Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Technical Difficulties; Please Stand By...

I'm currently on my second pair of skates. My first skates were a pair of cheapo sports store skates, bought before I was married. My then-boyfriend and I wanted to skate at the free rinks in the city parks, so he bought a pair of hockey skates and I got some badly fitting figure skates. We skated before his shows, and I'd skate after work, whenever we had time. And I can't harbor too many bad feelings about them, I had them with me when he proposed to me. They still have the yellow scuff marks from the temporary boards, and I won't ever forget the time I stupidly tried a spiral. Of course I fell backwards, because that's the only way I know how to fall.

But they didn't fit, and when I started skating regularly in them, I suffered terrible foot cramping. I asked my new rink friends about it, and they said it was likely because my toes were curling inside the boot. And they were right. My toes were gripping the insole in terror. I needed new skates.

So I headed off to the skate shop and explained my situation. I just needed a pair to tool around in, but fit me well so I could walk after skating instead of hobbling around the lobby for twenty minutes. They nodded and found me a nice pair of Reidells, on consignment. The nice lady put them on me and had me walk around, which I thought was unnecessary since I never imagined I'd be actually doing anything in them, but they felt more secure than my old sports store skates.

My secondhand Reidells have served me quite well in the two years I've had them. Any issues I've had with them have turned out to be a problem with Me and not The Skates. When I was cramping up going backwards, it wasn't the skates, it was me toe-curling-terror again. I solved that by going backwards for hours. When my heel hurt on rough ice, an insole fixed it. When they hurt bad, I realized I'd been lacing them weirdly; loose on the boot but tight at the ankle. One day I learned to always check the position of the insoles, as I got on the ice and five minutes later felt that my foot was going to fall off.

I started to believe my skates were perfect and I was the one who needed work. I thought I'd be fine in them forever, perhaps. We do crossovers, one foot glides, slaloms and swizzling endlessly, t-stops and now hockey stops (slowly) and still trying to turn around with some iota of skill, but we're getting there. My pinkie fingers have little callouses on them from where I pull the laces, as I like my skates snug at the ankle. I've tripped over the toepicks a lot and had some of my most awful falls backwards in them. My feet don't fall asleep in them anymore, so I can only imagine that they are fully broken in and happy.

Perhaps in some effort to help my turning problems, my Coaches have started me on Inside and Outside Edges. And I can do them pretty good, with my biggest problem being that I could not get my limbs to cooperate; arms going this way, then that way, and free foot starts out at the skating foot's ankle and slowly sticks out forward in a frictionless hokey pokey. But on my outside edges, my ankle started to bend inwards. A lot. Against my wishes. And this didn't feel like the run-of-the-mill Bodily Apprehension, this felt Wrong. I stepped off and tightened my laces. This didn't help, my ankle still fell outside the circle. So I stepped off again and did a full relacing. Still didn't help.

I moved on to doing T-stops again, but just as an experiment I tried a one-foot glide down the length of the rink. I noticed my ankle bending in a bit, which I'd never been conscious of before. Could I possibly be having some kind of equipment problem?

I brought it up to Master Shifu, fully expecting an answer of, "It's you."

"It's you," he said, looking at me. "Your knees are touch together, so you may need to have the blade moved closer to your instep." Actually, he had a bigger, more serious sounding name for it, but I don't think he likes to give me vocabulary words. He never said it again and I don't remember.

Okay, so I'm a little knock kneed. It's why I feel I look silly in a dress, and why I never bought any issue of Seventeen Magazine as I was growing up. My knock knees and my chronic gooseflesh made me a very self conscious teen with limited fashion options. Black tights were my best friend. But I never imagined it would affect my skating.

I vowed to make an appointment at the skate shop to have the situation evaluated, and the blades moved if possible. I need a sharpening anyway, I haven't fallen in a few days. But here's the rub: My secondhand Riedells are still a Beginner skate. I'm a beginner, right? But Beginner skates typically have Vinyl soles, and we're not sure if blades can be moved on vinyl soles. Sure, there are screws holding the blades and not rivets, but the Vinyl may preclude an easy fix.

So, here I am, a Gamma/Delta level adult skater, potentially needing a fancier boot with custom mounted blades. I don't know. My appointment is tomorrow evening. This is just about as bad as a trip to the dentist.

As it so happens, I have a wedding anniversary on Sunday. Twelve years, which is a long time. Joking around with my husband, we looked up the "traditional" gifts for twelve, and we're on "silk and fine linen." I don't want that, and he missed "Leather" (Year 3) and "Steel" (Year 11), so I figure he can catch up by buying me a new pair of skates. I can get him a tie. (Silk.) Stagehands love ties, right?