Sunday, February 10, 2013

Breaking In

I owe all of you a post about the SCBWI NY conference, which was amazing, inspiring, and moved me through a yo-yo of emotions from side-aching laughter to tears. But a post like that deserves a lot of time to plan and write, and I didn't have that last week. Maybe next week will be better.

These past few weeks at work have been exhausting and last week was one of the worst, with early mornings and late nights. I haven't written in days, beyond a few notes to myself or a half hour stolen here and there. Since writing comes before blog posts, I apologize for the delay in posting! (Heck, I was even on a work conference call with a surgeon during my lunchbreak last Friday at the SCBWI Writer's Intensive!)

Instead of SCBWI, I'm talking skates today. My new, pretty, OMG expensive figure skates. And the breaking in process from hell.

My new skates with my old skate monkey soakers
My old skates were six years old, broken down to the point of being dangerous, and the blades had been sharpened so many times, there really was no more steel left on them. I'd already sprained my foot thanks to an overly soft left boot and my coach actually stopped working on some multiple jumps because the boots didn't have enough support. They also smelled like something died in them... maybe even worse than used hockey gear.

I loved my old skates. They were comfortable and saw me through most of my single jumps and all of my spins. I've competed, skated the Rideau Canal, and watched the sun set over NYC and rise over San Francisco in them.

Still, it was time to move on. I needed a harder boot and a more advanced blade, something that would take me through double jumps and maybe into my axel. I went to the skate guru who fits olympians at a rink near my office, and was upgraded to Jackson Premiere boots and Eclipse Mist blades (similar to Coronation Aces, for all you skating geeks out there.) He heat molded the boots and lectured me about sharpenings and socks. We took about half an hour just to position the blades.

I nearly fell on my face the first few times I tried to get enough speed on the ice to check the positioning.

Oh, so padded! Still doesn't mean they're not cutting a bit into my ankles and foot!

Shiny, shiny blades! That toepick is larger than my old ones.
The boot was stiff. Strange. Big. The blade felt curvier and funny under my foot. My balance was all off. I felt like a beginner in those boots. The toepick was huge. Back to square one. Oh. My. God.

When I stepped on the ice yesterday for my first lesson in these boots, it was one of the scariest things I've done in ages. But in those fourty five minutes and with my coach's encouragement, those skates slowly became more comfortable. Stroking laps around the rink went from impossible to normal.

Then, he asked me to try a basic jump... slowly.

Even with a tiny waltz jump, I felt the power in my boot and blade. I flew. My landings were solid. Though I fell on a salchow, it was because of my technique and not the boots (the bruises on my elbows and pelvis are epic. Really. Ask me tomorrow, when the real soreness sets in. I already feel awful today.) And that same stiffness that is currently cutting into my ankles and bruising my feet will give my jumps incredible height. 

Skate guru punched out the side of my boot to make room for my lumpy foot.
Now my skate is lumpy,too.
It's going to take hours of work and bruising and discomfort to adjust to them, but these skates are going to be amazing once I get through this learning curve. I can't wait to see where they take me.

So many things in life need learning curves and hard work before we can improve and grow. What have you had to "break in" so you could "fly"?