Failure…

Unfortunately I needed this after today…

300 meters into my 500 today I was having the race of my life. A 10.14 opener, and a fantastic first corner, I shot into the backstretch at a velocity I have never felt before, even on a crazy fast ice day at Salt Lake…

I set up the final corner well, and then everything went to hell… I slipped badly about 2 steps from the exit, and although I did not fall, my last 150 meters was a long and ugly stagger, and I lost all my speed.

Even with a messed up & ugly last 150, it was the FASTEST 500 I have skated all year. A 37.12, it could have been soooo much faster, at least a half a second.

It wasn’t good enough. I knew it immediately. Usually I am happy when I PB, this time I felt sick to my stomach I was so angry with myself.

I watched the final pairs skate, and sure enough, on the day it counted Tyler Goff skated a 36.94, and snuck into 5th place in the overall by .1 of a second. He’s funny like that.

.1

after 2 500m races, I missed a possible world cup team spot by .1 of a second, missed traveling around the world by .1 of a second. (Pending the committee decision of course, I still might not have been chosen even if I was 5th, the automatic qualification time is a 36.5, only 2 of the top 5 skated that).

I have no one to blame but myself. It was there, I had it in my hands, and I failed

But in a sick way, this is why people compete in sports, and why people watch.

Last night in the bottom of the ninth inning, of the seventh game of the National League championships, Carlos Beltran, the best hitter of the NY Mets, struck out on 3 straight pitches with the bases loaded, and his team down by 2 runs.

The silence in Shea Stadium was as deafening as the cheers from living rooms & bars in Saint Louis. The Cardinals go to the World Series, and the Mets go home, just like that…

Who knows what Carlos felt, walking back to the dugout, having failed in front of the 56,357 fans at the game. Actually, here is what Carlos felt. Classy guy.

My family & wife are so proud of me, I have great friends, and my brother even was able to make me laugh when I talked to him. I skated sea-level personal bests in all 3 races I did here. I stepped on a long track for the first time on my 31st birthday, and here I am, almost 36, vying for a world cup spot. I should be happier than I am right now.

I gotta run, more soon. Oddly enough, I am going back to the rink to skate with a friend, gotta burn those krispy kremes calories off somehow. Fundamentally, I love this sport and how it feels. That is why I do it, even on days it breaks my heart.

22 Responses to “Failure…”

  1. Everything you do is inspiring a lot of folks (me included). The old romans said that there’s no shame in losing a war as far as you fought it with bravery and I think that you did!
    Hope to meet you at Masters racings this winter,

  2. If it makes you feel any better. I wish I could skate with kids half my age and explode off the line like a nuclear reaction. I saw your first 100m and the time burning slip in the last turn. Even to my untrained eyes, the raw power of the start was discernibly greater than the field. The slip can be fixed a lot more easily than trying to shave time off a slower start. I gotta believe that is an exploitable edge. If you can do 37.12 in Milwaukee with a not so insignicant slip, man you are knockin on the door. Hang in there, age is just a number and you WILL see 36 sumpin soon. I did paperwork all day and it all went well. I’d trade places in a second.

  3. Job well done Andrew! And I hope its not over… You have found plenty of joy, conquered fear, and endured immense pain including today’s emotional heartbreak. After you are done fueling yourself with Krispy Kremes may the pain fuel your rage and feed your desire to keep training and your ability to put it all together into one complete races so you will know even greater joy! Your reward will (perhaps already has) dwarf the tangible trinkets of official skinsuits, free trips, and podium hardware with something much greater!

  4. Hey Andrew…

    Keep your head up, you did great this weekend. Your start is just a beast and is always great to watch. Just keep truckin’ on, you always have December.

    Take it easy.

  5. hey man…
    there are more world cup trials to be competed in down the line, just keep up the positive work and count this as a good experience. I just think of how Wotherspoon must have felt at the Salt Lake Olympics…

  6. Throughout your 6 previous posts, “On The Road Again” through “Rock Like Never Before”, I’ve been following your World Cup Team quest and hoping it would have the ending you wanted so badly and worked so hard for. The media may not have been there waiting for you to explain yourself, but like Carlos Beltran, you’re a classy guy Andrew. You gave it everything you had. You bared your soul and expressed feelings that all of us can identify with. And after all that, you went back to the rink to skate with a friend. These are qualities of a true champion. Thanks for sharing your story Andrew. I look forward to many more chapters.

  7. This is from Wikipedia:

    “The criteria for failure are heavily dependent on context of use, and may be relative to a particular observer or belief system. A situation considered to be a failure by one might be considered a success by another, particularly in cases of direct competition or a zero-sum game. As well, the degree of success or failure in a situation may be differently viewed by distinct observers or participants, such that a situation that one considers to be a failure, another might consider to be a success, a qualified success or a neutral situation.

    None of us think you are a failure by our defination.

  8. Hey Andrew! Nice job! .1 second. That SUCKS! I hope you savored every bite of those decadent KK.

    Now, SNAP OUT OF IT! This weekend was not a failure. As Ted says, better to fix a slip than a start. You have trained so fiercely hard…and you will only show yourself solid faster times as the season progresses.

    We have all been in your shoes with those feelings. But many of us can only watch and read about what it “feels” like being in your shoes when skating. You have brought us all around the world on this great journey…and we can’t wait for the next story to unfold…

    Until then, I will take something you so nicely said to me once….

    You can do this!!!!!

  9. Yes, your family is incredibly proud of you. I’ll try to add another reason to the ones your wonderful friends posted already.

    To get where you are, you showed us all discipline and commitment that is truly “above and beyond.” I have, literally, never known anything like it. Character counts.

    ———-

    As for the meaning of life, how about a story? Once we had lunch with your in-laws in Scranton, PA. After dinner, we wanted to introduce you to Krispy Kremes, made fresh in the store. You moaned and groaned–the drive to the store was a waste of time, who cares about doughnuts, and so on. We went anyway, watched the doughnuts being made, and took a dozen out to the car.

    As we drove away, your mother passed you a hot KK. You took a bite, and said “GOD, THIS IS SOOO GOOD!!!” I can hear it today.

    “SOOO GOOD” like a lot of things in life.

    Love, Dad

  10. Andrew- you’re right there. Many are not. You know the journey, the pain, those early mornings. You know about those long drives to and from where you’ve been. You also know about those quiet moments that you find JUST for yourself.

    You’ve helped me know about all those things, you’ve helped me become more-conscious about all those things that make a champion, which by the way you are. In that quest, there are so many little things that if you look at the right way, they are the most incredible things you’ll take from what you have and haven’t done.

    Whatever you do in the next few years (personally I hope you go on and make it), you’ve got this blog and all of our love and comments to look back on.

  11. Oh Andrew you always look for the positive in everything and that is great but this time i feel your pain. I have seen this heartbreak so many times when skaters skate and give everything. Not to mention give up lots to just work hard towards those goals.
    You are the ultimate survivor. Only .1 wow! It’s early in the season.Keep believing.

  12. Andrew,

    You are so close to goin’ faster than you thought possable. Lookin’ forward to reading your posts about what it’s like to be in the 36 second club!

    Keep it up and Enjoy the Journey.

  13. Andrew,

    you are truly an inspiration. I saw you skate once at the Race Weekend in Toronto and it was really great listening to your stories. I have followed your World Cup journey and what I find truly inspiring is that you stepped on the ice for the first time at age 31. There are many people who believe you can never make it in a sport like yours or mine starting “late”. You make me believe that I can be a champion, you inspire me to train harder and skate faster. The committment you have made to this sport is amazing and when I read about it I often wonder why I’m still sitting here. Keep it up Andrew!

  14. Yesterday in my girls’ soccer game we faced a team that had beat us 5-0 previously in the season. In the first half it was 4-1, and the girls weren’t playing so well, but the second half was amazing. Some kind of fire had been lit inside them, and they wound up scoring another goal, while the other team didn’t score at all. It was awesome to watch them, especially since this team is 2 years older. Just now I checked the standings, and it looks like the only team that has even scored on them is an undefeated team that should be in a much higher division.

    Why do I share this? Because what I’ve learned for YOU, Andrew, and the many other skaters I’ve known is that it’s not always the final ranking, but the effort, heart, and TIME that you’ve put into every step, and every improvement. Afterall, didn’t you improve? And most importantly, because in the end, you won’t be skater forever, what kind of person are you? How did you handle the mis-step and how did you treat the others around you? Who did you blame? Obviously, we all know you are a stand up guy, and you would never take any of this out on anyone else, and would never risk your integrity. And that, my friend, is why you will ALWAYS be positive influence and get something back positive from speedskating, whether you get to travel on the World Cup team, or not.

  15. All these people have said it better than I could. No one who who’s impressed, inspired, encouraged, and just generally brought good to so many people is a failure in any sense. For that, you know, this blog may have more long-term effect on your sport than any skating you, or anyone, could do.

    That aside, they’re no doubt right on the technical aspects, too. You’re so close, the wall between you and 36 is just painted on paper, and you’re going to slice through it sooner than you think.

  16. Andrew,
    I caught your race - incredible opener and turn entry as well as strength through the back straight, I commented to the person I was sitting with that you were flying down the track and with that opener you were in great position to have a huge PB - caught the slip in the top turn and last straight - awesome time for a slip and near stand up on the last 100 - you have come a long way my friend, you will only get better so hang in there!

  17. If one were to balance all the hard work and dedication of the athlete and his/her family & friend’s respect and support, against the final outcome of an important race, I wonder which way the scale would go even with a first place finish. I believe the later, when placed on the scale would take a life time to balance the other. Now let’s talk about why you chose plain old milk with those Krispy Kremes instead of chocolate.

  18. What with living downstairs and all, this is the first time I’ve checked your blog in months. I get the updates now and then from Jessica, by phone.
    But reading your blog is better. Just to tell you that the entries I liked best on the one you titled “Failure” (NOT, really) are #s 6,9,14, and 17. They said it all. Though you CAN skate competitively forever, will you? Do you want to? Meanwhile, there is life beyond skating, I’m told. Just as there was life beyond college teaching and conferencing. There’s ALWAYS life beyond… (except maybe …death, but that I don’t know). Sorry to be so philosophical. Enjoy the moment, Andrew, and think of the future, too.
    Love, Peg

  19. […] year I missed the team by .1 of a second, and it’s something I will take to my grave as a failure (after great starts, my turns were awful, failure is the right […]

  20. Hey Andrew…
    i tell you what mate, your no failure your an inspiration!
    keep your head up,

  21. Hang in there Andrew :)

    You are right on the cusp of MANY PB’s……..But you must continue, because when when it happens This Season, it will be REALLY SPECIAL………Masters Worlds Perhaps ;)

    Keep Focus on your Technique Improvement ……Soooo Close Andrew.

  22. s**t andrew, so close
    you diddit!
    go in there next time and fly even faster
    you got the power you got the nerves
    do what you know you can do

    jls

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