What a month!

And it is barely halfway over.

When the month started, I felt like it was going to finally be a good one for me.

Turns out, I was wrong. Its been a month of one thing after another after another.

Work continues to be crazy busy, so that is not helping much. The sudden side effects and having to switch medications has also made everything harder than it needs to be. I have been transitioning from one to the other and now I am only on one but the side effects from beginning the new meds haven’t worn off yet. Its a little weird because more of the side effects involve feeling like something is happening (like a racing heart or trembling), but it actually isn’t (my fitbit doesn’t show anything other than a normal heartbeat, and I can see my hands aren’t shaking). My mind also often seems like its going in 6 different directions at once and I can’t seem to figure out how to reign it in.

Those are just the mental side effects. There are some physical ones like headaches and body aches too.

Last week was rough. I was able to get back to some activity and resume my full workout program. Things were feeling good and productive, although there was some muscle tightness and soreness. I seemed to be having some shin splints too.

At physio, I was showing good progress on my shoulder and ankle, so the therapist decided to work on trying to release my quad muscle to give some relief to my hip flexors and knees. After my appointment I asked if there were any issues with me going to do my regular sprint intervals as I was almost at the point of increasing the interval. He didn’t have any concerns.

Unfortunately, almost at the end of  my 4th sprint interval I suddenly felt a sharp and deep pain in my lower right glute almost where it joins with my hamstring. I had to stop sprinting and reduce to a jog so light I may have been walking faster. I was so angry I seriously wanted to hit something. The sprinting had been going so well there was really no reason for this sharp pain to suddenly appear. I had thought that perhaps my shoes were getting a little worn and causing the shin splints but this seemed extreme and sudden. I immediately iced it when I returned to my office and alternated heat and ice throughout the evening. It seemed to settle some, but there was still some lingering pain.

I also noticed I was experiencing some pain especially if I took a big step while walking, but I couldn’t seem to pin it down. It is still lingering and my intervals are still really light jogs with small strides.

To add insult to injury, Sunday morning I woke up and my left shoulder felt sore and stiff. My best guess is that I slept funny on it. By the mid-afternoon my shoulder had tightened up so much I could barely use it and I was in extreme pain. I put heat on it and had to take some muscle relaxants to try to settle it down. I couldn’t turn my head right barely at all. Thankfully it loosened some by the morning but I had to continue to work to loosen it all week. Its still giving some issues now and then. This is similar to the chronic issues I had been experiencing since returning to work over a year ago, but it seemed to have worked itself out more than a month ago. Again, there doesn’t seem to be any reason for why it flared up this much all of a sudden.

I return to physio tomorrow, but my therapist is then on vacation for two weeks. I am hoping he will be able to give some idea on what is going on with my glute and how to get it better. I am still getting some ‘tweaks’ now and then, but I haven’t been able to figure out a pattern to what is irritating it. For example, cha cha walks irritate it some times, but not every time.

I have been able to be consistent with my practice and I now have three routines more or less mapped out. The samba is proving the most challenging (but not a surprise) as there are some steps I have never done, and others which are done differently from what I have done. I have two lessons and a group class this weekend I am really looking forward to after a two week break. I know I have the rumba and cha cha in good condition and the pieces of the samba I know are also in passable condition. Hopefully with a little direction the rest will come together.

I am hopeful the side effects, random muscle irritations and other issues will die down and work themselves out as the month continues.

Fingers crossed.

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Routines!

Closed Gold it is!

Last week I got a pleasant surprise when I was emailed two routines, rumba and cha cha from my new instructors. Both were closed gold.

It was a surprise because I wasn’t expecting routines so quickly and because I was expecting closed silver instead of gold. Needless to say, I was pretty happy.

I was also able to get some practice in last week and slowly determine what I want to work on for exercises. Already I could feel some of the changes I have been working on starting to become part of my movements. I was also able to learn the full rumba and write out the cha cha before my lessons on the weekend (I only received the cha cha on Friday evening).

I had two private lessons, one with Lady Boss and one with Boss, followed by a 90 min semi private group class (only 5 students) focused on technique with Lady Boss.

The lesson with Lady Boss was focused on arm movements, giving me some movements to focus on and incorporate with my other exercises, was well as some movements for more ‘freestyle’ arm movements.

The lesson with Boss was focused on working on the rumba routine together. He was very happy to see that I knew the routine and already we were able to look into some of the details, again mainly making small adjustments due to differences between what I had done before. For example, adjusting where I step back from the fan to going straight back instead of at a diagonal angle.

The Bosses are away for the next two weekends competing in Asia, so I have a bit of a break in lessons. Boss told me he would like me to know the rumba, cha cha, and a samba which I am waiting to receive.

There has been another major change in how I do strength training. I had a meeting with my trainer who has been discussing options with my physio therapist. Around the same time, I managed to pull together an idea based on some conversations with Boss and my physio.

Long story short, I will not be doing any heavy lifting at the gym for quite some time. The main reason for that is that there is nothing I do in dance that requires me to move heavy weight. There is a lot that requires me to stabilize using my core and stabilizing muscles. That is the new focus on my exercises. None of my exercises require use of weights, except one (which can also be done with a theraband) and all of them focus on working the stabilizing muscles (eg. erectors, abs, obliques, adductors, abductors, and small glute muscles).

I do the exercises 4 days a week with some small variations to a couple of them to work the muscles slightly differently. I follow this with cardio – sprint intervals two days a week and sustained cardio on the elliptical the other two days.

I am eager to work into a regular pattern with these new exercises. I am looking forward to seeing if the change makes a difference in other areas where I have been struggling – mainly weight loss. Prior to competing at Emerald I suddenly dropped a lot of weight without expecting to. In hindsight, the only difference during that period was that I wasn’t doing weight training due to the hip bursitis. That is leading me to think that one of the major barriers to my weight loss may be doing the heavy lifting. When I first lost the weight in 2012, it is interesting to note that I didn’t do any heavy lifting exercises then either. Seems to be too much to be a coincidence. Time will tell.

Unfortunately, getting started has been delayed a little. Over the past 3 weeks I have been struggling with some on-going issues – dizziness, exhaustion, digestive issues, frequent headaches, fuzzy head, unexpected weight gain, bloating, and almost constant yawning. It took me a while to put it all together because I was attributing it to stress and other factors, but once I did I realized they are all side effects to the medication I am on for menopause. I experienced similar side effects when taking the medication before in 2017.

The most difficult issue has been the exhaustion. I had actually increased my caffeine intake from a max of 1 cup of coffee to 4 a day to try to overcome it. Every thing I did took far too much energy and motivation and I had been basically walking through things. I spoke with a doctor and we are switching back to another medication which will help with most of the symptoms, but not the hot flashes. There is a period of transition between the two meds where I am reducing the dose of the previous while taking the new, but I am hopeful that in a few days things will start to feel ‘normal’ again.

I really want to just get back to doing things I enjoy – dance practice, and my strength training.

Afterall, I have new routines to learn.

Change

Change is hard.

The reality of how much change I have to do really set in during my lessons last weekend. Even though I expected and knew there would be a lot of adjustments to make changing instructors, the reality still hits a little hard.

I had moments during my lesson when I seriously though I should go back to bronze and start over. I just keep reminding myself we are focusing on details which are supported by my foundation.

One of the biggest things I am discovering is that there is a profound difference in interpretation of latin and latin technique between Old and New Boss. Once you consider that they each have difference areas of focus and ways of teaching, it all adds up quickly.

I am also having a little bit of difficulty adapting to lessons only on the weekends, or every other week. I am finding it harder to retain everything because there is such a gap between lessons and reviews.

All things I have to work out as I work through the change. Nothing I have encountered is unexpected and I seem to be on track – first I was excited about all the changes, then the reality of the multitude of changes has set in making me second guess everything. I hope that next things stop feeling so ‘foreign’ and I am able to figure how to make the changes work.

It didn’t help that last week was so crazy with my graduation, my mom visiting, and two days of commuting 3 hours for work there wasn’t any time to practice or even work out what that practice should look like.

This week however, I am already on a good track with 75 mins of practice in yesterday. I took all the points from my lessons and made exercises from them for me to work on, but the main issue I am encountering right now is that there are so many details and points in each exercise to focus on my mind (and my body) is all over the place.

But its a starting point.

New Boss is still doing some evaluation. At my last lessons we reviewed the points in rumba and then switched to samba. We started working on cruzado walks, which were small changes, followed by whisks. He quickly picked up on the main point I often got from Old Boss – that my hips are swinging more like a pendulum than samba action. So main exercise – transferring my weight to a position where my trailing hip is elevated.

At least something I recognize has needed to be corrected for a long time, but I haven’t had a chance to focus on it previously.

A big difference between Old and New Boss came out during the rumba review. With Old Boss, we tended to focus on the leg action and steps and added arms later when we did styling. I had some basic things I would do on my own, but we never really talked much about the arms specific to the steps.

For New Boss, its all a package. For example, we were doing hip twist to fan in rumba and as I moved to cross New Boss I was trailing my arm behind me and doing what I usually do. He stopped and asked me why I was doing that. Mainly, its to get my arms out of my way. We then took the time to make some adjustments to the arms, but the surprising thing was that we worked on the arms together as a couple. It sounds strange, but as we were doing it I felt like I had never taken into consideration my partner when thinking about arms and how I transition from hold, keep my arms out of the way, etc. – at least not with basic steps.

We talked about how arms are part of the step and technique and separate from styling. It makes sense, but again – so much work to do!

I am still struggling to adapt to the nuances between the two Bosses as partners. There are small but marked differences in how they lead certain steps (not unexpected) that mean I have to step slightly different because where one led a step straight forward, the other led it slightly to the side.

New Boss also calls me out whenever I don’t look at him when I am suppose to. Its awkward, but good for me as it forces me to connect and will build that habit.

There are times I almost want to ask New Boss to go back through all the syllabus steps so I can see how he does them and adapt. That’s the perfectionist in me talking though. For now, I need to keep going and adjust as I can.

It may seem all negative, but really it is not. It is change, which is neither negative nor positive, it is just different. I am trying to not compare the two Bosses, but it is hard and likely a bit of a defence mechanism so I don’t feel completely overwhelmed.

I have two more (possibly 3 – one with Lady Boss) lessons this weekend, then a two week break while the Bosses are away competing overseas. I hope to work out the exercises before then and hopefully reduce the current number of them to some small fundamentals that will focus on the big changes I need to make.

I can already tell I am slowly making changes in how I dance. Its slow, but it is something. I am definitely working harder than before at moving all my muscles and that I do like. Its a challenge I am working to embrace.

But change is still hard.

Returning to Dance

Sunday was my first lesson with New Boss.

I will have a lesson with him again this week because he and Lady Boss made some changes to their competing schedule which meant they are here this weekend, but not here a couple weeks in a row in July.

It was really great to get back on the floor and be working again. The first lesson was better than I expected, and even the commute wasn’t as bad as I feared.

He is still evaluating, which is understandable, but it is interesting to see what he has picked up on. One thing that is the most interesting are the number of small idiosyncrasies he picked up on that I didn’t even know I had. Every now and then he would ask me why I did something he noticed I was doing consistently and on purpose that seemed strange to him, and I would have either no idea I was doing it or no idea why.

For example, in rumba I have a habit of automatically stepping to my partner’s right side before the twist in a hip twist, instead of stepping straight towards him. I think Old Boss always led it that way so that is my habit. Another was my starting position when my feet are together – I would stand with one foot slightly ahead of the other in almost a pressed walk position to prepare to move with the free leg turned out (this is also my position when I close the fan). Old Boss neither encouraged nor corrected it, but New Boss had me adjust so my ankles are together, my feet are more closed, my ‘free’ foot is on the inside ball of the foot and my knee is facing forward…plus other body adjustments.

We worked on rumba and cha cha, starting with rumba. He immediately noticed some issues with how I follow (no surprise, Old Boss and I were only beginning to work on it), so we made some adjustments to how I use my arm, such as focusing on relaxing the elbow and not allowing the wrist to collapse and to not grasp his hand with my thumb (another idiosyncrasy).

We worked through a basic pattern (hip twist, fan, hockey stick) to focus on using the body more, especially to turn. We also fixed my hip twist position to face it out to the audience instead of across my partner. We also worked on sliding doors, which led to a conversation about cucharachas – another correction.

From there we moved to cha cha walks which was interesting because I have never done cha cha walks backward before, except in the aida or if needed in a routine. It never occurred to me to practice walking backward lol. I have done back locks, but never with the walks before. That was interesting because we talked about the lock steps, how they are done and worked on them.

One of the main things to come out of the lesson is my general foot position. New Boss was watching me move and he said he felt like every step forward and back I made was like I was doing a series of ‘checks’ instead of flowing movements, and the main reason was because my feet were too turned out to allow full hip movement and it stopped my action. We talked about how checks are good for changing direction (like in the basic), but for moving in a line it is better to close the feet to sixth position to allow freedom of movement in the hip.

That is going to be a big change for me, especially my right foot which loves turning out. Another thing was my tendency to take big steps and swing the foot ahead of my body. This means I have to go with the foot and move my weight almost instantly onto the forward foot for balance instead of allowing the trailing foot to control the movement and stabilize me. I have to work on placing the foot under my hip, which also lets me separate the foot and hip movement instead of stepping with the hip already more or less settled.

So lots of little details to work out, but honestly I prefer focusing on little details than finding I have really big fundamentals to fix. Details I can work with and tells me I do have a good foundation to allow for work on the details. I even have DOMS in my side lower back muscles from the lesson and in my hamstrings and calves – places I haven’t really had it before (usually dance gives me core DOMS or upper body more than anything), which also says I am using my body in a new way – a positive thing!

We haven’t talked about level or routines yet, but as we have only done two dances that is not surprising. I have two more lessons this weekend, so perhaps we’ll try a new dance. I also have lessons the following weekend so by the end of that I hope we will be able to discuss levels, etc.

Mainly my mind is processing all the new information, but I wish this week wasn’t so busy for me work and life-wise. My graduation from my Masters program was today, so I officially hold a Masters in Intercultural and International Communication! For work, I have to spend the next two days commuting almost 2 hours one way to work on an issue taking place at one of our remoter communities.

 

The extra time back and forth will take away from time to practice, so I am fitting in little pieces of work here and there where I can this week. My mom is also in town for my graduation so I am also taking time in the evening to spend with her.

 

Next week should be a better week for nailing down some good practice and working through a pattern for practice.

 

Either way, the good news is I am on the floor!

Time to Reset

I have reached the end of what has been a particularly busy month.

Starting with competing at Emerald Ball, then a major evaluation at work was followed by two weeks on a training course in Germany. Not to mention the changes in dance which haven’t even really taken effect yet.

Whew. I’m still a little jet lagged and yesterday at work was spent trying to catch up on the last two weeks while also managing the current workload, but slowly I am working to reset myself and settle into a new pattern.

One of the first things that is happening is the implementation of cognitive behaviour therapy for my insomnia. I have been having sessions to learn about sleep and insomnia and tracking my sleep patterns to get an idea of my sleep habits. They are not bad in general, but I am still reliant on regular sleep medication, which is something left over from chemotherapy. I had issues with sleep before I got sick, but my medication use was once a month on average, not nightly. The goal of this program is to eliminate the need for medication altogether.

What it involves right now is essentially resetting my sleep patterns. Based on the information from tracking my sleep, the doctor determined that I tend to need an average of 6.5 hours a night. That leads to permitted time in bed from 1130 to 6. At 1030 pm I start triggering sleep by dimming lights, turning off tv and electronics and preparing for bed. I then read on the couch until 1130 when I go to bed to try to sleep. If I can’t get to sleep in 15-20 mins, I am to get out of bed, go back to the living room and do something quiet until I feel sleepy then return. If I wake up before 6 am, it is the same thing unless it is less than an hour before.

Right now, I am still taking a low dose of melatonin before bed, but I am not allowed to take any medication. I am also not allowed to nap (which I don’t do anyway). I think the jet lag is helping some because the first two nights haven’t been an issue. I see the doc again in 2 weeks and we will adjust the program from there – the next step likely phasing out the melatonin. I am eager to see how this goes because I have been wanting to get off of sleep aids for quite some time.

So that is resetting my sleep. Another thing I am resetting is my strength training workouts. Today I will return to them and see how my hip handles the exercises. Since it has been so long since I have worked at the gym I expect today is going to result in some good DOMS, but hope that there is no other issue. I am going to be reducing my weight some from where I was since it has been almost 2 months. I also have permission to try running again – starting with 15 seconds of running and 2:15 of walking for a total of 25 mins. A low level, but hopefully one that will allow me to gradually build to my goal of 2:00 running, 30 seconds of walking for 25 mins. This week, I will only have today and tomorrow at the gym to give a slower start for my body. Next week I will do all 4 days.

And then there is dance. Monday I was able to do a skype call with new Boss to discuss a plan and figure out when I will start lessons. June 16th will be the first day and I will do 2 lessons with him so he can see where I am, where my strengths and weaknesses are and get an idea of how I work to determine a plan moving forward. I have also been invited to do an invitation-only semi-private group class with Lady Boss focused on basic techniques on the days I am over for lessons, which I will try on the 16th too.

Following that first lesson, new Boss and I will discuss what he is thinking and determine a way forward. At this time, he is not quite sure what level he is going to recommend for me and I am pretty open about what we do. My instinct is closed gold, but I will go with his recommendation. Based on our conversation, I am excited and a bit nervous to begin working with him.

Until then, it is up to me to figure out a schedule for practice. Both he and Lady Boss were impressed when I described my self-practice, particularly with the way I structure it. They are more than willing to support that and Lady Boss will be sending me some videos of exercises after she returns from Blackpool (new Boss won’t return until a week later) for me to try before we meet on the 16th. I have an idea of how I am going to structure the practice and starting next week I will see how it works in reality at the gym – meaning making sure there is space available to work, and seeing how it fits with my own routine. It won’t be too much different from what I was doing before. I will still do 1 hour three times a week right after work; I just won’t have a lesson. Its less volume of dance overall during the week, but it may be a good thing to help me avoid injury and over-training. On the weekends I am not on the mainland for lessons, I will also practice an hour on my own to run through routines. Its a plan for now and we will see how it goes. I will be going to the mainland more or less every other weekend and will average 4 45-min lessons + the 90 min group class while I am there.

It will likely be the fall before I compete for the first time with new Boss, but that is not really different from what I planned previously. It will take until the fall before my budget will allow competing and that gives a good amount of time to adjust to dancing and working with new Boss.

The other area I am doing a reset is my diet. All the chaos of traveling has really tossed it off the rails and now that I am home I am more than ready to return to my regular eating habits. Because I will be doing slightly less exercise during the week, I may need to modify it a little, but considering I lost more weight doing less work in the gym it may not be necessary. I have some ideas for adjusting and it will take a little trial and error but I will see how it goes. I gained some weight while in Germany, but it is already dropping back off again. Once I get into a regular pattern and figure out what works I will reset my weight goals.

Finally, I will have a weekend to myself and I am going to do some spring cleaning around my apartment. Better late than never :). I have just noticed that there seems to be a lot of clutter around that I want to sort and organize, particularly on my dresser and end tables. It shouldn’t take long and I know I will feel much better once it is done.

Overall, it just feels good to have a plan again, even knowing there will need to be modifications here and there. I think it is good to reset every once in a while and since at this point I don’t expect to be doing any major traveling for a while this summer will be a great time to do it.

I am missing dance and regular lessons, but soon that gap should be filled.

Reset and move forward.

Big Changes Coming

I mentioned in my last post that there are some big changes coming to how I dance.

  1. I will no longer be working with Boss.
  2. I will be specializing in Latin only.

The first is occurring because Boss has made the decision to stop competing, the second as a result of no viable pro/am 10-dance option available in either my immediate area or even within reasonable commuting distance.

I was not surprised with Boss’s decision. Its been coming for a long time and if I am honest, I really have just been waiting for him to finalize it and tell me. I had a very strong suspicion before the competition that it would be my last with Boss.

Because I subconsciously knew what was coming, I think I also began to subconsciously figure out a plan for what to do after. Once Boss told me the news, I realized I had already laid a little bit of the groundwork, I just needed to gather details and make a final decision myself.

One thing that really stood out to me at Emerald was how much my latin styling needs a lot of work, and how much it detracts from the rest of my dancing. I also noticed that when it comes to standard, I was also missing styling there as well. That led me to the decision after we finished dancing to reach out to the dancer who designed my dresses (who was also at the competition with her husband who was competing with his students) to ask about pricing and if she could do regular lessons with me in styling.

When Boss told me his decision, it didn’t take long for me to realize that the best option for now would be to specialize in latin and see if I could work with the gentleman of the couple as a pro/am student. I discussed this idea briefly with Boss, and while I think he was surprised he too agreed it did make sense as the best option.

I reached out to the couple to see if they would take me on as a pro/am student and they agreed. I say ‘they’ because they train their students as a couple, so I will be working with each of them as they feel necessary.

Unfortunately, everything is not quite as easy as it might sound.

As I mentioned before, I live on an Island off the west coast of North America. The couple, live and work on the mainland. Its a 90 minute ride on a ferry that can be extremely busy and is expensive for a vehicle. It also doesn’t run every hour or sometimes even every other hour, and it is a 45 minute drive from my apartment to the terminal. I can walk on the ferry and take public transport to the studio where they work, but it is a 45 min to 1 hour trip.

Needless to say, going over to the mainland and back on a weekday evening when I have to work the next day is not going to be possible. I am going to be limited to mainly working with them on the weekends, and I know from doing dress fittings that it can be almost a full day trip if I don’t stay overnight. Going over every weekend would quickly burn me out, so I have proposed going over an average of every other weekend and doing 4 lessons, ideally over two days.

The couple, who I will call New Boss and Lady Boss until I come up with something more creative, are currently away in Britain training for Blackpool later this month. I won’t be able to start with them until June, and I will be away when they return from the training before the competition. There is a small window we may be able to figure out details, but we will have to see. Until we can work out details, I really don’t know when I will restart dancing and training, or what that training will look like exactly.

I am optimistic we will be able to work out a system that works for all 3 of us and the commute.

Already, I have discussed some preliminary things with them, such as cost and level. They are more expensive to work with than Boss, but that is expected. This couple are Blackpool Rising Star Pro Latin Champions, and regularly place in the top 48 in major World competitions. Because I am specializing in latin though, I don’t need to take 3 lessons a week, so to stay in budget I will cut back to an average of 2.

For level, they are recommending I go back to doing closed routines to build a stronger technical foundation. I have already agreed, although I know we will discuss it further when we meet. I am well aware that there are some major gaps in my latin, styling aside, and I have no issues with working to fill those gaps and strengthen my dancing overall. I know already that this couple have different focuses for dance than Boss and I am looking forward to seeing where they want to start.

I am going to miss standard. It is one of the biggest hesitations I have with this plan, but I am looking at Boss’s decision as an opportunity to do focused work in latin, and that I will be able to return to standard at a later date to resume 10-dance. I intend to dance for a long time yet and there is certainly time to go back to standard when the time is right.

For now, my plan it to trial working on the mainland and see how it works. There is a strong possibility that this time next year I might receive word that work is moving me to a new location, and if that happens, hopefully there will be an option for a 10-dance pro or even a partner there. If the decision is made that I will stay here, I can evaluate where I am at and see if there is a viable option to resume both styles.

I will also miss working and dancing with Boss, but in many ways the time has come for me to move on, even if he was going to continue competing with his students. I have spent the past 6.5 years working with Boss and just absorbing and taking in all he had to teach me. It was an extremely rough time, considering my illness, and when I started with him, I never would have guessed that my journey would take me to where I am now. I am extremely grateful to Boss for all he has taught me and put into my dancing and the opportunities he has given throughout our time working together. I truly wish him well in the future.

Change is scary and hard, but I don’t find myself feeling as I expected I might. I am sad to be leaving behind Boss and standard, but I am generally happy with my decision to specialize in Latin and work with New Boss and Lady Boss. I don’t feel anxious going into the future, but optimistic that my dancing will continue to develop leading me to reach a new level. If I were to feel anxious about anything, its managing the commute between my schedule and my new coaches. For now, until I am able to sit down and discuss my training with them I can only wait and see what the plan will be. At this point, I have sent them only some background on my dancing and me, as well as some information about my goals and some information on how I have worked previously. From here, it is up to them.

Change is hard, but it often brings us to places we didn’t expect to go.

And so, off I go…

 

Emerald Ball

What an amazing experience!

I am really glad I decided to do this comp in the end. I placed well in the open silver latin events, but other than that I was close to the bottom everywhere. I am not disappointed in that because I know the depth of the field at that event and in the end, my personal dancing was very strong – truly the goal for me.

It was a great two days competing. Our schedule worked really well with just enough of a break between dances to recover and feel fresh for the next set. I really felt I was able to put my best dancing on the floor.

That’s not to say that everything went smoothly. As expected, there were glitches here and there with little mess ups and sometimes difficulty navigating some very busy dance floors. I also caught my heel on my dress a couple times in standard, having to stop to fix it.

My body felt good and even today I am a little achy through my back and tight in my hip flexors, but much better than I expected to be. No blisters at all from the comp – truly a great achievement in itself!

From the videos and how things felt, I was able to understand and get a great idea of where I am at, and some ideas for working in the future. Seeing what others are doing helped me to recognize areas I need a lot of work and what my own dancing in lacking.

In short, this competition experience was exactly what I hoped it would be, and I wouldn’t hesitate to return to Emerald Ball in the future.

Now that we are home, its time to re-evaluate and figure out a plan for the future. We did a little bit of planning on the way home and needless to say, due to a number of factors, there are some extremely BIG changes coming to the way that I train. I will write about them later this week, or even later tonight.

Suffice it to say the changes are sending me in a direction I didn’t expect to go in so soon, but knew inevitably would come. One of them is permanent, but the other I hope will be temporary, although only the future will tell. They are big enough changes to make the experience of Emerald Ball a little bittersweet, but they don’t diminish the overall experience at all.

One thing that surprised me (although perhaps it shouldn’t have) is how much I enjoyed being on the competition floor again. Competing is truly where I want to be and this weekend just absolutely confirmed that.

My new dresses were amazing and felt great to dance in. Well worth the investment.

That is all for now, but I do promise to let you know about the changes very soon. I am still processing them myself in many ways.

So good to be back on the floor.

A Solid Run-through

Finally!

The last week and a half have been about working to get the routines to the point where we can go through them all without stopping and almost mistake free.

Today we had a rounds practice where we mainly focused on standard and it went extremely well. Not perfect of course, but solid enough to alleviate some of the anxiety around the open routines.

It also helps that we received our heat lists and the most number of dances we have in a row is 5. We don’t always have a big break between, sometimes only 5 or 10 minutes, but it is enough time to recollect ourselves and reset for the next round.

I will also compete in 4 events with semi-finals and 2 with quarter finals. The two with quarter finals are both open scholarships, so I don’t really expect to make it to the semi in those, but I am optimistic to make the finals from the 4 semis because they are closed silver events.

That said, in the end it is all about doing my best – that’s all I can really control. I expect there to be some tough competition in many of the events, and much more seasoned competitors than myself.

We start fairly early both days, 730 on Friday and 8 am on Saturday, both to dance one random single dance I needed to qualify for the scholarships. After each we have about a 2 hour wait for our next group of dances. It means pretty early days to have my hair and make-up all together. We also have a good gap of about 3 hours between our last silver events and our open ones.

With the rounds practice behind me, I am slowly starting to feel myself getting excited for the competition. I have been checking off my ‘to do’ list and am counting the days.

I do have two small ‘hiccups’ to finish working out.

First, a month ago at our first rounds practice I snapped the post on the buckle of one of my standard competition shoes. I took it to the cobbler’s and they fixed it. Last weekend they worked well, but today when I went to put them on, the post was too short to hold the strap. I am not quite sure what caused that, but I have to go back to the cobbler’s tomorrow to ask them to replace it again with a longer post.

Second, I ran into some issues with my new standard dress (but my latin one works great!), in that the body suit was too loose and long which led it to shift as we moved. In addition, the floats were too long, especially on the left to the point where there was risk of stepping on them. I had to go over to the mainland on Thursday to meet the dressmaker so she could make the adjustments while I waited.

First, the ferry was booked full for cars (odd for a Thursday afternoon), so I had to walk on the ferry with my dress to make the timing, which was the only time available to get the dress fixed. I then had to take a taxi from the terminal to the studio. She was able to see the dress on me to figure out where the adjustments needed to be make and started to sew, but her needle hit a stone and broke shortly after. Therefore, she wasn’t able to finish the dress while I was there.

She finished it that night and sent it by UPS Friday morning. I should receive it tomorrow before my dance lesson, which should give us a chance to run some of the routines in the dress.

Needless to say, the next 3 days are going to by busy and bit non-stop, followed by flying to the competition and competing. The week after the competition will be a crazy one at work and then I fly out for 2 weeks of training in Germany. I won’t really get a break until the last week of May.

I really can’t wait to get on the floor again and see how I do.

Hopefully the comp will be as solid as today’s run-through.

2.5 weeks

That’s it until we leave for Emerald Ball!

I honestly can’t believe it is coming so close. It still seems like there is so much work to do, and we haven’t really done any run-throughs due to my injury.

So far so good though. The hip is behaving with only a little bit of tweaking here and there – mainly in paso. Thankfully, that is the dance I do the least overall at the comp so hopefully that will bode well.

Today we reviewed a couple of places in foxtrot and waltz to look at some of the line figures and make some small adjustments. Following that, we looked at some spots in the Paso where I have a habit of over-compensating to shape and break my left side.

We ran through it a couple times and on the very last run-through at the very end I got the smallest tweak going into the twists that end the routine. It was fleeting, but enough to put me on edge.

We finished with jive, which honestly is the routine that is concerning me the most. For some reason, I can’t seem to keep the routine in my head and I have yet to get through it without forgetting one major part or another. The biggest issue is I get into my own head getting worried I will miss a part coming up and then end up skipping over the previous section.

I need to mainly get out of my head in jive.

I also keep missing the first turn and ending up facing the wrong way by confusing it with a later turn. There is just a bunch of little pieces in jive that aren’t quite coming together leading me to panic some and then forget what I am doing.

We did try it at full speed today and up until the very end it went well. It then became really obvious that we haven’t really done the end of the routine at full speed as all of a sudden everything both of us were doing got behind. We really just need to go through the entire routine about 10 times without stopping to nail it down.

I have one more lesson this week, and then this weekend Boss and I will run through the routines in the other hall on our own (as most of the others at the practice will be competing at the Canadian Closed Comp in Calgary).

Monday I pick up my new dresses. I haven’t seen them since the last fitting so I am really curious to see what the final result will be – especially since slowing down on activity I have lost almost 10 lbs without trying. I am hoping it won’t have too much of an impact on the fit overall.

Next weekend we should have a full rounds practice with the other competitors so that should set us up nicely for the comp!

A busy 2 weeks ahead!

It looks good…

Today was almost hip pain free.

I started to feel a dull ache during the last 5 minutes of my lesson, with things feeling tight and tired about 20 minutes before that.

Compared to Monday, its like night and day.

Today in my lesson I didn’t hold much back. I had moments where I could feel myself being tentative because I was expecting what I was doing to cause pain and I was really surprised when it didn’t. Once I got through that first hurdle, doing it the next time was easier.

We even started with open jive and did 2 fairly good run-throughs- one slow and one more medium. We then switched to standard and ran through the silver routines, followed by the silver latin. We ended with the Quickstep and Foxtrot pieces we worked on at the end of Monday’s lesson.

Overall, a much more productive lesson than I have had in quite some time, but I am still being diligent and about icing and heating, physio and massage therapy. There is still 3.5 weeks until the comp and I don’t want to temp fate. I am also not going to be returning to the gym until after, just in case.

Small interesting fact: since I got injured and stopped going to the gym and reduced dance, I have actually lost more than 5 lbs out of the blue, putting me at the lowest I have been since chemo. Interesting that…

I have one more lesson this week on Friday and the weekend will be dance free as the rounds practice is cancelled due to a concert in the hall where it takes place. The weekend off will likely be good in the long run.

The plan is to review some of the latin styling on Friday and then do as much of a run-through as we can in the smaller hall on Monday to see how things feel. Hopefully my hip will continue to recover.

Looks like the competition is on! Words cannot express the relief I felt today throughout my lesson as I realized that I wasn’t getting pain like I was. I am feeling much more optimistic even though I am a little more sore tonight than I was after my lesson. I’ll do another round of ice and heat before bed and continue on with my routine.

Fingers still crossed.