Friday, June 18, 2010

Derby Horoscope Nails It

I don't really believe in horoscopes, but mine from the new issue of "Five on Five" (WFTDA's official derby magazine) is spot on:

Scorpio: Practice, practice, practice! You have been feeling tired and out of sync on the track, but getting back to basics will bring back the confidence you have been lacking. Your level of play will be elevated once you tackle this mental block.

I *have* been feeling tired and out of sync on the track. My endurance is in the toilet, I pulled a groin muscle falling at practice on Monday, and the last couple of practices were just miserable for me. And of course there's last Saturday's setback, which doesn't help a bit.

I think I just need to focus on the basics -- stance, stride, stopping (let's see if I can get a few more S-words in here). OK, so I didn't re-pass minimum skills -- yet. BFD. It's not like that was the one thing keeping me from being put on the team. I'm a ways away from being good enough for that yet ... so there's no reason for me not to just focus on improving my skills, and stop comparing myself to others. As long as I'm doing *my* best, and pushing myself, it will be good enough.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

A minor setback

Well, today I tried to do my re-test on minimum skills. It's a little more involved than I had expected -- it's not just the individual stuff, but the pair and pack stuff too. Also, some of the individual stuff is not required (stops and falls, mainly).

I had some trouble with the jump but managed to do it. I need to make myself jump every time I put on skates. I also had to re-do receiving push assists -- the first time, I was too straight up and down. That annoys the hell out of me (at myself), because I *know* better than that.

But the thing that I just *could not* pull off, and that kept me from passing today, was positional blocking (aka booty blocking). I just couldn't get in front of Brick or Bones (they both tried it with me. They definitely did everything they could to give me a chance to get it right). And when I was in front of them I couldn't stop fast enough. Or didn't, really. I mean, I know how to stop.

I think part of it is that my endurance is suffering. Three weeks away from practice, plus pneumonia, will really mess up your endurance. So that is one thing I will keep working at. The other thing is just the footwork. Oh, and apparently I'm still flailing my arms around too much, which, dammit! Another thing I totally know better than to do, but I'm still doing it.

Well, I'm not going to beat myself up (any further). The good news is that there was a lot of stuff that was just no problem for me at all. I can try again next Saturday; between now and then, I can work on footwork and positional blocking, and make myself jump at every practice. I. Will. Get. There.

Meanwhile, this doesn't take away the fact that I have passed minimum skills. (I'm having a bit of cognitive dissonance on that subject ...) This is just something I have to do before I'm eligible to scrimmage. And I will.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Monday night practice

Last night was ... interesting. Let's say interesting. :-)

Bones ran the practice, which means it was a killer. I love Bones, but I'm half-convinced she is trying to kill me. :-) Just kidding -- hard workouts are awesome, especially when you're finished and you can say, "Wow, I did all of that!"

I couldn't 100% keep up with everything, but I never dropped out. There was a drill where we were skating in a pace line and the front two girls would sprint and lap the pace line (and then lap it twice, then three times, then twice, then once). The theme of last night was "pyramids." Well, my sprinting last night sucked ass (I'm just never going to be the fastest girl in the league, plus my endurance is down thanks to the pneumonia and the resulting lack of exercise). So I never did manage to lap the pace line more than once, but I kept up with the pace line the entire time, so that's something.

I also had no trouble keeping up with the pack during the 30 laps in 6 minutes, so that was awesome. I even helped a new girl, Kimberly, who was having trouble. Later on, I was in a group with Kimberly (who is tall, slim and athletic) and Bones (small but tough as nails) for shopping carts. That's where everyone gets in a single-file line, in derby position, hands on the hips of the girl in front of you, and the person in back pushes everyone. Bones and Kimberly together probably weigh ... gosh, I don't know, but less than 250 pounds, for sure. It should not have been difficult for me to push them. At least, not as difficult as it was. I was *dying*. And then when I was pulling them ... oh sweet Jebus, I wanted to fall down.

I got through it, which, yay me.

Later, during our league meeting, Brick was giving a rundown on how a skate works, what you can adjust and how, etc. Kimberly handed Brick one of her skates to demonstrate on. I picked up the other one, and when I pick up a skate, the first thing I do is give the wheels a spin. I don't know why, but I do. Even before Brick said anything, I told Kimberly, "Oh, honey, your wheels are too tight." They wouldn't spin; I could barely get them to turn. I don't know who sold her those skates, but they really should have loosened the nuts for her. (Brick did.)

We were all amazed and impressed that Kimberly managed to keep up with the pack (with help but still!!!) and the rest of the drills, when her wheels were so tight. Basically, she was driving with the parking brake on.

That explains why it was so hard to push and pull her, and it also explains why I was able to outpace her in most of the drills. *That* won't be happening again anytime soon. Kim is going to *love* her skates next time she tries them, I'll bet!

Unfortunately, Brick had some bad news for us at the meeting. During practice, the owner of the warehouse where we practice came by to talk to her. He had found a renter who wanted to use the building as a warehouse. The thing about that is that it's usually done on a month-to-month basis: a grass-seed company might rent the warehouse for a few months, for example. But whereas we're paying $800 a month, the warehouse renter will pay quite a lot more than that (I don't know exactly how much). So our deal with the owner was always that if they found a regular renter, we had to be out in seven days.

So, we have to be out in seven days. That means we have to tear up our sport court, and move it, and find someplace to store all of our stuff: sport court, chairs, skates, pads, other equipment, etc. More importantly, though, it means we have to find a new place to practice, and the sooner the better. We can probably go back to the Linn County Fairgrounds, which is not ideal (the polished concrete floor is very slick) but is OK. But that -- in my opinion, and I do not in any way speak for the league -- is just a stopgap. We need our own space, so we can have a full practice schedule. I guess I got spoiled in the seven months practicing in the warehouse. I mean, it wasn't perfect by any means: no heat, no insulation, no plumbing, and God only knows how hot it would have gotten in the summer. But it was *ours*. We paid our $800 and we could have practices every single day if we wanted. Sigh.

I know it will work out. I hope it does, because honestly, derby is one of the best things that has ever happened to me. And I don't want to do it anywhere else. I'm a Sick Town girl, dammit!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

I'm Back!

I took most of the month of May off from derby, and I *hated* it. Anyone who knows me well knows that I am usually pretty fanatical about going to practice. Conventional Sick Town wisdom is that two practices a week will maintain your skills, but if you want to improve, you should go to three or four. I took that advice to heart, and I believe that is why I passed minimum skills as quickly as I did (and sooner than anyone expected me to).

I had pneumonia, though, and even if I had felt up to skating, it would have been extremely selfish to go to practice and spread my germs to the rest of the league. So I stayed home.

I finally went back to practice on May 26. The good news is that I went to the rink the Saturday before that (RIP, Lebanon Sk8 Center), and *finally* got the goddamn crossover down!! My crossover is not perfect -- Brick says I am straightening my back leg too soon/too much, and I need to work on that. But it is a real crossover, at last!!

I've been able to keep up at the practices I've been to since I went back. We've started doing 30 laps in six minutes at the start of every practice (that's 12-second laps, the same pace as the 25 laps in five minutes that is required for minimum skills). We do it as a pack, which I *vastly* prefer to doing it as a pace line ... but so far, I haven't needed any help! No whips, no self-assists, no pushes, nothing!! I can't even tell y'all how good that feels.

I borrowed Claudia's (Lux's ... it's really hard to get used to calling the girls who were beginners with me by their derby names, but I will!) yellow Fugitive Mids wheels again. I had tried them on the concrete floor and found that they slowed me down -- they were too grippy on that surface, I guess. On the sport court, they are *awesome*. They are narrower than my other wheels, which means (I guess?) that they are better for side-to-side footwork. They are a 93 durometer (hardness), which means they're fast; and they are nice and grippy, which means they don't slide out from under me on the turns. Love!! I bought my own set yesterday. Any derby girl reading this, if you skate on sport court, you should try these wheels.

Hmm, what else? Oh!! This is cool -- I passed the written test, which is part of minimum skills. I only missed two -- you can miss six and still pass. Yay!!

One frustrating thing: apparently it's a Sick Town rule that if you miss three weeks of practice, you have to re-take the individual parts of the minimum skills assessment before you are eligible to scrimmage. Bones assured me that it's no big deal, and that it takes about five minutes (when she first said it, I was envisioning having to go through the entire min skills assessment in July, and the thought of that made my heart sink). I think I'm pretty much ready to do that. The only thing I'm nervous about at all is the jump, but if I did it in April I should be able to do it now.

Last night Sick Town had a bout against the Church of Sk8in (which is one of the Emerald City Roller Girls teams). It was *awesome.* The Sick Town girls skated fabulously, and showed some really nice teamwork. The score was close all along, and at the end of the bout it was TIED, so they had to go into overtime. Here's how overtime works: it's a two-minute jam, with no lead jammer (the lead jammer can call off the jam at any time; if there's no lead jammer, the jam goes the full two minutes). The jammers start scoring on their first pass through the pack (normally it's on the second).

The final score -- I don't remember the specific numbers, but the Church won by two points. I'd have loved it even more if Sick Town had won by two points, but it was just a great, exciting bout. I was so proud of my team!!

The second bout of the evening, Andromedolls vs. Flat Track Furies, was much less fun. I think the Dolls won by 150 points. It's just not as entertaining when the score's not close. I'm not -- not in any way -- suggesting that the scores should be manipulated to maximize the entertainment value. Roller derby is a legitimate sport and bullshit like that would severely damage its legitimacy. But when you're playing another team from your own league, and you have an insurmountable lead, maybe you could start sending out blockers to jam (for example). That has the added benefit of being fun for the blockers. :-)

Eh, I'm not criticizing the Dolls. I think they're an awesome team -- in fact, I'm wearing an Andromedolls t-shirt as I write this.

My goals for this week:
- Make it to four practices (Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Saturday)
- Re-take whatever part of minimum skills I have to re-take to be scrimmage-eligible (because attendance-wise, I will be eligible next week!)
- Keep working on the crossover
- Be able to keep up in all the drills
- Keep working on stopping (as a blocker, I need to be able to stop on a dime, and I'm not there yet)

One last thing. On Thursday night we had a rink skate at the CDC (we always do that for the practice before a bout). It was fun -- just Brick, and a bunch of newer girls and a couple of refs (Bambi and Isaac -- aka Charlie). At one point I was sprinting to catch Thrilla (Tami -- one of the girls who started with me, and the only one of us who has been drafted to the team so far), and I hit *something* and went flying into a faceplant (I almost pulled off a four-point fall, but not quite). Charlie called it a six-point, because ... wait for it ... I landed on my boobs, arms and knees. OMG, it hurt. My arms and chest are still sore. The annoying thing is that I have my first derby bruise, and I can't post a picture of it (because it's on my boob). D'oh!!