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A2A 2007 - My Toes are Still Bruised

phillyskatergirl's picture

Deciding to do A2A was a very last minute decision. I kept hitting the website, read numerous stories and had a lot of friends tell me how hard it was! The more everyone told me how difficult it was, the more I wanted to do it.


I really just started getting into the speedskating this past July. Before that I had been skating with the Philadelphia Landskaters group recreationally for about a year. They are a great group of people and it is always a blast weaving in and out of the alleys, skating to the stadiums, and usually ending each skate with a climb up the art museum steps. I definitely owe a lot of credit to this group for feeling confident enough to do the 52 mile A2A.


So, I finally made up my mind after doing the NYC Marathon. I felt I did pretty ok and though what the heck… So I registered for the 52 mile so I wouldn't kill myself or destroy any chances of coming back the next year by getting in over my head too fast! After learning more about the course, I originally set my goal to finish in less than 5 hours based on some of the skates I had done in preparation for NY.


So onto the bus I went and I actually started to get nervous. I really did not know what to expect! Then the after being on the bus for a while, suddenly something hit me. I had to use the bathroom, BADLY. So much for over hydration! Luckily one of the other women on the bus acted as a guard once we got to the school.. a BIG THANKS goes out to her!


Then we were off. The first little loops around the industrial area were a nice warm up. I ended up skating with a group of 4 guys that were great, but kept telling me to calm down and not kill my energy right away… I am hard-headed and stubborn…


Then came the first of the hills….


The first few hills were great since we had a nice little paceline. Going down was a lot of fun… I have not had a lot of experience with this, so it was thrilling and very exciting to feel that pull!


Eventually one guy Dennis and I ended up getting separated from the mini-group and we went strong for a while! He is a great guy and gave me some great tips and conversation.


I have no clue how far in I was (I purposely did not wear a watch because I did not want to know), I ended up alone for a long time. I was scared I would miss a turn, but it ended up being a very nice skate. The hills were getting to me, but much of the route was peaceful and I did not mind being alone. Also, the cops were a big help… They were funny and very supportive! Even though I didn't stop, just seeing and passing the checkpoints gave me a burst of energy! Thanks to everyone that helped out at them!


Finally I started to come up near Silver Hill and a few other skaters. I came across Johnny who was very nice! My legs were toast and ended up on the grass for about a minute just to walk a bit and use different muscles. I was happy to see another skater! And one that was smiling as well!


OK, Silver Hill… I was warned about this hill and I thought it was the most amazing hill ever!! I just put longer frames on my Bonts for this race, and all I can say is FAST FAST FAST!! At first I was just happy to be going downhill that I did not care about the speed I would gain, but once it started to pick up and I felt that wind start to lift my body up, I was cheering the entire way down!! If it wasn't for the long climb up, I would have loved to do it again.


Then the thrill was over and it was back to up and down hills.. I almost thought I wasn't going to make it but then 2 Atlanta skaters caught up with me and I was able to tag along with them. I was SAVED!! They had a great pace that pushed my tired body, but it kept me going. Also, I had no clue how far I was at that point and then I saw the Atlanta skyscrapers!! I literally did not believe it. I though I had only gone about 30 miles at that point. When the guys told me it was only another 6 miles, I was shocked and suddenly energized yet again.


Coming into the city was great! Everyone was outside eating at these little restaurants and I loved the atmosphere. I felt at home being in the city, again thanks to the Landskaters, and then we entered the park. The look on my face when I crossed the finish line must have been so nerdy! I was just shocked I was there already… I was also more shocked to hear I did it in 3:34.


Would I do it again? You bet.. I am already planning on it again for next year and trying to bring some friends! I will probably just do the 52 again and then tackle the 87 the following year.. but who knows. If more people tell me how hard the 87 is, maybe my stubbornness will take over and I will just do it.








roadskater's picture

You Won the Women's 52-Miler, Right? 87 Next Year!

Hi and thanks for your A2A story. Yes being around the Landskaters is a huge benefit, and being in Philly is a dream! It's a great place to get in some hills and cityscapes, indeed. The Philly Freedom Skate (Philly Skate Jam one year, Philly Free Skate last year) is great stuff with incredible logistics. They know their routes and how to make the most of their skate patrol volunteers. Amazing.

You took the Women's 52 platter, right? I think that's you there in the photo with the silver dish. My big platter was only at dinner!

071007184124.jpg 228.4K 

Congratulations! What a thrill it must have been to realize you had a great finish time and that you were first among the women in the 52. The 87 is really hard and I bet you can't even finish! It is so hard you probably shouldn't try. Actually it's only 35 miles more. No big deal, right? It'll be fun to see which you choose next year.

Could you tell us how you made the transition from rec skates (what did you have, k2, rb, Salomon?) to your speedskating setup (did you go to speed boots or just change frames, and to what?). We have some folk reading who are wondering how you make that shift. And suggestions? Thanks for sharing. Please tell us more, like your story from the NY100K.

phillyskatergirl's picture

Took me long enough to write....

Yes, the Philly Free Skate was great and I was thrilled to be a part of it. I just started skating with the Landskater club in 2006, a little after that year’s Freedom Skate so I missed it. :( Skating with the Landskater’s club is also filled with great people, many that skate strong all winter long. I am looking forward to a fast winter skate season!

My transition? I always had rec skates since I was 12, but I only used them here and there. Once I started skating with the LS group regularly in 2006, I ended up skating about 3-4 times a week. When I first came out with the LS group, I had an old pair of K2 78mm skates. They were old and I ended up getting a new pair, the K2 Athena model in 2006 with 84mm wheels. I used these skates a lot and was able to get some amazing speed on them. I then found out I was a speed junky and ended up treating myself to the Lightning TF 100mm skates. I found these hard to use right away and ended up purchasing a 90mm pair of Aero Rollerblade skates. Ebay was my friend… let me just say that! I really like the 90s and still use them even now, especially for city skating. I enjoy having a variety of skates, kind of like shoes... it depends on my mood what I want to do!

As far as moving up to the speed skates, I ended up scoring a pair of bonts and the first 10K race I did after a friend suggested I should try it. This friend also talked me into buying the bonts. I didn't like them at first, but after using them a bit, I started to love them!

After I got the Bonts, I started skating a lot more to get use to them and decided to go for the NYC marathon. I think I did my first 26 miles in early August and thought I was going to die. I just kept up with it and didn’t give up. The NYC marathon was a blast! I really enjoyed the 42K race and am looking forward to it next year as well. I have to say it was a great feeling to be a part of some huge pacelines going downhill! What a RUSH!

So that is pretty much my history. I am also taking it a step further and bought a 110 frame for the Bonts which are great! I am loving them for outdoor skating and can't wait until it gets warm enough to use them more.

Also, I just started doing indoor speedskating. It was suggested that I do for it to help my outdoor skating. I have done two races so far, and am getting more confident in the technique. It's hard but I am starting to love it almost as much as the outdoor skating. (I also have another new pair of skates for this :) )

If anyone wants a suggestion on how to transition up, just stick with it and set small goals! I tend to focus on one thing at a time when I skate and I do not give up until I figure it out or find someone that can help me. Also, have fun doing it! If it's not fun, try another type of skating!

I am looking forward to seeing where everything goes! I am still not sure about the 87 miles A2A.. I may just try to beat my time for the 52!


johnnyChen's picture

my feet aren't healed either

But it was all worth it and gives me an excuse to buy new boots. You're already thinking about next year. Very nice. Congrats!
eebee's picture

And when you got to the top of the Art Museum steps...

...You did the backwards, 'flying down them' thing, right? I enjoyed reminiscing about skating in Philly at the beginning of your A2A story! We've been to several Philly Freedom Skates. I LOVE Philly (on skates, in the summer, with a group of happy friends). I'm sure those downtown sprints and fartleks got you well on your way to being the speedskater you are now.

When you started speedskating back in July, what did you do differently to reflect that? New boots? Speedteam? The 87 is a whole new ball game. Pretty hellish, but a lot of crazy fun.

As a resident of Metro Atlanta and semi-aprr skater...please accept my hearty thanks to you for making the journey down here (to win the 52!) and becoming part of this incredible event.  

phillyskatergirl's picture

Only going up the museum steps...

Nope, not backwards! But it is great to watch some of the skaters fly down them! I am not that insane :)

I am glad you enjoyed past Philly skates! And thank you for making the trip up here to be a part of them as well!

When I finished the 52 I doubt I could have survived much more! The 87 sounds crazy to me but I will do it within the next two years. Hope to see you at the next one! Hopefully I will bring some friends as well to join in with the fun!



eebee's picture

How Many at Philly...

Hey Phillyskatergirl...how many skaters would you say there were at the Philly Skate earlier this year (2007), as a rough guess? Just curious.
Cat Brother's picture

Your city's skating scene

Your city's skating scene sounds great - is this still going on? Maybe I could take a long weekend there, both skating and dragon boating....
roadskater's picture

Yes Philly has a Strong Skate Crowd

Hey. The email list for Philly is landskaters and they're on yahoogroups.com. There may be more recent setups of course, meetup or facebook or whatever, but for a semi-private email based one, yahoogroups is not bad. The Philly Freedom Skate and later iterations have been great fun, and I'll be back when I have the bucks.

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