Wow, it's been three weeks since I posted. Sorry, internet!! I will try to do better.
I am still working on getting my mojo (i.e., endurance and speed) back. I have had some great practices, and then there have been some where I had to drop out of a lot of drills and felt crappy about it. Fortunately, tonight was a good one (though it was hard -- really hard).
Sick Town has lost its practice space -- the warehouse we called the CDC. We lost it just after the rookie rumble scrimmage with the Rose City girls -- which I was allowed to skate in at the last minute, thanks to Sick Town not having enough skaters. That was a *lot* of fun. I had some moments where I felt like a useful blocker, too. Not all the time, but enough glimmers to give me hope. (There was one jam in particular where I was stuck at the back of the pack when the Rose City jammer was coming up. I kept hitting her out of bounds, repeatedly. For a little while, I was a huge pain in that jammer's ass. That was awesome!)
Anyway, we have been nomads since the last week of June. That has meant a lot of practices at the Linn County Fairgrounds (which has a nice big room with a concrete floor; unfortunately, that floor is waxed and polished to a pretty shine, which means it is slick as hell and not that great to skate on). We've also had several outdoor practices, at various basketball courts and school play yards in the area.
I'm not complaining. Brick and the rest of the trainers have done a fantastic job of finding us places to practice. But the constant switching of skating surfaces means that I have to re-adjust every practice, and I'm experiencing a lot of fear while skating. (Some of that may also be because I am in the throes of changing anti-depressants.) I really just have to get over it and trust my skills. I wonder how much better a skater I could be if I could just get rid of the fear. I think it would be a leap, for me, skill-wise.
Tonight we skated at the Benton County Fairgrounds, which is right near Bald Hill (a park? with lovely wide asphalt bike trails). It was 95 degrees out, and we started with an outdoor skate up the first real hill of the path. It is a gradual slope, but a very noticeable one; I would guess it's maybe 30 degrees (but I didn't have a giant protractor with me, so I could be wrong).
Skating up it the first time was really tough. Bones said skating uphill is a great way to practice the proper derby stride (which is to skate with your legs pushing straight out to the side, not back). I made it, though I was the last one to get to the top. We talked for a bit about how to skate down (bend your knees, weight on your heels, stagger your feet, keep your feet about shoulder-width apart, if you have to ditch into the grass just fall, don't try to stay up), and then it was time to do it. Bones and Toxic (the two team members who were skating with us -- well, Toxic isn't a team member now because she was out for a long time with an injury, but she is certainly as knowledgeable as a team member) went first. I told Belle and Shelley that I'd better not go last, or I was afraid I wouldn't go at all. So I went next.
Holy shit, y'all, that was scary. I was snowplowing with my feet to try to control my speed, but at some point I realized that I wasn't really making much difference that way so I just let go and went fast. Really fast. It would have been fun if I hadn't been so scared! I rolled almost all the way back to the start of the trail (which was a little ways; I don't know how far).
We talked a bit and then we went back up to do it again. If going up the hill the first time was tough, going up the second time was a bastard. I stopped halfway through (hmm, I was able to stop on a hill without rolling back -- that's kinda cool) and seriously considered giving up. I kept going, and somehow I got to the top of the hill. (It's Bones, y'all. I really should hire her to be my personal motivator for everything.)
Bones and I talked about how I didn't need to be scared, and that I have the skill to handle skating down that hill. She went down last, and I was next to last, so Bones was right behind me going down the hill, and kind of coached me through it. That was helpful. I was much more confident the second time, and had more fun.
The original plan was to do the hill 3 or 4 times, but by the time we finished the second time it was 7:30 and time to go do the indoor part of our practice. I'll admit I was relieved not to have to climb that hill a third time. :-)
It was hotter inside than out. The Benton County Fairgrounds' buildings are not air conditioned. (The floor there is awesome for skating though. Much grippier concrete than at the LinnCo fairgrounds.) My big accomplishments for the second half of the practice were (a) that I didn't have to drop out of any drills, and (b) that I got through it even though it was hotter than ass in there.
Oh, and Bones said I had really good form on my T-stops. That was cool. :-)
So now, Sick Town is taking a break for the rest of July. I am going to do my best to still skate at least three times a week during the break. Saturday, Charlie and I are going to Oaks Park (wonderful, huge rink); Monday, Belle and I are going to skate at Willamette Park early, before it gets hot.
I'm now wearing jeans three sizes smaller than when I started derby, by the way. How awesome is that?