Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Foray Into Adult Skating: Roller Coaster (of Love)

I hate skating.  I love skating.  I'm going to quit.  I had a great lesson.  I'm having so much.  And I'm injured.  That is the latest week I've been having in my quest to become a full-fledged diva of the ice.  Following my second lesson, I got right back to work on the ice.  I skated the Saturday morning of the hurricane and even annoyed a dinner companion by saying that I was sorry, but my back crossovers were more important than feigning a good time.  The small tank that Natasha coaches follows me wherever I go, but he actually hasn't managed to knock me over yet (despite numerous close encounters of the I'm-going-to-cut-you kind.)

In skating, when you work on your bad side, your good side improves as well.  Perhaps all of life is like that and we only notice it when getting out hips to do crossovers like Ekaterina Gordeeva.  I spent a great deal of time on my left forward crossovers and they are just about as comfortable as my right side.  The left back crossovers continue to be the bane of my existence, yet they've been improving greatly.  Natasha ordered me to spend at least fifteen minutes a day on my left back crossovers and I've made sure she's noticed that I've been following her instructions.  When not on the ice, I've been continuing my cardio dates with Beto and Julianne Hough, yoga with Rodney Yee and Jillian Michaels, conditioning and resistance stretching with Dara Torres in order to fool my body into thinking I'm not an old and talentless.  I've also been hiking with my vegetarian friends and have been thinking about going vegetarian before I wind up ordering fish and grilled chicken.  According to my mother, I'm the last gay in the tri-state area holding out on making the plunge and going vegan.  I do long to be that insufferable individual when it comes to picking a suitable restaurant.  There is an aspect of my personality that would love every single second of it.  I already love Veggie Heaven and all things Indian.

Skating on my own can be difficult, as I like to see familiar faces in the rink.  I've been making friends with other adult skaters and even a few younger-adults.  I love watching one girl coach up at Palisades, as her regal quality makes me green with envy.  Apparently her sister is a ballerina and she's been known to 'dabble' with tights and toe shoes.  When meeting other skaters, I'm never sure how much of my nerd to reveal.  I noticed that this taller, balletic version of Jenni Meno, had quite the iPod collection.  One day, I noticed that the finale of Swan Lake was playing and I immediately began holding my shoulders back and lifting my arms with intention.  Friday, I saw her skating to Waltz Masquerade on her own time and my inner music nerd was oozing with delight.  Later, Ms. Meno asked me if I liked classical music.  Before I could think, my inner loser asserted, 'you were just skating to Waltz Masquerade.'  I didn't even think to Americanize it to Masquerade Waltz.  Some days I forget if I'm going to go forth and be Chen Lu or Lu Chen.  Many of you can probably relate.

I usually skate at Fritz Dietel during the afternoons.  While the rink is smaller, it is smooth due to its old-fashioned sand bottom.  There is nothing like the smooth glide of your blade at that rink.  It also involves a wonderful owner who is the former secretary of the West German Skating Federation.  It is worth going to the rink just to have conversations with her, though she is known to point out if I'm running late from tutoring a student or having to cut a session short.  "Are we chatting or skating?"  Her husband was Sonja Henie's partner in shows and films.  It is clear that he shared my liking for strong women.

I thought I wouldn't be having a lesson for two weeks due to Fritz Dietel being closed for lessons (and flooding), but Natasha was on the ice coaching at Palisades on Tuesday.  I was hoping to fall on my back crossovers and back lobes in peace, but I made sure to work extra diligently that lesson and lined up a lesson for our usual day.  I did not have the best week of practice, as I spent time working on things my body felt like it was refusing to master.  I took a few shocking falls. As I previously wrote, I never knew that there was a funny bone in your leg.  My left side is now fully aware.  My back lobes are becoming consistent and I sometimes have crazy thoughts where I think my OCD personality may enjoy doing figures one day.  I'm sure we will all look back and laugh at my foolishness wonderment.

I took it easy on the day before my lesson and went for an easy session to maintain contact with the ice.  After having my blades sharpened the day before, I was eager to get rid of the sticky feeling of my blades.  I had my boots punched again and may need them punched again until the fit just right.  Ah, the plague of the fifth metatarsal.  Earlier that day, I attended a funeral and my spirit just didn't have anything left to give after an hour of skating.

The lesson went as well as expected.  Miraculously, I found my inner posture and showed off the hard working that is finally beginning to come together.  Natasha gave me a real entrance into my toe loop and it is already consistent. I spent the week focusing on edges, three-turns, mohawks, crossovers and landing waltz jumps on my toe pick, so I was pleased at my body's muscle memory.  Granted, I've spent years doing jumps in front on my television set.  It is about time that freakishness is paying off.  You can bet your ass that I am learning my jumps correctly.  One of the worst parts about being a critical bitch is that I see all of the many faults in my own skating and feel the compulsive need to correct them.  This is why I spend so much time strengthening my hip flexors and working on flexibility.

I recently caved to my inner desire to wear Under Armour and have enjoyed looking like a sleek bitch on the ice.  Unfortunately, it will have to wait for a while.  I had a three-hour break from work on Friday and decided to squeeze in a skating session.  It was all going so well.  I worked on my back crossovers, my lobes, toe loops, waltz jumps, salchows, spirals, waltz three-turns, mohawks, power three-turns to back crossovers in each direction and extension while stroking.  I have been instructed to point and extend my free leg whenever it is off the ice, especially during crossovers and relish the task of not looking like an adult skater or a heterosexual male.  Natasha doesn't really yell at her young tank-like student for the same thing, so I believe she must sense that I've spent a few years in the dance studio and on the floor with J Lo.  Jenni Meno inspired me to whip out my iPhone on Friday and we improvised to Michelle Kwan's Taj Mahal edit, Adios Nonino and iieeee.  I'm not sure if Tori Amos is to blame for what happened next, but that woman takes me places.  Others on the ice were watching us having the chutzpah to improvise and there is great self-satisifaction when ones eyes are on you.  Unfortunately, a young hockey player was not so appreciate and managed to cut me off.  My still-sticky blade caught a rut and I felt my body fall to the ice while my skate stayed perfectly upright.  I have had issues getting comfortable in my boots and it is possible that it was a bit loose.  For whatever reason, I found myself feeling a shocking sensation in my foot and ankle.  It was different from the other falls I've taken.  I found myself immediately checking and wondering if it was broken.  Ms. Meno offered to help me off the ice, but my sorry ass was not going to be the Mandy Woetzel of the public session. I managed to get off the ice, buy an ACE bandage and have my left ankle wrapped before the endorphins wore off and I was crawling to get to the bathroom.

The last few days have been spent hobbling on crutches, hopping on one foot and forcing my ankle to submit to ice baths.  Swelling has been going down, but it is clear that I'll be off the ice for a few weeks.  I've been working on my fitness for the purpose of skating for some time, so I am not about to let the months and months of work go to waste.  Frau Mueller has me doing pilates mat workouts and I've managed to do my conditioning in my boot and on one leg.

For pilates enthusiasts (or those who desire visible abs), these gingers twins from NYC have fabulous pilates videos on youtube.  Do yourself a favor and swim on the ground with them:

Alas, it is time for another ice bath and to bananas with Rachel Zoe.

Kisses and curtsies,

Aunt Joyce


  1. I remember the up and downs of skating well. Some days are a bitch and others you feel great. Just my two cents: don't go vegan. Fish and grilled chicken are very good for you. Hang in there with the ankle. Once you're back on the ice it might feel hard at first, but the muscle memory comes back quickly.

  2. I have full confidence that your OCD will allow you to thoroughly enjoy figures one day. Or, at least, I can tell you that my OCD is addicted to them. Try an actual figure session if you ever get the chance. Everything is so focused and quite- it is all very zen.

    May you heal quickly and well.

  3. ....quiet, even. Sorry about the typo in the previous post.

  4. Get well soon and keep pointing those toes (and not looking like an adult skater)!

    I think it's the intermittent reinforcement that makes skating so addictive. Sometimes, it's soo, so great. The rest of skating is trying to attain something just out of reach. But the rare wonderful sessions are so rewarding.

  5. Your skating venture will happily lead to many skating adventures. Thanks for reminding us about all the pain and joy of how it all began. The people who you meet along the way make it all worthwhile!

  6. Good luck with the pilates, and hope you're back on the ice at 100% soon!

  7. "When not on the ice, I've been continuing my cardio dates with Beto and Julianne Hough, yoga with Rodney Yee and Jillian Michaels, conditioning and resistance stretching with Dara Torres in order to fool my body into thinking I'm not an old and talentless."

    This is SO me! I cracked up. Pretty much any activity I do off the ice (including working to lose 20 lbs--for the sit spins!) is related to being on the ice. I remain convinced that my thunder thighs will carry me to great triumph in landing loop and flip jumps.

  8. Ug, what a bummer! When I went to adult gymnastics for the first time (hadn't been in the gym for over 10 years) I sprained my ankle on the 2nd skill I did! The effing practice hadn't even started yet, I was just warming up. Don't let it deter you. Give your body time to recover then get back out there!

  9. I envy you. I always wanted to skate but did not have the guts to even try! I honestly think that skating is the hardest sport out there. Even more so when it comes to starting when you are in your twenties. Kudos aunt joyce!