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A new rink today. I know it’s a luxury to have a choice of rinks; there are two within reasonable driving distance. I’d gone to one for the Sunday public skate, so I checked out the other one today. It’s a bit farther away, but it turned out to be worth the extra drive: the facility is newer, cleaner, and larger than the first rink.

It was a relief to step onto practically empty ice given the madness of Sunday’s public session; when I arrived, only two people are skating. This prompted momentary anxiety of another kind, since they’re intimidating with their jumps and spins, while I’d be clunking onto the ice on my second time out.

I got over those worries pretty quickly; I had practically the whole surface of the ice to explore, with only myself to worry about. As a complete and utter beginner, I have no illusions about not falling, but I do like for my falls to be purely based on my own mistakes.

I wore my new skates for the first time, and they make a world of difference because the pain is gone. I don’t know if it was the smooth ice or the freshly sharpened blades or the nice rink, but today’s session felt so much better under my feet than Sunday’s. Rink 1’s ice was so soft and cut up that even with frequent zamboni breaks, it made skating harder than it had to be.

Almost immediately, like on Day 1, my foot muscles began to burn from being forced into use. Not in a “Uh-oh I’m hurting myself” way, but in the way that all muscles need time to get used to new movement. Like clenching a fist as hard as you can and not letting it relax. I couldn’t imagine sticking out a full hour with achy feet, so I started taking breaks. Ten minutes of skating in fits and starts around the rink, five minutes off. The nice thing about an empty public skate is that I can stand at the boards and relax my feet for a few seconds. With two advanced skaters and nobody else, I’d be in no one’s way.

There are still a few weeks till the next Learn to Skate session starts up, which means that I don’t know any exercises yet, so I had little to practice other than trying to keep my knees bent as I attempt to stroke. I know about the snowplow and swizzle from one time skating in my childhood, so I took some time practicing those. But I started to get a little bored.

An hour in, probably 40 minutes of which I actually spent on the ice, I felt all tuckered out and considered calling it a day. After a zamboni break, though, out of nowhere, something clicked and I found myself moving across the ice more smoothly, without lifting my skates in that awkward glide-clomp I’d been using. Maybe my muscles instinctually figured out a better way to stay moving. I don’t even know what to call the movement — I checked at home later; they’re swizzle pumps — but this finally gave me a bit more speed and control.

More skaters arrived in the early afternoon, spanning various skill levels, though all are better than me. Not that that’s hard to do. I was encouraged to see the number of adults, and one of them — a friendly elderly man — caught me during a slow moment (so, any moment, basically) to offer a few pointers and the basics of a one-foot glide.

Another regular skated up to offer more tips, assuring me I’d be jumping in no time. Ha, it’s kind of him to say so. I was grateful for the tips, because I have actual exercises now! I can work toward something instead of just waiting for classes to begin.

More significant was that I felt welcomed in a new, unfamiliar world. I felt like apologizing for taking up their practice time while they gave me a free lesson, but the fact that they were happy to oblige gives me a good feeling about the adult skating culture at this rink.

I spent the rest of the session working on one-foot glides on both feet, and swizzle pumps with deeper knee bend. I got my second wind and felt pretty energetic in that latter half, but I made myself leave at the end of Hour 2 because I don’t want to overdo things and hurt myself. Probably a good decision since I’m sitting here exhausted now, ready to nod off at my desk. It’s a good feeling.