On-board with in-line skating

On Exercise: Missy DiGiulian likes the speedy side of her sport

Health & Fitness

March 05, 2000|By Nancy Menefee Jackson | Nancy Menefee Jackson,Special to the Sun

Missy DiGiulian is not fond of structure. The idea of working out in a gym or having a trainer tell her what to do isn't appealing. That's why the 45-year-old was attracted to in-line skating, and why her training regimen is not really a regimen at all.

"I started skating when I was 40, just for something to do," she says. "I like the speed."

At first, she skated on the B&A Trail near her home in Pasadena. She used the type of skates she had grown up with, the old-fashioned ones with a wheel on each corner of the skate.

When she discovered in-line skates, though, she quickly outgrew the B&A Trail. She was skating so fast it was annoying walkers and cyclists.

DiGiulian started training with racing groups in Washington, and now skates Sunday mornings in Rock Creek Park. She also formed her own racing team, known as WOW!Skate. The WOW stands for Women on Wheels.

Her team includes a core of several woman, all of whom are over 35, and grows to as much as 20 participants at times.

Her husband, Lenny, offers support with Gatorade and his toolbox -- in case skates need repairs.

The highlight of DiGiulian's skating year is in October, when she enters the Athens-to-Atlanta race in Georgia, an 86-mile endurance test that benefits the Leukemia Society of America.

In 1998, she finished in seven hours and 48 minutes, and she and her 15-year-old daughter, Katie, raised more than $5,000 for leukemia research.

"I had to do a lot of training for that race," she recalls.

One thing that made the training easier was having company.

Katie was also in the Athens-to-Atlanta race in 1998, but fell at mile 14 and had to leave the race to get nine stitches in her chin.

Last year, however, she won the 17-and-under age category for a 38-mile version of the Athens-to-Atlanta race.

"It's really fun," Katie says of skating. "And it's a great way to get exercise."

Katie, who swims breast stroke for Severn School, skates with her mom a couple of times during the week, and on weekends.

Depending on what she feels like doing, Missy will head out for a long, slow skate, or practice at higher speeds or concentrate on hills.

"I'm a very unregimented person," she says. "I do absolutely what I feel like doing that day."

That doesn't mean she lacks motivation, though. She runs five miles a couple of times a week and keeps her upper body in shape by kayaking on the Magothy River.

She also exercises with 5-pound weights. One of her goals for this year, she says, "is to run in the Marine Corps Marathon."

After her son Patrick, now 13, was born, Missy took up tennis, even though she had never played sports before and describes herself as "active, but not athletic."

She doesn't follow any particular dietary regimen, but prefers low-fat foods and avoids junk food. "I eat a lot of PowerBars and drink a lot of Gatorade when I'm training," she says.

Lately, she has been struggling with an overuse leg injury to her anterior tibial muscles. Fearing that she might not be able to skate competitively much longer, Missy became certified as a Level 1 skating instructor from the International Inline Skating Association, hoping that teaching will keep her connected with the sport she loves.

Right now, she's eased off training, skating only on the weekends and running during the week, hoping rest will improve her injury.

"I will skate even if I can only teach," she explains, "but racing is my passion."

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