Wednesday, September 24, 2008

The Now and The Future

Right now I am enjoying my Senior year of High School. Back in June I made the decision to run XC so since I got back from worlds that is what has grasped most of my attention. In my second week I am finally past the point where I can run and still walk up the steps at home normally (I was crawling up them the first week). At my school you must have 10 days of practice in before you can participate in the event so next Tuesday will be my first XC race and I'll probably give an update after that.
I decided to run XC for a few reasons. One is that I really wanted to get back into running shape but I just couldn't manage to do it on my own. Now that I am in running shape I don't plan on losing it for a very long time. The thing about being in running shape is that you can use it for a warm up off-skates and it works so well but if you aren't in shape for it you're doing your body worse. The second reason I decided to run XC is because I always enjoyed it and we have a biker on our team who started half-way through last years season and ended up going to states so I thought what the heck we'll see what I can do. And it's my Senior year so I'd rather not look back and wonder what if.
Saturday is my first ice practice since somewhere around March. I will make every one possible from this point on and in terms of skating ice will be pretty much my number one priority for a few months. This will be my second full season of ice and it should just get better then last year.
October 12th marks my leagues first indoor meet. So that starts the indoor season. I'm looking to skate acceptable all year indoor but I have no particular goal for indoor. I want to skate good indoor because I hate to lose but I think it's pretty clear what my focus will be.
My mind is already set for June. I know what I did last year and I know what I have to do this year. The only awkward part is I know how hard I trained last year and I know I should feel like the task I'm trying to do is almost impossible but I don't. It's doable. I know how hard I have to train and it won't be that bad. Yes it will be hard and tiring but that's what I skate for. I wouldn't skate if it was easy. To make the jump I want to make, more of my changes will happen before I even tie my skates.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

It's All Over

Well the 2008 season is officially over. What a year it was. Before a recap of the year which will come a different day I will finish with worlds.
It rained for us again during the marathon. It sucked a lot. The course wasn't a very good one to begin with so with the rain it just became terrible. Junior Men once again did not end up getting a medal which made us look horrible. To make matters worse we didn't even get a relay medal like the previous two years. That puts us in a pretty bad place. I really thought we had the team to do it and I thought we trained pretty hard at residency. As a team (Junior Men) I think we were so close. 1000m final, 500m final, relay final, 300m final, a couple top 10 long race finishes.
The Junior Women skated so good this year. They had three individual medalists which was a team high. And they ended up with six medals including the relay which is great.
The Senior Women were dominate in sprints. To think Sara and Brittany would do what they did on track is just ridiculous. I never would have thought they would get 6 of the 9 medals in the 3 track sprints (Yes, I'm calling the 1000m a sprint race). This was Sara's first year medalling individually and you never would have guessed it.
The Senior Men skated good. They had the sickness in their group but I think two of them qualified for the world games (I am not certain though) which would be Josh and Dane. They also had two medalists in Josh and Joey.
It sucks that again Junior Men ended up the weakest link, especially because we had a stronger team heading into worlds this year then we did last year I think.

Monday, September 8, 2008

The Plague, Racing, and Falling

The Plague. Which is what we have started calling it. It started with Cheeks, when he got sick. And then moved onto Joey. Joey couldn't skate pretty much all of track. Which sucked, but it gave Josh (not that he wouldn't have gotten it) another chance to get a medal after the points race in the 1000m. And Josh did just that, winning a bronze medal proving that US Senior Men not named Mantia can still earn medals. Not to say we didn't want Joey to be healthy and to skate because that would have just been more medals.
Racing. I skated the 500 and the relay. A lot of people told me through the 500 rounds that I looked really relaxed and calm. I felt great. We had 5 rounds. Heats- 1/8- 1/4 - 1/2 - finals. I skated through the semi winning every single one I skated and having the two fastest times in my semi and quarter final for the entire division. In the 500m final I managed to fall down while accelerating to make my move towards the front. As I crossed over the skater in front of me crossed back and my right foot got kicked by his left foot and I just went down fast.
After that I'll be honest, I was pissed off. But like many people wouldn't know I didn't sulk or anything, I sat down.. alone and visualized what I wanted to do in the relay. I figured I was going to get to the front as fast as possible and take it from there. So on my first time out I went around the pack on the outside and got to the front. From there on we picked the pace up. If you saw the video there's something you probably didn't know: although we picked it up and was going fast we all had another gear we were waiting to use. Anyway, receiving my tag with 4 laps remaining (we were still winning) I tried going around a Colombian awaiting his tag and as his partner flew up to tag him I ended up getting hip-checked or whatever but I ended up falling in the same exact spot and took out the number two team (Korea) with me. So I ended the day with two fourth place finishes: the worst of all.
Some results from road:
-Joey won the 20k for the fourth year in a row breaking the world record in that distance for the third time.
-Mariah got third in the 200m.
-Bri was tied for third place overall in the points race before a Korean skater fell down in front of her and she went over her.

Thursday, September 4, 2008

Politics, politics, politics

Let me lay it out for you... Some people get to a point in their lives that they decide to train to make the world team. If they are smart and willing to put in the time they usually will. Once you make the world team their are two types of people: Those who realize they are about to represent the USA and decide to train harder or at least keep training, and those who realize they have made the USA world team and think that is good enough.
Those who keep training usually are those who end up skating more then everyone else and doing better then everyone else at worlds the other ones well ehhh.
Then there is this little glitch in our system. Were Juniors must pay their full way to get to worlds. And because their parents must pay their child's full way there becomes a point where a parent has the right to ask why they paid so much for their kid not to race at worlds. Therefore, it is a responsibility for the staff to allow every child to race. But what those parents may not know is if their child has really trained for their chance at worlds.
So the staff at one point must make a decision. Continue to put those best suited for each race in each race, or play the politically correct card. In which turn they will play the politically correct card and in which they practically forfeit a race.
And as they say: there are politics in everything.

Day 1

Day one is over and the USA has three medals, one gold and two silvers. Brittany and Sara combined to break the world record in the 300m 3 times while taking 1,2 in the final (brittany then sara). Bri finished second place by a quarter of a wheel in the 15k elim.
Hank finished 7th place in the 15k elim and jake finished 10th. Sophie also got 12th in the same race bri placed in.
Josh Wood most likely would have ended up medaling in the 10k pts elim but someone fell down in front of him and he ended up going down too. At the time of the fall he was tied for second place in points. He got up and tried to catch up because 10 people finish the race and everyone else gets eliminated, but unfortunately he ended up as the last person to be eliminated.
Kevin and Dane both finished 13th in the 300m being the first persons to not qualify for the final (top 12 qualify). Mariah and I both finished 5th place, Joey finished 7th, and Erin Jackson finished 10th.

Monday, September 1, 2008

What I Want

Gijon 2008. Spain. World Championships. As an athlete at this level what do I want?
I am not a Joey Mantia, if I don't get gold medals no one will be disappointed or upset. I am a Keith Carroll. No one here may no my name. And next year they still won't know who I am. But what do I want out of my races? I want to lay everything out on the track and go home with my pride and whatever else that may bring me. I know up to this point I have trained about as good as I could have this year and whatever I do in my races if it was my personal best then I'll be fine with those results.
If those results bring me home a medal, be it a bronze medal or a gold medal then that will be great. But truthfully, I am here for myself. If I win a medal that would be great but no one will remember I won that medal next year anyway.
Now if I skate the same races as last year, I want to do better then last year. I don't care if it is by a placement or 10 I want to do better. I don't care if my 300m is a second slower if it gets me better then 9th place then those results are fine with me.

Training The Mind

Racing. It's a big concept to really understand. Most think racing is all about training, training, training. I can put in as many miles as I want and be 10 times stronger then everyone else but that won't make me a better racer.
There are so many components that go in to being a good athlete. Of course there is practice. And there is different types of practicing. There is the residency type training where I was just skating as hard as I could every time I could because it will make me a strong competitor. But then there is Spain practice. Where every time I touch the track I'm thinking where I want to be every time I skate. Training to make the most of my races. Not so much to be stronger but to know take the strength and speed I have accumulated thus far in my life and use it all to good use in order to have a good performance.
It's so easy to just be strong and then decide 'I'm going to go race like hell.' Well that is a great approach but there is so much more you need to do. You literally have to visualize every aspect of the race so you are mentally prepared. You have to visualize the race when everything goes perfect, and even when something goes wrong so that you are always prepared. You should be able to see yourself with the results you want before you even tie your skates.
Everything I am doing here in Spain is for muscle memory and that sort of thing. I run through my starts so I know where I want to be on the track. I picture myself skating my race a million times so that my mind is prepared for the race just as much as every other part of me.
Those of you who know me, know that I over analyze everything. I know every element of every wheel, whether or not I'm skating on it or not. I know what makes me go faster and what doesn't. I ask more questions then anyone just because then I have all of this information I can just sort through and decide what is for me. Out here, the coaches and staff think I am screwing my own head up with all of my questions and all the starts I'm doing but I'm trying to tell them that this is me. I've said if they ask Jeff he will tell them the same thing, that I over analyze everything. But it normally works out for the best!