June 30th, 2004


Back on the Ice

I went skating last night! I still haven't decided what to do about physical therapy / gym membership / whatever, but at least I overcame one physical hurdle. I got back on the ice.

It was kinda cool, because I saw a few friends there (including the lovely figure_skater), all of whom were excited to see me on skates again. Me, I was more nervous than excited...but it went okay! I didn't fall, and I'm still walking fine today, so I guess it was a successful adventure.

Truthfully though, it didn't feel all that great. It still hurts a lot to put weight on my leg with my knee bent. Figure skating is all about knee-bend. The idea is: you keep you knees bent low enough so that you can still push, reach, stretch, and pull with your legs but keep your upper body completely level -- no bobbing up and down. It makes footwork look smooth and effortless, if done right.

I have been skating for so long that knee-bend is instinctive for me. That's one of the reasons I was nervous about skating, because I knew I couldn't skate with my knees bent yet. It's hard to skate without bending your knees! I don't know how beginners manage it; no wonder they have so much trouble.

Anyway, after hovering nervously at the door for a bit and talking to some friends, I finally psyched myself up enough to give it a try. I eased onto the ice and tried a few strokes. Ouch! Oh yeah, stop bending so much. I stood up, pushed more lightly, and it worked better. I felt awkward and clumsy, which was frustrating.... but I suppose that's to be expected.

At first I was afraid to stop, because everything just felt awkward and foreign. But with a bit of practice I found I could do a left t-stop without a problem. Although I'm capable of doing all of the stops, I greatly prefer stopping with my right foot -- but that definitely seemed like a bad idea for now.

After going around the rink many times forward and feeling more comfortable, I tried some back-crossovers. Left-over-right are quite painful -- it turns out you spend almost the whole time with your weight on your (bent) right leg! Funny how I never noticed that before. Right-over-left were a lot easier (comparatively) though. It's interesting, because it was the right-over-left that gave me the most trouble pre-surgery, as my knee felt incredibly unstable when doing them. I tried to get a feel for whether my knee is more stable now, but it was hard to tell. I was much more tentative in general, plus it was painful and awkward, so I'm not sure. I think the stability is there, or will be once the pain goes away. (At least, it damn well better be there after all of this!!!)

As I grew more confident, I started trying to see what I could do. I asked myself, "What one-legged tricks are there?" So I tried some scratch spins. Obviously I can't do a properly deep edge going into or out of the spin, but I could spin okay. Yay! I'm a "right-legged" skater, which means I land all of my jumps on my right foot. I didn't want to try anything like that yet, but I did do a few left spirals. I considered trying a hydroblade, but I think I'll save that for sometime when I'm stronger.

That was about it -- I did a few left 3-turns and such, some spins, some spirals, stroking, and crossovers. Most of it hurt, some a lot, some just a little bit (heck, just taking my skate guards off and on hurt), but at least I got out there and tried it. It was nice to be back on the ice, even if I felt like a klutz.

I'll keep biking, do some more skating, and eventually get myself back into a gym. Eventually, some day, I'll get my strength and coordination back! That will be a real relief.