photo by Steve Penland

Saturday, April 14, 2012

The Real Whine

The laundry is folded, and I'm back.  So, in addition to being out of shape and somewhat bruised (at least on the top of my right foot), what's my problem? 

I think my skating is having a mid-life crisis.

Don't get me wrong--I still love skating.  It's my sport, my thing.  It fits my anal-retentive-obsessive-compulsive-control-freak (yes, someone actually called me that) little personality; it keeps me in shape and (usually) happy; and it's one of the few sports that I'm actually somewhat good at.

All of that said, though, I think that I need an injection of something new into my skating.  I guess, when I look back, this is the longest I've gone, in my skating career, without something major changing.  I first skated from '93 to '96, and it was all new and exciting. Then I quit for a few years because I had just gotten married and the Hubster and I were playing broomball several times a week year-round and dirt bike racing almost every weekend in the summer, and I just didn't have time or energy for skating.  I started skating again in 2001, after a back injury in 2000 forced me to quit broomball and dirt bike racing.   After a couple years I was starting to get frustrated with my lack of progress and inability to find a coach and then, in 2004, I discovered Barry Publow, an inline and ice coach who offered online coaching.  Getting coaching from him rejuvenated my skating and allowed me to improve my ice and inline times in almost every distance--skating was new and exciting again.  Still, there was a problem--Barry was a great coach, but he was in Ottawa and I was in Minnesota, which meant that there was really no opportunity for him to coach me on technique.  And I really needed coaching on technique.  After a couple years, I started feeling a bit frustrated again.

Then, in December of 2006, I found Coach TieGuy.  Again, my skating was rejuvenated--I finally had someone who could watch me when I skated and tell me exactly what (100 or so things) I was doing wrong.  I think 2007-2008 was my best season ever--I achieved the goals I had set, I was excited about becoming faster, and I wasn't yet frustrated by my inability to change certain key parts of my technique.  

And now? Well, my thyroid seems to be behaving itself now, but my heart is being unpredictable (at least, I'm assuming a heart arrhythmia is my issue--so far I've been unable to prove or disprove this hypothesis).  I had a huge technical breakthrough last season, and consequently I had lots of personal bests last winter--but didn't achieve any of my big goals.  Coach TieGuy, after being out of state for a year and a half, is back in town but is insanely busy so I try to limit my whining for help to the occasional email about workout questions.  In short, there are some ups and downs, but it seems like my skating is just...kind of "there."

So now, despite last winter's mostly successful season, I find myself feeling like something is lacking in my skating.  Basically, I guess, new is fun and exciting, and there's nothing new right now.  As great as it is when you're in your "best season ever," as I was back in 2007, it really sucks to be in the stage when you realize that you've passed that, and are now in a ho-hum phase with nothing new in sight.  I've been reading other bloggers with envy; inliner Christine, of "My Inline Skating Journey," commented in this post "This is by far and away one of the most exciting periods in my life! I know I'm a late bloomer - here I am at 41 - in the best shape of my life and gearing up for an intense year of competition. These are really awesome times indeed.."   And triathlete Mary Eggers, in this post, talks about reawakening her desire for speed and shorter races, and ponders the exciting implications of changing her training focus.  I remember being there, I envy them for being there, I want to be there again.

Maybe I need to skate more with other people; my friend Mel is back in town, some of the  Masters long track boys that I skated with last winter have expressed interest in inline oval workouts this summer, and I'm on a new inline team--surely some of the almost 50 skaters on the team would like to do an oval workout or two now and then.  Or maybe I need to try some inline races again...I did one road race with Energizer Bunny last year, with less than spectacular results but it was kind of fun.  Sort of.  Not as fun as an exciting season of long track ice, though...

I guess I find myself in the position of someone who, although they know they've found the love of their life and they don't want anyone else, still laments the passing of the early, exciting phase of the romance.  Anyone know any good ways to rekindle the fire??


  1. after 4 years living and "training" in MN, i was ready to completely retire for good: my technique had gotten appalling bad, times went more than backwards, and i hated going to the rink. then, in the second half of last season,after skating with Doug, Matt, and the other guys, I had an incredible breakthrough with my technique. and suddenly, the world of skating opened up to me again. getting better was fun. the challenge of skating properly was far more interesting than trying to skate fast, for the last part of last season. this season was all about recapturing that proper feel on the ice. Kaari, I think that more and more focus on achieving really solid technique will be refreshing...when other skaters start to say that they love to watch you skate because you do it so well, you will have a new sense of skating purpose!

  2. Thanks, Mel! I know I should be excited by my technical improvements, and I am...maybe it just seems like a long time until I can practice them again! I think the uncertainty of "when will I have a good race and when will I have my heart arrhythmia or whatever it is" is probably a factor, too. I guess I'll just have to get back on the oval (whenever it opens) and see what I can do on inlines!

  3. Three Words: Try Short Track

  4. Sharon,
    Three words: You Are Evil :-) Actually, I plan to do some informal short track once school is done for the summer. There's a local rink that has an "early bird" time (5:30-7 am!), and if you show up with speedskates they'll give you a separate rink. Some of my masters friends do this regularly, so I plan to join them. Thought about the organized local short track club, but there's still a big "too many people" factor. But you're right, I need to shake things up a bit--and short track would certainly do that!

  5. Heh, I just have Publow's *book*.

    I also think it's pretty normal to have a greater and lesser and greater again level of excitement about anything over a period of years.

  6. Michael,
    Yeah, Barry knows his stuff...he was a good coach, just too far away! And I'm sure you're right about the ups and downs...I just am not used to the "downs" and I find that I don't like them!