Lying on my bed trying to get the room to stop spinning and my stomach to stay in my lower abdomen, I came to the conclusion today that rollerblading isn’t much in the way of cardiovascular exercise.

I’ve been rollerblading for over 10 years now, and even when I haven’t picked them up in six or eight months, it’s generally no problem for me to hop into my skates and go out for a five or ten mile ride. That always made me feel that I was in reasonable shape, and when I learned last fall that there is an indoor 25-yard pool about four blocks from my house, I didn’t think it would be an issue to convert my exercise leanings from blading to swimming. After all, I was a competitive swimmer for many years as a kid; how hard would it be to pick the habit back up?

That first time was a disaster, though, with me pushing myself way too hard and ending up lying on a bench in the locker room, 100% sure that I was within nanoseconds from losing consciousness, and more nauseated than I’d ever been in my life (which means a lot seeing as I went to high school in Texas and drank more in those four years than I have in the decade and a half since). I actually called Shannon, who at the time didn’t have a car and couldn’t drive my standard transmission, and told her that if she didn’t hear back from me in five minutes, she should come down and help me figure out a way to get back home. I was shocked at how poorly the whole experience went; on some level, I assumed that it was a combination of me being a bit exuberant about a triumphant return to the pool and some otherwise-unnoticed illness that I had at the time. Nonetheless, I didn’t go back to the pool, both because my hours were insane for the first half of this year and because I was a bit nervous about what had happened.

Last week, a friend mentioned that he was interested in getting back into exercise, and when I told him about the pool, he asked if I was interested in going together, once a week, so that we could goad each other into getting into shape. I said sure, and this morning was our first trip. Despite trying to take it a little easier, when I went into the locker room after the swim, I found myself in the same boat as before — nauseated, weak, clammy, and feeling like I was going to pass out. I recovered from the acute stuff a little quicker than the time last fall, but I still went home, laid down on the bed, and drifted in and out of sleep for a half hour before I felt completely better. The only other thing I thought of that could have contributed was that I woke up early and didn’t eat anything before either trip to the pool; while I certainly felt better this morning after eating a little breakfast, I don’t know that I can place the blame entirely in that cubbyhole.

The only two conclusions I can make from all this are: (a) I need to exercise a lot more; (b) rollerblading doesn’t hold a candle to the cardiovascular workout of swimming. I’m going to keep going to the pool, but for the next few weeks, I’m really going to tone things down a bit, and try to get to a point where I don’t feel like death warmed over when I’m done.