Video from Marty

Marty Haire is the lone American attending Masters allaround worlds this year. He was the champion of the crazy-competitive 45-50 age group last year in Erfurt. The next 9 guys in the results after Marty were all Dutch.

Masters Worlds is being held this year in the new indoor rink in Bjugn, Norway. Marty arrived in Norway yesterday, and today he posted this video of him skating a lap and looking at the inside of “The Fosenhallen”.

Races start friday! Good Luck Marty!!

Does seeing this rink make you want to skate there? It does for me, and I almost was there on the ice too.

12 hours before I was going to get on the plane to Norway I realized there was no way I should go. Jess had improved, so I had been hopeful in the week leading up to my flight. And then her health fell apart again & I cancelled my ticket.

I know I made the right decision to stay & I don’t regret it. Even though I had had thought about this race almost every workout in the preceding year.

Weirdly enough, I don’t miss the opportunity to race, but I miss skating in new places like this, and I definitely miss the friends I have among the international masters community.

But there is always next year.

PostCard Korea

I just got a fascinating email from blog reader David Jensen

A few weeks ago I was in the Hwacheon, Korea which is the mountainous, middle of nowhere area near the Eastern side of the DMZ.

I was there with my father for an ice fishing festival and brought my skates figuring that there must some kind of ice skating going on at an “ice” festival.

To my delight, they did have a 400 meter oval on top of the river which was the not-so-fastest ice in the world.

There were actually very few people on the oval as it was a distance from the actual festival. There was no zamboni and there were huge divots in the ice which made it fun to skate (at a slow pace).

I’ve never skated on natural ice so it was a great experience.

As I was skating, I was accosted by a young Korean guy. He turned out to be Lee, Seung Hwan who competed in the 2002 Salt Lake Olympics in the 5000M and set was at the time a Korean record at that distance. It was like an episode from “Where are they now?”

Seung Hwan is serving his two-year mandatory military service in the Korean Army. The military allowed him to volunteer for the ice festival due to his Olympic history.

We skated for a while and he shared about the incredible sacrifices it took just to make it to the Olympics. In his own words, “my Dad begged me to stop skating.”

He was reticent about plans to get back into competitive speedskating and intends to visit the US after his military service ends.

-David Jensen

Thanks for the note David, what you experienced is one of the best things about speedskating. This sport is so small that it’s a great way to start conversations when you meet other skaters, you instantly have something rare in common.


If you hear hoofbeats in Central Park, think Horses- not Zebras. –

Oft repeated medical saying

What the above quote means is that in most medical cases the correct diagnosis is usually the simplest & most straightforward answer.

However there are some cases where the doctor looks you in the eye and says, as one just did to Jess: “You qualify as one of the most unusual 4-5 cases I have seen in my 30 years of practicing medicine.”

In short, Jessica is a Zebra.

It took the doctors four different treatments until they found something to help with her painful & shifting arthritis. So far, the only thing that has brought her relief is a strong dose of prednisone.

But there are now a host of other issues. Some are probably side effects of the various treatments/drugs that were tried, some could be related to whatever the underlying mystery condition is.

One good thing is that when a Zebra sighting is confirmed, the specialist Zebra hunters are alerted. After a late night emergency room visit, the word & call is out, and we are having multiple visits with specialists over the next few days.

This is not the time to be watching episodes of the TV medical-drama “House”. The reality sucks. Wish us luck…


This is Jessica checking in here. I appreciate all the concerned responses to the post about my medical condition, and all the good will/emails coming from all directions feel great.

Andrew can be a little intense in his expression of concern for me, so I wanted to give my own view of what is happening. There has been a flurry of interest on the part of specialists, as my symptoms continue to not respond to treatment. I have some interesting tests coming up tomorrow which should provide a narrowed focus for further investigation.

My symptoms are no fun, and I rely heavily on my mother and my mother in-law, who have both recently visited. Andrew has been a fantastic support, and even sacrificed a very important speed-skating related trip to Norway to help take care of me. He is understandably stressed out.

Baby RZ is doing great. She’s getting a lot of grandma time, and loves all the attention. Right now the assumption is that I have a condition that is temporary. Until we have reason to believe otherwise, the expectation is that all this will eventually resolve. I’m trying hard to be positive, and some days are better than others.

We will keep everybody posted as soon as there’s news worth “printing!”


P.S. These pictures are worth printing right now, here is RZ & my Mom. RZ is deploying her 1000 watt smile!

RZ & Me, a few moments after this picture were taken, she reached out, and grabbed my glasses right off my face. I was so proud of her; I did not mind my complete blindness.

I’ve been under so much stress, I think I’ve lived in this same comfy sweatshirt and hat for the last month.

Reactive Arthritis

In my last post, I said that my lack of writing here was due to focusing on my family. That is true, but I was skirting the real issue.

The truth is that Jessica has been terribly ill. Scary sick. Absolutely debilitating pain.

She was starting to get really sick when I wrote that post, and it has progressed so that the past several weeks have been some of the most awful either of us have ever experienced.

She is suffering from what the doctors call “Reactive Arthritis.”

In simple terms, she had an infection (we both got food poisoning about a six weeks ago, so that could have been it) and in the aftermath her immune system went haywire and attacked her own joints.

She has been in an incredible amount of pain, often unable to walk or use her hands, and the first drugs they gave her to treat it created a very bad skin reaction on top of her symptoms. Painkillers, even very strong ones, have provided minimal relief.

Jessica does not want any fuss made over her, that is not who she is. For a long time she did not want me to mention anything here (not that I had energy to do much but care for her & RZ). But this awfulness has caused us both to be very thankful for each other & our family/friends.

My beloved mother-out-law flew to Salt Lake a few days ago, and has been an amazing help. My own mom will come out & take over in a week.

Despite her illness, we feel so lucky our child is healthy. RZ is babbling & gurgling away happily, blissfully unaware of what is going on. She is a talker just like Dad.

The doctors say Jess will recover from this. It might be a few weeks, it might be six months, but eventually reactive arthritis does go away.

I can’t imagine how horrid this would be if she had something lifelong like this, or if it was terminal. My heart goes out to those who have had this experience. It is so awful.

Yes, I still sneak away to the rink now & then. And when I am there, I fully immerse myself in Speedskating, sinking into the baptism of focus that is such an essential part of the sport; to forget, to renew my spirit, to remind myself of health & what it feels like.