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.

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Dancing, Jumping, and possibly Competing? Really?

Well, as the title says, it's been a busy few weeks. Where on earth do I start? Hmm...

OK, I know. I'll start with the fact that I've still not passed those back 1 foot glides. I'm getting there, but it's a long, slow road. I'm not saying more than that because really, there's nothing else I can say haha. As long as I pass them eventually, I'm happy!

So, dancing then. I've attended 2 sessions so far, on a Tuesday lunchtime, and I'm really enjoying it. We're working on the Dutch Waltz and Prelim Foxtrot at the moment, and will be adding the Canasta Tango to the mix soon enough. I'm not great, and it's hard finding a partner that doesn't drag me round the ice, but it's all good fun. It doesn't help that my swing-tthroughs aren't that good yet, so going round corners is, erm, interesting. 

Another thing I've been learning, is how to do a waltz jump. Yep, can't do a backwards 1 foot glide, can jump on ice. Well, while holding on to the barrier, anyway! I thought I'd be too scared to jump, but it's actually not so bad. I'm hoping to move it away from the barrier next session, otherwise I foresee a bad case of barrier-itis coming on, and I don't want to deal with that!

I also need to get my spin working better - I can only get 1 revolution on 2 feet at the moment, and my coach needs me to get more so that I can work on turning it into a 1 foot spin. There is a reason I need these things, well, two reasons. One is we're hoping to do a Christmas show at the rink, and the other is...

I have made the conscious decision to aim to compete at the Impaired Skating competition at Dumfries in May 2014, assuming I meet the minimum level of impairment with my vision problems, and that I've finished all the levels I need to by then.

Here's hoping :) 

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Progress, and trying new things.

Well, another skating session is behind me, and I am loving being back on weekday ice. All my friends are here, and it's just seriously good fun. So, I went to the rink for another practice session and general good time, and am finally making some progress.

My blades are now at the point where I can stop again - phew! So, after a bit of practice, I grabbed my coach when she'd finished teaching for the morning and showed her my backwards snowploughs. Hooray, they were of a passable standard! So that means it\s just the elusive backwards 1 foot glides standing between me and passing Skate UK Level 5. 

It feels like I've been stuck on these forever, but talking to a few friends round the rink, Level 5 seems to be a sticking point for a lot of people. Anyway, I was practicing the backwards glides, but on a curve, and a friend commented that they were improving, so that's good. I'll just keep plugging away at them, and eventually they'll be at a standard where they can be signed off. I also had a go at a prep exercise for forward outside 3 turns, where I start off doing a 2 foot turn, then lift one leg halfway through the turn. I can kind of do it, so that'll be handy for next lesson.

My coach is starting a dance club, on a Monday night and Tuesday lunchtime. My lovely skating friend and I are going this Monday, as she's very kindly said she'll give me a lift home in exchange for some fuel money. This is absolutely wonderful of her, as buses stop running to my town stupidly early from the rink. 

I'm looking forward to it, I've experimented with bits of dance in my lessons and enjoyed it, so it'll be nice to learn in a social environment, and hopefully make some more new friends. Due to the aforementioned buses, I'm going to be at the rink early, and that means I get to do another new thing.

I'm going to practice on patch ice (freestyle to my US readers). I have never been on a session like this, and I'm kind of nervous - what if everyone else is working on seriously high level moves and I'm just constantly in the way? I'll feel so self conscious, but hopefully the other skaters are nice and I'll be fine. 

I'll let you know how things go, next week :) 

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Back in the Swing of Things

So, it has been a while since I last posted, and for that, I apologise. You know how it is, life sometimes just gets in the way of the fun stuff. 

Yesterday I went down to the rink and had my first private lesson in what seems like forever, and I got to talk to some of my fellow skaters too, which was something I missed when I had to skate at weekends. So, a few of us got chatting, and had a coffee before my lesson.

I got to see one of my closer skating friends which rekindled the friendly competition between us (she's one level above me) I only have 2 more elements I need to pass before we're back on the same level. She had her lesson before me, so I skated around, practicing and getting used to the sharpening on my blades.

That's a funny story actually. I saw my regular sharpening guy was back at the rink before I got on the ice and asked him to sharpen my blades, and he took a look, saying he'd check with my coach. She was amazed I wasn't happy on the edges, as they looked OK. But, as it turned out, I'm one of these people who likes really sharp blades. So he did a tiny amount of sharpening, to bring my inside edges up to standard, and sent me on my way, saying if the blades were too sharp he could tone them done a bit. 

Only problem? I can't stop at the moment - good thing I skate on quiet days!

So, my lesson. We signed off my forwards crossovers and 2 foot spin, and worked on the backwards one foot glide that has been eluding me. I need to work on these still, but they're actually closer to passing than I thought, so that's good. We also did backwards snowplough stops, these should get signed off after I can stop on my blades again haha.

We also did some prep for 3 turns, getting the 2 foot turn spot on, and also worked on my spin entry which produced better spins than I'd been doing during my practices. 

Before my lesson, my coach ran through a "simple" step sequence with me and my friend, and demonstrated it. We're going to have to learn that when we get to Level 10 - I am scared. It seems really complicated to me, but as we'll be learning each individual element in the levels before, it should be OK. Eventually.

After my lesson, she was teaching another lady, and then had us both doing a simpler step sequence, the only thing I struggled with, because we've not been through it yet, was the bunny hop. It was nice to start stringing moves together - gave me a good feeling.

There's also talk of doing a Christmas skating gala, which I so want to be a part of, so putting things into routines is good practice for that. I am going to start exploring music possibilities in a few more weeks, just for a little programme of my own making. Myself and another skater were talking costumes for this gala, and we think we're going to get cheap leotards and skirts and just wear those. 

Sounds like a plan to me, and will give me some more motivation for my weight loss, which currently stands at 16lbs since February. 

Until next time - skate safe, have fun, and be happy :) 

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Sometimes it's good to just... Skate

So, I'm still skating on weekend publics, and haven't had a lesson in a few weeks. I planned to have lessons, but then the session would be crazy busy come lesson time and y coach and I would both agree that it'd be impossible to get anything productive done. I'm still practicing everything though, so when I do finally have a lesson, hopefully I'll get some stuff signed off. 

So, anyway, before I get into yesterday's skating session, I thought I'd share something. I am currently on a mission to lose weight. I am following Slimming World and have decided that for every half stone (7lbs) I lose, I'm going to buy myself a skating related reward. I've lost 5.5lbs so far, so I'm getting close to reward #1. Only problem is, I don't know what that should be - I'm thinking some new soakers or colourful laces for my skates. I think when I hit my main target I'll be buying myself either some new boots and blades, or if I don't need them yet, maybe a Zuca bag (I carry a LOT of extra stuff, haha!). 

So, yesterday I went skating, and was going to meet a friend at some point during the session. I had planned to have a lesson, but again, it got crazy busy, lots of kids with penguins and no supervision having races all over the ice, coach and I just looked at the chaos and decided it'd be better to wait. 

My friend and her family arrived and we had a nice couple of hours just skating around, which I haven't done for a long while. In fact, this was the first time since our rink opened that I'd just skated around. I did do some practice before my friend arrived, and showed her my attempts at a spin, which she loved, she thinks it's awesome, even if it's not up to passing Skate UK yet. 

Sometimes it's just nice to relax on the ice and not worry about practicing :) 

I skated near enough 4 hours yesterday, and am very pleased that my boots are now comfy enough to allow that. My blades do need sharpening though, must get that done next week... 

Monday, 1 April 2013

Mental Blocks and Rink Karma

So, after a break of one week due to the wedding of two very good friends (which was an amazing day, by the way) I was back on the ice this week.

You know you've been skating too long when your first thought upon realising you have a Friday off is, "I can skate on quiet ice!" OK, it wasn't totally quiet with it being Good Friday, and the schools being closed, but it was better than it has been on Saturdays when I've had my lesson. With it being so busy, and not having my coach to spot for me, I just stuck to doing all forward facing moves, so lots of edge work, a few crossovers and gliding on a curve. It was just nice to be able to skate on a weekday again, I'll be honest. 

Saturday was my lesson and although progress is being made each week, it's painfully slow at the moment. It's all because a lot of the moves on Level 5 involve going backwards, and for some reason, I have issues with that. I'm sorry, humans were not meant to go backwards, it's scary and I'm not overly fond of it. But, as with everything else so far, I'll keep practicing and eventually it'll all fall into place. 

One thing we did work on, was getting my forward crossovers up to scratch. They're almost at Level 5 standard, so my coach began teaching me the figure 8 pattern I'd need to do them in at Level 10, in the hope we can sign that off nice and early. It's actually really fun, and she taught me how to push the free leg to the side so that there was less distance to cover when crossing over. You get up a serious amount of speed during this pattern, so I'll have to choose my practice times carefully for that! We did some work on my 2 foot spin too, again it's nearly there, just needs a little more work to consistently get the 1 revolution I need to pass.

We also had a go at improving my backwards skating, and backwards one foot glides. Coach pushed me backwards and got me to lift one foot, but I think I need to do this at my own speed, because the speed she had me going, just scared me, haha! This was when she discovered I make a high pitched "eeeee" sound when I'm scared. Apparently everyone makes different noises when the fear factor creeps in, so it's nothing to be ashamed of, good thing I don't really care what the public at the rink think of me!

What was weird, was at one point skating to an audience. Because I'm in a lesson, I'm allowed on the ice as soon as resurfacing is done, which is 15 minutes before the public. So as I'm in my lesson, working away, I spot lots of people who are getting their rental skates, or food from the concession stand watching me. It was actually kind of cool, and really didn't bother me. 

So, after my lesson I decided to practice on the public session for a bit. It was a pretty quiet session, for a Saturday, but there were still lots of people. We have rink guards, but they only have one even on a busy session, so they can't be everywhere. I was skating along and saw this little girl fall, she was only about 5 and was with another girl, either an older friend or big sister. She was on the ice crying, so I went over to try and help her up, I tried teaching her how to get up but I think she was too little to "get" it, but I was saved by the rink guard who was bigger and stronger than me, who pulled her onto her skates again. 

She was clinging to the boards, and was still upset, so I thought I'd try and cheer her up. "Wanna know a secret?" I said, which got me a nod. "Did you see the lady who was teaching me earlier? Well, even she falls sometimes. And you know what? Falling over just means you're trying really hard, so keep going." It got a smile out of her, she went off happier than when she fell. Made me feel really good too, I have to admit. Then I helped another lady and her daughter who had fallen.

Why do I do it? Well, I think those of us who can skate should look out for the beginners. We were all there once, and it leaves a lasting impression, that your rink is a really friendly place.  Another reason is I'm a believer in karma, you know, what goes around, comes around? So hopefully if I fall, which obviously, I will from time to time, someone will be kind and offer me a hand up, instead of skating by. 

So I'll leave you with that thought, until my next lesson, which will be 2 weeks from now, after the ice hockey Play Off weekend.

Monday, 18 March 2013

Dedicated Pupil, or Good Coaching?

Well, firstly, hello! Don't you just hate it when real life gets in the way of skating, and therefore blogging? I know I do.

I finally got back on the ice on Saturday, after 5 weeks away due to various reasons, and was welcomed back by my coach with open arms and stories about how all my skating friends were missing me and wondering where I was. I have to admit, it was nice to be missed, that's never happened to me before. 

So, I had a half hour lesson because I can't skate next week due to a wedding I'm attending. We did a recap of everything I've already had signed off, then worked on some stuff from my current level and the one above.

Including forward outside 3 turns. They are evil, I do not like them at the moment haha! I'm sure I'll get there with them, I have with everything else, even when I was filled with self doubt about that fact. 

Now, the title of this post relates to a little debate my coach and I were having. She told me that I've done really well building up my basic skills, because normally when she teaches someone for the first time after a break, she spends a lot of time almost re-teaching them things they've already covered. She didn't have to do that with me, and says it shows I've taken her teaching, practiced, and now have a very solid set of basic skating skills.

I maintain it's her excellent teaching, that's made skating fun, and something I want to practice and do well at, and that's how my skills have become so solid.

In reality, I think it's both of these things. You can't teach someone who isn't willing to learn, and you can't improve your skills unless you're willing to take on board what your coach is saying or suggesting. 

So, I wonder what the readership of this blog thinks? Even if you're not a skater, your experiences could relate to anything, or even to the experiences of a child in school. Is a "team ethos" important to good, solid progress and enjoyment of something, or is it simply one party or the other that makes it happen, in your view? 

Would love to hear from you in the comments section, so please get in touch! 

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Life on the Ice

I know a place, where I'm happy to be,
A place where kindness does run free,
It's called the ice rink, my friends are all there,
Read on, and my story, I'll happily share.

Some skaters are young,
Some young at heart,
But all of these people,
Do play their part.

They support one another,
Through good times and bad,
And when goals are achieved,
They are grinning like mad

They pick you up when you fall,
Laugh at your poor old bruised hips
They pass on their knowledge,
About learning lutzes and flips

They spin, and they jump,
They dance and they twirl,
They make me realize,
I'm a very lucky girl

Because I know a place,
Where I'm happy to be,
It's a wonderful place
Where kindness runs free.

OK, I know bits of it don't scan, but I felt like writing a poem about skating and for something written off the top of my head, I think it's pretty good. I hope you like it. 

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Learning New Things, Making New Friends

OK, first of all I'd like to apologize for my lack of posts over the last few weeks. As often happens real life got in the way and I let the blog slip under the radar, but I'm back now.

So, what have I been up to since the New Year? Well, I've so far had 3 lessons, and all have been good. The first one was while the schools were still off, so was a bit hectic, lots of dodging children. We recapped everything in that one, and I practiced a few things that I was struggling with.

The next one was good, on a Friday when lots of adults come to practice, and we worked on my outside edges on a curve, and began working on turning from forwards to backwards.

Today we continued work on those, and although I'm making small amounts of progress, neither is ready to be signed off yet. This is annoying, as up til now progress has been quite good, but I knew it'd slow down eventually. We also worked a little on my backwards skating, and that has progressed to the next stage, so that's good. 

Anyway, the really great thing is, I've been making friends at the rink, all different ages and abilities, and the atmosphere is great, especially on a Friday. Everyone encourages each other, we have a joke, but we get on with our practicing as well. The annoying thing is, I can only skate every other Friday due to commitments elsewhere, so I do miss out on that sometimes. Today I was lucky that one of my skating friends came for a lesson and we got to practice together, which was nice. 

So, my plans for this week are; wear socks on our tiled floors to practice certain elements off-ice, do stretches to help open my hips off-ice and hope that we don't get too much snow!

Yep, apparently we're in for up to 10cm of snow and I for one am not happy about it. Luckily today the roads to the rink were clear and the bus could get through, but my next lesson is next Friday, so I'm hoping the snow forecast to start tomorrow disappears by then!