Friday, May 28, 2010

One more week

Am I ready for competition #3? NO! I've not been thinking about it directly because I don't want to wig out. It is a week away. I have the time, place and who I'm skating against. I have most of my costume done (see previous post); I just need to add the skirt and bling: NBD. So why am I mildly panicking? I was off the ice sick for two weeks; my coach was in the middle of rearranging my sit spin and back crossrolls just before I got ill; I am still doing neither the way she wants; I fall at least once a session on the crossrolls; my coach is now down with pneumonia; I can no longer skate during lunch and the practice ice is getting wicked crowded. I will have to cram most of my practice into this weekend. Next weekend I'll have to drive an hour to get some ice time the day before I compete with not much in between. I'll be lucky if I even manage to get on the ice Tuesday night for my lesson. Last year so many people showed up for practice that they closed the session and I was even early for it and couldn't get on!

I'm trying not to think about it. Ugh.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Body Image

I've been avoiding this post. I've been avoid the issue. Making costumes for the show and now for my next competition has forced me to at least face it if not conquer it.

I'm big. Not tall. Big. I'm 5'2" and 220lbs. I used to weight more but skating has drastically reduced my body fat and increased my muscle mass. It's hard to say how much fat I've actually lost. I just know my clothes fit really differently now than when I started three years ago.

I've been overweight most of my life. Basically since puberty hit. The only times I have managed to get down to a reasonable weight is when I'm active all day or in the gym several times a week at three hours plus a stint. Since I am an engineer by trade and stuck at a desk 40+ hours a week being very very active isn't an option for me right now. So I'm big.

I don't do diets. I eat organic healthy foods including fruits, vegetables, chicken and fish. I don't eat anything with wheat in it which excludes most things or anything with cows in it. Occasionally I eat pork. Even the doctor says I have an amazingly healthy diet. So I'm big at least until I retire and can live in a rink with a weight lifting facility in it.

I started sewing so I could have outfits to wear during skating tests and competitions that don't look atrocious on me. The first dress I made was loose fitting and of course black (black hides so much!). My coach wasn't involved with the design. While it isn't a perfect design (I've already come up with a redesign), at least I didn't look like the Michaeline Man. These last two outfits my coach was involved with and she likes tight fitting dresses, even on me. For the Bali Hai number I think I look like an overstuffed green sausage.

The next dress I'm making is based on a ballet dress; the standard leotard with skirt attached. Of course I've added sleeves so that my voluminous underarms aren't exposed for all to see flapping in the breeze. I've finished the leotard and it fits like a glove. I did a decent job making it from scratch. I based it on one of my swimsuits that fits well and looks good on me. As good as a swimsuit can look on a 220lb woman anyway. Somehow I don't think I'm going to be selected as the next Sport Illustrated swimsuit cover.

I actually put off making this dress. While I love the design and the material, it is going to expose me. I normally wear slightly baggy clothing. I have done so all my life. I hide in my clothes. This feels more like going out in front of everyone naked. You can see my Buddha belly and my back rolls. My thick upper arms and chunky legs. For all the weight I've lost, I still look like a big green sausage with tree trunk legs. This time I'm going to be a tie dye sausage. The leotard actually looks pretty good on me until I turn sideways and you can see I'm very thick around the middle. I can't believe I agreed to skate in this. Now I'm worried that I am going to look foolish out on the ice. I can skate. I am fat. I am a fat skater. I need to get over this. Of course I'm in a sport where looks count, particularly amongst the teeny bopper set who comprises 99% of the sport. I don't know why I'm freaking out about this. Many of the bronze adults are chubby. I'm not the only one out there. In fact at Worchester both my competitors were chubby. I guess I can't hide anymore. I'm going to have to adopt some new mantras:
"Large and in charge"
"Large and lovely"
Why can't I be confident like Queen Latifa? She is large and gorgeous!

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The Show

This is the first show I've been in since I was a kid. I still remember being on the ice during my most hated number. At the time I detested rock music and hence I hated the number. I even hated the costume. I much prefered doing the synchro number which back then was called precision. Precision teams only skated for the shows and never skated during regular practice like the synchro teams that are around now. If synchro had been around back then my mom would have never gotten me off the ice. Anyway, back to the present...

A and I talked P, one of the two male skaters in our adult program, into doing the show number with us. The show theme was Stoneham Goes Idol and was supposed to be based on music that had been used on American Idol. Of course I went off and found music from Frank Sinatra, the original American Idol (but that was lost on the club board which tried to can our music). I had this wild idea of skating in grass skirts to Frank's rendition of Bali Hai, which was another enormous hit back in the day (also lost on the board: must be too young). Coach loved the idea partly because she is older than me and knows Frank Sinatra, Bali Hai and South Pacific. This also meant that our male skater only had to dress in Khakis since all of the guys in South Pacific are in the military. Coach eventually nixed the grass skirts but we wore them for our photo shoot for the program anyway. I then made flowered skirts for the show itself but incorporated the leis into headpieces and wrist cuffs. I'll post pictures later.

Our rehearsals were a little crazy. When I used to do the shows as a kid we did the numbers in 20 minute blocks. Each group had the ice to themselves for 20 minutes. This club does things a bit differently. They had four groups on the ice at once two of which were very large (10+ kids each) and we are all trying to skate at once. Chaos. Thank god all three of us have had dance before. We already knew to look for each other checking in to see what the others are doing, using each other to time the moves so that we skated together. We did the choreography in two shots. By the end of the first rehearsal we had it down. We had two more rehearsals and things were great. I got the women's costumes done two nights before the dress rehearsal which went well.

Show night. Turns out we had a private dressing room. The other group that was assigned to our room didn't use it since they were skating in jeans and Tshirts and were busy directing traffic behind the curtain. Woohoo! We got the rink really early as requested and found that various other groups had rehearsal time day of. Not us. We weren't allowed on the ice. Why? Who knows. We stood there listening to Bon Jovi over and over again. Coach showed up sans ice skates so I knew she wasn't staying for the finale. I gave her some flowers as a thank you for helping us out. We stood and talked for a long time. It was finally time to get the rest of our outfits and skates on so we migrated to the dressing room.

A was talking a mile a minute; she tends to do this when she gets nervous. My Mom was in the stands as was hers and I wondered if that was part of her nerves. P's wife was coming just before the show as was my spouse. Our friend that was in our group but was now off ice due to impending child was also going to be in the audience. I occasionally had a mild attack of nerves but mostly I felt weird. I was going to be skating and people were going to be watching. At tests the only ones there are the judges and the coach. At adult competitions some people are watching besides the judges but not a lot. At mixed competitions no one watches the adults skate. They are there to see their DDs skate. What is going to happen? Am I going to get nervous? Am I going to forget my choreography?

We get our boots on and decide to see if we can warm up backstage since there is a large patch of ice behind the curtain. Not a problem. A and I take turns spinning and jumping trying not to crash into P while he is doing his thing. The first group takes the ice and we hear the music hiccup and die. I knew the sound system had been having problems but Bon Jovi had been playing ad nauseum an hour earlier what happened? Another blurt of music and then silence again. The kids were frozen in their beginning poses. Long wait. Several sit spins and axels later music started playing and the kids got to skate. The next group took the ice. Their music started but had a couple of hiccups along the way. We looked at each other. "What do you want to do if our music stops playing?" I ask. A replies, "just keep skating. That is what you do in a competition or test." P agrees. We then figure out how we are going to skate onto and off the ice and hence the order we are going to line up behind the curtain. Just then one of my favorite coaches walked onto the ice backstage. We all got hugs and best wishes and I just couldn't believe she came to see us. It was a wonderful surprise.

After too many sit spins (my knee was starting to get sore) it was finally our turn. We lined up at the curtain, A first, me second and P last. The coach manning the curtain said "You are the calmest group of the evening." A and I just looked at her and replied, "It isn't a test or competition. There are no judges so no pressure." "Good luck!" Our introduction was finished and the curtain parted. I saw the hem of A's skirt shaking like a leaf. "Fibber" I thought. We lined up and I hoped our music would play ok. The strains of Bali Hai filled the rink and we started skating. It struck me that tons of people were watching us. I was filled with pride, awe and mystery. People were actually watching me skate!! I started to smile. This was fun! I had little trip ups over my toe rakes but I skated well. I hit my sit spin which is what I was really worried about. I had to calm myself down going into my spiral due to another rake trip. "This isn't you. You can skate this! It is generally easy stuff. Just calm down!" When the crossovers started so I could get some speed up for the Spread Eagle I suddenly realized that we were running out of music "crap! oh crap!" It was the fastest Ina Bauer I had done for this number but I finished on time and didn't take P out in the process. Yeah!! We were done. Suddenly it was over. All that work for two minutes of skating. Ugh.

I was leaning on the wall backstage panting. I must have held my breath again. I can never tell when I'm doing that. I just suddenly get out of breath and my legs shake. We compared notes. P high fived us. We didn't fall down which was the main goal. A had missed her camel and only got a couple of rotations out of it. She looked over and I was still spinning so she started doing three turns to kill time until I finished. I still haven't seen P skate. He is always in the middle doing his thing and I am always looking for A to take my timing off her so I never get to see what he did. I'm looking forward to seeing video so I can see what he did and what the three of us looked like skating together.

We take off our skates and I realize I should have brought some street clothes with me but I had assumed that we were skating in the finale so I hadn't bothered. I walked out into the audience in my costume replete with flowers in my hair. The first person I found was our very pregnant friend J. Hugs and kisses all around. She told us we were great. We sit and talk a bit. A wanders off with her mother and P found his wife. My mom was still sitting by herself and I knew my husband had left for work again. The Theatre on Ice people started their number and about a quarter of the way into the number their music croaked. They stopped skating and left the ice with their props. Bummer I was looking forward to that.

I spotted coach on the other side of the rink and decided to grab Mom and J and go sit with her. As I am walking through the audience random people stop me and tell me what a wonderful job I did and how brave I was for skating. I had a major case of warm fuzzies by the time I got to the other side of the rink. The show organizer ran past me looking for J's husband which was weird. I didn't think he was there. I grabbed my mom and her things and we moved to where coach was sitting. A, J and P joined us. Here we were, the entire adult entourage, sitting with our coach. I felt like I was sitting with my skating family. It was quieter there so we could actually hear the music and watch the skating. The audience was amazingly noisy. Everyone talking except when their DDs were on the ice. Coach told us that our music was the only piece that played without incident. That's odd I thought.

A had taken off her skirt and then announced that she and her Mom were leaving. She didn't want to stay for the finale after all. I would have liked to skate in it but she wasn't interested. While P stayed for the rest of the show, he and his wife left when the finale started. Coach also left at that point so it was just me and mom. I had a great evening. My mom had flown out to see me skate in the show which I still don't understand. We had a great weekend together skating both the day before and the day after the show. She got to meet my coach and my skating buddies and see the club show. All in all a great time!

When I finally caught up with hubby later that night, I found out another part of the evening antics that I didn't know about. He had fixed the sound system for them when it went haywire at the start of the show. It was him they were looking for during the intermission when it broke down again not J's husband. And the mystery of our music working when everyone else's failed? He had me burn it as a wave file instead of an MP3. The sound system didn't have the memory buffer available to handle the MP3 files. I gave him a big fat kiss for that one!! There are a few advantages to having a sound engineer for a husband!!

Video to follow. Another side note: hubby taped me, A's mom taped her and P's wife taped him so I don't have any shots of all three of us in the same frame ;-) Someday I'll have to talk the kid into taking a real TV camera into the rink and doing a wide shot of us skating (he is a TV student) so I can see what we look like skating together.