Usually I am acutely aware, during my "off month" of March, that I'm missing skating--missing the endorphins, missing the physical challenge, missing the socializing, missing my "obsession fix." This time--even though the "off month" stretched to an "off two months" due to illness, injury, and (yes, I'll freely admit it) laziness--this time, I didn't notice that I was missing anything. I just went merrily about my way working, walking the dog for my daily "exercise," sitting on the couch at night watching the Twins steadily work their way down to the worst record in baseball (but I love them anyway), and, of course, blowing my nose every 3.5 seconds. I really didn't feel like there was a hole in my life. In fact, I was worried that my skating mid-life crisis might just have segued into "I'm not sure I really want to skate anymore; in fact, I'm pretty happy just sitting right here on the couch."
And then I got in the car to drive to the oval yesterday.
Within minutes, I was singing along to my "skating playlist." My heart, which must have sensed the upcoming exertion, was throwing out more PVC's than I've had in any other 45-minute period the past two months. And my mood, which I hadn't known was anything but content, began to lift until I was downright cheery.
And finally, there it was: the John Rose Oval. And on this first day of the season, it was already populated with the usual cast of characters: little kids on bikes riding the ramps under the watchful eye of mom. Mid-teen bikers constantly riding out onto the track in flagrant disregard of the rules, and conversing only in the word "dude." The one older guy on a bike (OK, he might be 20) who's always there and who I actually feel a mild fondness for because he has never strayed from the skate park onto the track. The chatty roller-derby-guy on quad skates, sporting a blue mohawk. And last but not least, I was happy to see, a fellow inline speedskater--SmartAss Boy. I've known SmartAss Boy for several years (if his lips are moving, he's lying/joking/saying something sarcastic). Due to the merger of his team, Max Muscle, and my former team Media Machine, we're now teammates. It's always nice to have another speedskater (especially a big guy) whizzing around the track to keep the Skate Park
So I skated a "get the feel for things again" workout that I made up. For the balance of May I'll be trying to repeat last May's workouts that Coach TieGuy had planned for me; there may be a bit of adjustment needed, to accommodate my "out of shape" status, but in general I'll be following the plan. Or maybe not; I also hope to skate with more people this year, so I may end up doing their workouts sometimes. And I want to skate some inline races with my new team, so that will shake things up. But I digress; yesterday, I just skated. And it was fun.
It was also, unfortunately, a little alarming. Due to my cardiac issues last season (exercise-induced PVC's, and another symptom that hasn't been diagnosed yet but may or may not be PVC's, or something else cardiac, or...?), I decided to wear my heart rate monitor. You can never have too much data, you know. And that was the alarming part--my maximum heart rate, achieved after a set of 3 laps at 49 seconds and one at 44 seconds, was 202.
Yes, that's high, even for me. In fact, it's the max I'm capable of, according to the exercise stress test I did at the Mayo in March. True, I do have a genetically high max heart rate, but 202 is a number I rarely ever see when skating--not even at the end of a race. And 49-second-laps are, honestly, typically my warmup pace, while a 44 is endurance pace. Definitely not something that should trigger a max reading. Oh, well...I'll just keep going for a couple weeks, and see if it settles down after I'm completely recovered from my sinus infection or whatever it is.
So I finished my workout, said goodbye to SmartAss Boy, and got back in my car for the drive home. And as I sat in the parking lot, mixing up my post-workout recovery drink and listening once again to my skating playlist, I realized...I've missed this. I need this. And I'm glad I'm back.