Thursday, April 9, 2015

Face Plant

Of course I hadn't checked to see if the Rockefeller Center skating rink would be open. I mean, come's April! So imagine my surprise as we walked along the streets of New York on a gorgeous spring morning and found the Zamboni creating a beautiful little oasis in the middle of the city.

"I wish I had my skates!" the Kid exclaimed. Alas, they were packed away in his hockey bag back in Washington. (Correction: they were probably strewn all over the gym floor along with all of his other hockey equipment. My child did not inherit his mother's neat freak tendencies.)

When there's freshly zammed ice, it must be skated on, so the Kid rented skates and got to it.

"It should be easier for him in figure skates, right?" asked DC Giant.

I explained that yes, generally speaking figure skates are easier to skate in than hockey skates. But the Kid is used to hockey skates, rental skates are notoriously uncomfortable and rarely sharpened properly, and let us not forget he now had toe picks, something he hasn't had on his skates since he was five years old.

"Honestly, I'm surprised he hasn't bit it already," I admitted.

No sooner had the words escaped my mouth than the Kid came gliding along the ice, confident even in rental skates. He eased into a nonchalant set of crossovers to round the corner when...

SPLAT! The Kid "Doug Dorsey-ed" in spectacular fashion.

The Kid has seen The Cutting Edge (which may or may not be an example of questionable parenting on my part.) I think he'd have an even greater appreciation for Dooglas now.

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Interesting Times

I stood at the glass watching the Kid skating and stick-handling and thinking that this is turning out to be a very interesting moment in both youth hockey and hockey parenting. Right now the Kid was passing the puck, skating around cones and smiling broadly. Fist pumps for other players and big laughs all around. All looked good. But just moment earlier, the picture wasn't so rosy.

"My groin hurts," the Kid said. I was skeptical. He's participating in a hockey clinic that's been pretty tough. Lots of players who attend every camp, take private hockey lessons, try out for every team. They're fast and they're good. The Kid has complained that he's struggling to keep up. Cue groin injury.

"Do you really have a groin injury or are you looking for an excuse to get out of practice?" I asked. "Only you know the truth."

He got back on the ice and appeared to have a lot of fun. He's reached a crossroads, which means he has some decisions to make. And I largely need to sit back and see what happens.

He can play recreational hockey 'til the cows come home. But if he wants to continue to play more competitively, he's going to have to put in some extra effort. He signed up for the pre-tryout clinic and it's been a robust camp. Watching him out there, he seems to be keeping up okay and I keep emphasizing that his coaches will appreciate any time he puts in total effort, regardless of the outcome of a drill. And let's face it, skating with highly-skilled players will help him improve his game. He's asked to participate in a power skating program, which I think is a fantastic idea. His skating always improves when he takes any skating-specific clinics.

I'll support him, whichever road he takes. I love watching him play, whether he's rockin' it out in the House League or hauling us all to Lake Placid for a fun tournament. I'd even be fine if he decided to stop playing hockey altogether to pursue another interest, although given his obsession, I think that's highly unlikely. My only rule is that he finishes what he starts.

Work hard, have fun and always know I love you. No matter where hockey takes him, that's my message to my son.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Gettin' Sassy

"Bad ice?" Dmytri asked as I skidded out on yet another swingroll.

"Bad skater," I answered. Truth is, the ice was a mess. I'd raced from work to the rink to catch a lesson on the last 30 minutes of an unusually busy two-hour dance session. This was better than the alternative - a public session on a 'no school' day.

My consistent practicing is starting to pay off. We did CCW crossovers that I thought were amazing, no small feat given they're such a challenge for me. (Yes, I know this is typically people's strong side, but Wonky Leg Lady here butchers them with appalling regularity.) Dmytri seemed unimpressed, proving we have different perspectives on what it means to exceed expectations.

This lesson, he actually let me warm things up before declaring, "Dutch Waltz."

"Can we do it slowly at first?" I asked.

"Yes, slowly. No music," Dmytri agreed.

"Definitely no music," I laughed.

We worked our way down the ice. Even though our turns weren't particularly deep, I was feeling my edges better than I have in a while. The CW crossover was trippy per usual because I'm always worried I'll kick my partner. The end of the pattern definitely wasn't as tight as it needs to be. But we got through it. I figured the next run would be better.

Dmytri, meanwhile, was laughing.

"That was test tempo. You take off fast, I think okay here we go. Good there's no music, we would finish before the music."

It may have looked awful, but it was fast dammit.

Then I learned the difference between crossovers and cross overs. Dmytri was throwing something new at me, something about swingrolls, crossover, step behind, swingroll. Honestly, I heard a list of words that sounded familiar but I couldn't quite picture what he was looking for. I did a swingroll and a crossover and skidded to a stop completely bamboozled by the step behind. We headed to the boards where we stepped around - swingroll, cross over, step behind. Eventually we swapped the words "cross over" with "step over" and it started making just a wee bit more sense.

"What is this for?" I asked.

"Cha Cha."

I made him show me the steps two more times. I immediately liked the sharp sassiness associated with it, but I couldn't wrap my head around how to make it happen. At all. So we decided to just go for it. Which means Dmytri pushed me around and I tried to have the correct skate on the ice at the correct time.

"We'll do it again next time," he assured me.

"I'm not practicing it without you yet," I told him and he laughed in agreement. He showed me what I could do to at least start to work my way toward it. That'll be fun to futz around with at practice.

I rushed home. I knew I had a busy weekend ahead and I had a million things to do, so...I pulled out my tablet and looked up Cha Cha to see just what it is I'm working on. I'm gonna like this one.

Friday, March 20, 2015


"I'm going to be easy," I said to Dmytri as we glided along.
The Look

"I am not believing this," he replied, giving me 'the look.'

What's going to make skating with me easy for him is going to be incredibly hard for me. No goals. No tests. No competitions. Just having fun.

This will be very weird. I'm a goal girl. Decide what I want, map out a plan, get it done. I love timelines and tracking charts and tangible milestones. That's part of the fun for me! This approach has served me well in life and it served me well in skating at first. I worked my way through classes and passed tests. I had a little spin and a couple baby jumps. I was accomplishing things. It was rewarding. And then I got hurt. Being a rookie athlete I made all kinds of rookie mistakes about injury recovery, perhaps the worst being that I tried to stay on track toward my skating aspirations even though my body was saying, "What the hell are you thinking?!"

So I'm doing it all differently this time. Being a goal-setting-tracker-keeping-milestone-reaching skater had ceased to work for me, so I needed a different approach. Luckily, Dave Dellanave started flooding my email inbox with thoughts that would help me change my skating mentality.

Getting Obsessed with Consistency

"The problem, as I see it, is that people get obsessed with goals," Mr. Dellanave wrote.

He continued:
Women imagine what it will look and feel like when they lose thirty pounds and they fit in their skinny jeans. Guys think about what they're going to look like when they hit that 500 pound deadlift. Some literature will even recommend this strategy and really encourage you to visualize down to the last detail what it will be like when you hit that goal.  
And then reality sets in and you realize that the goal is months, if not years, away and you wonder if this one workout even really matters. If it makes any difference at all if you just go home and hit the couch tonight. You can always catch up tomorrow. Except that it does matter, and you can't catch up. 
Even if you could, realistically you won't. 
Consistency is what matters. Get obsessed with it. Be more obsessed with making it to your next training session than the end goal you have in mind. Be more obsessed with getting the most of the training session that you're in the midst of than how you're going to feel when you achieve the goal.

Huh. Seems like a pretty good approach for a girl who wants to figure skate despite having a wonky leg. So that's what I've been doing...obsessing about consistency. My goal, if you can call it that, is to get to the rink and skate. That's it.

Still Not Directionless

"I want to continue working on those dance patterns," I told Dmytri. "I like the process, it's fun! But no tests, no timelines, no competitions. Just learning and having fun."

"Except Korea," he corrected me. "We'll be ready for the Olympics."

"Of course!" I agreed. "And I can display my medal right next to my Rhythm Blues test certificate."

So far I'm doing okay with the new mental game. I'm enjoying skating and surprisingly I'm not at all bothered by the fact that I'm starting over. Still, I'm keeping another thought in my back pocket for future reference.

Says James Clear:
Pour all your energy into the journey, be present in the moment, be committed to the path you are walking. Know that you are moving unwaveringly in one clear direction and that this direction is right for you, but never get wrapped up in a particular result or achieving a certain goal by a specific time.

This is a huge shift in mentality for me. Let's see how it goes.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Comfort Zone

Dmytri and I coasted around the ice chatting. It had been ages since I'd seen him so it was nice to catch up on everything.

"Don't look down," he admonished. I laughed, reminded of those early classes with him. And I looked up, always the student.


Really? If this is going to be my first lesson in forever I'm thinking swizzles, maybe some edges. Dmytri's all zero-to-Dutch-Waltz after a five minute conversation. I giggled.

It wasn't long before I got my next instructions.

"Crossover, outside edge, swingroll."

"Geez, we're not even going to warm up some of this stuff?" I asked. "It's like shock therapy!"

"You're more productive when I scare you," he laughed.

I worried a bit about kicking him when we did crossovers and this pumping exercise he had us do around a circle.

"My foot gets out of the way," he showed me. "If I keep it back or you come forward..."

"We're screwed," we both said in unison.

After about 30 minutes, he coaxed a very slow, plodding Dutch Waltz out of me. My swingrolls were wobbly, my crossovers were trippy, I was going much faster than I had since I returned to skating, and I was reminded of the challenges associated with partnering. It all felt absolutely perfect. I haven't stopped smiling since.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Remember the Ladies

Sorry, couldn't resist the Abigail Adams reference.

The Montgomery Youth Hockey Association (MYHA) is hosting Girls Hockey Night. Rob Keegan, Director of Coaching, will run a clinic for the girls and there will be a reception for the parents. Sounds like it could be a great way to prepare for tryouts or get a fun introduction to the program. According to Geof Hobart, Director of Girls Hockey, the plan for next season is to field (ice?) four travel teams and offer a house program.

Girls Hockey Night
Friday, March 20th
7:25 p.m. - 8:10 p.m.
(hopefully not Rink Three)

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Pick 'Em Up, Put 'Em Down

"If I wake up in the morning and hurt from a session with you, that's good. But if I wake up in the morning and I hurt from something else, that's not good," my client observed. "Which, if you think about it, is kind of funny because pain is pain."

I thought of that as I got out of bed one morning. My stomach muscles moaned with the effort of rolling over. My legs were arguing with me about taking steps. My butt...oh my butt... It felt so good!

In the spirit of "doing things differently" I had changed my workouts. Throughout all of my physical therapy, the focus had been on mobility. Lots of foam rolling, Trigger Pointing and stretching. All of this was a good idea, but I felt like I needed to be spending more time strengthening weak areas, mostly my glutes and the abdominal muscles Dmytri was always yapping at me to use.

"That's why I have you on the BOSU," my physical therapist explained. There's a time and a place for BOSU balls. This wasn't it. I hopped off the BOSU and hit the weights.

Within a month I experienced the greatest miracle of all time (okay, maybe just a little miracle of one day.) I was standing at the boards getting a drink of water when I realized I was on the ice and my leg didn't hurt! *Cue angels singing*

There are a million different exercises one can do to get strong legs and abdominals. Following are just a few of my favorites. (Note: instructional videos are fine, but nothing beats good in-person coaching.)

This one looks deceptively easy, but as a colleague of mine once said, "If you think this is easy, you're doing it wrong."

Pallof Press
Again, looks pretty easy, but if you have the right resistance, those stomach muscles have to kick in.

This is clearly an advertisement for shoes and baseball players aren't figure skaters. But I like Eric Cressey and the exercise, so...

This is not the end all and be all of abs and ass training, but it's a sample of some of the exercises I do and for the first time in a long time, I'm having truly pain-free days. Even days I skate, I'm feeling tightness in my leg, but not pain. This is heaven!

So...what are you picking up and putting down these days? 

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Revenge Skating and Bad Cliff Hangers

I groaned as I read yet another prove-'em-wrong social media post. I don't like this mentality in fitness or in skating. I mean, if you're skating because someone told you you couldn't, aren't you skating more for them than for yourself? Revenge skating? I dunno, doesn't make much sense to me.

"You won't be able to keep skating." Those were the words of two doctors and three physical therapists. So I quit. I wasn't a very good skater anyway, what precious little skill I had was in decline and it hurt. But because things are never easy with me (just ask my family), I was just as miserable without skating as I was with it.

"Why is skating bad for you?" a trainer friend asked.

"," I stammered. I couldn't give him a reason, at least not one I truly believed.

Suddenly it was all very clear! Choir music filled the air, a golden glow illuminated the room. I gazed upward, shook my fist and swore, "Damn those doctors! I will skate again!" Yeah, whatever...I just decided I missed it and wanted to do it again.

Physicians told me I couldn't skate. That was motivation alright. Not motivation because I wanted to prove them wrong. That would be about them. It was motivation because time off made me realize how much I really did want to skate. In whatever capacity I could. That was about me.

And because we're getting jiggy with memes...

As much as I missed skating, I had to be honest with myself about the fact that it often frustrated me. If I were going to skate again, it would have to be different. Different physically and different mentally. It was time to approach skating in ways I hadn't before.

So, for the worst cliff-hanger of all time, coming up:

  • A new exercise program (there will be video)
  • A new mentality (there will be a guest)

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Comebacks and Lies

I never took video of my skating with any degree of regularity. There's video of my ice dance test and every once in a while I'd take video of something I had failed miserably at during a lesson, just so I could show Dmytri I wasn't a completely lost cause. But I know as a training tool, it can be valuable. Maybe it was time.

Feeling somewhat narcissistic, I balanced my tablet on the boards and took some benchmark videos. Forward stroking, forward outside edges, forward crossovers, figure 8s. I didn't get inside edges because, well, I forgot. When I realized I'd left out inside edges, it was too late to do any more recording. The ice had become busy and I had visions of someone falling, grasping desperately for the boards, and toppling my tablet to the ice. I'm way too OCD to deal with a shattered screen.

Fast forward four weeks. I've been getting a fairly consistent hour of practice each week. Sometimes a little more. It was time to take video of the little "welcome back" pieces I'd been working on. I felt silly setting up my tablet, but a talented skater I've never seen before came up and offered to take video for me. See! Everybody's doing it! (And by the way, adult skaters are awesome.)

I re-shot all the skills I'd benchmarked before and then did some benchmarking of new things: backward stroking, backward crossovers, backward inside edges. And again, I forgot the damn forward inside edges.

Oh people, it was awesome! Everything felt strong and stable. I was putting real weight on my bad leg. There was beautiful posture and extension. Excited and clearly more comfortable with my inner-Narcissus, I took a celebratory selfie in the rink parking lot.

But videos...they lie! Who was that chick? Girlfriend needs to straighten out her free leg. And bend her knees more. Dear God woman, stop stepping over on those crossovers. What a hot mess! The only improvements: I was a little faster, somewhat smoother and my lobes on my edges were marginally tighter. I shook my head and laughed to myself. If nothing else, I now know with absolute certainty what I need to work on.

Comebacks don't come easy. I'm cool with that.


The Kid read this over my shoulder as I was finishing up. "Keep working on it, Mum-mum!" he said encouragingly. "Practice makes permanent."