Sunday, January 24, 2016

First Race of the Year - Speed Skating Time

So my winter sport of choice is of course speed skating. Last year I took some free lessons just because I wanted the experience. By the end of the season I wanted more. So here we are in 2016 and I am strapping the skates to my feet for my first race of the year.

I am not a great skater by any means. I do have a great aerobic engine though, so I can power through my weak form for now (but I find my form is getting better). I signed up for the 100m and the 500m. I thought the 1500m might be a bit too much mentally for me this time around (it requires multiple lane changes). The 100m is a single straight with no corners and the 500 is 1 lap plus a straight and includes single lane change.

The races are Olympic style, so it is you versus 1 other racer. Overall times dictate the winners rather than heats and elimination. So you get one kick at the can.

First up with the 500m. I lined up on the inner lane (prechosen by the race directors) and took the line then was off. My start was a little rusty so I didn't push the run down the ice too far before getting into a tuck and stride.  I made the corner first and therefore had the right away for the lane change. I didn't screw up the change and pushed through. The second (and final corner) had a wicked tail wind and I don't do corners well, so I mostly glided through (having seen a previous skater fall). Back to the main straight and I pushed to the end. My fatigue was obvious as I felt a little slippy in the cross breeze about 50m before the finish. I ended up winning my race with a time of 1:06:39 to place 17th overall out of 28 skaters. That was fun.

A short break for me and I was back at it in the 100m. This was a mass start race but there were just 3 racers in my heat. Now to be brutally honest, I was by far the oldest person in the 100's. Apparently it is usually the kids that do these short sprint races. But it was fun anyway and those kids are awesome.

The 100m is all out sprint with a running start (just watch a youtube video sometime), then a push and glide to the finish. We were off quickly and I was neck and neck with the young teen beside me. He had a great running start and coudl keep it up much longer than I could. We ended up finishing very close together with him taking me at the line. Great job. Of the 9 skaters in the 100m I came in second overall with a time of 14.18.

So now I have 2 benchmarks to work with, and more lessons to take. By the end of the season I will certainly race the 1500 and see how well I can do there.  Next up though is MEC Race 1. And so it begins!
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