When I retired, I decided to take a little time “off” from working out. My back hurt, my shoulder hurt, and, quite frankly, I was just tired. After 20 years in the military, I figured I had earned my rest.
Naturally, a little time turned into a few months which turned into a year. I got on the scale a couple of weeks ago and the number shocked me: 196 lbs.
Considering I’m 5’8″ tall, that was not a good number. It means I’m 30 lbs overweight.
To really drive the point home, for Christmas many of my gifts were larger clothes.
Time — past time! — to do something to change this.
Finding The Right Goal
I lead an extremely busy life, between full time work during the day, a start up at night, and making time for my lovely wife and three children, I’m very, very busy. I realized early on in my life that I can’t maintain the motivation to work out and stay healthy just by saying “I need to work out and stay healthy”. I need to have a goal to work towards. Something definite that I can rally behind and stay focused on.
My last big goal was to do an ultra-distance swim. This year? An ultra-distance skate.
I’ve decided to go after the longest distance skate race in America — the 87 mile Athens to Atlanta Road Skate.
My History With Skating
I’ve been skating since I was about 6 years old. After quickly destroying my plastic strap on kid skates (Playschool, maybe? I don’t know — that was way back), my folks got me a pair of quads that had metal wheels. Yeah, that’s how old I am. They were black boots, with actual steel wheels so you could use them outside in the street without wearing the wheels down. I went out into our cul-de-sac practically every day and skated around. Awkwardly at first, then with growing confidence.
I don’t know what my next pair of skates were (I do remember they had real wheels!), but I skated even more with them. Miraculously, a skating rink — a real, honest to God skating rink — opened up at the edge of our neighborhood. The 80’s were cool like that.
I spent a lot of time there.
Yeah, skating might not have been all that cool, but I just loved the feeling of it. Almost like you’re floating over the ground.
Sadly, though, those old quads weren’t really great outside of a rink, or at least a nice patch of smooth pavement. As I grew into my teens, I spent less and less time skating and more doing other things.
Then, inlines were invented.
I bought a bike to take with me to college, figuring it would help with getting around. But, the campus at NCSU just wasn’t that bike friendly. Then, one day, I was riding up Hillsborough Street and I saw a pair of Bauer Inline Skates in the window of Cycle Logic. I stopped my bike, went inside, and traded my bike for skates. Right then and there. They took the bike, I laced up the skates.
I didn’t wear shoes to class again for 4 months.
Those first generation of Bauers had a plastic boot, full laces, and probably some crappy 72mm wheels — but they were perfect. I skated everywhere. In the mornings I got up and skated 6-10 miles around the campus. I’d grab a shower, then strap them back on and skate to class. At night, I might skate some more. It was not unusual to find me skating through the streets of downtown Raleigh at 1AM on the weekends.
My Junior year, a running buddy of mine pointed out that the local 5K run had a skate event. That was it. From then on, I raced.
When I commissioned into the Navy, my skating took a backseat to work. Not much opportunity to skate on deployment. But, in 2000 when I was stationed in DC, I went out with the Washington Area Rollerbladers every chance I got.
Things didn’t really pick up again until I saw Chad Hedrick in the 2006 Olympics. I remember watching him skate, my newborn son on my lap, and looking over to my wife and saying “You know, I used to do that. I think I’d like to go back to skating.” She looked at me like I was an idiot.
I ordered a new set of Powerslide R2’s from Rich over at NettRacing (always my go-to skate shop), and started skating in the mornings around the neighborhood before work.
Soon, though, an expanding family and a new duty station brought an end to regular skating. Yeah, I went out every now and then, but I can’t say it was even remotely serious training. Instead, workouts devolved to hard hitting gym sessions and swimming. Worked great, certainly, but not nearly as fulfilling.
Getting Back in the Groove
I have to admit, I had to get some new skates. Terrible, I know. I needed something that could handle the large diameter wheels I would need for the 87 mile A2A, but had enough boot that I wouldn’t kill myself in training. My ankles haven’t had to withstand a double push for more than 100 yards in years, much less 87 miles. I still have my R2’s, but with their low cut boot, my ankles would give out before I got in any meaningful amount of miles. And I need to train.
After consulting with Rich, the answer became quickly apparent — a pair of SEBA FR1’s kitted out for larger diameter wheels. Kinda like this:
There is a 16 mile long rails-to-trails not far from my work, which has become the new training ground. Smooth pavement, low traffic, pretty scenery. You’ll find me there around 6AM a few times per week.
I’ve got a lot of miles to make up.