Monday, January 31, 2011

Candice: An Unhealthy Obsession with a Healthy Obsession

The ISU wants me to go crazy. Why else did they schedule US Nationals alongside the European Championships? Today is the first day since Wednesday that I'm not glued to a computer or television screen watching a live feed of an event. They got me hooked, kept me high, and now I'm sitting here with the shakes going, "But, but I just don't understand. Why can't I have any more?" I'm this close to robbing an old lady of her purse, just so I can go to a traveling production of Elmo on Ice, or whatever.

Though I doubt Elmo's pantomiming would create the same kind of catharsis as watching Florent Amodio transformed into the happiest six year old boy you've ever seen by winning gold. Nor would the part of the play where he loses his favorite toy wreck me as much as Jeremy Abbott's 4th place finish. But it would at least be skaters on ice, and with only slightly more fur and feathers than Johnny Weir's crazier costumes.

In addition to the competitions, there is also the exciting development that I have learned my first toepick assisted jump. There were roughly two dozen ladies and two dozen men skating in Europe, the same number skating in US Nationals, almost all skating two programs. Not everybody went for the flip, but enough did that I must have watched somewhere in the ballpark of at least fifty flips (or at least flips and flutzes combined) in the past five days.

Previously forward and backward crossovers, three-turns, mohawks and lunges were pretty much all I had in common with my beloved competitive skaters. So I can only imitate roughly 1% of what they do on the ice right now. Well that and slow, strained spirals. Adding a toepick assisted jump at least brings it up to 2%. Put my tiny little waltz jump and my flip together along with my 5 second footwork sequence and you've got the world's shortest, and technically pathetic program. But still.

Saturday night I went to an unusually awesome party but I refused to let myself indulge too much, lest I wake up unable to try the flip again on Sunday. My only concession to the good time I was having was to stay up just a little too late. I got only six hours of sleep, but a lazy Sunday in bed held no allure. I got up, made breakfast, and got to the rink five minutes before they finished resurfacing the ice.

My usual Sunday skating was paired with watching the the American men skate their free on TV (so many tears and surprises and surprise tears), creating a DethSpiralz twitter account so that I can live tweet 4CC and Worlds with Kate, vacuuming every inch of my apartment to rid it of the tumbleweeds of cat hair rolling about on the carpet, doing laundry, and spending time with both my cats and my boyfriend.

I didn't just burn the candle at both ends yesterday, I made new wicks and burned it at the top, bottom and a few places in the middle. I woke up this morning with a sore shoulder, a sore back, and a feeling that I didn't get near enough sleep to make up for the energy I put out on Sunday. I could have easily put out at least one fire yesterday and saved the energy from skating so that I could have done one more thing, like go to the grocery store, or make dinner instead of buying it.

But that would have been impossible. Even right now, sitting at my computer all I can think about is getting back on to the ice and trying it again. Or failing that, I want to try the flip again and again on the floor. Or see how much closer I can get to an attractive catch foot position so that my spirals can at least be slow, faltering, but also pretty.

I'm just going to have to get a bigger candle.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Kate: No Time For Losers

Well, here's an update on my resolutions: not a single one has been taken care of. Passing the pre-bronze test has been advanced towards...sort of? In that I'm skating again? But cooking, off-ice training, and buying cowboy boots? None of these things have happened.

IN MY DEFENSE, I had surgery less than a month ago and my recovery has been slower than when I was younger, which my doctor teased me about when I was like "what's up with that?" Surprise, everyone! You don't bounce back from ANYTHING as fast when you get older! Sigh.

I am recovering, though, and am trying to make plans that involve getting back on that resolution train. Candice and I have named 2011 "The Year of Not Fucking Around Anymore, Seriously This Time". I have been stretching after I skate and trying to remember to take anti-inflammatory drugs before I go on the ice to help with pain.

So, on to the skating. I went back a week or so ago, and was really nervous. I was convinced that I had forgotten everything and would slide around like Bambi, weeping about my lack of muscle tone and embarrassing myself in front of the other skaters.

THAT DID NOT HAPPEN. In fact, I improved on some things! My inside 3-turns are a lot better and I'm jumping better, too! Yeah, that's RIGHT, people. I went back on the ice less than three weeks after surgery and mothereffing JUMPED. I felt like the biggest badass ever until my abs and thighs were like "We hate you" and got so shaky I had to get off and rest. I'm still rebuilding muscle, and I can't skate as long as I could before I stopped, but I'm doing really well. Plus, as a final braggy note, we signed up for Adult Basic 4 again, figuring we needed to really get the skills for it down before moving up to "Adult Workshop", which is where you learn the really fun and harder stuff.

Well! We have been moved up to workshop! We're too good for Adult Basic 4! I was so excited when the workshop teacher (who used to teach our Basic 4 class before we took a break) pulled me aside after class and was like "Um, you need to move up" and the Basic 4 teacher agreed.

Everything is going well. 2011, for real. It's all about not screwing around.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Candice: I swear to God, I'm going to kick skating's ass this year

I mean well. I think that comes across, right? I pick up a challenging hobby like figure skating and I say, "I'm really going to dedicate myself to this." I make big goals about what I'll have accomplished with it in just one year, I make plans about how I'm going to increase my flexibility. I start a blog with my friend, and I make big promises to myself about providing regular, insightful, hopefully funny updates. Grandiose dreams of becoming "internet famous" (one step above being famous in a small town) without putting in much effort in ensue. The new year starts and I say, "No really. Diet Town. Population: Me." You already know where this is going.

While the blog and the diet (and the attempts to get more flexible) have all become cobblestones of failed good intentions on the road to becoming lazier, heavier and still inflexible, the skating, at least in part, continued. In the face of the holidays, social commitments, and well, let's say challenges at work, the temporary sabbatical from lessons unfortunately continued for the full 8 week semester. Thankfully a lack of lessons did not stop me from skating at least once a week. (It did, however, stop me from learning anything new.)

I'm happy to report that I've gotten even better at the things I was already pretty good at. The footwork sequence making use of all of my strengths can now be done at a speed that feels impressive (at least, I'm impressed). Forward crossovers, feh, easy peasy! Backwards crossovers? Much less terrifying and way more consistent. Outside three-turns? I can do a hundred of them before breakfast.

Oh but what about the things that I wasn't so good at? Inside three turns? Footwork that puts the emphasis on my weaker leg? Again, you already know where this is going. Don't patronize me with your insincere curiosity and I won't patronize you by pretending that they're not just as dreadful as ever. Despite all the good intentions, practice, and trying I've done in the past months, if there's one thing that I've learned it's that I'm more stubborn than myself.

Wait, what?

What I mean to say is no matter how many times I tell myself, "You're going to work on inside three turns until you've mastered them," the outcome never changes. I will get on the ice do a few, shaky half completed inside three turns and think, "This sucks. Not being good at something is way less fun than being good at something." Almost immediately I rebel against practice makes perfect, and rely instead on look what I can do! Unfortunately the same applies to nearly everything I want to do that requires discipline. See also: diet and stretching. Further reference: time management and my budget.

You might have noticed that the name attached to this blog is Verochka Grinkov. Verochka Grinkov is the name I decided should be applied not to my imaginary friend, but to my imaginary life coach. In my mind, Verochka is a solid, no-nonsense Russian woman in head-to-toe fox fur. Her hair is dyed the same aggressive red as her lipstick. She frowns at me constantly. Verochka is the voice in my head that tells me to shut up and skate, sighs in dismay when I have the fourth (or fifth, or seventh) cookie, and tells me to walk it off when I get an unexpected kick in the keister from life. If Verochka was a real person, my life would be in much better shape because I would probably be terrified of her. Alas, though, she is easily dissipated with a wave of my hand, leaving me to my cookies and lethargy.

Alas, Verochka Grinkov is not real, but there are figure skating that are. I've signed up for another round of lessons, and hopefully their polite but disappointed faces when they tell me to execute an inside three turn will at last shame me into trying harder at them. I'm hoping that with lessons blog updates will become much more regular, skating will become much more fulfilling, and progress will become much more quantifiable. All good things.

But you know, in that same vein, I should probably start calling my mother after every meal in order to get an approximation of Verochka's disapproval at eating the same soup for three days until I go crazy and decide life will only be worth living if I eat three tacos with chips and queso. Hey! Maybe I could even tape Martha Stewarts face to the side of my cats and be guilted into doing the dishes more often!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Kate - Reminding Yourself to Breathe In And Out

Well, I’ve had another break from skating thanks to the surgery. I’m waiting until my post-op appointment to go back to it and we resume classes on the 22nd, so this blog should be a lot more active then. We’ll have new things we’re learning and exciting stuff to talk about.

My surgery included some Very Bad News, which I am somewhat uncomfortable discussing here despite having discussed it elsewhere on the internet. Listen, I’m weird this stuff. So, let’s just say it’s going to take me some time to come to grips with it. It’s also kicking up the grief I have over losing my mother. I wish she were here so I could talk to her and get some advice.

She isn’t, though, and I can’t change the Bad News. I can only move forward, and I am going to start that by actually posting in this thing. I’m going to document my New Year’s resolutions. I used to not really make them, figuring I was just setting myself up for failure, but then last year I made one and it was “find a physical activity I actually enjoy and stick with it” and I DID! So, inspired by that, I made more than one resolution this year:

1. Pass the Adult Pre-Bronze test before December 2011 so I can start competing.

2. Start cooking at least twice a week like a goddamn adult.

3. Actually do off-ice training instead of waking up and being like "Oh, I suddenly...don't....want to." and then being lazy.

4. Finally stop dithering and buy a pair of cowboy boots. Seriously, I've been thinking about this for like four years. It's time.

Wish me luck! Hopefully I’ll be able to keep at least three out of four!