First Ice Session In The Books
The day finally arrived! Hit the ice today for day 1 of the Olympic Oval Masters Speed Camp.
Walking into the complex in the morning it was quite the sight. Athletes from all over the world (skaters from Canada, the US, Finland, Holland, Switzerland, among others are here for the week). Not only that, but National team members are all over the place working out.
Between Olympians training 20 feet from you and 2 storey banners of past Canadian speed skating greats, one does not need to look far for inspiration!
Stepping on the ice I was initially worried about balance as that was an issue when I skated on short track skates in April at Kits rink. Long track is a different beast. Balance was not an issue (due to the fact that the blade is set down the middle of your foot as opposed to short track where the blade is offset). Took me about 10 or 12 laps to feel comfortable getting low(ish) and by the end of the AM session I was able to crank out a couple mini sprints along the straightaways. The corners however are a different story...
Like a deer stuck in the headlights I would stand straight up as soon as I hit the corners. Not sure what my deal was but mentally I was not prepared to allow my legs to hold the speed built up in the staightaway through the crossovers (at this point "speed" is a relative term...).
For the afternoon session I wanted to focus on doing a couple crossovers and eventually got the hang of it. I started slow but eventually was able to carry my speed from a straightaway through the corners. By the end I was able to put together a couple full laps.
We also did a couple "trains" where 3 or 4 skaters would skate together in a single file line - bikers will be familiar with this as this is akin to drafting. It was during these drills that I was really able to focus in on my stride. I am taking way too many strides - a factor of not being low enough and not finishing out the stride on each leg. Based on my own self-analysis I would say the best description would be "out of control". Not because I am all over the ice but more so that I don't feel control of my leg through 100% of the stride. I feel a good initial kick then about mid way through I don't have the balance / confidence / mental conditioning to maintain an extended stride so I cut it short and switch legs. Ill be working on this throughout the week - will come with more and more ice time!
Not going to lie, it is pretty cool to hear the "clap" of the skates when you get a nice kick from a stride.
All in all I would say this first session went better than I expected but the image of both 10 year olds and 77 year olds (yes there is a 77 year old camper) wizzing by me is too recent to let my ego get too far ahead of itself :)
Off for a run then back at it tomorrow morning!! Should have some video by the end of the week, right now focused on keeping my head down and grinding away.
Huge thanks to all those that sent notes this morning, was an amazing feeling to wake up this morning to an inbox full of well wishes - the support is very much appreciated!!