Rock Like Never Before

5:45am, I am awake before my alarm goes off, alert & focused, rested and super ready for possibly my most important race of the year.

In a few moments I am warming my hands on a race-day sized mug of coffee. My laptop screen glows to life, and I get a message from my brother-

Rock like never before.

Coming from a professional musician, who rocks for a living, these are strong words, and it’s in my mind all through warm-up. I feel super strong, solid in the turns, and even when my left skate blade comes loose, and I have to futz around with it, I keep repeating this.

I have an ambition of being top five here in the 500m. It’s one of the reasons I kept skating this year. Choosing the World Cup team is not up to me, and I am probably too old to be picked even if I did make that top 5 (it’s better to spend the money on an up and comer, not a 35 year old). But I want to know in my heart I belong in the top 10 sprinters in the US.

My pair is Donald Stewart, he starts on the inner, and I am on the outer. I never quite got my loose blade exactly back to where it was, but no time to worry, confidence is everything, I tell myself this new feel might even be more pressure into the ice! I used to call Donald my “barometer”, as I have raced him repeatedly over the past 5 years. He is very talented, and usually crushes me by over a second.

I ignore the commotion and times being set as the races start. I don’t look at the scoreboard as standings accumulate. The pairs count down, and now it’s our turn. Donald and I wish each other luck, and go to the start line.

GO TO THE START…. Relax, loosen upper body, hips narrow every step…
READY…. weight on front foot… exhale,,,,,,,,,,,,,
BANG!!!!! !!!!!!!!!!!

I get a fantastic jump off the line, by 40 meters in I have passed Donald. I skate deep into the first turn before I lay it over and start crossing. I get good pressure the first few steps, Donald comes by me on the inner lane. Something’s not right in how my body is set, and my left foot slips on the exit and I pop momentarily out of skate position. I snap back into motion entering the backstretch and chase Donald down as we switch lanes, I briefly feel a draft behind him, lean hard into the final inner turn, fighting the swirl of G-forces and fear. I pass him for the final time, nail the exit, sit low and drive the final 100m. Boom! the finish rushes past at 33mph…

37.21, another Milwaukee personal best, and I beat my long time “barometer” (to be fair, his right skate blade is FUBAR). My opening 100m was a 10.12, FAR and away my fastest ever, and absolutely in the ROCK LIKE NEVER BEFORE category.

Of the 17 men competing today, only one (Tucker Fredricks) went quicker down the 100. But its not a 100m race, it’s a 500m, and my slip cost me dearly. Overall I am in 6th place. But there pretty much is a 3 way tie between 5th, 6th & 7th, as we are separated by only .1

Later in the day I PB’ed in the 1000m as well, 1:16.19, even with another left foot slip, but was quite far down the results list. Tomorrow will be quite interesting.

Sorry no photos, I was a little busy…

11 Responses to “Rock Like Never Before”

  1. Congratulations on a great race and good luck tomorrow!

  2. Thats the way to do it. Great race. Keep up the good luck tomorrow. You have a few short trackers back in SLC that are rooting you on.

  3. sounds like a killer race day. you had strong times and were fortunate not to let a few slips mess you up. way to focus!

  4. thanks all for the encouragment…

    oddly enough, I have no memory of the “slip”, I was focusing so intently, and had visualized doing the race correctly so many times, that even though I made a mistake, I was “seeing” myself do it correctly…

    same thing happened to me in olympic trials, I made SERIOUS mistakes in the final turns of both my 500m races, but those mistakes never appeared in my memory of the race…

    the mind is such a wierd thing…

  5. Andrew! Nice job. I skipped out of work as soon as I could to try to watch some skating, but I was too late for the races and had to get back. Keep pressing on.

  6. Sweetness, keep ‘er going Andrew- suffer well.

  7. Way to go Andrew! :)

  8. Fabulous! It’s all coming together. I am SO proud of you.

  9. Peter says suffer well???? How can a 500 meter specialist suffer well. There is no pain in that event. It’s for people who can’t or won’t take the pain of the 1000 or 1500.

  10. in peter’s defence, “suffer well” is kind of an inside joke between us, it kind of means “good luck”, but with an edge…

    and I agree, there is no pain in the 500m as an event.. but the training for it, like most speedskating training, involves a lot of suffering..

    all your third sentence proves is that you are an idiot… (and I think this is the same angry fella who left a nasty comment a few posts ago).

    there are hundreds of thousands of blogs on the internet, if you don’t like me or what I write, that’s fine, but then why waste your time here??

  11. Andrew- Awesome job, your hard work is definitely paying off.
    Thank you for telling Annon to take a hike! I believe that I speak for many who like me very much enjoy reading your blog allowing us a glimpse into the world of elite speedskating. Congrats on your impressive results.

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