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Old September 17th, 2006, 09:22 PM   #1
Pepper Montana
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Default 2006 Northshore Marathon Reports

The whole skating year for me can be boiled down to one skater in a green skinsuit (Phonak?) in front of me. He became the goal. Get past him to the finish line first. He was in front of me on the last hill and he was in front rolling down to the DECC but at some point I finally got past him. For some reason he stood up and looked back. Toast. He was done. I was past him and at the finish line. It helped that Speedy was lighting a fire under my butt and yelling at me to go faster. I'm not sure what exactly he was yelling but I heard the voice. It was just a blur. I couldn't even tell you if anyone passed me in the final sprint. Just a blur and it was done. It's funny how things work out sometimes.

There is so much that I want to say about the race and the weekend that I don't know where to start. Mostly I was trying to stay in the moment and enjoy everything on the whole trip. I wanted to justify the hard work, time and personal commitments that I had made. So, I was trying to keep my eyes wide open and recording everything I could in my head. If there was one common thread that ran through the trip for me it was gratitude. Trying to be grateful for the chance, grateful for the opportunity to lace up and go, grateful for being alive and well with good things too numerous to count given to me.

Driving into the city of Superior from Wisconsin was awesome. Cresting a hill from about 4-5 miles out you see the Big lake and Minnesota for the first time. The scale of everything changes. When you transition from the Northwoods to the big lake it is exciting. After hours of trees, farms and gentle hills you are happy to see huge ships and enormous bridges with the city of Duluth in the background. When I left Duluth last year I was escorted across the huge bridge connecting Minnesota and Wisconsin by a flight of geese flying parallel to the bridge. This year a vee of geese welcomed me back. I took it as a good sign. The sun was bright and it was a warm day on the lake. It was good to be alive.

I hurried and parked, checked in to the hotel and I was off to the DECC to get the race packet. Hello, my people! The expo was fine. I don't have high hopes for the row bike. George Neal had delicious meat sticks for people who stopped by to check out his skates. I didn't really see anything too interesting. The best part of the expo for me was asking Eddy Matzger to take my picture. I was kind of being a smartass and I was looking forward to having a picture of myself that I could tell people that Eddy had taken of me. He said, "Sure!" and took the camera. Then he totally surprised me by skating over next to me and taking a picture of both of us by holding the camera at arm's length and throwing his arm over my shoulder. Eddy is the best!

After the expo it was getting late and I was feeling hungry. Famous Dave's Barbecue is right over the cute little pedestrian bridge that goes over the canal so I headed that way. I know that I should have been aiming for more carbohydrates but I really love Famous Dave's. I tucked into the brisket with gusto and really enjoyed the selection of sauces at the table. Good stuff! I really, really liked Gina, my waitress. She was really cute but she asked questions when my mouth was full of beans or mashed potatos. So I just nodded and smiled with my mouth full of chewed up food when she asked a question. I was just going over the race packet and reading the directions and enjoying the meal when she would interrupt. I really shouldn't say anything bad about Gina. She did, after all, turn me onto Leinenkugel's Sunset Wheat beer. She was right when she said that it reminds you of blueberries. It is so wonderful! Thanks, Gina!

After dinner I went back to the hotel and did the prerace inspection of the skates. I left the training wheels and bearings mounted because of the weather forecast. Rain! Made sure that everything was in my skate bag that I would want in the morning and turned in for the night.

So, 4 am rolls around and there I am. Eyes pop open. Anxiety dream about skating woke me. Lying in bed with nothing to do. Watch some TV. The world's most unlikely adventure sportsman guy is on the "Fishing and Hunting Network." Honest! All fishing and hunting 24 hours a day. He is packed into his shirt and his gut is hanging out. He really pissed me off when he was gloating over the dead toucan that someone killed in the Peruvian jungle. Stretching it out and talking about how powerful the beak is, blah blah blah! What a douche! The capper was when they were having piranha stew for breakfast. The local guy sitting with him at the table was slurping his soup like he was a piranha himself. Really attacking the bowl, spoonful after spoonful. Meanwhile the host wasn't eating but talking to the camera while his knee was bouncing up and down. He wasn't about to eat the piranha soup and he never did eat it on camera.

Finally, its on. Race day and I am ready to go. I walk to the DECC and go to where the buses are loading. I walk up to the first bus and I see an open spot right behind the driver on the aisle. I tend to repeat patterns in my life so I wanted to sit in the very back of the bus, like I did last year. I sat down and waited for the next bus. But, something changed and I decided to get on this bus, right behind the driver. After a couple of minutes the bus pulls out and heads off to the north. Nobody was really talking. The dude next to me already had his helmet on. For some reason I thought that was funny but as things turned out, he might have needed it on the bus. While we were rolling up the 4 lane highway with a median strip, a U haul came down on the left hand side of the northbound lanes. The U-haul was going south in the northbound lanes! Our bus driver honked his horn and jerked the bus over to the side of the road. It was one of those scary as **** moments when you feel like you need to talk to people. I heard, "Yah hey, can you believe that? Some guy almost killed us!" They really do talk like that! I have to admit that I was right there with him in my sentiments. As the guy sitting across from me in the aisle put it, "We have a new lease on life." I'm just wondering why I got on that bus. So the driver keeps on going for what seems like forever. Seriously, forever! If you ever get the chance to do Northshore do it just for the bus ride to the start line. While the bus is chugging up through the darkness all you see are endless trees and the dark sky. We saw a glimmer of red through some far off clouds to the east and we were thinking that would be all we would see of the sunrise. There were a few sprinkles of rain on the windshield and more rain seemed to be coming. The thing about the bus ride is that it puts into perspective how far you are about to skate. It's not so much a time and distance problem but a real glycogen burn that you are thinking about. The bus finally stopped and we walked through the darkness to the staging area for the start line.

I found a seat upwind of a line of port a potties and settled in. Eventually a group of skaters from Phoenix settled in around me. I had brought the race wheels and bearings with me and I was trying to decide if I should put them on when the rain came for sure and settled the question for me. It was just about that time when I saw Speedy come by. I gave a shout out and went over to say hi. I was glad to see him and we said good luck and have a good race. I'm pretty sure that Jessica came by then also and so I finally met her. The next time I saw her she would be in an awesome paceline going by working towards the finish line. After that I went for a jog to start warming up, peed and started getting organized for the race. Putting on the timing chip, bib number, etc. Eating and drinking. Trying not to be nervous. I was really glad that I packed the rain gear because the rain really started coming down then. I had about 15 minutes of huddling under the rain coat with my skates on, ready to go. Finally, the announcer told everyone to start lining up. I pushed everything into the garbage bag, tied a knot and started skating up the hill. It is just one of those feelings that can't be found just anywhere. It is like the beginning of the rollercoaster. You know that you're on a path and there is no turning back. You skate up the hill to the truck, throw your gear in and you keep on going up the hill to the start line.

I started in the advanced men's B wave. There wasn't very much joking around. I was serious too for a change. Retied and tightened my skates twice. The rain was coming down pretty steady then. Just trying to be in the moment. Finally, it's time. Someone belts out the National Anthem with force and feeling and the pros are off. Getting the jimmy legs, now. Don't worry, everything happens for a reason. Relax. Breath. Just breath. The rain is coming down in my face as I look up at the race director perched in the scaffolding with a stop watch. Just say go, please. Just light the candle and say good bye to Houston. Our time now! We are on our way. Creep over the mat and start skating. It's on, and thank you, skate goddess! I'm having fun!

The first 3 quarters of the race are my race. They belong to me and I own them. The good decisions and the bad. The pacelines I stayed in and the pacelines I ditched, I own it all. I remembered to look around and treasure the time. I remembered to enjoy looking at the lake and I remembered to say thanks to the volunteers with the water. I wanted to keep it all in my head and make sure that it was fun. It was a blast! I pretty much decided that I had paid a lot of coin to be there and it had better be worth the trip. And it was everything a skater could want. Thigh burn, heart rate at a steady 180 bpm or so. A group of skaters working together. Great scenery! After awhile, I have no idea when, the rain stopped and it was just a great race on wet pavement. The pavement was tricky at times but it wasn't the end of the world, by any means.

After a while, I saw Speedy on the right. I knew Speedy wasn't feeling great but I shouted something stupid about jumping into the line I was working with. He was clearly not a happy camper and just acknowledged me with a wave. I didn't think I would see him again. Wrong! I guess he recovered his legs because a couple minutes later I saw him again. I was in a good cooperative paceline when I saw Speedy cruising by on the right. I was feeling full of myself so I yelled, "There's my ride!" and I jumped over behind him. I was thinking that I would just chase him for a block and he would drop me. I was just trying to have fun. You know, along the lines of, "Uhh, remember when you dropped me at Northshore that one time? Uhh, remember that?" This is where my race changed completely and became something different.

Instead of dropping me, Speedy stuck around and helped me finish the race. I don't know why. All I know is that I had the best time skating that I have ever had. It was a time that I will never forget. There are times when your brain is full of natural chemical goodness and every sensation is etched into some pathway in a permanent fashion. This was one of those intense times. I think because this race was so important to me. Because I cared about it? Because skating has become something beyond skating and a way that I identify myself and a way for me to see how I fit in the world? It is just important to me.

So, there I was hanging out with Speedy. It was amazing! When you see what a good skater can do it opens up your eyes to possibilities. At one point, Speedy went from about 15 yards back from the start of the paceline to the front of the line. He did it in what seemed to be effortless fashion and it was like he was threading a needle. First he went wide to the right, back to the center, through the paceline and up the left side to the front where he pulled the paceline. It was magic. It was like a bird just flying and swooping ahead while we were all just plodding. Yeah, while we were trudging in a line, he flew himself up to the front and it looked liquid and graceful. Just like that.

So, at Lemondrop, our paceline fell apart on the hill. I started skating behind Speedy on the interstate and it was awesome. From that point on it was just a blur. I was pretty much at my threshhold and I was just skating without thinking. The other paceline was ahead and we were chasing it hard. Somewhere, I don't know, we caught up with that line and we kept on going past it. Through the tunnels, out into the open. There it was, the Lake street exit off of the big road. I couldn't remember how much further it was to the last hill. I was definitely feeling the mileage but I was caught up in the moment. Then, when we got to the last hill, I could see it in front of me and it didn't look as bad as I remembered. However, there was a surprise waiting for Dave at the bottom of the hill.

I hadn't been thinking about too much prior to the last hill because I couldn't. I was skating at my limit and that was enough. In retrospect, I can see that Speedy gave me a gift at the end of the race. Speedy's gift was that at the bottom of the ramp, the last long slope before the DECC, he peeled off to the side and yelled, "It's your race now! You own it! Go, Dave! Go!" Ahead of me I could see a skater in a green skinsuit maybe 30 yards up the hill.

What are you gonna do? There's a skater ahead of you and someone is yelling at you to go for it. So you pour it on and you feel the burn and you suck the wind into your lungs. You do it. The skater in green ahead of me was the only race left for me. Passing him was the only reason for the nine hour drive to Duluth, the waiting in the rain at the start, the burning legs. All of it. The skater in Green was the only focus I had. Beat him to the line. Beat him. Nothing else mattered and there wasn't another thought in my
head.

This is a pic that Ken Newham of the Duluth Shipping News took. The skater in green is in the foreground and I am somewhat obscured by his elbow. You can just see Speedy's right leg. I don't remember anyone being around me on the hill so it is interesting to me to see that crowd of skaters! And I did beat the guy in black to the line!


I poured everything I had into the last climb. At the turn the volunteers were yelling to be careful on the slick concrete and I had closed the gap somewhat. I was shaky at the top of the hill when I dropped into my tuck. From there, I couldn't really tell you what happened. I think it was in the final straight away the guy in the green skinsuit heard something and looked back and that is when I passed him. I think that I heard wheels also. I dug in and when I got to the mat I threw my arms up. It was the best feeling. It was over, it was history, all done.

That's pretty much the best parts of my story. I'm sticking to it too. Speedy's version probably has some variations. I have tried to be as true to the truth as I can. There are some parts I would like to share but I have probably already outwrote my welcome. I would love to mention the bald eagles I saw above the highway, the sunset on the trip home that had pink and blue alternating rays like something an imaginative painter would create or the shooting star I saw as I rounded a curve on the ride home. So, I'm gonna leave it at that. If you have read all of this and not retched, thank you. Happy skating.

Thanks, Speedy!

Last edited by Pepper Montana; October 15th, 2006 at 03:06 AM.
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Old September 17th, 2006, 09:39 PM   #2
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Cool write up! I felt like I was in the race with you!

So when are you going to post the pic of you and Eddy?
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Old September 17th, 2006, 11:35 PM   #3
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wow Dave....... amazing experience, thanks so much for sharing!!

Like Mvirtue said, it felt like we were at the race with you
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Old September 17th, 2006, 11:36 PM   #4
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Dave, you are a piece of work, in a good way. Thanks for giving life to that event that us stay-at-homes would have otherwise not known. JT is a great guy ain't he? Just don't go to dinner in Greece with him, the cuisine confuses him. JB
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Old September 18th, 2006, 12:01 AM   #5
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great story! thanks for sharing your experience.
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Old September 18th, 2006, 12:15 AM   #6
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Dave, Thanks for sharing Northshore with all the forum "I want to be there too!" Reading about your push up the last hill got my core muscles tenseing an my heels carving the carpet. Congratulation of a great run and treasured memories.

PS: Eddy is so great about making others feel special. I had the same experience with him at Disney last spring.

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Old September 18th, 2006, 12:17 AM   #7
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Excellent post Dave. I could almost feel the rain in my face and the burn in my legs. Congrats
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Old September 18th, 2006, 01:32 AM   #8
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Sans the details, I had a rough day. Gave it the ole college try, but when I started to blow, I threw in the towel and coasted from mile 8 till about mile 19 when Dave's group came by. Offer after offer to "jump on" was dismissed due to the limited seating at my morning engagement...
"Pity, party of one, your table is ready."
Even though I knew this was due to illness, the frustration was still overwhelming. Finally, a friendly voice rang out, one that actually invited me by name. At that point my dismissal was a reflex, but when I realized it was Dmorg, I said, "Hell no, you just don't miss a chance to skate with a friend." So I hopped on. I knew he didnt know I was back there so I took a few minutes to take measure of myself, knowing that we had a good six miles or so left. What he wrote about our time together seems pretty spot on to me so I'll add nothing to it other than to say how awesome it was to be a part of. I'm pretty sure he dropped most of the people that was in his pack as well as the other pack he caught. All I did was present him the option, he did the skating, he drove himself. I didn't know anything about the green jersey guy until I read this so that really is the coup de grace.

Way to go, Dave, way to go.

There's no need to thank me, you did it, all I did was share a vision that you chose to very successfully pursue. You're welcome all the same.
Thank you for the kind words.
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Old September 18th, 2006, 01:37 AM   #9
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Duluth is a pretty great place, canal park and the finish area today is such a stark contrast to what it was 20 years ago. It continues to grow and prosper and hopefully that will be continued good news for the race. It is great to read about Dave's experience and to know how great it is to see sunrise over Lake Superior, especially from along the western hillside. The start was indeed soggy with some pretty heavy periods of rain, but luckily the wind which was predicted to be from the SSE at 15 to 20 decided not to show, that would have been miserable. Saw lots of skaters falling and had some close calls when I got so involved in skating I forgot to mind those paint stripes. Seemed like the rain slowed and quit about 6 miles into the race. Some sections of the road seemed to dry quicker than others and some sections had some good sized puddles to dodge. London road was a treat this year with the new blacktop but the concrete on the freeway section seemed slick where it was still wet. Initially I skated conservatively not wanting to crash and burn and not be able to skate A2A, but soon enough the grip seemed to be there to make a fun time of it.

Talked to a person who said the weather record for the race date broke a 24 year run of no rain.
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Old September 18th, 2006, 03:27 AM   #10
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Looking at the times, apparently the rain didn't slow most skaters down much. The winning time was 1.08, which is still pretty amazingly.

It's nice to have nice new pavement on London Road as well.
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Old September 18th, 2006, 03:35 AM   #11
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Here are the Results

2006 Northshore Marathon Results

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Old September 18th, 2006, 10:57 AM   #12
Pepper Montana
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Speedy,
JB is right, you are a great guy! I like how you put it, "Sharing a vision." It's funny how you put that because I was thinking it was cool the way you could see that my paceline was gaining on the paceline ahead. The paceline ahead of us wasn't even registering in my brain. Sharing a vision. You could see things and change the race for me and the skaters with me. Sharing a vision. Something to think about! I hope that you are feeling better soon! Get yourself ready for the big dog coming up in GA!
I think Speedy rocks! Just sayin' is all....

Everyone,
Thanks for the kind words. I appreciate that! I was nervous when I hit the submit button. I hope that my story encourages people to try Northshore or any inline race for that matter. Skating is just plain fun and it is a great way to become a better person. Thanks again for the kind words!
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Old September 18th, 2006, 11:34 AM   #13
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Dave Morgan wrote:
Quote:
I hope that my story encourages people to try Northshore or any inline race for that matter.
It worked. I'm green with envy and my husband tells me that's not a good color for me.

Sounds like a great race.

Congrats. Well done.

Geri

It got really quiet on the forum with so many regulars at the race. So, 'twas good to see your post and I enjoyed the length.
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Old September 18th, 2006, 04:10 PM   #14
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Great report Dmorg - and it was very nice meeting you.

There's nothing that I could say that could properly express the experience I had this weekend - my only regret is that I couldn't bring the rest of you with me.

I was so nervous on the way up - flying didn't really help. I'm not necessarily afraid of flying, but it does make me a little jittery. I was also kind of stressed about not being able to get my frame off because the bolt was rusted on. Buzz and I met in Atlanta on Friday afternoon and flew on up to Minneapolis. The original plan was to spend a couple of hours at the Mall of America after landing, but by the time we got there I was on edge and wanted to get to the expo. When we got there we drifted to the Adam's Inline tent but didn't see anyone, so we went over to the Hyper booth where three different guys attempted to get my frame off. They asked me to sit down at the other side of the tent because I was hovering nervously nearby while they operated on my skates.



They were finally able to get the bolt off, and all they asked in return was for me to buy a shirt - thank you Hyper!! Afterwards we ran into everyone, then went on to the local Italian restaurant to have some dinner. I was so nervous I could barely eat. Then off to bed, for a little bit of sleep, but mostly tossing and turning.

Woke up at 4:45, ran over to the window and threw open the curtain. No rain!! Got ready, on the bus (which was a little uncomfortable, I had to put my legs in the aisle) and off to the startline. As soon as we sat down to put our stuff on, it started raining. It didn't matter though - I was ready, rain or not. Got a decent warmup and got a feel for how I would have to skate to avoid falling and hurting myself. The tar snakes - no big thing. I just had to keep my feet under me.

Brande and I were the first to show up in our wave - we wanted to get in the front. I was getting a little less confident as I saw some of the other girls show up - they looked really fast! The wait to start was the worst part - it was cold, and raining, and I was shivering. Right before we were off, some girl pushed up in front of me to start next to Brande, but I was ok with it. I stood right behind her and on the right side. Horn goes off, and feet start flying, but I didn't click skates with anyone this time. I managed to get up near the front of the lead pack to start and flew down the hill. I made it - I'm in the lead pack! Now I just have to stay there. A couple of miles in I'm still there, and I know I can stay there. I wonder where Brande is but I don't dare look anywhere but right in front of me. When it's my turn to pull, I make sure not to pull any longer than two minutes, and when I drop back, I'm amazed at how huge this line is. I get several friendly offers to come back in, and I take one still up front, but not too close. I want to get a little bit of a break before I have to pull again. I pulled several times throughout the race, but I made sure I didn't tire myself out so I would have enough left at the end.

Skating by the lake was breathtaking - I wished I had been able to take a picture. We were all working hard but we took the time to acknowledge how lucky we were to be skating here. It was a great moment.

I noticed that one of the girls I was hoping to beat (she beat me at Disney) hung all the way in the back of the pack and didn't pull at all, until the end when we were doing 30 second pulls. By that time, most of the big pack had dropped off the back, and there were about ten of us left. I could see some of the girls signaling to each other, trying to decide when to make a move. When we got to the last incline, everyone started scrambling up the hill. When I started up the hill I was near the back, so I went up wide and to the right and passed a couple of people on the hill. I did lose a couple of places going around the last couple of curves though, because I was being cautious of the squirrely pavement. We all came across the line more or less together, with a lot of cheering and congratulations. I finished, I didn't fall, and I was happy!

I had been a little anxious about skating in an all girl paceline, especially at this level of competition. I was expecting a little more "meanness", but the girls were all very friendly and helpful, but competitive at the same time. It was absolutely perfect.

After the race I took a nice long hot shower and met the group for lunch and some margaritas. This is my favorite picture (ldskater, Gless, Jessica & speedysktr):



Shortly after this picture was taken and a couple of shots later, speedy and I were cut off from any more alcohol at that establishment. I didn't think we were being that obnoxious... So naturally, we just took it somewhere else. Drank some more, played some darts, then went to the awards. Brande and I both got third in our age groups, cool!



Then more drinking of course, good times, great friends - more shots of rum than I think I've ever had in one night. But, we deserved to celebrate - everyone had a huge accomplishment in one way or another that day.

Amazingly enough, the next day I wasn't really hungover. Really tired, but no headache or sickness that usually comes after a night of heavy drinking. I was so overwhelmed by the weekend as a whole and didn't want it to end, but Buzz and I had to get up early and drive back to Minneapolis to catch our flights out. We had just enough time to head over to the Mall of America and take a quick look around. Next year, I'll be taking more days off to make sure I can get more sightseeing and shopping! in.

Wow, this is long! Just wait until my A2A report, lol. I'm sad it's over, and I miss everyone already. What an experience - I will never forget this weekend.
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Old September 18th, 2006, 04:16 PM   #15
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Speedy, That was a wonderful thing you did helping pull DaveM to a personal best when you were sick. Your consideration for others is very inspiring and a great example for all of us. I sure hope you are feeling better and will be at full strength for A2A.

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Old September 18th, 2006, 04:31 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LezSk8 View Post
Speedy, That was a wonderful thing you did helping pull DaveM to a personal best when you were sick. Your consideration for others is very inspiring and a great example for all of us. I sure hope you are feeling better and will be at full strength for A2A. LezSk8
I'm sure he'll be in prime form, but probably won't get a personal best because he'll sacrifice his own goals to pull Napalm and I through in under 6. JB

Jessica: MAJOR, MAJOR congratulations! You're an animal!
I love the group shot too, you actually look warm and fuzzy, I'm sure that is the look of contentment, great shot of you and Brande as well. I'm super proud of you, some day I'll be saying "Yeh, I used to skate the Suncoast with her". New nickname too: "Naomi, Knowme." JB
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Old September 18th, 2006, 08:28 PM   #17
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Jess -
Of course that's your favorite picture, how could it not be? Three handsome devils hanging all over you.

Congrats on your performance.
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Old September 18th, 2006, 09:08 PM   #18
NWGlenn
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DM and Speedy: Major kudos guys...putting your reports together it reads like a mutual "...couldn't have done it without you guy!!"

Speedy, pulling triumph out of adversity is always exhilerating and when it's someone elses triumph it's... Magnificent!!! You've renewed my hope for the human race. Thanks guys.
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Old September 18th, 2006, 09:28 PM   #19
Jessica
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ldskater View Post
Jess -
Of course that's your favorite picture, how could it not be? Three handsome devils hanging all over you.

Congrats on your performance.
Hahaha - how true. What a lucky girl
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Old September 18th, 2006, 09:55 PM   #20
SeJoWa
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Thank you for those wonderful race reports and pictures of happy skaters. It's a bit like riding along as a ghost camera! Races are mental magnifying glasses, and I'm sure skating develops more than muscles - only, it's not easily put in transmissible terms.
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