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Speed Events Announcements, reports, results, photos, and discussions about all types of speed skating events.

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Old July 19th, 2007, 01:31 AM   #1
More Cowbell
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Default 24 Hours of More Cowbell (in Montreal)

LONGEST...
SKATE...
EVER!


268.8 miles in 24:07:12 (11.1 mph), HR 74%.

What an amazing day! The race started under beautiful sunny skies on a dry surface in moderate temperatures. (None of this was to last, but how kind of the skate goddess to let us start in pleasant conditions.) I had expected most of the solo skaters to start fast, but I was still surprised to find myself in last place after the first lap, with nearly the entire field out of sight. "That's okay," I told myself. "Just stick to the plan."

Halfway through lap 4, a paceline of four solo skaters lapped me. They ripped past at 16+ mph, jockeying and swinging their arms as though the DECC was around the next bend. I got lapped many, many times over the first several hours and had to quash feelings that I was doing something wrong. "Stick to the plan" repeated in my head like the tolling of a bell.

I didn't feel good. Nausea was a constant companion, and several times I feared I would vomit if I forced down one more sicky-sweet gel or bottle of sports drink, but everything stayed where I put it. My legs had some bounce but several muscles felt like they could cramp at any moment. My skates' familiar hotspots slowly burned blisters into my left heel and right arch. I gobbled sodium/potassium caps and concentrated on making it through the next hour. You can always skate one more hour, you see.

By nightfall I had risen from last (19th place) to eleventh place. A few hours later, after a steady rainshower soaked the track, I took my first real break (that is, I sat down) to change wheels and socks, bandage my blisters, and pull on a pair of long johns, which killed the cramps. As I left the paddocks, my sister told me I was in seventh place.

I had thought the deep night would be the toughest section, and it was. Hour upon hour of darkness and wet pavement, and four times an hour the surreal scene of the exchange zone -- a Fellini-esque carnival of staring headlamps, shouting in two languages, glow sticks and blinkers in every possible color and shape, and my blessed crew ringing the cowbell. At the halfway point I had skated 134 miles. I slowed to save energy for the daytime push. While my opponents rested on their butts, I rested on my wheels and kept moving forward.

As the race wore on, I learned the value of drafting. This must sound ridiculous to you more experienced skaters, but I had barely ever drafted before and I had to learn on the fly. What a revelation! Unfortunately, it was difficult to find a draft; most of the relay skaters were too fast, and the solo skaters were spread too thin. I estimate I skated by myself 80% of the time -- my biggest strategic error of the race. Most relay skaters were happy to pull, but distressingly often I had to hunch uncomfortably behind some tiny québécoise rec skater who obviously disliked having a sweaty, panting man lurking within inches of her rear end at 3:00 a.m.

The sun rose and dried the track. I took my second real break to change wheels and clothes, and my sister told me I was running fourth -- one spot off the podium. With six hours to go I increased the pace and soon I gained and then cemented the bronze medal. Weary but happy, I began to cruise and relax.

With 51 minutes to go, something strange and wonderful happened. I stopped to exchange water bottles, and as a result of crossed conversations; miscommunication with my crew; and exhaustion-induced stupidity on my part; I became convinced that not only was I was four laps behind leader Eric Gee, but that Eric had left the track. If I could spin four laps before the clock struck 24 hours and then add another lap, I would win the solo division.

This was not true. I was actually four laps behind the second place skater, who was still on the course; I had no real chance to improve my placement. But I thought I could win, and that spurred me to the finest athletic achievement I have ever produced: with 254 miles and 23 hours of skating in my legs, I crushed four laps in 46 minutes, tacked on one more, and crossed the finish line gasping and twitching. Over those five laps I averaged 15 mph and kept my heart pounding at 93-97% of maximum. I wouldn't have thought it possible. But Speedy was right -- I was stronger than I knew.

(Side note to Jessica: I hope you will accept "hypoxia-exacerbated hallucinations" as a sufficient excuse for my erratic behavior on that final lap. And thanks for the pull!)

There is so much more to tell. But why not find out for yourself how fantastic this race is? If you love speedskating, you must do this race at least once, either on a relay or as a solo skater. For those of you who did the relay this year and are thinking about soloing next year, I encourage you to make the jump. Train hard and follow a smart race plan, and you will amaze yourself. (Second side note to Jessica: You would rule the women's solo division.)

And now for the thank-yous:

Thank you to my crew, especially my wonderful sister Dawn, and also Renee, Andrea, and Maria. I literally could not have done this without you.

Thank you to my American Invasion compatriots: Mark (2nd place), Bryan (AustinSkater), and Brian. We didn't sweep the podium, fellas, but two out of three ain't bad.

Thank you to the SkateLog team! It was awesome to meet everyone, and your support kept me rolling. I wish I could have spent more time with you guys. Congratulations on your achievement!

Thank you to the Skater's Quest teams, especially Howard (Intrepid), Donald, and the young woman taking photos who shouted encouragement every lap Sunday morning. Keep it rolling, Howard! You rock.

Thank you to Christine (sk8crazy), for your kind words and encouragement.

Huge thanks to Andrew, Randy, and George of Canadian Racing and Performance (CRAP), who arranged several custom full-lap pulls and made me an honorary member after the race, complete with T-shirt and a "You are one sick f--k" from George.

Thank you to all the anonymous skaters who tossed a "Go solo!" or "Allez solo!" my way as they zipped past.

Thank you to my Wash Park homies Spero, Eddie, and Rick. It might be a little while before you see me out there again, guys.

Thank you to all you SkateLoggers who offered your support over these months of training and dreaming and worrying.

Thank you to anyone who helped whose contribution might have slipped my mind at the moment.

And now for a few numbers:

Calories expended: 15,235 (635/hour)
Calories consumed: 7,200 (300/hour, less than I thought, with no ill effects)
Fluids consumed: 10.0 liters (417 ml/hr)

Toenails I will lose (see below): 3 -- left big, left middle, right second

First 8 hours: 93 miles (11.7 mph)
Middle 8 hours: 77 miles (9.7 mph)
Final 8 hours: 98 miles (12.2 mph)
Time spent not skating (potty, water/food pickup, equipment/clothes change, etc.): ~60 minutes

Finally, a few photos of my feet. Make sure you notice the grotesquely swollen ankles!





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Old July 19th, 2007, 02:03 AM   #2
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wow, very inspiring. congratulations!
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Old July 19th, 2007, 02:14 AM   #3
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Lawrence, like I said in Montreal ... what you did was absolutely amazing and you should be extremely proud of yourself and your accomplishment. It was not an easy task and you rose to the challenge admirably. Actually, more than admirably!

I sincerely hope to see you next year at the "24 hour inline" perhaps either as a solo or as part of a team. If you are ever looking for a team to join, we would be proud and privileged to have you on ours!! Just let me know!!

In the meantime, take care of those blisters and swollen ankles and make sure you get out there on the skates again soon. And, most importantly, keep on smiling.

Hope to keep in touch with you through this forum!!

Christine
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Old July 19th, 2007, 02:42 AM   #4
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As someone who has followed your training through the Skatelog forum I'd like to say I'm incredibly impressed with your athletic acheivement. To me this is what athletics are all about...personal acheivements through hard word and persistence. Thank you for letting us have a glimpse of what it was like. Congratulations.
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Old July 19th, 2007, 02:58 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by speedysktr on June 27th, 2007 View Post
mc,
you are no where close to what you are capable of...
... Raise the bar. Just do it you spindly legged mfer.
Skating has been waiting for someone like you.
Skating has always been and always will be waiting for someone like you.
I am who I am and I charge you with being everything you can be. Doit, do it now.
sometimes I hate being right,
but this is one of those times I love being right.

Way to go Lawrence. Way to go, man.

You have perfectly illustrated what is possible
with a little dedication and commitment.
Well done.

Well done.
speedy
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Old July 19th, 2007, 03:09 AM   #6
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Awe inspiring. Awesome work!
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Old July 19th, 2007, 03:28 AM   #7
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Congratulations again Lawrence. It was inspiring seeing you come through the transition zone hour after hour. Please forgive me for hitting you so hard with the baton as we skated out of the zone at around 6:00am Sunday morning.

Lawrence joined the Skater's Quest team for dinner the evening before the race. Here is MC and Dawn doing some "carbo loading" (a key component to his podium finish) -

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Old July 19th, 2007, 03:29 AM   #8
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!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

You just rock dude!!!!!
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Old July 19th, 2007, 03:37 AM   #9
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aahhhh, nothing like a nice chianti the night
before the big r...WTF!!!

dude, you are so busted!!!
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Old July 19th, 2007, 03:43 AM   #10
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Let's play "spot the attention wh***" in the picture:
Look at me!!! Hi! I'm back here!

Just kidding, thought it was funny is all.
Hi honey, we see you.
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Old July 19th, 2007, 04:13 AM   #11
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Lawrence... YOU ARE THE MAN!!!
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Old July 19th, 2007, 04:30 AM   #12
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Lawrence, in a couple of days full of inspirational events and people, you were by far the most inspirational. We laughed in awe as you were like clockwork in those early laps and just kept motoring along. We watched as you climbed the rankings. It was great! You were really our hero. The relay was tough, but nothing compared to what you did.

Wish I would have gotten a chance to talk with you (more than 5 second cheers and hand slaps as you went for yet another lap).

Great job!!
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Old July 19th, 2007, 07:26 AM   #13
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Simply amazing,
The longest I've ever skated was under 7 hours, and in rec skates, I can't begin to comprehend doing that four times over, and in speed skates...

You are truly an inspiration, and have got me setting my sights on trying it myself some day.
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Old July 19th, 2007, 10:30 AM   #14
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Respect man, real nice work!
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Old July 19th, 2007, 11:45 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MNGreene View Post
Lawrence, in a couple of days full of inspirational events and people, you were by far the most inspirational. We laughed in awe as you were like clockwork in those early laps and just kept motoring along. We watched as you climbed the rankings. It was great! You were really our hero. The relay was tough, but nothing compared to what you did.
I would have to second Doug's sentiment! Just seeing you out there pacing steadily throughout the event was an inspiration to us all.

I believe I passed you twice through the event and tried to lift your spirits as I did. If I wasn't trying my best to keep a decent pace for the team, I would have dropped down in speed to give you some relief.

As for doing the event solo myself, I don't think I have the heart to do it. The team portion of the event was by far one of my favorite parts of the event. How people who have never met before came together and skated so well.

My hat's (or helmet in this case) off to you, Lawrence. You did an incredible job. During the night hours, Doug, Mike, Mark, and myself kept looking at your standings and were silently cheering you on as we saw you climbing up in the ranks and in the number of laps you had completed and were gaining on the people in front of you.

There was one time where we all stood near the transfer area (I think it was at about 1:00am), cowbells in hand, waiting for your next passing. But you had changed your jersey. We were looking for what was at the time, the familiar blue jersey, but you were now wearing a red and black one.

As you passed, you yelled "Team SkateLog", to which Mark, Mike, and I responded with the ringing of the bells. We probably woke half the people up in the tent area, but it was worth it just to see you smile as you passed and soldiered on.

I'm already committing to doing it again next year, hopefully for Team SkateLog. We're also hoping to get a second team together so we could work together, similar to the way the fitness and rec teams from Skater's Quest did.

Congratulations on your 3rd place victory!! You earned it!
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Old July 19th, 2007, 05:17 PM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by speedysktr View Post
aahhhh, nothing like a nice chianti the night
before the big r...WTF!!!

dude, you are so busted!!!
Oh, pish-posh. That was a shiraz, for one thing, and it went perfectly with my prosciutto and angel hair (I would have had the chianti if I ordered liver and fava beans), and I was only drinking it for the carbs and antioxidants and dilithium crystals and midi-chlorians, and anyway the race didn't start till 1:00 the next afternoon!
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Old July 19th, 2007, 06:26 PM   #17
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congrads More Cowbell that must be some feeling i am so happy for you
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Old July 19th, 2007, 09:15 PM   #18
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Quote:
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I was only drinking it for the carbs and antioxidants

Sounds like a perfectly reasonable explanation to me.

C
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Old July 20th, 2007, 04:26 PM   #19
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Lawrence,
I am new to this area and I was amazed at the fun and excitement that one could get with type of sport. I wanted to say again Congratulations on your race. This indeed is a story and thank you for taking the time to give more insight on what it takes to make such a race. This indeed is a fantastic adventure on wheels!

CONGRATULATIONS!
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Old July 20th, 2007, 05:39 PM   #20
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Quote:
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But I thought I could win, and that spurred me to the finest athletic achievement I have ever produced: with 254 miles and 23 hours of skating in my legs, I crushed four laps in 46 minutes, tacked on one more, and crossed the finish line gasping and twitching.
Awesome, just awesome. Your story made me misty. Good job, Cowbell! Thanks for sharing your tale. Looking forward to hearing about your next goal. You rock!
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