Sunday, March 29, 2009

When the shoe is on the other foot

This morning I did something I have never done before. I went quad roller skating.

I have skated on inline skates, and I probably went to roller rink birthday parties as a kid way back when. But this was the first time I ever went to a real roller dance session, with people who take it seriously. I got up at 6 AM on a Sunday to meet Tim, my ice dancing partner, who before switching to ice was a national champion roller dancer, at the roller rink. We decided it was time for me to see things from his perspective.

I met a lot of nice dancers and Tim's roller coach, Joan. Before I even got on the floor, they told me that it was harder to go from ice to roller than vice versa. They said I would not be able to turn. Joan said most ice skaters can't even stand up on the floor. Add to this dismal outlook the fact that I was wearing rental skates - something I wouldn't even consider on ice - and I figured this would be an hour of tortured falling scenarios.

When Tim first started skating on ice, he was gung ho and fearless. There was nothing he wouldn't try. He had no idea that we were pushing him to do really difficult things, and so he just did them with no preconceived notions. I swore I'd do the same on the floor today, and mostly I did. Only I knew we were doing difficult things because we were doing all of our ice dances - the blues, the samba and the Viennese - which are hard even on the ice!

The technique is different enough that certain things I can do in my sleep on ice, such as swing rolls, were extremely difficult on the floor. Without Tim to hold onto I wouldn't have been able to do anything, but hanging on for dear life I was able to do 3 turns and mohawks, or at least sort of hurl myself into turns from forward to back. Nothing was elegant or pretty but I didn't fall down and I didn't throw up, which makes the outing a success per my friend Marilu.

It was actually a blast. Tim taught me some of the roller dances on the fly. I have some new blisters, and a new pair of non-rental roller skates thanks to the kindhearted people at the rink who, after an hour on the rental skates, went home to get me some decent skates they just happened to have sitting in their garage. I think this will be excellent cross training for ice, since I have no choice but to let Tim lead. Also the skates are heavier so I am working the same muscles I need to build up in my legs before surgery. Finally - the roller rink is WARM. I do better if I'm not standing around in the cold. Not that our mall rink is cold, but the other rinks are brutal.

Don't worry ice friends, I am not going to the dark side. But what a challenge to try something similar, but just different enough to make me work hard. We'll see what new aches and pains I wake up with tomorrow.

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