Ten Day Absence Made the Heart Grow Fonder

I have a confession. I was so unmotivated and disappointed by the skate I did at Winterhawks on 5/25 that I just wanted to quit this whole thing. I was in constant pain, I look like shit. The Winterhawks people seem to barely tolerate my existence. I have a busy life which is filled with work, kids, a loving husband and friends. Why am I making more problems for myself when my whole point in this was to feel better. Here is some video from that session which i did not want to show, but why not? (Someday I will actually show improvement and this will be the sad “before”….I hope?)

Winterhawks 5-24-18 from Lisa Ferris on Vimeo.

So last week I did nothing. I did not skate for ten days. I think I might have done 1 Daily Burn and maybe a few walks and only worked out for like, 2:30 hours. Then, I remembered that I have two paid skating sessions left with the Hooky Club as well as an appointment with my new coach. I should keep the appointment, use my last two sessions, and see how it goes.

It went great! First of all, I think the ten days off helped my shin splints heal. I had almost NO pain today. I did not even take off my skates and they felt pretty good. It was really the first time that throughout the whole session, I didn’t have pain. I did feel a bit out of breath, but that was probably more to do with the fact that I literally did almost nothing for ten days physically.

OK, so coaching. My coach was a dancer, and he almost immediately launched in to teaching me the dutch waltz. Which we did in parts together with the Killian hold. Except for that one time I practiced with a precision team, this was the first time I skated with another human where I have to keep together with him. Now, He was giving me A LOT of support, and I’m sure I looked just as bad as that video if not worse. But! I felt the familiar edges, The muscle memory of some of those steps started kicking in, I don’t have the muscle and balance ability to hold those positions on my own, but with his support I was able to get the feel for them. It was challenging and fun.

And a bit scary. Speed has always been a problem, and although I am sure he was slowing way down for me, I was going his speed. Visually it was a bit overwhelming. I could not orient myself at that speed. Then he would say stuff like, “left foot toward the center or the wall” and I would be like, “I have no idea where I am in space and time, I don’t know where the wall is!” I think that will get better when I’m not so freaked out about thinking about what steps I am doing, keeping balanced, and going so fast. Although I could still see a bit of light and color, that was really skating blind. Everything was just whipping by in a blur that I could not cognitively/visually interpret.

So, if I skate with a partner, I suppose that would be the easiest way to accommodate this. As a kid, I knew that I could never compete because of figures. I couldn’t see them. I did test in freestyle a bit, but that was it. Back then, it never occurred to me to try pairs or ice dance. That was for older adults. And Ice Dance, well, it was for Russians! There was not ice dance in the US (I thought). Although clearly JoAnn Schneider Farris proves me wrong, she was totally ice dancing then with a whole US team at the Broadmoor. In my twenties, I wanted to learn ice dance but I could not find a coach or partner. Partners for women are rare, especially for ones who are already in their twenties and just starting. The adult competitive scene was just getting started then and was not developed as it is now.

So now, I just figured I would learn solo dance because that has developed a lot in adult in the past twenty years. But now I recently found out that at the lower levels, you can dance with your coach as partner. Hmmmm, maybe this is the way to get past my speed problem. Dancing with your coach is expensive, as you have to pay all the expenses instead of splitting them, but it might be something to think about.

My husband, Nik, said he wants to learn ice dance with me. And although he CAN skate–he is Swedish Canadian so he was practically born with skates on–he is totally blind so would not be able to serve that role as guide. We could do it, and we might just for fun. But the bigger problem is that he really doesn’t get how much work and dedication it takes and he doesn’t have the time when ice is available. Besides, my plot to get him on the water in his own sport seems to be working. He is really liking rowing. (Here is a video of him on the dragon boat. He is the very last rower in the boat in the forefront that is moving ahead.)

So, I think I have recovered from my funk. And I think it might have been a good thing to take the time off. I had been skating in pain for over two months. Maybe things just needed time to heal. So, this week the plan is to skate today and Thursday, Finish up the last of my “Daily Burn: True Beginner 8 week program” which has taken me significantly longer than 8 weeks, and work up to heading back to the gym. This week and next week have lots of end of school year obligations and event for the kids and then we have dragon boat races on the weekend to go to! (He trains for 6 weeks and he already gets to race in a top-tier boat! I spend 12 weeks just trying to get my skates to feel ok. Ice Skating is a hard sport, you guys.)

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UGH!!!

I’ve been feeling blah about skating since Friday when I skated at Winterhawks for likely the last time until fall. They don’t offer that morning session in the summer and they were not very forthcoming towards working with me on any other possibilities. (I mean, maybe there aren’t really any, which is fine, but it would be nice if my questions were answered.) That rink! It seems to have such a tense and no fun atmosphere and people tend to be really territorial. Its like no other rink I’ve skated at, which all have their little quirks. I haven’t really been there that much, so maybe if I went a different time it would be more lively, but WOW people don’t seem very friendly there. I mean, even if you think I am a lousy, non-serious skater that takes up space, my kid and I are still paying customers and could be brought in to take classes, find a coach, join the skating club, volunteer, etc. Its just night and day different from the atmosphere at Lloyd or the old Clackamas. I wonder how much of this has to do with the lack of ice in this town. People may just feel really pressured to make use of the ice when they have it? I mean, I don’t expect social hour, I’m there to work, too. But a friendly hello would go a long way. There have been a few people there who have been friendly, but there are some that go out of their way to avoid us.

Now, I’m not blaming the rink for this, but I was absolutely terrible on the ice that day. I figure I was about 30% worse than I am at Lloyd. I have a snippet of video that I don’t even want to put up because I look timid, awkward and SLOOOOW. So, so very slow. Part of it is that I think because of the cold it takes longer to warm up there for me (and in general it takes longer to warm up now that I’m old.) The ice is colder, hockey ice so it feels different, and also–and this is probably most to blame–I’m so intimidated there! I know that there are about 6 people there skating around at top speed who basically are going to do a triple on my face before they adjust course for me. I do, I really do try to stay out of their way. I try to stay to the outside, give them the right of way, etc. But its very difficult. Since they treat the public session like a freestyle session, they aren’t staying to the middle like I would have in my day. The coaches station themselves around the penalty boxes, and the students come and go to them. I’m more used to the coaches coming to the middle with you and not having this horizontal disruption in the flow of traffic. Back and forth, back and forth. I love the space there and the standard ice size, but its hard going for me. I feel like I”m constantly having to slow down or not even get started on anything because it is so intimidating.

In better news, I have a potential coach at Lloyd! We will call him A. I don’t start with him for another week yet but he was a senior national level ice dancer in the early 90s, so I am excited that I found someone with a dance background. The other person I was looking at, R, I knew from before a bit. I think she is a great coach, all business, goal oriented, and very talented, but I remember her not really knowing dance. She was a freestyle skater. So, I’d be happy with either one, but I am going to try A and see if it is a good fit. My Mondays at Lloyd were feeling a bit wasted, and I wanted to pick it up a notch. Although I have said many times that I don’t have delusions of grandeur, I also don’t plan to skate around in endless circles, either. I don’t know how far I  can really go, but I am going somewhere. I need goals to work toward…testing, skills, local competitions, something.

So, I did meet all of my goals this week. My total exercise time was 6 hours and 40 minutes. I skated two days and worked out the other days, did my outside walks, and 3 Daily Burns and also skating specific off-ice workouts. The only thing I did not accomplish was the renal dietitian because she doesn’t work there anymore and they don’t have a new one yet. So instead I went back to the DaVita site (I’m not the biggest fan of the for-profit DaVita. I always kind of feel like they might steer me wrong so that I get on dialysis sooner. But it is kind of the only game in town.) Anyway, DaVita has a lot of meal planning, recipes and health tracker for people with CKD, and its always good to review and refresh.

This made me happy: Midori Ito, 1992 Olympic silver medalist, skated at the ISU Adult International competition in Germany last month. I got my description of her performance via Dave Lease (from The Skating Lesson) and he was…not so complementary about her. Her spins traveled, no extension, no jumps, etc. But (except for the jumps) that was kind of how she always skated, wasn’t it? Anyway, She is a year older than me and Dave’s Co-host, Jonathan Beyer, complimented her on her obvious exuberance for the sport and her joy in being there. She always seemed like a nice, fun person. So, I’m happy to see that she skated in the Adult competition (Master Elite II, which is senior level skaters with past national and international medals who are between 40-50, I think??? The Adult categories are complex.) The camaraderie around adult skating has always been fun for me, as long as you are out there doing your best, people are happy for you, and so I’m happy for Midori.

 

Wrap-Up Week 10/Goals Week 11

I’ve decided that even though I’ve been griping a lot, I’m doing really good. I’ve skated 12 times in the last 6-7 weeks after an almost virtual 15 year hiatus. Four of those times were in old, ill-fitting skates and the rest were with breaking in new skates. And I’m well within working through the first 4 classes in the Adult Basic Skills Series. I’d give myself approximately another couple of months to work through the rest? Hopefully that isn’t getting too ambitious. The last half is much harder than the first. I’m already playing around with next steps which I think will be starting Moves in the Field and Pattern dances.

On Thursday, my skates were doing much better. I only took them off once, and even then, I was contemplating whether I needed to. I still have shin pain, but nearly no foot pain. By the time I did the group class, I was in awe of the fact that my feet and legs barely hurt! And you can accomplish so much more when not skating in pain. I can do pretty much everything they have us do in the group class (although some is not so neat. And some I modify to fit my level a bit.) I worked on edges, chasses, short (easy) footwork sequences, and stroking. My leg unevenness is improving a lot.

I skated both Monday and Wednesday. Fitbit says my total work out time this week was 5 hours and 33 minutes. I did a lot of walking this weekend, and then some Daily Burn and Fitbit Coach videos on the off days, along with stretching. I still have some stretching left to do today, so that will add another 20-30 minutes or so to the total.

I did get into contact with Jo Ann Schneider Farris so I was excited about that. We have exchanged a few emails and she put my review up on her blog. Its always fun to connect with other skaters and authors and just people who are enthusiastic about life.

I also reconnected with two of my skating friends from before. I had a substitute coach and I KNEW I knew her from before and I figured out that she was my old friend’s coach. So, I had been thinking about them anyway and decided to see if we could connect, and we did! One of them has now (oh, what is the appropriate wording????) changed? from male to female. I have not seen her since and all my memories are of her being male. I’m all cool with it and it was not that surprising to me, really, when I heard. (Weirdly, I was probably more surprised when the other friend got married to someone he met on the internet! Heh.) But I still find myself saying her male name and pronouns so I am trying to correct myself. I was talking to Nik (husband) about her and I kept switching back and forth and he was laughing at me. I know other transgender people and I don’t have this trouble with them. I think it is just mostly because I haven’t seen her in so long and all my memories are of her identifying as male. We may all three of us meet up (people live a bit further from each other and are much further away from skating life, so we’ll see if we get it together to meet up) but I will get myself straight by then and it would be fun to see them again if only every once in a great while.

Anyway, did I say how excited I am that my skates are getting better? Also, I’m getting into a groove with my other responsibilities and working around skating. I’m not falling asleep so much all the time now, either.

So, this week:

Skate two times. Continue to work through the list of basic elements.

Concentrate on Cardio and ankle-leg strength three days.

Stretching 6 days.

Walking outside (beyond transportation walking) 2 days.

Try to make an appointment with my nephrologist dietician. I want to see what she says about my leg fatigue and anything else she thinks about my diet. Its been a couple of years since I’ve seen her.

I’m still trying to work my way back to the gym and work on more pilates/core. I think it will come in summer, because my school responsibilities will be less and the kids will want to get out and swim and stuff. School ends in about three or so weeks.)

I’d like to hit Valley/Winterhawks one more time before school is out as well. I like to make them remember I still exist every once in a while and see if I can become a bit of a fixture there. But I’m thinking I’m going to be cut off over the summer due to the kids at public session. My Lloyd Ladies will be my saving grace over the summer, I think.

Weekly Wrap-Up 9/Goals Week 10

Last week was a week with a lot of sickish days. I only got one skate in and exercised 5 days total. I also had a light rail delay problem so it made it harder to get to the rink and back in a reasonable amount of time. Mornings are hard for me because I always wake up feeling nauseous, headachy, and unable to eat much. Often I have to work out the night’s worth of toxins or whatnot that your kidney’s usually filter. I take a medication in the morning that gets that process started, but it can take a few hours for it to work. One of the main reasons I decided I probably needed to work from home was because of this issue. Its hard to get up and work by 8:00am when you know you are going to be barfy, yet hungry and want to pee every five minutes for the first 2-3 hours of your day. Skating is not particularly early (I usually leave around 8:20ish) but it is a challenge those first few hours. I remember when I skated at 6:00am!

So, Monday just wasn’t happening. I did skate Thursday for the first time with the superfeet inserts in. I think they helped! Before I was dealing with plantar cramping and shin splints. This time it was only shin splints. An improvement! Also, by the time the group lesson rolled around (we had a sub) my skates felt pretty good. The sub had us doing a bit of simple synchro, which was fun. She wanted to know if we were doing the “Fourth of July Show” and they said that there were too many new people (raises hand), but she had us doing some line skating anyway.

I once joined a synchro team for a practice when I could skate well. I thought it would be easy because I watched them and I could do every thing they did. However, its a whole different ball game when you have to skate at a pace and timing not your own. Also being connected to people feels weird and it feels like you are getting pulled in different directions at once. I must not have liked it too much because I never joined the team. I had a new appreciation for how hard it is, though.

I really, really wanted to skate Friday at Valley, but my kids had a field trip and there would be no one to watch my littlest guy. And he doesn’t like to skate. : ( But then I did off ice training at home and I could tell my legs were really tired so it was probably for the best. I’m not yet ready to skate without a day or so in between.

I was sick the entire day yesterday. Very bad headache and then just dizzy and low BP all day. It always amazes me that I can go skate for two hours one day and then I can’t walk to the bathroom without looking like an 90 year old woman the next. I had to take breaks! Ugh! I wasn’t sure if I was going to make it today to the rink, but I did. I felt really nauseous on the way to the train but it got better on the ride.

I finished reading the JoAnne Schneider Farris book called “A Skating Life” on this trip. I have been reading skating stuff on my hour long train rides. I’m going to make a post about that book, but not today. This book took me weeks and weeks. I’m going to miss it, I will have to find something new for the train now.

Today, I worked on forward outside edges, two foot turns, stroking, and forward and back 1/2 swizzles on a circle (prepping the muscles to work on crossovers.) Here is the deal, it took forever to warm up and get the pain out of my legs, I still take small skate breaks where I take the skates off for a few minutes, but it IS getting better (with the boots) and I am getting better. Its just slow, slow, slow. Every single time I skate I improve, but its incremental. About the time my feet/legs really start feeling good, they are tired out, so its a balance. I’m hoping with some work on stamina and taking breaks in between skate sessions, I will shorten my warm-up time and lengthen my “good to skate” time.

It is extremely hard to set goals when you are dealing with chronic illness. I did not meet all of my goals last week, but I am happy with what I was able to do. It has become a day-by-day thing and my main goal is to keep going. #keepgettingup as they say. There are days that are a total bust, like yesterday. I barely made it outside where my kids had planned a picnic. It even got moved from the park down the street to my backyard. There are days when you can’t do all you want to do, but you can modify it and do something. And then there are days when you defy your own expectations, like Thursday when I was able to find a different bus to take, walk an extra 1/2 mile, do the group lesson (with synchro!) work a bit on edges, walk an extra 1/2 mile to find yet a different bus, come home and stay awake all afternoon and get other stuff done. So, the goal is to be able to see the differences between these days and take them as they come.

I’ve been so focused on skating, I think I am driving everyone nuts, but it does help my anxiety if nothing else then my giving me different anxiety. And this is sort of a grateful anxiety if that even makes sense, because–I don’t HAVE to do any of this. I’m lucky that I can worry about boot break-in or whether I’m improving my edge quality and all that type of thing. Its a relief a lot of times to just worry about this kind of stuff that really has hardly any consequence to anyone else but myself. I’m working it out.

Weekly Wrap Up Week 8/Goals Week 9

My guide dog looking sad and lonely at the Valley rink. She is tied up to a bench and has her harness on. She much prefers her friends behind the counter at Lloyd.

I’m pushing nearly 50 and I have kidney disease. As annoying as that is, that is my reality that I have to accept. Its ok, I was never under delusions of grandeur, here. (Ok, after seeing stuff on Facebook about USFS Adult Nationals, I did secretly want to go…but even if I skated well enough for that, then we get into both money and time. You have to FLY to both sectionals and if you make it, nationals and pay for hotel rooms, your coach, etc. Again, reality is annoying. But it does look like they have a lot of fun.)

All this is to say that I’ve hit a bit of a wall and it will not stop me, but it has slowed me down. It hasn’t even slowed me down…its just slowed my expectations down. So, its more accurate to say that my skating didn’t really hit a wall, my brain did. This is a management and strategy issue, as are most things related to getting shit done while disabled.  I’m still improving, just at a much, much slower level than I expected. By seven or 8 weeks, I thought I’d have a lot of things back already. Nope. Still working on boot comfort and stroking.

This week, I decided to not skate Monday because I wanted to go to the pro shop on Friday and get my blades mounted the rest of the way and talk about boot adjustments. So, the pro shop is next to the Valley rink, and I can only skate there on Fridays. So, I did Pilates Tuesday, then skated with a group lesson on Thursday (lessons always make me work harder) and then skated again on Friday. By Friday, my legs were literally going to stop working. I had to take more breaks than I wanted to.

This leg fatigue I’ve never had before quite like this. Its a CKD thing. Its when the large muscles in your legs don’t get enough oxygen and protein to recover and they literally shut down. I would stop about 5 minutes before they had me splayed on the ice requiring me to slither off like a floppy fish in shame, but its a weird feeling. Its like, you can tell your legs to move, and they ain’t gonna do it. They just don’t have the juice. When skating, your legs are in a continuous squat or lunge type position since everything in skating is done with bent knees. I’ve been doing basically constant squats for up to two hours at a time. When I skated two days in a row, my legs couldn’t take it. They just started to shut down. After I dumped my skates off, I didn’t even think I could go home if I wanted to. So, I went to a nearby Italian place and had a big piece of chicken and some vegetables. Then I sat in the rink and rested and drank lots of water and watched the hockey guys practice for a bit. By that time, I could make it home, but was still pretty tired. I did nothing on Saturday except I did have to walk a bit at an event my kids wanted to go to. It didn’t feel great. Today I did nothing but stretched a bit.

I haven’t slept at home after working out, but some days I’m really just pushing myself to stay awake and I don’t get much done. So, this week and for the next few weeks, I will be “dialing it back.”

So this week, here is the tentative plan:

I’m no longer going to do Pilates Reformer. Its not just the class, its the whole trip. I may go back to it later, but for now, I’m putting it aside.

I’m going to skate for just an hour two days this week, and not two days in a row!  The light rail is a mess this week, so I’m not yet sure which days. I can avoid the light rail mess if I go to valley. And there is no group lesson this Thursday. Also, I’m noticing a bit more friendliness at valley as I show up more and put my time in. Nothing to get too excited about, but people are saying “hi” to me a bit more now. Besides, I like that rink in many ways, its big enough to get some work done.

I need to warm up and stretch before getting on the ice. Duh. But it didn’t feel like I was doing all that much before to warm up for. But I am hoping that warm up will help.

I will concentrate on low/no weight cardio and stretching at home this week.

I will try to front .load more protein at breakfast before I skate. I have trouble eating in the mornings, so I’m not sure how well this will go, but I can usually do smoothies and “drink” my breakfast so I’ll try that.

As far as skating itself…I AM improving, just very slowly. I can skate on one foot on both sides with much more control, but stroking is getting better. In group class, I worked on edges and stops. (I can do a right foot snowplow and hockey stop just fine. I can probably even do a T-stop just fine. But I’m week on the left side.) I’ve worked on the adult basic stuff like dips and front back swizzles and marching and all that. I even worked a bit on front crossovers, but was not successful because by then I was getting major leg fatigue. I continue to work on getting used to my boots (the blades are a nonissue thus far) and am going to try some superfeet inserts this week.

Here is the score card I’ve been keeping. This isn’t very accessible and I’m going to come up with something else, because its not ideal for me either. But basically, its the Adult Basic Curriculum. If I can do something satisfactorily, it shows a + for that skill. If I can do it but it needs work, it has a -. If I can’t do it or have never worked on it yet, it is left blank.

A laminated card that shows Adult Basic Skills. I will figure out how to improve this.

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Weekly Wrap-Up 5/Goals Week 6

I got so caught up in the new boot business that I forgot to do this, so very quickly:

Week 5 was just a lot of working on foot exercises, resting my foot, and getting used to the new skates. I skated one time, which I already wrote about. I FINALLY, did a pilates reformer class, which worked mostly on arms but was good. I did lots of StretchIt app and, I think, one Daily Burn and took a couple of walks. But because I spent a lot of last weekend and Monday/Tuesday resting my feet, exercise was a bit on the light side.

This week:

  • Skate Monday (I already did this). It went well. I got about 1 hour and 15 minutes in. I took less breaks and worked on lifting my left foot in a proper stroke instead of dragging it along for the ride. Its got a ways to go, but was an improvement. Also worked on other Adult Basic 1 stuff like “rocking horses”, dips, snowplow stops.
  • Pilates on Tuesday or Wednesday;
  • Skate Thursday. This will include my first group lessons with the Ladies of Little Lloyd. (aka: the Hooky Club) If I get the chance, I want to see what that pro (I think her name is Jane) thinks of my blade mount. I still need to get it permanently mounted at Valley with my pro shop guy, Jim.
  • Continue with stretching on the other days, also work on developing an off-ice routine to strengthen my ankles, legs and flexibility. (I downloaded Sk8strong’s Guide to Off-Ice Conditioning, but I haven’t really looked at it yet.) This maybe something I can do at the gym while kids are playing basketball because they have the bosu balls and stuff like that available.
  • Continue working on stamina and management of other stuff around this “project.” Okay, I failed this today. I came back home and slept! : ( But I did leave plenty of work for the kids to do while I was gone). Seriously, though, this needs to get under control and quick. Maybe it will be easier when I work through the summer. But damn. “Staying awake all day.” should not have to be a goal.

Mostly, the next couple of weeks will be working on getting used to my skates, strengthening my legs, and working on Adult Basics. And STAMINA. I mean, geeeeeeesh!

Goals: Week 4

This is a new thing I am aiming to do; to commit to some goals for the coming week. Here we go:

 

  1. Skate Monday with the Hooky Club. My only thing here will be to just go with the flow and see if this is a good fit for me. It sounds like it. They say there are six to eight adults on the ice, no jumps or spins allowed. They get the whole rink to themselves for 1:30. I’ve been invited to try it out and have talked to the main organizer. My only concern is that I want to work out, not socialize too much. I liked hanging out with adult skaters before. I was fine with a bit of small talk or helping each other spot or give advice on an element we were working on. I enjoyed going to coffee afterwards with them. But I hated it when all they wanted to do was stand around on the ice and chit chat. So, I’m hoping that is at a reasonable level. But I get two “tryouts”to decide if it is a good fit, and I’ll just go with the flow for now.
  2. Group Pilates Reformer on Wednesday. Crossing fingers to hope this works out at my gym. They have a poor record with me here. If, for some reason its another bust, I will work on TRX or swim or something else there.
  3. Skate Friday at Valley and actually start working on things. I’ll be starting with going through the Adult Basic series that USFSA provides. Adult 1 is, getting up after a fall, forward marching, forward two-foot glide, forward swizzles, rocking horse, Dip, and snowplow stops. I can do all of this already, but I will just go through the list and prove it to myself. I’ll also start working on establishing a workout routine.
  4. Staying awake after skating, even if I just come home and veg.
  5. Track my food
  6. Do StretchIt and/or Fitbit Coach on my off days. (10-20 minutes)

I’ve had a lot of guilt for taking so much time to myself with this, but I relieved that by making my husband also join a sport. Ha! Canceled out guilt! He also needs to relieve stress, get exercise and work on his blood pressure. So, he is going to try dragon boating, which is super big around here. He’s been kind of a snob about it, because when he lived in Toronto he started Blind Sailing Canada and sailing is better than rowing, blah, blah, blah. But he likes being on the water, rowing would be really good exercise, he likes hanging out with other people, so he is going to try that. There are a bunch of blind dragon boating teams, but he actually found one that has one other blind person but its not a “blind team.” This way, they already know how to accommodate a blind team member, but it isn’t blind people 24/7 for him (because he works with blind people all day.) A good balance. So, I’m excited that he is going to try this out. It happens in the evenings, so schedule-wise, it works. And the kids will deal….: )