4th Lesson, Back Pain, Nutrition

I didn’t get to blog after my lesson on Thursday 1/26/17, but I figured better late than never! The lesson was more of the same for me. I wasn’t very successful in practice, but the lesson went fine. I didn’t push myself too very much, since my back was still hurting (seems to be a recurring problem).

I worked on waltz jumps from standing, along a line, from crossovers, and eventually the waltz jump – side toe hop – waltz jump combo. I didn’t realize that I was practicing my waltz jump from crossovers in the wrong direction (like I would use to go into a spin), when doing them in the other direction, I just have to step into the jump. It was much easier and definitely helped my sense of direction on the combination. Here’s a video of it:

1/26/17 Waltz Jump-Side Toe Hop-Waltz Jump

I feel like it’s improved since I started, and I believe that once I get my back under control, my ability to jump will be greatly improved, since I won’t have to worry as much about pain from landing.

After waltz jumps, I worked on pivots. Pivots were pretty easy using the left toe, but the right toe was much more of a struggle. I progressed to pivoting from skating forward and then did pivots into a two-foot spin. I’ve never been particularly successful with two-foot spins, but the pivot did provide the perfect entry!

I practiced a few scratch spins and toe-loops next, but neither went so well. My back was killing me by this point, and then the zamboni came out on the ice to signify the lesson was over. I am really enjoying my lessons, I am just so frustrated with my back.

I have been seeing a physical therapist for a concern that’s likely related to my lower back pain. My first two visits were in Round Rock, as I wanted to try a specialized therapy, but I have since relocated to a therapist in Houston. I actually see her today. The Round Rock group determined that I have a lot of trigger points throughout my back and hips and believes those, combined with the muscular imbalance essentially all over is causing my issues. The new therapist in Houston feels like I may have a leaky gut and that’s leading to inflammation, which is causing the tension, trigger points, and pain. She suggested a gluten-free, no-processed food, etc. diet for 6-weeks.

At the beginning of January, I embarked on my first ever Daniel Fast when a coworker suggested I join her church and pursue closer intimacy with God. It sounded challenging, but I knew it would be good for me, and I was elated when my husband agreed to do the fast with me. The Daniel Fast involves a 21-day modified Vegan diet where you avoid processed food, meat, refined sugars, caffeine, alcohol, and non-whole grains. Essentially, you eat a lot of vegetables, beans, some whole grains and drink only water. This was similar to the diet Daniel of the Bible ate, which brought clarity of his mind and helped him draw closer to God.

I learned of my physical therapist’s nutritional suggestion for me on Day 21 of my fast. Imagine the prospect of six-weeks of restrictive nutrition after 21-days of restrictive nutrition was about to end?!? She granted me a one-week reprieve, but I decided to only take one day off and began the new program on Wednesday, January 25, 2017. I quickly learned that eating “bad” food for one day didn’t feel make me feel particularly well. I didn’t want to suffer through “good” food withdrawals, just to experience “bad” food withdrawals a few days later!

After talking to friends, I chose the Whole30 program as a way to determine if gluten or any other inflammation-producing food was contributing to my back pain. The Whole30 allows me to eat meat, but I cannot have any source of gluten, no beans, only select oils, and many other restrictions. Otherwise, it’s similar to the Daniel Fast – no processed food, mostly vegetables and fruit, water, etc.

I am now on Day 6 and I’ve had moderate success. The day after I skated, I woke up with no back pain. It was the first time in a month that I woke up feeling good. Unfortunately, once I started moving around, it returned. I’ve had several dull headaches, and my back and hips are stiff and achy. My trigger points still hurt when I press on them, and my husband hasn’t noticed any improvement in the tension in my back. But, it’s only day 6.

Going essentially from the Daniel Fast to the Whole30 seems to have minimized the negative side effects of cutting starch and sugar completely. It was a nice transition to go from processed refined sugar to only whole grains to nothing. I look forward to having the opportunity to add foods back to my diet and I pray that things I like aren’t the culprit. As a craft beer aficionado, my biggest worry is that I will never be able to drink beer again without suffering consequences. But, if that makes me feel better, I guess it’s worth the sacrifice.

Oh the joys of getting older! My stomach of steel that I’ve always prided myself on seems to be rusting…. I guess it’s not made of stainless steel after all!4th


Third Group Lesson

I missed Thursday again due to mom duty, so I skated during the Saturday practice time and group lesson.  I was excited that it only took one try for me to lace my skates correctly today!  I felt strong going into the practice session.  I started with stroking, crossovers, and three-turns to warm up.  I noticed that I was better at holding the ending edge of all of my three-turns.

I practiced my waltz jump, salchow and one-foot spin and took videos by propping my phone against the plastic wall of the rink.  Things started out okay, but the salchows tweaked my back, which slowed me down for the practice session and the lesson.  The videos are here:

1/21/17 Waltz Jump in Practice

1/21/17 Salchow in Practice

1/21/17 One Foot Spin in Practice

The group lesson was good – the rink rotates instructors for the adult group, so today was the third instructor I’ve been able to work with.  All have been very good, and I really enjoy the variety.  Since there were only two of us in our group, we were able to pick what we worked on.

We started with spins, a scratch spin to be specific.  I was not familiar with the name, but when the instructor demonstrated it, it was essentially the spin I’ve been trying to do.  The trick is to bend your knees and also hold on to the leading edge going into the spin.  This seems to be a common theme in my first three lessons, bending knees and holding edges.  Typical me wanting to rush through the move.  I was impressed at the effect the instruction had on my spin.  I felt much more balanced and centered and it seemed like I went faster after working on this.  I still need to figure out how to cross my foot, but one thing at a time… Here’s the video (these are much better because the instructor took them for me):

1/21/17 Scratch Spin in Lesson

I originally was going to forgo jumping after my back started bothering me, but I decided to try.  I felt fine with the waltz jump, but the salchow still hurt my back.  I asked if there was something else I could do that didn’t involve swinging my leg around so much (assuming this was the problem).  She suggested the toe-loop, which proved to be a lot harder than it looked.  I tried it and we worked on my arms and then my feet.  Of course once I corrected the arms, they got all messed up again when I tried to get the feet right.  I even did some drills from standing so I could focus on crossing the foot before jumping – that was hard!  I got better, but every time I got my feet close to right, my landing was a mess, and I didn’t even know what my arms were doing.  I apparently even did a toe-waltz one of the times (I don’t even know what that is).  Toe-loops are definitely something to practice!  Luckily many of the attempts were on video, so you’ll be able to get a feel for how hard it was for me:

1/21/17 Toe Loop Attempts in Lesson

The final thing we worked on was power three-turns (outside 3s).  These were actually fun, although they wore me out pretty quickly.  I did most of them on the left side and just started working the right side when we ran out of time.  The right side was confusing for some reason.  After the crossover, you immediately go into the next one.  That worked well on the left, but I couldn’t figure out how to do that on the right.  Definitely an opportunity for practice!  Here’s the left side:

1/21/17 Left Power Three in Lesson

Today’s 30-minute lesson went by so quickly!  This is so much fun, I just need to keep working on my fear of falling and learn how to put everything into my jumps.  I am definitely more confident during the lessons than just practicing on my own, but I hope once I get the hang of things, my practice will feel stronger!

Apparently Time Flies…

I’ve been posting about how I went skating after getting my “new” skates two years ago.  Well, Facebook made a liar out of me.  Apparently, that was four years ago!!  Here are my videos from that day.

Looks like you have to have a blog membership to post videos.  For now, I’ll link to YouTube, where I made my videos public.  I hope they work.  I also hope to take some at my before lesson practice today so I can see how I look now…

Baby Waltz Jump
One-Foot Spin
Flip Jump

Second Group Lesson – Back to Reality

I was riding high into today’s practice session, but my body didn’t seem to be on the same page as my aspirations. 

It took a lot less time, although still a couple of re-ties, to get my skates laced to a comfortable fit. It’s crazy – when it’s just the littlest bit too tight in the foot, my feet scream very quickly. Loosening it up the tiniest amount eases the pain. 

My back was really sore during practice. I used some of the time between practice and my class to stretch, and it felt better during the class. I’ll try stretching before getting on the ice next time and hopefully that helps!!

During the practice session, I stroked to warm up and that felt good. I did backwards crossovers in both directions, again good, other than my lower back. I tried all of the skills I worked on Saturday. I got through them, but they were weak. Both my waltz jump and my salchow barely got off the ice on a good attempt. The waltz-side toe hop-waltz combo was all over the place. I did feel better about my inside and outside three-turns from standing and from moving. 

I also worked on forward outside and inside edges on the hockey line. Those felt good. I did one decent one-foot spin that didn’t travel; that was probably the most exciting element! The practice wasn’t terrible, it just hurt a lot more than it did on Saturday. Subconsciously that might explain the lack of lift on my jumps, as what comes up must come down, and ouch!!

The class, itself, was hard today! My group was working on crossovers (forward and backward), outside three-turns, a combination with an outside three-turn to back crossovers to a Mohawk, and then beginner waltz jumps. 

I loved the coach, as she has been involved in skating for 50 years! After class, I learned she knew my old coach, which was really cool!! As much as I liked her, she was a hard (read “good”) coach for me. She was very much into technique and breaking down moves into components. According to my mom, I’ve never had this skill, and time has not improved this. 

On backward crossovers, she started talking about pushing and keeping your feet crossed before you’re ready to push again. I tried this and ended up falling on both knees. My bruise from Saturday is going to have its own bruise on my left knee and my right knee got its bruise initiation. 

All of the technique talk was good for me, and I’ll have to try and remember it all when I practice! 

First Group Lesson – Not What I Expected!

Since I couldn’t attend the group class I signed up for on Thursday, I went to the Adult class today.  I got there early to pick up my skates and try the new edges before the lesson, and I’m very glad I did!

When I first got on the ice during the practice session, I felt very off-balance and uncomfortable.  My back hurt, I wasn’t stable, and while I could still get through the moves I tried, nothing felt right.  I wondered if it was the fact that my blades got sharpened, but that seemed silly, as sharp should feel better…

After about 15 minutes, my feet started killing me. I got off the ice, took off my skates, and spent a few minutes googling.  I learned that if sharpened blades make it hard to skate, you likely waited to long to get your skates sharpened.  That seems reasonable considering I’ve skated on those blades 4 times, but prior to that, know nothing of their history.

I also read about boot fit being a reason for sore feet, but this hadn’t been a problem before, so I considered that maybe it was something as simple as not lacing my skates to the appropriate tightness.  I loosened my skates and tried skating again.  My feet felt much better, but now my heel was slipping in my boot.

This is what I get for my mother always lacing up my skates – I don’t even know how to properly lace my own boots!!  I solicited sage advice of a skating mother/daughter pair and the daughter told me to keep the foot looser and tighten the ankles.  Thank goodness this was the magic combination.

I went out to skate for the last 15 minutes of the practice session and things started feeling better.  I am so glad I had that time to work out the kinks.

When the class started, everyone just went to their groups, but I didn’t know where to go since this was my first time.  The adult group was large and they divided into three sub-groups: the first-timers, free-skate level, and an in between level that would be working on crossovers.  I noticed the one free-skate level skater was doing toe-loops, and that seemed too advanced for me, so I initially joined the middle group.

The middle group had three skaters doing “forward half-swizzle pumps on a circle,” basic skill 3B.  I did those and the instructor said I did very well, so I glanced over at the free-skate group and noticed there was only one student.  While I knew I couldn’t do toe-loops, I hoped moving to that group would be productive.

And, it was!

The instructor asked me how long I had been skating, and I explained that I skated for about 7 years as a kid, but just started again after 30-years.  I told her I remembered a good amount, but not the details, and I didn’t think I was ready for a toe-loop!

She asked if I could to a waltz jump (basic skill 8E, FreeSkate 1E from crossovers) and I was thankful I had tried a couple on January 2nd (from crossovers, the only way I know to do them).  My jumps started out not too great, as I didn’t really remember what it took to jump well.  The teacher was super encouraging and gave me pointers to make it better.  She talked about taking-off from a bent knee and starting with my arms back and bringing them in front of me as I jumped.  Once I figured out how to do this, the jump started feeling better and better.

Then, she asked if I wanted to do a salchow (FreeSkate 2F, pronounced sow-cow).  I told her I hadn’t done one in 30-years and I don’t remember how!  She showed me and I marked the steps and then worked up the courage to try.  It wasn’t pretty, but it kind of worked.  Again, she encouraged me and gave me pointers, and I tried again, bending my knees to get some height….

But I guess speed and height together was a bad combination and I fell – my first fall since I started skating again.  I hit my knee on the ice and it really hurt (getting old is no fun).  It reminded me of my one outing two years ago, where I ended up bruised from head to toe.  I took a second to get my confidence back and then I did another little one.  The instructor suggested I slow it down, so I did, and I was able to bend my knees and jump – without falling!

I was very proud of myself for not getting discouraged from falling and actually making progress on improving my salchow!

Then, she showed me a “side-toe-hop”, and I remembered that as a basic skill I tried on Monday, number 5F.  She wanted me to try waltz jump, side to hop, waltz jump combination (FreeSkate 1 bonus).  Like the other jumps, they started off kinda iffy, but with her encouragement and pointers, they got better!

We finished up by working on edges.  I did my outside three-turns (basic skill 4D, FreeSkate 1C) and then my inside three-turns (basic skill 6A, FreeSkate 2C).  She said they were pretty good considering, but the inside ones were really clumsy. She had me work on those making an arc on the hockey line (I think from stopped is the basic skill, and doing them at speed is the FreeSkate level).  The slow ones were actually harder than doing them at speed, as I had to put my free leg right next to my skating leg.  I definitely have a balance issue there!

We were about to try mohawks when time ran out, but that was fine, as I was exhausted!

I was really excited about how my first lesson ended up, after practice started so terribly.  It was strange – it was like my body just took over when someone was teaching me.  It seemed to remember what to do!  I had no idea I could do any of that stuff, but when it was demonstrated for me, I just did it.  Having the teacher tell me my first attempts were good and give great feedback that actually improved my technique helped me as well.

I am so excited by today’s class and I look forward to practicing on Thursday, if not before!!

Trying Basic 5 and 6

My family and I went back to the Aerodrome in honor of my day off. I hoped it would be less crowded, due to the public skating session being only three hours. Wishful thinking, it turned out…

We made it to the rink a few minutes early, which was great because it gave me a chance to watch the Theatre on Ice adult team practice. It looked really awesome, and there was a lot of talent, even a pairs couple, so it may take a while for me to be strong enough to try out. Aside from that, convincing my boss to accommodate their practice time will be an even harder challenge. Regardless, it was great to see and I got to talk to an adult male skater I had met at the skating rink we visited a week ago. 

Skating was okay; I feel my confidence rising each time. At the same time I am seeing that it’s going to take a lot of practice to do the steps well and I want to have the strongest foundation possible. It was nice to work through the Basic 5 and 6 skills for the first time. I did everything except for the spiral, as by that time, the rink was so crowded, the idea of sticking my leg in the air behind me didn’t seem so smart.

Here’s what I learned I need to work on today…

Inside three-turns – The left side was much better than the right, but neither was particularly great! I felt much better about the outside left one today, but the insides are a different story!

Hockey stop – This is definitely a confidence thing and I got better as I practiced. What helped most was having Mike skate backwards and being able to hold on to him while I stopped. After doing it a couple of times that way, it felt okay to try without him. I still need to get stronger, but I was happy that I got over the fear of doing it.

One-foot spin – I have no idea how to do this the way the video showed, but I did one acceptable one from back crossovers and stepping into it. It travelled and was unstable, but I was able to spin some. I’ll take it!

I didn’t watch Basic 7 or 8 yet, but I did try a waltz jump this time on the ice, since my back and ankle both felt better. I did it from back crossovers and while it didn’t exactly fly in terms of height, I did it, so that’s okay for a first try.

I got new laces for my boots today (they’re not yellowish and funky like my old ones, which is much better) and left my skates to get the blades sharpened. It should be interesting to see how the sharp edges affect my skating next time!

I still think my husband has all of the makings of an ice-dancing champion… just need to convince him of that!!!

Figure Skating after a 30 Year Absence…

I was a competitive figure skater as a little girl, in New Orleans, Louisiana of all places. I learned to skate, not terribly long after I learned to walk. I was three-years old, I understand.

I competed in freestyle events and as part of a precision team called the L’il Dixies. I used to have a stuffed raccoon that held all of my medals, and I just learned that my mom has all of my old patches and even some of my testing paperwork.

I skated until sometime in 4th grade, after we moved to Covington, when the commute to the skating rink multiple times per week ended up being too much for me. I think I was in Freestyle 4 at that point.

In my competitions, there was an “Over 40” division and usually there were not many competitors. I remember a lady whose name was Lulu, but I don’t remember much else, other than she competed in a lower division, like Alpha or Beta. This stayed in my mind as time passed, and I always thought it would be cool to be that lady, competing as an “old person”. (Oh how our definition of “old” changes over the years).

Well, I’ve finally made it to the “Over 40” division…..

In the 30 years that have passed since I was a competitive ice skater, I have skated a handful of times. While at graduate school in Indiana, I would occasionally drive to Carmel, Indiana to skate with their skating club. I had the best intentions to start skating then, but I was really busy in graduate school and the hour drive was too much for me. Another problem was my skates.

When I quit skating, my mom had already purchased a pair of boots for me to grow into (it was always easier to get used skates for a growing foot). However, she didn’t have new blades. Somewhere along the way, we decided to put my previous blades on these new boots. The boots were about 1/2 size too small for my feet and the blades were a little too small for the boots. The combination made them very uncomfortable.

I moved back to Louisiana and then to Texas, five and a half years ago. Again, I was resolved to start skating since I again lived in a state where ice rinks were present. However, I was a single mom of a very overcommitted baseball player, and the rinks are an hour away. There really wasn’t time, and besides, I still had that terrible skate problem.

It wasn’t until two years ago that things started to change…

The little change is my mom bought me a pair of ice skates for Christmas. They are Riedell Royals, the same skates I wore when I competed in the 80s. The skates are used, but they’re in great shape and most importantly, they fit!

The big change is that I got married to an amazing, supportive man. My family of two became a family of five. Together, we have three boys, now ages 11, 15, and 20. My baseball player is the middle child and he’s playing high school ball now, so we aren’t traveling the world as much for baseball tournaments. It won’t be long until he’s driving. The youngest is learning Tae-Kwan-Doo, but that’s not yet to a point where it’s schedule prohibitive.

I longed to find a sport my husband and I could pursue together, but that hasn’t been as easy as I had hoped. He’s into long-distance cycling and I get bored too easily. I’m into heavy lifting, but his knees can’t do squats. We’ve tried dancing, but I’m too much of a perfectionist and often too serious. I think the best thing to do is encourage his cycling and pursue my own interests. I tried that with CrossFit, which I love, but I’m a competitive person and honestly, I don’t know that I am ready to make the lifestyle changes I would have to in order to successfully compete in weightlifting type events.

On December 26th, my mom, my 15-year old, my husband, and I all went skating at the Memorial City Mall (my dad was with us, but he didn’t skate). Unfortunately, that morning, I woke up with a huge knot in my back, which bothered me more and more as the session progressed. I also haven’t fully recovered from a sprained ankle I managed a couple of months ago.

Two years ago, when I first tried my “new” skates, I could attempt a couple of jumps and spins, but now, I was hesitant to try anything because my back and ankle hurt so much. My stroking felt okay, my back crossovers in one direction felt strong (not so much on the other side), I squeaked through a couple of almost three turns, and I did a nice lunge. I did some edges around the hockey circle, but nothing exciting. My entrance to a spin attempt was terrible, I didn’t even try to jump, and my center of gravity was so far off on my spiral, it was embarrassing.

I convinced my husband to try skating with me in a dance position and reasoned that maybe we could learn to ice-dance and maybe he could even wear hockey skates. Unfortunately, he struggled with his knees after skating, so while I still have hope, I probably am better off working on my own skating.

I think it’s time. I have been taking a break from CrossFit and while I miss lifting, I want the chance to really be good at something. My husband says I could be great at CrossFit because of my strong legs, but I have those strong legs because of my figure skating foundation. They will also be beneficial to my return to ice skating. I have always missed it and always envisioned competing in the “Over 40” category. I’m in the right age bracket now, so why not?

I am considering signing up for an adult “learn to skate” class at the rink closest to my house. It’s only 20-minutes from my office, so it would be easiest to go after work. I can also go on some Saturdays. I am headed to the public session after work today to check out the rink and the commute from work and back home. If all goes well, I can either sign up for the winter session that starts next week, or try practicing on my own and then sign up in March.

But, first things first… Let’s see if this even makes sense…

Checking out the Aerodrome

There was a public skating session on Wednesday at the Aerodrome, and I thought this would be a good opportunity for me to check out the rink.  I took the Beltway after work and it only took ~15 minutes to get there.  The public skating session was crazy… There were fast hockey skaters zooming around, people hugging the wall, new skaters using walkers for balance, a couple of figure skaters trying to maneuver in the center, and the most insane thing I’ve ever seen – blue sled contraptions.  Most of the people using the sleds were teenagers, who were pushing each other across the rink.  I guess beggars can’t be choosers, so I tried to make the best of the crowded rink, but I quickly determined that playing dodge person isn’t my strong point.

My goal was to go through as many of the USFSA basic skills as I could to get a better idea of where I am prior to starting a beginner class.  I was excited that my back wasn’t bothering me much at all, and I felt I had better balance and strength on the ice, as compared to Monday.  My stroking felt good; I could get some decent power from my legs.  My front crossovers (in the skating direction) felt solid.  I was determined to watch all of the basic skills videos I had found on YouTube, one by one, and demonstrate each skill.

I ended up only doing the Basic 1-Basic 4 skills in order.  For fun, I tried a couple of the skills from the higher basic levels, but those don’t really count because I didn’t look up the videos to make sure I was doing the moves correctly.  I felt pretty good where I am starting, but I definitely saw some areas to work on.

Snowplow stop – Oh how I used to take this for granted… I quickly learned that my outer thighs are really weak, as I couldn’t push out very well, especially with my right leg.  I think the right leg is worse because my ankle is still weak from the sprain, but I seriously need to get stronger in both legs.  I think strength will come from working on my skills, but I may want to supplement with some outer-thigh exercises at home.

Two-foot spin – I guess when you consider only two revolutions are required, I was able to do this, but for me, it wasn’t good enough!  I can’t remember the last time I even attempted a two-foot spin, but I definitely feel I should be able to do better.

Backward stroking – I think I was motivated more by fear of going backwards, but stroking backwards was very difficult for me.  I look forward to trying again on a less crowded rink!

I also need to work on the length of my one-foot glides, both forward and backwards.  My forward crossovers in the clockwise direction (against the traditional skating direction) were terrible.  I felt clunky and uncoordinated.  I wasn’t really sure how to work on these in a crowded public session, but they definitely need help.

The extra skills I tried (without verifying the videos) were pivots on both feet.  I had zero problem with pivoting around the left toe-pick, but I really struggled on the right.  I also did the inside three-turns to correspond to the outside three-turns from Basic 4.  The inside three-turn on my right foot was really weak.  Maybe my struggle on the right side is because of my ankle, but my backward crossovers felt fine in both directions, so I’m not sure.

I skated until I started to feel my back ache and that was probably a few minutes longer than I should have skated.  The rest of the evening, I was plagued by a sore back.  Luckily, my second chiropractor appointment for Sunday night’s back issue is today, so I expect to be back in full skating form by the next time I go to the rink.

I have decided to sign up for the Thursday night beginner class to meet people and make sure all of my basic skills are up to snuff.  Then, I can figure out the next steps.  I was excited to learn that this rink has an adult “Theatre on Ice” team.  I hope this is something I can do in addition to my individual skating!