Thursday, February 25, 2010

Boom Boom OW!

I had kind of a rough night at practice last night. First, they changed the schedule: Wednesdays will now be team-only practice, though intermediates can come and use the off-track area to work on skating on our own.

Let me be totally and completely clear: I really do understand why they made this change. Up to now, the only team-only practice was Saturday mornings. They need more time than that where they can just focus on playing, without having to provide trainers for intermediate and beginners. It's totally fair and totally reasonable.

It's just that it's also a change, and change is hard. I was feeling really, really good about my routine (practice Monday, Wednesday and Saturday, rink skate Sunday), and now I have to change it. It's OK.

I asked Brick if I could go to the Friday practices, which are for intermediates. Those practices are explicitly for people who can do a crossover, and I can't, quite (though I'm getting a lot closer; more on that in a minute). She seemed less concerned about my crossover ability than the fact that, apparently, when people hit me I pop up (out of the proper derby position).

Fuck. I do that? Shit. Yes, yes, I do. Anyway, she said I could go to the Friday practices, but that I have to work on staying low.

It was hard hearing that, but I'm glad she was honest. It wouldn't do me any good to be coddled.

So last night at practice, the team scrimmaged, and Bones (have I said how awesome she is? Bones is brilliant) worked with the intermediates and beginners. This was great, because we worked on pretty much two of the main things I needed work on: crossovers, and hitting.

First, crossovers. That actually went pretty well. Bones showed us a way to break it down by skating around and taking the curves with (alternately) one leg extended. It's hard to explain. Next, we sort of alternated those moves. Voila, a crossover! Or at least, the start of one. I'm really getting close to having it.

Second, hitting. First we started by hitting Bones. I did really well with skating up and hitting her; I got several "awesome"s and she said my first hit was the hardest I'd hit her yet. So that was wonderful.

Then we did a drill where we were lined up single file, with about 8 feet between girls, and we took turns skating along the line and hitting each person. My second time through, when I went to hit Emily, I stepped across in front of her, and my skate hit her skate, and apparently I panicked and stood up. HUGE mistake. At that point, my skates went forward and my ass went DOWN. Imagine your legs going out from under you, and going from your ass's normal height straight to the concrete.

It hurt. In fact, the impact to my ass hurt my *head*. As Emily said, it rang my bell. I was embarrassed too, of course. I knew it had only happened because I had been in the wrong position. And I was crying (you know how sometimes you get hit so hard you just can't help it, the tears come out? It was like that. I didn't mean to cry.) Luckily, the derby girls were nice enough not to notice that. I kept thinking, "There's no crying in derby!"

Bones told me I could take as much time as I needed, but I wanted to get up and finish the drill. And I did. Tough or foolhardy, I don't know, but I finished.

After that I actually did better. We did more drills where we were hitting each other, and I focused *hard* on staying in derby position no matter what. I wasn't 100% successful; my impulse really does seem to be to pop up a bit when someone hits me. But I'd say about 75% of the time, I was able to control that and stay low. (Even when I popped up, it wasn't much.)

This is all going to be fine. Next week, I will go to Monday, Wednesday (just for ref training though), Friday (rink-style skate at the CDC) and Saturday. Week after that, I will go to Monday, Friday (by then, if I focus on it, I should be good at staying low when I'm hit), Saturday, and Sunday at the Lebanon rink. And that will be my routine, until I pass minimum skills and get to go to the team practices (it may take me a while, but I think it's reasonable for me to hope that will happen).

All I can say is that today, with the way my lower back feels, it's a damn good thing I don't have to skate until Saturday. If the weather holds out, I'm hot tubbing tonight.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Closer Than I Think?

Last night at practice, one of the drills we did (one of many -- it was a tough practice!) was minute time trials. Here's how it worked: we counted off into 1s and 2s. The 1s lined up at the pivot line (there are two lines on the track -- the pivot line is where the pack starts from at the beginning of a jam, and the jammer line is 30 feet back from it -- ?? -- and is where the jammers start from), and skated for one minute, with the 2s counting our laps. Emily and I were partners.

I must digress for a moment to say that I just love Emily. She's so positive and nice. We've gotten to be training buddies -- we were in beginners together, and now we're intermediates together. It's really cool to be able to encourage each other.

OK. Anyway -- I made five laps in the first minute trial, which is the minimum for minimum skills. So, I can do better, especially once I figure out how to do a crossover. But on the other hand: I am AT the minimum skill for speed!

Then the 2s skated for a minute while we 1s counted their laps. (Emily did great. She did great on all the trials -- she is going to be a real asset to the team when she passes minimum skills.) Next we skated 2 minutes, then 3, then 4, and finally, FIVE.

Here's the really amazing thing: I did 21.5 laps in five minutes. (Some of the OGs -- that's the girls who are on the team, who have been doing this for much longer than I -- got into the 30s. They are amazing.)

Again, I can do better, once I get the crossover down. BUT: I skated fast and hard for FIVE MINUTES. I didn't give up and I didn't slack off. The requirement for minimum skills is 25 laps in five minutes, and I should be able to push myself and get up to 25, especially when I learn to do a crossover instead of coast on the curves.

I also must mention Kant (one of the OGs). She was a 1. After we were finished skating our five minutes -- and she had done like 34 laps -- she got up and did the five minutes with the 2s, and did another 34 laps. She's awesome!

Today is my first non-skating day since Friday. It'll probably be good to rest my legs a bit, and then tomorrow I will be ready to bust my ass on the track again!

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Derby thought

Do you want to know how much I love derby?

I often have the body awareness of a two-year-old -- I bumble along, bumping into shit and generally not being very careful.

Now, when I'm not skating, I'm much more careful, because it would *suck* to injure myself and be put out of derby, even for a short time.

It's not that I ever *wanted* to hurt myself, of course ... just that it didn't matter so much if I was mostly just playing video games, knitting and sewing (though, OK, an arm injury would've sucked for all those things).

Skating this week

Today's derby practice makes three for the week, plus a bonus skate at the rink tomorrow (which is a very good thing for all kinds of reasons: cardio, strength, practice skating, plus it's just fun).

Do you have any idea how long it has been since I got this much exercise on a regular basis? I think you'd probably have to go all the way back to when I was doing judo in Tulsa. In other words, 16 years. SIXTEEN.

Hopefully I will now be able to lose all the weight I put on in those 16 years. :-)

I'm also thinking -- don't laugh -- of taking a beginning hip-hop dance class at LBCC this spring. It will fit in my schedule, and the description says it's for all fitness and ability levels. I think it could be fun, and I don't know how much the skills will transfer, but having some dance ability will probably be good for my balance and coordination. (Plus, Sick Town throws parties where there is dancing. Maybe if I knew how to dance a bit, I would feel comfortable joining in.)

And hey, that would be three more workouts per week. Not bad for a former couch potato.

I don't know, y'all ... I don't want to jinx it, but so far, turning 40 has been nothing but good. Look at all the new stuff I'm trying. How *about* that?

Polar Plunge!!

Today was the Polar Plunge, a fundraiser for the Oregon Special Olympics. Barium, a member of the Sick Town travel team (basically that means they are the girls who play in bouts against other leagues), started a Sick Town team for the plunge, and several of us joined in to raise money and -- eek -- jump into the Willamette River in February.

In the interest of full disclosure, I should add: it's 50 degrees out, right now. I think they said at the event that the water was 42 degrees. That's *plenty* cold, but it's not really the same as jumping into the water on Jan. 1 in Minnesota, for example.

We dressed as derby girls (there are pictures, and I will try to get a copy to post here), complete with black eyes courtesy of Mama Slam (she put purple eye shadow on us). Slamchez, by the way, is amazing. She's shorter than I am (and y'all know, I'm pretty short), and if you're on the derby track you do *not* want to get in her way. That little lady will knock yo ass down!

We didn't win the costume contest; oh well. The guy who won first prize had a wonderful costume. He was done up as a housewife, in a bathrobe, curlers and plush turtle slippers. He had a cigarette dangling from his mouth (unlit), and he was brandishing a toilet brush. I would've given him first prize, too. (Someone took a picture of me with him, but I have no idea how to get a copy, dammit.)

There was a nice lady, probably about my age, taking pictures and asking questions. She seemed pretty fascinated with us. It was funny, at one point she said, "You all seem so *normal*." Crackr was like, "We *are* normal." (Which is funny, because "normal" isn't the word I'd use to describe Crackr. "Awesome," "hilarious," "gorgeous," "brilliant," yes. "Normal"? Maybe not. :-)

But of course, we *are* normal, as normal as anyone is. We have jobs, and kids (some of us), and we're part of the community. If people are surprised to see how normal we are, then it's probably a very good thing that we're getting out and doing stuff like the Polar Plunge. It can't hurt, if people think, "Oh, those Sick Town girls are great. They jumped in the river for Special Olympics!"

And we did, too. Well, it was really more like wading. They had an area roped off, maybe 15-20 feet back from the shore. We all agreed that we would go to the rope. For me (and for Mama Slam, and Crackr most likely), that meant I was in deep enough that I kind of had to swim. When I was coming back, at first I was dog paddling but I wasn't actually getting anywhere ... that was a little scary. But then I got moving and got the hell out of that cold, cold water.

Note to self: next time, bring dry shoes to put on. It was pretty nasty having to put my nice, dry socks into my sodden Nikes. I took them off when I got to the car, and drove home barefoot.

Great job, Sick Town girls! Thank you Barium for making it happen! Our team raised $1470 for the Special Olympics -- yay us! Yay Barium, Crackr, Kant, Mama Slam, Tammy, KicknerAss, DTrain, Shamrock, and the boys who joined us whose names I didn't quite catch! Go Sick Town!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010


OK, tonight was just effing *awesome*.

After warmups, I was automatically heading over to the beginners' group, but Bruiser (tonight's beginners' trainer) said, "You know how to do waterfall, and that's what we're doing tonight, so go over there" (over there being the track, where the intermediate/advanced group was). So I did. Part of me was sure someone was going to say, "Wait a minute, you should be in with the beginners," but that didn't happen.

So I moved up to intermediate tonight!!! OMFG!!!!!!

Bones was our trainer, and it was a fantastic practice. I worked my *ass* off. Although I didn't skate as fast as the advanced girls (i.e., the travel team -- the ones who play in the bouts), and I still don't really have a crossover, I did everything that everyone else did. I wimped out of absolutely *nothing.* Anyone who has been reading this blog from the beginning will know what a big accomplishment that is.

This is like my fourth straight week of full attendance. I'm going to the beginner/intermediate practice on Saturday afternoon, and may go skating at the rink on Sunday (though if my knees need a day off between Saturday practice and Monday night practice, I will listen to my knees).

I *think* I get to be in the intermediate group now. Of course, when the team is scrimmaging, the girls who haven't passed minimum skills go and join the beginner group; but other than that, I think I get to be with the big kids.

I'm *thrilled*.

It's funny, Kim (one of my friends at work) asked me today if I work out my work frustrations at derby practice (I'm basically a customer service employee, so there's a fair amount of frustration). I said no, that I really don't. The truth is, I think about derby at work, but I don't think about work at derby. :-)

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Skating this week

I have skated a *lot* this week! On top of derby practice on Monday and Wednesday nights, I also went to Sick Town's Friday practice (which was an informal, rink-style skate -- normally, Friday practice is for intermediate and above, and I'm not at that level yet). And then Charlie and I went to the rink today for the Sunday open skate.

At both open skates, I spent almost the entire time (two hours on Friday, three on Sunday) skating, minus short breaks to stretch or use the bathroom, or at Lebanon, breaks for the guys' skate and the kids' speed skate. I *totally* skated in the adult speed skate, though.

This week's accomplishments:

- Hitting practice with Cruel Anne (I think that was Monday?)
- Pack practice with St. Nick. This was new to me. She numbered us off, 1-4 (there were 8 of us). We skated in a pack, and she would call out numbers and falls. For example, "Twos! Single knee!" Both twos had to immediately fall; the other girls had to skate around them, still in a pack, and not fall themselves. The falling girls had to get up quickly and catch up to the pack.

Skating in a pack means that at any given time, you're close enough to touch three different girls. So you can see why being able to get around someone who falls is an important thing.

- Getting closer to having a crossover. Brick worked with me on it on Friday and corrected a bad habit (I was leaning way back to try to get my outside leg over, putting myself badly off balance). Now what I'm doing is sort of a half-crossover, where I get my outside leg in front of my inside leg, but not all the way over it. It's still faster than coasting around the turns. It's not where I need to be, but it's a step in the right direction (sort of literally).

- I also invested in a set of indoor wheels, which are harder and therefore faster than the outdoor/hybrid wheels I was skating on. I really noticed the difference at the Lebanon rink, which has a very grippy wooden floor. I was nervous before my first night skating on the new wheels at the CDC, but I got used to the difference pretty quickly.

On Monday, two of my friends from the beginner group, Claudia and Emily, moved up to intermediate. I was happy for them, and it also lit a fire under my ass. I'm going to try to push myself harder so I can move up soon too. Skating four times this week can't hurt! And starting next week, I'm going to go to three Sick Town practices per week instead of just two (they have a beginner/intermediate practice on Saturday afternoons, and so far it's been poorly attended. There wasn't one this week because of the bout in Southern Oregon, but next week, there will be, and I will be there.)

Oh, and about the Southern Oregon bout? It went great. The Southern Oregon girls were good hosts, and everyone had a great time. I wish I had gone. Next time there's an overnight bout, I probably will go.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Open Skate today

We went to the open skate at Oaks Park today. I got in a good workout, but holy crap was it ever crowded. There were probably 200 kids there (plus lots of adults). Even on a floor that big, once it gets too crowded, it can be difficult to maintain anything like a good skating pace. Charlie and I tried to do our "jammer practice"* but quickly realized it was just too crowded. And that's saying something, since the whole point of jammer practice is to get past the other skaters.

There were several 12th birthday parties going on at the rink today, and the girls tended to get in groups of four and skate holding hands. It was really too crowded for that, but oh well. There was also a group of little girls who liked to scream. A lot. When children scream while playing (I don't mean just being loud, I mean full on *screaming*), it reminds me why I don't want to be a mother. Because seriously, that shit's annoying.

Sick Town has a beginners' practice with Brick on Saturday afternoons. There won't be one next Saturday, because next Saturday is Sick Town's season opener bout in Medford (kick ass, ladies!!). Starting the following Saturday, I'm going to derby practice on Saturdays. It'll be harder than open skate, but that's probably a good thing at this point. And there shouldn't be any screeching children.

* Jammer practice = when any of three songs comes on (right now, it's "Hey Ya," "Sk8ter Boi" and "Party in the USA"), we start at the same point on the track and I try to lap Charlie.

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

What I Learned This Week

This is my second straight week of making it to two practices a week. Yay me! This Saturday Charlie and I have plans with friends, and next Saturday is STDD's bout in Medford (so there will be no Saturday practices); the Saturday after that, I'm going to Saturday practice too.

This was a productive week for me. On Monday I got better at hitting and worked a lot on endurance. Tonight I learned how to give a whip (which is cool), how to jump (scary but cool), how to transition from skating forwards to skating backwards using footwork instead of making a big circle, how to stop by going backwards and going up on my toe stops, and how to block (though I will certainly need a lot more work on that).

I think I will be sore tomorrow. :-) But I feel *great*. I think I'm getting stronger. Tonight when we were squatting (basically, you stop skating and just squat and coast -- it's a real workout for the thighs), it was easier than it has been. Not *easy*, but easier.

God, I love roller derby.