Sunday, September 13, 2009

The Agony of da Feet

Yeah!! I picked up my new boots last Saturday. They are custom made Jackson boots with a Paramount blade. Way too much money but I got a little bit of money from the car accident settlement so I went for it. I am now the proud owner of new boots and blades.

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..............

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