Yesterday after work, I set out to St. Mark’s Trail (an old railroad track that is now a paved trail for walking, biking or any other activity that does not involve a motor) to rollerblade. My friend Jeannie introduced me to this place a month or so ago and I’ve been going regularly every since.
Being that this is summer in Florida, I knew there was a good chance there would be rain sometime yesterday afternoon, so I checked the radar first. It showed nothing in the immediate vicinity, so I set out. The radar lied. I got to the parking lot and there were sprinkles of rain falling on my windshield, the ground was wet and the sky in the not-very-distance was black and ominous. I decided to drive into the parking lot and right back out.
I drove the opposite direction to Tom Brown Park. Chris once asked me why I went all the way to St. Mark’s to rollerblade when Tom Brown was closer. My answer at the time was that there weren’t as many people there and parts of it were too secluded for me to feel safe. Before yesterday, I hadn’t actually seen the entire paved trail at Tom Brown, either.
That was my mistake.
St. Marks has a very slight incline that one only notices when it’s more difficult heading back to one’s vehicle as opposed to heading away from it. It’s easy to stop and start and turn around with wheels attached to one’s feet. Not so with Tom Brown. It’s hilly. (I’m sure you can all see where this might be going.)
I skated from my car down the part of the path I’ve walked on previously. The incline was enough that I felt like I wasn’t getting enough of a workout, but not so much that I lost control. I skated to the end and turned around. When I reached where I parked my car, I continued in the opposite direction. A new direction. A direction that went down, down, down, down. There was debris scattered across the trail. I was alone. There were wheels attached to my feet. (Have I mentioned there were wheels attached to my feet?)
I had two choices: continue coasting and picking up speed and hope that I could reach the bottom of the long, windy hill before one of my skates hit a piece of debris and sent me flying uncontrollably across the paved trail, probably risking a broken limb or two or three. (Did I mention I was by myself?) Or, I could head for the grassy, muddy trail shoulder and fly uncontrollably on my own terms.
I, being of sound mind, of course chose the latter of the two choices. I changed directions slightly so my skates (the wheels attached to my feet) pointed toward the grass. The second they hit, the wheels stopped turning and I fell face-first into the rain-soaked earth. Mud covered my legs, arms, clothes. It smooshed up inside the nooks and crannies of my rollerblades. I could feel a bit of a brush burn across my right shin. But nothing was broken. I sat there a moment, reclaiming my bearings, brushing off the dirt as best I could and trying not to burst into laughter.
And then I had to skate back to my car, passing other people who I’m sure could guess very well what happened. I’m so glad I’m not still at that age where you’re embarrassed by even a hair out of place because otherwise, I might have just crawled into the woods to die, rather than allowing another living person to see me in such a state.
My intention yesterday was to burn 500 calories. I can do this in 45 minutes on the St. Mark’s Trail. By the time I returned to my car, I burned fewer than 200 calories and was in no state to continue skating, but I wasn’t ready to give up completely. I decided to change back into my flip-flops and get on a swing in the adjacent playground. As I bent to take my skates off, I noticed blood trickling from a wound on the side of my right leg, just above the knee. Lovely.
I used one of my socks to wipe it off a bit, but it wouldn’t stop. Oh well. I changed my shoes and hit the swings, which caught the attention of a little blond girl who had been sitting at a picnic table under a nearby pavilion. She chose the swing right next to mine and started chattering away.
I’m sure her parents were thrilled, seeing their tiny daughter trying to make friends with the dirty woman wearing a bandana and playing on a playground. (I wear a bandana to catch the sweat off my head.) She couldn’t get the swing going herself, so she turned to me and said, “Friendly, could you push me?” Before I could even answer, her father came over to push her himself.
Not long after, the thunder and lightening started in earnest, so I stopped my swing, got in my car and drove home to shower. It occurred to me too late to take a picture of myself before getting cleaned up, but I have included a shot of my war wound.
All of this for 233 calories. Definitely not worth it.