31 December 2012

Racing Results and Happy New Year! 2013!!!

First of all, congratulations to all of those who made the World teams this past week/weekend at this U.S. National Championship competition! There were amazing and outstanding performances by so many...  :) 

Clay Cholewinski, Shani Davis, Paul Dyrud, Tucker Fredricks, Jonathan Garcia, Brian Hansen, Jonathan Kuck, Emery Lehman, Joey Mantia, Patrick Meek, Mitch Whitmore, Petra Acker, Brittany Bowe, Lauren Cholewinski, Maria Lamb, Heather Richardson, Anna Ringsred, Jilleanne Rookard, Sugar Todd

 Jeffrey racing Matt Rittenhouse with Mom/Coach in the background                                                                                     Photo Credit: Jerry Search

Photo Credit: Jerry Search
Secondly, thanks to everyone who has been supporting me through my ups but mostly downs this season, your encouragement is fuel that keeps me pushing forward, know that! Racing this past week for me didn't go as I had hoped, but taking a step back and looking at what I have accomplished so far, I am truly blessed. After these 5 days of racing, I did manage to qualify for the Regional Qualifer (a competition you race in order to make the World Championship team, it is determined after a combination of these 4 races: 500m, 1500m, 3k, 5k), so I will be racing these races once again in Salt Lake City in just over a week. This time, hopefully, I will not be sick and be feeling a bit more adjusted to the altitude here to whip out some better racing. God has been teaching me lessons the last couple years with all these trials I keep facing, which are hard to battle through, but I am not giving up yet and pushing on towards my goal of Sochi 2014. 
Photo Credit: US Speedskating
For Jeffrey, this US Championship was a stepping stone and progress was made. He finished top 10 in 3 of his races and just missed out on making the Regional Qualifier, placing 7th in the Allaround competition. He is the runner-up. Brian Hansen, on the other hand, just dominated. Placing 1st in the 1500m for the first time nationally, 2nd in the 1000m and on one of his 500m, placed 2nd as well. We are all proud of him...

For me, looking back on 2012 is bittersweet...skating has been a struggle, but what truly matters most to me is what makes it a great year: my relationship with Jesus Christ, my family, the lessons I learn from training and then being able to share those lessons and experiences with those around me, that is what counts in life and I am happy to end this year on a good note of reflection. It is a challenge of mine to you that you do the same: that amongst trials, reflect on the goodness of the lessons learned and reminisce on those moments. 

Cannot believe another whole year has come and gone...time sure flies...so lets make 2013 a year that we live like its the last days of our lives! And December 2013 = Olympic Trials for 2014, it's going to be a good, long, hard, but successful year. I know it :)

May God bless you all in this New Year to come!

With Love,
Nancy Jr.

1 Corinthians 9:25

26 December 2012

U.S. Speedskating Nationals!

Salt Lake City Olympic Oval (inside above, outside below)  
Our U.S. Speedskating National Championships begin tomorrow, here in Salt Lake City, UT at the beautiful Olympic oval. Cannot believe these races are here...time sure flies, but Jeffrey and I are feeling good and pumped to see how this week unfolds. With the craziness of ups and downs that I have struggled with this season so far, I cannot help but to be thankful. Thankful to just be here, healthy and able to compete in a sport I love. Thankful to have a huge support system who have always gotten me back on track and back to training/racing form. My support system (you know who you are!)....they are the people that should be recognized and honored, though they would want nothing of the sort. Just like Bri Tutt has said herself, 'positivity is key' and the life/struggles we sometimes have to endure are blessings in disguise, they make us reflect on how we view our life and help us to be thankful for what matters most to us; what we desire for our lives. Now many of you don't know Canadian speedskater Bri Tutt, but read up on her and her recent accident here. Amongst her horrific crash that left her with crazy injuries, but with a faith that will help her get back into racing form to compete for Sochi 2014, Bri is one tough chick that is seeing the best in times of trial. Love that...girl, I am praying for you, you're awesome :)

Ok, back to the racing tomorrow and info...there will be one race per day, starting with the 3k/5k tomorrow morning at 9am. Full schedule can be found here (second page):


As far as keeping up on results? Check USSpeedskating's website daily or Speedskatingresults.com. Otherwise, check in to our twitter accounts (@NSwiderPeltzJr and/or @JSwiderPeltz) or if you are friends with Ryan Shimabukuro on Facebook (haha), he is always on top of listing the top finishers/times of each race.

Good Skill to all those competing this week/weekened!

Hebrews 12:1
Philippians 4:13 

God Bless,
Nancy Jr.

As always, many thanks to our personal sponsors who've helped out Jeffrey and I throughout our training! ExtremeEndurance (lactate buffer/training supplements) CoreFitness (weight training), TCBoost (speed training), Bannockburn Chiropractic, Major Sports Science and Chiro.

13 December 2012

A Visual Diary of Training in LA, Summer of 2011

So Nancy mentioned a bit ago about some art we do in our free time and to continue that dialogue we're going to make a page of some projects and also post here and there about them as well...maybe we should rename this blog 'The Art of Speedskating.'

To kick this off, here's something I call my visual diary of training in Los Angeles during the summer of 2011. Almost everyday, I added something to the 'mural' so to make a visual account of my two months there. In it, places, skating lingo, goals, etc., have meaning that maybe wouldn't make sense to everyone else (as diaries sometimes do). For example, '25.8 LAP' was my goal for the fastest lap time I wanted to skate last year-which I ended up skating a 26.0 last year, just missing that goal. And being in LA, I also tried to incorporate a little street art into my own style.

06 December 2012

A Couple Sweet Races in Calgary

A bit late, but Nov 14-17 I traveled to Calgary, Canada for a competition on their fast ice. The first day was a little disappointing but by the 4th day I had knocked down two personal best times by quite a bit. Overall, super happy with those two races but I've still got a lot of improving ahead of me in order to reach some of my goals this year.

1500 Meters: dropped from 1:51.74 to a 1:49.41 <wow that race was so hard
5,000 Meters: dropped from 6:49.18 to a 6:43.14 

Even better than those races, though, was meeting a handful of college-grad believers that hung out with me on a day off in between races and took me to Centre Street Church Sunday after races. So great to just randomly meet and to spend time with people from Calgary who had nothing to do with skating. Can't wait to meet up with them in the future. (S/O to Brooke, Helen, Eric!)

In the meantime, we'll both be training our brains out in Milwaukee this december until we'll compete starting December 27th in Salt Lake City.

Brian, me and Nancy Sr. after racing at the Fall World Cup Trials, Nov 4th. Great shot and thanks Michael Callahan.

05 December 2012

Hodgepodge of Thoughts...enjoy :)

December! Wowzers, does time certainly fly...it's already week 1 of Advent and our US Speedskating National Trials are coming up in 3 weeks!

Jeffrey's abstract study of Cubism
People always wonder what we do in our free time...to be honest, when speedskating is full-time, we live, eat, and breathe speedskating. I cannot speak completely for Jeffrey, but though I have put a great effort into having a social life, it sometimes becomes overwhelming to try to meet up with everyone and  stay in touch when I am home in Wheaton. Not being there for my friends when they need me or sharing great moments with them often pains me. It's what God has convicted me of lately: that I cannot please every one of my friends (I am a people pleaser if you didn't know by now) and that my focus shouldn't be on that either...that is what I've been teaching myself to slowly let go. Our Lord calls us to put our focus first and foremost on Him, and though I am daily striving for that, I fall into the habit of relying on tangible things of this earth to please. At the same time, this all might sound selfish with refocusing time on myself. And one can take it to the extreme in that sense, so a balance is the key; balance seems to be the key to everything in life. Finding that perfect balance? Hmm, that might take our whole life, but that is what is exciting about life: you never know which road you'll be taken down. Therefore, these last couple weeks I have been staying at our sponsor house all week here in Milwaukee instead of driving back home with my mom/coach and utilizing my off-day with errands and dates. Giving myself room to think, ponder, read the Bible, brainstorm, recover physically and mentally, email, sauna, bike around town to flush my legs and breath fresh air, journal, etc., has been much needed. I've been loving it and letting worries go...and at the same time, I have found that my mental state in skating/training has improved, boosting confidence and bringing back the joy in this sport that has been wearing me down recently. 1 Peter 5:7
My Cakes :)

Christmas Card 2010
Going off on a tangent...art/drawing/craftiness (if that's a word) are examples of things Jeffrey and I tend to do in our 'free' time that doesn't take away from our training. We both have been blessed with a gift in art and imagination, though Jeffrey more-so (note: Jeffrey does major in Art at Wheaton College). My areas of focus tends to come out of necessity: our annual Christmas card/drawing, cakes, homemade crafts/projects, decorating, photography while Jeffrey is the hardcore artist (and saying 'artist' in a French accent, ha). He has some mad skills and I have attached pieces of his work and some of my random creations!

Christmas Card 2011
On another tangent?! Jeffrey and I are still looking for a major Team Swider-Peltz sponsorship that could be through this next Olympics and/or beyond...if anyone has ideas or is interested in supporting us, let us know! Or, if you are wanting to help us in a small way, you can donate to our journey by clicking on our 'Support' page above. Thanks!

God Bless,
Nancy Jr.

A painting Jeffrey did of grandpa Swider

1 Corinthians 9:25

29 November 2012

Fall World Cups...go Brian Hansen!!!

Thialf, Heerenveen. The mecca of Speedskating.
Having to nurse my body back to health the last couple weeks has been going well and my training has picked up once again, but while I have been focused on recovery and Jeffrey on his training/American Cup racing, Brian Hansen has been killing it at the Fall World Cups both in Heerenveen, Netherlands and in Kolomna, Russia!

World Cup #1 took place in Heerenveen, literally the mecca of speedskating and where every speedskater dreams of racing because the crowds of fans are truly inspiring and uplifting! They LOVE speedskating...how much do they love it you ask? Well, until you are there in person, these pictures are a glimpse of how much they love this sport (haha!):
The Kleintje Pils Band at Thialf
Again, Thialf fans are the best!!!
Love the fan dedication!!!

The first World Cup is always exciting in that it is the first time we get to see the top speedskaters, on the world level, compete this season, as well as getting people who've created their Fantasy Speedskating Teams all pumped up too! For Brian, even though he was without his coach (Nancy Sr.), he raced two solid races both in the 1000m (placing 7th) and in the 1500m (placing 6th). Watch the recap of the 1000m here (starting at minute 2:21) and the 1500m here (starting at minute 1:44)!

The second Fall World Cup this season was just this past weekend in Kolomna, Russia. Being a distance World Cup, the US sprint team headed back home to the US while Brian, Trevor, Jilleanne, Maria, Pat, and Emery went straight into another weekend of racing. I give my mom/coach so much credit because in coaching him from home (she stayed back to watch my stud younger brother, Johnny, the quarterback, play in the quarter-finals of the Illinois high school American football playoff series, which turned out to be his last high school football game ever), she spent her nights staying up late emailing, texting messaging, doing whatever she could to make him feel like she was there for him at all times, jeopardizing her sleep at night because of the time change. Nonetheless, Brian never fails to race well no matter the circumstances. Racing the 1500m on the second day, he placed the highest he ever has on the World level in an individual race with a 3rd place and on the podium, go Brian! Watch his entire race below (thanks to his brother, Stevie, who recorded it on YouTube):

Though it was hard watching these World Cup races from the comfort of home, it motivated me seeing my competitors race, reminding me of my own goals and as I get ready to compete again for a spot on the winter World Cup circuit, which is coming up at our Nationals, December 27th-31st.

Brian's 3rd place, podium finish in the 1500m in Kolomna
Again, congrats to our teammate Brian Hansen on his awesome fall world cup races! So proud of him! Follow him on his website here...

God Bless,
Nancy Jr.

1 Corinthians 9:25

22 November 2012


The best Family I could ever have ;)
One of the best pieces of advice I ever got was to sit down and write in a journal all the blessings and successes that I have been given in my life from the littlest joys to the major accomplishments (I did this before my Olympic 3k and Team Pursuit races and I believe it was the reason I had such an outstanding Olympic experience!). Especially when you face trials and your most challenging moments in life, it is so inspiring and rejuvenating to look back on all the victories that have come out of battling your toughest moments. Those positive moments will carry you through...there is never a moment in your life when you can't defeat you're pessimism. Philippians 4:13: God never tells us to do anything without giving us the ability to do it. From those blessings that you wrote down, there is proof that God blesses your life tremendously. The ball is in your court whether or not you are going to push through.

On that note...I am SO thankful for my life. There has honestly been more downs than ups in my life and I have numerous times gotten to the point of quitting, but like above, for all those downs, I have been blessed each time I have endured those trials through to the end. I cannot emphasize it enough: reminding oneself of your blessings is so crucial in life. I would never trade my life for another one, I am truly blessed. Hence, I have to say this, I am tremendously thankful for my faith in Jesus Christ, family, friends, a speedskating career, Olympics, a support team who has been there for me every time I come down with an injury or overtrain myself, my product sponsors who make my training possible, and those who have donated to Jeffrey and my journey to the next Olympics...and I could seriously go on for days thanking everyone who has touched my life and made me who I am today. I am who I am because of each one of them.

So to all those who have touched my life, thank you on this Thanksgiving Day for your influence on my life. I am so grateful.

May God bless you...
Nancy Jr.

1 Corinthians 9:25

Add caption

13 November 2012

Fall World Cup Trials

1,000 meters on Saturday, Nov. 3

SO, let me just begin by saying how incredibly hard my sister has trained and how much dedication she has and it's hard to imagine how she's been able to fight through the last few years. Keep her in your prayers.

Also, a big loving shout out to the awesome kids who made the trip up to watch us race! All three Jake's, Keri, Ben, Casey, Ryan, Kyle & Steph, Dena and family, my family and others.

Altogether, I competed pretty mediocre in my 4 individual races, ending up about even with all my personal best times (which I set all late in the last season). Now that sounds like something I should be content with but based on my solid training this offseason and what I know I'm capable of, I was hoping to really be raising the bar for my best times at this competition. And if I have certain 'aspiring' goals for next year, I'm going to have to get my act together pretty soon. I was pretty nervous and I think that affected my relaxation and focus throughout my races. But looking at the bright side, results this early in the season should be taken with a grain of salt because oftentimes, some skaters blossom by the end of the season while others are only able to maintain their times.

So among US speedskaters, I ended up 18th in the 1000 meters, 9th in the 1500 meters and 8th (I think) in the 5,000 meters. I also did lower my personal best time in the 5,000 meters (in Milwaukee) from 6:57.00 to a 6:52.40.

A highlight of the trials was the Mass Start Race (in the video below) which isn't an official race yet but hopefully it soon will be. It's 20 laps, many skaters, and winner takes the pot at the end. There's breakaways, drafting, strategy...Tour de France style. I ended up 3rd and had a blast. The vid's pretty long so you'd probably want to skip around.

Thanks for the vid Olu, and the commentating haha.

07 November 2012

Déjà Vu

Life is Unpredictable...so unpredictable...

That is the story of my last couple weeks of training...or the lack of training. It pains me to write this because I feel I keep letting down (with every injury I get) all those who have been my support team these past years, who have gotten me through 3 injuries since Vancouver 2010. Don't get me wrong, I am bouncing back, but this past weekend, as you know, the Fall World Cup Qualifier in Milwaukee took place and so many were excited to see how our hard work would pay off from the summer/fall in my racing. In short, I overtrained myself once again...literally déjà vu to Olympic year when I did the same thing, but I still made the Olympic Team. So there is always hope...if you believe...and that is what I am doing. I have faith (especially in the One who is guiding my daily life, Jesus Christ).
Jeffrey Racing his 1000m last Saturday

The awesome t-shirt Jake made for Jeffrey's race,
mom is signing it "I love Jake, Nancy Sr." :)
Rewinding back a couple weeks: I really didn't realize my worsening condition until my body started acting weird after my back injury (see my blog entry on that for more info. here). Though I had great workouts once I recovered from my back spasms, there would be a workout here or there when I just wanted to stop part way through or I mentally had to play tricks to fight my way through the workout. Knowing the Fall World Cup Qualifier was coming up, I didn't want to mentally trick myself into thinking something was wrong (again, something I think makes me strong, but is my downfall, usually), so I kept fighting through a roller coaster of workouts. The night before my races last Friday, I basically had the worst race-prep and it took all of me to fight through and compete the next day...which was terrible. My 500m and 3k races were 'blah' and I couldn't fight like I usually could do, I just motioned my way through the races. Once I finished that morning, I knew I was done competing for the weekend and thus began the painful process of letting people know I wouldn't be racing the last 2 days. I felt awful I couldn't inform everyone, but if you came, I hope watching the racing was inspiring! It is such a cool sport that not many people get to watch live. :)

I don't wish this kind of pain on anyone, so if this post can help prevent athletes from overtraining (also read this article on it, its very informative), I am pumped! The plan from here is to rest...which I have been doing. I am resistant stretching a lot and taking time off of skating for a couple weeks. Obviously I will not be going to the Fall World Cups, but I have complete confidence I will be back with great force by the USS National Trials in Salt Lake City, December 27-31st. None of this has affected any Olympic qualifying...so the passion to make Sochi 2014 is still running strong through my veins, ha.

Jeffrey's fans: Dena, Steph, Kyle, Jake and myself...cheering him on in the 1000m
Like above, I hate disappointments, and last weekend was just that, but know that all you who have been of great support to us, it means the world to Jeffrey and I. I am fighting through this and will try not to disappoint again. All our product/service sponsors (Extreme Endurance, Major Chiropractic & Sports Injury, CoreFitness Chicago, Magnet Street, Dr. Yoss/ART, Ochsner International, USANA, TCBoost, sorry if I forgot any!) have been so supportive and cannot thank you all enough for your generosity. We couldn't be where we are today pursuing our dreams without your help. And then our family and friends...your moral support is what pushes us through these tough trials and again, we couldn't achieve our goals without your encouragement. :) Thank you all.

And as for Jeffrey's races, I will let him blog about that himself! So watch out for that post...

God Bless,
Nancy Jr.

1 Corinthians 9:25 

26 October 2012

One Week til Racing Season OFFICIALLY begins!

Photo credit: Hilary Barreto 
One week today til our first national competition for this season!

As we count down to our Fall World Cup Qualifier, November 2-4th...our bodies have started resting and mentally we are preparing for the racing season that is just around the corner. I'm pumped to finally put all my hard work from this past summer/fall to the test, but at the same time, there is definitely a little nervousness that stems from the unknown of how I will race. But it's the good nervousness! For myself, I've had a rocky road since the Vancouver Olympics, hitting road blocks each fall with injuries, so I've not had a normal competition season since 2009/2010. Next weekend will be a great test to see how my coach, my therapy team and I, have overcome these obstacles.

If you are in the Chicago area or Milwaukee, I strongly encourage you to come to the Pettit National Ice Center next weekend to watch all the top speedskaters from USA compete for the Fall World Cup circuit, it'll be worth it...this weekend of racing is the closest you can come to watch Olympians and Olympic hopefuls and its FREE to watch!

Info on the event can be found by clicking here or visit our Facebook event page at:

And definitely be checking back here on the blog for results and more blogging on our thoughts as we lead into the racing season...

Thanks to all who've been supporting us, we couldn't be doing what we love without your help!

God Bless,
Nancy Jr.

1 Corinthians 9:25

23 October 2012

Thoughts On My Time Trials

October 13th was the first round of time trials for me this year while Nancy and Brian decided not to race. I skated the 500 meters and 3,000 meters (the sprint and a mid/long distance race). This time trial I trained right through, doing a hard morning skate and afternoon lift the day before. Like most everyones' year beginning races, mine stunk and it gets you down for a while but then you got to put that behind you. What I can't deny is that my training is heads and tails better than last year so when i actually begin to taper and prepare for more important races, I think the times will come.

"You're never as good as you think you are or bad as you think you are"

One day you're at the top, the next in the ditch. When competitions go poorly athletes tend to think the worst...I'm overtrained, or I need to train harder, how did this guy skate faster when my technique is way better than his? When things go well you feel pretty untouchable until the next day when your body decides to take the day off. The truth is, in sports where results depend on so many variables and subtle preparations that can each make a substantial difference, it's a safe bet to say that you're abilities lie somewhere in between your high's and low's.

But that's not to say you can't take those high's and ride them out as long as possible.

08 October 2012

A Close Call...but,

Photo Credit: Hilary Barreto

It is what drives and pushes us athletes to work harder. But it can also stop us. When you're young, you tend to push through pain. As you grow older, you learn your body's thresholds and treat it like an expensive machine. 

I am one of those crazy hard workers. Too hard sometimes. My work ethic can be my downfall if I don't control it right, thus the importance of a coach (my mom). Injuries from working too hard have challenged my skating career the last 7 years. From over training and anemic issues (low iron levels), to tearing a hamstring in three spots and stress fractures in my leg...trials have become common in my life, but they haven't prevented me from achieving goals I have set before me. No, they have made me stronger. I have truly learned to embrace trials as being those great learning periods of time when I realize I can't do anything on my own. Instead I always turn to Bible verses:  Philippians 4:13 "I can do ALL things through Christ who strengthens me." & Proverbs 3:5-6: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight."

With that said, it was a week ago that another blow came my way. My brother, Jeffrey, advised I blog about this incident, but I also felt like telling you will let you in on some of the craziness athletes go through and that training full-time for the Olympics never goes the way you plan, you are always sidetracked somewhere down the road. :) It happened last Sunday (over a week ago). I was rolling my legs/back like any other Sunday, a day off. I am someone who loves to self adjust and crack my back on the roller so when my back was feeling extra stiff, I placed it mid-low back and just fully relaxed...right away I tightened up and let out a gasp. My back slightly hurt as a result, but it was not that bad so I didn't think to ice or tend to it in any way. Waking up the next morning I felt some stiffness, but again, it wasn't alarming, so I continued my routine and drove to TCBoost for my Monday morning speed/agility workout. It was after that workout, though, that I began to feel more intense pain setting in while I cooled down. But I had to get to Milwaukee for skating that afternoon, so I continued on through the increasing pain. It was when I got out of the car (over an hour of driving) and tried to stand up straight, but failed, that I knew I was in trouble. I made the obvious decision not to skate that night and rehabbed it with ice and heat while laying down. Trying to diagnose myself was weird because I just didn't think such an action of rolling my back could really do such a destruction.
part of my MRI: Lumbar spine

Fast forwarding the story, after a couple of days of continuing pain, though slowly getting better, and after getting dry-needling, cupping (which felt SO good and released a ton of pressure in my lower back), x-rays and then finally an MRI, we came to a conclusion: my injury was only muscular. The great news is that nothing I did in the last week caused structural damage to my spine and the recovery was going to be fast along with daily exercises and deep tissue massage. It was the MRI, though, that brought about the frustrating discovery: I have the back of a 55 year old. The picture to the right shows my lumbar spine. You can see between L2,L3,L4, my disks are close to being bone on bone...that's not including 3 other disks that are fairly worn down for my age. So our analysis concluded that while rolling, the dramatic curvature of the roller let a disk get pinched by a vertebrae or a bone touched bone and my lower back muscles tightened up and spasmed for days. 

an overall view
So what's my current status? Well, I am back training...actually just had my first ice workout in over 10 days tonight at the Pettit, and felt great! My coach noted that I almost am starting up where I left off, and possibly stronger from all the rest. The future, though, holds a lot of deep tissue massage in my back and plenty of continual therapy to slow down the process of degeneration in my disks. But like most athletes, injury is part of the process to becoming great; our bodies are not invincible. Along with injuries, though, we also learn a ton about ourselves and grow through the process. It never a loss cause unless you make it out to be that way. For me, I gained knowledge on my back and continue to be more in tune with how my body functions. Most importantly, though, I was brought to realize, again, how the Lord has to show us He is always in control. He gives us the gift of life, He can take it away. He gave me the gift of speedskating so I can carry out His purposes, but he can quickly take that away if I fail to trust in Him. And if the latter was the only life lesson that I had to learn from this crazy ordeal, then I guess it was all worth it... :)

God Bless,
Nancy Jr.

06 October 2012


...just a little bit until the first round of time trial races and then the Fall World Cup Trials in early November. The first competitions of the season are unique in that Nancy and I get to see how much we've improved over the previous spring and summer's brutal training. Whatever expectations in our head are either confirmed or blown to shreds.

My boots arrived right after my last post so I've been on them for over 2 weeks now. They're incredible! basically, I have a much greater ability to control my skates, just like when a certain car or bicycle has way better handling than another. As a result, my technique has developed a sense of fullness and greater ease that has helped me focus on other issues such as power and skating a better track line. The boots are also the sickest looking ones ever. I do find it funny how a good boot can make such a difference and sometimes skaters never find the perfect fit. Maybe there is a better boot than this one and I don't know it! But I guess part of sport is figuring out which equipment fits you best and hopefully you win that part of the game. Yeah, sports aren't fair.

Just got the package from UPS!

As of last Wednesday, our two Japanese skaters left for Japan because they have their own national races coming up and we wish them the best! They said they were sad to leave but who knows! Maybe they were just being polite and not telling coach how are hard she trained them. In all, they trained with us for a month and it was a blast teaching them about our culture, how to speak speak English and playing cards with them for hours on hours. It was also great how they pushed us and we pushed them through tough practice after tough practice. Sayanara.

Here's a look at a warm-up accel I did on Teusday. You can't tell but I wish you could have seen the difference between how I skated on the old boots compared with this short clip. I definitely have a lot more work to do but this is a really encouraging step foward.

20 September 2012

It's aBOOT time for another pair.

It’s been 7 years since I got my first and only pair of custom made boots. Some consider them the best speedskating boots the world has to offer. They are handmade by one person, a pioneer of custom boots, who has too many of the worlds top skaters using them to count. But 7 years of wear does a lot to a nicely stitched pair of leather boots-they’re under constant barrage from sweat, sharp blades, tweaking hot spots, repairs, torque and so on. Now, the leather has been worn so much that each practice has me retightening them up to 5 times and they still aren’t able to hold it’s tightness around my foot. So in the spring, it was apparent that to be as good as I possibly can in speedskating I would have to get my feet casted for a new boot. Last week, after a long delay, I was finally notified that the boots were finished and to be shipped out by yesterday! I can’t wait. I really liked the casting process and think these new boots might give me more control on the ice. Here’s some pics of them.

How are they made? 
First, my feet are duct taped in certain areas to compress unwanted spaces and gaps, mostly between my toes. Then a wetted molding sock is put on my foot that hardens within a minute and the bootmaker vigorously smooths out the sock over my foot while I bend my knee and apply 90% weight on an angled foam platform. The boot is cut off and then a cast is poured into the mold that hardens for 3 days. Finally, the carbon fiber & leather boot is made over that. Very few people in the world can do this and do it well, so thanks Kip Carpenter.

My casts after 3 days of hardening
Here are my old boots. I love ‘em and hate ‘em. I also had painted them white and over that tribally painted an unfinished quote. “No pain, no palm; no thorns, no throne; no gall, no glory, no cross, no crown.” -William Penn

14 September 2012

London 2012 -a LONG recap of our experience

London was Unforgettable... 
Outside our plane to London...having
some fun :)

Leaving from Inzell, Germany on time and getting all 5 of us and our ridiculously large luggage to the airport and checked-in was a feat in itself, but we made it. After 4.5 weeks of hard training in Germany, our bodies were ready for some rest and the next 4 days were to serve as that recuperating time, clearing the mind of training while giving it stimulation from the Olympic spirit. As we walked outside to the airplane, it began to sink in, we were heading to see some London 2012 Olympics. Pumped to go support some TeamUSA and since the boarding line was long, we couldn't resist posing for a pic outside the plane (though poor Pim, the DUtch speedskater training with us for 6 weeks, was outnumbered being Dutch)...I'm sure we were of great entertainment to those passengers already on board!
This probably saved my life a couple
of times!

That first afternoon was spent getting to know the amazing couple who opened up their home for us to stay in while we were in London. Shout out and cannot thank Dave & Lynn enough for their hospitality and generosity n letting us crash at their apartment for 4 days. After a wonderful home-cooked meal Lynn made, Jeffrey and I still explored London, even though we didn't see much, and familiarized ourselves with the transportation, the layout of the city and where the sponsor houses we were going to visit were located. Meanwhile, Brian and Pim were staying with relatives (of Brian) not too far from us, but communication and meeting up proved a huge challenge when we had to rely on direct twitter messages (Brian hadn't set up iMessage yet).
Olympic TT Road Cycling

Day 2, Wednesday...the plan was to see some TT (time trial) Road Cycling. We weren't successful in meeting up with Brian and Pim, so Jeffrey and I headed out west in shoulder-to-shoulder-packed trains to watch some Olympic action. The crowds were decked-out (especially the Dutch, always faithful in their orange!) and amazing as they were fully involved in chants. Below is a clip from when Wiggins past us...the British sure love their Wiggins!

BUT I was particularly proud of my fellow Americans...for Kristen Armstrong, Gold was her color that day, owning that TT and defending her champion title from the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Taylor Phinney was also a stud, taking his second 4th of the London Olympics, and he is only 22. When America typically praises just the medalists, 4th place is hard to swallow, but coming from personal experience and taking 4th myself in Vancouver, it is such an honor of which to be proud. Medals are and will always be fleeting...what lasts is how you walk away from your accomplishments, using them to build character, integrity, and sharing that with those around you; faith & friendships/relationships are what lasts in this world today.

Oakley house with Megan, Steve and the awesome Staff!
As soon as the time trials finished, we literally inched our way onto the overcrowded train back to downtown London. The Oakley Safehouse (now it is called 'safehouse' because it is a place where sponsored athletes, coaches, etc., are able to escape media and the craziness of the Olympics and chill for however long they want) was our next stop to see our amazing reps Steve Blick and Megan Pura-Porteous and catch-up, since we've not seen them personally for almost two years. But instead of just meeting these two, the entire staff at the Oakley Safehouse including the catering staff, were wonderful to get to know in the few hours we spent there. Their hospitality went above and beyond professionalism; you felt like you were best buds with everyone there. To be honest, I'd say that the Oakley Safehouse was the best sponsor house in London (a great article was written about it here). Superb service, food was to die-for and the friendships made will last. Jeffrey and I cannot thank y'all [Oakley] enough, we had a blast hanging out there and are already looking forward to your house in Sochi, Russia in 2014!
Jeffrey and I at the USA house

Kristen Armstrong and Steve Blick
That night we took the train with Steve Blick and Kit Karzan (a stud cyclist himself and who also worked at the London Oakley safehouse) to the USA house with a small detour to a Lululemon party where we ran into the amazing Clara Hughes, a Canadian speedskater and friend, who returned to Olympic cycling after the Vancouver Olympics to make her third Summer Olympic team! Now for those of you unfamiliar with the term 'houses', basically at every Olympics, there are sponsors and country's Olympic committees who rent out buildings to set up as a place to eat, hang-out, celebrate, meet people/socialize, watch the Olympics, etc. Some require serious accreditation, some you just need a Visa (the Visa house!). The craziest of them all, I hear, is the Heineken house (shout out to the Dutch again, ha). 
Pim, Brian, Sarah & Emily Hughes, myself, Taylor Hughes and Jeffrey

Once at the USA house, we met up with Kristen Armstrong, the Gold TT road cycling medalist form earlier that day, along with a ton of other fellow Olympians including Sarah , Emily and Taylor Hughes. It was also a joy giving Jeffrey a piece Olympic spirit, introducing him to other Olympians/staff I knew, but also it was fun observing as he went out and developed his own connections. The night flew by after about 4 hours of chatting/meetings amazing people; it was already into the wee hours of the morning and time for bed.

Days 3 & 4 were spent at the P&G house and again, the Oakley/USA houses. Like in Vancouver, P&G went above and beyond giving the Olympians and their families a place to relax and be pampered. From a complete salon and a 'mancave' to a kids-care; from live Olympic coverage and a BBQ/food service around the clock to a full-service laundry, you could easily loose track of time just hanging out in there all day.

Guy East, myself, Jeffrey, Trisha & Dan Price at the USA House
But probably one of the best part of the trip was running into familiar faces and people from or connected to Wheaton...the world is surely small. On Thursday, Jennifer Luedtke, a Wheaton College graduate and friend, took the train into London and we met up at the Oakley house before sightseeing along the Thames River. Later, both Jeffrey and I ran into Dan (who was a former Wheaton Football player) & Trisha Price and their baby on the way, Sarah Burd (a former speedskater from Milwaukee who's parents live in Wheaton), and Guy East (brother played Wheaton College football, coached by my dad). Both Sarah and Guy were in London with Athletes in Action, serving the Lord by sharing their faith in Christ amongst other ministry...loved what they were doing! Read up on their mission and ministry here.

Looking back on this trip, what an honor it was to be amongst such a celebrated gathering of athletes; current London Olympians and past Olympians. For myself, I was just in awe that I was there enjoying the USA, P&G and Oakley houses without being a competing athlete and then feeling the energy that will help fuel me as I gear towards Sochi 2014!

God Bless, Nancy Jr.

1 Corinthians 9:25

More pictures from London are below...

Our last night at the USA house hanging with Todd Henriksen, Guy East,
Shawn Johnson, Krizia, Sarah Burd, Jeffrey and Brian

Oh, just hanging-out with Jennifer Luedtke in London at
the Oakley House!

Joey Cheek (also a Speedskating Olympian and Gold
Medal Champion) at the USA house 

Olympic Women's Triathlon on our last day

Jeffrey and I with Maya Moore, a
USA Basketball player!

My patriotic nails done at the P&G house

"Thank you Mom" wall at the P&G house, signed it!

The view we had from dinner at the Oakley house, just
stunning. View of the Thames and Tower Bridge.

Having fun showing Megan speedskating technique, she
definitely has the legs... :)