Saturday, August 07, 2010

15 years of Rollerblading Tested

Today I participated in my first-ever inline skating competitive event. I signed up for this months ago, and have been diligently waking up at 5 am every day  now and then to skate the lakes and put some miles on.

I love inline skating because there's a little bit of speed involved which means a little bit of risk, but not a huge amount of risk. It's not like I'm flying on a bike at 40 mph, I'm just going 8 mph, maybe 10, and having a good time. I've been skating since the summer of 1995, when I bought my first pair of Rollerblades when I was between jobs and had no health insurance, which I remember my mother being very concerned about.

Some months ago Wayne found a half marathon that had a skating element to it and encouraged me to sign up. I was already skating 7 miles on my normal skating routine, I was sure I could train up to a half-marathon distance.

Like I said, I've been getting up and doing my routes, going on some longer trails and completed a couple of 10-milers. I was able to finish those 10-milers in about an hour, so both Wayne and I figured that I would complete the half-marathon in about 1 hr 20 minutes.

I had registered as an advanced skater but ended up being lined up with the open skaters. This was mostly by accident, as they didn't put the wave signs up until literally a couple of minutes before the start, and prior to that people were milling about wondering if they were in the right place. I was near the front of the pack of the open skate and didn't make a move to get up to the advanced skaters. Those women looked like they knew what they were doing -- they were all suited up in professional suits and had the nice, NICE skates, the ones that look like little sneakers with 100mm wheels on them. Yep, I was pretty sure they were going to leave me in the dust so I didn't try to move up to that group. I was completely intimidated and wondered what the hell I was thinking registering as an advanced skater.

The course was pretty hilly; I heard from some skaters after that it was "brutal." I had been concerned beforehand about the hills because I'd heard it wasn't very flat and had a couple of hairpin turns, but it turns out that the hill that I take both up and down between Lakes Harriet and Calhoun was actually steeper than any hills we skated today, and I've done hairpins before, it wasn't that big a deal.

At mile three I saw a huge pack of people pass me up while we were climbing a hill. It was a little disheartening and I was tempted to push myself to pass them, but I already felt like my legs were burning so I decided to hold out and save my energy for later in the race.

Later on I passed that entire pack.

I also had skaters with those sweet $1,000 skates pass me by on the down hills -- their wheels were so fast that they ate up the pavement and flew by me.

I passed them on the inclines.

I finished the half-marathon in 56 mins 51 seconds. I had no intention of breaking the 1-hour mark, didn't even know I could.

I was 92nd overall out of 375 skaters (top 25%), and had 6 advanced skaters finish AFTER me, despite the fact that I had lined up with the open skaters. I definitely could have done better had I actually started with the advanced skaters  -- there were only 10 women who self-identified as advanced, so the road would've been clear at the start had I had the confidence to start with them.

Now I know.

Half-marathon skates are apparently few and far between, but I'm going to be on the lookout for them, and who knows, I'll probably move up to the full marathon skate next season.

I was incredibly proud of myself and of this accomplishment. But just to keep myself humble, I had to check out the top finishers. They completed the race in 36 minutes, or a little over a half an hour. That's an average speed of 21 mph...on skates. (My average speed was 14 mph, in case you're wondering.)



  1. I am very proud of you. I'd say from your article you learned some things about your capability and how good you are. I hope you continue to enjoy some skating events and keep measuring yourself against the pack. You do stand out, quite a young lady you are.


  2. Fantastic!!! What you and Wayne do has to also be inspiration for the girls to be living healthy life styles -- can't put a price on that.

  3. Wayne1:48 PM

    You did a great job overall honey and really showed your potential. As I can speak from experience, its very intimidating lining up among other competitors for the first few times.

    I would always line up in the middle of the pack or so and then literally weave my way around other slower runners for the first mile or so and in some cases even further. It was Eric who finally told me that I should line up closer and then my times improved substantially.

    Finishing in the top 25% for the first time on a hilly course, officially deems you "Advanced Inline Skater." Roll on!!