Posted by: trish alexander | December 5, 2013

Falling down–okay, crashing down in a big heap.

_MG_7100_1It’s not a big deal, but I fell down. It’s good to fall, especially when there is a doctor on the rink who can assess what was going on. My elbow bent a new way. This is not the first time, it’s the second time. The first was when I fell off a bottle cap in my clogs at the hyrdro races. I was then, in 1979, inebriated enough that I should have fallen easily. But that is my curse, I fall hard and I broke my elbow in six places, er, the end of it broke in six pieces and they shaved off the tip of the bone and several months later it was better.

Xrays years later showed that what they cut out was supposedly my funny bone, and it grew back, but there was still a bend in it that was not natural, it looked like the bend in a bow where my elbow, when my arm hangs limp at my side, bows away from my body. I’m back to having a permanent bend again, now it is closer to a right angle, but it’s only been four days. It was just a strain on something in the elbow area.

The videos on landing and not landing a back loop are below.

It was all over a full back loop jump. I put on my new sexy Roller Derby compression crash shorts, which protect my tailbone, but I fell forward. I believe that if anyone else had fallen they would have simply slid, but I go down in a smashing, crashing heap. If you have ever seen Eddy Matzger do his “fall” he suddenly skates at high speed and with nothing more than skates, shorts and a helmet on his head,  he goes flying out, hovers over the ground like superman and then tucks and rolls. Me? It’s like it a me or the ground and I’m ready to do battle. I never win.

Naomi Grigg pondered how she falls. She suggested that learning to skate without pads meant that she had to learn to fall lightly.  I agree. We put all the pads on then we don’t learn how to really fall. Except that I learned to fall on ice and we slid, most of the time.  I remember tons and tons of falls when I was a figure ice skater and my father swore I bounced.

But thanks to Dr. Wu (Chao Ching) and all her assistants (good friends) at the rink on Sunday, two bags of ice, one wrap, ibuprofen two great cups of coffee while icing, and rest, I’m getting back to normal. I had to learn how to dress with one hand, bath the dogs with one hand and drive a stick-shift with 1.25 hands. It was just another way to live. For two days. Life is good when you skate, even when you fall. Life goes on, skates need to be skated.

Landing a loop video
NOT landing a loop video

Posted by: trish alexander | October 10, 2013

Bending in skating and in life

compassI always wish I wrote more often on this blog, but I’ve found that my I get a notion and then it simmers in my head for a while until I am ready to write it down. So, this one has simmered for long enough.

In skating when we tell students to bend their knees they bend at the waist as if bowing to the queen. Bending your knees in ice skating is also ‘knee breathing’ and conjures up the vision of knees undulating like a wave out in the ocean–you can never tell exactly where the wave starts and ends.

Bending the knees constantly is critical to skating and it must be a motion that allows the skater to move up and down gracefully. New skaters often bend their knees but they lock them in place so they skate like a robot .

Think of your knees as a series of degrees on a compass and you want the degree change to move from one number to another larger number, never resting on the same one for more than a nano-second.Knee-Bends

How much should you bend? It depends on what you are doing. For Indoor Speed skating you will have deeper knee bend more consistently than if you were Slalom skating. (Yes, there are many moves in Slalom which require deep knee bends, but not as often as in indoor track.) If you look at the picture on the right and give the straight leg a #1 designation, the slightly more bent a #2 designation, deeper a #3 designation and the deepest knee bend a #4 designation then you can see the degrees of knee bends skaters might use.

Spiral ice

Except for a Spiral, skaters should not be skating in the #1 position with a perfectly straight leg. In fact, even for spirals there is a point where you are slightly bending your knee, in fact you are doing so up to the point that you have the free leg, high up in the air and you are ready to finish the move by holding it. (A spiral is where one leg in underneath you with all your weight and the free leg is up in the air, behind you, forming a T or a Y, depending on your flexibility as depicted at right.)

Newer skaters tend to skate with a bend similar to #2, but we all should be skating with a bend much closer to #3.  Your legs should go from slightly more than #2 through and including slightly MORE than #3.  The 60% shown on the compass above is pretty close to correct.

Bending our knees or bending them more immediately improves every on skates. A lack of bending makes the move impossible. Maybe thinking of your knee as a shock absorber will help you bend more often. Maybe instead of thinking of bending your knees, think of flexing your ankles. This involves pushing your shins into the tongue of the skate and causes the knees to bend automatically. Whether you bend your knees, flex your ankles, think of it as a movement in which your whole body rises and sinks like a wave.

Life is like the need to bend our knees as a cycle. When we become afraid we lock our knees  and we become rigid. Bending with the move, allowing the knee breathing cycle to happen is just like breathing with life–it brings grace, healthier knees and the move you are working on.

Posted by: trish alexander | May 16, 2013

Palms, sand, smiles & a rink

Just found this post in my drafts…. hm, still works…. from November, 2012

Maui skate rinkI was lucky enough to spend 16 days in Hawaii with a couple of friends. While it was a partial working vacation, it left me enough time to snorkle once, watch the election coverage, walk on the beach every morning, meditate and catch some rays.

Next to spending time with my two friends, the best part was the rink on Maui in the Kehei area.  It’s officially the Maui Roller Hockey Association’s rink to manage and they use it for a solid hockey program but also as a fund raiser. In Hawaii most of the family activities are free such as the full sized community swimming pool and this rink. So you don’t pay to go, but if you borrow skates or buy snacks, the hockey association makes money.

The rink is incredible in so many ways. It’s just cement with bumpy seams, but still smooth enough for any move you want to try. It has an official scoreboard and basic hockey boundary ‘boards’ which line the rink like any major league rink.

It’s well lit, has a music system with the music coming out of speakers poised high over the rink, some adjacent to the flowing palms. They have three sessions a week, Wednesdays 6-8 and Friday/Saturday nights 6-9pm.  There are bleachers just outside the rink full of parents and friends chatting away. Families bring all sorts of food in including Shaka Pizza, an island favorite.

Must admit with only a few exceptions, the quality of skates used by everyone are poor-the only skate shop is a Sports Authority and given that few people would know the best skates to buy, it remains in my mind, the only thing lacking at the rink.

The rink sessions starts just about sunset, so get there a bit early and watch the light show.

It’s not to be missed if you get lucky enough to go to Maui. To skate on the beach in a rink at sunset is a reason to go to Maui.

Maui Inline Roller Skating Rink
1900 South Kihei Road
Kihei, HI 96753
ph. (808) 874-5655
3 public sessions each week on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. Double check via phone before going. Some gear and helmets available. Rental skates are inline but not high quality. But, they’ll do.

Posted by: trish alexander | May 13, 2013


The body is amazing. Just 60 hours out of surgery and I can perform amazing feats like getting out of bed. The stomach muscles, your core, are responsible for ambulating. You figure that out when they put four incisions in your stomach and robotically remove parts of your body which arrived when you were born.  Within hours I could feel the healing.

Our bodies know what to do when we give them the chance. But here is the mystery: why after getting very sick did the body not only heal but it increased in energy, ability and kindness.. While I can’t claim to be more kind, only you can, I feel it. My energy level has been higher than I can remember, at least in a decade. I am’ new and improved’ in so many ways.

How do you account or that?  Maybe following my passion, seeing my path clearly and doing what was needed is finally paying off.  Maybe but I think not.

It is, I think, because of the kindness of others. Donations of more than $6,000 to help me. Friends taking shifts to stay with me, doing my work while I’m down, coming over to chat, participating in the talent show event and oh so much more. There is no mystery, it is not that my kindness is elevated, it was that I saw the kindness of others tenfold. I rose to the level I was shown. Thanks to all of you for the hand up.

Posted by: trish alexander | April 30, 2013

Getting up and dusting off

back on skatesAfter writing the last post I realize that if you haven’t seen me lately, you don’t know that I’m fully recovered. Uh, a small challenge with my shoulders and arms, but I’m back skating, dog walking and working full time. I’m fully recovered.
It was fun to watch it happen. Without expectations I just let it happen. Didn’t push it, although the first time I skated for ten minutes my feet couldn’t lift the skates so I could only swizzle around the rink and my lungs felt like they had a brick on them. I didn’t care about the skating, I just wanted a bench marker and I got it. Each day I could see improvement.
I still have a surgery that needs to happen next month, I’ll be off skates between 2-6 weeks depending on the method of the surgery. The hysterectomy is an attempt to keep any chance of a mass returning. Because they never found out why any of this happened, despite numerous follow up tests, the doc wants to be sure I have the best chance of not having this similar ordeal return.
So, I’m back, different, better in personal ways, healthy and skating in ways that makes me cry.

Photo: My first skate, post-hospital, and more than 15 pounds lighter

Posted by: trish alexander | April 29, 2013

Falling down by the numbers

Hosptial day 7For 17 days I didn’t know why I was sick, I just knew I was sick. Then a trip to the Emergency Room at Virginia Mason Hospital started the beginning of getting better.

By the numbers:
–11 hours: with a team of amazing doctors, nurses and staff in ER who found a mass attached to my ovaries/fallopian tubes
–35 beats per minute: my heart rate at certain points during my stay
–103.3 degrees: my fever due to the infection from Sepsis in my gut
–4 CT scans: attempted the first day trying to figure out what was wrong
–15 minutes: the amount of time when I was classified as unresponsive
–6.5 days: in the Critical Care Unit following the ER
–2, 4 & 24: the number of stuffed dogs I received, bouquets turned away (no flowers in CCU) and possibly the number of people who visited me that I remember
–4 to 6: the number of bags of nutrients they gave me in order to rehydrate me
–37 pounds: the number of pounds gained and lost due to bags of nutrients
–17 pounds: the number of pounds lost from one month before to one month after this ordeal
–25 pounds: the number of pounds lost in the 2.5 days after leaving the hospital
–17 days: the number of days on oxygen
–2 days: the number of days in the hospital after the ER and CCU
–7 days: the number of days of self injecting in the pick line, post hospital

Fall Risk–infinity: the number of people who supported me by doing my work, walking my dogs, visiting me, staying overnight post-hospital, hugging me, praying for and with me, calling me, holding my hand, caring for me, cleaning my house, buying me groceries, donating to my hospital bills, emailing me and finally telling me that all is right with their world when they saw me skating again.

Posted by: trish alexander | December 31, 2012

There is no TRY, only DO

Those words were uttered by Travis Pastrana as written in an article in ESPN just after he did the unheard of Double Back Flip on his motocross motor bike.

I’ve always remembered his words, especially when teaching a move we call Cross-behinds.(video). The move is one where you start skating backwards and you take one wheelchair-backflip-1
foot and cross it behind the other. The challenge in this move lies in the requirement that all your weight must be on the back foot the minute you set it down. It’s a commitment that cannot be trifled with.

It’s the same with a waltz jump. Or any jump. Once you take off there is no try, only do. The penalty for a lack of commitment is of course gravity, in a heap.

As we cross over into the new year, I am committing myself to doing with intention. I’m going to practice falling first. (Starting on the grass. I need to be less afraid of falling at 52. So that as I do, I can commit and not be afraid to only try. After all, I have health insurance now.

I do fall. I don’t have to try at it.

Video: Travis’ You Tube Double Flip  Even though I know the outcome I am terrified for him. When he lands it I actually cry for joy, every time I see it.


Posted by: trish alexander | January 17, 2012

How to send the skating blues away, part II

Keeping your skating fresh, fun and challenging is fairly difficult to do on a regular basis. If you marathon or indoor race, you likely set goals of diet and training on and off skates. But for many skaters who choose not to compete it is difficult to set goals and keep improving. As I noted in the previous post scaring yourself is helpful but there are also other ways:

1.) Read up on your discipline. Check out Amazon for good books on the subject, check out Inline Planet E-Zine & and see what other skaters are doing with their talents. You’ll find new moves, new technique and likely an enjoyable time reading about skating.

2.) Watch videos on Vimeo and YouTube. In the previous post I found a skater doing a one footed spin on inline skates and it was because of that video, I could do it. I am still working on it, trying to sneak up on that spin, but this kid inspired me. When I started inline skating at 34 I’d like to think I would have tried it before I saw it but at 51 I’m a tad more cautious. To be fair, I’ve done a ton of one footed scratch and sit spins with about 10 revolutions or so, but they were on PicSkates, and I’d like to replicate the spin on rockered skates.

3.) Try the moves in shoes. (As my friend Stacy learned, it’s not appropriate to do them in your socks). From aggressive to artistic, Racing to Slalom, Derby to rink skating, getting a sense of what the body feels like, or should, it very helpful.

Take time to study skating, as well as to enjoy skating.

Posted by: trish alexander | January 10, 2012

Skating the blues away through fear

It’s just a passing thought, one I’ve been struggling with for about three months: my skating is lackluster, I don’t feel challenged.  What to do?

For me the answer seems to be that I need to scare the hell out of myself, even if I don’t have health insurance.

I am now trying a one-foot spin on my SEBAs.  Success?  Sort of. I’ve only been working on it for a week but I got two revolutions out of it and I did it on the second wheel, not the first one. It makes more sense but it’s a tricky balance. It goes without saying that I’m on rockered skates. Two revolutions, WooHoo!  But my heart is in my throat and I don’t think I breath the whole time.

Eleanor Roosevelt said we should do one thing every day that scares us.  I think that 20 attempts at the spin is good for a week.

Posted by: trish alexander | July 8, 2011

Chicago, gangster style

Skating amongst Gangsters & NSP to the rescue

Tom Grosspietch (foreground at left, Philip Graff behind Tom)  is an amazing skater and community builder. I had the chance to be in Chicago for a Skate Instructor Certification for three local skaters. I arrived early enough to do the Friday night skate which the NSP (National Skate Patrol) heads.

Tom has long been the person who develops the “themed” Friday Night Skates which in the past have included the Chicago Fire notable locations and The “Inline” Skate where the skaters toured all the hotspots which were so busy you had to stand “in line.”  Clever, for sure.  I think there have been some 55 different skates which occurred in passable weather .

My first Friday Night Skate was a tour of the momentous locations of the St. Valentines’ Day Massacre.  While some of the exact locations are in question, Tom did his best to verify the details which included calling an author of one of the books he was reviewed for our tour. Tom located conflicting information on the address of the garage where the ‘fake’ police car caught on fire so he researched and contacted the author to confirm the correct address  (1723 Wood Street.) We saw the hospital where one of the gangster was taken to (sadly died just outside). Along the way we learned additional details of the robbery that Tom had gleaned from his research.

Joining us on the skate were two other patrolers Philip Graff (my host in Chicago) and Gerard who picked up the rear to insure all was safe. Dan & Bachi, non NSP-ers joined in as well. According to Philip there were quite a few people absent as they usually enjoy 15 or so skaters.

Because it was my first trip to Chicago the leads veered from the map a bit to show me other parts of Beantown. As we meandered through the streets I couldn’t help but see the strong nightlife, the refurbished areas which offered a cool factor and true pride for the city by my rolling hosts.

The skate was easy in my “90s” and a brake was a good idea even though it wasn’t too hilly. We went over bridges, through the industrial area, under trains and along sidewalks. We stopped to regroup, often for a history lesson (e.g., which gangster lived where) and waited at lights which offered a chance to chat. It is of note that Tom skated the route twice before Friday to insure we had the best pavement possible and that it was a safe route.

These types of skates happen pretty much everywhere there is an NSP chapter.  I am not, as I sit on the plane, entirely clear how many NSP chapters exist, but given their success in getting weekly skates together, I think it suggests that a push should be made for more NSP chapters.  (13 Chapters, I’m told)

While I run educational programs for a living, it is not the only way to build our community.  If you live in a city with an NSP chapter, consider joining it. If you don’t, consider starting one.

Thanks to my fellow skaters for reminding me that the reason to learn to skate is to be able to spend time in the company of talented and terrific skaters.

I couldn’t find an actual link to an NSP site as it appears it run chapter  by chapter. Here is the Web/meet up for Chicago: Windy City Meet-up NSP

I couldn’t attach the copy of our map, but email me if you are interested in reviewing it.  My first trip to Chicago, but for sure not my last.

Here is a map of the route:  St-Valentines Day-RR-r4

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