photo by Steve Penland

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Oh, Yeah...THAT'S What I Like About Skating

I did my first-ever long track 10K this morning at the Pettit.  Mel and Sprinter Boy, my young and speedy friends, had talked me into signing up for it.  Mel was setting her sights on the women's track record, and Sprinter Boy likes to continually prove that his nickname needs to be changed from "Sprinter Boy."  I had no particular reason to do a 10K except that I like to think of myself as an endurance skater, and what kind of endurance skater has never done a 10K?  So I said sure, why not?

Doing a 10K seemed like a good idea when they first proposed it. It seemed like a good idea after I'd done a 10K in practice.  And it even still seemed like a good idea after I'd done a 15 lap mass start race last weekend.  By the time I got up at 5:30 this morning, though, a 10K was beginning to seem like a "what the Hell was I thinking?" kind of idea. My distance races so far this year--all one 3000 and one 5000 of them--have gone horribly; both were the worst times I've gotten in those distances in about five years.  So now suddenly I want to do a race twice as long as any metric race I've ever done?

But I was signed up, so I was going to do it.  And I decided that this would be another great opportunity to go into an event with no expectations and no stress, and with a plan to just have as much fun as I possibly could.

So I did.

The 10K was the first event of the day so there wouldn't have been a whole lot of time to stress and fret anyway--if I was into stressing and fretting, that is.  As it was, I just had time to do a quick but thorough warmup, and then they were calling us to the line.  Which was the first hurdle of the day--I've never done a 10K, and I didn't know where the starting line was.  Once we settled that little issue we were ready to go.  I was solo in the first "pair," with Mel and Sprinter Boy in the pair behind me.  I anticipated getting lapped by both of them, probably multiple times.

And then the gun went, and I was off.  I had no one giving me lap times, no clue how I was doing, nothing except the fun of skating.  And skating some more. And skating some more.  Mel passed me once and lapped me twice, and Sprinter Boy passed me once.  Other than that excitement, I just skated along, not minding how high the "laps remaining" number was, not working exceptionally hard (because I had no idea how hard I could or should work for 25 laps), not worrying about how much I had left to do.  Eventually, when I had 10 laps left and was still feeling really good, I decided I should try a little harder--so I did. And other than some PVC's with four laps to go, the remaining 10 laps passed as easily and enjoyably as the the first 15 had.  When they rang the bell for my final lap I started to smile, and I smiled for the whole last 400 meters--I was going to finish my first 10K, and it felt great.

And then I heard my time, and it felt even greater--18:14.13.

And that was when it dawned on me...oh, yeah...this is what I like about skating.  Surprising myself with a good event, loving the way a race went, feeling the "high" after working hard and accomplishing something.

Or, well, not working hard enough, apparently. Mel, who had broken shattered the track record by 40 seconds, filled me in on how painful her race had been; how much work.  Apparently you're not supposed to finish a 10K thinking "wow, that was fun."  Sprinter Boy had also had a good race, and was also thinking that his race wasn't, perhaps, quite as much fun as mine had been....further proof that I need to work a bit harder next time.

And yes, there will be a next time.  Maybe not until next year, but I'm pretty sure that if I train for it a bit, get someone to give me lap times, and prepare myself to work a lot harder in the race than I did this time--I can break 18 minutes.

That's another thing I like about skating...there's always something to look forward to.  Even if it's looking forward to skating a race that's not quite as much fun as this one was.


  1. I was watching your times, you were just motoring along quite steadily at, um, roughly my 3000 pace. That's a lot of laps! But, I think your first 10 was just a bit like my first 3k: I went in with the attitude that I hoped people would have enough spare time to wait for me to finish. I found out I was in a quad with Dano and figured she'd get tired of repeatedly passing me, but I finished less than a minute behind her. My most optimistic time estimate was that a 5:59.99 would be super but I did a 5:35. So your next 10k is going to be awesome. (Or, I mean, if it works out just like my 3k, your 5th 10k will be awesome. Something like that.)

  2. Yeah, I was REALLY pleased to see my lap times...they were very consistent, even without anyone telling me what they were! I do think I can dig a bit deeper if I know what pace I'm doing next time. I hope my next 10K is as awesome as your 3K yesterday was! It's fun to be making progress, isn't it?

  3. Progress is awesome. Also, knowing your lap times is awesome. My 2nd 3000 I ended up skating solo (that's the one I fell on) and Olu had the microphone and nothing to talk about except ... me. I could only half-listen to what he was saying about my various athletic feats (!) but I certainly heard the lap times-I'll always remember the first full lap: "That was a 38.5 Now, he's going to try to hold that lap time for the rest of the race" and I thought, well, that's not going to happen!

    When I realized I could see your lap times I did shout some out to you, on the off chance you would be able to hear and understand not having planned that, but of course mental power is sharply limited during a race. I mean, mine is. (For me, a 500 is a 49 second black hole in which something must have happened but I can't recall what.)

    Also, regarding the 10k starting line: During the warmup I overheard the starter talking to one of the other officials saying that he wasn't sure how to set up for the 10k start, he'd never started a 10k before. So, maybe not the only one not exactly sure where the start was!

  4. Dang, I didn't hear you at all! Which doesn't surprise me; I often didn't hear my coach and he was right there on the track yelling in my face as I wobbled past. Thanks for trying, though! And funny that the starter hadn't worked a 10K before...maybe that's why he was ground-level. Mel and Sprinter Boy said the gun was really loud because the starter wasn't up on his ladder, but I didn't notice (maybe I DO need to get my hearing checked!)

  5. That is amazing. Think about it - you went 10km in 18 minutes. In what other sport (besides biking) could you do that? 10k! 18 minutes!

    You, my dear, are a rock star

  6. Thanks, Sharon. You know, of my many athletic experiences, this has to be one of the ones that I'm most proud of. Four days later and I'm still smiling...