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... :)

13 September 2012

Crankin' Up the Intensity...

                            Back: Tsuyoshe, Kuck, Brian, Nick, Roger, Pim, Bruce Front:  Jeffrey, Kosuke, Nancy Jr., Nancy Sr. (coach)
Coach Nancy Sr. being the BOSS :)
 It's been too long, I know, since the last blog post on our training and life. For sure I could have squeezed in time for a quick blog post, but to be honest, after:

coming back from Germany & London, settling back home in Wheaton for just over a week before getting up and moving up to Milwaukee, let alone focusing on giving 100% into every workout and leaving room to fully recover the body with driving to get ART (active release therapy) and massages, beginning ice workouts again when the Pettit opened up their ice, trying to be the best sister and rearrange my workouts around Johnny's (my quarterback star football brother) Friday night games, and more...there has been little room to just breath. 

But I hate excuses, so it is going to be my challenge as the season continues to get harder and more intense, that I post more regularly and give you all fun insights on our journey to Sochi 2014!

Here is a recap since London (which, by the way, look out tomorrow for a post on our experience there, as many of you have been asking how it was being at London 2012 AND not competing):

  • traveled home and adjusted to workouts back here as I started up my lifting again back at CoreFitness in Chicago and my speed/agility workouts at TCBoost (not to mention meeting some Chicago Bears players while training there) Check out my video from training there here and TCBoost's website here
  • Brian, Jeffrey and Pim enjoyed some 'vacation' time (though they still worked out) at Brian's Michigan lake-house all the while giving Pim the ultimate American experience...it was his first time in the US!
  • welcomed 2 new skaters to our awesome training group for the months of August and September: Tsuyoshe & Kosuke from Japan
  • made the move up to Milwaukee and began ice training late August when the Pettit National Ice Center officially opened it's ice for the 2012-13 season
  • At one point, we had 10 skaters in our training group during the first week the Pettit was open including: Roger Schneider (our Swiss speedskating friend), Nick Goplan (a Canadian speedskater who's based in Calgary), Pim (a Dutch skater who holds a Junior World Record), Brian, Jeffrey, myself, Tsuyoshe, Kosuke, Kuck and Bruce Conner (who is one of the best Masters skaters in the World, holding 3 Masters World Records & 2 World Masters Sprint Titles). 
  • we cried (not really, but are really sad...still) when Pim left us at the end of August after being with us for 6 weeks. But Jonathan Kuck and Liam Ortega came back to the Pettit to train after being in Salt Lake City and have been working in with our group here and there, making up for the void :)
  • now as racing season is nearing...the level of training on the ice has intensified completely and the amount of work we are all doing is absolutely crazy. BUT, we've all been handling it super well, NO INJURIES (thank the Lord!) and even Brian is trying to learn some Japanese in the process, haha. Having the two Japanese guys in our group has been a great benefit to our group and it's been fun getting to share some American life along the way.

    Having fun after a hard practice skating 
    backwards and reverse!

  • Chris Williams, Chris Spencer & Roberto Garza 
    from the Bears

training is a killer :)
Life of an athlete in training for the Olympics is definitely a full-time job, but we all love it. Training comes with plenty of sacrifices, but every single one we embrace knowing it teaches us important lessons and drives us to overcome our weaknesses. This subject always brings me back to what the Bible accounts of the Apostle Paul. Paul at times endured the unthinkable throughout his journeys as he preached the Gospel. Read II Corinthians 11:23-26 to be amazed! Again, to those who have encouraged and supported us along the way, we can't thank you enough; we can only hope that as you follow this blog of ours, you are inspired and see the fruitfulness of our faith in Jesus Christ.
An example of our lives: wake-up, eat, driving, skating, eating,
recovery, napping, second workout, recovery, eating, sleeping...REPEAT