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I take a deep breathe and exhale slowly as I step out onto the ice. My breathe rises into the chilly air as my legs begin to move in rhythm with my heartbeat. The glassy surface of the ice glides beneath me as I lean into my turn. I'm balanced and feeling confident as I pick up speed. I pick up the pace and do a mental check to ensure that my body is streamlined. The sounds of my skates on the ice and my heartbeat are the only sounds that I take note of.
I push myself to go harder, faster as I race around the rink. My confidence shatters as my left skate begins to wobble with wild abandon beneath me. I desperately try to regain my balance as I careen towards the wall. The wall seems to run towards me in greeting and crashes into me. I bounce off the sideboard and collapse to the ice in a spinning, sliding heap.
Before I even have time to assess the damage, tears fill my eyes. It was my body's preemptive strike, as if it knew that pain was on its way, but I was just too shocked to feel it yet. I lay there, resting my cheek on the ice, watching my warm, salty tears fall from my face, creating a tiny puddle on the glassine surface. The pain slowly sinks into my awareness as I begin to take note of what hurts.
I push myself up to the seated position. Not only am I sore, but the cold ice is making me more miserable. As I attempt to gain my footing and stand, I wobble once more and nearly collapse to the ice aga