I've made a lot of jokes about figure skating being the sport of masochistic loners what with the lack of an obvious team effort and the falling. But if you know me, you know I'm the opposite of masochistic. I'm a hedonist! I love fine food and wine to excess! I love lounging in bed, or on a comfortable couch! I love cotton and satin and velvet! My ideal vacation is much more "9 hours of sleep, stroll through a museum, fine dining, sit in a park, and people watch" and much less "Camp out and then go white water rafting at 6am."
So really, it makes no sense for me to be in this sport. The boots are uncomfortable. The ice is hard and cold and wet. I've fallen so hard I still felt the bruises two weeks later. Getting ready for more vigorous jumps I find myself thinking I should really cut back on the cookies if I ever want try an axel. Skating is completely antithetical to my way of living.
And yet, I adore it.
Added to this unpleasant mix, is the recent development that from time to time my knee hurts. The pain is nothing to write home about, I think it ranks somewhere between "a little stiff" and a "twinge" but my reaction to it surprised me. I had this weird moment of, "I'm an athlete, bitch."
Which is of course, not true. I spend roughly three - five hours a week on the ice. Max. This past week I went four days in a row and by the fourth day I was like, "Lord, what am I even doing here?" That hardly constitutes living and breathing a sport. And anyway, I'm pretty sure knitters could at least knit every day and still call themselves a hobbyist. And I'm sure if they knit every day their hands would be a bit crampy and they wouldn't really think much of it.
But again, see my usual roster of activities. Eating, drinking, reading, lounging, none of these activities usually give you much more than a stomach ache, a hangover, or a limb that has fallen asleep because you had it folded for too long (as if you spent so much time not moving that your body gave up and forgot it had hands or feet). When I was a runner I was mercifully free of any lingering pain issues. My knees and ankles never bothered me after I finished the run, and the biggest challenge was just dealing with the burn when I tried to go for a longer time or a faster pace.
So this is new for me. This is something that hopefully will not, but possibly could, turn into something like that "Love Hurts" Gatorade commercial (which is sadly NOT on YouTube). Maybe one day it'll be ME grimacing in pain while covered in fluorescent sweat. Being a hedonist, shouldn't I turn away from this path and look for a comfy couch? No. Instead I find myself thinking, "Hey, it'll be okay, because then I'll know I went the distance." Now I know that's pretty dramatic. The distance for me will be taking two or three test levels.
So I have to embrace and enjoy the melodrama, and delude myself into thinking I'm testing the limits of my body rather than just, I don't know, aging. Otherwise, I'd just stop skating, too afraid that it'll take out my knee someday. Eternal glory is a lot more attractive than "nightly applications of Bengay."
But what is harder to do is have this same attitude toward bruises. Knee pain appeal to my womanly understanding of suffering in silence. Bruises are in direct conflict with my womanly desire to have perfect legs. There's currently a thumb sized bruise on my left calf, exposed for all the world to see because I am wearing a skirt. It's nothing new, a bruise on a knee cap for two weeks to be followed by one on my hip, and then a brief reprieve from bruises, only to get a blister on my pinky toe when I wear the wrong socks to a practice session. Skating was supposed to make me PRETTY, dammit.
Despite it all I keep going. And will keep going. Because I've apparently actually become the tiniest bit masochistic.