In Limbo…

I skated once when I was in West Virginia for three weeks, but my schedule didn’t allow for going as much as I wanted.  I also ended up missing the last class of my skating session because my youngest had his TKD testing during the exact same time.  I was bummed, but glad I got to see him test.

I had hoped to be taking private lessons by now, but I have not been able to get in touch with the coach I am interested in using.  I will try calling rather than texting, but I wonder if the summer is really going to work for lessons, as there will be crowded public sessions during the middle of the day when I look to go.

I have not lost interest, and am excited to move on to the next step, but maybe it will have to wait until after the summer.  I am also doing CrossFit with my son this summer, so that takes away from my expendable cash for hobbies… On the bright side, being stronger will help my jumps and on my first day back, we did pistols (one legged squats), which should help this old broad be able to do a shoot the duck in competition!!

Edges, Back Spins, and Loops…

Saturday, March 8th was my 3rd lesson of the second set of group lessons, or lesson 12 overall. While I am still in “stuck” mode with some moves, overall I feel like I have progressed. My husband was at my lesson and my mom saw my videos and they both really could see my progress from when I started. That made me feel good.

Of course I forgot my new skating notebook at home, so I had to try and remember all of the pointers I received until I was able to get home and unload them on paper…

I think my back inside edges improved from last lesson to practice to Saturday’s lesson. In the lesson, there wasn’t the opportunity to go across the rink with one type of edges, so I alternated two inside and then turned into two outside. I actually liked that way of practicing!

20170308_Back Inside Edges in Practice (kinda funny that you can hear my commentary as my husband started videoing without “permission”)

20170308_Back Inside and Outside Edges

The next thing I worked on in the lesson was the dreaded “back spin”. I did not take a video during practice because it was that terrible, which you will be able to tell from my lesson attempts here:

20170308_Back Spin

20170308_More Back Spin (I love Mike’s comment “that was better”.  I guess that’s good enough!! Laugh)

After I got frustrated with back spins, I asked the instructor what I should do next. She suggested a loop. I previously thought that I should be able to do the back spin before attempting the loop, but I went along with it. There was a varying degree of success with the loop, and they didn’t progress from worse to best; they were all over the place. These are some of my first loop attempts (after I got past marking the ice and thinking about how to actually make myself jump):

20170308_First Set of Loop Attempts

20170308_Loop Jump

20170308_More Loop Jumps

I did so many of those, I thought my leg was going to fall off. I decided to take a break and use the other leg and try out the flip jump, since it’s been a few weeks since I started learning it:

20170308_Flip Jump

And, I finished up with a salchow, since I feel like I am finally getting the hang of it:

20170308_Salchow

I feel like I am making progress, but there’s so far to go…. But, if my goal is to master the single jumps only, I should be well on my way to being successful. I’ve now tried everything except for the Lutz and the Axel, and those may take a while!

Repeat Lesson…. March 30, 2017

Yep, as I expected it, this lesson ended up being a repeat of last week’s lesson. And, as anyone who knows me will completely recognize, I’m not a big fan of being stagnant. I am the kind of person who has to see *some* kind of improvement to feel successful. I can even handle the two steps forward, one step back approach because I’m content to just be moving, and there’s always a reason for setbacks. Being stuck in the same place, however, is not my thing.

I did try something different, however. I bought a notebook…. A notebook? You might ask? How will that help? You’re already blogging every lesson and taking videos to remember where you’ve been (and hopefully what you’ve learned)… What good will writing down information do?

Good question – here’s what I’m thinking.

First of all, my legs need some conditioning, especially going backwards. They’re weaker than I would like them to be and weak legs make skating hard. If I keep writing down my warm-up, maybe I will find something that works for me that I can do every time.

Secondly, and perhaps most importantly, I need to remember the tips I get in my lessons so that I can practice them correctly. The amount I remembered from my previous lesson was so negligible that I had to spend an entire lesson being retaught the same skills. That wasn’t fun. I figure if I write down the tips that I receive, I will be more likely to remember them and implement them into my practice. Nothing is more frustrating than practicing things incorrectly, or doing worse in practice than you did the previous week because you forgot what you did that was right.

Don’t worry, I won’t type my notes word for word…. only the highlights!! 🙂

The most encouraging thing that happened is the coach (who was new to me) and I were talking about the Theatre on Ice team that the rink has and she seemed to think I would be able to try out for the team in August. I’m not sure how their practices will work with my schedule, or even if I have the required skills, but I am so excited that someone thought I may have a chance.

We did forward and backward crossovers, which was nice because I do an okay job on them (still need some pointers, but it’s at least a successful outcome). Aside from that, it was backward inside edges, back outsides three-turns, back inside three-turns…. over and over and over. Practice makes perfect, right? Sigh…. I’m still very inconsistent in everything.

Maybe by studying my notes, Saturday will be a little better…

First Lesson of the Second “Learn to Skate” Session

Saturday, March 25 was the first lesson of my second Learn to Skate group session. I decided to sign up for one more set of group lessons because there are only six lessons for the Saturday session. I will be out of town for three weeks, so I thought I could double up while I am here and make the six lessons and start private lessons in mid-May.

My second session will be tonight, so I thought I better catch up on my progress before I get too far behind.

Unfortunately, I have no videos, but honestly, they wouldn’t have been pretty. I’ll be quick here…

I think I am to a point where I am going to need a lot of practice to get through the skills I am struggling with. They all involve backwards, and many of them require inside edges. This seems to be my weakness…

I was able to get the left back outside three-turn that I couldn’t do in my testing. I would say I keep my balance on one foot about 40-50% of the time. That is significant progress from being completely unstable and unable to do it during the testing. I need to practice both sides, but they felt a lot stronger during my practice on Saturday.

Back inside three-turns did not go according to plan. Since I was the only Freeskate adult, I asked for help with these. We started with back inside edges, and of course, that’s the problem. I worked on my back inside edges for over half the class, and then tried the three-turns. Neither went particularly well. I did great when the coach was holding my hands!! I wonder if we can do that for the testing?!?

I then decided I wanted to learn a back scratch spin and a loop jump. It seemed logical that the spin should come first and that will help me prepare for the loop. We worked on the spin, but I was not comfortable enough to try the loop.

The spin only requires two revolutions for Freeskate 2, and technically, I learned how to do that, but I still have a long way to go to call it a back scratch spin (Freeskate 3). I think I know how to practice, or rather I did on Saturday….

Now that I am thinking about it, I’m not so sure… I guess I will find out this evening. This is why having videos helps me. I’m not sure I remember how to do any of the skills we worked on Saturday.

By the way, I know my struggles here are a result of weak inner thigh muscles, as my legs were sore on Sunday. I definitely favor the forward moves over the backwards moves, and that is likely why.

My mom told me that when I was younger, we started every practice with a forward and backward warm-up. Maybe I need to find a conditioning algorithm to strengthen my legs. I can start all of my practices with that. I can also start some off-ice conditioning that focuses on my inner thighs.

I suspect once my inner thighs get stronger, these back inner moves will get easier!

I did some jumps at the end of my lesson on Saturday. I was able to get my waltz jump higher. I felt like my salchow was continuing to improve, but I learned it still needed some tweaking. I was surprised to hear that the coach thought my toe-loop was better than my salchow!

I’m thinking tonight might be a repeat of my practice/lesson from Saturday…

 

Last Group Lesson – What a Surprise!

Last night was the last group lesson of the session. I thought it would just be like a regular class, but boy was I wrong. Each group of kids skated together to music for their parents. I was afraid the adults would have to do that, but thankfully that didn’t happen!!

I was excited to have my parents there to watch me skate. It was kind of like old times and reminiscing on how things used to be. My mom came to the practice session and got on ice with a walker and would tell me what to do, just like she used to. She would also tell me how to make things better, which is pretty funny, considering she’s never done any of these tricks. Her “muscle memory” must have also kicked in and she remembered what my coaches used to say. She was surprisingly on-target with her comments.

She was also my videographer for the evening. She only took one video of me during practice, but I have decided that this is going to be my new signature move, as an adult. Sure, I know this is nothing for kids, but for a woman in her 40s, it could be quite impressive. It’s a shoot-the-duck. I don’t get low enough down, but in my CrossFit days, I learned how to do pistols (one-legged full squats, going all the way down) with both legs, so I think I can do these!!

Shoot the Duck

I was the only “advanced” adult present for the lesson, and my instructor had a clipboard of papers for testing. I had no idea I was going to be evaluated, but I am excited to finally know what level I am. We started going through some of the Adult Beginner program, but the instructor didn’t even fill out a sheet on those, as she decided I could do everything. Then she pulled out the “Freeskate Report Card” and started filling it out.

I passed Pre-Freeskate, by demonstrating the following skills, many of which I learned for the first time during the testing (only some were videoed, and the videos I present might not be my best attempt at the move, it was hard for my mom to try and video everything, while navigating other people):

Forward inside open Mohawk

Backward crossovers to a backward outside edge glide

Backward outside edge to a forward outside edge transition

Combination move

One-foot upright spin (minimum three revolutions)

Mazurka

Waltz Jump
Bonus skill: Backward inside pivots

Then, we went onto Freeskate 1, and I was able to pass that as well, although my backward outside three-turn on my left foot was technically not good enough. I definitely need to practice those, but since last night was the first time I’ve tried them, I think I’ll get it quickly. These are the skills (same comment on the video):

Forward power stroking

Basic Forward Outside and Forward Inside consecutive edges

Backward outside three-turns, RightLeft

Upright spin, entry from back crossovers

Half-flip

Toe Loop

Bonus skill: Waltz jump, side toe hop, waltz jump

Finally, we started Freeskate 2. We didn’t have time to finish it, but I know I would not have been able to pass it. The ones we did were:

Half-lutz

Salchow

Given extra time, I could have also completed the alternating forward outside and inside spirals, and maybe she would have given me enough grace on my backward inside edges to be okay with my backward outside and inside consecutive edges. But, my back inside edges are pretty weak, so maybe not…. But, I could not have passed the backward inside three-turns, beginning back spin, and bonus skill of a spiral variation without a little instruction, as I have not attempted any of these since I started skating again.

I went home from skating super-excited, as I have progressed so much in nine weeks. I never would have expected to be considered Freeskate 2 this quickly! Now, I know USFSA levels don’t necessarily line up to ISIA levels, but just considering that I was in Freestyle 4 of ISIA when I was in 4th grade and now I am in Freeskate 2 of USFSA gives me so much encouragement.

I also think I am ready for private lessons. I learned that I had been practicing certain skills completely wrong and I want to minimize issues such as that and not being corrected for poor technique. For example, I was doing my salchow from the wrong direction of crossovers, which made it look all swingy – because it was. Once the instructor told me this tonight and showed me how to properly do it, it felt like a completely different jump.

A similar thing is true for the half-flip; I previously tried doing it from a three-turn, and learned it should be done from a Mohawk. Huge difference!! Because tonight was a one-on-one lesson, I also was able to learn so many skills, like the half-lutz, all of the footwork patterns I’ve never seen before, the back outside three-turns, and the mazurka. I only passed as much as I did last night because it was just me and the instructor seemed to believe that I could do all of these skills without much practice.

Here’s my score sheet:


That gives me the confidence that I need to go forward!!

 

Lesson 8 – It’s Starting to Click

I took off of work today to attend the “home school” lesson, as I couldn’t make this evening or Saturday. I’m so glad I did, because this may change my perspective on lessons. 

When I arrived at the rink, the 10:15 ice time was finishing up. Granted, this is ice that you pay for per each 30-minutes, but there were only a few people on the ice, most of whom were taking lessons and one person was practicing. The “Learn to Skate” practice sessions may only be $5 for an hour, but they are so much more crowded, making it hard to practice. 

I saw the public session after the group lesson is also pretty empty. I understand it’s a bit more crowded directly after the group lesson, but it thins out quickly. And other days are even less crowded (provided it’s not a holiday, of course). I wish my boss would allow me to work an hour later, so I could come skate in middle of the day. But, even if he continues to say no, it may be worth paying for practice/lesson ice.

I was also able to talk to the coach I am interested in and it seems promising. I figure if I take a lesson every other week to start, it may not be too much of a financial or time burden. I’ll have to figure out when and include ice costs and practice times to see if everything makes sense.

The lesson was good. I don’t have any fancy videos because there was only one coach for the four adults and everyone was working on different skills. 

I started working on my spins and I better understand the approach to the scratch spin and now know that your arms go out before they come in to speed it up. 

I asked about back inside edges and the coach’s first question to me was whether I had done them before. I guess she wanted to know if muscle memory would kick back in, and it seemed to! She had me just skate backwards in a line and get on the inside edge as I did that. Then she showed me how to push out and pidgeon toe my other foot to come back in. Then, we added basic arms. Those drills helped so much and I went from having no grasp on what to do to somewhat respectable edges! At least now I know how to practice. 

One of the other adults was working on her mohawks. I do sloppy mohawks, mostly because I haven’t stopped to consider the technique. I was able to work on that today and made them a lot more precise on the foot placement. 

Finally, the other adult was working on Waltz jumps, so I did some of those too. At the end of class, the coach encouraged me to be patient on the take-off. I’ve never really considered that before. I tried it once before it was time to go, but didn’t notice if it made a difference, other than I was more balanced in my landing. I need to think about this and try it on some other jumps too. Chances are I rush more things than not.

Next week is the last group lesson of this session. I hope to finish strong and have some answers for what I want to do next!!

Lesson 7 – Flip Jumps and Footwork

The one jump I remember doing as an adult, besides a Waltz Jump, is a flip. Although, now that we tried them in today’s lesson, I can’t imagine that could be true. However, I went to my YouTube site and watched the video from 2013 and sure enough, it was an attempt of a flip. 

What a difference four years and a few painful falls makes… I spent over half of the lesson trying to get the flip presentable. These are my two of my better attempts, but I’m still not getting all the way around. 

2/25/17 Flip Attempt
2/25/17 Flip Attempt (again)

It started much worse than this. I made the mistake of doing a half-flip and that completely confused me when I tried the real flip. Luckily, one of the other adult students offered some pointers his coach told him. I watched him a few times and eventually I worked up the nerve to try it. My first 20 or so tries involved my free leg touching the ice. I was so excited the first time it didn’t, but then I saw my video and noticed I wasn’t getting all the way around. But, it’s definite progress. 

I practiced my salchow, toe-loop, and Waltz jumps and those all felt good. My back is definitely improving and bothered me much less today.

After getting worn out from jumping, I asked for help on the pre-bronze moves in the field footwork that I am struggling on. My worst skill, by far, is back inside edges. I guess they’re going to just take lots of practice, as they felt just as terrible after I asked for help than when I was practicing them before class started. 

I was happy to see that my reading and YouTube watching was beneficial for my Waltz 8. It’s hard to practice moves such as this on a crowded ice, but I think I was doing it correctly and feel like my confidence improved doing it during class. 

We only have two classes left of this session and then I have to decide if I want to sign up for the next session. It’s only 6 or 7 weeks long, depending on the day, and I’ll be gone three of the weeks, but I may be able to double up before I leave town for a really long business trip in West Virginia. Mental note – look for a rink near my hotel and use that time to practice!!

I hope to take the pre-bronze moves in the field test in August after receiving sage advice that USFSA dues aren’t prorated and renew in July. I will also need a coach by that point, so waiting until then allows me to take two more Learn to Skate sessions. 

I think I know who I will want for a coach, but she’s incredibly experienced, very technique driven, and probably won’t come cheap. I guess it will all depend on if her schedule works with mine and if she’s accepting new students. Luckily I have a few months to figure this all out!

Until then, I’m just thankful I’m improving and feeling better. I finished the Whole30 on Thursday and am to the reintroduction phase. I’m improvising this part a little, as I want to introduce items, not whole categories, but I don’t want it to take forever. I’m also monitoring many variables (weight, measurements, sleep, stress, focus, energy, and mood) to look for changes. Any significant change will return me to the Whole30 to stabilize. I’ve been very pleased with the Whole30 and between this and the Daniel Fast, I’ve lost about 15 pounds! More importantly, I’ve been sleeping better and feel better, physically and emotionally. I’ve also been working on the spiritual side too, and see improvements in my relationship with God, as well.  2017 is off to a very good start!!

Lesson 6 – Focus on Footwork

My back was feeling pretty decently last night, so I started my practice by working on my jumps (waltz jump, salchow, toe-loop) and my scratch spin.  They were okay, I’m still leery of the salchow because I’m afraid it will hurt my back.  Not wanting to push too much, I changed my focus to three-turns and edges during the rest of the time I practiced, and decided that Lesson 6 would be a good opportunity to work on footwork.  I reviewed what is required for the pre-bronze moves in the field test to see where I stood.

Forward Perimeter Stroking (in Both Directions) – I have not practiced much in the clockwise direction, as that would be a hindrance to normal flow, but I should check this out in the near future.

Basic Consecutive Edges (Forward Outside and Inside/Backward Outside and Inside) – My forward edges felt good on my own, but I wanted to make sure my arms and technique were appropriate.  My backwards edges are shaky and slow.  I recognized that I needed some assistance in doing these properly.

Forward and Backward Crossovers – I am comfortable with my crossovers in all directions.  I just will need to learn what the transitions are, as “a swing roll & change of edge to open mohawk to turn around” is an incomprehensible  language for me!

Waltz 8 – I read what a waltz 8 is supposed to be and I’m comfortable with three-turns and mohawks, so this should be doable, I just will want to practice this in a lesson before trying on my own.

Forward Right and Left Foot Spirals – I have these fears of sticking my chest down far enough to get my leg to horizontal, and kicking someone in the process.  It also puts a lot of pressure on my back.  I’ve tried them each week, but they haven’t been anything special.

There were only two of us in our usual adult group, and we decided to work on footwork.  The first item I worked on was brackets.  I’m sure I once knew this, but a bracket is like a three-turn, but you rotate your body in the opposite direction and it leaves a different mark on the ice.  For instance, if I was going to do a left inside three-turn, I would start on the inside edge of my left foot and turn my body clockwise to end up on the left outside edge.  With a bracket, I am only changing the rotation, but keeping the edges the same.  I start on a left inside edge, turn counter-clockwise, and then exit on the left outside edge.  As I experienced, this is easier said than done…

I understand the brackets starting on an inside edge are easier than those starting on an outside edge.  I tried the outside one by accident and it seemed to be of a similar difficulty, so maybe that’s a good thing.  I apparently also did a rocker by mistake.  (I will say that I love when you mess up in figure skating and the messed up move has a name; it’s very comforting to me!)

I found that the right inside bracket was easier than the left inside bracket, but they were both very challenging to me.  I definitely will have to practice these!

Left Inside Bracket

Right Inside Bracket

Next, I worked on edges and learned what to do with my arms and feet.  I did very well on the forward edges, once I learned how you change your arms and that your feet come together before you push into the next edge.  My backward outside edges improved once I learned how to take the push to get them going.  However, I struggled with the push required for the backward inside edges.

Finally, I did spirals and got over my fear of lifting my leg to horizontal.   I felt equally comfortable on both legs.  I think I must have appeared too confident once I figured them out, as the skater working with me asked if I wanted to try back spirals.  Uhhhh – no thanks, not yet!!

Right and Left Spirals

After class, I spoke to one of the coaches to see if staying in the Learn to Skate program would help me prepare for testing and eventually competition.  She said it all depends on the number of people and the level of the class.  Small groups of more advanced adult skaters would give more one-on-one instruction.  The group lessons are (I’m assuming) significantly cheaper than the private lessons, so maybe that’s a good thing to consider for now.  Luckily, I have three more lessons to figure this out…

Over the Hump of the First Session – Lesson 5

The Whole30 has been doing some incredible things in my world. I’m on Day 9 (not counting the 21 day Daniel Fast) and I’ve dropped some weight without even trying to or worrying about it, I feel better, my clothes fit right again, and my emotions feel much more stable. 

My back pain is about 50% of what it was, although it still comes and goes, for reasons I don’t understand. Today was worse than yesterday (less sleep perhaps), but it didn’t feel nearly as bad as this time last week. 

The craziest thing is how uncharacteristically flexible I was at yoga on Tuesday night (my second class in years, and my second ever “real, taught by a yogi” class) and I was even able to relax during shavasana, which is something I’ve always struggled with. It was absolutely amazing!

I was hoping my good feelings would carry on to the rink this week and it was good. I was definitely more comfortable than the past couple of weeks and it showed in my practice. 

I was excited that I was on the ice the majority of the hour session and didn’t feel like I was overdoing it. I practiced stroking, edges, three-turns (holding the final edges), scratch spins, Waltz jumps, the Waltz jumps with the two hop, salchow, toe loops, backward edges, and spirals. Everything was feeling better!! I tried to convince myself to do a flip, but I never completely worked up the nerve, but it was definitely a start!

Here are the two videos I took: 

2/2/17 – Salchow in Practice
2/2/17 – Toe Loops in Practice

This is the first lesson where I feel like I did better in practice than in the lesson. We worked on scratch spins and salchows. At the end of the lesson, we were introduced to back outside three-turns, which was the most awkward move I’ve attempted yet!

I learned that a scratch spin only counts if your free leg crosses in front of the standing leg. Otherwise, it’s just a one-foot spin. I tried to get my leg there, but it sure is scary!! Apparently making an “h” with your free leg helps with all your jumps and spins. This video isn’t my best attempt, but it wasn’t my worst either. Well, maybe the first one, where I was completely off balance was one of the worst….

2/2/17 – Scratch Spin in Lesson

My best salchow was the one I did to show the teacher where I was. It had a little lift; I was balanced on the back outside edge; it wasn’t too “swingy”. The thing I needed to work on was my arms. Apparently they were just kinda there. After that, the more I practiced my arms, the worse my feet got! At one point, the co-teacher, who is like 14-15 years old, broke it down with the “h” position idea. I watched her and it looked like her jump was separate from her three-turn. Her jump was great; I saw her points, but doing them was a completely different story. 

And then there were those weird backward outside three-turns… Backward crossovers, left foot in front of your right foot, and you turn counter-clockwise on your left foot. I’m not sure how to do that when my weight is on my right foot. I guess there will be videos in my future… and practice – lots of opportunities for practice! 

As I was leaving, the coach said not to worry about those because they are a level ahead of where we are. I laughed and said I have no idea what level I am, but I’ll practice them and I’m sure I’ll figure it out!

And now I am home with a huge, painful knot in my lower back on the left side. My husband is experimenting with his tens unit to see if it helps. I don’t feel like I did anything to deserve this pain, no tweaks, no falls, everything felt strong. Sigh… Such is life for now, I guess, but I refuse to let this become the new normal.