Sunday, June 20, 2010

Father's Day

Well, today is Father's Day. Considering I don't have a mother I guess Father's Day is pretty significant for me. This year is the first time I guess I ever really put any thought into Father's Day. Growing up my siblings and I were partial to my mother because my father worked so much we didn't get to spend nearly as much time with him as we did with my mother, that would have to be my biggest regret I guess, especially realizing what became of both of them as people. Growing up my parents argued a lot and my mom always made my dad out to be the bad guy and made it seem like he was holding her back as a person, but she did always tell us that he loved us no matter what. It's just funny to me because when I was 15 and my parents split up we got to see the true colors. As far as I am concerned my mother died that year, figuratively speaking of course. She is still alive, but not as my mother. On a different note this has nothing to do with my mother just getting to the rest.

On the opposite side my father you could say flourished. The days of seeing my father angry and having such a short fuse dwindled down and he really displayed a whole other level of affection for my siblings and I. I can't say my father and I haven't had our arguments, shortcomings, or disagreements but in the end I can't say he hasn't been there throughout my life no matter what. He's always been there for my family and I, even when it seems as if it was something we should have been able to handle ourselves. My father has always wanted better for us. For any shortcomings my father may have he makes up for it with love and support that he shows us.

In the end there are many things I have learned from my dad, both directly and indirectly that I will take through life. The best thing my dad has ever shared for me is his desire for my success and wanting the best for me even if it meant taken less for himself. I could tell if I grow up to be half the man he is then I will grow up a good man. But that wouldn't be acceptable. If there is one thing my dad has given me it's a desire to never settle for what I have, to strive for what's ahead, and to always try to become better. If I told my dad today I wanted to be half the man he is today, he would be disappointed in me and tell me I have to better then that.

Most of all my dad has given me skating. Throughout the last 14 years he supported me every step of the way from my first pair of skates until the wheels I'll put on my skates in the future. His spent countless dollars driving me everywhere and buying what I needed. After all of these years he only sees me race now, so I try to repay him with effort when I lace my skates up because that may be the only way I ever could. He's been there when I won my first race. When I qualified for my first nationals. When I won my first national title. When I made my first world team. Even when Philadelphia Airport made me wait in line for 4 hours and miss my flight to Miami on my way to my first worlds. He was there when I won that medal in Colombia. One day I hope to let him see me make an Olympic team. Some day I hope we win an Olympic medal. Me on the ice and him watching.

Eastern Seaboard Series Race #2

Alright, yesterday was the second race of the 2010 Eastern Seaboard Series. For some reason I feel like writing about outdoor races because I love outdoors so much. Anyway, the first race we had Cheex show up which was awesome. This race we had Oliver Jean show up which was even cooler for me. Oliver has skated trexlertown before but not in the last few seasons. If you don't know, he is a Canadian short track speed skater that won a gold medal in the 5k relay at the Vancouver Olympics. Furthermore, he might be one of the tallest short track skaters at 6'2".

Anyway, the first race I skated was the 5k on the flat track. I skated with one of our younger skaters and it was okay. It's fun to watch a five year old skate a 5k and never put their hands on their knees or never stop moving their feet even for a second. It reminds you that something like that can be done, you just have to ignore the mental aspect and do it.

After that the Pro Masters and Veterans skated their race which is normally when I am warming up for my race so I end up missing most of it. They skated a pretty good race from what I could tell, the pack stayed together throughout the race unlike the last race.

Next up was the Pro Freshman through Senior Men. We had a pretty good race going. I took an unfortunate spill on what I think was the second mile and that really sucked. I popped right back up and caught back up to the pack within the next 400m but it really sucks falling. Not only did I fall but I think I fell pretty hard. All of the areas I fell on are swollen and I managed to get more marks then I should. I got my trademark which is my shin, then I got my mid-thigh, hip, ribs, inside forearm, and I think my head might have hit the ground because the one side of my neck is pretty stiff too. The only good part about the fall is afterwards I was pretty mad that I fell and normally it makes me focus a little more and become a little more efficient. I wish I knew exactly what triggers me to focus more when I get angry but it's been that way my entire career and I've never figured it out really.
The race had a decent pace with few breakaways. The thing about breakaways is that they only occur if the pace drops down a lot and keeping the pace steady eliminates most breaks. On the last lap the pace usually gets pretty slow. The first race Cheex took care of that by keeping it fast and this race Oliver took off as the bell was ringing which worked except back in the woods he let up a lot and the pace got a little slow and there was a ridiculous amount of grabbing during a 100m stretch. Both races so far this year I've played it a little risky by making my move really really late compared to what I normally would do. The first race I came about 10m short losing by just a little and this time I came up the exact opposite way by having around 10m to spare and winning by just a little so it works both ways.

Next up was the Pro Freshman thru Senior Women's race. Usually they have a ridiculously slow race but they have been getting better at going faster the last few races. The same people definitely end up leading their race but the thing the kind of annoys me is that when they go slow no one even attempts to breakaway. I just don't see any strategy in their races and it's more like we'll all just stay together and sprint at the end and the best sprint may win. The top three finished Sam Goetz, Alex Harris, and Chelsea Creveling which is a pretty good top three considering all of them were 2009 world team members.

Lastly was the advanced race and unfortunately I failed to watch the majority of this race except for the beginning which I apologize for. Being that last race I normally end up chatting during this race with skaters that do not make it down often. This time I chatted with Oliver for awhile and I was in complete awe looking at his Vancouver Gold Medal. Something like that just blows me away. I can't imagine having my own someday even though that is the goal.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

What Started It All

I was eight or nine years old. I was a JO Juvenile boy. I was skating I believe in Wharton , NJ, at a keystone speed league meet. I was skating in the second heat. The distance was 500m.. the long race.

I got second place off the start but the skater in first had a great start getting away from me within the first lap. He was in the lead and I was in second by myself, just running after the lead. I caught him with just a lap and a half remaining in the race. Coming around the next turn, as the final lap bell was ringing I made my pass for the lead. As soon as I made the pass even at nine or ten, I instantly felt my legs get heavy and I did my all to hold on to win the race.

I came off the floor, most likely smiling, my parents congratulating me.

And that was the first race I ever won.

After three years, I won my very first race. The thrill of victory, the feeling afterward, and the way everyone congratulates immediately after a victory unlike anything else. That made me want to win a lot more.

Another moment that I vividly remember is from 2006. I had just finished a race at nationals and I was sitting in the ready area taking my skates off when a primary boy from my team approached me. He asked me, "How do you always win." I smiled. I don't remember my exact words like I remember his, but I believe I told him that I don't always win but I always try to and that if he wants to win he has to go to practice and skate as fast as he can every time.

That same day, he went down to the vendor area where the Send The Best booth was set up and asked whoever was working the booth at the time, if next year when I have a trading card if they could save him one so he can buy it. I remind you in 2006 I did not make the world team, and I did not have a trading card that year and there was no guaranteeing I would have one the next year either.

Sure enough I made the world team in 2007 and I had a trading card. The boy did not attend nationals that year but I remember buying a trading card, signing it, and personally giving it to him the next time I saw him.

If I told you every time I got on the starting line winning wasn't on my mind I would be lying. Ever since that first win I have wanted nothing more than to win every race I ever skate again. But I also can't explain the disappointment I have felt coming off the skating floor after I did not finish first and seeing a primary, juvenile, or elementary skater standing there watching me roll by.

At first I always wanted to win because it felt good for me. I was congratulated coming off the floor. But as I got older I realized winning, can mean so much even though winning is not and never will be the most important aspect.