jess out a bit, since she likes to swim, is good at it, and had trained for 10 weeks (on a plan I designed) to do a TRIATHLON. But I guess now one should call this a “multi-sport” event.

In bad weather it matters a lot to be mentally positive, and as the weather did the western boomerang from snowing one minute, to sunny the next. Jess reformulated her pacing plan, and executed it very well. She went easy for the opening 1.25 mile run. For a nearly 2 hour event, it can be awful if you rocket off the starting line.

Jess then turned on the power on the bike. On the 18 mile windy & rolling course she moved up 100 places in the overall classification, happily passing many “skinny runner types” who have karmically passed her countless times before.

Here she is, spinning into the transition to the final run. Smiling after an excellent ride. For the sake of both warmth and aerodynamics (she goes fast enough for aerodynamics to matter) I put my LAS short track helmet on her. For her dad, she competed in one of his old bike Jerseys. I suffered through so many time trials on these vintage 1991 scott areo bars, I think she is having more fun on them than I ever did.

She charged onto the final run course, cramping in her right calf, headed right at the snow capped mountains (that is Jess in the orange hat). She discovered in that incredibly experiential way, what makes triathlons/multi-sport so hard. The final run can be an absolute monster as the body rebels against what the brain asks.

She did a lot of hard work to be prepared for this moment, and had reduced her training volume in the final week leading up to the race.
She was ready, and through some serious ouch, ran that final 5k within 15 seconds of her 5k personal best running time!!! She was happily surprised to finish smack-dab in the middle of the women’s overall results, and the middle of her age group.

Walking through this world always on the prowl for interesting contrasts, here is a fun pair of images.

The transition area, full of bikes. All the athletes are on the course doing the opening run. (click for a full sized image)

Less than a half hour later, here is the same area, all the bikes are now being ridden.

There is some metaphorical truth here in this pair of images.

Much like long track speedskating, for most participants, Triathlon is a preparation sport, and athletes are really racing against themselves in the company of others. Jessica felt like, on this day, she won.

I am so proud of her.

Chad Hedrick, part 3

In the final part of this 3 part interview, Chad talks about how tired he was after last season, about his trip through the talk show circuit, the question he is never asked during interviews, and what superstitions he has before races.

Short & Tall

Here is an image from a recent practice; Japanese Skater & Torino Olympic veteran Eriko Seo leading American Nate Defranco during an endless lap workout. Eriko has wonderful technique, and I really appreciate it even more in the slow-mo video I grabbed these images from. Like many elite skaters, she truly sinks down into each push, whereas many intermediates start low, but step up into each push. Sinking into a push is difficult, but creates more pressure into the ice. Except for Erben Wennemars, you tend to
see this more in distance skaters than sprinters.

Now one might guess from this picture that Eriko is on the shorter side. She actually is average height for a Japanese woman, but the visual impression is skewed by the fact that Nate is 6’5” and about 235lbs (that’s two meters and 106kg for you metric folks).

Interestingly enough these two illustrate the truth about ice long track speedskating that there is no ideal body type. Larger athletes are usually stronger, but being larger also creates increased frictional forces on the ice, and a bigger frontal area creates more wind resistance. Studies say these factors EXACTLY cancel out the increased power a larger individual will have, and if you look at a broad cross section of gold medalists from the past several Olympics, you have quite a selection of sizes & body shapes.

Many think this is not true in short track, people say at the elite level being shorter & lighter is an advantage because of the G-forces they face in every turn. Also being smaller means you can pass through smaller gaps. There are exceptions to this of course, tall & very lean can work too, but in general short trackers are on the short side.

In another note I am sending an international hello to the folks at http://www.israel-rollers.net. My web gnomes tell me many visitors have followed a link from within that site to this one. Despite a wonderful month I once spent in Jerusalem, I have no command of Hebrew. So I could not figure out where the link was, even in the English version.

Utah and Colorado feel much like many parts of Israel in terms of the climate & topography. No only did my time in Israel change me profoundly, but it also personalized many of the world events going on. Every death or injury could be someone I met or know. It makes me thankful to live in the complicated shade of the Pax Americana.