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.

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