Well, I didn’t make it to the lesson this week because I took the kids to dinner with my dad – holidays and all that – but I did make it to skate and shoot last Friday.

I had a nice chat with a guy there – Derek, I think, being horrible at remembering names – he’s also 43 and just started playing this year along with his son.  So apparently there’s more of my sort of dumb-ass going around this year.  Anyway, he took a few lessons and is now playing in the rookie league, so that gave me a lot of encouragement.

Another guy saw me wincing at how much my feet were hurting and took a look at my skates – his advice was to get new ones. 

The skates I had were fifteen-plus years old and were probably the bottom of the line back then – more recreational than hockey, but hockey-shaped.  And the fact that they’re that old and still look new tells you how much I’ve skated in the last two decades.

Anyway, they’ve always hurt like hell, but I figured that was because I wasn’t skating enough to really break them in and this year I kept expecting it to get better as I skated more.  But it didn’t. 

For about the first ten or fifteen minutes of skating, they’d really hurt my feet bad.  Arches, heels, etc.  Very painful.  Then it would wear off for the rest of the skate … mostly.  Came and went sometimes.

Anyway, I stopped off at the pro shop to look at new skates and get a recommendation.  They sized me and recommended the Bauer Vapor line – but they only had the X:50 in stock in my size.  I was more leaning toward the X:20 because, well, they’re cheaper.

I tried on the X:50 just to see and the difference was phenomenal.  Very comfortable right out of the box – no pain or pressure at all.  After a few minutes of walking around, my left foot had some discomfort, but nothing like in the old skates.

I went home and checked prices online for the skates and was quite surprised to find that it was much the same as the pro shop – I hadn’t expected that.  So now I was faced with the decision to wait for the X:20 or just get the X:50 – since it’s the holiday’s and I’m off work until next year and planning to skate almost every day until then, facing the wait for an online order and having to use the old, painful skates just wasn’t something I could stomach – and, it being the holidays, I had a bit of cash gifts from a couple friends.

So, yeah, got the X:50s.

There was someone different in the shop when I went back to get them and he changed the size from what had been recommended earlier. My right foot measures out to 8.25 for skates and the left at 8.00.  So the first guy told me to get 8.5 – but the second guy suggested 8s so the left one wouldn’t be too big.  They felt fine, no pinching or cramping, so that’s what I went with.

Now they were comfortable out of the box, but really nice after being heat-molded.  Still some discomfort in the left one – felt like there was pressure on the outside of the foot near the toes and just on inside edge of the heel where the arch starts.  But not nearly as bad as the other skates, so I went with it.

The next day I went for public skating and tried them out – I cannot believe the difference.

The right one is absolutely perfect – no pain or discomfort at all.  And this with brand-new, unbroken-in skates, first time on the ice.  The left one is still uncomfortable in those two places, but I have a bit of a heel problem in that foot.  I think there’s a small amount of swelling or something in the heel that’s causing the pain there and pressing my foot into the front of the skate at an angle. 

I got some Super Feet inserts (again at the recommendation of the pro) and the left one feels a little better just standing around, but I haven’t had the chance to try it on the ice with them.

So I’ll get to try them on the ice tomorrow and see what kind of difference it makes in skating drills come Monday.