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Thursday, December 19, 2013

Because I Can

"Every game is an opportunity to measure yourself against your own potential"- Bud Wilkenson

I admitted in my last blog to being a bit of a workaholic. On my staycation this week I decided to at least mix a little fun in with all my projects.

So yesterday the fun item I selected was an ice skating session at the Petitt National Ice Center. This is an Olympic Training facility for local speed skaters. When the speed skaters are not practicing,the indoor 450 meter oval is open for public skating.

About four years ago I was on a work schedule where I would work the 3pm to midnight shift once a month. During that week I would always go to the Petitti for ice skating. They had an open session from 11 am until 2 pm.  Usually there was no one on the oval. Sometimes it was just me and the skating guard.

However the last time I went three years ago put me off skating for a bit. The afternoon I skated I shared the ice with a rather large school group.  They really were not there for long and the problem was not the group but what one of their guides did to me.

I had left my shoes under a bench on the inside part of the oval. No one else had anything around them. The school group left and I happily skated on the ice for about an hour. It was me and the skate guard.
When I was done I went to retrieve my shoes and they were gone. I searched everywhere. I went to the office. Thinking the school group had taken them I made the office lady call one of the group's teachers.  Sure enough one of them had picked up my shoes and taken them thinking they belonged to one of the kids.

You think when they got on the bus they might have asked if they belonged to anyone. Well now I had no shoes and had to get home. It was a cold February day and I had to cross a snowy cold parking lot scattered with gravel in my socks. Then drive home and walk through the snow in the drive way with no shoes.

So I had not been ice skating since that day about three years ago. Then I started training for the Boston Marathon and did not want to slip on the ice while skating and hurt myself.  I had visions of a broken wrist from falling. I did not want to take the risk.

So I was back at the rink yesterday. I wondered if I still could skate. When I was growing up my ankles were so weak I had trouble standing on skates. When I started running my ankles got strong enough so I could stand on skates.  It took many hours of practice to achieve what I call skating. I did all that practice at the same rink I was now standing on.  Would my CMT still allow me to skate.

Well I had visions of injury and doubts I could still skate. There was only me and the skate guard.  As I watched her step onto the ice I saw she had the practiced and graceful strides of an accomplished skater.

I took my first tentative steps.  I take tiny steps as I skate, just short glides to move. Anything more and I start to lose my balance. The skate guard repeatedly lapped me. How I envied her skill. Yet I made it around the oval many times during the 25 minutes I skated.  I think because my feet pronate my ankle bone rubbed against my skate. It was rubbed raw by the end.

I did not have all the skill I used to have, but I made it without injury. I think if I go more often I will regain more of my old skill. Iwills never glide around with the easy grace of most skaters, but I can still do it. The CMT affects my coordination and balance so this is just one more thing I cannot do well that other people take for granted. Still I know I am lucky to be able to skate at all and I am thankful for it.

I know it may seem like a silly thing, but ice skating was a hard one skill. Even though I am not good at it and look ungraceful I still like it.  I like to challenge myself sometimes by doing things I am not very good at, just because I can.


Author Chris Wodke at Duathlon National Championship 2013

Chris Wodke
Founder & Manager Team CMT

Team CMT is a group of athletes and supporters working to raise awareness and to find a cure for CMT. We have 140 members in 27 states. We also have members in Australia, Canada, Vietnam, Turkey, Finland and Iran. If you wish to join us visit our web site.

CMT or Charcot-Marie-Tooth is the most commonly inherited peripheral neuropathy. It affects over 155,000 Americans (as many as MS).  It is a disease of the nerves that control the muscles. It is slowly progressive, causing loss of normal function and or sensation in the lower legs/feet and arms/hands.

Symptoms include; muscle wasting in the lower legs and feet leading to foot drop, poor balance and gait problems Atrophy in the hands causes difficulty with manual dexterity.

Structural foot deformities such as high arches and hammer toes are common.

Poor tolerance for cool or cold temperatures and many people have chronically cold hands and feet.

Additional symptoms may include fatigue, sleep apnea, breathing difficulties and hearing loss.

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