Monday, December 31, 2012

Lesson Report

Since LTS ended for the year, I've been having my lessons on public ice- I think Carson doesn't want to wake up for freestyle.  So I've had two of them now, and it sounds like he isn't teaching LTS anymore, so I'll continue with public lessons, which kind of sucks, but isn't too bad.  If I'm not using freestyle ice anymore I might stop LTS though.

The first wasn't too bad, just about 5 public skaters and 5 low/mid freestyle on the ice.  But yesterday was kind of crazy, about 50 skaters on the ice.  I am now skilled in the art of dodge dancing, though ironically I do much better at it with a partner than on my own.  (Carson has better instinct on when we can buzz by people and when we need to stop.  I see people and think STOP! STOP!)

So I didn't post about last week, so I'll let you know I learned part of the swing dance.  Just chasses and swing rolls and skating in waltz hold.  I love it so much!  It really feels like you are ice dancing and it is so fun to skate in waltz hold on those deep curves.

This week we worked on the end pattern.  This dance the man and the woman do all the same steps (Carson tells me once we get to dances with 'girl steps' he can't teach them- BOO), but not necessarily at the same time. There are two end patterns the "you were going forward" and the "you were going backward" one.  The "you were going backward" one is easy- step forward, a few steps and a slip step (that I can't get the timing of right, but in theory, should be easy).  When you step forward the hold changes, so I've heard some people don't like it because the step seems unsupported, but it wasn't a problem for me.  The problem for me is the "you were going forward" end pattern.  It has a mohawk in it.  A mohawk that is likely very easy for CCW skaters doing these low level dances but is the ultimate doom for me.  (I am so sided, I know dancers are supposed to not be sided, but then why are there no CW mohawks in the low level dances?  The steps in the pre-bronze level really favor CCW skaters).  So when we did it fairly slowly, I was able to do it and was thinking "okay, so we are in a looser hold, but I'm still holding onto Carson, I can totally do this!"  Then we did the dance at tempo and this time it was "OMG! OMG! I am not doing that mohawk!!! AHHH! Crazy talk!"  The third time (also at tempo) was similar to the second, but I did a two foot turn.  Not good for dance, but an improvement for me, since in synchro (wow, long time ago) most of the time I turned counter to the group because I couldn't even two foot turn.

Still, I'm glad we are working on this dance because I love the chasse/swing roll part of it.  The only problem- when I am skating forward, I can't see over Carson's shoulder, which makes it very hard to watch for the public skaters!  He skates looking backwards, it is nice to have  a coach as a partner, because if I was skating with someone equal to my ability, we'd both be dead.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

I'm still skating...sort of

I haven't posted much, because not much has been going on.  I had 1 lesson in all of November, and it is looking more like that might be the case for December.  (My lesson this Saturday got canceled for a hockey tournament.)

I did have a lesson last Saturday.  If we ever find a test session, I am fairly ready to go on the first 4 dances.  Carson wants me to start learning the swing dance, so we'll be working on 5.  He also taught me the Golden Skater's waltz as something to 'add interest' (it isn't on a test)- but seriously, I have enough to remember, so I'm not sure I want interest!

Before my lesson I discovered if I start on the bad foot I can make the full rink of power pulls without losing speed!!!  And I was doing a lot better on my camel- about 3 revolutions and stand up to a scratch spin instead of 1 revolution and fall over.  Pretty exciting.  I got compliments on both during my lesson and also on my cross rolls! 

Sadly, 8-step mohawk is bad as ever :(   I don't think Silver moves is on the horizon, as I still can't do spirals.  I don't really understand why spirals hurt so bad when camels don't, but I must hold the leg differently. 

So nothing new on the horizon, and we haven't heard of a test session yet.  A coach said Omaha has one early February, but I'm not sure if a) they will since they are hosting nationals late January and b) if I really want to drive to Nebraska in the middle of the winter.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Weekend Update

I have a few rowing posts I keep wanting to write, but I've been really busy...

But since most of you follow the blog for skating, I'll make sure to write that post.

This Saturday morning was a fabulous freestyle session.  Regionals was this weekend, so the coach with the most skaters was out of town.  Even though only a few of his skaters were competing, the rest took the day off, since their lessons were canceled. The first half hour of the ice was just me and one other skater (and her coach). The second half hour I had my lesson and there was a third skater there too.  Fabulous.

Since the ice was so clear, Carson and I really took advantage of being able to run dances, with music.

But first, the half hour before the lesson.  My knee has really been bothering me (but not really my knee, I think it is my IT band, but it hurts to bend, so we are calling it 'knee'- I go to PT on Wed. This is a rowing issue, not a skating one, so it is different than the previous knee issues.) so I took it kind of easy.  Warmed up all the dances.  Did some backspins.  Tried to do some scratch spins, but the bend on the entry is too harsh.  I didn't jump.  Did some three turns.  I need my skates sharpened.

I only made it about 20 minutes before I was worried about my knees so I got off ice and stretched and talked to a skater putting on her skates.

When Carson got on the ice, we started with the Cha-cha.  I still don't have music for that, so we haven't done it with proper timing, but we did work on it partnered.  Man, I love this dance.  It should switch place with the Rhythm Blues- it is so much easier.  Other than needing to not look down, I didn't get many comments on this one.  That's a really good thing.

Next we moved to the Rhythm Blues.  My step behinds are still kind of stilted, and I bend at the waist when I do them. I need to focus on using my knees (which presumably would be easier if both were fully functional, but I don't think that is the issue, so I can't really use the excuse).  Carson is still just holding me when I do them, he isn't skating along with me.  However, that is really the only problem here.

Canasta Tango is going well.  I am a bit early on the second slip step, but otherwise the only thing Carson told me was to make sure I didn't get too swingy on the step BEFORE the swing roll. He said he was worried he would kick me (I told him if I survived synchro, there was no way he was going to take me down...)   I did kick him slightly on a progressive on like our 4th pattern, but it isn't generally an issue.  Here I started focusing on not looking down and I really hate that.  It isn't so much seeing my feet- but seeing his.  If I can't see his, I worry the timing was wrong.

I sailed through the Dutch Waltz.  It was really fabulous- we fill the ice and it just feels like I'm skating with confidence.  I can think about things like extension on swing rolls (I just imagine Meryl Davis level of extension...please don't burst my bubble if you ever see me) and toe point.  Here I wasn't looking down and it felt okay. 

I think there will be a test session in February.  I better be injury free enough to utilize it!  Wish there was one sooner...I could probably do two of the tests now.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Catching up with skating

Oops, it has been a long time since I posted.  But I have a good excuse. 1) Because I'm not making much progress, I don't have much to say.  But that actually isn't true for these missed entries, I've just gotten lazy about blogging. The next excuse is better 2) We moved so I have been busy preparing to move, moving, and settling in,  and 3) we have no internet at home.

So with that said, let me recap some of my skating.

Tuesday the 9th. Fabulous day of skating!  Now that I live 15 minutes away from the rink instead of less than 5, there is kind of a problem. Already I'm burning out on LTS, but on a cold rainy day- I just DID NOT want to go. I'm so glad I did.  We started the lesson with alternating 3s from preliminary and then the forward to backward 3s from Silver, and magically- I didn't have any sidedness issues!  My counter-clockwise 3s were working just the same as my clockwise ones.  I have NO idea what I was doing differently, but hopefully whatever it is it will stay!   Then we worked on backward circle eights and they can be summed up as "awful" (for outside) and "awful doesn't even begin to describe it" (for the inside ones).  My goodness- how are they so different from forward edges?  I can hold the edge just the same on the line (well, maybe my back inside is weakest), so why is the circle such a challenge?  Don't even get me started on that awful push to get to the back inside edge...

But the really really good news (well maybe that was the three turns)- I crossed my foot on a change foot spin!  My backspin from an inside edge entry is getting stronger, I'm crossing my foot in a closed position instead of an open one, so I can start trying to cross higher up and push down for speed, but I've been working on a backspin from a pivot position and that is enabling me to get the push correct on my change foot spin.  It is still pretty atrocious, but definite progress is being made!  YAY!

Saturday the 6th.  Carson was out of town so no lesson.  I skipped skating because we had been so busy.  I really SHOULD have gone to practice, but moving is exhausting.

Tuesday the 2nd.  I skipped skating because I was so busy.  We moved on the 1st, so there was a TON to do.

Saturday the 29th.  This was a good skating day.  For my lesson I had hoped to work on the Rhythm Blues pretty intensely, but Carson broke his lace tying up his boot, so he wasn't able to partner (he tied his skate up with one lace so that he could still stand on the ice).  Rather, I did the Rhythm Blues a few times individually (he still held onto me during the end patterns).  I need actual practice doing the dance, and preferably to music.  Hopefully this weekend.  After that, I learned the cha-cha.  He had introduced the end pattern to me, thinking it would be difficult, but it turns out, I do that step down rather naturally.  So I learned the rest of the dance.  I LOVE this one.  It is quite fun.  I have a feeling I'm in for a big spill on that step down because it can't go this well for too long, but I'm really confident about this one.  In February when there is another test session, hopefully I can take four dances.  Unfortunately the mohawks in the other two for that level are going to take forever to get down.  We worked on mohawks a bit this lesson, and they are just really awful.  Maybe it will go better if I'm partnered...

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

First time in the racing single!

Tuesday the 25th
I have the day off work for a career development day (big paper due- so I will hopefully get the entire thing done today), so I got to row from 7-8:30 a.m, rather than 5:30-7 a.m.  Man, I like that time slot so much better. And what is really nice about it is I imagine I won't be dead tired this evening.  (Which won't really matter, because I'm not skating tonight- we have a walk through of the house, which we close on next Monday.)  Anyhow- I was really worried about rowing this morning.  I woke up and my right wrist was in terrible pain.  It felt like I had broken it, and any pressure on it hurt terribly.  You have to make changes to rowing by 4:30 a.m. though, so unless I was half-dead I was committed to at least going to the boathouse, I figured I'd decide whether I could actually row or not once I got there.  Just like my knees and back, once I was in the boat, the wrist didn't hurt at all (it hurts again now.) When we got there, the boats were already in the water for us- I was taking the boat Barb (who I often row in the double with) had been in.  I expected this to be the WinTech.  It was not- it was a racing single!  My first time in one!  I'll sum it up this way: success- I didn't tip the boat and take a swim.

More specifically, the boat is really easy to row.  It moves fast if you row well, and so even the low pressure strokes I take cause it to move pretty well.  I think I'm at the point now where I'm no longer "good".  Any natural inclination I showed toward this took me to here, but now the picky things to make me into an actually good rower are coming up.  I need to stop lifting my shoulders to get the blades in at the catch, and just let them go in from the flick of my wrist.  I really need to get some abs, because my knees are popping up too early on the recovery, and I need to roll through my body before I let them do that.  We have kind of combined the arms/body of the stroke, but they are still separate from the legs.  And I need to use my legs more on the drive, though I'm not sure I have enough leg to really do that. I tried pushing with more pressure on them, but I can only stretch them so far...

It was very hard to steer the single, as I've gotten used to in the Wintech (rec single) and the double using harder pressure on one side, or a longer stroke at the catch to help steer- to prevent having to stop and take strokes with one arm every time I need a correction.  At this point, though I have good balance (maybe only two major checks today), I am not stable enough to do that, so anytime I was off track I had to stop and row on one side.  I think I did okay though.  I drifted center a few times, but I don't think I was ever on the wrong side of the river.  Near the end of practice I was very near the shore to let a women's team 8 pass by, but I hadn't seen behind me another women's 8.  RC picks up the bull horn and yells "heads up", and then tells me to keep getting over, almost into the rocks, then yells "heads up" again.  Turns out that boat WAS on the wrong side of the river and heading right at me.  I just got very near the shore and stopped, and they got positioned to get back over to the other side, and I got a polite "sorry" from the cox as they went by.  The novice women have been rowing for about as long as I have. 

I really hope I get to go out in the single again sometime.  I don't know if I'll ever have the power to race successfully, but it certainly is fun!

Sculling in the quad

Sunday the 23rd.

Sunday practice often has more people at it than the others I attend, and this one was no exception- which meant we got to do something I haven't done before- take out a quad!

A quad is different from a 4, because a 4 is sweep (one oar each) and a quad is sculling (two oars each).  I really love sculling, so I was super excited about this. Even more exciting- I wasn't bow seat or stroke seat, so my only job was to do what bow says (there is no cox in this boat) and keep my oars at the same pace as stroke.  No steering to think about, no setting the pace.

It was WONDERFUL!  I had so much fun in this boat, and really hope we get to take it out again. My only complaint is I think we spent too long rowing by 2s, as it is much more fun to row by 4s, and our balance was fine, and it didn't appear the steering issues were any different by 2s or 4s.   As a team, we really stunk at steering- apparently the rudder on the boat wasn't working very well either.  We kept finding ourselves very far into the middle, or wrong side of the river.  In that respect the quad is much harder to row than the double.  I think the person in charge of steering almost needs to act ahead, proactive, not reactive because it takes longer to get it repositioned.  That- or we just all stunk at rowing heavier on one side!  I'm just thankful it wasn't my responsibility, because it is definitely a tough job.  Oddly enough, the big issue we had had to do with us swerving the way we hadn't been swerving the entire practice.  We were rowing and the bow seat calls "heavy on starboard" and then just two strokes later the bow seat calls "weigh enough" (stop), and we all start dragging the oars down, and CRASH.  Ooops.  Apparently the rocks on the shoreline didn't want to get out of our way.  Luckily we were going slower when we hit, so we didn't damage the boat (I don't think...).  We didn't drag up onto the rocks at least.  There were people walking along the road who saw us though...that was kind of embarrassing.

So other than the minor collision, a fabulous row.  And it turned out our stroke seat was brand new, just her second practice.  She did really well! Nice even pace that was easy to follow.

I do still like skating!

Saturday the 22nd

So it turns out I do still like skating.  I think I am just 'over' LTS.  I am thinking maybe I should just stop LTS.  It just doesn't make sense to pay for Saturday ice time though, because it almost costs the same as taking LTS! 

Anyhow, on Saturday I did a freestyle session and had a lesson.  We worked on spins, jumps, and the Canasta Tango (I need better posture).  Everything went really well.  My spins are getting quite good, my jumps aren't horrible, and the dancing seems to be going well.  I started learning the Cha-Cha, though it appears the Fiesta Tango might be a deal breaker for me due to a bad side mohawk.  Maybe I'll be able to do the mohawk holding onto Carson...

I took LTS from Hannah as a make up lesson, and that went really well too. I'm working on a backspin from a pivot, which I think will help my change foot spin.  She is also very particular about no scratching into jumps, so it gives me time to think about that too.

I think I've made the decision not to go to Adult Nationals (it is just too expensive with the new house and all), but hopefully I'll have 4 dances to test at the spring test sessions.  (Which will likely be the next available ones.

Rowing: Thursday the 20th

On Thursday I took the double out with Susan.  (There are a ton of Susan's in the rowing club.  It's like Jessica's and Kristen's on my high school dance team.)  I hadn't sculled with her (she was in the 4 I was in a while back), but she said to me "I'm not very good at sculling.  I've seen you, you're really good."  Can I just say "hahaha!"  First, me, pretty good for a beginner, probably not very good for a rower.  Second of all- she has actually raced sculling before.  She was QUITE good.  Maybe she just prefers sweep?

Anyhow, she was stroke seat so she set the pace.  The pace was a WORKOUT.  (For her it was probably an easy row...)  We rowed at a very fast pace, with very few breaks.  I guess that is good for me, since I have no endurance I need to work on it.  I try no to complain and just do whatever I need to unless I really can't.   The second half of the practice we did slow down, so that was a little better.

I was bow seat, so I had to steer.  I've gotten a lot better at this, at least in terms of not getting too far to the center of the river, and not coming too close to hitting things.  I think I only had to stop us once to get re-situated, the rest of the time we were able to steer within the strokes.  The only problem is I feel like I'm annoying when I do it, because I wonder if I am calling too many corrections.  I don't want us to get too far off straight that we have to do a major correction, but it seems like I'll call "heavy on port", "even stroke", "oh, sorry- heavy on starboard for two", "okay, even stroke"  and have to correct all the time.  Like we barely have even strokes in between, there is always a new correction needed.  How do you keep these boats straight?  I also feel like I'm just not the person for this job, as I have terrible depth perception and can't turn my head the full way around...  But I haven't hit anything yet, and no one has complained to my face that my steering is annoying (Susan actually said I did a good job, but I never know when people are just being polite, and I FEEL annoying, you know?)

But I really like the double!  I'm not getting as bad of slide bites now that I've moved the shoes much further forward (it's those LONG legs of mine!) so that's a big plus too!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Morning Rowing

This morning when I left my house at 5:00 the bank sign said it was 42 degrees outside.  But out on the river, it was absolutely beautiful.  Thank goodness for under armour leggings (complete with rhinestones from skating...)
I wore a fleece jacket and a earband, but was actually pretty warm while rowing.  Towards the end, it actually got a little hot...  I was very worried my hands would be cold, but they weren't too bad at all.

Today I rowed the double again with Barb.  We match each other pretty well, so it was a really good row.  We were definitely slower towards the end of practice, but we never took much of a break (no water break...)
She and I still have zig-zag problems, but we've found a semi-effective way of steering- I just don't think it is sanctioned... The launch was staying with a single, so R.C (rowing coach) never really saw us directly.  Anyway, until we are told to stop doing it (probably right after R.C. reads this blog...) it is way more effective for me to steer by taking a one stroke with just one oar, while Barb continues her normal stroke.  When I try to call "heavy on port side" or vice versus, we rarely end up straightened out and have to stop and reposition and then get started again.  The one side rowing means we can keep going while I even us out.  I don't really think it is "wrong"- but the reason I'm not sure we are "allowed" to do it is it doesn't really let us learn steering by taking harder strokes- something you have to do if you race.  You loose too much speed by skipping out on a stroke from one oar (I would think).

But one nice thing about Barb is she is just there for a little exercise and to enjoy the river.  She chats most of the time (which honestly, is pretty difficult to hear, since she is facing away from me), so we have a similar goal at this point. I get a little bit of a workout (I'm down 5 pounds since I started! But that also might be the ramped up not eating junk efforts) but I'm not looking to get a major one.

So this morning was very good.  Although after showering and walking out to my car to get to work, I was FREEZING.  Is it possible the air temperature actually got colder?

A "what hurts" update: my knee has been killing me lately and I don't know the cause.  My back started hurting at rowing last Thursday and has not stopped.  Oddly, neither bothered me at all while I was rowing (though both hurt now).  During rowing- I was really getting a pulling behind my knees.  I think I need to work on flexibility.

Skating tonight.  By then, I'm going to be exhausted I'm sure.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Two days of rowing

Sunday I rowed, and was in the recreational single.  The Wintech (named Grace O'Malley) is the same one I rowed in last time that I felt like an absolute snail.  For whatever reason, I didn't have that feeling at all.  I wasn't speed racer, but it felt good.  The one sad thing is the pontoons that go on this boat are now permanent, you can't row without them.  This makes me sad because I don't need "training wheels", balance is actually one thing I can do really well.  However, it turns out you can raise them, so it was my goal to make sure they never touched the water, and based on how clean they were when I got out, I don't think they ever did.  Sunday was interesting because R.C. had just come back from a sculling camp put on by Calm Waters Rowing, and she said her mind was blown, and she was scared about what came next.  It turned out that everything she had ever believed about technique was essentially changed.  The straight back arms-body-legs in proper ratio rowing style isn't what is used by elites anymore.  Curved back and slouching -was- poor form that caused pain and injuries.  R.C.said using their method of curved back rowing (accompanied by videos of Olympians winning with the same technique) didn't result in any pain, and her constant tendinitis didn't flare up.  We were told to go sit on the couch and practice slouching.  She said we will never hear the word "ratio" again,  and pretty much all of our drills are gone (like the pick drill that I described in a previous post- picking up arms only, arms-body, arms-body-legs).  Now when we scull, we use the lower abs and the glutes to roll our body through the stroke, pushing our arms with us.  She apologized to me, being new, that this was going to be really hard to adjust, but honestly, I think that it will be way harder for the people who were very used to the other way.  I wasn't exactly good at that, so this will just be something different to master.  It does require a lot more lean back, so I'm going to have to get some abs...  But overall, I'm pretty excited to see how this goes- especially if it is more likely to be injury free...

This morning, I woke up at 4:45, out the door by 5:00 for practice.  It is very difficult to rig a boat in the dark!  I was in the Invictus double (sculling) again with Barb.  Today I learned I have LONG legs, as I need to set my shoes almost in the middle of the stretcher.  Originally, I had been setting them near the front, basing it on the fact that it is a men's boat, and at 5'0", I am very very short by a man's standards...   But twice during the practice R.C. had me stop and push them further away.  She also highly complimented my rowing with the new technique, saying something about how really good scullers have to really think about using the curve back and how I'm just naturally rolling right through the positions.  I don't think it is that I'm good at this, so much as I was really bad the other way!  What's really nice is that my hip flexors, which have really been bothering me while rowing didn't hurt AT ALL today.  I don't know if that is due to the change in shoe position (I don't think so, because they hurt in the rowing tank, and you can't adjust the length of those) or due to the new style of rowing.  R.C. did say she was surprised I was having hip flexor issues, because she cross country skied and realized she had totally under developed hip flexors, so she doesn't think rowing uses them, but I've since read online articles that talk about hip flexor flexibility in rowing.   Right now my middle back does hurt mildly, but it is tough to say if that has anything to do with rowing...   Barb and I match really well as a double, though I still have steering problems and she has stroke problems.  I don't think switching our seats would help though...  My steering issue is that I correct on almost every stroke- it seems like we are headed to shore, so I call to adjust, then we are too far in the middle of the river, and we have to adjust again, etc.  Her stroke problem is that she likes to just stop when she wants, and forgets to call to warn me, or she isn't always even in her pace, so it can be difficult to match.  But overall, I just love sculling.  I haven't had a bad partner in the double yet.  I really hope I can try a racing single before it gets too cold- but afternoon practices are always really crowded, so I don't know what the likely hood of that is.

Saturday Skating

Saturday I did a freestyle session, but no lesson.  Carson, who doesn't go to football games, went to a football game.  No big deal, we are trying to save money, so not having the lesson kind of helped.  Nothing remarkable about the skating.  I'm really spinning well right now, which makes me happy.  I tried to think of ways to incorporate scarves into my artistic routine, and if I decide to go to Nationals, I think that is how I will use the prop.  I think it is looking less and less likely that I will go.  There are just so many other things that it I want to do with the money that would have to be budgeted for that.  Additionally, if I want to get my dance tests, that won't give me much time to focus on really cleaning up a freestyle program.  I'd like to take 3 dances in the spring at the Hawkeye competition, and maybe the next 3 in the summer at Quad Cities.  Honestly, after Carson graduates, I think that might be a clean ending point for my current skating.  I don't want to find another coach.  One of the things I thought about really wanting to pass my Bronze test, is once I pass- I have it forever.  I know I can come back to skating (and probably be insanely frustrated having to learn everything again...) in 10 or 20 years.  But for some reason, for the first time, I feel like I am spending A LOT of money on a sport, and I'm not sure I'm getting the value I used to get.  (Maybe I've finally hit the point where I feel like I need adult friends instead of small children...)

Friday, September 7, 2012

Skittles Sweeps!

I wasn't able to go skating on Wednesday because I broke out in a weird rash on my arm and had taken so much Benadryl throughout the day I didn't think I could safely stand on skates...It is mostly gone now, so I think it is just stress from work.  Work is stressful right now.  We did manage to get nice pictures of the house taken to list it as a rental.  If you know where I live, and know anyone looking for a nice rental in this area, let me know!

So Thursday night was rowing again.  I did not get to scull, instead I went out in a 4+, which is a sweep boat (I was 2 seat, second from back, portside oar) with a coxswain.  The three other rowers were experienced, our coxswain is also new, and it was her first time coxing.

So, how did it go?  I don't like sweep.  It is much harder on my shoulders, harder on my wrists (well, not as bad as Sunday was- but that was a hard practice in the single), and gives me blisters.  Surely my fingers are going to callus up soon?  I get these same two blisters everytime I sweep.

The actual practice went pretty well.  We ran through some standard drills, which I haven't done before.  We started with a "pick drill", rowing by 2s.  Thank goodness the stern pair started, because it let me watch what was going on.  A pick drill is where you add on one part of the stroke at a time.  You start arms only (and pretty much don't move anywhere), then arms-body (that moves a bit), then arms-body-half slide, and then arms-body-full slide. 
After the stern pair and bow pair both did this drill we rowed 1 minute stretches of one pair, both pairs, other pair.   This was a real challenge for the coxswain, who had to remember to say things like "stern pair out, bow pair in in 2" and then count the strokes.  Because she was new, the launch (small motor boat that carries life jackets for us, and also coaches) driver was having to feed her lines. So then I was having to decide "two strokes from when she said it, or do I wait for the cox to get around to saying it?"  Very odd, and it didn't seem to get much better as practice went on...  Now that- OMG terrifying.  When all four of us were rowing it was an absolute tippy mess. I'm sure my face showed just how terrified I was, but it felt like we were going to topple over.   Thankfully, by the end of practice we managed to get our balance together and were rowing quite well, though maybe not as stable as we could be (my oars alternated between being way above the water, and gliding on the water- so even though we felt not-tippy, obviously we weren't being consistent).

Next we did a drill called "cut the cake", and Ning told me the purpose of it was to have a steady oar height.  Again we did it by pairs, and then altogether.  In pairs, it went very well.  Altogether, it was pretty good, but not nearly as stable.  The way this drill works is you take a stroke, and then when you bring the oar out of the water, you feather it, hold it above the water and lean arms/body back and forth 3 times (without the oar height changing- holding over the water), and then take another stroke.  Good ab workout too.  The reason why it is important is oar handle height is what sets the balance of the boat. So when we were rowing insanely tippy, it was likely because our oar heights were all different.  Not putting the oar in the water at the same time, or taking it out together seems to be more of an effect on speed than stability.

Finally, have you ever wondered what a cox says to their boat while they are rowing?  It isn't "stroke, stroke, stroke".  I'm still not sure what it is though, because the woman who was coxswain was CHATTY!  We were rowing a hard interval (probably not for the other ladies- but it was hard for me) and she's telling us "heavier on port side, okay, even pressure, I really wanted to see Zach Walls, you know the Iowa student, talk at the convention tonight. I think he is probably on while we are out here.  I bet it will be on youtube tomorrow, isn't youtube great. You can find anything on there...."   The stroke seat (first person) occasionally would chat back with her (it would be rude not to), but she is microphoned so we can all hear her, but in the back of the boat there is no way we can talk to her...  It was just really weird.  Caroline drove the launch, and at one point had us do a 100 yard power interval and she kind of did the standard motivational yelling "catch together, don't rush those slides, I'm catching up to you, stay ahead of me, really pull, get the most of each stroke"  I think that is more likely what coxswains really say...  

It did teach me though- when it is my turn to be coxswain (everyone has to do it, and there is no way the 5'0" girl isn't going to get pulled into it...):  Don't chatter. 

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Skating (!) and Rowing

I skated! Twice!

You're shocked, I'm sure.   This post is long, so I used headers. Read what you are interested in :)
Saturday I went to freestyle ice and had a lesson with Carson and then LTS with Hannah.
Everything went well- I was spinning really well during the lesson, even eeked out a few revolutions on the camel.  We only got to the Canasta Tango and Rhythm Blues for dance, but those are feeling a lot better.   I won't be testing these until April, so I think we might start on the next 3 dances.  April is a long time to go on the first three, although once we get closer we will drop the next 3, as I don't want to test on contingency.  Unlike better skaters, I'm quite apt to do something stupid like catch a toe-pick and fail the Dutch Waltz…

LTS with Hannah was fine.  She still doesn't have a lot to say for corrections, but it does force me to practice elements I wouldn't necessarily do on my own.  Plus she really hates scratchy waltz jumps (Carson only picks on my salchow for some reason) so I am forced to focus on fixing that.

LTS ice drama:
LTS was, however, ice rink space battle ground again.  The Burton-Carson war had finally been settled, and Burton, Carson, and Carlos were all given a third of the ice.  This system seems to be working.  (Hannah gets Carson's Axel Plus ice until his kids come on, but they do off ice first.  For the last 5 minutes of our class, we go off behind the hockey goal to do spins in place.)  Well, Sergei apparently decided he wanted to teach his own student in axel plus, and not have Carson do it.  So Sergei now has a student out on the ice.  And he decided she should do the 30 minutes in the harness.  The harness which takes up half of Burton's ice!   Burton's class is huge, and they were using 1/6 of the ice for a freestyle class.  Not okay!  Finally, Burton asked Hannah to switch with him (because there are only 2 of us), and that was fine- it did crowd Carson's axel plus class, but they just set up through Carlos's space, and he seemed okay with that.  But using the harness in the middle of a crowded group lesson- it makes no sense.

On Monday I skated again, with JSM from SkatingForums.  It is always fun to meet someone from online.  This is the second time she's been at our rink.  I don't usually skate public sessions, but this one wasn't too bad. I was spinning pretty well (kind of travely), was able to jump, and able to dance a bit.  Near the end it got a lot more crowded (with a few speed skaters!) and the dances became quite scary- not sure how AgnesNitt does it, since I think she is always on publics.  I think I'll stick to freestyle!

On Sunday I rowed again.  This time, there were only 2 of us at practice, so I rowed a recreational single- though not the big tub one, but the skinnier one.  It had pontoons on it for stability, but I removed them. That seems like cheating, besides which, balance isn't really my problem. My problem: stamina.  Holy crap.  This was HARD.  I never realized how much work the other person does in the double, even if I actually row twice as fast in it. I was slow as a snail and dying!  I'm really a little confused by it- because the practices are all the same length, the double goes much faster, but in the single I rowed the furthest I ever have.  Maybe the boats get into the water quicker with fewer people, so it was more on the water time? But I went from the Boathouse to Crandic Park, Crandic Park to Hancher, and then back to the Boathouse.  Which means nothing to those outside of Iowa City.

Always injured drama:
And here is the problem: I'm getting nerve pain in my elbows.  When I bend my arms, it HURTS.  I've had this happen before and was tested for a trapped nerve. I was told the nerve conduction tests/emg would be fine, because I wouldn't feel anything. I didn't have a trapped nerve. What I had was a spinal cord injury, which I knew about.  The solution- don't bend your arms.  It eventually went away.  So I don't know what to do.  It doesn't hurt at all during rowing, but is really aggravated outside of rowing, and it has to be rowing that is doing it, because nothing else is new.  Not to mention yesterday my left wrist was killing me, and that is clearly from feathering the blades.  I really want to like rowing (even though it is getting harder! OMG what a workout) but I don't want new problems. I paid for two months, so I guess I will re-evaluate then.

Friday, August 31, 2012

What happened to skating?

I have another rowing update, but no skating.
Again, I have a good excuse.  I couldn't go to Wednesday freestyle because we had the inspection on the house we were buying.  It looks pretty good, just a few minor things to fix.  Which is as expected, because it is new construction.  Some weird things though- there are no fans on the fireplaces, so if we want to get any heat off them, we'd need to install that.  The downstairs one doesn't even have fake wood in's just like a picture of a fire, but real fire. So odd.

I cannot wait to move, but the sad thing is, because we went a little higher than we meant to, we don't have money for furniture.  So it will be like another year before the house is put together to have people over...

So Thursday night I went rowing.  It was freaking 90 degrees! WTH Iowa?
I couldn't find my visor and when I went to Hobby Lobby to get one (it's where I got the first one, "ready to decorate" but I left it plain) they didn't have any.  So I had to wear one of Kevin's hats.  Except for the logo of a rival school from my own, it was perfect- fit great, kept the sweat out of my eyes, kept the glaring sun out of my eyes.  I have a new rowing hat!

So I rowed in the double scull again, this time with Ning.  She started off a little uncertain that I could actually row with her, and we did the one at a time thing, while she set the boat for me- to keep balance.  I told her R.C. had been having me row with the other person, so we switched to that.  Once Ning was convinced I could balance well, I think she upped the pace- because holy crap, that was some hard rowing.  We did take a few long breaks, and when we turned to head back upstream (? There isn't much current, so I'm not sure which is up and which is down) she started rowing oars off the water* and that slowed the stroke rate down a little bit.  But man was it a workout.  I'm not sore today, but I was worried about it.  In the boat, I could really feel my calves and hip flexors in pain.  I just have no flexibility in my legs.  What happened to me?

*When beginners scull, they slide their blades across the water and it makes the most awesome sound, however, it causes friction which slows the boat down. So a more advanced sculler feathers above the water.  The blades on the water balance the boat, so taking the blades off the water creates an element of instability if your oars are not exactly even in height.  Even having just one person row off the water created a few tippy moments, I imagine it is really hard to control when we both do it.  I am nowhere near ready to row oars off the water, even though I do seem to be sculling really well.

Another weird thing about rowing: I am covered in bruises.  I don't fall much in skating, so I have only had a few bruises from hard falls.  Rowing: I have a cut and a bruise on both calves from my slide bites,  I have two bruises on my left bicep and one on my right from who knows what.  I have a bruise on my left thigh, I think from trying to massage my hip flexor- so I did that to myself.  And I have major sore spots, but only minor bruises on both shoulders from carrying boats.  The one thing I don't really have: blisters.  I only get those from sweep rowing, not sculling.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Tuesday Update

I went rowing at 5:30 a.m., which meant I left my house at about 5:10. This is earlier than I have to leave, but I really really hate being late to things, and they really discourage late...
There were 2 other people signed up for the practice.  When I got there I found out I was assigned to a big, stable recreational single shell, and that the other woman was assigned to the single I like (this boat is Grace O'Malley, who I rowed during my private lesson, also a rec single, but slightly more streamlined, and lighter than the other boat, Bob). R.C. asked me if I wanted a challenge to take out racing single. And I said that Grace O'Malley was probably still a challenge for me, but that if she thought I could I'd try it.  I pointed out that if I was going to take a racing single out this year, I probably needed to try in the next few weeks.  It is pretty much guaranteed that you'll flip a racing single when you are new, and the river water will get too cold in the upcoming months.  The possibility of flipping in cold water is obviously present in any of the boats, but it is just stupid to take a boat out if it is guaranteed...
So R.C. tried to convince the other woman to take the racing single, so I could have Grace O'Malley, but she wasn't interested, and then somehow, rather than taking Bob, she put us out in the double.  This was actually quite perfect.  It was the same double I rowed last week, though with a new partner.  This woman wasn't quite as strong as Barbara, but we got along very well, so we were actually pretty evenly matched.  This meant that we kind of took an equal row in decision making, and I was more responsible for steering (as bow seat is) than I was with Michelle, who was very experienced.  Barbara mentioned to me that it was over 6 months before she rowed 2 at a time when she was new, she expected we would row one at a time while the other balanced the boat.  We had no balance problems at all except the minor checks when one of us missed our catch (oar didn't go in the water) or sunk the oar too deep.  It was fabulous.
The best part of the row was that the sunrise occurred during it.  It was dark when we set out, and then suddenly, the sky was beautiful and it was bright. Really quite lovely.  Technique-wise, my grip was picked on (I don't like where the thumbs go!), I am still rushing my slide (I think I literally have to just stop and wait for a count at the end of the slide before putting the oar in the water. I can't slide for that long, the legs just aren't long enough) and we worked some on the flexing of the wrists when feathering.  It was a good session.  I was able to take a shower and get to work before 7:30, so I don't need to change my hours for that.


Uh, I skipped skating...  Not because of rowing though, I have a good excuse.  I had a biopsy on a mole (no worries, I'm sure it is nothing) and it felt like my ear was on fire and someone was stabbing me, so I chose to go to bed around 5:30 rather than skate.   However, I find myself less excited about skating more often now.  It isn't because I've hit a plateau, in fact, between dance and new spins, I'm making progress.  I think it is just that I've run out of goals.  Competitions are SO expensive.  I really want to go to Adult Nationals, but when I look at it logically, I'm not sure it really is a good idea.  We could go on a real vacation for that much, even if I have family/friends I can stay with.  Local competitions are basically like throwing money away, as they aren't actually competitions, just insanely expensive exhibitions.  I still have dance tests to work towards, but the next test session I know about is in March.  So why bother now?  (There is one in Ames in November, but it is the day after I get back from a vacation, I'd have to take off work, and I'd have to get a hotel, and drive all the way across state)  Plus, now that I have another activity I really enjoy, I'm just looking at all the money I spend skating and wondering why...  If it didn't cost a small fortune (and it really does), I'd feel better.  I feel selfish spending all that, especially now that we bought a new house and are trying to save.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Weekend update

Saturday was my first lesson on the new schedule.  I got to freestyle at 8:00 and started off trying to practice.  Operative word: trying.  You'd think I had never been on ice skates before!  Couldn't do a scratch spin, basic edges were hurting my ankles, stumbling along on shallow edges for dance...
So Carson comes at 8:30 for my lesson, and I tell him things aren't looking too good... but we start with dance and it goes okay. He is pretty happy with the Dutch Waltz, and the Canasta Tango is okay- I'm not as confidnet with this one, so dodging people is difficult, which messes it up a bit.  Rhythm Blues went well too, I got almost all of the step behinds.  I find if the end pattern is flat across the end of the rink I am way more likely to hit the first one- the second and third I seem to get everytime.  So right now we are trying to flatten it out (as opposed to before when we weren't even turning it to an end pattern, but just shooting to the wall) and Carson says we will work on curving it again later.  This means the first end pattern goes well, but the second I need more power on the side pattern, because if we aren't as far down the rink as we need to be, the end can't be as flat, because then we haven't hit the ice coverage.  But at least now I think Carson understands what I'm saying about why I'm missing the step, so hopefully it will work out.  Communicating the dance issues are hard.  Power is a weird thing- he is skating in a way that he thinks I can keep up with, but I'm thinking "we'll never make it to the end, we need to push more"- but I can't really control the power of the couple, so even if I try a bigger push, it doesn't necessarily help.  Skating with music does help- so I'm glad we did all three dances to music- the speed we skate without it is very different.  At the end of the lesson we did spins, and my scratch spins ROCKED.  Awesome centered and fast.  I also had some really decent change foot spins (and some really bad ones, but we won't talk about those).  I can spin, it is just the stupid foot that's the problem.  Carson refuses to allow me to tuck my foot to my ankle.

I originally hadn't planned to take LTS on Saturday because my lesson is on Saturday, but Carissa came back, and I felt badly that she may not have a lesson to be in (she is very shy, and scared to skate in Burton's group), so I told Sue if she had a class for us, I'd take it too.  Because of the ice time that comes with it, LTS is a bargain. So Hannah taught our class. She did a great job - better than the Tuesday class she co-taught with Carson.  I assume a) because she was nervous she would say something different than Carson since he was the "lead" teacher and b) because she is like 17, so teaching me and Elka (who is 70?) may have been intimidating.  Carissa is a kid.

Carissa had brand new skates, so Hannah worked on some stroking exercises with her to help her get the feel for them (Carissa was amazing- I couldn't even skate day 1 with mine, she was doing everything pretty well- though I think the new big toepick scared her!) And I worked on some spins and jumps with occasional comments. 

Carson's axel+ class did off ice first, so it worked out really well for ice space, only a problem the last 5 minutes when they got on (because there are already 2 other freestyle classes, both sort of big, on the ice- axel+ is 3 kids, but they obviously need room to set up). As long as he does off ice first, we'll be good.  If he doesn't- I don't know where this class will go...

I did another rowing practice on Sunday.  This time I was in a pair, which is a sweep boat.  I had the starboard oar, which is my idiot side.  My left wrist just isn't strong enough to do the feathering, so I do it with my right hand too, which is just wrong.  But that wasn't the biggest problem.  The lady I was rowing with was about as good as I am.  She is more experienced than I am, she said about a year, but not in a pair.  It was a very different experience than Thursday when I had a patient guide with me.  First, to get started, we rowed one at a time.  If you can picture a boat where each person has one oar, and only one is rowing, you'll know that it will do nothing but zig zag.  Which means staying to the right of the river is going to be tough.  But she wasn't interested in even trying to stay to the right- and was rowing very very center, and at times even on the left of the river.  When better rowers (in singles sculls) came to pass us, she'd say "it's fine- they always pass on the right", which is pretty much the opposite of what I was told- the river is a road, so you pass on the left!

Well, once we got a rhythm going with the zig zag, we decided to take a moment and "set the boat" to go ahead and try rowing together.  I do this, you need to figure out the oar height that allows you to stay even, and then you always row with the oars that height.  She was telling me to do this you let the oar go, and it will float to it's natural set position.  I told her if I let go of my oar, the boat would tip over!  If I even let go of the pressure on my oar, we tipped portside.  I didn't really want to be catty and argue with her, but I was being told to do something stupid, and being judged as obstinate for not doing it, so I didn't really have much choice.  Of course, this is when R.C. drove the launch by to check on us.  We got a "what are you two doing?"  I told her we were trying to find a good balance point so we could begin rowing together and then the woman started telling her about how we were letting the oars float to their "natural set".  I wanted to point to her and say "she's crazy...I'm not doing that", but of course, I'm not a third grader so I didn't.  R.C. then told us this was a TERRIBLE idea (yeah) and NEVER let go of your oar.  My partner then argued with her for awhile that this was how you do it (sure, the coach wouldn't know?), but then R.C. talked us through our balance point, and she told me to count the strokes, pausing at the catch and the recovery.

Now, this is why I say blind leading the blind.  This is my second time on the water, first in a sweep.  I'm bow seat, not stroke seat.  Stroke seat generally sets the rhythm, bow seat follows, but here I was being the one who set the rhythm.  The other woman had a much stronger stroke than I did, but her blade missed the water, or bounced, or dug too deep about as often as mine did.  It was a big mess!

After awhile we took out the pause at the catch, and then we progressed to rowing 3 strokes at a time before a pause.  Finally, at the very end of practice we were able to row continuously for a little bit, but even still, we were NOT rowing a straight line, and were way in the center of the river.  I think R.C. told the other rowers that we'd be rowing drunk, so they expected it, but I was very conscious of how badly out we were- rowing to the side was stressed so heavily in my private lesson.  I guess I see it as freestyle ice, and needing to stay out of the way.  Unfortunately, my partner greatly disagreed with me.

In other news- boats are heavy.  I can usually carry them, but if they slide off my shoulder, I can't get them back up.  And I pretty much always need help picking it up.   I hate being weak.
I'm signed up to row tomorrow at 5:30 a.m.  Wonder how that will go...

Friday, August 24, 2012

Skittles Sculls- for real!

So the insane pain from Sunday had waned by Tuesday, and it still hurt to lift my legs up, but I went skating anyway.  Nothing remarkable, just LTS.  Although I felt better, I skipped practice ice on Wednesday, just to make sure I had time to heal.  Because Thursday was a big night: my first on the water practice.

The weather was beautiful, so we actually got to row for real.   The way our rowing group works (because I know others are different, some you have to sign up as a boat team, for instance)  is you sign up on a website for the practices you plan to attend, and then R.C. makes assignments for who is in what boat.  She apparently does try to shuffle people around, so you don't always row the same type of boat, side of the boat, scull/sweep, or with the same people.  There are apparently some people who only scull (I may become one of them...I like it so much better, and sweep seems like a great way to get a shoulder/wrist injury- but I haven't decided yet), and of course, if you ask to be in a certain configuration, you probably will be.

So anyhow, the list tells me that I am a double scull with Michelle.  We take the boat (holy crap heavy!) down to the dock, and she talks me through getting it set up, it's basically the same, but there are minor differences for what you do with a partner vs a single or an 8.   Then we head out.  I'm bow seat, which means I'll follow her stroke pattern.

Michelle is extremely patient and an excellent teacher.  I have two immediate things to work on: pulling more evenly (I had a constant need to be heavier on the right to stay straight, which really seems to mean lighter on the left...) and not rushing my recovery- quite a few times I had the oar in the water before her, and the stroke seat sets the pace, not the bow!

It is also really difficult to see where you are going.  Even looking over both shoulders, all you see is reflections of light, and I'm guessing it just takes time to decide if those reflections are boats?  Way harder than skating backwards...
Can I brag for a few moments?  Apparently I AM good at this.  When we started, Michelle said for balance with a new rower you alternate "setting the boat" (holding oars at a flat stable position, to create a stable base for the boat to rock against) while the other person rows.  So she rowed for a few minutes, then I did, then R.C. drove by on the launch and said "she's good- just row normal", and from then on, we rowed together the whole time (occasionally I would row, while Michelle would try to look over her shoulder to correct an error- like my "chicken wing arms").  Then, Michelle tells me she wishes she was able to race in Des Moines, because she would race with me.  Um- what? Des Moines is in 4 weeks.  I've rowed in a double, uh, once.   Nice vote of confidence there!  Racing would be fun, but it seems like I should have more than a month under my belt.  I got tons of compliments from Michelle (in between tons of corrections...) and afterwards one of the guys said something to me, and I said it was my first time out there other than the private lesson with R.C., and he was shocked- so apparently, I really do know what I'm doing!   (Just put me starboard sweep, I'll stop knowing what I'm doing and be humbled real fast- I'm clueless on that side, slightly better on port.)

So I LOVE sculling, and only having to work with Michelle meant this practice was way more my pace and I am not injured like I was Sunday.  No new blisters today (the two from Sunday have disappeared) though I have some major slide-bite on my left calf, and minor on my right. It's not actually cut open though.  (For those wondering- your calves sit between the track that the seat slides on.  The friction against them causes cuts and bruises- slide bite.  It's like breaking in new skates!  Except I think I'm breaking in the calves, not the boat...  I have permanent scars on my ankles from my skates before I got a gel sleeve, so who knows what my calves are going to look like.
In other news: rowing is a WET sport.  We didn't capsize, but you wouldn't have known it looking at me. The splash from Michelle's oars in front of me, I was soaked.

Oh- other update.  Kevin and I bought a new house! We are moving to a new city (very near where we live) in October :) 

Monday, August 20, 2012

First Rowing Practice

So after you finish the Learn to Row starter practice, you are free to sign up to practice with the group.  I signed up for my first practice on Sunday, and spent the weekend worrying about it.

I'm just a natural worrier, and new people scare me.  When I did the ice show in Cedar Rapids a few years ago, I drove up there and then sat in the car for 10 minutes thinking I should drive back home.  And that was with a group I mostly knew.  (In hindsight, there was major drama involved in that show, so maybe I should have... but it wasn't due to scary people.)

So anyhow, the Hawkeye Community Rowing is divided into two groups: competitive and recreational.  There are also combined practices.  The problem is, the group was newly split, so almost everyone in it is competitive.  There were only like 2 rowers on a list of 30 that only attended recreational practices, another 4 that only attended recreational and combined (yes, I'm a dork and took the sign up sheets and worked this out...)  Everyone else was part of the competitive practices.

So, I signed up for a combined practice on Sunday, really nervous about it, because no one on the list was one of those recreational rowers, and many of the "competitive" rowers in the group were ones who had done an actual race the previous day.  How in the world could I keep up?  And would they all hate me for slowing them down?

Turns out, on Sunday, there was lightening, so we didn't go out on the river.  I figured we would erg, but instead we practiced in the rowing tank.  There was a lot of grumbling about the tank, while R.C reminded us how lucky we are that we have a rowing tank to use at all- most community programs would have to erg, or have to go home.

So in the tank, we started with a 10 minute warm up, left and did 10 minutes of active stretching, and then did 4 sets of 10-minute steady state rowing with about a minute of rest between them.  Then we finished and stretched for 10 minutes. 

And what do I think of rowing?  Holy crap- it is an absolute killer.  The warm up was fine, but I was already sweating.  It was at a faster pace than I had done before.  The first 10 minutes of steady state rowing was insanely difficult.   We were rowing VERY fast- enough that the water in the tank was gushing like a water ride.  It had the nice benefit that the oar would be pushed for you, but if your timing wasn't right, you could hit the oar of the person in front of you.  R.C.  told me I was rushing my slide, and to SLOW it down.  My legs can only take so long to extend and the woman in front of me was like 8 inches taller than me.  Slowing down was very hard, but I worked on it.  By the second 10-minute set I thought I was going to die.  My legs hurt, my abs were starting to fatigue.  But I kept up.  Third set- still keeping up but "legs-body-arms" cadence got changed to legs-arms, my abs had pretty much stopped working.  This was of course noticed, so I was encouraged to lean back more.  I tried...    Before the last set, she asked if anyone wanted to switch sides.  I didn't want to row starboard because I am so uncoordinated on that side, and already we were rowing too fast for me.  Then R.C. said there was a set of slides set up, so if I wanted to erg I could.  I did that for the last 10 minutes, which was way better because I set my own pace.  I was really hurting by this time.  The erg went better too.  I learned how to resist the erg from pulling itself under me and to make sure to only bend my legs when I was ready, not when it forced me to.  I worked on having more efficient strokes, and a longer recovery, so the stroke rate isn't so high.  That went pretty well.

I was sore leaving the building, but by the time I got home I was pretty sure my legs were not going to function anymore.  I had a painful night sleeping, I woke myself up crying a few times...   I'm pretty sure I badly pulled the muscles in the hip flexors in both legs.  Walking is painful, lifting my foot up is nearly impossible.  (I can squat though, they work that way.)  I also have a sore spot in my upper right calf, I don't know what part of the muscle that is, or why it hurt.  It is different calf pain than typical in skating.  My abs are also insanely sore, but not hurt like my legs.

So this is the problem- when rowing as a team, you have to do what the others are doing.  Ease into it isn't possible.  But what they are doing is clearly too hard for me.  Aerobically I got through it, but it hurt.  And clearly, today I'm hurt.

So here is hoping one day of rest is sufficient and I can skate tomorrow.  And row on Thursday...

Friday, August 17, 2012

Skittles Sculls

But first - skating news.  I am NOT getting to skate on Saturday.  Apparently Saturday at 9:00 a.m. is the only time possible for our realtor to show us houses.  It is also one of two times all week that I get to be on freestyle ice (and two times all week there is learn to skate).  Are you kidding me?

Okay, and the title is misleading, I didn't scull.  But I did complete the learn to row starter package, which means I can now sign up for team practices.
The last part of the starter package was a river tour and a lesson on the ergs (rowing machine).

Here is what I learned on the river tour:
-The dams will kill you.  Do not go anywhere near the dams.  You will be on a major shit list if you ever go under the railroad bridge (2 bridges before the dam on that side).  The Burlington street dam is invisible from the water, but it will kill  you.  The Coralville dam is visible from the water, but if you can see it, you are too close- it will also kill you.  Dams = death.
-River right of way is serious business.  The women's team gets priority.  Stay out of their way.  Unless you are too incapable to stay out of their way (likely...) If so, make sure to shout a verbal warning so they don't expect you to act.  Slow people stay to the right of the river, just like a road.  Seems easy enough, except:
-The banks of the river are filled with trees and other things to run into.  Don't hit them. 

So, now I'm pretty terrified of rowing because death awaits me on either side of the stretch of river we row, I need to stay as far right as possible to not be in the way, but also not too far right because there is tons of stuff to run into.  Fantastic!

There are also a million landmarks to remember, because she refers to them in practice. 

After the river tour, which took about 45 minutes (big river!) we went into the boat house and I tried to erg on slides.
Slides are the neatest thing- rather than pulling against an erg that stays in place, you pull the erg underneath you, much like a boat.  However, it totally wrecks all sense of body awareness.  I did okay on the drive (legs, body, arms) but then on the recovery (arms, body, legs) my legs would suddenly either not move at all, or they would move at the same time as my arms- absolutely baffling.   I only banged the erg against the edge of the slider once (though I was going really slow, so it was probably because I was being careful) which R.C. said she expects beginners to do- so apparently coordination on these things is difficult.

Then I learned how to read the monitor, what split times we generally row at (much faster than I was going), what strokes for minute to aim at (I was at that- um, apparently I don't row with much power...), how only the drive affects the split time, not the recovery, and how to set a workout.

Then she showed me the sign up website they use for practice, and I am free to sign up!

Except, I'm terrified.  I looked at the practices, and while they have been split into recreational and competitive, it appears there are only a few people who only row in the recreational groups.  Most of the rowers are part of the competitive group (which is my eventual goal).  This sunday there is a practice I can go to, a combined one.  But everyone in the group is a competitive rower, and most row 3-4 times a week.  I'm terrified I'd be too slow and crappy.  So I'm thinking I should wait until next Thursday and row at a rec practice.  Except everyone signed up for next Thursday is a competitive rower too- so it's really the same issue as Sunday, but a slightly smaller group, and they are knowingly going to a slower paced practice.

But mostly, it's just the social anxiety thing that made me want to run away from my first ice show practice...  But seriously- with rowing, there are SO many things to run into.  And unlike ice skating, you never get to go forwards.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Danger! Danger!

So yesterday while warming up the Canasta Tango, I hit my toe pick on a crossover (um, bad technique much? Rather than the underpush, I just shoved the foot into the ice...)  What should have been a horrible face plant ended up with me hopping a few steps, sliding onto my thigh, and spinning onto my butt.  The absolute best toe-pick fall ever.  Not even a tiny bit of pain, like sitting down at the bottom of a sit spin you just can't stand up from.  I was thrilled.  Best fall ever!

However, I stood up and found out that my legs did not agree with my brain's assessment of the fall.  I got off the ice and for about 5-minutes my legs were shaking, sewing-machine leg style (rock climbing term), as if I had just had a near death experience.  WTH legs?

However, I managed to get back on the ice and have a decent lesson.  Carson and I have flattened out the end pattern of the Rhythm Blues now, so I am no longer doing the step behinds straight at the wall (he had been doing that to not require me to skate at such a severe angle around the curve) but around the rink.  I only did 2 step behinds the first time we did the pattern, but managed all 3 the second time.  That first one is just a killer.  The second time we did the dance, I don't remember how many I hit, but Carson did them too and it wasn't that different from when he just holds me up while gliding.

Worked a lot on edges, as I prefer to angle a flat the direction I'm going...  Canasta and Dutch seem okay.  Even Rhythm Blues seems promising.  I don't even attempt the end pattern on my own. Thank goodness you don't have to solo tests.

Oh- and this morning I woke up with a quarter sized black spot on my knee. So apparently I DID hit it when I fell, but it didn't hurt- so WTH legs?

Friday, August 10, 2012


I'm not sure I have enough fodder left for a blog.  The first like six years I was excited to post about my practices because things were new and different.  Now it's the same stuff all the time.  I take three lessons a week, but it is rare that I post even once... 

I think I'm making progress on ice dance.  Carson wants me to get deeper edges and more power on the Dutch Waltz and Canasta Tango, but both are okay. For an "encouragement" test- I think they'd pass already.  We are at a weird point where I could skate with more power, but I can't move him, and trying to increase my power if he doesn't just means flying over my toepick, and he is afraid to push me past my comfort zone, so we just need to communicate better. I told him to just skate the dances properly, and I'll keep up.  I do understand he is afraid of taking an edge that is going to take me out.

The Rhythm Blues are also making progress.  I still do not skate the end pattern when doing the dance by myself, but I am no longer holding the wall to practice step behinds.  We are doing the steps of the end pattern now when we partner the dance, but not in the right place- we have not yet started trying to flatten out the progressive so the steps go around the rink, instead we pretty much head them right at the wall, and then recover on the exit progressive to get back on pattern.  Not sure when we'll change that.  I'm about 50/50 for hitting the first step behind, the other two I get every time now.  When we first ran the dance, Carson didn't do the steps, but just held me, but the other times he did them.   I'd like to start flattening the pattern out, but we'll need to do it on a day that Taylor doesn't have a harness lesson.  The corner of the rink was cratered like the moon...

Last night I had my second "Starter Package" rowing lesson- this time on sweep rowing in the tank.  I don't like sweep as much as sculling, but it went well.  I think I have better form than learn to row, because my back is not killing me.  My wrist does hurt though- the feathering motion is very hard on my right wrist, but when I row starboard side my left wrist just sucks and I end up using my right when I'm not supposed to.  I don't think I did too badly though as she increased the speed of the water in the tank because my slow water technique was good.  My faster water technique, less good.  I need to loose a few pounds if I want to race (also, because I'm overweight right now).  I am just at the lightweight cut-off for some races and about 5 pounds above for others.  I will be much more successful racing if I am a lightweight, because even for a lightweight I am SHORT, for an open class rower- I am miniscule.  (Did you see pictures of the Women's Olympic rowing team? They just won another gold medal.  In the pictures they have one tiny girl with them; their coxswain.  Well the coxswain is 3 inches taller than me.  And about 30 pounds lighter...about the same as I weighed in college.)  See why even against recreational rowers, I can't be open class :)

Next week I have my final private lesson- on the erg.  Then I can start rowing at 5:30 in the morning with the community group.  They have afternoon times too, but as long as I keep skating, I can't do that or I'll never be home to see my husband!  Adult Nats were just announced for Scottsdale, AZ, where I have family and a skating friend, so it is definitely the goal to go, and I'd like to test at least the first 6 dances in the next year or two, so I'm not giving up skating for afternoon rowing.  Kevin and I are also looking at a new house, and sadly it is going to lengthen my commute.  When I have to drive 15 minutes instead of 10, I'm not sure how 5:30 is going to look- haha!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Rowing takes over the skating blog.

So I cancelled my skating lesson this week.  I felt bad doing it, but it was the only time I could arrange another lesson: sculling.

Since taking Learn to Row I have been eager to get back on the water, but the rowing program hadn't been very ball about getting together their next step: a "starter package".  For this, there are three private lessons: sculling (2 oars) on the water, sweep rowing (1 oar) in the indoor tank (you can't do that in a boat by yourself), and erging (rowing machine).

I was thrilled to start with sculling, because it looks like the coolest part of rowing to me.  Because it had been over a month since I rowed we started in the tank just to remind me of basic technique.  The thing I am worst at is remembering to square my blade (point it down ready to go into the water, as opposed to feather which is when it lays flat over the water) before I do the "legs" part of the stroke.  Going slow this mistake isn't a big deal, going fast the safety video has assured us we will "catch a crab" which results in the rower being launched out of the boat to certain doom.  However, the coach (LynnAnn) then told me you don't actually have to do that in sculling, so WOO! I'm ready.

We started by using a tool they didn't have ready in learn to row- the dock box.  Now, I've since googled them, and it appears in most cases a dock box is a slide seat that sits on the dock and allows the rower to put the oar into the water and slide through the whole stroke, but remain in place, like the rowing tank.  This is not what our dock box is.  Our dock box is a slide seat, and it gets set onto the dock (it should get screwed in, but she forgot to!) Well then, LynnAnn detaches the last portion of our floating dock and I literally rowed the dock around the river.  The advantage to this is it is very wide and thus very stable.  Also, the coach can sit on the dock and talk to the rower, rather than drive along in a small boat (called a launch) and yell instructions at the rower who is going much faster than the tiny boat, since she doesn't want to cause much water movement by using the motor too much. 

So rowing the dock around I worked on the sculling stroke.  It turns out rowing is very much like figure skating in that whenever you finally reach "perfect" they change the standard on you and suddenly you can't do anything anymore.  The progression of this in sculling was to row body-arms, and then once you can do that to row legs-body-arms.  After doing that for awhile she then told me to start feathering my blades.  Well, this is when it gets to be like rubbing your belly and patting your head.  You have to keep the correct motion of legs body arms, keep the oar handles at the right height, keep your grip correct (I like to death grip, and my thumbs are never in the right place. I have a feeling "fix your grip" will be the "bend your knees" of sculling.) and then you also have to twist your wrists at the right time.  Still, I think I did a good job.  At one point she asked me if I had been erging, but when I said no didn't elaborate.  I'm not sure if I should take it as a "you are doing the parts of the stroke well, it's good you practiced" or a "man, you sure taught yourself some bad habits".  Since I think I did okay, I'm going to pretend it was the first.

After working on rowing the dock, and practicing steering (stupid winding river…) R.C. decided to have me switch to an actual boat.  I figured we would be using the boat we used in Learn to Row- I think it's name was Bob, and he was a big wide platform and super heavy. Not even the slightest was he tipsy, but no. I was introduced to Grace O'Malley.  She was very lightweight- I was shocked when we picked her up that it wasn't difficult for two people to carry at all (during learn to row I learned that boats are heavy and I am weak).  I got into her with no problem at all- thankfully I have decent balance.  I pushed off from the dock and was able to 'set' the boat so it was balanced.  I rowed one oar at a time. Things were looking good. And then I tried to row with two oars. Holey crap! If your oar handles are not exactly even, you are falling to the side. And I learned that if I fall out of a boat, it is going to be to the left.  Skating has taught me that balance checks can't be huge, so I think I managed to keep the boat balanced without overreacting to tips.  I eventually got to where I was able to row full, continuous strokes with the full motion.  I love the sound the blades make as they feather over the water (good rowers don't do that….but R.C. also said she doesn't let people feather until they are ready, so that gives me some step up).  I loved it.  As you can see by the overly excited LONG blog post, I've fallen in love with sculling.

The only problem is I can't row straight. Just like skating when you row without a coxswain you have to spend a lot of time looking backwards. The boats move fast (HUGE difference in feel from rowing the dock. Once I got over the initial fear, it was like flying. I can't imagine how fast competent rowers must go), so as R.C. said, they crash fast.  It was recommended I look over my shoulder every 2 strokes, and she said even she won't go more than 5.  So I think once I'm not the only person on the river it is unlikely I'll be able to row a single due to traffic patterns (really the river banks, rocks and the trees proved enough of a challenge. Why can't the river be straight?).  And as a beginner I'll probably row sweep a lot, because that puts you in a boat with experienced people. But man, I loved sculling.

Also I can barely walk today my legs are so sore.  I knew rowing was a full body workout, but so many people say "man, your arms are going to be so toned!".  Those people don't row.  This is a LEG workout more than anything.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Woah! Fast.

So this weekend during LTS we were doing sit spins, and I was trying to pull up into a good scratch spin (since a two position spin is better than one, and I need to find some good spins for a bronze program) but kept finding myself off balance.  Carson told me the secret is to not open up my leg, but just pull it straight in.  He's right.  Holy crap- I don't think I've ever spun so fast in my life (and it did stay centered).  It was a little terrifying.  So now I have something new to practice.

I don't remember much else about skating.  The rowing program finally got their "starter package" together -beginning private/small group lessons on erg, in the rowing tank for sweep, and on the water for sculling, so I registered for that and took a swimming test.  Now I have to wait for the rowing coordinator to return my call to schedule the lessons. So far, communication has not been a strong suit of the program, so I'm a little worried (especially since I put money down.)

So here is my rant of the week- my swimming test.  You have to swim 200 yards and then tread for 20 minutes for the "advanced" test.  I did that.  The other option is a regular test- 100 yard swim and 5 minute float or tread.   The form also asks the lifeguard to write down whether you are a weak, intermediate, or advanced swimmer.  The lifeguard freaking wrote I was a weak swimmer!   I am so pissed, because I treaded water pretty much effortlessly.  If I took a perceived exertion test I could have easily sung songs while I was doing it, I could have treaded twice as long.  I got out of the water after the entire thing with NO fatigue.  This is why the lifeguard was asking me why we had to tread for so long and that's like "coast guard level requirements".  So, if I can do that- how the hell am I a weak swimmer?   He clearly wrote it based on my lap swimming- without a doubt, I'm slow.  However, I wasn't so bad that I was too tired to tread for 20 minutes right afterwards.  I could have done another 100 if I had to, though I wouldn't have liked to!  (Beyond that, I'm not sure. I've never even attempted to swim laps before.  It has never interested me.)  The lifeguard wasn't sure if he could even pass the test because it says "use any stroke"- and he says I didn't use any stroke.  Um?  WTH?  That is clearly intended to mean "can swim in any manner", but he said I did breaststroke arms (having watched breaststroke- no I didn't) while using a flutter kick. Kevin demonstrated for me that breaststroke requires a frog kick.  Dumb-ass lifeguard.  Is it common knowledge (if the Olympics aren't currently on) what kind of kicks go with what kind of arms?  I'd say pretty much only people who have been on swim teams know that kind of stuff, otherwise most people swim in a manner that is easiest.  I can do a basic freestyle and backstroke based on trying them when I was a kid (imitating others) but my standard method of swimming is sculling my arms while flutter kicking, which is what I did.  If I was being evaluated for a swim team- yes, I am a weak swimmer.  But if I am being evaluated for falling into the river without a life-jacket on, I am very firmly intermediate.  You could leave me there for a very very long time before I was in danger (unless I also got hit in the head with an oar...)

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Ice Dancer Adventures: Leave Room for Jesus!

So in Tuesday LTS we are using half the time to work on ice dance elements, mostly just swing rolls, chasses, and progressives.  It is actually quite difficult, because we have to go across the short axis.  Which means I do chasse on one lobe, progressive on the other, chasse, and then come to a screeching halt halfway through my progressive because I'm worried I'm going to hit the wall.  The rink is just too short!  Also- my lobes are too shallow.
One of the things Carson is really focusing on is the extension in the swing roll, and to make sure it comes through straight and close to the boot, and not around the leg.  (Apparently kicking your partner is not a desired outcome?)

Yesterday we did back swing rolls for the first time.  OMG! Are you kidding me?  I have decent back outside edges, but the second you tell me I have to a) keep my torso perpendicular to the axis and b) not swing my leg around, but swing it through, they go to pot.  HORRIBLE.

Carson then decided we should do them in waltz hold, because it makes them easier.  He was right about that, because, at least as we were doing them, my body stayed perpendicular to my partner, but not to the axis.  Taylor was helping with our class, so Carson danced with Elka (she is tall) and I danced with Taylor.  It was pretty funny.  We couldn't figure out where the girl/boy hands went.  We are both used to being girls!  I went home and checked with Kevin, and what we did ended up being right, but it is just different with a guy...

Anyhow- a good waltz hold is close.  Taylor and I were so far away from each other it was comical.  The edges were decent, but Carson laughed at our pitiful hold (Taylor, like Carson, is also new to ice dance, but unlike Carson doesn't have extensive pairs experience, I think she has pre-bronze with Carson, and they are testing up to either Silver or Pre-silver at the next session.)  I said something about "leaving room for Jesus" and neither had ever heard that expression!  Taylor said she even went to Catholic school.  (One of the kid skaters later said they DO use that expression at their church lock-ins, so thankfully I'm not showing my age, which isn't THAT much older than Taylor and Carson. The girl says they are also told girls are red and boys are blue- no purple allowed!)  Anyhow- at Catholic dances, they wanted partners to make sure to stay apart- and not let their hold get too close.  In ice dancing, that is definitely not ideal!

I tried to practice dances on public afterwards, but it was a mess.  About 25 freeskaters leftover from lessons, and then a bundle of publics.  And one of the freeskaters was in lesson doing power circles, which pretty much rules out everything, since they take the entire center ice.  But I did do step behinds around the rink, and they are getting a little more comfortable. I just cannot shift my weight to my left side.  Getting my right foot to 'slip' out after my left sets down is impossible if I'm not holding onto the wall.  Hopefully it will be fine when holding onto Carson. That's the same as a wall- right?

In other news, yesterday was an awesome spin day.  My scratch spins were all awesome and centered, and any that started out bad I was able to correct in the spin to get on the right track. I'm pretty excited about that- being able to correct a traveling spin into a centered one I think shows a lot of control.  Or maybe luck?  But I'm doing it a lot more lately, so I think control.  My sit variations were also good, although Carson really wants the pancake to be pancaked.  I pointed out to him in the 90s before Lucinda Ruh started leaning over, a lot of people did front (and back) tucks sitting upright.  But he said "it looks like a pancake, judges are going to expect you to be in a pancake!)  Urgh.  Taylor urged me to extend my arms backward when I put them behind my back, so I started trying that.   I also had some good progress on my change foot spin.  Still can only do it from a snail's pace forward spin, but more and more I'm keeping the backspin going, and my leg is not tucking back.  It still isn't crossing though!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Dangers of Ice Dancing: Evil Step Behinds

Any long time reader of my blog will know I hate the step behinds from the Rhythm Blues.  I blame my hip injury on a fall I took on these (it's when the pain started...) and that put me off the ice for over 6 months.  It also ruined my ability to do spirals.  Step behinds suck.

Well, yesterday I started doing them again.  And this time, they weren't painful to me, but to Carson.  I'm working on them at the wall, but he also wanted me to try them partnered.  Carson was a high level pairs skater- he can pretty well hold me up through anything.  So we did the Rhythm Blues end pattern, and although too slow for the dance, I mostly did the step behinds.  I also apparently dug my elbow into his back.  Sorry, Carson...step behinds hurt, I guess.  (I have no idea how I did this, I even tried the hold at home to figure out how I was tightening up to stab him in the back with my elbow, but without the scared feeling, I can't recreate it...)

Going back to dance though has shown me how much better of a skater I am than the last time I tried this.  With Courtney, I could not fill the rink with the Dutch Waltz, maybe just half rink (since it doesn't start all the way at the end- I could get the pattern to 3/4 rink).  Now, I often overshoot the pattern, to the point where I need to think about deeper lobes, rather than length.  This power, however, means I sometimes chicken out on the end pattern progressive.  But partnered, I'm not chickening out at all.  Courtney never really felt confident partnering with me, so we didn't do it much- but I had to Dutch Waltz in a show with Andy.  I remember him hissing under his breathe "you're fine!" and he took me through an end pattern edge that was surely going to kill me.  Perhaps Carson didn't take the edge so deeply, but I had no problems at all doing the dutch waltz in hold with him, on first try.  (I'm sure my butt was sticking out, and I know I was looking down, but the steps were good.)

I need to fix the looking down issue.  However, I tend to turn out and swing my legs, and have horrible proprioception, so only by looking at my feet do I know I'm not about to kick Carson.  I don't think he'd appreciate that.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


So I noticed something today.  I've actually noticed it before, but I decided I'd post today.  ALL of our LTS coaches are male.  Carlos, Sergei, Burton, and Carson.   Does anyone else skate at a rink like that?  In such a female dominated sport, it seems really weird.   Our skating director said she's had complaints, because the girls in the class don't 'relate' to males, but that's silly.  They need to deal.  The coaches have such different styles.  Sergei is strict, Burton is fun, Carson requires good technique from freestyle, but is fun with little ones, Carlos really drills the basics.  None of them are intimidating (maybe Sergei?).   I think it is probably really good for the little boys in the program, though we don't have too many that stay to freestyle.

But serious- all the coaches are male.  We don't even have any female private only coaches right now.  (Taylor, but she's on vacation.  Tonya comes down occasionally, but she is really out of another rink.)  Weird.

My skating- well, I'm at a bit of a crossroads.  When I am skating, I feel good about it.  When I am not, I wonder if I want to stay skating. I really want to go back to ballet, but I don't think that is a good idea.  My hip holds me back there, and I'm fat and would be in a leotard with sixth graders.  I doubt my ankles can handle pointe anymore.  Ballet is a pipe dream...  I should just stick with skating, but I need a goal.  I think first two dances will be the goal.  At the wall, I tried RB cross behinds today.  I hate those things.

Friday, June 29, 2012

In the doldrums

I'm at a weird point in skating.  I'm not sure where I am going with it.  I have kind of met my ultimate goal from the beginning, to get my bronze test.  Originally I thought I'd be able to continue through with moves for a long time.  The harsh reality that 1)skating is really hard and my hip injury have kind of put an end to that.  So now i'm just skating.  There is so much to work on, but I lack motivation.

Having skipped LTS last weekend, I went into Tuesday not having practiced for almost a week.  Tuesday was pretty awful.  My feet were just not underneath me.  My level of skating is not maintainable without consistent practice.  Wednesday I felt a lot better, and got to the rink a bit early to warm up before my lesson.  My spins were good, and a high level skater told me she thought my sit spin variations were looking good- lower than my normal sit spin (and visibly so, since I switch from it).  My back sit is feeling better too, but not from a change foot.  Mostly, I was really happy with these spins though.  I bet if I videoed them, that feeling would change... isn't that always the case?

My lesson with Carson went well.  30 minutes is enough that I am exhausted.  We worked a lot on spins, and on making my salchow quiet.  Apparently it is all in the shoulder rotation, to keep the edge before I step into the entry from scratching.  Which of course screws up all my timing I've worked on.  My salchow goes back and forth between being my best jump and being incredibly uncomfortable. 

My camel isn't making any progress.  I'm annoyed with that.

We worked on dances.  I need to remember the Canasta Tango, the steps haven't cemented into my memory and I have lost them from the last time.  I just have no interest in doing the Rhythm Blues.  But Carson thinks I should work on it again.  That stupid dance knocked me out of this sport for over half a year.  I had to go back to ballet (which I actually miss, but there is no great class situation in Iowa City for me.)

Right now I kind of feel lost in what I'm doing.  If I don't have another goal in skating- am I just throwing money away?
We still haven't gotten the email on "next steps" for joining the rowing club, so even that is in a stage of waffling.

Oh, and my current (school) class stinks.  It is so unfocused and leaves me feeling like I'm guessing at what the instructor wants.  And it is set up so we get practically no feedback on whether we are meeting the standard.  A lousy example in teaching education (and I've been pretty happy with this program.)  Oh well, only 7 more weeks of it- at least the classes are short.  And then one more class and I'm done!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Learn to Row: Day 2

Day 2 we were supposed to be out on the water, but we got to the boathouse and there was lightening, so we started in the tank.  Good thing as one of the women was late.  The coach was NOT happy.  She really stressed the importance that when you have a seat in the boat, you have to be there to fill it.  Really preaching to the choir, because unless she said something in private to the other woman, that was only said to the people there on time...

In the tank we worked on timing of the stroke again and were shown some common mistakes.  The weather cleared up and we were able to row.  My seat assignment was bow seat, which internet research has told me is for the crappiest rower.  I refuse to believe I was the crappiest of that group (but probably bottom half- I'm weak) and based on the corrections the coxswain gave us out in the boat, I'm holding too this.  I've also since read that shorter rowers often go towards the back, and this makes more sense because the two seat was also my height.  The taller girls were up front.  Anyhow, we learned to adjust the shoes (mine need to go all the way up) and how to "set" the boat - lay your oar flat on the water to balance it.  Half the boat set the boat while the other half rowed.  Each half of the boat was 2 experienced and 2 new rowers, so the new rowers followed the strokes of the experienced ones.  We would pause at different points of the stroke, and then eventually did continual rowing.  It was pretty neat, and easier than in the tank.  The hardest part was rowing really slowly because while I didn't feel I was rushing to the catch, I also just don't have very far to slide before my legs run out, so staying with the tall girl in the 4 seat was tough! 

We came back to dock and switched seats (no one specializes as a port or starboard, everyone does both- the coach said she rowed one side all through college until one day she was asked to switch and then she was so confused she couldn't figure out which way to turn the key in her car door to make it open).  The number 2 seat I liked better, because I feather with my right hand, but I swear there was something wrong with it.  The girl who had been 2 said she couldn't sit in the proper position to set the boat, and I had no problem with that in the bow seat, but then I couldn't in the 2 seat.  You are supposed to rest the oar on your leg, and my achilles tendons don't stretch enough to ever get my legs that high.  It was very odd.  Nothing else felt wrong about it though.  We had a different cox this time (the first was a man) and she was very analytical, breaking down EXACTLY what she wanted.  You sometimes had to guess with the guy (follow the leader with the experienced rowers who knew what he wanted).  This is also when I got to learn to "back" or row backwards to help turn the boat- very hard, way harder than paddling a kayak backwards.

On the next switch I went to the sculling station and that was pretty awesome.  We used a rec shell, so it was wide and stable. This was a lot easier for me because the handles were much smaller, but also a lot harder because my right stroke wasn't as strong as my left and so I couldn't always stay in a straight line.  And, it is just like skating backwards, where you never know what is behind you- very nerve wracking.  We didn't use our legs yet, just arm/body part of the stroke - I tried the legs a few times, and man was that confusing.  Having two oars really means there is a lot to think about.  Still, I'd like to try sculling again.
And then we got the boats out of the water and washed off and that was the end of day 2.