Last night's practice was *fantastic*.
Last Wednesday, Friday and Saturday, I didn't have to "sit out" of any of the drills. (I put "sit out" in quotes, because what that means to me is skating as fast as I can around the outside of the track. There's no sitting involved.) Last night, during one of the pace lines I took about a one-minute break to stretch my legs, but then I joined right back in. So I'm on a pretty good streak.
Cruel Anne was our trainer last night. She's awesome. She's a super-nice lady, really friendly and encouraging, but she can also hit like a freaking freight train. She worked us really hard. Here are some highlights:
- We did a 10-minute pack drill, basically seeing how many laps we could get in 10 minutes. It was the "no derby girl left behind" thing again. For the first four minutes, I didn't get any help. I didn't need it. I just stuck to the inner track line, and skated (I wasn't even pushing my speed that hard, honestly -- I was definitely going fast, but I wasn't sprinting). I skated 20 laps in 4:08. I need 25 laps in 5:00. At that point, I took a bit of help, but I didn't start really taking assists (whips and self-assists) from the other girls until we had passed the 5 minute mark. I got through the 10-minute drill just fine, though I definitely needed water at the end.
OK, so 20 laps in 4:08 is not 25 laps in 5:00. But it's REALLY close. 20 laps in 4:00 would be right on pace. And *I* was setting that pace, folks.
I don't know if I will pass minimum skills on Saturday; I don't know if I will be able to do 25 laps in 5 minutes (especially since we will be doing it as a pace line, so my strategy of sticking to the inside track line will not be an option). But I *know* I will be able to do it in July, if I keep training at my current rate (and I will).
- We split up into two groups, fast and fastest (because none of us is really slow, at this point -- not even me). The two groups took turns doing pyramid sprints around the track. We did one lap, they did one; we did two, they did two; we continued that up to six, and then worked our way back down to one.
My personal victories for this drill: no one lapped me except Bruiser (the only team member who was skating with the "fast" group), and that was only on the six-lap sprint and only barely. AND ... this is the big one ... on the last two sprints, the two-lap and the one-lap at the end, I wasn't last!! There were people who came in after me. Unfortunately, on the two-lap sprint I got pretty excited about that fact and called out, "I beat Raynee!" Eep. Raynee, if you read this, I'm sorry for crowing about that, and please know, if I get to be as fast as you I will consider it a huge achievement. I think what may have helped me put on some speed at the end is that I worked really hard on getting into good derby form, nice and low.
- Pace lines, with weaving and hitting and weaving in pairs and all sort of difficult stuff. For a while we had two pace lines going, one on the inside track and one on the outside. I was actually wishing my line (the inside one) would speed up!! (A lot of times the pace lines go fast enough that I have to really bust ass to keep up.)
Will I pass minimum skills on Saturday? The three barriers are crossovers, jumping a three-inch-tall object, and skating 25 laps in 5 minutes. Other than that, I can do everything. We'll see. If I had to make a guess, I'd say it will be a near thing either way -- I'll either squeak by and pass, or I will get really close but not quite make it. If it's the latter, I *will* pass in July.
That's still a hell of an improvement from what I was thinking in January -- that it would probably take me a year to pass minimum skills. Honestly, the credit for that goes a lot of places: the trainers, the other intermediate girls, the team, Charlie, and, yeah, me.