Like many places in the Midwest, suffering through the Polar Vortex has been as pleasurable as you would expect. This winter has been more difficult than most because inline skating hasn’t been an option since the Metrodome’s demise. Now, the much loved skate spot for speed weenies is a smoldering hole in the ground, leaving the skaters awaiting the rebirth of the Metrodome, which is scheduled to open in 2016. Ice hasn’t worked out as well as I had hoped. So far this winter, I have only been ice skating twice, and the second time was at the Roseville Oval. The Oval is fast ice, and really showed how dullness my blades. I couldn’t catch an edge to save myself. That was either a deficiency of technique or of the gear. I was mostly likely the worst possible combination of both. Now, though, with the daily high temps regularly above freezing, it is practically tropical by comparison to our sub-zero high temperatures in January. This had me counting down the days to getting back on my inline skates. March 13, 2014, ended up being the first day out.
The weather proved to be too nice to miss. It had been in the low 40s all day, and the temps held in the high 30s even as the sun was going down. I made it out to start around 6:15 pm, so I knew that it would be getting colder and darker pretty quickly. I got to my skate spot, got all my gear on, including rain covers for my older skates, and rolled away from the car about 6:30 pm. I skated in a neighborhood I was hoping would have dry streets. I wasn’t that lucky, but there were only two spots where the run-off from the snow melt crossed the road. Those spots were wet, and a little sandy, but did not prohibit skating. The circuit is about 0.7 of a mile around a neighborhood near the Church we attend. It is toward the end of the long skate route we use for training on Saturday mornings during the summer. I just wanted to get out and roll to see if I still remembered how.
I only did 5 laps, for a total of about 3.5 miles. I only got to skate for 15 minutes, but it was worth it. Top speed was just over 20 miles per hour to see if I could get a good sprint in at the end of the work out. Since it is a circular circuit, I was working against a steady wind for about half of the lap. When I first pushed away from the car, I felt like I hadn’t ever skated. My ankles were wobbly, and my feet felt really heavy. I was wearing my older skates, which are heavier, but after about a half a mile I started to get back into form. I felt like I was able to get and stay lower in the skater squat, which is do to my off-season training. Getting to 17 mph and staying there didn’t seem hard from a strength perspective, but endurance will be difficult as I attempt to maintain that speed. I had a lot more power to work with in the push. Thanks to a little bit of ice time, I felt like I was getting more power to the ground. My technique didn’t feel too bad, and I was able to work the double push a little bit even though the skates I used are a little big. This all translates to better speed, generally. The low points, though, included weak feeling hip flexor muscles and getting winded very quickly. My heart rate wasn’t extreme, between 140 and 160. Similarly, I felt a lot of burn in my hips at first, which is either due to the unfamiliarity of the movement since I haven’t skated in so long, or bad technique. The bottom line is that I am not working hard enough on the bike and I haven’t maintained my cardiovascular conditioning as much as I wanted to over the off-season. I will be trying to get out and skate a lot more in the near future as the weather begins to get better. However, that may not really start in earnest until April. I guess we will have to wait and see, but I am going to try to spend more time on the slide board and work harder on the bike.