Welcome! My name is Michael Gilday and I am a Short Track Speedskater from Yellowknife, NWT, Canada. I currently train at the National Training Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. I've created this blog primarily to let family and friends know about competitions and travel. I also hope to educate a bit about short track and maybe even entertain. Enjoy!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Today was the World Cup rounds for the 500s and 1500s. It was another good day for the Canadian men. Charles Hamelin and Francois-Louis Tremblay finished 1-2 in the 500m and showed that we are the dominate force in this distance. In the 1500m Olivier Jean was second by .005 after leading from 6 to go. I was last in the A final for 6th place. Today this was a disappointment, but only a month a go this would have been a big accomplishment for me. Now that I have made A finals, I am no longer satisfied with just being in the A final. I know that I can medal and medaling is now the expected result. Today is the last day of racing in China. I will be doing the 500m (it is raced twice this weekend). It should be fun. We are also in the final for the relay and will be looking to get some revenge on the Americans and Koreans from beating us in the first two stops.

Next post will either be from Japan or on the trip to Japan!

Below is the video of the 1500m A final

1. Sung Si-Bak Korea
2. Olivier Jean Canada
3. Park Jin-Hwan Korea
4. Lee Jung-Su Korea
5. Sui Boaku China
6. Michael Gilday Canada

Friday, November 28, 2008

A Good Day

Fridays qualification rounds went well for the majority of the team. All of the men went through to the World Cup rounds with the exception of Francois Hamelin in the 1000m. He was Dqed. On the girls side, Jessica Hewitt was Dqed in her 1500m heat while Val Lambert and Annik Plamondon will have to skate the repechage in the 500m. For me it was a good day and I will try to build on that today with the semis and finals of the 1500m. Both mens and womens relay teams also passed through to the next round with wins in their heats.

Below is about half of my 1500m Quarter final from yesterday.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Ni Hao from Beijing

We’ve been in Beijing for three full days now and everything is going well. We have practiced each day. The ice here is really nice. Its quite fast and has a lot of grip too which is nice. The arena is the same facility that was used for Volleyball at the Olympics. The rink was covered with a floor during the games. Because of the Oympics, the building has been renovated and is in nice condition complete with an upgraded gym that we have used for weights. Apparently it wasn’t always this nice so we are lucky. Today (Thursday) is our last day of training before the competition starts.

We have also had the chance to get out and experience Beijing a bit as well over the last couple of days. Tuesday, we headed over to the silk market to do some shopping for knock off designer goods. In the ever exciting world of the marketplace, you have to bargain with over zealous vendors who will grab, pull, hit and yell at you in order to get you to come to there booth. Everyone is selling almost the same thing and there are more English speaking Chinese people at the markets than anywhere else is China I’m sure. They see a tourist and immediately try to grab your attention and get a huge mark up out of you. The best way to get your price is to make them think you are interested and then walk away. This alone often brings the price down by about 100 yuan (20 cdn). If you ever find yourself in Beijing and at the market, the rule of thumb is to never pay more than half of the initial offer and 90% of the time you should play less than that.

Tuesday night we went out for dinner to a local hot pot restaurant. A hot pot is a basically a cauldron with fire in it surrounded by a ring of boiling water. You are brought big plates of uncooked meat and greens that you submerge in the boiling water until cooked and then remove them, dip them in a dipping sauce and enjoy. It was actually really good although the sauces were a bit weird. Our waitress was also hilarious. She was really concerned that we do it the proper way and found it hilarious every time a group of hungry athletes would throw a ton of meat in and then devour it in seconds.

the hot pot

mmmmm shrimp

Wednesday we had a the last practice time of the day (7pm) so we took advantage of the chance to go over to the Birds Nest and the Water Cube. After seeing these impressive structures on TV this summer, it was really cool to see them in person. They are truly spectacular up close. We were able to go in and walk on the field and see the enormity of the stadium from the middle. It is surprising how personal a stadium with 91000 seats can feel given the right architecture. The water cube was pretty neat too although we were told it is way cooler at night when they have a light show with the walls.

Usain Bolt's view during the Olympics

This thing is huge!!

It was nice to get to experience some touristy things while we were here. To often we travel into a country, compete and then leave. Even though what we did was very like any typical tourist it is still nice to experience what we can. But after a couple days of that, its back to competition mode. World Cup #3 starts tomorrow. I will be skating a 500m and a 1500m. I haven’t skated a 500m on the world cup since 2006 so I am happy to be doing one. I will try to do a summary of racing after each day. I have also posted a bunch more photos in addition to the ones here in my picasa account which can be accessed by the link on the right hand bar.

Lastly, good luck to everyone racing in Calgary this weekend.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Travel day to Asia Timeline

The following is a loose timeline of our travel day to Beijing. I wrote random things down at random times so you can see how it goes. All times in Mountain (calgary) time.

6:44am: Aisle seat!! Checked in and got an aisle set for trans-pacific flight. Good start to the day!
8:53am: Board flight to Vancouver.
8:54am: Giggling and annoying noises coming from two rows in front of me (the Jesses). One person changes seats immediately.
9:57am: Shoei discovers that EPO was discovered in 50 BC while watching the Asterix movie. (EPO=Elixir Pro Olympics)
11:49am: Hewitt shows off a picture of J Gregg picking her nose on the plane
11:54am: Blake and Jess G pick over Hewitts scalp for grey hairs. They find MANY. Jess G says that she thinks Hewitt is still growing browns thankfully for her.
12:46pm: Reid sends a "special message" to everyone via Skype video. 
1:09pm: Olivier Jean "I hope the seat beside me is either empty or has a beautiful Chinese woman in it"
1:14pm: Boarded flight to Beijing. Estimated flight time 11 hours 2 minutes.
1:49pm: 6.5 hours since I walked out my front door this morning.
1:50pm: Takeoff to Beijing!
2:14pm: First movie: Tropical Thunder
4:16pm: Sleep time. Two gravol and "the chicken" later and I'm out for a couple hours.
6:37pm: Wake Up. Dang, only slept 2.5 hours. Might not be a bad thing though since it will be easier to get a full nights sleep in China.
6:47pm: Second movie: The Dark Knight. I told Liam I wouldn't see it but here I am...
7:03pm: "Anybody want to see a magic trick? I'll make this pencil disappear" Sweet line by the Joker.
9:20pm: Jesses come to visit. They want to know "are you excited??"
11:31pm: Walking around the cabin again. Doing some streches and up-downs to keep the blood flowing. Should be only another 1.5 hours or so. 
12:02am: Pilot announces descent in 25 mins and on the ground in 58 mins, 15 hours since leaving my front door.
12:59am: Touch down in Beijing! 11 hour 9 min flight. Good prediction by the pilot.
1:15am: Waiting in Customs line. New international terminal in Beijing is INSANE.
1:24am: Through customs and waiting for the monorail train.
1:55am: Waiting for bus to hotel.
2am: Hewitt and Gregg fight over the picture of Gregg picking her nose. Will it end up on Facebook?
2:11am: Picture deleted after the battle. Jess G booed for deleting.
2:13am: Bus driver yells at Hewitt for having her feet up on the seats. A national disgrace.
2:15 am: Hewitt warned a second time for putting her feet up on the seat.
2:49am: Roll into the hotel. Day ends at just over a 19 hour travel day. 
Two pictures from the day. The first is the smog descending into Beijing. The second is the Jesses fighting over Hewitts bad which contains the camera with the picture of Jess G picking her nose.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Off to Asia

We are off to Asia tomorrow for the second set of World Cups. Tomorrow we will travel from Calgary to Vancouver and then on to Beijing for the first week of racing. Then its off to Nagano, Japan for the second weekend and back home after that. Our Calgary group has five members traveling. The Jess's (Hewitt and Gregg), Richard Shoebridge, myself and our coach Jon Cavar will represent with the rest of the team being made up of Montreal based skaters. They are Charles Hamelin, Olivier Jean, Francois Hamelin and Francois-Louis Tremblay for men and Kalyna Roberge (coming back from an injury), Anne Maltais, Annick Plamondon and Valerie Lambert on the womens side. We will all be looking to build on strong performances from the first two world cups and step up on to the podium a few times. I will try to blog as much as possible this time, but it may be tough due to some of the internet policies in China. We will see but hopefully I will be able to get some sweet updates with pics up.

Monday, November 17, 2008

A website to check out

One of my teammates, Richard Shoebridge has created a site for our team. The address is http://homepages.ucalgary.ca/~rpshoebr/. He made the site for a project at school, but plans to keep updating the site with new news of our team. You can find short profiles of each skater in our team as well as some photos from competitions and practices.

L to R: Liam Mcfarlane, Jessica Gregg, Richard Shoebridge, Jessica Hewitt,Michael Gilday

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Testing and an Interesting Interview...

On Wednesday we did some testing to see where we are physically. But first of all let me set this up a bit. The testing we do is done on the bike. We do this because doing the test on the bike is closer in terms of muscles and systems used to skating than the other way of doing the tests we did, which is running on a treadmill. We haven’t been on the bike much lately, obviously because we have been on ice training and competing, and I wouldn’t say we do a lot of biking except for at the beginning of the season, but we do a lot more biking than running. It’s obviously not a perfect situation, but as long as we do the same thing each time, we should get accurate results.

The tests that we did were an incremental bike test and a maximum aerobic power (MAP) test. The incremental bike test works like this. You jump on the bike (no ordinary bike, this is a teched out exercise bike called the velotron) and start spinning. Before any resistance is put on, your finger is pricked and your blood lactate levels are checked. As long as your blood lactate is under 2mmol, you are ready to go. A load is then dropped on (resistance). For myself, I start this test at 200 watts. Each three minutes, the resistance is increased by 25 watts and blood lactates are checked. When your blood lactate level reaches 6mmol, the test is over. This normally takes about 20 minutes give or take a couple minutes depending on the person.

The MAP test works as follows. On the same bike you start spinning. A load is put on. The difference here is that the load goes up 25W each minute instead of each three minutes. After about 8 minutes of this your are hurting really badly. This is where you try to push through. The test is done when you can’t finish a minute at a load. So for example if you start at 200W after 8 minutes you will have completed the 375W stage. The wattage is then upped to 400, and if you can’t complete a minute at this load, your test is over and you will have finished at 375W.

These tests have various applications to our training and the results are analyzed by our coach and our strength coach. They are then able to make inferences about our target heart rates for different aspects of training such as recovery and the development of our aerobic systems.

This round of tests was done at a time when we were in a fairly hard training block and as such we would have expected our results to be down a bit. But some people increased and most were similar to previous testing results. This is a good sign for everyone and shows that we are doing the right things even though the training we have been doing lately isn’t specific to the method in which the tests were performed (biking).

After finishing that hard training block yesterday, we are now heading in to a recovery week before we head off to the next set of World Cups in Asia a week from today. I will have more on that later this week, but I know that everyone is looking forward to competing again.

On a completely unrelated note, I watch an interview on the news the other day with Melissa Fung, a CBC journalist who was held captive in Afghanistan for three weeks. As I watched this interview, I was really amazed with the way Fung answered all of the questions. Despite the fact that she had been held in a hole in the ground for three weeks, she didn’t ever speak badly of her captors. She was calm and composed the whole time and answered all the questions in a very introspective way. The way she spoke about knowing she would survive and the mental fortitude she had really blew me away. It was an amazing interview and if you have the time I suggest you check it out. You can find it here. If the link doesn’t work, you should be able to find it on the CBC website.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

New Gear Day!

Well its been a bit since I’ve had a new update. This past week has been pretty regular, hence the lack of blog updates. We have just been doing a lot of training and subsequently recovering from the tough training. Yesterday though was one day that I know all of the National Team members look forward to, even if some might not admit it! It was the day that we received our new suitcase full of HBC outer, training and casual wear. Everyone knows its coming and when a whole bunch of boxes show up on the track at the Oval everyone gets excited to check out what the new clothing will look like. This sometimes involves clothing being tried on right on the track and packaging getting spread everywhere while comments fly about the fit or colour or style. The highlight of this year seems to be the white sweater that is extremely comfortable.

Its like Christmas in November!!!

We are very lucky in Canadian speedskating to have number of great sponsors. Bell, ING, Cheerios, LinkIT, HBC, Timex and USANA have all been excellent supporters of speedskating in Canada over the years and we are grateful to have them on our team. If you have a choice of which company to use when buying in any of these companies product ranges, pick a company that supports speedskating and reward them for their support!