Saturday, September 15, 2012
Saturday, September 3, 2011
As athletes, we strive to be victorious. It is our purpose. We understand, but struggle to accept the ideology that along with the great triumphs, there will inevitably be failures on some level. When we are serious about the goals we set, we do EVERYTHING IN OUR POWER to prevent those failures from happening, particularly when it matters most. Moreover, we do our homework with precision and consistency, we come to the show prepared and our senses are blind to anything other than the task at hand; we are machines.
Sometimes however, we are not serious about the goals we set for ourselves. We speak them, we write them down, we think about them, but we don't feel them. We say things like, "I want to win worlds." Sure those are words that sound great to the ears, but if they mean nothing to the heart, they are worthless, and when they are worthless, our minds tells us that it is no longer necessary to do EVERYTHING IN OUR POWER to succeed.
2004 was my first senior world championships. I was so close winning a gold medal i could taste it. Each race i skated i was certainly strong enough to win, but had so much fear racing against the veterans that i was missing just a slight mental edge that could have possibly helped me bring home a hand full of gold medals instead of the handful of silver and bronze that i actually came home with. I spent the entire next season reliving those races, they fueled me. Fast forward to the 2005 world championships, suzhou, china. I made it through each round of the 500m sprint on the track and found myself in the 500m final, again up against the veterans. David Downing was the coach that year. He sat me down before the race and pounded into my head that i was the fastest guy there and that i couldn't be afraid to be in control. Moreover, i needed to win the start and go full from the gun, taking matters into my hands and saying, "if you wanna beat me, you're going to have to BEAT ME." Those words belted down my confidence, as all year i had been mentally preparing for this very moment, being sure not to make the same mistakes from last year. When the gun went off, I had the perfect start, made it to the corner first, and never looked back. That was my first senior world title. It was literally what I had dreamed about for that previous 5 or 6 years as an athlete and the feeling that i had when i crossed the line was one that i've only felt a handful of times in my life, one impossible to explain with words.
The point of that story is to solidify the importance of goals driven by true desire and how effective they are.
I think the next several years of my career were kindled and driven from that very feeling i got when i crossed the line in the 500m in china. That feeling was the source of all my motivation; it was an addiction. From 2004 to 2010 i collected national titles, national records, world cup wins, world titles and world records. In truth, eventually each accomplishment felt less and less like that feeling i had in 2005, until finally, i found myself competing because it was what i was supposed to do, not because i wanted to. The addiction was no longer being fed, the motivation to train was no longer there and the goals i was setting suddenly became mere words on a paper.
I was spending the seasons barely getting by with the work done in previous years and the respect i had earned. I wasn't the same athlete i used to be. I only did just enough to prepare for the world championships-- i would spend a few months working on the details as opposed to spending a full season with a consistent program like i did when i was younger and fueled by that addiction. It seemed to be working okay for me, still having pretty good success, despite 'cheating' the system, but what i didn't know is that it would all catch up to me. I started only catering to my strengths at practice and stopped working on my weaknesses, because in my mind, all those little things just came naturally. I was wrong. Eventually, not working the weaknesses spawned more weaknesses until finally, i just began accepting not being good at the facets of skating that made me who i was before. I accepted not being good at indoor, not being good at corners, not being good at starts, not being good at hawks and not having great endurance on corners. I had intensity in my workouts, but i wasn't practicing the necessary things to be winning on a world level. Moreover, i wasn't working on any of those things that i ACCEPTED not being the best at.
So here I am. Failing to achieve my 'goals' at the world championships, or am I? Can i really accept my goals as genuine when they don't come from the heart? In the beginning, I knew I wasn't prepared. I was warming up for my races on the track trying to figure out the best body position in the corner, how to push efficiently, and where to have my hips in the corners, when in actuality, i should have been focused on what i was going to do in the race. Because I failed to do my homework, everything was 5 steps behind and it's too late to try to catch up now, particularly without having a residency program this year. Identifying my lack of preparation brought on overwhelming fear. However, this time it wasn't a fear of competing against the veterans, it was fear of letting the fans down and having people think I don't have what it takes any more.
This was an eye opener. My goals of winning worlds didn't really mean that much to me if my fears were based on other people's perceptions.
With each race that i come up short in, the frustration grows. What was initially fear, has now been completely transformed into motivation to prove my ability to myself. I do not want to fail, but I'm no longer afraid of it. I have 3 races left. Significant damage may have been done from lack of proper preparation, but opportunity still presents itself to be taken full advantage of, particularly now the mind is clear, the questions have been answered, and the goals are set for the right reasons again.
Friday, August 27, 2010
Today started off pretty good, with the typical 5x snooze button press; you know, i haven’t quite figured out why i do that to myself, but it seems logical first thing in the morning. I got up and had myself a little shave with cold water (cause that’s what was available)… not one of my better ideas, but if ripping the hair out of your face is what you’re going for, i totally suggest it. First things on the list today were some media interviews at the track, skating is realllly big here and apparently they wanted to know what i had to say… im not really sure why, but if thats what they want… who am i to keep that from them haha. After the interviews, i skated around with some kids that practice at the track here in medellin, took some pictures, signed a couple shirts, and then headed off to have some… you guessed it- sushi in colombia. Okay, you probably didn’t guess that, because i was shocked when they told me they had good sushi this far south of the border, but they were right, it was pretty enjoyable.
The sushi place sits right in this little part of town that houses a ton of good restaurants apparently; think of it like a mini down town i guess. Around this little area there were some interesting… ehh, things:
Im not really sure how to explain this exactly, but i’m going to give it my best shot. Man with weird shaped chest is gettin’ DOWN on his air flute whilst his lady friend, who has the biggest thighs on the planet, likes him enough to play along (he must have a good personality cause he’s definitely not well equipped)… or they’re both trippin on that colombian good good… either way, its different so i decided to give her leg a big hug, it was a good fit.
Moving on to street signs:
Ya. I don’t speak spanish, but my guess is this says, “calculators permitted, but only if they have the ability to print, oh, and they have to be about as big as your head.”
To me this one is pretty obvious, “people that walk like robots can cross here, but you have to be wearing a garter way high on your leg.”
“I used to be so tired all the time, but since i got this new back pack that conveniently allows me to carry 4 gallons of piping hot coffe on my back, im always alert and ready… thanks camelbak.”
I used to think all arepas were stupid, until i found this store. This is proof that all you need to be intelligent is a pair of glasses.
Ever get a tattoo when you were younger and regret it when you got older? Her neither.
And last but not least, you thought china was bad about making whatever they want… think again lol Colombia 1, China 0
Anyway, so you’re probably wondering about the title of this post… or maybe you were oblivious to the fact that it even had a title, either way, let me elaborate. Heaven: they found my bag, it was delivered, with all the contents, this made me happy. I got to eat sushi and mexican in the same day… 2 of my favorite foods… to you normal people that doesn’t mean much, but i love food. Hell: 1 lap on, 2 laps off, 3 laps on, 4 laps off, 5 laps on, 5 laps off, 4 laps on, 3 laps off, 2 laps on, 1 lap off, 1 lap on, 2 laps off, 3 laps on, 4 laps off, 5 laps on, 5 laps off, 4 laps on, 3 laps off, 2 laps on, 1 lap off, 1 lap off, 2 laps on, 3 laps off, 4 on, 5 laps off. Yea i typed that right. This is all on super soft wheels that made my legs not like me so so much. Probably the most miserable interval set i do… it never gets easier, it sucks just as bad each time.
After the workout, we started the clinic which was basically a 2 hour q&a followed by about an hour of me just talking about what will be covered in the camp and things like that. The original plan was to skate, but as you can see below, the weather didn’t like that idea so much.
Now the day is over and i want sleep. (abrupt ending i know)
Thursday, August 26, 2010
Alright guys, kind of an interesting trip so far. First off, I got stuck in Panama City last night because there was maintenance issue with my plane from Houston to Panama, causing an awesome delay, ultimately resulting in me missing my flight to Medellin, and of course, losing my luggage… which is still no where to be found. On the bright side of things, as soon as i arrived in Colombia, my ride was there and super hospitable. We took a trip up the mountain to a little city called Guarne, where the world championships are going to be hosted this year. Below are some photos of the track I took:
From what i can gather, and you might be able to see some of this in the pictures, is that the track is very similar to the infield of the geisingen track in germany. It’s by no means smooth and my prediction is that after only a few laps of grinding, you’re wheels will have noticeable cat tongue. As far as layout and dimensions, it looks pretty damn good… not as wide as some tracks we’ve seen at worlds before, but also not so skinny that you can’t comfortably pass if you want. As with all flat banked tracks, the racing will be a little boring, with only 1 true fast line… I miss the parabolic style racing. One thing is for sure, if they choose not to resurface this track before worlds, you better bring a stock pile of wheels, because i think this guy is going to eat them for breakfast, lunch and dinner… oh, and don’t fall down, whatever you do.
The road course is yet to be built, but if you take a look at the first photo, the chick in the purple is standing probably about where the finish line is going to be (i think). Below is a little diagram i came up with from memory of the schematic that i saw, showing the shape of the road course, which should also be quite interesting with very minimal passing opportunities… this is a basic shape:
I didn’t get a chance to skate on the track yet, they asked if i wanted to, but seeing as my clothes are lost in limbo somewhere, i had nothing to skate in.
From the track, we got some food… and you know my inner fat kid suggested none other than the famous El Corral; for those of you that don’t know what that is, think of the best burger place you know of and its comparable to that. In the bathroom at el corral they had some interesting pieces of porcelain:
Yea, you pee into that little thing. I guess it’s logical, thinking about it, why are typical urinals so damn big?
Oh, and i cannot forget the toilet:
you know… in case you want to pee into a toilet, because obviously, they do not want you sitting down lol. But i mean they were courteous enough to put a little rail to hold onto while you’re doing your wall sits as you attempt to go to the bathroom… perhaps that’s why they’re so good at skating here in colombia- no toilet seats… they’ve been building a tolerance for that position all their lives lol.
Anyway, the host of the clinic is Jose Bustamante, he runs a skating company down here in Colombia; the guy is incredibly nice and selfless. He set up a room for me in his house that is furnished like i’m staying in a 5 star hotel, it’s comfortable to say the least. Seeing as i have no clothes, he hooked me up with a few items… one of which caught my attention of course:
Yes, that’s right ladies and gentlemen, it says “a underwear” to which i quickly contested, “NO, THIS is a v-neck” haha. Now i get to walk around colombia looking like justin stelly, kinda, this one isn’t made by hurley and doesn’t come with a little useless pocket on the front. lol (jk stelly, but seriously, you love you some v-necks from hurley with pockets on them that you never put anything in) hahaha
Now, i’m chillin at jose’s house relaxing a little until about 5, then it’s time to workout. There’s about 43 tracks here in medellin, so it shouldn’t be hard to find one to skate on… but the weather might not be so lenient, could be an off skates day, we’ll see.
Tuesday, August 24, 2010
First hard workout since trials… felt good, i’ve missed the pain. Here is a clip from one of my 100’s- below was the workout:
4x100m (2 standing, 2 rolling)
4x200m (2 standing, 2 rolling)
2x300m (1 standing, 1 rolling)
The efforts were supposed to be at 85% focusing mostly on technique, but i think the 1’s and 2’s were no less than 95%.
And this video doesn’t do this hill much justice… its tough.