Tag Archives: SkateLove

Event Report: Roll for the Roses 10k

Roll for the Roses is a local event in Roseville, Minnesota, that is basically a 5k and 10k run event with a 10k skate event tacked on to the start, probably because there are so many inline skaters in the Twin Cities.  Total, there were 57 skaters signed up for the 10k, with more than half of them in the Pro division.  There are two divisions, Pro and Recreation.  Pretty much everyone in the pro group is skating on low cut speed boots.  The start is a group start, so everyone in the event starts together.  It is legitimately an event less so than a race as this kind of event should attract a lot more recreational skaters.  For the speed skaters in the bunch, though, this event is pretty much a sprint.  A 10k is a warm up for skaters that usually race 42k.

This year, there was actually a race.  The weather was hotter, in the mid to upper 70s, and it was humid.  It has been raining a lot, and the forecast called for more thunderstorms, but thankfully, they ended up holding off until later in the afternoon.  We didn’t get any rain during the day in Rochester, and it didn’t start to rain until later in the evening.  The humidity could have been worse, though.

It is a fun local race that is worth the drive from Rochester. I am glad we have a local short course race. I think that we need a lot more of these all over the country. Since this race is in the Twin Cities, all of the really fast guys come out to race. I was hoping to jump in with the lead pack and hold on as long as possible. However, I made it to the event late because of some road construction and started probably 30 seconds behind the last skaters.  As I was skating toward the finish line, the gun went off for the start of the race, and the main pack went flying by me as I was skating the other direction.  I made it to the start line, turned around, and sprinted to catch up.  I bombed from the start through the rec group and caught the the chase pack that had fallen off of the leaders within the first mile. The main pack was too fast, and we weren’t able to catch them.

The course is a road course that has blocked off sections of local roadways that starts near the Roseville Skating Center and finishes in the oval.  The road wasn’t in the best shape, and part of the course went through some subdivisions with road work, that resulted in loose stone on the roadway.  It almost took out one skater in the group I was racing with.  There is also a good number of tar snakes and hills.  On the whole, though, the roads aren’t rough, or they didn’t feel very rough.  I raced on my World Record Wheel Truths, 110mm wheels at 87a hardness.  These are the same wheels I raced the Apostle Island Inline Marathon on earlier in June.  The hills proved to be a challenge as there are a couple of big ones.  We almost caught one of the guys that fell off of the main pack, but the hills proved to be the great equalizer.  The final couple of turns include a 90 degree left hand turn and a narrow downhill right hand turn that leads onto the main level of the Roseville Oval.  The oval surface is amazingly smooth, and once on that surface, I was able to put the hammer down for a 300m sprint to the finish around the corners and along the back straight away.

I was hoping to have video, but in the rush of trying to get to the start line, I must not have set up my Contour properly as it didn’t record. Hopefully next year.  Chris Lomen of SkateLove did get helmet camera video of the lead pack, though.  Official results can be found here, and Inline Skate Minneapolis has a good write up of the event, also.  I finished 24th out of 30 in the pro group, and 26th overall out of 57, in 23:02. Not bad considering I started all the way at the back. Average pace wasn’t great, 16.2 mph. It was a gun start, so when the horn went, I started with a good 30 seconds to make up.

I learned a lot during this event.  First, I need to skate more hills.  Second, I haven’t been working out hard enough during my training skates because I woke up sore this morning.  Third, technique is king, and I need to get a lot lower while skating.  I talked to Chris Lomen after the race and he and I discussed how best to go about this as I train for the Chicagoland in a couple of weeks.

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Event Report: Mantia Clinic

There have already been two very good reports on this Clinic here and here, and I don’t want to regurgitate a review of the entirety of the event.  However, I do think it is worth posting what I learned, in addition to a little about the event, and some pictures/video.

This was a unique clinic, as I understand the clinics that Joey typically run are optimized for indoor racing around a 100m flat track that typically take place in roller rinks on coated wooden floors.  Pretty much the entire group in attendance at this clinic skated outdoor over marathon distance.  His original intent was to run the clinic at the Roseville Oval in Roseville, Minnesota.  However, the weather didn’t cooperate, and we ended up using the back-up location at a nearby elementary school.  While the venue ended up being indoor, the clinic focused entirely on technique, including the double push.

Joey Mantia working with skaters in Roseville, MN.  Image courtesy of www.inlineskatempls.com

Joey Mantia working with skaters in Roseville, MN. Image courtesy of www.inlineskatempls.com

We did two sessions, and at the start of each session we started off with dry land training.  Joey showed us the basics of body position and focused heavily on weight transfer.  He said that the core of efficient skating is weight transfer, and many of the drills dealt with balance and weight transfer.  We spent a lot of time off-skates in the skater squat, which looks something like this:

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I say something like this because I am not as low as I could be.  If you look very closely at the picture from the front, you can see that my knees are collapsing in a little bit, notably on the right side.  I shot these pictures after a heavy lift/plyo work out, so I was a bit rickety.  Everything in skating basically starts from here.  The only significant variation in body position is how deep you sit in the skater squat.  As for the actual weight transfer, there were a couple of terms that kept coming up that are good points to focus on.

First, “leading with the hip” is something often said by coaches, but something I didn’t really understand until asking for clarification during the Clinic.  The idea of leading with the hip is really a way of communicating where your body position should be when balancing on one leg in the skater squat.  The hip should be positioned to the outside of the foot on which you are standing.  The idea here is all about where your center of gravity is to distribute your weight so you can remain balanced and used weight transfer to generate push power.  It should look something like this:

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The picture on the bottom shows the concept of leading with the hip better than the picture on the top.  You can see my hip position is beyond the outside of my foot.  This also helps to line up my nose, knees, and toes.  That is the second term that is often used in describing technique, and something that came up over and over again during the clinic.  The concept of “nose-knees-toes” describes the position your body should be in during the glide phase of the push when skating.  The idea here, when looking at your body position from the front, is to see your nose, knees, and toes aligned vertically.  Neither of these pictures show this position adequately.  The picture on the top shows good knee-toe position with my head a little far to the right.  The picture on the bottom shows good alignment of my nose, knees, and toes, but my balance is off.  Ideally, your nose-knees-toes should align perpendicular to the ground, or as Joey says, “imagine a line from your foot to the ceiling lining up your nose, knees, and toes.”  This is a great way to think about where your body position should be, even if these aren’t the best examples.  Weight transfer is the next part of the drill, and this basically requires you to shift your weight between these two positions stalling on one foot.  As a check for balance, it helps to lift the opposite foot, or recovery foot, off of the ground.  If you are well balanced, you should be able to lift the opposite foot off of the ground, but do so without a jerk or jump.  It may look something like this:

20140610 Dry-Land

This image was created from some video of my dry-land skating.  You can see the the nose-knees-toes alignment here, but another important technique issue comes to light when reviewing the video.  The hips and shoulders should remain steady and on the same line.  I discussed this in my post about slide-board earlier this year.  This is accomplished by engaging the core and focusing on lateral movement through the hips.  You can also see here how leading with the hip works, as my hip on each side moves past the center-line over the foot.  It isn’t perfect, though, as there is still some weakness in my right knee and a slight hop on raising my foot off the ground that causes my hip to shift up slightly on each side.

Weight transfer is what allows you to put power in the push without expending extra energy.  It is pretty much the Holy Grail of skating.  So much so that you could skate only with weight transfer on classic push and add the double push to average 18 miles per hour.  Well, at least he can.  These drills provided me with very concrete examples of where my technique is failing.  You can see this stuff in books and on the internet, but it never really sinks in until someone coaches you and/or you see it demonstrated first hand.  The key to fast skating over marathon distances is efficiency.  Something I have known and been working on, but these drills are the tools that will hopefully make me more efficient, and, as a result, faster.

After all of the off-skate work, we got on skates and basically did the same set of drills standing and then rolling.  We also did a lot of drills to make us aware of our edges.  The idea here was to get better on our skates, work balance, and be more in control of the skates rather than having the skates be in control of us.  Joey mentioned that Justin Stelly doesn’t have to train very hard to be fast because he is so good at controlling his skates.  He makes a good point, and being able to control my skates is something that I need to work on.  I am planning on adding a lot of these on-skate drills to my training.  Looks like I will be in the market for some cones.  I was only able to capture video of the first half of the day, but you can see the drills in the following video:

I had the opportunity to have lunch with Joey and a couple of the guys that organized the clinic.  He had some really interesting insights on the sport, on the coaching situation for US Speed Skating on the ice side, and his plan to race indoor and outdoor nationals this year.  I am glad to see he is staying so active in the inline community, as it seems that some of the Olympians that have made the switch to ice haven’t done much for inline since finishing the Olympics.  Of particular note, Joey says he doesn’t think inline should be trying to be in the Olympics because of the limited number of medals.  I think he is right, too.  His analogy was that if it were a winter sport, it would already be in the program, but since the summer program is so packed, you would be taking medals away from other sports, and “if wrestling isn’t safe, no one is.”

The afternoon started with more dry land and then back to skates.  The dry land session was a rehash of what we did in the morning and was very helpful in solidifying the drills to memory.  The afternoon on-skate session dealt with double push.  He showed us a lot of drills originally designed by Eddy Matzger.  It was a great session, and I realized, in the room full of local skating luminaries, that we all have things we need to work on.  Following Joey’s philosophy, you have to work hard at the things you are bad at doing in order to get better.  There are a couple of videos floating around YouTube of the event and there are several posted in InlineSkateMPLS that are worth checking out.

After the afternoon on-skates session, Joey did some question and answer and then demonstrated some drills and technique on the slide board.  The most shocking thing I learned during the Q&A was that Joey doesn’t lift weights.  He has legs like tree trunks, but doesn’t lift.  I was, and still am, shocked.  The secret to his strength is isometric and plyometric exercise.  He does wall-sits to failure, which, for him, is 5 to 10 minutes.  He also demonstrated some very basic plyos, many of which I am doing, but some that I am working into my workouts.  The biggest new change, though, will be wall sits to failure.  I am not going to replace lifting weights with plyos and isometric work outs because I am too far behind to work up to that level of strength, and I don’t see any negative effects from weight lifting on my skating.  This also was another interesting lesson, just because it doesn’t work for Joey doesn’t mean it won’t work for me.

Overall, this was a great experience.  I would highly recomend that anyone who has an interest in becoming a better skater attend this kind of clinic, taught by Joey or any other world class skater.


Back In A Pack (Updated with full video)

This weekend, my wife, son, and I are visiting my parents in Chicago.  Visiting Chicago means I have the opportunity to skate with Team Rainbo. I went out for the skate session at Conway on Saturday morning.  It was a great practice, and we certainly couldn’t complain about the weather.  The pace was pretty good, and I managed to stick with the main group for about 14 miles, then this:

I was leading an echelon drill when one of the guys from the back of the pack sprinted and the rest of the group broke up and went after him.  I sprinted to stay with the group that passed me, but my technique got sloppy.  My left recovery skate swung in for set-down too quickly and caught the back of my right skate, resulting in the dreaded click that sent me tumbling.  This happens in skating.  I have learned to go with momentum and fall in a way that doesn’t cause direct impact on joints.  I got up and rolled away with some road rash, but no broken bones.  After resting for a bit, I skated another five miles, finishing out the skate at around 19.4 miles in just short of 80 minutes.  Good work out, the fall not withstanding.

Skating with Team Rainbo always reminds me how important pack  skating is to the sport.  If you like to skate long distance, regardless of whether you use speed skates, fitness skates, or rec skates, you can never get the same feeling of skating in a pace line.  The dynamics of the pack are ever changing, and it forces you to adapt your technique to work with the group.  It is also far more efficient. In the pack, we could easily pace between 17 and 20 miles per hour.  I am glad I got to skate with Team Rainbo again.  I am looking forward to suiting up in the new uniform for the Chicagoland Marathon and Roll for the Roses.

–Update–

Full video up to the face plant follows:


VO2 Max Test

One of the benefits of living near a major hospital is the opportunity to be poked and prodded for science.  These studies usually involve remuneration and are rarely the kind of thing  you consider doing absent a specific interest in a project or need some easy money.  A couple of months ago, I signed up for a test because it offered the opportunity to take a VO2 Max test for free.  Usually, these kinds of tests can only be found in sports medicine programs, and can be expensive.  I jumped at the chance to learn more about my physical condition and have another tool to focus my training.  However, I can only expect this to be a one-time test, and will hope to alter my training and use any future tests I might happen into for further analysis of my training over the longer term.

This test was taken on a bicycle, though some are performed while running.  The point of the test is to push you to your physical limit while observing how your body absorbs and expels Oxygen and Carbon Dioxide during the increasingly difficult exercise.  They took my weight and height and some blood for labs.  I was heavier than I expected but right about where I expected for height.  Weight is a determining factor and one of the ways to increase your VO2 Max is to decrease your body weight.  My weight has been a bit of a battle for me lately because I have been bulking from lifting so much weight.  After the initial measurements and blood draws, I was prepped to get on the bike.

The Bike was set up like a spin bike, but with road and aero bars.  The pedals had cages, but the guy running the test said they had a clip-less set-up.  I was slightly frustrated by not having my cycling shoes, but I don’t know if it would have made a very large difference.  The test went for about 10 minutes.  I scored 39.6 on the VO2 Max, and that puts me in a pretty average range for my age.  My maximum heart rate was 171, which  is low for my calculated maximum.  Basically, this result was unremarkable, and barely showed I had been training cardio.

My anaerobic threshold results were telling, and really provides the best indication of where my training needs work.  My AT was at about 135 bpm heart rate.  This happened 6 minutes into the work out and at 200 watts resistance.  That seems low, and means that most of my training lately has been taking place above my AT, which doesn’t directly help cardiovascular strength.

I came across an article recently that discusses this exact point.  Basically, base cardio is built with training in HR Zone II, where you burn both carbohydrates and fat for fuel.  This would also explain why I am not losing much weight, but that is mere speculation as I haven’t been very consistent with my diet.  Regardless, my seemingly normal VO2 Max result indicates pretty clearly I am not training effectively for cardiovascular fitness.   As a result, I am changing up my training to have more longer duration lower HR sessions on the bike and skates.  I am going to use the time on skates to work technique.

Speaking of technique, I am also attending the Joey Mantia Clinic in June that will be at the Roseville Oval.  I am really looking forward to learning a lot more about technique, and will likely update these pages around that time.  For now, though, I guess I am headed back to the bike.


SkateLove: Joey Mantia Clinic in Minnesota

Sorry to bomb people’s feeds with this if you follow me on Twitter or Facebook, but I want to get the word out that Joey Mantia will be running a clinic in the Twin Cities area the weekend of June 7, 2014. I am going to certainly try to be there. If you are close, you should consider attending, too.

http://skatelove.org/2014/03/21/joey-mantia-speed-clinic-coming-to-mn/

Also, this link goes to a project I have been tangentially assisting with called SkateLove, a group dedicated to supporting and growing the sport of Inline Skating in all of its varieties. Check it out. http://www.skatelove.org