Sunday, 23 March 2014

Got my new skates... Let the Break In Commence!

As the title suggests, I finally took possession of my new skates. I got a phonecall early in the week to say they were ready, and my friend also got a call saying hers had come in, so off we went back to Sheffield to pick them up. 

We did one final check of the fit, and I was told I was on a permanent mount, so could spin and jump as much as I wanted - woohoo! I really didn't want a third trip, or to have to get out the cordless screwdriver to add more screws later. They'd sharpened them for me too, to a 3/8ths grind, which was cool. I also got myself some new soakers - tie-dye ones with a reinforced bottom. 

So, after we were done in the shop, we went out onto the ice to test out or new purchases. I absolutely loved my skates - there are some sore spots, but I'm not moving around in the boot anymore, and feel really secure. Only problem was, it was a busy public, with a lot of hockey skaters whizzing around so I daren't do anything more than some lemons (swizzles) crossovers and inside edges. They all felt great though, I didn't go over my toepicks and I didn't have any trouble adjusting to a shorter blade. 

I can't wait til Tuesday, when I'll be back on my home ice, and can REALLY start testing these babies out! 

But, of course, every silver lining has a cloud, and I've got to break them in first. I had a really easy time with my Jacksons, one sore spot where the boot cut into my calf, and some pinched toes, and that was it. Break in was a piece of cake. The Edeas actually fit me correctly, so I guess this will be my first REAL experience of breaking in figure skates. 

So far, after skating in them yesterday, I've been wearing them in the house for 15-20 minutes at a time. I really need some more skating tights, as they were what I wore to get fitted for the skates, and everything else I have is either too thick, or too thin. I have, however, found and ordered 2 pairs of skating knee-highs from Mondor, so that'll help me with things to wear.

I have heard all kinds of crazy ways to break in skates - heating them in the oven, using a hairdryer on them, among other things. I plan to simply wear them while watching TV, and skate in them as much as I can. It'll take time, but it's the only way I know. 

I do think I need longer laces though, I can barely tie a bow in these, and find it easier to simply tie off the ends in a double knot, but I'm not sure if that's OK? Anyone got any idea on that? I'll pick up some laces tonight when I go and watch the ice hockey, and try them out this week, just to be safe. 

Not much has happened skating wise, coach was away this week so I went for a practice and met up with a couple of skating friends. We had great fun holding hands and doing synchronised spirals (it was a quiet session). I also wore my skating dress on the ice for the first time, and it felt great. 

So that's my week, here's to an easy break in period for the skates and some skating progress! 

PS: To the girl doing waltz jumps on the busy public yesterday: not a good plan. You also nearly took me out by launching yourself backwards into a spin entry. Look, it's public. Save the spins for a patch session, alright?

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Adventures in Skate Shopping

OK, so I've had a pretty exciting week, lots happening. Let's get the skating out of the way first, as the other stuff will take a little while to get through.

Waltz jump is coming along nicely, and I've actually done the entire entry and jump sequence a few times now, without holding my coach's hand - woohoo! There are still things that we need to fix, like the fact that I'm sometimes not landing on the back outside edge, and not really landing or taking off from my toe pick - have you seen the picks on a Jackson Mystique? They're very small - I find it hard to get onto them properly for anything!

The one foot spin is, at the moment, the problem child, the work in progress, call it what you will. It's the one element for this spin, jump, spiral competition that isn't where I want it to be. I can do the entry, and I feel really confident with the entry, but the actual spin? Not happening very well yet. I think it's being on one leg that's the scary part. Anyway, hopefully we'll get there before April 26th - competition day!!

The spiral, I actually really enjoy! I need a little bit more height, but my skating leg and free leg are both doing the right thing, so that's good. Inside 3's are still an issue, which is not so good, but I'm sure I'll get there. I will, of course, blog about the competition, and hopefully be posting photos or video, if I can get someone to take them of me. 

So, that's the skating, now the good stuff. A couple of months back, I noticed some space in my boots that wasn't there before - I've been losing weight so not too surprising some has come off my feet. Anyway, it got to the point where I no longer felt secure in my skates, and was wearing two pairs of socks to compensate. 

A friend of mine also needed new skates, and offered me the chance to go with her to a very reputable skate shop, who fitted her and her son for their skates from day one of them being on the ice. I jumped at the chance, and we headed there yesterday.

It's over an hour away, so I really hoped they could help. I called in advance and told them a little about myself, my level, what I was looking for etc. They were really helpful on the phone, so I was looking forward to the trip.

After the drive, we walked in, and WOW! Dresses as far as the eye could see, Zuca's all round the walls, a wall of gloves, another of guards and soakers. Boots everywhere, a blade cabinet, a little corner for hockey skates (the main hockey part of the shop was in another building) and lots of space to try things on and walk around. 

First I got them to check what sharpening was on my current blades - apparently I could easily drop down a couple of increments, so I might do that with the new blades. Then I said I needed some new skates, explained why, and the real fun began. The lovely man who was helping us looked at my boots and said that the Freestyles and other higher level skates I was thinking of were out - I had barely broken the ankles in on the Mystiques. He then took out my insoles and commented that the boots were way too big for me - I had a lot of space at the end of the insole. 

Now, this is where I found out some stuff - when I bought my skates, I asked for a UK size 6, my shoe size. The shop I went to, sold me this, as far as I was aware. No, they did not. They sold me a size 6 1/2, and while that may have fitted OK when I was my heaviest weight, as I shrunk, and my feet changed, they became worse. Nice skate fitter man commented that he was very surprised at the condition of my skates. Boots that are too big will apparently break down quickly, and can even lead to injury, so really, I've been quite lucky. 

So, we decided we'd start at a UK size 5, and go from there. I tried the Edea Overture, in boot only form, and it actually fit, right there and then, better than my Jacksons did. No painful bits - pressure, but not pain, particularly in the ankles and my little toes. I was asked to lace them up, and the fit was checked - you can barely get a finger down the back of the boots when they're laced, and they felt very supportive. I was told to keep them on while he helped my friend with her skate buying, and then we'd see if I wanted/needed to try anything else, although he said we'd be hard pressed to find a better fit than that. 

It took a LONG time to find skates for my friend - she's got very unusual feet. She doesn't care if her skates are ladies or mens, so in the end she got a pair of Jackson Marquis on order. 

I decided I was VERY happy with the fit of the Edeas, and chose to have them teamed up with some Coronation Ace blades. My blades will be 

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Hey! What's going on?!

I know, I know, I've left you all for ages without an update again. I'm sorry! So, what's been happening in the wonderful world of skating? 

Well, two rather big things have happened. I've put my name down for a spin, jump, spiral competition at the rink. Yep, I couldn't believe it but I found the courage to fill out the forms and submit the entry fee to my coach. We are having two events: one is for people who are on Skate UK, like me, and working on the higher levels. We have to do a waltz jump (from backwards crossover entry), one foot spin (from proper entry) and spiral. Then for those who are on Skate UK Star, they can do a 1min 30 routine to music. It's going to be interesting to watch everyone, I'm really only doing it for fun, so don't mind where I place, if I'm honest. 

The only problem is, the entries have now closed, and I'm the only one around my age competing, so I suspect I'm going to have to skate up with the 30+ crowd. I don't mind that really, I'd rather skate with older adults than with the kids - they're seriously good and would wipe the floor with me!

So, the other big thing? I bought a dress :) Just a plain, keyhole back skating dress in kingfisher blue. I love it, and can't wait to wear it for the competition. The only dilemma I have is: over the boot, or footed tights? I have a pair of each. 

Alright, enough of that stuff, on to the skating. We've taken a break from inside 3 turns in my lessons, to focus on the competition elements. The spiral is going really well, only attempted for the first time on Tuesday, but my coach says it's great already, just needs a little more height. The one foot spin? Scary, scary times. I'm fine with the entry, but having only ever spun on two feet (not very well, either), I'm not 100% sure where my weight needs to be or how to stop myself. But again, coach isn't too worried, we've got time to work on it. The waltz jump is going well, starting to do more of the entry sequence without having my hand held. I got some new wrist guards yesterday so now feel better equipped to go and practice the jump without my coach. 

Our dance group is also going well, we're working on a routine for competition day to "Puttin' On the Ritz" and boy, is it fast! I'm pretty much OK with everything, except the box step, and the sheer speed of everything else! I will need to start attending Wednesday night dance again for a while, to work on it with all of the skaters present. Hopefully my friend who helped me out with getting home from rehearsals for the Christmas show, can help me out this time. I also need to find a 1920's Charleston dress, as that's our theme... 

So, until the next time I skate, I hope you all skate safe, enjoy your skating and have an awesome time on the ice :) 

Wednesday, 8 January 2014

When Things Click

Back on the ice today, as my foot is now all sorted. Didn't have a lesson, but got a lot of practice in and got to see my skating friends.

When I first got on the ice, there were about 3 kids on the rink, plus my coach, plus my two friends. A little busy, but doable. I did get some practice in, but it wasn't anything meaningful. One friend tried to help me with my forward inside 3 turns. I swear, I am never going to get these, they're impossible! I either just step round, or go round in a circle on my inside edge. Very annoying. 

But then, I said the same thing about the outside ones, and I seem to recall many a post on this blog about backwards one foot glides, which I can now do a little better (I passed them, after all!) So I WILL get the inside 3's, but it's gonna take time and practice. 

Anyway, we then had a coffee, and a chat before dance club. I love this group - we get to actually put our skating skills to use, which is good - I sometimes wish I hsad more moves so I could actually DO something! I can with dance, and that makes me happy. 

We ran through the Prelim Waltz, Prelim Foxtrot and Canasta Tango (which I finally got to learn properly - and really enjoy!) before moving onto our newest dance - the Cha Cha! This is one my coach has found for us, it's Pre-Bronze level, so nothing too overly complex. Well, just one little thing. Or two. Or, well, several.

1. It's so fast! I can't get all my chasse steps in! I get all confused and forget which leg is lifting up and it all goes a bit wrong. 
2. There's an evil, evil step-behind. I am so glad I'm learning this in hold first. It's not natural to put your foot behind you then pick up your front foot! 
3. Bizarre bending and then extension of the free leg - again I get a bit confused with this! You pick up your free leg, then bend your knee up, then extend back behind you. Except on the first part of the pattern where you extend forwards and cross over. 

Sigh. It's gonna take a while to get this dance! 

So, after dance club, I decided to stay and practice for a while. I wanted to work on my outside 3 turns. I've passed these, but they're not pretty. Well, something clicked!

I could lift my foot, flick my hips and then be going backwards. Normally, my free foot is straight down on the ice after the turn, and they're pathetically slow. These were quick and pretty-looking. I was very pleased, so showed my coach, and she was thrilled.

I'll get the inside 3's like this, eventually. 

Oh yes, I will. 

I also picked out the dress I'd like to buy when I've lost a little more weight. It's in my favourite colour, purple and looks lovely.

So, hopefully that dress will be mine very soon! 



Friday, 3 January 2014

Things I Learnt the Hard Way #628 - All About Laces

So, conversation over dinner this evening turns to plans for tomorrow. I say I might get another skate in, after a good practice yesterday, but I'm not sure as the weather looks like it might be pretty wet and windy here.

"Oh, I wouldn't, Vicki, I'd wait a bit for your foot to heal up more." Said my mother.

Woah, wait, pause! Wait til my foot heals?! What am I talking about, I hear you ask. Well, it's a little silly, really.  

Yesterday I went to the rink, and was practicing things like back crossovers, 3 turns and trying to get the basics of backwards edges and mohawks down before my next lesson, so we can get more stuff passed in my LTS program. 

After I got off the ice, I noticed a pain in my instep area on the right foot. I'd not fallen, so was a little confused. It only hurt when I walked on it. 

So, I get home, and my mum, who is a nurse asks a few questions. "You've probably strained a muscle or tendon or something. Nothing too serious." So, since I didn't fall, how could I have done that?

I'd noticed both heels were lifting in my boots a little during 3 turns that day, and mentioned this. "If your feet are lifting, your laces aren't tight enough" said my oh so wise mother.

Then it clicked. A couple of months back, I swapped laces, to some funky coloured ones. They're actually hockey laces, and when I tied them I had just enough lace to make a knot after lacing the hooks. 

I put my original laces in, and was shocked how much tighter I could get my skates. I've been JUMPING in skates that weren't tight enough! That could've been a serious accident or injury, fortunately I was only doing turns that session. 

What a FOOL I have been. And I've paid for it, in the form of a minor injury. As my mum said, "Next time you want to change the colour of your skates, just get more boot covers, OK Vic?"

I think I'll do just that! Lesson learnt, the hard way.

Tuesday, 31 December 2013

Still Here, Still Skating

Wow, it's been so long since I blogged last, I can't believe it! OK, the serious stuff out of the way first: The reason for my lack of posts is nothing more than real life and life outside skating getting crazy. I still skate, I am in good health, so there's absolutely nothing to worry about. I am fine.

The reason for the lack of posts is actually quite complex. At the start of August I was still looking for work, and applying for jobs. One of those applications led to an interview, which led to me starting work and having very little time to skate. Then, sadly I lost my grandfather at the end of September, and over the next few months had all of that to deal with. Things didn't work out with the job, and so earlier this month we parted company. 

In amongst all that - I did find time to skate. I went to rehearsals on a Wednesday night and skated in 3 group numbers in our first ever Christmas show. It was awesome on the day - everyone helping each other, supporting each other and helping out. 

I went to lunch with my fellow adult skaters before the first show, and that was great, we don't get to socialise much outside the rink, so it made a nice change. Then between shows i went for a coffee with some of my other adult skater friends. It was good to get out of the rink between shows, and again, catch up with people I don't see outside of skating. 

As for my personal skating, I finally passed Level 5, and then Level 6 was passed a little while later. So I am now working on Level 7 of 10, and have the joys of inside 3 turns, backwards crossovers and continuous inside and outside edges. It's all good fun though, just the 3 turns causing me problems, but the outside ones in Level 6 took me a while too. 

What else? Oh, my waltz jump/hop is now fully off the barrier, and I am starting to attack it from a slow glide now. 2 foot spin is getting better, consistently getting 1 and a half to 2 revolutions now. I did ask Santa for a better spin, and waltz jump for Christmas, it'll be Thursday morning before I get to find out if I got my wish :) 

Also, my best skating friend is expecting a baby! Due in April and we are already joking she'll have to wrap baby up warm and leave the carseat on the benches while we alternate skating and babysitting duties! We're kind of crazy like that haha!

The weight loss is still going well, almost 2 stone gone now. 

So, that's the round up of the last half of my year, here's hoping 2014 brings lots of good things to all my readers, wherever you are in the world! 

Sunday, 28 July 2013

Here we go! My first program!

So, on Tuesday I went for my first skate since the kids broke up from school for six weeks. I knew, from previous experience that it would be chaos on the public session I normally skate on, so took a big decision. I would skate the early morning freestyle/patch session. 

Now, this is big, for a couple of reasons. Firstly, and this is the main one, I am not a morning person. When I say that, I mean that normally on a skating day, I will wake up around 8am, and be on the ice by 10.30. Patch ice meant I had to get a 7.30am bus to be on the ice for 8am. The session actually starts at 6am, but I am not crazy enough to do that! Besides, the bus to the rink doesn't run that early...

The other reason is the aforementioned bus. I know the time my regular bus leaves the stop, and I've gotten catching it down to an art. So I'd have to leave the house even earlier than I would otherwise, to make sure I definitely caught this new bus. Good thing I did too, unlike my normal bus which is always late, this one was right on time. 

OK, so onto the good stuff. The rink is planning a little exhibition/competition at some point in November, and I mentioned to my coach that I'd like to skate in it. She asked me to bring some music suggestions, so I did. We went through them and unfortunately, they were all too fast for me, so we looked at some stuff from her collection. We eventually agreed on a piece called Mexican Corn, which I really like. It has a little speed to it, it's bubbly and bouncy, a bit like me. Most importantly though, we can choreograph a routine to it. 

That's what Tuesday's lesson was spent doing - we're getting there but there are still some skills I need to be taught that will be put in, such as a 1 foot spin, backwards crossovers and 3 turns. At the moment my biggest struggle is the 2 bunny hops into a forward drag. The bunny hop still feels weird to me, although I guess with practice I'll get it. We're also going to put my current favourite move in - the waltz jump. 

Before my lesson I was practicing these, trying to be brave and not hold the barrier, whilst still actually jumping. I'm pleased to say, after a few mis-attempts, I did it! I still need to keep practicing as the jump is more of a step right now, and it's from a standstill, but I saw my coach working on them with another lady, so I know it's possible to get them from a glide. Just going to take time.

I also practiced my backwards 1 foot glides. These are getting better, and I can tell that myself now. I can tell when my weight is too far forward, which I couldn't before, and I can hold the glide for around 2 seconds on each foot. I think I need a 3 second glide or more to pass Level 5, so here's hoping my next skate on Tuesday will yield results.

What I did learn on Tuesday was that I enjoy seeing others succeed. The ladt who was working on waltz jumps, was also working on her 1 foot spins, and I was so pleased when she went from a travelling, one or two revolutions, to a nicely centred 6+ revolutions. It was just so nice to see her succeed, and it gave me some hope that eventually, I'll get these things too.

I also learnt that in the early morning, watch out for condensation bumps at my rink! I didn't fall on any, but there were quite a few. Curse this humid weather! Oh well, it looks like it'll be raining on Tuesday, so maybe the next session won't be as bad. 

After skating, I went out and got a red leotard to wear for the performance, and yesterday picked up a lovely black/red layered can-can style skirt, in mesh fabric. It's not too long and I should be able to skate in it. Plus I think it looks awesome! Can't wait to wear the outfit on the ice.

That's all for now, I'll report back when I've had my next lesson.