Monday, December 21, 2009
The only things that have marginally improved is my sit spin which is finally becoming somewhat consistent (meaning I can usually pull a decent one off during most practice session unless I'm having an unusually bad day) and I'm doing better at actually jumping during the Salchow. Not to be confused with a good jump; jumping for me is that I actually manage to get air time between the take off and landing rather then stepping through the jump. This frustrates my coach to no end. As soon as she tries to "fix" my jump by giving me instructions it rapidly deteriorates back to the no air time variety. I was petrified of jumping when I was a kid and that was when I weighed about 1/3 of what I do now and was much closer to the ice so the falls weren't as much of a disaster as they are now. Falls seem to be infinitely more painful now that I am an adult. Even though I have more padding this also means I have more mass and further to fall. Being an engineer I also understand that this means that there is much more force to dissipate through my body when I actually do hit the ice. I have enough aches and pains as it is without adding nasty falls to the list of injuries. My fear of falling has intensified now that I am an adult. It often makes me question my sanity of taking up figure skating as a sport. I guess we can't always choose what we fall in love with. This sheer utter terror of falling has been detrimental to my jump practice. I have gone slow. Really slow. For a long time I would only jump when I was on weekend ice so if I broke something my friends and my coach would be there to help me. Now at least I can jump Salchows and Waltz jumps where ever and when ever I want. They just aren't pretty but at least I am practicing them each time I get on the ice. I guess this should be considered a major accomplishment on my part.
So a month goes by, my backspins still grind to a halt after the entrance three turn, I double foot my back three turns and I still can't do a "good" Salchow. I haven't even gotten to the toe loop yet. So what changed? Why am I writing? I had a good lesson last week. I had two small triumphs. My coach had me do a long, LONG, three turn practice. First she fixed my forward threes since I tend to pitch forward on push off. That was a simple weight transfer problem. I had my weight even between both feet before launch but it turns out that my weight needs to be all on my push off foot and then quickly transferred to my skating foot. This keeps my upper body still. Woohoo. Forward three fixed. Now I just have to practice a lot so I get some body memory for them. Then we started on the back threes. This was much harder. My free leg was all over the place. I can't seem to lock my knees together to keep the free leg still during the turn. The big reveal happened when I accidentally saw my reflection in the glass of the hockey barrier and noticed that I stuck my hip out horribly coming out of the apex of the turn. I had no idea I was doing this. Once I paid attention to keeping my upper body position then the turn was infinitely easier. I still two footed it after the turn but it was much closer to happening than my klutzy prior attempts. As soon as we switched to the other side I managed a good one on the first try! Huzzah!!
A half hour had gone by already. We moved on to spins. I did two scratch spins with no problem. They weren't centered as much as I like but she was happy with them. I tried a couple of camels which didn't go as well. It was a bad camel day for me and these spins are not even close to being consistent yet. She had a minor correction for me but that didn't fix the spin I still fell off my inside edge since I wasn't balanced over my blade. I did a sit spin for her which was great. She said it looked good and she had no corrections other than working on getting lower on the supporting leg. This is a high compliment from her. Then she had me try something new. A camel sit combination. I had never ever done one of these before even as a kid. She had to teach me how to transition from the camel position with my leg sticking out behind me to the sit position with the leg in front while keeping my balance and keeping the rotations going. The key is going slowly. I went into a marginal camel spin which I knew I couldn't hold for long so after two revolutions I started the transition to the sit. It went flawlessly! I was so excited that I only managed two revolutions in the sit before I bounced up, stuck my toe pick in the ice to stop the spin and wave my arms wildly in the air. She was amused. I skated over to the boards all excited and she just looked at me and said that I need three revolutions in each position. "I know but I DID IT!!!" The Zamboni chased us off the ice. I was so excited that all day at random I would turn to my husband and say "I did a camel sit today!" Now I just need to get some more practice in so I can perfect things.
Saturday, November 28, 2009
Skating up there was magical as always. It is so exciting to be on Olympic ice. To be skating in the same rinks as Sonja Henie, Scott Hamilton and Evan Lysacek. Way cool. The first day on the ice was so so. I was out of practice and my muscles couldn't do anything but Brian Orser greeted my mom and I as we got on the ice, "Good Morning Ladies!" Cool! He is a cutie! The second day was my lesson and I had plenty of sleep the night before so I was raring to go. The lesson went great. I was skating well and fast and coordinated. I showed my mom the start to my program which she liked. I almost crashed into an elite dance team after they did a violent lane change and headed straight for me (they split apart at the last minute and went around me but it was a close one). I skated for over an hour and a half and loved every minute of it. The third day I only lasted a half hour. I was pooped from the day before but I wanted to go over the stuff from my lesson so it would stick in my head and muscles. Tired but happy I left the ice to the younger more elite competitors.
Now the reason I bring this up weeks later is that today I had my first private lesson since I got back from LP. I have been practicing my Salchow every time I get on the ice. I have been practicing it in my head before I go to sleep at night. The main thing Robin taught me was the timing of the Salchow: outside edge, inside edge, hook, jump. A nice steady 1, 2, 3, 4 pace. So before I fall asleep at night I am reciting "outside, inside, hook, jump". After two weeks of physical and mental practice I got to do them for my coach today. Once I got over my abject fear of jumping by doing a few along the boards I landed several out on the ice surface. She slowed me down a bit more but didn't have any other corrections. She was quite happy with it which shocked the hell out of me. She always has corrections. I am amazed. We moved on to the Toe Loop jump which didn't go as well but I haven't been practicing that as diligently. She corrected several items but then was fairly happy with it. I did a Camel spin for her which have been driving me batty but I hit this one fine and spun for several rotations before doing a nice scratch spin out of it. She told me again that she had nothing to correct. Another shock. This spin isn't consistent for me yet. I miss it more often than hitting it but I seem to be able to pull off at least a couple each time I'm on the ice if I am skating okay. She had more corrections for the sit spin which I had been doing really well yesterday. I did pull off a couple that she was happy with.
I wasn't so lucky with the back spin. This one is going to take some time. If I use the inside three turn as the entrance I just seem to grind to a halt rather than spin. I have better luck doing a change foot attitude spin and can eek out several backward rotations before putting my foot down. I actually managed the requisite three full rotations on one occasion which I have not been able to repeat since. When I start getting annoyed with myself I just remind myself how long it took me and how much diligent practice it took me to get a good forward spin. It will take as much time to do the back one. I have to get used to balancing on the ball of my foot just letting the toe rake scrape the ice while maintaining a back outside edge; all while the arms, torso and free leg work in perfect coordination and timing. This is going to take some serious ice time. It is a combination of learning the balancing, acquiring the fine muscle control in the foot and also getting the timing right of everything else which is just a long process. She told me that when I master it I will probably enjoy spinning backwards more than forwards. Apparently this a preference of most athletes. One extra obstacle I am trying to overcome is that I never ever learned this as a kid so it is totally new to me unlike the forward spin which I was actually quite proficient at and even had a nice layback when I was a kid. Patience. This is going to take a while.
The same with my three turns. I swing them. It is supposed to be a slight twitch of the shoulders and I use my whole body for the turns. The back threes are frustrating me to no end. I managed to do some in LP during summer camp but I haven't been able to do them for months no matter how much I practice them. I know I have been doing something horribly wrong but without a coach watching me and fixing me they have deteriorated rather than improved. We spent a lot of time on back threes today. She got so frustrated with me. "It is a simple movement," she kept telling me. Just the shoulder twitch. "Nothing else moves. Hold everything else still." Then I try it again, I swing something and end up pitching forward at the waist and putting my foot down after the turn. I just don't do them well. I am trying to overcome 30+ years of bad habits here. If I don't practice even the forward threes they quickly deteriorate into swinging uncontrolled messy turns. I have to make these a regular part of my practice to make them improve rather than deteriorate.
As my friend was saying today "skating is hard". I totally agree with her but that is why it is so exciting when you can finally do something well. When something is mastered it gives you real pleasure to perform it. I try to make my practices a mixture of things I can do well, things in process and things I can't do yet at all. This balances out the frustration with some excitement and flat out fun.
Friday, November 27, 2009
I was at Lake Placid for the Skate America competition. This is the first high level competition that I have gone to. I was very excited and got to see the Olympic skating gods in action. Brandon Mroz was one of their toys over the weekend. He landed everything in practice. He did okay during his short program but his long program was a complete and utter disaster. I don't think he landed a single jump in his program. I felt so bad for him. The gods had it out for him for sure. It isn't like he can't skate. During his practice he did a wonderful job. The Olympic gods just decided to mess with him that day. Rachael Flatt and Evan Lysacek however were in their favor this weekend. They both skated wonderfully. Rachel skated a perfect long program and Evan a perfect short program and a near perfect long program. Rachael even beat out Yu-Na Kim in the long. But the gods had favored Yu-Na the day before with a perfect short program so she got the gold medal.
But the gods decided to chase one of the Russian competitors down and take him out. Again the kid skated well in practice but dumped his jumps during the competition. If he didn't finish last he was dam close to the bottom. Once he was done he went out drinking. As if this wasn't bad enough, he then went out and found a car with the keys still in it (this is Lake Placid after all and people still leave their keys in their cars) and went for a drive. After the police caught up with him, he landed in jail for car theft and drunk driving. The Russian team left without him while he sat in jail waiting for a court hearing. He may get the charges dropped but the gods were not done with him yet. The Russian Skating Federation has banned him from competition for one year so he is going to miss the Olympics. The Olympic skating gods can be a mean lot when you piss them off.
I have felt their touch when I skate in LP. I seem to skate better and faster when I am up there. I am more daring but also fall more often. Their touch is feather light but always present. I truly hope I never anger them but I still have no idea how to appease them.
Sunday, November 8, 2009
As is my wont, I did my lower body weight lifting workout on Monday instead of skating. It kills me to loose a day of ice training but I know the weight lifting is doing me good. My legs are stronger, my knees are doing better and tolerating the abuse of ice skating much better than they used to, and my core is getting stronger so I can hold myself erect more easily. As an added bonus I seem to be dropping inches off my waist if not pounds off my scale weight. In general, lifting weights has improved my skating. However, it seems to have wrecked havoc on my Wednesday skate. After being able to skate wonderfully this past Sunday I get on the ice on Wednesday and can't even center a simple scratch spin. I have to go back to basic figures to get my edge control back. Then I slowly work up the difficulty scale and work on spinning from a standstill, simple spirals and spread eagles before moving on to spinning from speed. I am a wreck. I can't center anything even from a standstill. If I manage something resembling a centered spin and I try it from speed it has a three foot long trail instead of neatly turning on top of itself. OMG, why is it so hard to skate on Wednesdays? This isn't an isolated incident. It happens every week. The only thing I can attribute it to is the weight lifting.
Now I know that, in weight lifting, in order for the muscle to get the idea that it needs to grow, and hence get stronger, you need to damage the poor unsuspecting sod. So you go into the weight room and literally rip up your muscles until they can't lift any more. Then you take a day or two off, eat lots of food that is good for you, get lots of rest and voila new muscle mass is born. Turns out that I must need to teach the new muscles how to skate on Wednesdays. The old muscles haven't shown them a thing. They must be tired from being beaten up on Monday and don't feel like talking with the new kids on the block (leg, arm, torso..). By the weekend everyone seems to be getting along again and skating progress can be made.
But now, instead of loosing one day of training due to weight lifting I really am loosing two days since Wednesday is remedial day. I can't quit weight lifting. It really is doing me a lot of good. I am particularly impressed with how well my knees are doing with the new routine. I just have to accept the fact that the weight training is slowing down my skate training. Since I am older I need to make sure I am doing as much as I can to make myself strong and resilient instead of beating the crap out of myself as if I was 16. I have watched parents at the rink beg their kids to either get off the ice or not jump since the kid is injured and under doctor's orders not to skate hard. What does the kid do? Land an Axel, do double toe loops. The kid's competition is coming up and they don't want to loose training time. It is more important to me to be able to climb stairs pain free than land an Axel but that is 47 year old me talking. When I was 13 I thought casts were cool rather the pain in the butt and months of rehab my older body knows. I guess Wednesdays are going to have to be figure skating 101 days for a while.
Saturday, October 31, 2009
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
An added benefit that I wasn't expecting was weight loss. I am quite chubby. Always have been. Probably always will be. I never was a dieter and instead try to eat well balanced organic whole foods in smallish portions. I find I feel better if I break my meals up into small snacks instead of sitting down and sating myself into a stupor. I try to eat at least two fruits and three or more vegetables a day. Since I have a wheat allergy the normal junk foods are pretty much off the table (pun intended). Yet I remain chubby. My husband was musing on this the other day. Wondering why I weigh so much when I eat so well. He was giggling when he asked if I consumed boxes of donuts at work when he wasn't looking (the answer is no since I would be horribly ill). It is just the weird metabolism that God gave me and I am stuck with. What I had forgotten is how well my body responds to weight lifting. The other night when we were walking around a mall killing time while waiting for a table at a restaurant, my underwear started working its way down. Thankfully I was wearing pants so it didn't have far to go before getting stuck. Then it struck me that I was hitching my pants up constantly as well. I had lost weight!! Since I generally don't go near scales as a rule I had no idea what the weight lifting was doing. Plus muscle weighs more than fat so even if my scale weight has gone up I might have lost fat since I know for a fact my muscles are getting bigger. The next day I had the joy of going pant shopping and got to pick up both trousers and underwear in the next size down. Monday when I got to the gym I stepped on the scale and saw a weight I hadn't seen since prior to the car accidents. I must have dropped at least four pounds and probably more since starting the new regimen. How exciting! For me regular exercise just doesn't cut it for weight loss. When I started skating I dropped ten pounds and then got stuck. I always lose a few pounds at skate camp but I am on the ice three hours a day which I can't possibly do while holding down a full time job. Weight lifting is the only thing that does the trick for me. It changes my metabolism and burns more calories even when I am sitting around. Now I am skinnier and my sit spins are getting pretty good as well.
Saturday, October 24, 2009
Last night my skating dreams were neither as elegant or even relevant to the real world. I skated yesterday for about an hour practicing spins and the beginnings of my program. Last night I couldn't sleep because I was so excited about my lessons today. No wonder I dreamed about skating. But I didn't dream about my program or doing figure eights like other nights, instead I was in a strange rink where they had laid down fake ice mats on top of the real ice. I tried to skate on the stuff but my fancy blades got stuck in it like I was skating on couch cushions. The mats would move rather than my blades. Suddenly I was up in the stands naked (don't you love those naked dreams?) and they started taking the mats up revealing the lovely ice underneath. By the time I got dressed and got my boots on the Zamboni came on to resurface the ice and I didn't get to skate at all. I was very disappointed. (I am hoping that this dream is NOT a premonition of things to come.) Then as suddenly as all dreams go I was in Lake Placid with my family eating beef wellington in a cafe after being in the 1980 rink at the Olympic center, which is completely odd since I neither eat cows nor wheat although I did like beef wellington when I was a kid. In my dream it was quite tasty and I finished it all up without any of the normal digestive consequences which is what makes dreams so wonderful.
Today I am very glad my skating did not go like it did in my dream. I did a double session today. Two hours solid of skating. I am beginning to find that one hour is just too short a time to practice everything that I would like to do. The two hours allowed for some serious figure time. I did FO, FI regular and serpentine 8s, then some FO 3 turn eights. I didn't get to back 8s since I got distracted with loops. I have rather large drunken loops. They lay on their side. From the tracing it looks like I am going into them too late and exiting too early giving both lobes an odd tilt. This is when my coach came over for my turn in the "group" lesson. Turns out I was skating the entire figure too large. When I shortened it up to closer to the correct size they became easier to do. She also told me that the figure is actually traced with the free leg rather than the skating leg and the turn is initiated by pushing into the ice rather than bending the knee (I still don't really get that bit). I kept doing loops and they magically straightened up. She told me that I have a much better sense of them than the kids trying to learn them for MIF. I am actually doing the edge work rather than just swinging my leg around forcing the turn. since she doesn't give out complements lightly this made me very happy.
The second hour was my private lesson which was mostly consumed with breaking down the Salchow jump and the back spin. First just doing the entrance three turn over and over again until I got all the body bits in the right place. Then she would add the next body movement which I would repeat over and over and then the next. This was all done in slow motion until my skating leg ached. I never actually completed the spin and I only jumped one correct but minuscule Salchow but I feel like I have made a lot of progress. I have a lot to practice and I am over the idea of it has to be perfect and fast the first time. Now I have given myself permission to do things in pieces, go as slow as I want and two foot any part of it. She said I am very close to having the spin in the backspin and I will eventually be able to jump. I trust her absolutely so I know these will come eventually.
Just when I thought my right glute was going to cramp into a pretzel we started on my program. I showed her the stunt I learned from watching old John Curry videos, a spiral into an attitude, which is much harder than it looks since you have to have tons of control to execute the slow lift from the spiral to the attitude. She loved it and immediately put it at the beginning of the program. Now I am doing the spiral from a dead stop into the attitude. This helps tremendously since I just do some forward stroking and crossovers to get myself some speed for the spread eagles. This is much smoother and easier for me than last week's pivot into back crossovers and then the spread eagle. I could never hit the forward edge quite right to smoothly get into the spread eagle. Now it was easy. Next comes the three turns down center ice with the ina bauer and sit spin at the other end of the rink. Man, I hit that sit spin dead on. It was such a good one I stayed with it and made myself totally dizzy. It was awesome! She then added on two edges, one three turn into a waltz jump. When I caught my breath I did the whole thing again from the top. I was tired this time so it was much more sloppy and I had to stop dead after the sit spin since I missed the entrance and was off balance but I made it through without forgetting any of the steps. Boy does it need work. She then had me try back cross steps which are from the silver MIF which I haven't even started practicing for yet. Since I could do them reasonably well she added a pivot and the steps which will eventually lead into the salchow. I had skated the entire hour. It was over. I was pooped, sore, out of breath, and very very happy. Next week she is going to teach me how to do a change edge spiral. I have good spirals both forwards and backwards now I need to get fancy with them.
Until next week I hope I have more axel dreams.
Saturday, October 17, 2009
Today we started on the choreography for the program. Now, you have to realize that even though I skated as a kid I never EVER did a program. I skated in lots of group numbers in the club ice shows but never my very own program. When you are in a group number the choreography is done for the lowest level skater in the group making most of the steps very very easy. I am very excited about doing my own program as a grown up. I am skating to "Dawn" from Pride and Prejudice. I am keeping the slow start and end but cutting out one of the fast bits in the middle. I am only allowed 1:40 of music. What is left after the edit I am going to digitally stretch to fill the time since with the edit it is only 1:30. This is going to make a nice slow tempo for it, more like a ballet piece than a manic skating piece. Just right for me ;-)
We started with the straight line footwork. It is simply two three turns into a power crossover repeated twice with an arm flourish during each three turn. Once I got this down she added a pivot on my toe pick into back crossovers into an outside spread eagle then an inside spread eagle. This got added to the beginning of the three turn sequence. It is working out that the spread eagles are done around the hockey circles and then the three turns head down the rink kitty-corner where I end up at the other hockey circle. She then added an Ina Bauer at that end into back crossovers into a sit spin. I ran through this a couple of times dodging people along the way. I couldn't believe how klutzy I was suddenly. Then I realized that I am used to performing these as individual elements which means I get to take my time setting them up and getting out of them for each individual stunt. While I have performed every single part of this well and some of it for years, it is more like playing scales up and down the piano rather than launching into a good Rachmaninoff piece. Way different! During the run throughs I stumbled over my own feet and then lost the arm movements altogether during the three turn sequence. While I did manage to get through the whole little bit end to end, from a performance standpoint it looked like crap. I am going to have to practice this a lot, starting quite slowly. This was also done without music which is going to add another stress on top of me tripping over my toe rakes and forgetting my arms. I suddenly have a new admiration for the kids whipping through their programs. I am going to have to ask for an ipod for Christmas so I can skate to my music the odd times I get the ice rink to myself during a public session.
To go back to the music analogy, I know the notes now I just have to learn the song.
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
I went for my second visit Tuesday and while I didn't do anything out of the ordinary she kept me going at a brisk pace that soon had me sweating buckets. I miss working out on the ice. It is much cooler in the rink. I felt like I was trying to exercise in a sauna. Very weird being that hot.
I was sore today from the workout. Not bad but I could tell my muscles had a good workout yesterday. I was very glad that I had arranged for a full body massage tonight. Boy did that feel good. Well, not during. She is a deep tissue worker which means she digs into all the bits that hurt the worst. It feels wonderful when she is done. I have more range of motion now and the stiffness is gone. Of course I could well wake up in the morning feeling like I got his by a bus. This has happened in the past and I haven't had a massage since June. But right now I am reveling in warm soft pliant muscles. Time to go park myself on the couch for the evening and watch Glee.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
- Too much weight lifting on Monday
- Not enough sleep (always a problem)
- That two day old yogurt I found in my lunch bag: blech, why did I eat that thing?
- Boots too tight
- Boots too loose
- Too much skating over the weekend? (I uncharacteristically skated three days in a row which is usually results in muscle weakness but three days later??)
- Forgot to take my vitamins this morning?
I just want to plead temporary insanity on the part of my muscles. They've lost it. Forgotten everything I've learned this past year in the space of two days. Fortunately this is a temporary insanity. Friday I had a great skate and practiced my spins from a standstill until I got them back. I was even doing small Salchow jumps. When I have days like Wednesday I just have to leave the ice (usually in disgust) and try again another day.
Saturday, October 3, 2009
We started with my scratch spin which has seriously deteriorated over the last two weeks as I have gotten used to my blades. Here is my list of corrections from my coach and things I remembered I'm supposed to do:
- Go slow
- Take time on entrance edge
- Look slightly to the left
- Step into the center of the circle
- Turn 180 degrees in the three turn BEFORE starting the spin
- Look straight ahead
- Keep everything lined up over the skating foot (no sticking the hip out)
- Keep skating foot turned in (which in my case makes it straight: I have a wicked turn out)
- Lift knee up, cross legs keeping knee forward
- Slide the free foot down the skating leg
- Exit gracefully
After much practice I finally managed a tight centered spin.
- Same entrance as above
- Keep low with leg behind until I make the 180 degree turn
- Come up quickly on skating leg
After a few tries I did a couple of three revolution turns. They aren't fast yet but they have much better form than they used to and more importantly I stopped skidding on the entrance three turn.
- Same entrance as above
- Sit, pull free leg and arm around at the same time (don't fall on your butt)
- Sit more and pull leg around more
- Turn free foot parallel to ice and bring heel over the center line of the supporting leg
- Hold, hold, hold
- Stand up and finish with a scratch spin
I'm still getting used to the feeling of this one. I am always shocked when I manage to do this spin without sitting down on my butt. When I was a kid I fractured my tailbone trying to learn this spin because I didn't have the strength in my quad to sit and hold the spin and my coach would yell at me to do it over and over again. Now that I am an adult I must be much stronger and I also don't have someone yelling at me to get lower than I am comfortable with. I have no idea what it looks like. I am sure I am up higher than I should be and my legs aren't close enough together but I am just happy that I am actually spinning in a position that loosely resembles a sit spin. My coach was happy with it as well. She didn't have many corrections to it at all. At least not yet.
- Take a left forward inside edge with the free foot in front
- Step into a right forward inside three turn
- Turn and set the back edge
- During the turn snap the free foot in front of the body and the arm around
- Once the edge is set bring the arms in and the knee up to start spinning on the back outside edge
This was my very first lesson on the back spin. So far I have been only futzing with it on the ice copying one of the other adult skaters which it turns out wasn't doing it quite right. My coach had me do the entrance one step at a time. First just the three turn, then the three turn and the back edge and then everything in my list. My last spin actually had a revolution in it before my toe pick caught and stopped me in my tracks. The whole thing felt much better than what I had been doing on my own.
A very happy skating day. I feel well enough to start double sessions next week. There were only four people on the ice after our group lesson. I am finding that one hour isn't enough time to practice everything I want to do. I hope my blades get fixed soon so I can do better edges. My spread eagles suck right now due to the right blade being in the wrong place. Patience!!!
Friday, October 2, 2009
Saturday, September 26, 2009
Of course this isn't just in the skating world. I saw it happen in the gardening club I was in. One of the women made a grab for power trying to shut out people that had paid dues but didn't come to the winter meetings. She didn't like it when I stood up to her and said that if people paid dues they had a right to participate in the club decisions. Then I was in Toastmasters, a speaking club, and I watched a power grab at district level which governs the eastern half of my state. A group had banded together and had the sitting president removed. We have no idea what happened or why since everything was done behind closed doors. Why were people taking this so seriously? It is just a speaking club. Why did they have to go and crush this poor woman who was just trying as hard as she could to run the district? Was that really necessary? It is only a speaking club.
What is it about the wiring in our brains that makes us this way? How can we avoid it? This is supposed to be a democratic society with everyone having a say and a vote so why are there grabs for power? Why do club presidents think they have been filled with the power of God?
I just want to skate.
Saturday, September 19, 2009
Sunday, September 13, 2009
It is an odd feeling getting new boots. I am excited that I finally have boots made just for me but I am in serious pain from trying to skate in them. This always happens. It takes months to break in new boots. I had just been thinking that my old boots were just beginning to feel really good when the lining fell apart. I could have had it fixed but the blades had already been ruined by some over zealous sharpening. So I went for an entire new ensemble. There are many break in methods for new boots out there but my favorite is Ice Mom's (another blogger). Put the skate guards on, set a timer for fifteen minutes, vacuum the rug with your boots on. When the timer goes off, sit down, take the boots off and wiggle the toes and feet. Put the boots back on and repeat until the whole house is clean. I haven't been this adventurous yet but I did wear my new boots to unpack groceries and clean the kitchen. I hate vacuuming so I'm not sure I will ever get around to using Ice Mom's method. Apparently the back and forth motion is similar to skating and makes you bend your ankles which is one of the critical aspects of breaking in new boots: lots of knee bending.
Mostly I've been wearing my boots on the ice. Wednesday was my first day out. I was SO excited. I got to the rink early, paid my $5, and walked into an empty rink. Marvelous!!! I sat down and laced up. I walked over to the boards and opened the gate. I took my guards off and gingerly stepped onto the ice. I held onto the boards and slid the blades back and forth making sure they slid. I also checked where the toe rake hit and where the back end of the blade was. Then I went for a slow glide across the ice. The blades felt sticky. Probably my imagination but I was skating very slowly on them. I couldn't get the speed I normally do; not that I wanted to go fast. I was scared to death I was going to fall over. The new blades are much shorter than my old ones and have a violent toe pick on them. Nothing but stroking and edges today. I tried patch but that didn't go well at all . These obviously not patch blades. I still can't figure out why my push offs are ineffective and noisy. I'll have to have my coach watch and let me know what is going on with my feet. As I took slow laps around the rink, it was annoying the hell out of me that I was the only one on the ice and I couldn't do anything. I finally got up the nerve to try some edges. A lap of forward outside edges and an even slower lap of forward inside edges. I don't have the nerve to go backwards yet. A few slaloms and I'm done. There is searing pain on the outside of my left leg where the tongue is rubbing my leg. Did I mention that they are extra wide tongues? They wrap all the way from outside ankle to inside ankle. I sit down and take off my boots and sure enough I have rubbed and popped a blister on my left leg. No more for today.
Friday after patching my legs up with bandaids and moleskin, I got daring and decided to try some three turns which went remarkably well. Neat and crisp. No toe rake marks and my usual skid mark on the entry was missing. Hum. Maybe I like these blades after all. I wasn't so sure after not being able to do patch on Monday. I steeled myself and turned around and went backwards for a bit. Using both feet of course. Just some elementary pushes. Nothing one foot. I managed to gain quite a bit of speed. The blades seem to be less sticky today. After fifteen minutes of edges and slaloms I decide to try a spin. I did a nice one right off. About a one foot radius series of circles. Not bad for not even trying hard. I am definitely warming up to these blades. My legs were killing me. Time to get off again.
Today was better. I lasted the entire 50 minute freestyle session. I unlaced my boots twice to wiggle my toes and give my feet a rest. I did front and back crossovers, front and back edges both inside and outside, forward three turns inside and outside and some damn nice spins. I am totally warming up to these blades. It is very easy to spin well on them. I did one highly centered spin with only a six inch radius. Woo hoo!! I tried some camels and managed one three rotation spin after tripping over my toe pick a couple of times first. Not too shabby. Maybe my blade is in the right place on the boot. With a little practice I should have a camel spin soon.
I had an extensive talk with my coach after skating today (she was teaching someone else during the session). I can't decide if my boots fit. I am so used to wearing boots that are too short or too long and always too narrow that I can't tell if these fit or not. I've always had to have a half dozen spots punched out to make the new boots fit better. Not so with this pair. Just heat them up and off we go. My toes wiggle freely which is a novelty in itself. My heel slides a tiny bit up and down but apparently that is normal. There is no pressure on my arch at all which is weirding me out. I'm used to the boot arch cramming uncomfortably into the side of my foot, not necessarily where my actual arch is located. Apparently orthotic insoles are an option and I seem to have enough room to accommodate them. I might try them out depending how much they are. Meantime I'm going to give a pair of Dr Scholls a try. I am mostly interested in getting some better arch support since right now I have none. I am also going to have to buy some of the gel ankle cuffs. The tops of my boots are killing me where the tongue is rubbing. I think I am going to cut back some of the foam on the tongue. It is very thick and goes right up to the edge of the tongue which means there is a huge gap between my boot and my leg along the edge of the tongue. I might make a slope out of the foam so there is a transition from thick to thin towards the edge. Then again maybe I should leave it alone. It doesn't slip at all like my old one did.
Overall a vast improvement over my old boots even though they feel a bit big (which might just be my imagination). Mixed feelings on the blade. The spins are great but patch is an issue. I might have to invest in patch boots and blades. A used pair of boots is best for this since they need to be more floppy than freestyle boots.
In the meantime, I just purchased a brand new pack of moleskin so I can skate this week. Oh the pain..............
Friday, August 28, 2009
I managed to see both of my friends and my coach on Wednesday night. I got to see both of them skate their programs. Jackie looks wonderful and Amy's spread eagle has improved greatly. We are all bummed that there is no ice next week but we are all looking forward to group lessons starting again in mid September. The North Shore FSC, where we all skate, is considering adding an adult membership option for their club. Right now we are each individual members of USFSA. It hasn't made sense for us to join a club since they are expensive and we tend to walk on to different session at different clubs each week as our work tends to interfere with skating quite a bit. Jackie is going to join anyway but she makes it to the same rink more regularly than Amy and I. Amy and I will probably join if they decide to have a reduced adult membership rate. My coach is rooting for it during the meetings. She has a very good point; adults shouldn't have to pay as much since most of the ice times fall during work hours and are inaccessible to us. The club has actually reduced their evening hours this fall which is terrible for us adults. There are no more 7pm slots which means I have to go straight to the rink from work to make the 6pm slot. No more dinner for me before I skate and if Amy misses her train from Boston she can't make it to the rink either. Bummer. It is a good thing that there is a rink near work where I can skate a couple of times a week.
Anyway, I only lasted 40 minutes skating on Wednesday but I have great news. I was doing patch and I did two perfect forward figure eights! The first since the mid 70's. I was so excited. I managed to trace two entire figure eights on single edges without accidentally hitting my second edge (or going on the flat of my blade as it is also known). This is huge! This is what I have been trying to do since I started patch practice last year at adult skate camp in Lake Placid. I am so pleased with myself! I also did some decent three turn eights and some serpentine (three circles) figures. I am still trying to do back outside eights. I can now make one complete circle from a dead stop on my right foot but I can only make it half way round on my left foot before the whole circle spirals in to the center of the figure. It'll come with practice. My forward eights are now starting to look like something. Most of the tracings are on top of each other to within two inches instead of a foot and a half. They are close to the correct size and shape. I am going to have to take my scribe to the rink soon and check the circles I'm making and see how out of round they are. To me they are looking pretty good but I'm prejudiced.
I have been working on my three turns and counters as well. I have decided that there must be something in the air at Lake Placid. For some reason both of these were much easier to do up there. I have been able to do a few lame back outside threes; I always touch my foot down on the counters; and I don't have the nerve to do the back inside threes. When I was at camp I was able to do all three most of the time. It must be the Olympic air. I always skate better up there. Of course being on the ice three hours a day might have something to do with it also.
When I got off the ice and was telling my coach about my excellent figures we decided that all three of us will learn loops during our first group lessons. We are all very excited about this. My coach says it will help with many of our freestyle elements. I have just always thought they looked cool ever since I first saw them skated when I was a kid. I wanted to take patch just so I could learn loops. I didn't stay in the sport long enough to ever learn them. I was very bummed this summer when I fell up at Lake Placid and had to sit out the loop class that was held by the patch goddess there.
I miss skating. Zach tells me that his acupuncture treatments will get me off the inhaler soon. I can hardly wait. It can't come soon enough for me. I am grouchy not being able to skate.
Thursday, August 20, 2009
I went skating Monday night and got to see everyone at the rink which was wonderful. I love talking to everyone and seeing how they are doing. My friend Jackie's skating has come such a long way. Her spirals look great now and I can't believe the jumps she is doing. Incredible. My other friend Amy just passed her adult silver test. And my coach is worried about me. Skating starts in mid September and we are all excited about going again. We didn't want to leave the rink since it was nice a cool inside. It has been 90+F with high humidity for the last two weeks. I have been miserable.
The day after skating I came down with a cold, so much for practicing a lot during my vacation week. Hopefully things will improve. I see a pulmonologist in early September (doesn't matter that I can't breath that is his first available: don't you just love American medicine???). I can hardly wait to get back on the ice for real. I need my lungs to heal faster.
Thursday, August 6, 2009
A week later I was done with the cold/flu but still had asthma and a horrible cough. My ribs ached. I tried skating but I ended up having coughing fits and had to get off the ice after half an hour. (That nearly killed me since I had the entire rink to myself and I just couldn't skate anymore. Bummer!) Back to the doctor and I was put on Advair. All this time I have also been going to the acupuncturist. I can't believe how horrible this has been. It has been making me tired. I get winded just walking the level corridors at work. I have missed four weeks of skating practice and I am supposed to compete this Saturday. Ugh. I am so disappointed and frustrated. I really want to go. I keep talking myself into it and then out of it. After skating for 20 minutes today I had talked myself into going. Then I went to acupuncture and he said, very wisely, "if you are on the fence, stay home and take care of your body. I know how crazy you athletes can get and you need to take care of yourself." Now I am talking myself out of it again.
Things running through my head:
- It isn't like it is a big competition.
- I am only doing two moves in the field patterns and two spins.
- I would be on the ice less than five minutes.
- There is only one other lady competing in my group.
- I am 47 years old what the hell are you beating yourself up for?
- Stay home and take care of yourself.
- There will always be another competition.
- My competition dress never got made since I was too sick to even sew.
- I'm crazy.
- My acupuncturist is right.
- If I was a real athlete I would just suck it up and go anyway.
- I should go just for the experience.
So I vacillate back and forth. I am driving my spouse nuts since we are definitely going one minute and definitely staying home the next. I will have to make up my mind tomorrow. I'll let you know what I decide. Meanwhile I have to practice tomorrow and see what happens.
Monday, July 20, 2009
Mum waiting for her turn in the adult ice show. She is a member of the Dueling Scribes, a synchro patch team.
I took the week off work after skating at Lake Placid. I figured I could sleep a lot,let my knees recover, have time to practice for my test and also time to sew my outfit. I had the design in mind but hadn't started sewing yet. I had until Friday to complete the dress. The basic design I stole- ah copied- from a dress that looked good on me. My modified design consisted of two pieces, a glittery white leotard undergarment and a black overdress with white gores in the skirt. Sewing with the serger made this a breeze. "Where have you been all my life?" I loveingly asked my machine. I always did run my old machine at top speed and it could barely keep up with me. The serger goes so fast I have to run it at half speed so that I can keep up with it. Enough of this. This blog is supposed to be about figure skating rather than sewing.
I was sitting on the couch the morning of my tests, sewing on the modesty panel and the crystal rosettes. Yes, I fell for the lure of crystals but I kept it understated. I knew I wouldn't get the the hem done but I also knew that it wouldn't matter. This year I was determined to get to the rink early. Last year they were running 45 minutes ahead of schedule and I barely had time to get my boots on and get mentally prepared before I had to be on the ice. I wasn't about to let that happen again. I got to the rink and finished dressing. My coach wasn't there yet and my husband decided to run errands for half an hour since things seemed to be running on time this year. I paced, stretched and paced some more. I'm a pacer. I like to move around a lot since it helps me release some of the tension. I started to panic. Still no Joanna. My leotard was slipping so I decided that it was safety pin time or it would bug the hell out of me while I skated. Note to self; finish costume early so you can actually skate in it and then make repairs if necessary. In this case, I shall need a different leotard design if I want to wear this outfit again. So here I am in the ladies bathroom with no coach and no husband trying to insert safety pins that are too short into my bra and leotard and I can't see since I don't have my glasses on. Now I was really starting to panic. Luckily another coach came in that I knew by sight but not to talk to and I asked her if she could help me. It took her some considerable effort and several pins (one bent) to get the two garments attached to each other. Back to pacing again. It was less than half an hour until I was due on the ice and still no husband or coach. My feet were starting to go numb. This is not good. I was just about to sit down and unlace my skates when I turned around and there was Joanna. "How is your husband?" I asked. I had assumed the worst; car accidents, sick spouse, etc. "He's fine. Why?" she replied. "You're late," I didn't mean this as tersely as it came out. "No I'm not," she shot back. I was too wound up and nervous to realize that I wasn't being very nice. Instead of apologizing I sat down and unlaced my skates. I showed her the skate order and I was in the last group and the second to last skater but we couldn't figure out when I was supposed to skate the freestyle and when I was supposed to skate the MIF tests. There were over ten people lumped together in my group with all sorts of tests listed for each one. I just sat in the crowded warming room wiggling my feet around inside my unlaced boots. I had to keep doing deep breathing to calm down. Joanna and I didn't talk at all. Finally word came back that the judges were splitting the group up into two groups of five while preserving the skating order. I was still next to last. As the group before me took to the ice I laced up my boots and resumed pacing. I watched some of the skaters. It turned out that we were all at about the same level. There were two judges so they were calling two girls onto the ice at a time and having them follow each other down the rink for their moves test and then do their freestyle test right afterward. Oh crap! I am going to have to skate the tests back to back! OMG! This is going to be horrible. Particularly since I am supposed to do the freestyle after the MIF and I am useless after the moves never mind jumping! Crap. Oh crap. Oh crap. Now I am really wound up. Suddenly I have to get to the other side of the rink. The other group had finished early and had left the ice already and I wasn't even in the hockey box yet. The other kids in my group were already on the ice warming up and I hadn't even gotten my skate guards off yet. I finally get out onto the ice and don't even make it one lap around and the judges call my name out summoning me to the boards. Since there were five people in my group and my test was different they asked if I could switch and be last. No problem I said. I took the opportunity to ask if I could do my freestyle test first which wasn't a problem and I got up the nerve to ask for a breather between laps of my MIF test. "I'm not as young as I used to be," I said, which elicited chuckles from the balding grey haired judges. He said that wasn't a problem and I could take my time. I told him that I would let the coaches and other skater know about the switch. I skated back to the other booth and let the other skater know. Fortunately she was standing right there. Unfortunately this was cutting into my warm up time. I heard the "one minute left" announcement and I hadn't done a thing yet. I skated off and did some spins. "Warm up is over. Please clear the ice." Nuts! I managed a couple of spins and a couple of waltz jumps and that was it. No moves warm up. Crap oh crap. Now I was last and had to wait. At least this year I had warm clothes with me. I couldn't sit still and kept wiggling my feet and legs. I kept using deep breathing to calm myself down. My right leg was starting to go numb. Damn, this is my landing leg. Not good. I stood up and shifted weight back and forth. There wasn't time to unlace my boots. I sat down. Wiggled and stood up again. Damn. Damn. The girl before me was still skating her freeskate test. I looked over at the judges and he signaled for me to come over. It was time.
I took off my guards and skated over to the judge. He said that we could do our freestyle tests together and then I could do my moves test on my own, which was fine by me. I think I had this judge last year but wasn't sure. He was very nice. He let me know that I could do the freestyle test in any order (no music since this was the pre-bronze test) and he would check it off that I did the element. I started with my spins. The two foot first and then the single foot spin. I had a mild panic attack going into the single foot spin but I forced myself to relax. I knew that if I relaxed and looked straight ahead then the spin would more than likely center itself. My skirt flying around me caught my eye. I could just see it at the edge of my vision and I had to fight the urge to look down and watch it (another reason I need to practice in the outfit first). During the spin exit I snuck a quick look down to see my tracing and it was centered!! Yeah me! Now for my jumps. First the half flip. I landed it a little clunky but it was technically correct. On to the waltz jump; not great height but I landed it fine if a tiny bit wobbly. Nothing that an on looker would notice. I looked around for the other girl since the next element was a huge circle of forwardcrossovers. She was further down the ice so I launched into the forward crossovers. She whizzed by me. Apparently she was setting up for a jump in the corner and now I was in her way. We did't quite crash but her sudden appearance surprised me and I lost my concentration. Luckily I was only doing crossovers so it was no big deal. I flipped around and started the back crossovers. She skated over to the boards. Yeah, she was done. I didn't have to worry about where she was and I could concentrate on what I was doing. I finished the crossovers and flipped around again and stepped right into a nice spiral. My leg doesn't get as high as the kids but at least it is above my butt. I wish I could see myself in a mirror. Oh well. I skated over to the judge. Panting of course. He asked if I needed a break and I told him that I was fine. He asked me if I knew the skate order for the moves which I did. I have skated this so much I literally skate it in my sleep. Last year I had to write the order down on my wrist; this year I didn't need a crib sheet.
Off I went to the other end of the ice. It didn't bode well that I was out of breath before I even started my MIF. "You can do this. You did this in Lake Placid. You can take little breaks. You know this stuff cold." I skated the test well. I went a little slower than usual but I wanted to skate well rather than risk making an error. As it was, I caught a little rake during the backward power crossovers. All in all everything went well. By the third lap I was skating over to Joanna and taking a very short breather, taking slugs of water to hide the fact that I was really trying to catch my breath. She looked at me and said "You can do this. You'll be fine. Just skate." I was 3/4 of the way around the rink on my last pattern when I started "You're almost done. Three more lobes. Shut up and pay attention to your feet. You're almost done. Shut up! 1, 2, 3, 4, 5! 1, 2, 3, 4, 5! You're done! Flip around. Don't trip! Present it to the judge. I'm done!!!!!! Yeah me!!!!!" He just looked at me and said "all set." "Thank you!" I breathlessly replied and I left the ice. That was a good sign. I didn't have to reskate anything! Always a good sign. We walked quietly around to the warming room. All you could hear in the rink was my breathing. "If that didn't pass, I'm a bad coach," Joanna said. I smiled. I was done. I was still panting and couldn't talk. The entire place was empty. Everyone was gone. It wasn't like last year where I had ten pairs of eyes watching me skate. There was no one left except the officials, me, Joanna and my husband. I couldn't get my boots off fast enough. I changed my clothes. I caught my breath. Finally the results came. I had passed both tests! The only comment on my freestyle test was "well centered spin." The MIF test was my first ever scored test. It takes 2.5 to pass and each of the five moves had 2.5 written down. The comments included "good edges" and "nice flow". Joanna told me that he is a hard judge. He doesn't mark high but he is fair. To my mind the comments weren't terribly helpful. I thought that I had skated some bits better than others but there was no indication of that on the test. Typical, I would see a "B+" on my test and wonder why I didn't get an "A". I passed and I passed with a hard judge. I looked up my old test and indeed he was a judge of mine last year as well. He hadn't written anything on that test at all. I guess I should take "well centered spin" as a high compliment considering the judge.