Monday, August 1, 2011

Rollercon 2011

I have such a love-hate relationship with Rollercon. There was a lot more love than hate this year, though. Overall, everything was much better organized this year. There was a lot less waiting in line for classes -- in fact, the only time I had to wait in line was when they had run out of tickets but still had some spaces in the class I wanted, and even that was only for 45 minutes. Otherwise, it was show up early, get a ticket, and then go have fun until class time. Great job, Rollercon!

We got into Vegas three hours later than we expected to, because our flight was delayed. Baggage claim at the Las Vegas airport took more than an hour (WTF, Vegas?) so by the time we got to the Riviera, it was about 12:30 a.m. Tuesday. We went to the pub for drinks (for some reason, the Riviera has a British pub) and then to bed.

Tuesday was an easy day -- grocery shopping, early bird registration, and lounging by the pool.

Wednesday was the first day of Rollercon. I got downstairs at 9 a.m. and went to line up for my first class. I was there for maybe a couple of minutes when Rex Havoc (awesome ECRG blocker and Rollercon volunteer) walked up and handed me a ticket, and said I didn't have to wait in line. Since I remembered what last year was like (long lines, and then maybe you got your class and maybe you didn't), I was pretty gobsmacked.

First class was "Feet Don't Fail Me Now," taught by Jack Hammer (coach of the Lake Tahoe derby league). It was *great* -- it was the most active class I took all week, and I got to do a lot of cool footwork stuff.

In the afternoon, I skated in my first challenge bout: Robot Chicken vs. Family Guy. I was on Robot Chicken.  We were probably going to lose, judging by the score and by the fact that the Family Guy team just had better teamwork than we did; but then the floor started falling apart and the refs called the bout after about 15 minutes (of a 30-minute bout). The floor was sheets of plywood laid on top of carpet, with Skate Court (interlocking plastic flooring designed for skating) laid on top of that. The plywood sheets started drifting apart, and it was definitely not safe to skate on.

After that, I got in line for my second class of the day: Blocking Combinations with Iron Maiven (of the L.A. Derby Dolls; she was portrayed by Eve Bell in the movie "Whip It," and she also had a small role as one of the Manson Sisters). She was really cool and definitely knows her stuff. This class was a little less intense than the other one, but I still learned a lot. There were a lot of STDD and Cherry City girls in the class, which was cool. Edie Disorder said my booty blocking isn't as bad as I think it is. Yay!

Thursday ... God, what the hell did I do on Thursday? I had my second challenge bout, Medium Rare vs. Leafy Greens. I was on Medium Rare; we lost, and again, I think it was due to superior teamwork by the Greens. The bout was in the morning. I tried to take a class, Ninja Blocking, in the afternoon, but my back was hurting and skating was making it worse. D'oh. I did sit and take notes on the rest of the class, though. Thursday night we walked to the Bellagio and saw the fountain. It was pretty cool. The Strip was just as grody as last year, though it's pretty good for people-watching.

Friday, I was feeling overwhelmed by the social aspects of Rollercon (people everywhere) and I wanted to get away from the Riviera (which is kind of a low-end casino and was starting to depress me a bit) and the Strip. My friend Rayda came and picked me up, and we wandered around some non-Strip Vegas. The highlight, other than meeting Rayda in person and hanging out with her, was this little frozen custard stand called Luv It that is apparently a Vegas institution. The almond chip ice cream was *fantastic*. Next year I am dragging everyone there at least once.

Friday night was the Black and Blue Ball, which is not my kind of party (my kind of party involves a small group of friends, board games, pizza and a bottle of wine). It was hot as hell, and outdoors by the pool, and hella crowded once it got going. I didn't last too long. Everyone (including the Rollercon website) says you have to wear black or blue, but I don't think anyone actually gave a shit, and I know at least one person who wore tan. (shrug)

Saturday morning was my final challenge bout: Green Horns vs. Fresh Meat. There were four Sick Town girls on my team (Green Horns): me, Flash, Tuna and F.U. Bones was our coach. Early on, we were down by maybe 20 points, but after that we started doing a lot better, shutting down their jammers and getting ours through, and we ended up winning by something like 15-20 points (I don't remember the exact score). Bones said we did a good job of listening to her and doing what she told us to do, which is awesome. There was one jam where all four Sick Town girls went out as blockers, with a girl from another league as jammer. We rocked it! It was really cool being out there with my teammates.

Saturday was also my final class: Baby Got Back, with Quadzilla. For the non-derby people reading this, Quadzilla is a rock star of the derby world. In his words, he has been skating since he was an embryo, and it shows. He's just freaking effortless (well, I mean, he obviously makes a lot of effort. He *looks* effortless). I saw him in a challenge bout, and he was jamming, and two of his blockers were in the box. The two blockers he had, weren't all that effective. Didn't matter. Quadzilla just cut through the pack like a hot knife through butter.

The class was booty blocking, and using your butt and back to block. That's awesome, because those are skills I definitely need to work on. We did some cool drills, a lot of which I actually remember.

Saturday night was the Bay Area Derby vs. Mile High Club bout, which we watched from a skybox. That was kind of cool, though thanks to the position of the boxes and of the track, we couldn't see the near apex at all so we kind of missed a lot of the bout. But what the hell. I was surprised that Bay Area (a nationally-ranked team) didn't have better teamwork than they did. (Mind you, they could totally wipe the floor with me.) After that was the derby wedding, which is kind of silly but fun. Boxxx and Bones got married, and all of us Dis-Orderlies (me, Tuna, Flash, D Train and Chelle) wore our jerseys and booty shorts and were their bridesmaids.

And then Sunday morning we caught a shuttle at 5:20 a.m., flew out at 8 a.m., and were home by 11:30 a.m. I'm glad I went to Rollercon, but I'm also glad to have it in my rear-view mirror. I'll probably go next year.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

That wasn't so bad ...

So yesterday was the big scary team tryouts evaluation that had me all chaotic and twirly all week. And it ... wasn't that awful, really. I hope I can take a lesson from that, and not freak completely out next time.

I don't know how I did -- I don't know when they will send out scores, but I can't imagine it would be this soon. I know I didn't totally tank it. In the speed trials, I was the slowest -- but not by a ridiculous margin. I was pretty close behind the next fastest girl. I got through the weaving pace line, I managed to keep up with the two-lap-lead pace line for more skaters than I usually do, and when I fell on my ass -- hard -- during a hitting drill, after taking a moment to get my breath back I rejoined the drill. So that's all good. Not good enough to be put on the SMASH Unit, but (in my opinion) good enough to show that I deserved to pass minimum skills.

I had some duh moments too, like when I was in a three-person blocking drill with Pus as jammer, and I was totally in Pus' way, and I *GOT OUT OF HER WAY*. Why? Why did I do that? Honestly, I think I know. But it's no less dumb. I was on the line (which, if you are on the inside line as a blocker, you are not supposed to give that line up for ANYTHING). I thought I was keeping my co-blockers from hitting Pus out, and if I got out of their way, they could hit her out. (I was not managing to hit her out obviously. This is NOT a criticism of anyone else, OK?) So I politely step out of the way, and Pus zips past me on the inside line, and my co-blockers somehow manage not to smack me upside the head for being a dumbass.

Lesson: never, never, never give up the damn line. And if you are in the jammer's way, STAY IN HER WAY!

OK, but there was something awesome too. We were doing jumping and cone weaving. The cones were set at the edges of the track. I did fine weaving them, though now I need to work on being able to do it faster. I did fine on the one-footed jump (I think) -- probably not pretty, but I jumped it. There were there obstacles set up to jump two-footed over: Pwny's gear bag (which is probably about 10 inches high and 10 inches wide, maybe 2 feet long), two 6-inch plastic cones, and a low plastic cone (maybe 2 inches tall, tops).

I went through several times and jumped -- credibly -- over the low cone. Shankee was doing the same thing. Finally, we were in line, and we looked at each other and I said, "We can jump that gear bag." And Shankee said, "I know. Let's do it." The next time through, we both jumped over the gear bag. It probably wasn't pretty -- I know mine wasn't. Pus said I didn't completely clear the bag. The second time I jumped it, I did, though I still didn't keep my feet together as I went over. So, I'm sure I didn't get the full three points for that one, but I jumped the fucking bag!

Overall, I feel like I worked my ass off, I did some things well and I showed that I need to work on other things, I certainly did not qualify for SMASH, but I did show that I deserve to be where I am. So, I feel good.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

More testing? Whimper.

I don't get test anxiety, at least not for school-type tests. Math tests, SATs, essay tests ... I'm fine with all of that stuff.

Roller derby tests, on the other hand, freak me right out. I'm not a natural athlete; I've never tried out for a team. I guess the closest thing (that I've done before) to minimum skills testing, or the team tryouts that popped up this week, would be theater auditions. And those always freaked me out too.

I think what really gets to me is the idea that I'm going to be judged on a snapshot of performance. That, and I simply don't have the kind of confidence in my physical skills that I have in my mental ability. I know I'm smart. But in derby, I feel like a special ed kid.

Anyway, tonight at scrimmage Brick was taking notes on how we all did. She was looking for offensive and defensive blocks, communication, and I don't know what all else (she said, but I don't remember). All I can say is that I skated my ass off tonight, and I did my best. I tried really hard to listen and to pay attention to what was going on around me. I did get in some good defensive blocks, but (and here's what freaks me out about this) who can say if anyone was watching when I did them.

Ugh. I need to just put this out of my mind. It's not like I'm trying to get put on the A team (the SMASH Unit). I'm not at that level. I know it, and so does everyone else. I just want to be a Dis-Orderly.

There's more testing on Saturday. I'll be glad when it's done. I don't mean to be negative. This stuff just stresses me out.

Sunday, July 10, 2011


I need to update this blog more often!

Anyway, y'all, last night was the Sick Town Dis-Orderlies' debut bout, against the Sis-Q Rollerz (from Medford, OR). I have to give a shout out to the Sis-Q girls -- they did great, they had wonderful attitudes, and it was a blast playing them.

I went into the bout thinking I was probably not going to get much playing time. I was determined to have a good attitude no matter what, because I just do *not* want to be that girl who sits around with a face like a smacked ass when she doesn't get what she wants, ya know?

I was nervous all day. Hanging out with my teammates helped, but I was still pretty wound up. The first few jams, I didn't skate. I peeked at the lineup sheet and saw that I was supposed to go in for the fourth jam. OK, if I got to skate every fourth jam, that would've been more than I had hoped for -- that would be great!

Well, when it was time for me to go in, I didn't get to go, because one of our blockers was in the penalty box (when that happens, you skate short a blocker until she comes out of the box). D'oh. Brick (bench coach) told CosMo (lineup caller) to work me into the next one. Cool.

Whoops. CosMo thought Brick meant Shankee, so she worked Shankee into the next lineup instead of me. D'oh! At that point, I was glad I had resolved to have a good attitude no matter what. I didn't get frustrated; I figured it would all work out.

Maybe good attitude was good karma, because by then, it was clear that we were doing really well (the score was pretty lopsided in our favor, throughout. The Sis-Q girls are excellent skaters and hitters, but they are a new team and they aren't quite there yet with the strategy and teamwork. Neither am I, so please, don't anyone think I am dissing them.) So anyway, from that point on, I was in practically every other jam. I have no idea how many jams I skated -- but it was a lot.

Another good attitude step for me: I got a major for low block, and I went to the box politely. I didn't even give the refs a dirty look. :-)

Anyway ... I skated my ass off and did some reasonably good blocking. And then we got to the second-to-last jam. Bones said if there was another jam, I should be the jammer. I said, "OK." I thought, "Holy shit, really?"

There was another jam. Eep. I went in as jammer, against Blitz, a very fast girl from Sis-Q (who also happens to be more than 20 years younger than I!). I had great blockers; I'm not sure who they were so I won't say any names, but they did a great job of shutting down the other jammer and helping me slip through the pack like buttah. I got lead jammer!! I made my scoring pass, got four points, and then called that mother OFF, because great blockers or no, Blitz was way faster than I. So ... I sort of ended the bout!

When I came off the track, my teammates surrounded me in a sort of group hug. It was ... I don't know how to describe it. It was amazing. I don't want to get all vaggy, but I seriously love these ladies.

Skating in a bout is something I seriously thought I was never going to get to do. Roller derby, and specifically Sick Town, has been so wonderful for me. I'm doing stuff I never would have thought I could do. I'm part of a freaking TEAM.

I *love* my team.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Awesome scrimmage!

Scrimmage nights make me pretty nervous. Last night was no exception: at the start, I was wondering if I could do it.

We only had 12 girls at practice, four B team and the rest SMASH. Cruel Anne announced that the goal of the scrimmage was to get the B team girls up to speed, because the next bout (July 9, OMG!) is a B-team bout.

The scrimmage? Was awesome. I am not saying I didn't make mistakes. There were definitely jams (especially early on) where I was fairly useless.

But let's not focus on that. There were actually more jams where I was an effective blocker. Several times I hit jammers out (and I'm talking Nick and Cruel Anne, who are both pretty damn good jammers). My best moment, though, was when I was blocking, and I saw my jammer coming, and I saw two opposing blockers on the inside line. I hit those two blockers to the inside, clearing the way for my jammer (Kant, I think) to run past on the outside. I really felt like I was playing derby then. It was wonderful. It's not rocket science -- more like Derby 101. But it's finally clicking.

I got a lot of nice comments from the SMASH girls last night, which was really awesome. I also got some good critical feedback: Jala says I'm having trouble making the transition from offense to defense (in derby, blockers play both offense and defense simultaneously). That is something I need to work on, and will ask trainers for advice on how to do it.

Last night, for the first time, I felt like I may actually be ready to bout when July 9 rolls around. Woot!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Practice last night

Last night was one of the tougher endurance practices in a while.

One cool thing was that we skated 10 minutes of laps, and Bones was skating a 12-seconds-per-lap pace (and timing it) -- so if you kept up with Bones you knew you did at least 50 laps. (The standard for min skills is 25 laps in 5 minutes; so, 50 laps in 10 minutes.)

I started out behind Bones, and passed her (which I don't count as anything). Then I lapped her, which should have put me one lap ahead of her, total; and from there, I stayed at least 1/4 lap ahead for the rest of the time.

So, I think I did 51 laps in 10 minutes, which I feel pretty good about. I know for absolutely sure I did at least 50, but I'm pretty sure lapping the pace person means I did 51.

During the league meeting, Brick announced that there are going to be tryouts for the A team and the B team, "soon." I don't know exactly what that means, but I'm a little nervous about it. I don't know ... I mean, I know I'm not bout-ready now. I guess as long as I'm considered good enough to keep training and scrimmaging at the B-team level, that is enough to let me keep working toward being bout-ready. (I would hate to be dropped back down to intermediate; I don't think that's going to happen, but I'm just not really sure what any of this means at this point.)

I'll probably feel better when I know what these tryouts will entail. And really, it doesn't matter that much right now: I think the training committee and I would agree that I'm not ready to skate in a bout right now. (My first opportunity to do so isn't until July anyway -- I'm signed up for a couple of newbie challenge bouts at Rollercon. I'll be ready by then.)

Monday, May 2, 2011

It's getting better all the time ...

Saturday's practice was much better. I started with the combined intermediate/B-team practice at 11 (got there early though), then the combined B-team/A-team practice at noon. In that one, I did better than I have so far, though still not as well as I need to. I couldn't keep up with the pace line in the regular direction, but when we switched to clockwise, I was able to keep up! So that was awesome. Couldn't quite pull off weaving forward, though I was able to keep up with the weaving pace line. I was able to do the backwards weave, though, and that's something I'm not usually so good at.

Usually they dismiss the B team skaters at 1, and the last hour is A team only. On Saturday, 1 p.m. came and went, and they hadn't sent us home, so I asked a trainer if she thought I could just stay and keep skating, and she said yes, so that's what I did. And I did OK: not perfect, but OK! I'm still having a little trouble with the way we're doing our defensive walls these days (I don't know how much of this is strategy that needs to be kept private, so I'm not going to give details here). It's not really difficult, but there is some timing to it that I am learning slowly. I don't know why I am so slow to learn physical stuff, when mental stuff comes easily to me. But I guess I would rather it be that way, than the other way around.

Anyway, I stayed for the first 40 minutes of the A-team practice, and then they dismissed the B-girls. So, I had nearly 3 hours of derby practice on Saturday -- and my energy level was pretty good for all of it. Yay!!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Last Night's Scrimmage

So, last night, I made mistakes. Let's just get that out there right now: I made mistakes. I'm not going to talk about them here, but I want anyone reading this to know that I don't think I was Beyonslay last night, or anything.

Here's what went well.

I had energy, for the first time in a couple of weeks!

I did my best to stay with the pack, with my team, and to make contact, even if the contact wasn't entirely effective yet.

The penalties I got (well, two of them; I'm not sure what was up with the third, a major for cutting the track, when I think it should've been a minor) were errors of aggressiveness. One was blocking when I was out of play. But: I was just going after the jammer and getting in her way. OK, I should've stopped. But still. Errors of aggressiveness are so much better than just standing there with my finger up my nose.

My other penalty was for blocking out of bounds. Now that one ... oh man. I hit the jammer. I hit her *out*. If I could've stopped and not followed her out, it would have been beautiful. But once again: error of aggressiveness. So much better than if I had just stood there and watched her go by me.

There were also times when I was a real pain in the ass to opposing skaters (or at least, I felt like I was). There were times when Cruel Anne yelled at me to hit someone, and I did! Now I need to work on making my hits effective, in action (they are often effective enough when we're just doing a pace line or some other drill).

Honestly, there really were glimmers of hope last night. So, that's awesome.

As a wise friend of mine suggested, I am going to try to learn from the mistakes and let them go ... and focus on the victories.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Derby Stress

I'm having a hard time these days.

Passing minimum skills was awesome. And I *did* pass: I can do all of the minimum skills (though my crossover and my booty blocking are borderline).

Now I am in the bout pool (technically I am on the B team ... it's not like they are going to put me on the roster for an A-team bout). And I've gone from being a pretty good intermediate to being the worst in the bout pool.

I can't keep up with the pace lines. (The minimum skill is 25 laps in 5 minutes; but the pace lines are often quite a bit faster than that.) In scrimmages, I get confused and have a hard time focusing. My teammates are literally yelling at me to hit someone. I know they are right, but often I just can't quite pull it off. I don't know if it is a lack of speed or a lack of brains. Or both.

Here's the thing: I am the slowest girl in the bout pool, hands down. And I have to get faster. It's not going to happen instantaneously. Jesus isn't going to come down with his magic wand and make me fast. I have to find ways to work at it. (I have some ideas on that subject.)

A lot of times, I know where I need to be; I just can't get there fast enough. By the time I get there, the opportunity has passed. I guess it's good that I know what to do (sometimes).

I don't want to be the load. I want to be useful. That's all: just useful. I don't need to be a superstar. Just not a burden.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Derby baby!

Here's my little niece Rosalie, who just turned two, wearing the "My Auntie does derby" t-shirt I gave her.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Bones is back!

Stitches-N-Bones, jammer par excellence and trainer par malevolence (just kidding!), was out with a concussion for about a month. Last night was her first night back in quite a while. She freaking *tortured* us!

So there's this drill we call "shopping carts," where we get into groups of 2, 3, 4, 5 (usually not more than that), and one skater either pushes or pulls the rest (who are in a single-file line). The people being pushed or pulled are supposed to get as low as they can.

Last night we did a new drill Bones dreamed up in her evil, brilliant mind. Here's how it worked:

We got in groups of 3 or 4. Each person pulled for one minute, then rotated to the back. This went on for 12 minutes. Then we stopped and switched directions, and did the whole thing again, for another 12 minutes.

After that we got a two-minute break to stretch our backs, drink water, etc. Then we did 12 minutes of pushing in the regular direction, followed by 12 minutes of pushing in the opposite direction.

Yep, 48 minutes of shopping carts. Chelle, Sugar and I were a group at the start, because Bones wanted us to have to work harder (in a group of three, everyone pulls/pushes four times, instead of just three). All three of us stuck with it for the entire drill -- we didn't stop at all. I was pretty proud of us for that.

For the second hour, we did pace lines and mostly worked on hitting. That was fun, though when we worked on timing of hits, it was tricky. I got praise from Bones for my regular hits (not the timed ones, where I had some trouble). Praise from Bones is always awesome.

At the end we flashdanced. What I love about flashdancing is that it feels so *very* good when we stop. :-) (Flashdancing: for five minutes we constantly step, one skate then the other, so there are only four wheels on the floor at a time. We're supposed to do this fast. When Bones blows the whistle, we touch the floor with our hands, jump, and go right back to flashdancing. We do this for five minutes. It hurts, a lot. But it feels so good to get through it!

I'm pretty sore today. It's a good thing.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Scrimmaging, skating, improving ...

Since I passed minimum skills, I have been to ... let's see ... six practices so far. So, it would be fair to say I am skating my ass off. :-)

Last Wednesday was my first scrimmage as a bout pool member. It was fun, and hard. We didn't have a whole lot of girls, so everyone got to skate in a lot of jams. I didn't feel nearly as lost as I did in my very first scrimmage, but I was still a bit scattered. And of course, people were expecting a lot more of me than they were in that first scrimmage (when I was still just an intermediate).

I still don't feel like I have a very strong understanding of strategy. Let's just say I have a *lot* to learn. Fortunately, three of the SMASH (A-team) skaters (Pus, Kant and Pwny) have been doing regular strategy practices aimed at newer bout pool skaters (they call it PuKanY practice, so if I refer to that, that will be what I'm talking about). I went on Sunday, and it was awesome. I think I know more about strategy now ... I just need to work on having the fast-twitch speed to be able to put it into action. Because, knowing where you should be is great ... but being fast enough to get there is better.

Anyway, at the scrimmage ... one jam, while I was out as jammer, I just couldn't get anywhere. Everywhere I went, Pus (who was blocking for the other team) was there. To kill me. :-) Seriously, that girl was on me like white on rice. I'm not sure I ever cleared the pack. It was frustrating as hell, and there were times I didn't want to get back up after she knocked me down (I did, though). I need to learn to do what she was doing.

My goal for this week's scrimmage (which is tomorrow) is to be more aware. I want to try to always know where the jammers are. (There was one time last week when I just totally let the other team's jammer past me, and I could *easily* have blocked her if I had been *aware* of her. Dammit!)

It's hard when you're tired, and you have ADD. But I have to do it or I will be of very little use as a blocker. Getting distracted by shiny things is not an option.

I hope some more girls test up soon. It would be awesome to have a bigger B team. :-)

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Wait, what? I passed?

This may be a long one. I'll wait while you go get a drink and use the bathroom.

OK, ready?

Minimum skills assessment was Saturday. Before the test, we had an intermediate practice, where we worked on the things that were going to be on the test. I did pretty well on everything until we got to positional blocking (which we STDDs call "booty blocking," because that's what it is -- blocking someone with footwork and getting your booty on her).

I was paired with another intermediate skater, and I was having trouble even blocking her. So what chance did I have to block bout pool skaters, which is what I knew I was going to have to do on the actual test? I went to Brick, and although I didn't intend to (I never intend to), I started crying a bit while talking to her. I asked her if it would be rude of me to leave after practice, and not stay for the test.

Brick told me I could do what I wanted. (That sounds like she was cold about it, and she was not. She just kind of let me know that "rude" wasn't really an issue, and that I should do what I wanted to do.)

I went outside and cried a little more. And came back in and finished the drill, and cried some more. So, anyone who says there's no crying in roller derby has never met me. I don't do it on purpose. I just am so emotionally invested in this ... and it comes out as tears.

Anyway, St. Nick (who has really kind of been like a big sis to me ever since I started) helped me calm down. I decided to stay for the test, because if I didn't, I'd always wonder what would've happened. Also, I really love all the girls I was testing with, and I wanted to support them.

The test went well. I felt pretty good about the way I did all of the skills -- I even felt like I had probably done a passable crossover. Then we got to the booty blocking. I didn't do too well my first attempt. They sent me out a second time, and I did better. I was hopeful.

At the end, Bones pulled a few of us aside to re-do certain skills (stuff they knew we could do, but we hadn't quite nailed during the test). She asked me to re-do my one-footed jumps. I really got my hopes up at that point, because if that was all I had failed? I was golden. I re-did the jumps. No problem.

And then. They called several of us over to re-do booty blocking. Shit.

I went out to block Adrienne (Natural DisASSter). I tripped her. I may have fallen. I definitely did worse than my second attempt during the test. Dammit. That was it, I thought.

On Sunday, Brick emailed out the results. She sent a general note saying she was doing it, and that she couldn't do it all in one sitting, so we should not freak out if other people got their results and we didn't have ours yet. Fair enough.

The results started trickling in, and girls were posting on Facebook. I didn't have an email from Brick. An hour or so went by after the last girl had posted "I passed!" No email for me. Shit. Brick must be taking a dinner break after sending out the positives, and later I was going to get a "sorry, you didn't pass." I just knew it.

Dinner (nachos) and trying to concentrate on "The Amazing Race." I set my phone to make a sound when I got email, so I wouldn't be constantly looking at it.

About halfway through the show, the phone beeped. I picked it up. Email from Brick. OK, here we go, I thought. At least I knew I had passed the crossover, so there was that ...

I open the email. And the first thing I read is, "On behalf of the entire training committee, congratulations on passing your minimum skills."

I ... passed? Really? I had to read that sentence at least three or four more times. I passed!!!! By a pretty narrow margin, and I have a lot of work to do, but I passed!!!

So ... I'm in the bout pool now! Holy crap!!!

On Monday morning, when I woke up, I had a moment where I thought, "Did that really happen?" And it did! (I often dream about derby and dreaming that I passed min skills has happened before. Of course I wake up and know it was just a dream. I'm not crazy. Well, not that crazy.)

Last night was my first practice as a bout pool member. I'm pretty sure I'm the slowest in the bout pool. But I didn't make an ass of myself, so yay.

Tomorrow night is my first official scrimmage. Yikes! And, yay!!

Hey, to everyone who encouraged me and listened to me whine and cheered me on: thanks.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Poor neglected blog

Minimum skills was today. I almost went home after our practice (which was right before), but I'm glad I didn't. I'm embarrassed that I cried about it, but I'm glad I stayed. (I was hella frustrated about booty blocking.)

This was the easiest min skills yet. I think that's a good sign that I'm getting more proficient. I don't think I passed, but I think I got closer than the last time. I asked my evaluator (Brick, head of training) if I passed the crossover, and she said I did. That's *huge*. I failed on that last time.

I'm 99.9% sure I failed on booty blocking. My best time booty blocking was my second time during the assessment itself. They called several of us out to do it again, after the assessment was over (which was kind of them -- they sure didn't have to give us that second chance). I did it the worst out of my three total attempts, at that point. I actually TRIPPED the girl I was blocking. I was mortified. (She was fine, thank goodness.)

So. If my attempt #2 was not good enough to pass, and clearly it wasn't, then I can't have passed.

But if I passed the crossover -- and if Brick says I did, then I probably did -- that's an enormous moral victory. And if (I haven't heard officially yet) I passed everything but booty blocking, that means I just need to learn to booty block and I will pass.

So, really, I feel pretty OK about today.

I had told my lil sis, who was also taking the test today, that I would get tattooed with her if I passed. I had been hoping the universe would call my bluff on that one. (It would have been my first ever tattoo.) Oh well, I guess if I have not passed, I don't have to get tattooed. :-)

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Getting closer ... maybe ...

Last night's practice was interesting. It was a really good practice, but my performance in it was mixed.

We skated a lot of laps. At the end, we did "however many laps you can get" in 10 minutes. I got 52, which is *awesome*. The standard for minimum skills is 25 in 5 minutes; in the first 5 minutes, I got 27. And then I maintained my pace for 10 minutes. It's really great to know I can do that.

The floor was pretty slick for some reason. It wasn't wet. I don't know what the heck was up with it. I think part of it may be that my beloved yellow Fugitive Mids are getting worn out (I have skated on them a LOT) and are not grippy anymore. I felt like I was fighting slippage as I skated, and I'm sure that didn't help my speed.

We also did some really great booty-blocking exercises. My results on that were mixed ... when I was paired with someone at my level, I could generally block them. When I was with someone from the bout pool, unless they dumbed it down a bit for me, I was just not fast enough. :-( It isn't a matter of skating fast; it's a matter of thinking fast and making fast lateral movements.

Then we did the same thing in two-blocker teams. Again, I had trouble with most of the jammers ... by the time I figured out what to do, they were already past me. Sigh. I think at all-intermediate practice (this was a mixed practice, so it was practice for the bout pool girls too), we will be able to take it down a few notches, get an understanding of the movement, and then ramp up the difficulty. I think that will really help me.

The bottom line is, I will never pass minimum skills if I can't booty block. And if I never pass minimum skills ... well, really, I don't even want to finish that sentence. It's just too icky to even think about.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Awesome practice!

Last night's practice kind of rocked. :-)

After warmup and stretching, we did minute time trials. That may sound easy, but I assure you, its' totally not. Here's how it works:

We divide into two groups. Each person counts laps for someone in the other group. I was paired with an awesome new girl named Michelle.

Group 1 goes out and skates for one minute, and the group 1 skaters' partners count laps. Then Group 2 skates for one minute while group 1 counts laps. Repeat for 2 minutes, 3 minutes, 4 minutes and 5 minutes.

When we started, I was thinking, "OK, I may not be able to do 25 laps in 5 minutes, because that will be at the end of a whole lot of laps." I was trying to be OK with that possibility.

It turned out I didn't need to, because I managed to do 5 laps a minute through the entire thing (actually there was one time where I got an extra lap ... I think it was on the three-minute interval? And on the 5-minute interval I finished just *barely* short of 26 laps). So that is 15 minutes of 12-second laps ... broken up into intervals. I'm sure Bones and Kant and Pus could skate 12-second laps for 15 minutes in a row, but it's not something I feel ready to try right now. :-)

My partner, Michelle, got four laps a minute all through. I was so proud of her! She should easily be able to get five (which is what we need for minimum skills) once she learns to do a crossover. Go Michelle!

We also did Satan's Mattress, which is sort of like suicides. And a *huge* pace line where we were holding hands with the girls in front of and behind us, and the girl in front is pulling everyone. Meanwhile, the girl at the back weaves through to the front, staying low enough to go under everyone's hands. The weaving part is really fun. The pulling part is *hard*. I wasn't really skating at all, more trying to run on my skates. And we all felt like Stretch Armstrong at the end (you know, that doll with the really stretchy arms? Shut up, I'm old. :-)

So here's something crazy. On Weight Watchers (which I started yesterday), you can earn food points by exercising. According to the Weight Watchers site, two hours of roller skating (and that's just skating, not derby practice, which is way more intense than just skating) is worth TWENTY NINE points. That's my entire one-day points allowance.

Last night I gave myself credit for 90 minutes of skating, because realistically, I wasn't skating the whole entire time I was at practice. That's still 22 points. And I'll earn another 22 each on Thursday and Saturday. And that's not even counting my gym class.

Other times when I've done Weight Watchers, it was really hard to earn activity points. Now, it's pretty damn easy. :-) Thanks, roller derby!

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Progress, and stuff

Today at practice, we worked on booty blocking, and I honestly think that if minimum skills were today, I would pass the booty blocking. I've gotten much more hoppy -- my lateral movement has improved a lot -- and I'm more comfortable getting my butt on the jammer. So that's really exciting!

Unfortunately, the crossover continues to vex me. (I love that word, "vex.") I just don't know why I can't get the push with the inside leg. I am doing much better at not making a big useless step over with the outside leg, so that's a good thing. But I know I'm not getting power from the inside leg.

On Monday, we did 25 laps in 5 minutes, in the opposite (clockwise) direction. I did 27 laps. There have been times when we've done 25 in 5 in the regular direction and I've made 27 laps too, recently. So, speed is really not a problem (at least, not on the CDC floor). I wish the crossover weren't such a huge make-or-break deal. But I know I'll be better able to keep up with the bout pool girls when I can get some power from my crossovers.

Today was beginner-intermediate practice. I am more than happy to skate with the beginners. I love seeing new girls get into derby. But I miss hitting. I wish I could just get the damn crossover, so I could start going to bout pool practice. I'd probably still go to the beginner practices too ... I miss the days when I was able to go to four practices a week.

Anyway, we did 25 laps as a pack, and I don't know what the time was, but I know it was more than 5 minutes. Still, it was cool being able to help the newer girls stay with the pack. Plus, I love pack skating. At the end of practice, we did 25 in 5 as a pack ... that was tough. At first, when we were really trying to keep everyone together, we were doing like 16-second laps ... and that's more like 25 laps in 6:40 (approximately). At that point, I sort of stopped trying to keep the pack together and just went for it. I don't know if that was a cool thing to do -- it was probably pretty selfish. But man, that 25 in 5 is such a big deal to me. I just had to make it.

I did. :-) Which is pretty cool, since I was starting at a deficit. A few of the other girls made it too (yay!), and several more came really close (good job!). A few had to drop out, which I feel bad about. But hey, ladies: you will get there. You should've seen me in my first few months.

Overall, it's been a week of great practices. (I went on Thursday night even though it was the night before my first Math 111 midterm. Oh, and I aced the midterm. So, yay!)