Wednesday, December 9, 2009

some thoughts about the perfect race

On Sunday we arrived at the oval around 7:15 filled with the usual pre-race anxiety. I was actually proud of Chris because the night before we left the mall early enough and at his direction to make it to bed by 9:30 PM so rising at 6:00AM was not early, and a 7:15 pre-warm-up call was not at all a bother. He had a big day of racing ahead of him, with LOTS of expectations. He was pumped after the previous day's PR's, the only thing that would make the weekend sweeter would be to shave another 2 seconds off his 500. I know, that seems like a tall order, but he felt like he didn't leave it all behind in the first one so 2 seconds was in his realm of possibilities, he envisioned it matter of fact. The perfect race happened twice that day, but not without some DRAMA.
Chris and I have had our battles this weekend, some of which left me simmering. Warm up was the first indication that this day was going to be no different. My new mantra as a coach is "if you don't have the time to dedicate to a proper warm-up and equipment check, then you don't have the time to skate, period" Chris argued with me about warming- up and quite frankly I had had it. Fast-forward, his 500 pair comes up, and he is focused. He has a clean start. Yes, the kid who usually wears the polka dotted NEON suit has managed to hold his cool to actually let the smoke appear from the gun before bolting off the line (and he was skating in an insignificant black suit incognito, BTW) . He is skating the outer. He had the fastest opener I have ever seen him skate and comes whipping around the turn only to be cut off at the crossover. I understand that the TV Broadcaster was commenting on how he should have been decisive and skated through making the other guy yield as he had the right of way but from my vantage point in the coaches box on the back stretch, had he done that they would have collided as that kid was oblivious to Chris's existence and drifted into him as Chris tried in vein to make a long crossover, holding his own track so that he could cross without interruption. Chris got clipped and had to stand-up and put on the brakes, blowing the race. The other kid was DQ'd and Chris was given a re-skate but ... he was spent. Chris was PISSED.
Right before the 1000 he blew up at me, to the point of me sitting on the fence about my on-ice participation in his up coming race. I got off the ice and waited until the pair before his to return. He needed my glasses and was in a panic that I was not on the ice. I handed them over and he detected my disgust. I told him not to focus on my emotions and to put his own into the ice, just then the whistle blows, he is called to the start. I skated over to the coaches box, and watch the absolutely most PERFECT start from behind. It was breath-taking. He was off and he was pushing that frustration into the ice. He skated to a 6 second PB and was stoked. It broke the ice, he was all smiles. The day, however was not over. He still had the 3000 to skate and this was truly the first time I had ever seen him skate against the clock. He took off, kept his pace right where he needed it to be, finishing 15 seconds faster that he did the last time he skated a 3000 on the Roseville Oval. Two nearly perfect races that have taught him one of the most important lessons to learn, focus really counts. Hopefully the confidence gained will guide his season. To see the results from the weekend


Lowenberg Cousin Reunion Committee said...

Chris is very lucky to have a thoughtful, experienced coach like you channel his focus. Way to go Lisa and Chris!!!

Lovey Russo said...

Chris is very fortunate to have you to help channel and direct his focus!

K Pugliano said...

Awesome! Congrats to Chris for reaching his goal and for you keeping your cool! Both equally hard in much different ways! :)

Lisa said...

A little late, I know, congrats on reaching the goal.

Hope you are doing well.