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, December 27, 2008

Home and Family

One of the tough things about moving away to pursue Olympic dreams is having to move away from your family and friends. This is something that everyone that is part of our team in Calgary knows. None of us are from Calgary. We all made the choice at some point (most of us after high school) to move away from all things familiar to train full time. Its something that is tough to do. For most of the year we don’t really notice how much we miss home. All of our friends are also away at school or spread around the country (or world!) doing their own thing, not unlike what we ourselves are doing. But at times like Christmas we really notice the things we miss about home. Around the middle to end of December, most of our friends from school start to trickle home for Christmas. They will get to attend various Christmas parties and go out and see people that they haven’t seen for months or even a year or more. For most of the group in Calgary though, we miss out on these activities. Training keeps us in Calgary until right before Christmas and has us racing back right after. The Europeans that train with us don’t even get to go home and see their families due to the sheer length and cost of travel halfway around the world. The funny thing is though, if you ask any of us if we regret the decision to miss out on stuff like this I’m willing to bet just about everyone will say “no way”! They almost certainly have some part saying they wish that they could go home for two weeks or more, but everyone realizes the sacrifices that must be made in order to become a world class athlete. Sure everyone misses their family and friends but thats where we have some luck with our team. We are a very close group and we are not unlike a family. We unite around what we have in common and by the time we all retire, we will have spent more time together than we will spend with our immediate family over the period of time we are in Calgary. So while it may be tough to be away from immediate family, how many people can say that they are able to go hang out with their other family the rest of time? Pretty cool I say.

Our Calgary "family"


Also, if you would like to check out an amazing piece of music, check out the video below. The artist is John Butler of the John Butler Trio playing the song Ocean. He rarely plays this piece the same way twice but it always sounds amazing.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Ouf...

Oops. So I let my blogging slip lately. The good thing is that I think that this is the first time that this has happened since I started blogging and I will try not to make it a regular occurrence. Alright so last two weeks not a lot has happened really which is probably the main reason for the lack of blogging. The biggest event that has happened since then was a weekend trip to Canmore for some snowshoe training in the spray valley area. The idea was to finish up a recovery week with a fun activity that would provide some aerobic activity and what better way to do this that to trudge through knee deep snow (we got a 20 cm dump the night before we went out!!!) in snowshoes up the side of a mountain. The only hitch was that the temperature dropped to between -25C and -30C the night before and stayed there the whole weekend. But since our team kicks a$$, this didn’t stop us. We bundled up and headed out on a three hour snowshoe up and back to Chester Lake. We stayed the night in Canmore and spent some much enjoyed time in the hot tub and sauna. The next day we headed out again in chilly temps but with less wind and bluebird skies. The second day we were at Mt. Shark. Things started out with Liam and I and a couple others leading us straight into a trail that slowly diminished in to no trail. So we made our own trail! Later in the day we were lucky to see two moose, a mum and a baby. This was a highlight, but we would get lucky one more time as a lone moose was waiting for us back in the parking lot. He was enjoying licking slat off the tires of the cars. Three moose in one day is pretty cool!

Liam and Harolds from Latvia on the way up to Chester Lakes.

End of the first day with Commonwealth Peak in the background.

The Spray Valley. Mount Nestor is the peak just left of center.

Whats happening??

Last week was all about physio and doing as much training as possible. I felt like I spent half the week doing physio alone but my back is now starting to really get ready to go hard so that is a good point. We will take a couple days off for Christmas, as most of the group, except the Euros, will head home for Christmas. I am hoping to get out to the cabin at home and enjoy some more winter. Happy Holidays everyone!

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Asia Recap

The Canadian Short Track team returned from a two week two in Asia last night. This was a very successful trip for the team, especially the men’s side who finished off with a big victory against the Koreans in the relay. For me, the second half of the trip took on a different focus. Normally the second weekend of a world cup trip is a good chance to build on some things that you may have learned, or correct a few things that you may have done wrong the previous weekend. Unfortunately for me, I was still nursing the injury to my back and didn’t get the chance to build on the 1500m A final I had in Beijing or try and redeem my performance in the A final of the relay (my first one!) where I skated well but botched my last exchange (that combined with a botched exchange a lap later cost us the win). Obviously sitting on the sidelines can be a bit depressing but I think that I handled it well knowing that I was doing the right thing for my back. I also took solace in the fact that I skated well the weekend before while in quite a bit of pain and I looked forward to how well I will skate once I am 100%. So with that in mind I looked to try and take advantage of my situation and learn as much as I could from watching the best in the world. I was able to take a bunch of points on everything from track patterns, to strategy and the way the best skaters act and the vibe they give off during warm-ups and races. This is all stuff that is right there and obvious but I always miss it when I am competing as I am absorbed in my own race prep.

The highlight of the weekend was definitely our win in the relay. We have been close to winning at every World Cup but have come up short three times. It was nice to be on the top of the podium even though I didn’t actually get to be on the podium because I didn’t skate. Another highlight of the trip was our dinner on the last night. We went out to this very small family owned Japanese restaurant. Everyone say around knee high tables with grills in the middle while plates of food are brought out to grill. They bring everything from veggies to meat to seafood and you just grill it up and enjoy. Everything was delicious and the meal was topped off with sake shots all around. We all headed over to a karaoke bar after. Check out the video below. Martin (the women’s coach is playing the air piano and drums while the Jess’s and Annick sing)


video

The restaurant we went to the last night...

Thursday, December 4, 2008

This wasn't supposed to go up here...

But I do whatever I want so here it is for you viewing pleasure...
video

Sorry Jess...

No skating for me

The title pretty much says it all. After three days of rest my back is still not healed enough that we can say I should skate. I have seen some improvement for sure, and am getting back to normal bit by bit, but I just didn’t have enough time. Today I was able to do some exerices in order to help activate some of my deep core muscles that aren’t working and putting the extra strain on my back. But this still doesn’t change the fact that I won’t skate this weekend. Although a World Cup is important, it isn’t as important as say World Championships Trials, which are in 5 weeks. I could push through the pain this week and maybe put up some good results and then spend another week off when we get back, or I can do the smart thing and rest it fully over this weekend and hopefully be close to 100% and ready to train once we get back to Calgary on Monday and be in top shape come January. I obviously chose the latter with the support of my coach, our physiotherapist and doctor. It just doesn’t make sense to risk further injury. Needless to say I am pretty disappointed to not be racing but that’s the way it goes sometimes and the best thing for me is to rest. As an athlete we are used to pushing through pain. But there is good pain and bad pain and this is bad pain. Athletes have to do the right things for their bodies as well and in this case I will gain the most by doing nothing (well not nothing, I still have to do my physio exercises religiously!) It sucks for sure but it is what it is.

But this isn’t stopping me from all activity. Today our physio, Rebecca, suggested that I try some swimming so that I can at least keep active and try to help with a bit more stimulation of my core muscles. Now, I don’t swim very often (more like close to never) so I knew this would be an adventure. Lets just say I was not even as good as Michael Phelps at age 2. Under Reb’s watchful eye though I did improve a bit over the hour or so I was in the water, but was still getting killed by Rebecca at the end and she was only using her legs! So my swimming needs some improvement but as long as I don’t have any pain from it I will try to go back a couple more times this weekend.

Racing starts tomorrow for everyone else. I will be in the stands trying to keep my boredom levels to a minimum (you can only watch so many races when you know you should be in them). I’ll try to film a couple races and throw them up here after racing is over for the day.

Sayonara!!

This one is for CVD. He requested a picture of a beer vending machine. There is one right outside of our hotel room by the elevator. Beer in the vending machine costs $4.75 Canadian

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Japan!

Konichiwa from Japan! The trip here was actually pretty long. The day started at 4:45am. We were at the airport by 6:30 and on to a 4 hour flight to Tokyo. Once in Tokyo, we had a 6 hour bus trip to look forward to. All in all it was a pretty long day. We had practice the next morning, but this practice was going to have to happen without me. The past few weeks I’ve had some back pain building up. Unfortunately I probably didn’t deal with it fast enough and this compounded the problem. After training and racing through pain last week, and combined with the long day of travel, my back decided it had had enough of suffering. I had been doing a lot of physio, but after seeing the doctor I was told that I should take at least 48 hours rest and see how it was after that. He also said it was unlikely that I will race this weekend. I was definitely a little bummed out, but I was in quite a bit of pain so I agreed. We will see how it improves each day and make a decision right before the races on Friday. After one day of rest I am seeing some improvement but not a ton. It sucks for sure but I have to be positive and hey, I am in Japan which is pretty cool…

View from my hotel room in late afternoon

Nagano is a very nice city. Almost 400 000 people live here but you would never know it. Everything is very neat and tidy. There are a lot of small houses and everyone seems very friendly. Nagano is also surrounded by mountains and the sunset every night is gorgeous. Today, we visited the Zenkoji temple that houses the oldest statue of Buddha in Japan. Very cool. The thing that struck me most about our first real foray into the city was how clean everything is. There isn’t any garbage anywhere and everything is in its place. And this is everywhere, not just on the tourist streets but even in the back alleys that we cut through to get back to the hotel. Now you might expect that the reason that there isn’t any garbage is because there a garbage can on every corner but this is not the case. Its almost impossible to find a trash bin. After buying some gelato, I had to walk almost ten minutes without seeing a garbage can and finally gave up and went in a store to throw out my trash. I found it amazing that there can be no garbage cans and no garbage. If only it could be like this is North America.


At the Zenkoji Temple