23 hours after we arrived at the Hospital, our daughter Arzelia Jane Love was born into this world, at 12:35am on october 29th.

She was 7 pounds, 5 ounces, and 19 inches long. Given how long & rough labor was, Jess is ok.

RZ” has an amazingly calm & focused energy. There is a very clear personality already there.

A few notes on the name, it’s an old family name from Jessica’s side. Arzelia was Jessica’s grandfather’s favorite Aunt.

Jane was my own great aunt, a woman who loved my father deeply and believed in him when he really needed it. I remember Aunt Janey from my earliest childhood, and the ring I asked Jessica to marry me with has one of Aunt Janey’s diamonds on it.

About 2 hours after RZ was born, Jessica went to sleep and I followed RZ & a nurse down to the infant care unit.

The nurse taught me how to give her a bath, I changed my first diaper, plus they “footprinted” her, using me as a blotter.

and then RZ needed to be under a heat lamp to warm back up after her bath.

Among the rows of babies, I sat there next to her, one of her tiny hands gripping my finger. We looked at each other without a sound for a long, long time. Then she drifted off to sleep and that little hand relaxed & fell away.

Everything is different now. And there, finally, at 4am, I found myself physically shaking with emotion, exhaustion, love, and that tsunami of realizations common to new parents.

With my back to the nurses so they could not see, I cried & cried, while my child slept peacefully, soundly.

The most beautiful day

It’s a perfect fall day, mid 70’s, no wind, and it’s the first day of the year that you can really shuffle your feet through the leaves as they cascade from the surrounding trees.

Low-angle afternoon sun through autumn leaves is prettier than any medieval stained glass, more life giving than anything the magicians at Pixar can conjure.

It’s a perfect day, and it has been an extremely long one.

Jess woke me up at 1am, with some very serious, painful contractions; It’s now almost 8pm & still no baby. Jess is tough and trained hard for this, and was deeper in the pain cave than I have ever been, until she finally decided on an epidural (a very smart choice in her case).

A blog is a new art form, and an evolving one. What are the boundaries? It’s different for every writer. But in this realtime story where the ending is unknown, we must write with honesty, and if this world shakes you, let your voice be shaken.

A blogger I deeply respect, who lives just a few miles from me, is facing the fact that his wife is dying, and he just decided to involve a Hospice with her care.

And my wife is hopefully going to give birth in a few hours.

Both on the same, painfully beautiful day.

Labor Pizza

There is an urban legend in Salt Lake City, about a Pizza that unfailingly brings pregnant women into labor.

As Jess is now quite overdue, she has tried many other home remedies like acupressure, a pedicure, extra long walks, and jumping around as the NY Giants beat the Steelers, so a Pizza sounded like a good idea.

The myth said the Pizza was located at Café Trio, so we went there & asked the staff for the “labor inducing Pizza” and they smiled, & said, “Ah, yes, we know exactly the one people talk about.”

The Menu said it was a chicken pizza with garlic, onions, mushrooms, & fontina cheese.

What the menu did not indicate is that there are at least 2 full heads of roasted garlic & fistfuls of mushrooms under that glistening cheese. Wow.

Omigosh it was good! But unfortunately, no labor; Or maybe I ate too many of the yummy garlic buds myself, & Jess did not get a “critcal mass” of garlic & ‘shrooms.


DiNardo images

Tom DiNardo is a phenomenal photographer. I knew his pictures before I met the man, and after meeting this awesome fellow, I am honored to publish a few shots.

If you hear news about the death of the Hubble Telescope, I think Tom uses extra bits of it in his camera; he gets some amazingly high-resolution pictures.

These images he took are from the final day of training before the Vancouver world cup ST racing that is happening right now.

Here is Anthony Lobello leading Travis Jayner

Question: When was the last time you saw a Dutch national team speedskater who was not favored to veni, vedi, vici”?

Answer: If it is one of their short trackers.

It’s great technical practice to skate short track turns with both hands on the back, you have to be really centered with your weight, and quite focused. I think this is Allison Baver, very focused.

Forza Italia, con quelli caschi blu!

I always have thought that the British short track scene must be very much like the USA one. A small number of dedicated athletes, from just a few regions of the country. Rule Britannia!

As I have said over and over, compression=speed. You can clearly see it when Apolo skates.

The great thing about speedskating is that it’s pretty clear what makes you go fast. The terrible thing about speedskating is it takes a stunning amount of work to strengthen your body & perfect your technique enough to do it.

With all the athletes pictured here, you are seeing a lifetime work shown in these brief images. Thanks Tom!

p.s. still no news… Jess is now a week late.

8am in Milwaukee

It’s 7am here in the Mountain West, 8am in Milwaukee. My coffee is half finished, and a thousand miles from here, warmup is underway for the first day of the fall long track world cup qualifier races.

This will be the first time in 5 years I am missing this race. If I didn’t have other mildly important things going on in my life, I’d be very sad.

I know just about every athlete on the start line. So many hopes & dreams, being judged in those few moments where the conscious mind sees this;

That ferocious moment where the nattering, fearful brain turns off, and lets the body do what it has trained it to do. Belief, ability, commitment, talent, all brewing together & turning into an electronic weighing on the scoreboard.

I send my deepest, heartfelt “good luck!” to everyone who is there. It’s too bad there are so few world cup spots. There are so many who work so hard for them.

More ST WC

World record for Meng Wang of China in the Women’s 500m. It was very impressive, powerful skating.

There was a stain on this record though, there were 3 Chinese skaters on the start line, and one Canadian, Jessica Gregg.

Off the start, Jessica slotted into 3rd place, and then the Chinese skater in 4th clearly bumped Jessica out halfway through the race. It was a professional tap, not enough to make her crash, but enough to take away any chance of winning.

Maybe team skating is part of the deal at the upper levels of the sport, but this unfortunate moment marred some beautiful & powerful skating by Meng.

The most dominant country in the whole meet was obviously Korea. There were 8 final races, with 24 individual medals on the line. Korea won 11 of them.

I wonder who this young fan was cheering for, but the energy he put into his banner shows the deep passion Korea has for short track. Anyone out there read Korean?

Here is one of their outstanding athletes, Si-Bak Sung driving out of the first corner on his way to winning the Men’s 500m. Canada’s best sprinter Charles Hamelin in tow.

These guys are getting so much straightaway compression, they look like long trackers.

There is a lot more going on at a world cup than just races. Here is Bruce Kohen, measuring out a pair of boots before molding a customer. For some reason, I think Bruce looks best in black & white.

Bruce had a good day of business, and started his long trip home with a trunkfull of feet. Well, at least the molds of feet.

National Team Long tracker Paul Dyrud had a busy day chasing blocks. Like many American long trackers, Paul is also an accomplished short track skater & will be racing the America’s cup later this year.

Chasing blocks at an event like this is very intense, as the athletes are doing 8 second laps. You only have a few moments to grab an errant block. How do they do it safely? I asked Anthony Bartell, and he said “Well, just make sure you are smarter than the blocks!”.

In many short track events, the final showdown is the Relays. The Chinese ran away with the Women’s relay early on, but the Men’s relay was a nail biter the whole way.

The Koreans set an intense pace, with the Canadians on them like glue. The USA Yo-yo’ed in and out of contact most of the race.

A world-class short track relay that comes down to the wire is one of the most exciting things you will ever see in sports. It’s like a goal line stand in the Super Bowl, or bases loaded in the bottom of the 9th.

Canada passed into the lead with 10 to go. Then Korea passed them back with 7. Canada took the lead back with 5 laps to go. Korea passed again a half lap later-

& made a small gap on US & Canada. At the bell for 1 lap to go, Ohno passed Hamelin, and the USA took second to Korea.

(amazing compression here through the lactic firestorm at the end of a relay)

All 3 teams were under the previous world record, with Korea setting the new mark. Wow….

Oh yeah, no baby news yet. Jess is still waiting, & waiting.

A few ST WC images

World cup level short track is amazingly exciting, so much so, it’s easy to forget as a spectator the effort & stress the athletes experience to give us thrills from the stands.

I was near the waiting area during the 1500m heats, and was struck by the stony, inward focused silence of those awaiting their race, and the audible whimpering & painful coughing from those who had just raced.

Here is a a 1500m semi-final just hitting warp speed, an international traffic jam into a corner. These guys have some serious skillz!

A tiny moment later out of this crowded corner explodes Hamelin of Canada, Germany, Korea, Levielle of the USA, Britain, Hungary, & Russia.

This action is happening so fast & so quick these days, it looks like the UCI refs have an instant replay system (a great idea). The operator here had a dial he was moving back & forth reviewing the contact between two skaters frame by frame. Note the high tech cardboard “hood”

Travis Jayner, calm & focused among the traffic, pulled off one of the most amazing series of rapid-fire passes I have ever seen. Almost last place here 3 laps to go, then through the burning traffic up to second by the finish in his 1500m semi-final.

Jeff Simon won a bronze medal in the men’s 1,500 meters & Kimberly Derrick turned in a Bronze medal performance in the 1000m. She skated super aggressively, leading the amazing Chinese and Korean skaters as often as she could. To my eyes, US women really seem to like skating from the front, & use raw fitness & power as much as they can to blunt the amazing finishing speed of the Koreans & Chinese.

Due to the media hurricane that follows Apolo everywhere, his fall in the 1000m final attracted much mention. It must feel strange for him at times, being the calm eye in a howling media hurricane. Does he ever wonder, as the Beatles did occasionally, if he is only one out there who has not lost his mind?

Here is his fall, frame by frame. I can’t tell if he hit a rut, if the ice blew away under the pressure, or he booted out.

He hit the wall so hard that professional camera equipment that was resting on the top of it flew everywhere.

What I admire about Apolo’s skating in the World Cup on this day, is not something you will read about in the papers.

His skates were messed up by his impact with the wall. Anthony Lobello told me that in the locker rooms, they were “wailing on his blades with a hammer,” trying to make them skateable before the 5,000m relay semi-final.

Deep into that race, Apolo was obviously struggling with broken equipment he could not trust, he was out of balance & unable to get his best push. You could see it on his face.

The German & British teams were breathing down his neck. Along with Anthony, Jeff & Travis, he still had the determination to hang on & qualify for the relay finals (kudos to Anthony who gave a brilliant relay tag to Apolo, to move the US from 3rd to 2nd at a crucial moment). Jeff looked absolutely freaky strong, & the finals tomorrow will be awesome. Korea, USA, Canada & a surprising Russia.

Ok, I gotta run/ride, I need to get in my own workout before another day in the stands.

World Cup today

This is an image from last year’s Salt Lake City World Cup. The quiet before a start can be as deafening as the incredible noise once the gun goes off, and a crowd favorite takes the lead.

There were large crowds, from many demographic groups & age ranges, cheering loudly. For the athletes, these moments are what can define them in eyes & hearts, their own & others.

Short track is so unpredictable; every split second is an invitation to mayhem. I admire these athletes. To dare to defy gravity & physics, and win anyway, is amazing.

And even if you end up headfirst into the wall, the courage it takes to do this sport is as admirable. Especially when you know the odds.

I once saw a bumper sticker on a battered pickup that said:

Eight seconds in the ring is worth a lifetime in the stands

And that is what these athletes are facing; endless gutbusting hard work for a chance, for a few tiny moments when all eyes turn to this wild, icy bullride undertaken with machetes strapped to the feet.

So the world cup is happening today, and I am stuck at my desk at work (blogging on my lunch hour, in case any of my managers read this). Can you tell I wish I was there.

Short track is like daily life, surprising & unexpected mayhem, and courage courage courage!!!

Long track is like the arc of years, work your heart out & improve by little bits here & there, with the final measure being you vs. yourself.

A healthy diet of both is good for the body & soul.

Jess & Electric Stim

Jessica’s due date has come & gone, like most new moms, she is late. Or maybe the baby is already taking after the procrastinating dad.

Jess is standing in the middle of a particularly fertile Zucchini plant that has taken over our garden. She is at that final, waddling stage, where she is just ready for it to be over.

I keep trying to write a letter to my kid before they are here. There is so much to say while the slate is still blank. But I start & stall, overwhelmed.

Skating is simpler, and physical therapy is even simpler.

Here is my new best friend, the electric stim machine. The two cords are going to patches on my back, sending electrical impulses clawing their way into my muscles. If you have ever experienced electric stim, what do you think it feels like?

My thought was millions of espresso fed aphids wearing tiny demolition charges wriggling joyously through muscle fibers.

There is a switch on the machine that says “Biphasic Russian.” Having suffered greatly and improved greatly under Russian designed dryland programs, I was both sad & relieved when I found that we were not using this setting.

Also, here I am on a fascinating bit of WWI German technology, A Pilates reformer. The board I am sitting on has springs in it, Except for the arm swing, they wanted me to do what I am doing here. It made me really sore. Kevin Semans & his whole staff at the Sports Medicine Center of Utah are awesome. Thanks guys!

The first couple of days with this injury were quite painful. But it has gotten dramatically better, faster than I hoped it would. So I should be back to full power more quickly than expected. I did not hurt any nerves or joints. It’s just a flesh wound.

In the physical therapy room, I saw many people who were coming back from truly horrific injuries & surgeries. I feel blessed & thankful for my health and durable nature, or is that durable nurture? or both?

Let’s Get it Started!!!

The racing season is ON!!! And with it comes my first video creation of the season.

A number of very fast Japanese skaters have been training at the Utah Olympic oval, and they were racing these weekends; it’s a joy to watch them skate. Oh yeah, the US national team is in here too. They are also pretty darn good.

It’s pretty easy to tell the American skaters from the Japanese. Americans seem to wear solid color skinsuits with nothing on them. The Japanese wear a kaleidoscope of interesting suits & often have things called SPONSORS printed on them. Hmmmm….

Click here for the high quality quicktime, or here is a link to the high quality Youtube

or just click below to get the standard quality YouTube going.

There was racing this Saturday out at the Utah Oval, and because of my back I missed it, But I should be on the ice again within a week or two. I’ve been sick as well, & that couldn’t have happened at a better time, as I want to get all the crappy karma out of the way now!

This is going to be a great year.