Monday, January 29, 2007

A whole new world

I've been such a chicken when it comes to writing here. It currently seems to take so much effort so I tend not to do it. I promise to change.

About three weeks ago, prompted by another one of my "I'm going to lose this weight" bursts I picked up the newest Weight Watchers Magazine and took it home. I started reading it and came across an article which has propelled me into this brand new world I never knew existed.

The article was about ice skating (funnily enough, there was a byword from the editor mentioning how she would've cut this article originally, if not for her new year's resolution to stop removing articles that she doesn't like) and how you could burn something like 600 calories in 45 minutes or so of ice skating.
The article ignited the same flame that had been put on the backburner since I moved here. Back in the UK, I'd actually started going to the skating rink fairly regularly in the evenings, just to get that incredible feeling of "flying" on the ice.

Inspired by that article I looked up ice skating rinks in/near Nashua and Bedford. I remembered having looked the ice rink in Nashua up one day and realizing that their only public skating times were around noon, which is when I was obviously NOT in Nashua. That hadn't changed but I was surprised to find an ice rink about 15 minutes drive from work that was open for public skating at lunchtime. So, without much ado, I set out to skate the next dday during my lunch break. Rental skates were $4 and entrance was $3. Can't really complain!!! The most amazing thing happened though... I got on the ice and it was almost completely EMPTY. Being used to totally busy rinks from both Germany and the UK, this was absolute bliss!!! I skated for a good 45 minutes, then returned to work. Granted, this makes for a 1.5 or 2 hour lunch break but I am working my ass off otherwise so I don't feel too bad.

I found that the rink was open everyday at the same time with the exception of Fridays and for the past three weeks I've been there every Monday, Tuesday and Thursday (Wednesday lunchtimes are set aside for the WW meetings at work).
After skating round and round and round in circles for three days I got fed up with it and started scouring the internet for info on how I could get better and learn some new stuff.

Turns out that adult figure skating is totally "in" and alive in this country and I found many websites and blogs from adult skaters who'd gone through what I was going through. Namely having a huge enthusiasm for the sport, but not having a clue how to do it. In a very detailed manner, they described signing up for group skating classes, feeling like complete idiots for looking as stupid as they did on ice, yet succeeding at whatever they were asked to do (provided they invested the time to practice).

Reading those entries REALLY inspired me and I set out to find some skating club who had adult skating classes going. That ins itself wasn't as successful as I would've liked but the source ended up being one of my work colleagues.
When I told her about going ice skating she was all excited and told me about her two little girls that were taking lessons at that same rink. She gave me the number of their instructor who called me on Thursday. Christina sounded really nice on the phone and we arranged my first private lesson for Thursday, February 1st. Needless to say I'm excited beyond belief.

Christina asked me what level I was at and whether I had my own skates or not (I didn't) so she recommended getting my own skates before our session on Thursday. She gave me a phone number and the name of a guy in a skate shop and I called immediately. I made an appointment for Friday and started to get educated about what kind of skates I would like to have. Having read the blogs of all these other skaters I was sure I needed Riedell's Blue Ribbon 121 skates so that's what I told the guy from the shop.

The fitting of the skates was an experience in itself. I didn't have a clue what to expect so when I got there I explained to Scott that I was a new skater and that I had heard about the Riedell's Blue Ribbon skates - he agreed that those would be the best to start with - at $150 they were obvioulsy not exactly cheap, but I was serious about this. He started measuring the length of both my feet for about 5 times each (turns out my left foot is a bit longer than my right!!! Who knew!?) and then did the same with the width of my feet (I could already tell him that my right foot was quite a bit wider than my left!). Eventually he told me he'd go and see if they have the skates in my size and in stock and he'd get them ready for me. I had no idea what the heck that meant. So I sat down and waited and waited. 10 minutes later, I got bored of sitting down and waiting so I started walking around the shop and looking at the different boots, blades, dresses, blade guards and the likes. Really astounding how many things there's out there for the figure skater. And I didn't even look downstairs, where all the hockey stuff was!!!
After about half an hour, Scott came back and sat me down again and put "my" skates on. They were really nice and warm and he told me they'd already knocked them into shape so that they would fit my feet perfectly. After he tied the laces up real tight he told me to just sit down and wait for a few more minutes until the skates cooled off and were "moulded" to my feet a bit better. I was learning new things all the time!!! When the skates had cooled he got me to stand up and made me walk down a straight line while he was watching me. He sent me up and down the same carpet a few times and decided that my right foot kinda leans in so he wanted to adjust the blade to counterbalance that. We went into this little room and took my right foot onto his lap, took an electric screwdriver and screwed the screws out of the front of the blade and boot, moved it a little and screwed them back on. It didn't hurt at all ;-)

Anyway... he made me walk up and down again and even I could tell the difference, my right foot did not lean to the left so it was all done!!! I was now the proud owner of my own, custom moulded skates!!! I bought a terry cloth blade guard to go with it (it's good for absorbing moisture from the steel after skating) and walked out of there beaming!!!

So... in the meantime I have worn the skates around the house, in order to break them in (it apparently takes a good while to do that). Naturally I had to get plastic guards for the blades as well and I only realized that after I'd left the shop so I went to the Conway Arena in Nashua and bought the only plastic guards they had left - in bright PINK. Oh well... ;-)

So now I'm phsyched to get on the ice tomorrow, to see what my new skates are like and how they compare to the rental ones (I could already tell that the rentals were not well sharpened so God help me tomorrow! LOL) and of course, I'm even more psyched for Thursday and really looking forward to that.
So what if the 25 minutes private lesson costs $30 and on top of that you gotta buy ice time for $10/hour. Doesn't matter. I keep thinking... better to invest into sports and exercise than in food!!!

And this is pretty much it... I will keep you updated with my skating adventures, that much's for sure. I want to believe that because I am paying so much money and because I've got an actual coach, I will stick to this more than if I were to just do this on my own. And I'd also like to think that in order to get better, I'd also start doing some off-ice training that I otherwise wouldn't ever do cause I HATE IT. We shall see.
Oh, did I mention my trip to the library to get figure skating books? I emptied the whole section pretty much! LOL Includin the children's section that carried the figure skating books LOL I think I've got about 15 or so here!!!

Alright... enough for tonight - time to go to bed and get some sleep. Big day tomorrow!!! :-)

Oh and here some pics of my skates, alongside a picture of the snowfall we had about two weeks ago.