Thursday, December 8, 2011
Foray Into Adult Skating: I Love You, I Hate You...
There is an old adage that all figure skaters are crazy. There are many theories why: the blades, the falling on hard ice, the bitter cold, the amount of time one spends by themselves, and the constant battles with perfectionism. The again, the carbon monoxide from the zambonis may very well have a lot to do with it. The CO certainly adds to the level of exhaustion. Elle Woods' famous quote about endorphins doesn't apply to skaters. Many skaters actually seem very likely to kill their husbands.
Back in September, I sprained my ankle and was off the ice for five and a half weeks. I miss skating and tried to work out and was able to keep myself in decent shape for when I got back on the ice. Deep down, I knew that returning to the ice would be a level of hell I hadn't experienced before. A few friends let me know, "you're 25...this ankle is going to nag you for a long time." They were right. Learning to work through my ankle issue has been a constant process, but it is slowly improving. Off ice workouts have been key to keeping my body in shape for skating. There are days like today where I've pulled my hip flexor, fallen on my hip to the point where it is black and blue, banged my knee, stretching my hamstrings to the point of extreme soreness and get back up and wipe out on a spin again. It may be a form of insanity, but there are times when I do remember that I love it.
Knowing skating may be the worst thing of all when learning to skate. I decided to take videos of myself for two reasons: friends wanted to see and I wanted to be able to look at the own areas of my skating that need addressing. When I saw myself on video for the first time, there were so many areas that I wanted to fix immediately. Frankly, I hated it. It was worse than hearing your own voice on an answering machine.
I've also learned that taking a video on a Friday, your first day back on the ice five days a week is not necessarily the best life decision. There are times when your body is just DONE. The first day I took videos was a day where my back was killing me, my knees weren't bending and the nerves of skating in front of a video camera resulted in pure shit...as evidenced above.
Skating has taught me to fight a battle between working hard and easing up on myself. There are times I've become keenly aware that I'm not that laid back, easy-going person who likes to chill that everyone is always seeking on dating sites. I'm so eager to fix things and get work done that I'll tense my body, raise my arms, scrunch my arms and look like a level of constipation that hasn't been seen since Nancy Kerrigan competed in Albertville.
Every day, I try to remind myself to slow down, lower my arms, relax, lengthen my knee, bend my knees, and enjoy it. This usually lasts while I'm warming up. Music helps. Janet Jackson's 'Again,' has become well known to everyone at my rink when it comes time to work on consecutive back inside edges. Just when they become comfortable, I'll start doing something funky on my consecutive back outside edges.
One thing that is constant about the learning process is that every hurdle always appears to be the point where I'll max out and prove my utter lack of talent. When learning the waltz 8 pattern, I experienced absolute fits where I could not force my arms to check and hold the back inside edge after the three turn. Eventually, I got it. This is something that must be very entertaining for anyone watching, as my eyes bulge, my jaw clenches and I appear ready to kick some major boards in a manner that only Todd Eldredge could after popping his second triple axel for the millionth time.
A boy's relationship with his skating coach is always very curious. Having a coach of the crazy Russian variety is very helpful, as I can be rather batshit myself. When I took my friend skating, she witnessed Natasha having a Russian moment on her young prodigy. Luckily, my level of intensity tends to prevent many of those from occurring. I tend to be annoyed enough for the both of us. Most of the time... Last week, I felt the stress of my impending pre-bronze moves in the field test and actually fell while working on consecutive back outside edges. One doesn't usually fall while working on a quasi-figure, so it was a rather awkward and painful fall. Foolishly, I thought Natasha was asking me if I was okay. That was not the case. "No, I no ask you if you okay. I ask if you know why you fall. Your butt is out between two shoulders... Fix now." And I did.
I think we all need an old-fashioned crazy Russian in our lives. They instill a level of fear in us that keeps us working our asses off on the days we don't have lessons. There are times when I will be skating and Natasha will be there coaching someone else. At these times, it is important to train exactly as we're expected to, as one can never wants that level of intensity directed at them when they're annoyed.
Sometimes, our own OCD is our worst enemy. Upon seeing my videos, I realized that it was time to correct the lordosis in my lower back that has enabled me to appear to have a Kardashian money-maker the past few years. Of course, this has impacted my balance but it will ultimately aid my overall posture and look on the ice. We are never done correcting our own extension and posture. Katia and Maya Usova will always be frowning down upon us.