(if you have not seen it, be sure to check out my HUGE ANNOUNCEMENT just after this post)
but onward to my first Zen-10 questions follow-up
I have several google news alerts that tell me when speedskating news appears on the web.
When an alert popped up that JEN RODRIGUEZ was coming out of retirement for another shot at the Olympics, I stalked around the office that I now work in, and tried to tell anyone who would listen about this great news (I received the quizzical looks that most folks give to speedskaters who get excited about something).
Given the scarcity of good news sources for anything deeper than just race results, I realized that if I didn’t ask Jen some of these important questions, who would?
So first of all, let me holler out, on behalf of so many, WELCOME BACK!!
1. You have 2 Olympic medals in your pocket, you have won world championships in both ice & inline. So why the comeback? Is there business left unfinished?
My original intention after the 2006 Games was to continue skating, but I was so overtrained and burned out, the thought of skating made me sick.
It wasn’t until this past November that KC finally got me on the ice at our local rink here in Miami. The first step on the ice, I realized how much I missed it. I actually started to get a little teary eyed.
That’s when the thought of trying to make a comeback happened. I played around, back and forth with the idea for a while and made my decision in January. So to answer your question, I just love skating and did not want to end my career the way I did.
2. You have been a professional skater your whole life, but the last 2 years have been away from the sport. What did you miss? What didn’t you miss?
I absolutely miss the professional athlete lifestyle. It can be hard at times, but real life sucks big time! Physically it’s not nearly as demanding, but the stress level is no fun.
Right now I’m working 12-14 hours a day. I enjoy what I’m doing, but I don’t love it. At least as a skater, when times are tough, you’re doing something you love.
3. Do you have a particular picture of you, or you & KC, which represents the past 2 years. Will send it separately.
Here’s our picture…This is how the last 2 years have felt for us.
4. You spent a lot of time since you retired working on Track cycling, are there lessons that Track can bring to speedskating?
I spent about 10 months with the whole track thing. I liked it, but I didn’t love it. I also think it was too soon for me to try and come back to competition.
The main lesson I learned was that no matter you do, you have to work extremely hard if you want to achieve success. I had a lot of work to do to make it in track and I wasn’t ready to commit the time nor the energy to it…at least not at that point.
5. You have had 2 very successful Olympics, 98 & 2002, self-analysis is so essential in a sport like long track, looking at your Olympics in 2006, what are you changing looking forward to 2010.
My main problem in 2006 was overtraining. By the time I got to the Games, my body was almost in complete shut down. My motivation level was zero, I could barely skate 2 laps without dying, I couldn’t sleep and was living off sleeping pills (mind you, I can sleep in the middle of the highway) and I had a constant numbness that covered my shoulder blade down through my left arm.
If you don’t learn from that experience, something is wrong with you.
There are a lot of things I will go back and change. The most important will be making sure I’m getting the proper rest. I’m no spring chicken anymore and I’m going to have to be very careful, especially now that I’m playing catch up.
6. When I wrote you asking about your comeback, you replied “, I’m on my way back and maaaannnn do I have a lot of work ahead of me.” Like what?
For me, at least I’ve stayed in somewhat decent shape. I’ve lost a lot of weight, mostly muscle, so I’m going to have to work extremely hard to get that strength and power back.
It was always a weakness for me anyway. And, even though I’ve been on the bike a bunch, it’s still not the same as skating. Sitting in that position is going to take some work to get back.
7. What did you miss about not being a full time skater? What didn’t you miss
I miss taking naps! I love sleeping. I miss my teammates and I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I miss traveling.
You do so much traveling you actually get sick of it, but when you’re cooped up for two years with no travel, it can drive you insane. Right now, I’m completely stir crazy.
8. I asked Jessica if she wanted to ask a question, here is what she came up with.
You & your husband are obviously both very competitive people, how does that affect the dynamics of your marriage, considering that you participate in the same sport, and often train together?
When it comes to daily life, I think I’m more competitive than KC. Maybe that’s because he beats me at everything and then laughs at me.
On the ice though, there’s no competition. We were always good about leaving the ice on the ice. We rarely brought skating home.
9. You were consistently among the top skaters in the world for several years. From your perspective as one of the truly fast, what are the factors that sorts out who is 1st, 3rd, 8th, 12th? Everyone is talented; everyone tries really hard, what creates those tiny differences?
I think a lot has to do with natural ability. Some people have it, some don’t, but that doesn’t mean you can’t be a great athlete.
I think the quality of each exercise and workout make a huge difference. A lot of people work hard, but don’t pay attention to fine details. They kind of just go through the motions.
When I’m training and skating, I’m always thinking about my position and how to make it stronger and more efficient. Plus, when I race, I just go for it. You can’t be afraid of the pain. It’s always going to hurt.
10. When was the last time you walked out of the Utah Olympic oval? what were you feeling & thinking, and what do you think will be in your heart when you return in May?
The last time I walked out of the Oval was before the 2006 Olympics. I didn’t think it would be over after that.
To tell you the truth, my long track skates are still apart from the trip home from Torino. I think they’re in a closet somewhere.
I’m not sure how I’m going to feel when I get back. Probably a mix of emotions, both good and bad.
11. What do you define “success” as, in this return.
Coming across the line knowing you put everything out there. If you have a smile on your face, then it’s success.
Haiku Speed Round
1. When I moved to Salt Lake City, I had a bunch of speedskaters help me unload the U-haul, it was a world class moving crew!!! What 4 skaters would you pick, from any era, to help you load/unload your U-haul, and eat Pizza with afterwards?
Eric Heiden, KC Boutiette (of course), Dave Tamborino, Nick Pearson
2. Tell us about things you have added to your life since you were last on the ice? Hobby? Pets? Skill?
Two rescue dogs, Suki and Chuck. Own and operate my own bike shop. Went to a broadcasting school and graduated. Currently doing a sports internship at the local NBC. I love wakeboarding. I got a long board (skate board). Recently acquired Guitar Hero 3!!!
3. Most full time athlete struggles with injuries, what are your weak spots?
Bursitis in my right hip flexor.
4. Should Florida re-hold it’s democratic primary? And how?
I wish I cared about politics, but I can’t get into it. I vote, but that’s about it.
5. You get to do one more race, and then your career is truly over. What distance is it & where is the race held? Ice? Inline?
1000m Ice race. Thialf, the Netherlands
6. You are in the sponsorship hunt yourself, with medals & world championships on your resume, where should potential sponsors contact you?
My agent Rhiannon Ellis at Rhiannon@movesmgmt.com
7. Favorite Rink outside of the USA?
8. Favorite food after a brutal training day?
Pizza and a root beer or vanilla cream soda…exciting I know.
9. Best pair of skates you have ever owned?
A pair of pink quad roller skates. I won a race at the 1993 World Championships in them. I still have them, I still skate in them and I still love them
(thanks to Jim white for mentioning this picture in the comments)
10. If you could travel through a time-tunnel and give your teenage self a few words of sage advice, what would it be?
I’m not sure. I think I needed to have all those awkward experiences to become who I am today. I feel so old and experienced now. I guess the one thing I would tell myself is not to worry about all the little things. Back then the little things used to be such a big deal. They really weren’t.
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