The Run Around

Leading up to the big show (the Northshore Inline Marathon), I’ve been doing a little more training but essentially I’m already at my peek and goal going into the race this weekend is just to stay injury free and ready to race.

Last weekend was the last big training session, all told I skated 150km over the weekend. On Saturday I hooked up with Ed Leung and his girlfriend Jen and we did a skate from Oakville to Niagara falls. We didn’t make it all the way though.

We started out at about 8 in the morning (a little late) and didn’t have too much trouble early on. By the time we reached Hamilton beach it was early morning and some of the Toronto skaters were out training on this excellent 5K stretch. Our 25k warm-up to get there eased us into a couple laps with some intervals, we skated about 15k with Morgan, Peter (and his coach Mike Murray), George (team mate of mine), and Jacky.

The Hamilton beach session was fun, but it took a little too much gaz out of the tank I think. After we finished up there we pressed on, eastward towards the falls and wine country. We more or less used an access road that follows the main highway between Oakville and St Catherines.

We had to take some detours along the way…on some very rough pavement. Even though we usually had a shoulder to skate on, for some reason there was gravel everywhere. We usually floated out to the road but had to keep any out for traffic, fortunately traffic on the access road was pretty light. It was a great day for skating though, moderately warm clear sky, lots of sun and a ribbon of pavement as far as the eye could see.

Once we hit St Catherines though, we had skate along Lakeshore to get to the bridge over the canal and start skating through wine country to finish getting up to Niagara falls. This was probably the most brutal part of the whole skate; gravel, rough pavement, no shoulder and now mid-day weekend traffic. This 6-7km stretch was very un-fun!

Having to roll to a stop every 30sec and let some cars pass is not a great way to skate. The road was a narrow two lanes, so cars couldn’t just give us space and go around…we had to give them space, only there was no shoulder to just pull over on to. Ah, the joys of road skating! If you can time things right and pick the right route, road skating can be amazing…but there is no light without the dark as they say.

Once we got over the Welland canal bridge, were in wine country and had something like 20-30k to skate to the falls. We only got another 9-10km though before we threw up the white flag. The shoulder was a mess of gravel and very bad pavement (which we already knew was going to continue for another 10km), and the mid-day traffic was not letting up. Plus there was the small issue of having been skating for 6 hours already. :)

We spotted a bench at the next intersection near a winery and once perched, we decided to call it a day. Ed gave Jen a call on the phone and a short while later we were on our way to Niagara proper. We spent the afternoon doing the tourist thing, checking out an organic winery (Frog Pond) and local specialty food shops and such (I even got a new baseball cap).

Towards the evening we did the mini-golf thing and some walking around on the strip before heading back to Oakville for eats some rest. Its kind of like a mini-Los Vegas. But when I say “mini” I mean it.

All told the skating was 100km; we did 84km and change in point A to point B fashion, but there was another 15K of skating we did as laps at Hamilton beach with da boys.

After a few hours with the Sandman, I got picked up by George in the morning and it was off to London to meet with the other Schankel team members for our first training camp. This day long session would be our first chance to train with each other and start getting used to each others style.

Team manager Andrew Hegarty had put together a nice little training program for us; about 50km of skating the paths and parks, meanwhile doing team drills as we went. It was great to see pretty much the whole Schankel Canada team out skating together.

There was a lot of rough pavement though, and my feet were still “tenderized” from the 6 hours of road skating on Saturday, both days I was skating on Matter Orange Juice wheels…very hard wheels. On top of this I was being very conservative safety wise; with my fall at the festival and my cracked ribs from the Bont G3 Wheel hub snap in the prior week, I truly didn’t want to get too crazy with Northshore coming up.

I took Monday off and through the rest of the week just did some shorter skates, nothing above 25km, but was sure to do a set of attacks in each session to stay tuned up for the race. On Wednesday some of my attacks were pretty good for being on the paths (variable pavement quality). One of my sprints was at 48kph…wasn’t able to reproduce it though :(

Volume wise the taper before the race was pretty good; 100k Saturday, 50k Sunday, 25k Wednesday, 15k Thursday…rest Friday and then Northshore!

The idea behind tapering is that you lower the volume but not the intensity; this lets your muscles recover more and not be “worn down” by the time you get to the race. I’ve also been drinking loads of water and hitting the pasta all week to try and gaz up the legs as much as I can.

At this point though, its all momentum. A whole season of training, from April until now…5 months of sweat, pain and sacrificing fun for training value…it all boils down to 7AM race down in Deluth on Saturday morning.

Good luck to every one who is skating in the big show. If you haven’t skated Deluth yet…you should, its a great experience, its a straight point A to point B race, no major turns or hills, and and the pavement is good to great the whole way through. There are lots of cheering people by the roadside, and with 2,500-3,000 skaters you’ll have lots of people to skate with.

Because the venue is so good, many people go to Deluth just to get a PB (Personal Best finish time). I personally haven’t been able to do that…skating at the pro level isn’t only about finishing fast. Skaters tend to think more about ranking in this group and they will intentionally slow down during the race if they believe its tactically to their advantage.

For me, I’m just hoping for a fast clean race! See you there :)


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Software Engineer and Inline Speedskater
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