Zen 10 questions- Pat Meek

I met Pat Meek as just one of the guys around the oval, and to be honest, I did not like Pat much the first year I spent a lot of time around him. He just rubbed me the wrong way.

But after a couple of rough years, Pat grew as an athlete and as a man, getting faster has humbled him in some key ways. I discovered that my early impressions were wrong, and now I am honored to count him as a close friend.

If you want a thoughtful conversation, there is no better way to find it than a recovery bike ride with Pat.

His father was a speedskater who tried very hard to “make it” and that adds to the complexity of his story

Welcome to the blog Pat

Hey Andrew! Good to see you made it out to Milwaukee.

1. Tell me about your father’s path in the sport.

My dad started skating seriously when he was 14. It was a sport that my grandfather did too. He skated throughout the 1970s and actually went over to Norway after ’76 to train and compete over there.

After a season over there he decided to head back to school to get his M.B.A. but he kept involved skating recreationally and as a coach.

2. And your mother is the balance to this?

Haha yeah. I am not even sure if my mom likes speedskating! After every race when I call home she asks me one question “Did you have fun?” Luckily most of the time I say yes.

3. You are a “bubble” skater, someone who is no sure bet for the Olympic team. It all comes down to how your skate on a particular day. Nervous?

The work is done. Now it is time to get it done.

4. It’s evident that you have “taken it up a notch” this year. What did you do differently?

After four years on the national allround team, I decided to leave the program. The decision was for a variety of reasons, but I think the decision was one of the best ones I ever made. My current coach, Matt Kooreman, is an amazing and he is exactly what I needed.

I needed to go back to old school “blue collar” training. It is the training I grew up with and believe in. I needed to lowwalk until I wanted to barf. Static sit until my legs were shaking. Bike up the mountain in the cold rain. And then do it all again the next day.

5. Tell me a few things you learned from your father, about skating

I think the big thing that I have learned from him is what a beautiful sport this is. One day we were out doing something and we saw a flock of birds all flying in a line. He looked over with a smile and said “Look it is like a skating paceline, all going stroke for stroke.”

He definitely has taught me a bunch about the sport and has been a great sounding board for me.

6. Send 2 pictures that feels the most like you, to you. One on skates, one off.

7. Tell us a few things you learned from Bart Veldkamp, and quotes from him.

Bart Veldkamp is a great coach and it was an honor to be coached by him for two seasons. He taught me a lot about skating and it is great to count him as a close friend now.

One of the big things that he really helped me with was believing in myself and how to race. There are too many quotes from him to list but I’ll to list some. “10ks are supposed to hurt!! That is the point!” “When you are good you are good”

8. You don’t seem to be scary talented, you seem to be a creature of hard work, even by speedskater workaholic standards. What have you done this year to “take it up” a notch.

I have no talent. I honestly believe most of the guys I skate, nationally and internationally, against have more talent in one finger than I have in my whole body.

But at the end of the day it is not who has the most talent it is about who worked the hardest over the last several years. This year, I feel like I have basically lived, ate and slept at the oval. I spend all my time at the oval or on my bike. But honestly those are times that I am probably most happy, when I am working and getting better.

9. I am heavily involved in the “Masters movement”, you have an interesting perspective for a national team skater, how did Masters skaters help your career?

I think Master play a very important role for skaing in particular at the club level. Master skaters are the reason I was able to have ice time and other facilities growing up. They provide a huge service to clubs and young skaters. Without them I don’t know where I would be right now.

I think there needs to be more analysis on how we can best use the resources that Masters have (money and power) and use it in a way that develops the sport as a whole.

10. You have a magic wand, what would you change about speedskating in the United Skates?

I think the biggest thing would be how we as a sport market ourselves. For God’s sake, we have a cool sport!! I think we need to do a better job of showing the greater public this sport. The Dutch do a great job of this.

I think another change would be a better system of developing our younger long track talent. We need to provide these kids with the opportunity to excel in sport, in the classroom, and life. A more structured environment for kids who are passionate about skating will be what helps us excel in 2018 and beyond.

11. Part of your learning process as an athlete has been finding out the little things you need to do to perform. Some of your methods are different- like what?

I need to skate. Skating as much as you can teaches you how to skate. If you need to skate twice a day, then you do it! I honestly believe that “off days” are the biggest waste of time there is. You don’t get any better by sitting around and watching the NFL on Sundays.

I am not saying that you have to go out and hammer everyday but you need to make each day count towards getting better. I also am a huge believer in doing lots of laps by your self. There is no substitute for going out and being able to hammer out workouts, in particular laps and tough intervals, by yourself.

Sure it is boring and hard at times, but tough. As my AP US History teacher Dr. Monahan told us “Life is hard then you die.” Morbid, I know but you get the idea. In addition to that all, most people who know me know that I hate “recovery” weeks. I despise them. I get grumpy, anxious and little things tend to set me off. I know I need them but I can’t stand them for some reason.

12. Who are the people who you need to thank, without whom you would never have become the athlete & man that you are.

I think first off I have to thank my parents. They have sacrificed a lot for me and have always been there for me in the good times and bad. They have also helped me grow as a man who realizes I have been given a lot in life and therefore it is my responsibility to advantage of those opportunities and give back. “For those much it is given, much is expected,” is a favorite quote of my dad.

I also have to thank the rest of family and my girlfriend. They have been there for me even when I haven’t been able to give back in return. Also a thank you has to go out to my coaches, Matt Kooreman, Bart Veldkamp Dan Carroll and my dad, for putting up with me and helping me succeed.

Zen Haiku Round
1. If you weren’t a national team speedskater, you would be???

Working at the White House Communications Department

2. Favorite recovery food after a hard day

Chocolate Milk

3. You have some of the most ridiculous legs in the sport, how did this happen???

Haha I have no idea. I am just aspiring to have bigger legs than Dr. Heiden.

4. At the endless magazine rack of Barnes & Noble, what do you reach for?

Velonews and the New Yorker

5. Best pair of skates you have ever had?

Simmons boots and Maple alloy blades

6. Pick something technically or physically, that you wished you could borrow from another athlete?

Johan Olav Koss’ engine

7. 3 fellow speedskaters to help you load a U-haul & share a pizza with afterwards

This is tough!! Johan Olav Koss, Nick Pearson and my dad

8. 3 emotions/feelings or sensations you commonly experience on skates

Lactate, Excitement and Peace

9. Best day of skating in your life so far.

Skating my first world cup race in 2007

10. Best Halloween costume that you had as a kid

The Ghost of Fourth of July… believe me it was sweet.

5 Responses to “Zen 10 questions- Pat Meek”

  1. […] Zen 10 questions- Pat Meek […]

  2. Best typo yet. Almost enough to make me want to live in the United Skates of America. :D

  3. Van, where?

    I don’t see it… I’ve read this through twice… and I just don’t see it—

    probably why I missed it the first time…

  4. Pat, you’re always grumpy. :-P

    Haha Good luck tomorrow buddy. I hope I gave you enough motivation the day I beat you up emigration canyon :-)

  5. Pat, you know me, my wife and son, when we were looking for Bart Veldkamp in The Oval, in October this year. (we’re from Holland). You took a break and we talked for a while (in Oct.). Well, we really hope to see you on TV, with a big smile AND a medal. Good Luck and greetings.

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