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So I’ve been pretty nervous about this upcoming holiday ice show, and while I wouldn’t say I was quite stressed about it, I would say preoccupied is apt. This show has taken over my life in the past week, and compounded with friends coming to visit from out of town (the week after the show), the holidays, and work projects nearing deadlines, all in all I’ve felt frazzled and overextended.

I’ve been telling myself that perspective is good, to remember that skating is just a fun hobby in my life — there are no real consequences to being bad at it! I do have a competitive nature so it’s hard to accept being poor at something I try so hard at, but let’s look at this glass-half-full and figure I’m building character. With skating you just can’t rush progress, so you really do have to accept where you are with skills and limitations, or… quit skating? Otherwise you’ll just be miserable.

Anyway. I’ve been doing program runthroughs in all my practice sessions, most of the time while listening to the music on my tiny clip-on mp3 player that I got for working out. I made a playlist that’s exclusively my program music, in three cuts: a full cut, a cut that starts a third of the way through, and another that only plays the last half. I find it easier than trying to fast-forward or just waiting for cues. It’s been really helpful to listen to it as I skate (usually with one earbud in), because when I would visualize my program without the music, it was difficult to gauge tempo and speed. With the song playing, even if I wasn’t doing the routine, it got me in the mindset of the right rhythm.

But by the time this week rolled around, I was kinda bored of it all, actually. Not sick of the music or the program itself — it’s still fun and there’s lots to work on — but bored with my practices. I was doing the same thing over and over, working on the same problems and trouble spots. I was tweaking, but not learning.

On Thursday we were supposed to have a full dress rehearsal to mimic everything about the day of the show: In my costume, I’d skate at my Usual Rink to warm up, then let my muscles grow cold as I drove over to Show Rink, where I would warm up for ten minutes only using the end zone (where the curtain would be up during the show). Then I’d start my lesson with a runthrough.

But last-minute things cropped up and we ended up going to Usual Rink for the lesson. Only, a huge group of schoolkids was there and the ice was terrible and there were so many of them (60 to 80?). They were teenagers, too, who are so much harder to skate with/around than younger children — they get wilder and louder and more reckless. Thankfully the group left as we were starting the lesson, but the surface was so choppy that I could literally not see any ice — there was a layer of snow over everything. They were supposed do an ice cut, but I think the zamboni was on the fritz. Sadface. I could do most of my elements, but spins just weren’t working — I couldn’t hit a camel to save my life and my regular upright spin was hit or miss. Coach A said that if I could do my program on this ice, I could do it for the show, easy. Problem is, my spins are really finicky these days and I had to adjust in order to spin on that ice, and I don’t think it’s ideal to change technique on a fussy element a few days before performance day. Eek.

It was a good experience in the sense that I had to deal with the unexpected and roll with less-than-ideal conditions, plus I had to go out wearing my costume amongst a sea of regular folks in jeans and hoodies and just get over it. I think with embarrassment at a certain point you choose whether you feel it or not. I had to choose not to be embarrassed about being a 33-year-old grown woman in a sparkly ice skating dress doing a program in front of bystanders with my limited skills. (More on the costume in a future post.) And it was strange, but after I chose not to care about it, I sorta didn’t care about it.

It reminds you that so much about ice skating is about mental strength, not pure skill. And hey, if you can’t quite find the mental fortitude to make it through a performance without being hit by nerves, perhaps you’ll find the mental fortitude to shove that memory out of your mind.