Saturday, January 19, 2013

Back in the Saddle

So, it's been a while since this was last updated. A lot has happened since last April, as is usually the case in people's lives. I got a job working for a law firm, I'm in my last semester of school. I got some serious news about my health that I'm still processing. I made new friends, tried new things, and drank a lot of wine.

I almost walked away from skating.

See, our city used to have two rinks with a fairly decent public skating schedule. Then, one of the rinks closed, which severely cut down on available practice time unless I wanted to spend ungodly amounts of money on freestyle sessions. I kept taking lessons on Saturday mornings, but then last semester I had a Wills & Trusts class on Saturdays that ended that. Basically, skating has become an expensive pain in the ass.

I did start working with a private coach around September. Then, during the holidays, I ended up missing a month of lessons due to illness and other factors, and after the new year I took a long look at my life and my health problems, and thought "Maybe I should give up this sport. It's expensive, it's hard on my body, and it just doesn't seem worth it any more."

My coach sent me an e-mail saying we would restart lessons January 12th, and so I decided to go and give it one more shot. Oh, what a shot it was. I was so out of shape - I sweated through all my clothes just doing simple elements and ended up limping off the ice with miserably sore feet and legs. I need a two and a half hour nap that afternoon! The next day I went to practice again and was so sore that night I needed to take painkillers to sleep comfortably. It was ridiculous, and I loved every minute of it. Even with the weakness and the loss of elements I had really gotten a handle on, I still felt better than I had in over a month.

It's easy to forget when you're away from the ice how great it is. What it feels like when you get something right. I have a lot of chronic pain issues, and figure skating probably isn't the kindest thing I could be doing to my body, but when I land a jump right or I finally manage a good spin or even do simple elements well, it gives me such a rush. My coach is great at pushing me to do my best while also being encouraging when I have a hard time. I realized that no matter what happens with the rink, there's no way I can walk away from this. I love it too much.

Next week I'm going back to practicing jumps, so I suppose I better get my butt in gear and do some practicing this weekend so I'm not a hot mess. I'll report back on how it goes!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Kate: Progress!

Whew! Y'all, March was quite a month! April promises to be just as busy, too. School is kicking my butt, but there's a light at the end of the tunnel. Someday I will finish this program and become a Superstar Paralegal. Just gotta keep my nose to the grindstone and keep on keepin' on.

Who cares about school, though, am I right? This blog is about SKATING! My last entry was fairly serious, so I figured I'd treat you few loyal readers to an upbeat entry. I've been working hard on the salchow, and I really feel like I'm making progress! I am actually completing the jump consistently! Now, it's a tiny baby jump. You could almost call it a step, it's so small. Rome wasn't built in a day, though, and the amount of progress I've made is hugely encouraging to me. My last three skate practices were all very uplifting. I'm planning to work on making all my jumps bigger over the next couple of weeks - I'm kind of a wuss when it comes to putting power behind my jumps because I'm scared of falling. The hilarious thing is, the only fall I've had recently was on a spin and it was pretty painless- the only thing hurt was my pride. Hey, if you're not falling, you're not trying hard enough.

Speaking of spins, I don't have the scratch spin at all, but I'm almost back to where I was before I had surgery with spins - I'm consistently getting at least three rotations and the ultimate thrill happened in my lesson on Saturday - I managed to do a great spin in front of my coach! One of the annoying things about figure skating is often people (at least the people I skate with) will get something in practice and then the minute someone is watching just beef it, so getting it right was quite a triumph. I even felt confident enough to start practicing winding up into spins again instead of just going into it from a standstill. My wind-up is actually better than it was before surgery, but it still has a long way to go.

My footwork is a mess, but with all this concentration on jumps and spins I just haven't been practicing it enough. I have a lesson tomorrow and I'm planning to stay after and do some work on footwork type stuff, so we'll see how that goes.

Another exciting piece of news - my weight loss attempts are going well. I've lost a little and am feeling great about my progress with getting back in shape.

Basically, things are going very well for me in the skating world. Personally, I've had a few setbacks recently, but life is all about how you handle it and I'm pretty good at handling difficult things. I'm just going to keep moving forward and thinking positively, and hopefully things will continue to get better and better from here on out.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Kate: Serious Business

Warning: There will be frank discussion of weight/eating issues in this post. If you feel that is triggery, go check out one of our more lighthearted posts. I promise, sometimes this blog is very funny!

Lately, I've been trying to lose weight. Thanks to skating and generally trying to do more physical activity, I'm in good shape, but I'm still overweight.

Yep. I admit it. My BMI is high and y'all, I'm not going to share any numbers here, but let's just say I'm not overly thrilled with what said numbers are. Building muscle/getting in shape is not a big struggle for me, which is nice, but losing weight is an uphill battle that is not helped any by my deep and passionate love of good food and wine. I have difficulty saying no to things that make me feel good and a tendency to overdo it when I'm indulging.

I was always a very thin, but uncoordinated child. Athletics didn't really come naturally to me (other than skating - apparently when balanced on thin blades on the ice, I am very coordinated. If only I could skate my way through life in general!), but I was still fairly active. I rode my bike around, I climbed trees, I wandered around our yard and neighborhood playing all sorts of pretend games where I was a pioneer woman or a fairy or a mermaid or whatever. I could eat whatever I wanted back then.

Puberty hit early, and I was granted a woman's body immediately. Everyone who knows me in real life knows that I am a curvy lady, and it was pretty much that way from the start. I, like many other teenaged girls, thought I was fat, and with the stresses of being a teenager who struggled with depression and very low self-esteem, I eventually developed an eating disorder.

I was very lucky, in the end. I had friends who supported me (and two who went to a school counselor when they realized I was beyond their help). I got into therapy and spent years trying to overcome the control issues and build self-esteem. I struggled with food and weight issues for most of my teens and early twenties, but I can say that my friends forcing me to confront these things early may have quite literally saved my life.

Eventually, I did build self-esteem. I also gained a LOT of weight in my mid-twenties, and have spent years trying to lose it in a healthy way. Part of the struggle there is I worried about backsliding and ending up with my same unhealthy habits I had in my youth and losing the self-worth I had fought so hard for. This led me to develop new unhealthy habits - I'd tell myself that it was okay to eat what I wanted, because the weight loss wasn't a big deal. I'm still pretty, guys are still into me, I am a worthwhile person at any weight. Pass the fried avocado, done and done.

Well. I am pretty. I am a worthwhile person. I am a good friend, a loving daughter, and a smart and dedicated student. I also am now trying to lose the weight to help me be even healthier, even better at the athletics I do. I'm writing this blog entry to give me accountability in this journey. I'm sure I will have nights where I go out and drink wine with my girlfriends and indulge in that cheese plate, but for now I am trying to think of the diet as something that is not to be feared or resented for taking away one of life's pleasures. Eating healthy does not have to be a chore.

I recently told some friends that the greatest gift of my late 20's is that every time I look in the mirror, I see someone who is beautiful. I also have looked back over the last two and a half years of my life, years in which I have lost so much, but I have also gained. The inner strength I have found since my mother's death and the peace I've found with myself will make this journey easier, I think.

I think I'm going to wind this blog entry down, and finish it off with saying that I hope the work I'm putting in to weight loss and my health will also make me a better skater. I know I'll definitely be going to the rink more often to help me get into better shape. Hopefully my next entry will be all about how I've gotten the scratch spin and the slachow jump!

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Kate-Triumphant Return

Another blog update! I know, it's very exciting. It's going to be all about what you've been waiting to hear about - my triumphant return to the ice. And triumphant it was!

I have a long and storied history of not taking proper care of myself after surgery and ending up back in bed, weak and worn-out. This always makes my recovery take longer, and yet, every time I try to get up and get back to business too soon. This time, however, I resolved to actually rest and recovery properly. I spent a lot of time reading and lounging about and generally letting my body actually heal. I took six weeks off the ice, and when I returned I was really nervous and convinced I would have lost all of my skills.

Well, there was some backsliding, clearly. My first day back I was very shaky on things I had been doing well on before - I got busted back down to a one foot spin (I was learning scratch spins and backspins before) and baby jumps. But I've been practicing a lot and doing strength training off-ice, and I am very quickly returning to where I was before. It's true that practice makes perfect.

The most exciting news about all this practice is I am now learning the salchow jump. It's incredibly frustrating because it's taking me a long time to get it, but I'm practicing. In class, I could not seem to get it, but then when I went to practice on Sunday I just worked on jumps for an hour and fifteen minutes, and by the end of practice I had had a few successful tries! The amazing thing about figure skating is the feeling you get when you finally manage something that you've struggled with.

I'm still on one-footed spins - I've reverted to some bad habits that we need to correct (going into it from two feet, for example). I also need to get over my fear of gaining momentum - speed is what you WANT in a spin, and it always makes me panic. This week I plan to practice just that - gaining momentum and not being afraid to fall.

I was really frustrated with the changes at the rink and with skating in general, and during my time off I considered quitting. But now that I have returned to skating, I honestly can't imagine leaving it behind. No matter how hard it is, no matter the problems at the rink, it's worth it to be able to do something I love so much.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Kate: Did You Miss Me?

I'm sure you did, three loyal readers. Well! Four months after my last entry, I figured it was time to start updating our skating blog again. So much has happened in the last four months both on and off the ice - I will try to condense it for you.

The last time I posted, I was on the eve of my 28th birthday. I predicted 28 would be a pretty good year for me, and so far, that prediction has been true minus a few bumps along the way. I rocked my first semester in the paralegal program and earned myself a 4.0 for the first time in my academic life. In high school, one of my teachers once commented to me that I was very smart, I was just lazy. WELL, Mr. Risinger, you were correct. I do, in fact, do quite well when I apply myself.

My personal life continues to bop along, full of friends and good things. It's nice to have a life that is full of good, loving people who I love spending time with.

Enough about stuff that isn't skating! I'll get on to what you're just dying to hear about - what's happening on the ice? Well, currently, the answer is nothing. I had another surgery in December, and my recovery time was somewhat slow. Before the surgery, though, exciting things were happening. I finally became more comfortable with the half-flip and was beginning to learn both a scratch spin and a backspin! I was working hard and seeing tons of improvement. My triumphant return to the ice is next week and honestly, I'm just hoping that I can manage to stay on my feet.

Another big issue with skating is one of the rinks in town closed, so all of the programs are down to one sheet of ice. I haven't really been affected by the changes yet since I've been recovering, so I will allow Candice to tell you about that. You will not be surprised to hear she has a lot to say.

I was really upset about becoming ill again and having to have another surgery, but I know I'll regain my strength. I've started strength training and running again in addition to skating, and it's pretty cool how the human body can bounce back. I have handled this surgery emotionally much better than last year's, and in some ways that's thanks to skating. I know my body has limitations, but I am also often amazed by what it can do despite them.

There you go! The shortest version of the last four months possible. My goal is not to let four months pass between this entry and the next. In fact, I promise I'll update again after I go back to skating next week and let y'all know how it goes!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Kate: Back In The Saddle

I wrote out this whole blog entry about a month ago about skating and feelings and life and everything that's been going on, and then I never posted it. I couldn't bring myself to finish it, because it was too sad. I'm tired of sad blog entries, and sad things that happen.

So this blog entry is going to be a happy one, despite the fact that some sad things have happened recently. Tomorrow is my 28th birthday, and it's looking like 28 is going to be a good year for me. I've gone back to school to get my paralegal certification, my social life is bopping along at a good pace, and skating has vastly improved.

I went skating yesterday and it was really good. I was feeling very strong on the ice, I learned some new footwork from my friend Kelly (I missed our footwork class, so she was catching me up) and then I went to the Tuesday footwork class and discovered we are WORKING ON A PROGRAM SET TO THRILLER. That's right. It's amazing. I am so pleased, and it is so fun, and I'm actually enjoying being in a class with the kids this time. Yesterday the coach was telling Kelly and I to just observe the kids first, then join in, and one teeny tiny little girl beamed up at me and excitedly said "It's SO fun!". How cute is that? Y'all. She was correct. It is, in fact, SO fun.

So the next month will hopefully include more vast improvements on ice and possibly performing this Thriller thing in public. I will let you know if that happens, and when and where you can come see it and be vastly amused by me.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Candice: Sensible Shoes and Sh*t

A year ago I was a woman who enjoyed a high heel. I had heels so high they put me up over six feet tall. Black pumps, yellow pumps, white pumps, peep-toes, and so on. I wore them to work, I wore them to dance, I wore them to intimidate others and please myself.

Along came figure skating.

Yesterday I seriously considered purchasing shoes that carried that famous moniker, known world round for his connection to shoes. No, not Manolo Blahnik. Dr. Scholl's. (They were like walking in clouds. Ugly, puffy clouds.)

Eventually I was lucky to find a pair of black flats. They're... serviceable. Sensible. They've got a nice enough detail on the toe, and enough room that I don't feel anything was being pinched, squeezed or rubbed. Because I have a pair of shoes that do that. My stupid skates. After my coach showed me just how tight I should be lacing my skates, I complained, "My toes go numb."

"Welcome to figure skating," he shot back.

Indeed. There is nothing that skating hasn't done to make my feet more sensitive and more unwilling to wear heels. Callouses, worse. Ankles, unwilling to deal with any kind of shenanigans. Toes, rebelling at the first sign of any squeezing. (I will not bore and horrify you, dear Internet, with the details of the state of my big toes. But rest assured, I could.)

While at the shoe store I picked up a beautiful pair of blue platform heels. They were a beautiful, cool, blue retro dream.

I put them on. Looked at myself in the mirror. And then I moaned pitifully. They were already starting to hurt. I put them back.

Equally distressing is that I will probably never pay as much on shoes as I will in December when I get new skates. In my fevered dreams I somehow magically manage to find $800 dollars to drop on Graf Edmontons and sleek new blades. Graf Edmonton skates are sexy in their own, skaterly way (particularly Stephane Lambiel's polished to a high patent sheen). I mean, come on, the description includes the words "stiff" and "leather." That's gotta be good, right?

Something inside me sighed and shook its head at what we have become.

I wonder if they come in blue, patent leather t-strap? No? Okay.