Tuesday, 27 March 2012

A Little Here A Little There

Skating Update:

My new skates are fantastic.  The difference in speed, the balance of the shoe, and the upgrade in control is just amazing.  But once I started getting used to them, it felt like there was something not quite right.  As I skated, especially when I was practicing skating in a straight line on one foot, I kept feeling like my feet, especially the left, was curving inwards.

I talked to Stacey the Rollerfit coach.  She checked my trucks (1) and said they looked fine (i.e. they weren't loose) and then asked me about my insteps.  I do have flat feet so I asked if she thought that innersoles with arch support might help the issue. She agreed that it might, but also suggested that it could just mean that I needed to control my edges (2) better.

A few days later I went to the chemist and bought the insoles that fit what I needed.  Excitedly I got home put them in and went out for a skate.  It was a little better, but very little. This must mean that the issue is that I am not controlling my edges well enough. I spent a week skating daily trying to self diagnose what I was doing wrong.  It was incredibly frustrating because no matter what I tried nothing seemed to make a difference.

Last Sunday I approached Stacey again before class.  I explained that I had been working with my edges with the inserts to no avail.  Again she looked at my skates and couldn't visually see anything wrong.  In my heart of hearts I knew she actually thought it was just me being a goofy newbie skater but she recommend that I go to Skater HQ at Moore park to see if they could think of something she couldn't.   By this stage I was starting to worry about my skating future.  If I couldn't master this very basic skill what chance did I have of accomplishing the more intense skills.

During class I was talking about it to a friend.  She mentioned that I should try on a pair of Stacey's rental skates.  You would think that if the issue didn't happen when I was wearing other skates then the issue is with the skates not my skating ability. Why oh why didn't I think of this earlier?  So at the end of class I borrowed a pair and sure enough, it seemed a lot better.  I started to feel hopeful that maybe this wasn't about me after all.  Although I didn't want to get my hopes up.

So this morning, skates in hand, off I trotted to Skater HQ.  Within the first 2 minutes the guy that was serving me mentioned that I might want to try some better quality cushions (3).  There were three levels of softness and so he put mediums into one skate and hards into the other and then told me to start skating around the shop. Within the first few steps I could tell that without a doubt the cushions had been the issue.  The play that I now had with my edges was completely different.  Moves that I have been trying to even slightly do suddenly seemed easy.  And as for balancing on one foot ... well I was able to do the length of the store with relative ease.

I was grinning like a madman as I payed and left.  But I still had this niggly feeling that it may have all been easier because the floors in the shop were such perfect polished concrete that even a goofy newbie like myself was able to glide straight.

So on the way home I stopped at a local park that has a large flat concrete area.  I didn't have any of my pads (4) with me so all I planned to do was try these new cushions on a surface that was not as perfect as those polished floors.

And of course, TAA DAA, I was able to finally skate straight.  It was also much scarier because my edges were so much more responsive.  I pretty easily skated the length of the area on one foot but when I tried my cross overs the give in my edges meant that I almost fell right over.

But that is something I can get used to.  Its like every time I change something on these skates I have to go through a mild learning curve again.  And actually that's kind of fun.  Things that had been easy last week are a small but achievable challenge again.

Tonight I had Rollerfit again.  I excitedly told Stacey that Skater HQ had solved my problem and I sensed that she was dubious.  But sure enough once she saw me on them she came over and mentioned how much smoother all of my moves were.

Finally I have skates that are no longer holding me back!  I was able to do the whole one foot thing on Rollerfits unresponsive surface, I could so the squats without feeling like I wanted to physically hold my skates straight and I even thought that I could attempt 'shoot the duck' (5) which I managed to get up but not back down.

I'm completely jazzed.  Not only are my skates pretty but they are now also amazingly functional.  And my skating is quickly moving from newbie status to moderately competent, YAY!

NOTE:  Skating has turned out to be far more expensive that I could have thought.  The basic decent skates that I bought are great but I needed to update the wheels ($80) the bearings ($30) the cushions ($30) and the stoppers ($30).  Hopefully this last upgrade needed for at least a while :)  Next time I'm just going to build them from scratch.

Watching - Still waiting for AB to home long enough that we can watch the remake of 'The girl with the dragon tattoo'.

Listening - I had a great trip away on the weekend and the kids and I listened to Bob Marley, Simon and Garfunkel and a lot of other old amazing bands on the drive down and back.  We talked all about different styles of music and different things that musicians were trying to share through their music. It was a pretty amazing experience sharing my thoughts and feeling about music with them on a deeper level than I had before.

Reading - Old favourites while I wait for a new novel to jump out and grab me.  I have a few great recommendations and now just need to look into them.

State of Mind - Just completely satisfied.

(1) Trucks - The pivoty part of the plate (metal bit underneath the shoe) that the wheels are attached to.
(2) Edges - by adjusting your weight from side to side in the skate the edges steer you in that direction
(3) Cushions - The rubber washer type things that go onto the trucks and give slightly as you are trying to control your edges as well as offer a bit of shock absorption.
(4) Pads - Knee, wrist and elbow protection.
(5) Shoot the duck - Whilst moving, squat on your skates and then put one foot in front of you off the ground while you roll forward on one foot.

Saturday, 24 March 2012

The End of Summer

AB has been away a lot over the past few weeks. When the kids were young the idea of AB going away for more than a day was enough to put me into a complete state. But these days the boys and I have found our groove and although he is missed, it's no big deal.

Well usually it's not!

I don't know if it's the months worth of rainy weather or just the planetary alignment but things were slightly tetchy between the three of us last time.

As AB went to leave this week I decided that I needed to put a few things in place to make sure that we didn't spend another weekend feeling cranky together.

Step 1, getting our favourite take away for friday night. For them it is a chicken kebab roll and for me it's a lamb shish kebab plate. This both makes me feel relaxed cause someone else slaves over the hot stove and eliminates and arguments over dinner.

Step 2, go to our friends holiday house for the night. Pack light so we don't feel completely harassed before we even leave the house. Not caring if we leave in the same clothes we arrived in. After all it is only one night and on lazy weekends at home its quite possible they would wear the same clothes two days in a row.

Step 3, have a few planned activities for while we are away. Collect firewood together as its meant to get cold tonight. Go to the beach (this is huge for me because in all the time I have been coming here I have never bothered going to the beach which is a huge 10 minute drive from here). Throw the ball for the dogs. Collect rocks. And after all that, settle down and play some games on the wii while I blog and then prep for dinner.

Step 4, don't unpack much. This way in the morning all we have to do is chuck a few things in the car and get on the road. Again because this time we are only here for one night what's the point of settling in to much.

Step 5, mummy enjoying some time siting in the sun, reading a book so that she actually feels like she has had a bit of quite restful time.

Step 6, after you get home, plan for a double rollerfit class to work out any kinks or residual crankiness!

So far so good. It's also given us all a chance to say good bye to summer. Kicking our feet in the water, stocking up on our vitamin D, and generally breathing in the fresh warm air before it turns into fresh (freeze your nostril hairs) cold air.

I'm looking forward to next summer already.

Watching - S2 The Walking Dead finale.

Listening - Nothing new

Reading - Room by Emma Donoghue, hated it but couldn't put it down.

State of mind - Rocking out this solo parenting gig!!

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Another Humphy Day

When I was young and my dad was having a cranky day, Inge and I used to say he was humphy. I don't know here this term came from but we would giggle about it both in front of him and behind his back. The word seemed to perfectly explain the unexplainable grumpiness that overtook him on occasions.

It's a trait a lot of us have and one I definitely inherited. The ability of our emotions to suddenly get the better of us and take us down a road we had no intention of taking when we woke in the morning.

Well today I'm humphy! I'm unsure why but I think it's a mixture of intensive parenting, very little adult contact and solo parenting.

It's ok, I mean we all have to allow ourselves the occasional day (or few days) where we are particularly in touch with our cranky selves. But the truth is, today, I don't want to be cranky.

I've spent the last 1/2 hour trying to figure out what I can do to stop being so. But unfortunately I've come up blank. I went to rollerfit to no avail. I've had a bath (although I spent most of it checking for nits, which I thankfully did not have and neither did the kids), I have had a few small vents with close friends and generally spent some time trying to relax and find my happy place.

But I'm still cranky. I guess there is no answer except to perhaps find a way acknowledging it and then hopefully letting it go. Or crawling into bed until it goes away.

I can't decide if it's a coincidence or response to, but it seems when I am humphy that my kids seems to be especially trying. I think it's probably both, but it makes it even harder to get out of your cranky place, if your kids are bickering or generally being slightly painful. The question that may really keep me up at night, is, is their behaviour really that tetchy? Or is it that my resilience is so low that every tiny little thing seems like a huge infraction?

Ahh, mixing this parenting malarky with a humphy time is like mixing some medications and operating heavy equipment.

I guess in the end the way I will deal with it is, I will accept it, talk to the boys about it, hope they decide to be especially sweet and understanding, put them to bed and then hope I wake on the right side of the bed tomorrow.

Watching - Soylent Green
Listening - It's been a fairly music free weekend.
Reading - Just finished the Hunger Games trilogy. Couldn't put it down but didn't adore it.
State of mind - wondering of roller skating for longer each day would keep the humph at bay? Probably not but it may be a good excuse to get more skate time in.

Tuesday, 13 March 2012

You Get What You Pay For

Ok it's been extremely quiet on the blog front. Firstly, after saying I wouldn't inundate the blog with post after post on skating, its all I can think of blogging about. Secondly, every free moment I have I'm spending skating. Hmmm ... obsessed much? Maybe :)

I've been skating for at least an hour a day. Mostly I'm just in the house skating back and forth up the hall, practicing my balancing (often while cooking dinner), trying out different types of stops, doing squats, and moving furniture in our lounge room so I can (barely) practice my cross overs. Sometimes I just leave them on all day so that I can get used to all sorts of movement on them.

But as I started trying new and more difficult things I realised that my cheap as chips skates were holding me back. I definitely needed new stoppers and, particularly for Rollerfit, I needed new wheels.

Luckily I still had a bit of money left from my birthday so I ordered the stoppers I wanted and a new set of wheels, in purple. The stoppers especially had been causing me issues. They were too hard and had no grip. So as soon as they arrived I grabbed my skates but to my dismay they didn't fit. My cheap skates didn't have adjustable stoppers! Which was something I had never heard of until it meant I couldn't put my new pretty gumball stoppers on.

It turns out that seeing I had bought my skates thinking more about price than researching what you needed to look for in decent skates, I had bought duds.

Well that's not exactly fair. Before I bought the skates I had spent ages looking for some I could borrow. But no one I knew had any. I didn't even know if I could stand in skates anymore, and I certainly didn't know that I would get as excited about skating as I have. I could have skated for a few weeks and decided I didn't like it after all. Or I could have fallen over, scared myself and decided never to skate again ... again. So with those things in mind buying cheap skates was a logical choice.

But I do love skating. It's like AB and his motorbikes. I spend time when I'm not actually skating researching products, moves and techniques. Reading up about roller derby rules and fresh meat criteria. Or watching videos of other skaters to be inspired.

Anyway I digress, the stoppers didn't fit. After a mini meltdown I decided to try the wheels. They were amazing. Compared to the others I suddenly had so much more dexterity, especially on that rubbery surface at rollerfit. But after a few days I noticed a major flaw in my skates. When I lean from side to side on them, as you have to for a lot of moves, my skate boots were so rolly and cheap they they bent and hit the wheels. As you can imagine that is not only limiting but downright dangerous.

But what to do? I mean the ones
I have are still virtually new!

Today I picked up my new (and considerably more expensive) skates. They are still cheap as far as roller skates go but they are reputable as a great starter skate with the idea that I will get years out of these versus months. I actually bought a fresh meat package so I as well as skates I got knee, elbow and wrist pads, a mouth guard, skating helmet, toe guards (to stop you ruining the toes of the actual skates) and some new bearings.

As soon as I got home I changed the stock wheels for my better purple wheels, changed the bearings, finally got to put on my gorgeous gumball stoppers, and just cause they came with the package, the toe savers.

I'm nervous! I think I may have to relearn some of the things I have just begun to master (particularly crossovers) but in my 15 minutes on them this evening I am already amazed at how much easier it is to balance and the boots are much better quality, so no more hitting my wheels as I lean.

The only downside so far is because they are new and not at all worn in they are tighter around my broken toe ... oh did I mention three weeks ago I broke my pinky toe after stubbing it on our skirting boards (I kept skating though! Yes I am that obsessed) and its still incredibly tender.

In the beginning I thought I would spend $90 on a pair of skates. I'd skate around on the street a little. I'd maybe get my wits about me enough to do a bit of bike track skating and then ... well there was no 'and then' because I didn't even know if I could stand up yet :). What then happened was a gorgeous friend sent me a link to these rollerfit classes. I realised not only could I stand but I could learn, and with practice maybe even master, new skills. And yes, me, the woman who loathes exercise has found an activity which she happily sweats her butt off at twice a week and in fact she wishes she could go even more.

I have walked past them a few times tonight and they almost bought a tear to my eye. I'm so excited. Suddenly Sunday seems to far away. But the thing that is the most amazing to me is just how excited I am generally about skating. I've realised how much without knowing it I have been longing for a hobby. Something that was just for me, that nurtured that part of my soul, that wasn't about the kids, or earning money, or cleaning the house or all the other important parts of my life. But is just frivolous, fun and playful.

Watching - Nothing, I'm to busy skating (although I did watch Whip It this week:)
Reading - The Hunger Games trilogy
Listening - My iPod is on random
State of mind - Wildly optimistic and joyful

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