How does this happen every time? I marvelled as I put away a balance ball and a Pilates mat and reached out for a glass of water on the table.

The customary aches and pain of post-hockey practice, which made me feel like a car wreck victim, vanished from my body like magic and I felt absolutely wonderful.

Before going back to play ice hockey again, I was exercising diligently and believing I was reasonably in a good shape. However, my smugness was slapped down to the ground quite spectacularly after the very first team practice. What had I been doing during those hockey-free months?! All those hours I spent riding an exercise bike and sweating with dumbbells and a balance ball seemed to mean so little, I felt utterly crushed.

It could have been far worse if I went back to the sport cold turkey, I convinced myself while nursing (& cursing!) my very sore and tired upper thighs.

Skating requires a very unique muscle group which is almost impossible to tone up with conventional gym equipments. Obviously, the sojourn from hockey did weaken the strength around my groin area and I was reminded of it.

One thing which really sucks when it comes to one’s ageing is the slowness of recovery process. I am doing everything I can think of in order to recover, yet I seem to be left with aches and fatigues days after the practice. Will my body get used to the new regime eventually?

However, there is a brief moment of comfort in my otherwise ache-ridden days. I feel pain-free and easy right after I have finished my daily exercise routine which consists of a series of dynamic stretching and core-works with a balance ball. While I am sweating and feeling loose, my optimism about the ache-free future returns.

Unfortunately, the aches will return while I am chained to a desk and forced to look at the screen of my iMac. Ugh, I hate feeling like being the tin man in the Wizard of Oz!

I am definitely not a fitness fanatic but I am addicted to the pain-free moment which arrives after the exercise. ‘Take it easy’, Hubbie says as he glances at me slaving on a Pilates mat. Well, it’s easier said than done…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Don’t despair

My Bella could do far far worse…


Who cares if he finishes it or not. He is so adorable!

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Big freeze

Apparently, it was the coldest first day of March on record. Even though the snow caused huge havoc on road and rail, Bella and I enjoyed it a lot.

‘I love the snow as long as it is fresh!’


She romped around in the snow, chasing an invisible something larking under the white surface.

Snow ball fight commences!


She couldn’t have enough of it. She loved every minute we spent on a wood deck behind Hubbie’s office. I kicked up some snow with my Timberland boots and she chased the bits and pieces thrown into her furry face.

Thanks to Beast from the East, my girl Bella, who was still halfway out of her puppydom, could experience and have fun with the snow. I was very happy for her.

Who knows when we gonna have another snowfall? A five years wait? Perhaps?

My favourite lunch haunt, Alpino, had a very handsome snowman by the entrance…

For some people, this freakish weather condition must have been nuisance or even menace. However, experiencing a proper winter in London was a very rare thing and I was very happy to able to enjoy it with Bella…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Bird cage or fish tank?

You know what, I went to a training last Monday. I thought I left ice hockey behind twenty months ago but I was wrong.

I found myself, sitting on a bench in the changing room at Streatham Ice Arena and wondering how did this happen?…

I was so happy to be reunited with the teammates and the sport!

My blog was linked to my Facebook and the people who read the last entry through it left me loads of messages, telling me the door to the team and ice hockey was always open for me and it was very touching.

Ice hockey is like a tropical disease. Once you are bitten by this amazing sport, the fever never leaves you alone, EVER.

Why did I walk away from this joy, I asked myself when I was catching my breath after a drill.

Having thought that, leaving the sport and the team two seasons ago and coming back again was the right decision. After the time-off, what I am left with is a simple desire to skate and to touch a puck. My mind is clear and my expectation is realistic. I have nothing to prove and nobody to impress. I just want to enjoy myself.

My Tuesday morning ritual is back…

Leave my kits alone, Bay-Bay…

After the Monday night’s practice, it had always been customary to dry the equipments at home before re-packing them in a kit bag. The reason was because the damp kits would develop an unsavoury odour if they were left in a bag without being aired properly.

I still remember how badly one of the male hockey players smelt during an open practice session at the old Streatham ice rink. Basically, his equipments were falling apart, literally disintegrating, because he wasn’t looking after them properly. I imagine that he stuffed his wet kits with sweat and everything else in his bag as soon as the practice was over and forgot about it until the next session. I wish if he knew how antisocial his smell was! During the practice, we all stood in a queue, waiting our turn to participate in the drills and I happened to stand behind him. Oh god, how pungent he was. The smell hit me like a blast and it made me dizzy. It was like my face being surrounded by ten sweaty armpits! It was just too revolting to stand and I had to scarper all the way down to the end of the queue, as far as possible from him…

Please know that my kits will always be as fresh as a daisy because they have been maintained properly and they will be cared for as long as I play the sport.

There is a new addition to my kits though…

I have changed my full face protection from a polycarbonate shield to a titanium cage. I always preferred an unobstructed view given by the polycarbonate one. However, it had some drawbacks, such as fogging up and sound blocking. Until I discovered a brilliant anti-fogging fluid for a motorcycle visor, my shield steamed up badly towards the end of a practice and it drove me crazy. And also, I had to shout louder through the shield because the Perspex muffled my voice.

After last Monday’s training, I was awaken during the early morning by a fit of coughs. My throat was very dry and a bit sore due to too much shouting during the session. By swapping the shield to a birdcage one, it may spare my vocal cord, I thought.

Another benefit of wearing the lighter cage is how it can reduce the load on my neck. A typical stainless steel wire cage weighs 329g while my RE-AKT titanium cage by Bauer weighs 165g. Since the previous polycarbonate one weighs 256g, my head will be 91g lighter by changing the shield to the cage. 91g doesn’t sound a lot but a hockey player looks down often and the load on a neck changes dramatically by the angles of the head. For example, the weight of my head, my helmet plus a polycarbonate shield is 4,606g (4kg + 350g + 256g). While standing straight and looking ahead, my neck is loaded with only 4,606g. However, if my head is angled 45° looking down, the load to my neck will increase to a whopping 25.3kg! If I can reduce 5kg from the load my neck has to carry by shaving 91g off from my head, I will do it. It is a no-brainer.

I hope I will not be bothered too much by the grids in front of me during the next training. I am sure I will get used to it soon (I hope!)…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

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