photo by Steve Penland

Monday, January 9, 2012

I Do Not "Heart" MY Heart Right Now

The Masters Single Distance event in Milwaukee did not go well.  The short version: I got my heart arrhythmia in all three races and, despite the fact that all three races were slightly faster than they were last year--the times were very disappointing.

The slightly longer version (although not super long, because I need to be excited to write super long posts and I'd definitely not excited right now):
Saturday was the 500 and the 3000.  I had PVC's during warmup, all throughout the 500, and in the first 3 laps or so of the 3000.  My 3k time was, somewhat surprisingly, still not horrible--4:59, a second better than in this race last year.  Still, very disappointing, and an unpleasant race to skate.

Sunday was the 5k only. Usually the meet would have a 500 on Sunday, as well, which I'd skate as a warmup for the 5k--but this time they had to shuffle some races around because there were so many skaters they couldn't run the schedule the normal way.  So they put both 500's on Saturday, which meant I decided to skip the second 500 on Saturday, and also meant that I had warmup at 7 am on Sunday and then nothing until my 5k race at 1:00.

And I truly did have nothing, through the warmup and through the long wait: no PVC's.  I thought that maybe I'd manage to escape them, but as soon as I started putting my skates on for the 5k, I started getting them.  And by the time I went to the line in the 5k, the record that I was hoping to break had been lowered by 8 seconds by another skater who had skated before me.  So breaking the record had gone from "need to take 1 second off" of an 8-and-a -half minute race, to "need to have a perfect race."  Which I didn't.

Actually, I had already decided that if I had PVC's on the starting line or got them during the race, I was going to quit the race.  I had talked to one of the starters, who is a physician, and had done a bit of Googling (I know...never Google your medical issues!), and had had my level of concern about exercise-induced PVC's raised slightly.  Besides, 12-and-a-half laps feeling the way I had felt in the 3k would suck.

But, as I stood on the line waiting to start, I did have PVC's--and I couldn't bring myself to walk off the line.  And I had them after the start, and throughout the first couple laps.  And I came this close (hold up your hand with your thumb and index finger juuuuuust barely not touching) to quitting in the second lap.  But then I came around into the backstretch and saw my lap split (that a coach from the local Minnesota club was kind enough to provide me).  It was a 39, which was my goal pace for the race.  So I figured I'd stick it out.  And as the race progressed, and the laps were mostly 39's and 40's, with the odd 41 here and there, I just kept going.  The PVC's got very infrequent in the middle laps of the race, and stopped completely by the last few laps.  My technique felt pretty good, but I just had no "fire," no ability to push myself.  My final time, 8:32, was a couple seconds faster than last year, a second slower than my best this year, and miles away from where I had wanted it to be.

The race was a bit of a cluster in other ways, too...I had a mixup on the backstretch with my pair when we both tried to slow down so the other could go ahead--I finally ended up completely stopping skating, standing up, and yelling "go, go, go" to my pair while gesturing vigorously toward the other lane.  And, as I coasted across the finish line, I heard the announcer say "and here's Kaari Cox, with one lap to go."  Eeeek. I knew I was done and he was wrong, but still it was a bit disconcerting for a moment.  So not the best race in a lot of ways.

And now, the day after, I don't even feel like I raced last weekend, let alone raced a 3k and 5k.  My legs are totally fine--not sore, not tired.  And I've put in a call to my cardiologist at the Mayo...I know that, assuming my issue is, indeed, PVC's, there's nothing to be done about them; I just want confirmation that it's safe to work out hard and to race when they're happening (last time I talked to him, 3 years ago, they weren't exercise-triggered).  And I've started up the caffeine again...I skated the races this weekend without caffeine--if I'm gonna get the PVC's anyway, I may as well have the caffeine and spare my husband/students/co-workers the Cranky Decaffeinated version of me.  Tomorrow, though, I'll be back on the ice, working on technique and endurance and all that good stuff.  Because even a bad day skating is better than almost any other kind of day.


  1. Go you! I can do a 39 lap, but not 5k of them!

    I was at the event watching (and taking some photos and video) but not racing. Because, um, I've never been in any race at all and didn't think to start just now, but with everyone from Bob Fenn to Olu to everyone I skate with telling me I ought to start I guess I'll take the hint... I have some video up on youtube, I'm fairly sure you're in some of it (skinsuit with hood up = everyone looks exactly to the same to me)

  2. Thanks, I'll check out the video! And if you're thinking that it might be time to start probably is! Hope to see you on the starting line soon!

  3. Ah Kaari, like my brother in all his worldly wisdom (??!) once told me, earlier this season when training was going south: sometimes staying the same (as opposed to NOT going backwards, or slower) IS progress. I actually had to agree!

  4. Yeah, Mel, I guess you're right...and there have been plenty of times in the past 3 years when I HAVE been going backwards. So it could be worse, I guess...