Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Minimum Skills

In case anyone wonders, here's what I didn't pass on the last minimum skills:

  • 25 laps in 5 minutes. I did 21. I think I'm skating faster now, though.
  • Stride - pushes need to be out to the side, not straight behind you. I'm annoyed at myself for failing this one, because I totally know it.
  • Posture - Need to bend at the knees (approx. 90 degrees) and waist, and keep weight balanced over feet, especially during crossovers. Another one that I absolutely knew better than.
  • Pacing - Need to be able to speed up/slow down without causing hiccups in the line, without hindering other skaters. Yeah, I need to work on this one.
  • Weaving paceline - tripped other skaters while weaving; need to be able to maneuver through line without touching other skaters, while using good strides and posture; careful of large strides (i.e. kicking other skaters) and swinging arms (i.e. elbows). Still another thing I can totally do, but effed up on that test.
  • Crossovers - Must bring outside leg completely over the inside leg, not just in front of; bending more at the knees will help. I also wasn't getting any push from my inside leg.
  • Booty blocking - Very little contact; out of sync with the jammer's rhythm. This continues to bedevil me.
  • Hitting - Passed taking the hits, but giving hits must be a transfer of energy, not just contact. I think this was the biggest surprise, because I thought I had hit pretty hard. I guess not. I'm working on it now.

(I should mention: many of these critiques are copied and pasted from the email Bones sent me telling me what I didn't pass.)

Fortunately, a lot of those are things that if I concentrate on them, I can absolutely do right now. And my speed and endurance are continuing to improve (and will only get better once I go back to my body conditioning class at school next week). The crossovers and booty blocking will probably take the most work.

The good news: I totally passed the jumps, on my first try. They were no big deal. Which was a very big deal. :-)

Monday practice, and Skatemberfest

Monday night's practice was really interesting. We were at Benton County, with the reasonable concrete floor and small space. We started out with 40 laps as a pack, and I was able to stay at the front of the pack for the entire 40 without any assists. That was pretty cool. I was fairly wiped out when we finished, but still.

Later on in the practice, we did pyramid sprints. Here's the interesting part. I was in the slower group, and on the way up (1 lap, 2 laps, up to 7) I was the slowest in my group. We were skating counterclockwise, which is the normal direction for derby. On the way down, we switched to clockwise, and after the first set, I was the fastest of my group. I'm sure part of that is because the other girls were uncomfortable with skating clockwise, because all three of them are generally faster than I. But I was doing real crossovers -- pushing off with my inside leg and everything. I felt like I was practically horizontal on the turns (I'm sure I wasn't, but I'm sure I was a lot lower than usual). It was pretty amazing.

If only derby were done clockwise ...

But this definitely means I'm capable of it. I need to work on my left leg's flexibility and strength (because, see, when you're skating counterclockwise, your left leg is your inside leg and it's the one I'm having trouble pushing with). But if I can do it on one side, I can do it on the other. Or, I will be able to.

Our Skatemberfest bout was Saturday. That was one long-ass day for me. I got to the venue at 7 a.m., and except for a couple of hours, I was there until the end of the bout (which was about 9:30 p.m.) It was fun, though. Putting on a bout is such a team effort -- everyone pitches in to make it happen. Sick Town won, which was really exciting for me (it was the first time I've been at a bout where Sick Town has won, though I've seen some *amazing* play from my team).

Oh, and I got to skate in the rules demo at the beginning. Belle and I were the jammers. It was *so* fun. In all the pictures, we're smiling and laughing and just having a great time. You can tell how happy we are to be doing derby. If you look at the pictures of the team girls in the actual bout, you'll see a lot of that too -- the faces are almost always either determined and fierce, or grinning like Cheshire cats. I love it!

The bout, by the way, sold out!

Oh, and a big thank you to Atomic City for coming down from the tri-cities (eastern Washington) to bout us. At bouts, I always clap really loudly for the visiting team, because really ... we're all volunteers. We're all doing this for fun. It's cool of them to drive however many hours to come and play with us.

Anyway. Practice tonight! I'll most likely be with the beginners again, but that's OK. It's not like I've been demoted to beginner -- not at all. And it *is* a wonderful chance for me to work on my fundamentals. Truthfully, it'll probably get me ready to re-pass minimum skills much more than scrimmaging would (even though scrimmaging is awesome).

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Outdoor Skating -- Woohoo!

Today, I skated outdoors with Belle and D-Train. Originally we were planning to just do the Willamette Park circuit a few times ... but then D got the idea to go out towards Philomath instead. It's more fun, and also we realized that we had enough people for it to count as a practice if we skated for two hours.

So we skated from Willamette Park to the bike path, and on the bike path out to like 63rd Street or so. We made it up the first hill. I have no doubt that if it had just been Belle and D, they would have gone all the way to Philomath. I felt like I was at about half of my endurance after getting up that hill, though, so we turned around. (They were both very sweet about it.)

When we go down a big hill on skates, we call it "bombing" the hill. Or at least, that's one way of going down. Bombing is when you just get low and enjoy the ride. (That's as opposed to snowplowing to control your speed, or going down backwards on your toe stops to *really* control your speed.)

I bombed the hill. And Oh. My. God ... it was such an awesome feeling. It was amazing. I wasn't scared at all, even though I was not doing anything to control my speed. It felt like flying. I'll bet we looked pretty cool, too -- three rollergirls zooming down a hill.

When we got back, we realized we needed to skate another 10 minutes or it wouldn't be two hours and wouldn't count as a practice (that matters more for D and Belle than it does for me, since I'm not scrimmage-eligible anyway, but at that point I felt like I'd come this far, I wanted it to count as a practice). So we ended up doing the Willamette circuit at the end. I was pretty tired by the time we started that. I figured it was a good idea to push myself past the point of "tired."

What a *great* way to start the day! I'm so glad I pushed myself. This today was definitely the farthest I have skated outdoors. Just the Willamette Park to 61st Street part was about 14 miles round trip, I think. (Google Maps seems to think so anyway.) And then the Willamette Park part probably added another two. So, yay us!