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.