Thursday, August 26, 2010


I'm sure I've mentioned Sick Town's rule that if you miss three weeks of practice, you have to re-pass minimum skills. I missed enough when I had pneumonia that I needed to re-pass. And then we all took a break for three weeks in July, so we all had to re-pass.

Tonight we had an all-league (well, except for the beginners) minimum skills assessment. I can't say for sure, but I *might* have passed if I had been able to skate 25 laps in 5 minutes. I skated 21 laps in 5 minutes. Not even close.

I used to be able to skate 25 in 5, when we were at the CDC (our warehouse). That was on better skating surfaces -- first grippy concrete, and then sport court. The surface at the fairgrounds sucks: slippery waxed concrete. I use my grippiest wheels on it, but of course they are also my slowest wheels. Using faster wheels isn't really an option. I am going to have to improve my speed on that floor, with those wheels.

We did the minimum skills assessment after scrimmaging (and I did a lot better than last week, so yay). But I'm not going to blame that for my inability to skate 25 in 5. Everyone else did it, and they all scrimmaged too.

I have to give myself a little credit, though: the 25 laps in 5 minutes was pretty early in the assessment, and I still put 100% effort into all of the remaining drills even though I knew I had not passed. I don't know if I passed everything, but I felt pretty good about everything. I even did the jump (and I'm fairly sure I passed that, at least). I did better on the booty-blocking, but I wouldn't be surprised if I didn't pass that part.

I feel pretty crappy tonight, but it's not like I fucked it up completely. I can get faster.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Practice tonight

Today, Charlie and I had to put our 15-year-old Corgi girl, Scout, to sleep. It had been a long time coming, but this weekend she declined sharply. This morning, we knew it was time.

I never considered not going to derby practice tonight, though -- at least not seriously. A good, hard workout sounded like a great idea to me. If I'm working my ass off to keep up with people who are in much better shape than I, I don't have time to feel sad.

Fortunately, tonight was endurance practice, run by Bones -- so a good, hard workout was exactly what we got. She used a practice that Suzy Hotrod (rock star jammer with the Gotham City derby team) taught at Rollercon. Oof. It was brutal, especially outdoors in 90-degree heat. I drank at least three liters of water (I finished off my big pink bottle halfway through, refilled it, and finished that off too).

I didn't have to drop out of anything (though I did wimp out of a follow-the-leader activity we did during a water break ... that was weeny of me, though there were lots of rocks and crap). But all of the drills? I kept up. Boosh!

I can't wait to see what fresh hell Bones has for us next Monday. ;-)

Scrimmage, bitches!

On Saturday, the Rose City Rollers (Portland's nationally-ranked derby team) held an open black-and-white scrimmage. It was $5, and open to any derby girl as long as she had WFTDA or USARS insurance. (So, basically, any girl who has been with a league long enough to have bought the insurance. I think probably everyone had passed minimum skills, but it wasn't a requirement.)

Since Sick Town has lost its warehouse, we've been scrambling for practice locations. So of course we jumped on the chance to go up and scrimmage at Rose City's hangar. I think there were nine of us who went.

At first, there were just enough girls on the white team and the black team (all of us Sick Town girls were on white) that we only had to play every other jam. Later, as more girls showed up, it got to the point where you'd get to play every third jam.

I got to skate with a lot of awesome girls, both from my league and from others (mostly RCR freshies, but there were some RCR team girls too, and a fair number of Cherry City (Salem) girls, Emerald City (Eugene) girls, and even a few from out of state.

I was able to keep up with the pack almost all the time!! It was harder when I fell and had to catch up, but even then, I managed. One *really* awesome thing was when the other team tried to trap me (this is a well-known derby strategy, to trap one opposing player so that your blockers and the trapped girl become the pack ... if the other opposing blockers are more than 20 feet ahead, they are then out of play and can't block your jammer). Well, they NEVER managed to trap me! I'm getting pretty good at spotting the holes and getting away ... which is good, because even though my speed is improving and will continue to improve, I'll never be the fastest girl on the track.

I think I'm having more of those wonderful moments where I feel like I know what I'm doing -- moments where I block someone effectively, escape a trap, hit someone out of bounds. I had a lot of those during the scrimmage on Saturday. (In the interest of honesty, I must also admit that I had a few boneheaded moments -- especially the one where I got up from having been knocked down, and tripped on my own skate and went down again. D'oh!)

Anyway, GOD that was fun. It was hot -- I think it got up to at least 97 on Saturday, and the hangar where Rose City practices and bouts is not air-conditioned (other than that, though, it's pretty awesome). But when I was skating, I didn't notice the heat. It was just fun.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Motha Frickin Sick Town!

Last night was my first Sick Town practice after the break. It felt *so* good to be back. Even better, I was able to keep up with just about everything. We ran through all of the skills in the minimum skills assessment, and the only things I didn't do at least somewhat successfully (no one was actually evaluating us) were the two-footed jump over an object (I jumped next to it), the booty blocking (but Bruiser gave me some tips and toward the end I think I really got it) and the 25 laps in 5 minutes. More on that one: I managed 24.5 laps. This was on the evil, slippery Linn County Fairgrounds floor, in my slowest wheels (Sure Grip Sugars, which are *awesome* on that surface -- there was no slip at all. I just need to get my speed up now). So I'm really considering 24.5 laps in 5 minutes a win. That's "shave off a little time and you've got it." Honestly, there were times I was coasting around the curves instead of doing crossovers, for some reason. Just changing that would probably fix the whole thing.

After we finished the skills, we did some scrimmage-y drills, and it was great. I didn't do fabulously well, but there were moments when I was effective at helping my jammer through the pack. That was cool. I didn't have much, if any, trouble keeping up with the pack (though I must admit that the pack was on the slow side). I'm having a little trouble understanding Sick Town's new wall-making strategy. Last night was the first time I had skated that way, and I don't think I "get it" yet. I hope we will get to do more scrimmage-type drills at practice, because honestly, they are a good way to work endurance and they are a lot more fun than skating laps. And the more I learn about strategy and how to be an effective blocker, the better prepared I will be when I am finally scrimmage-eligible.

One awesome thing: before Sick Town's break, I had been having a lot of fear while skating. I don't really know why. Part of it could have been that I was in the midst of changing antidepressants. I'm sure the fact that we had just lost our practice space and were skating on a lot of different surfaces didn't help either. But whatever the reason, I had become a big fraidy-cat on skates.

I think I have shaken that off. All of the solo outdoor skating I did during the break seems to have helped. When you're on your own, you kind of just have to push past the fear, or go home. Crossing streets and getting past scary obstacles like railroad tracks and these weird bumpy mats they have at the crosswalks in Corvallis probably helped too (it can't have hurt my agility, either).

Now I just have to work on control, speed and endurance ... and oh yeah, I have to repass minimum skills. Then I can scrimmage. Easy peasy, right? Right.

Monday, August 2, 2010

On the Way Home

I am sitting in the Las Vegas airport, which has free wifi. Hallelujah!

Here's my final thought on the overcrowding at Rollercon: the organizers knew the event was going to be at the Las Vegas Sports Center. They knew they would only have two tracks, and they knew the building wasn't that big. In short, they knew how many people they could accommodate, and they chose to sell about twice that many tickets.

Next year they either need to find a bigger venue, or limit the number of tickets sold (fat fucking chance).

Since I feel like I've done a lot of (justified) bitching about Rollercon, here are some good things about it:

- Hanging out with my Sick Town girls was fun.
- The open scrimmages were awesome, and I held my own in them, which is really awesome. (And I made Bones proud of me, which is *incredibly* awesome.)
- The two classes I managed to get into were good. I could have gotten into more if I hadn't let myself get so frustrated with the crowded conditions, but oh well.
- I met a lot of really cool derby people.
- I didn't get sunburned, by some miracle (more than once, I walked around in the scorching Vegas sun without wearing sunscreen).
- I never got a hangover (it's called moderation, darlings ... and it's a good thing).
- Thanks to all the walking I did, even though I didn't skate nearly as much as I thought I would, I got a TON of exercise.

I don't think Rollercon was a waste of my time and money, but I won't be back unless they do something about the overcrowding. Bigger venue, or a cap on ticket sales; but *something*.

And now, I just want to get home. I'm so, so, so tired!