The end of the year always brings retrospective lists of what happened, and what we expected to happen but didn’t happen. While there aren’t any lists anticipated in this post, in order to move forward, you have to look behind you. As Ayrton Senna said, “[t]he past is just data, I only see the future.” His point remains that the past is relevant to see where you have been so you can determine where you are going. In that same vein, I can’t gauge my expectations and plans for 2014 without considering what happened in 2013.
2013 was an interesting year. It involved a lot of major changes. I moved from Chicago to Rochester, Minnesota (technically in 2012, but it has been the first full year here). My wife and I welcomed a son to our young family in February. I started a new job in April after 6 months of voluntary unemployment (see comment about moving). We bought a house. All of this living was going on notwithstanding any of the skating that was going on. I started training with a new group of guys semi-regularly. That was great, though one of them is much faster than the rest of us. I finished well in the Metrodome Marathon, struggled through the Chicagoland Marathon, hung with the lead pack for the Minnesota Half, and did my part to pull the pack through the wind at the NorthShore. I did not meet my conspicuous goal of breaking a 90 minute marathon time, but what did become clear is that I have the ability to hang with the front of the advanced pack, which I did to my detriment in Chicago, and to the finish for the Minnesota Half. I set new personal bests in the Marathon and Half-Marathon distances, and pulled the lead pack at some point in three races. I cannot be entirely disappointed in my performance in 2013 even if I did not accomplish my goal of 90 minute marathon. I know I am capable of finishing in that time because I was able to finish close to the lead pack at the NorthShore, and with better tactics I could have finished with the lead pack at Chicagoland. That said, I have a lot to look forward to in what will likely be a short season next year because of the state of our sport. More on that issue in another post, though.
Looking toward 2014, I hope to skate at least 4 races, including Roll for the Roses, Chicagoland, the Minnesota Half, and the NorthShore. The two wild card races are Apostle Island and Rollin’ on the River. If the opportunity arises where I can make these races, I will certainly try to attend those races. They could be day-tripped if I got up very early, as each race is between 5 and 6 hours away. Financially, it probably won’t be feasible to go and stay. With the later start for the NorthShore, I may consider making that race a day trip. I would love to make the Route 66 race in St. Louis, Missouri, but that is a bit too far of a trip. There may be another event here or there I can attend, but that is entirely contingent upon the schedule at the moment.
Aside from racing, the big goals and challenges for 2014 come in the form of training and technique. I haven’t really spent a lot of time working specifically on technique. As a result, my training in 2014 will focus specifically on technique, and building areas where my skating is weak. Currently, I am focusing on weight lifting to build base strength like I did at the end of 2012. I saw meaningful gain from this last year, and thought it was worth doing again. So far, I have seen a significant increase in my lifts. Like last year, this has already demonstrated tangible benefits in my skating. This cycle will warp up in a couple of weeks, and my training will transition to the next mesocycle I have planned for the year. This will involve one day of focused weight training with dry-land, likely dry skating and balance training, to specifically work technique in addition to base strength and explosive power; a day of plyos; a day of slide board with a specific focus on technique, and a day of cycling that will start as base cardio endurance and some intervals. I am going to try and ice skate as much as I can, weather permitting, with a focus on classic technique, also.
The next mesocycle will start as soon as I can get outside to skate. I am planning on quickly moving to skating to work technique as much as possible. I am going to do a lot of longer slow skates, attempting to generate speed just from the technique. I am also planning on doing my hill route at least once per week in addition to the long skates on Saturday mornings. Ideally, I hope to skate at least 3 times per week. Once we get into May, the volume and the pace will pick up, as the focus for skating will move to increased paces with intervals and fartleks (speed play), in addition to hills. This will all lead up to Roll for the Roses, which will be the first test of my training for the year. After that, the focus will be hills and intervals to get ready for Chicagoland. Ideally, while I will be working on stepping up the pace, most of the skating will be focused on technique, and attempting to master technique as much as possible. This means a lot of drills where I get low and push long and hard to the side. If I work this focus for the season, I should be able to build on my success of 2013, and have a great year in 2014. I am looking forward to what the season has in store this year, and hope that this year can lead to a rebuilding for me personally and also the sport.