Archive for July, 2010

Even just a couple days spent staring at a lake is good for the soul. Even though I couldn’t skate on the dirt and gravel roads surrounding my extended family’s cabin, I felt energized. I even managed to drag my boyfriend out to jog one morning – proof of the mystical powers of vacation!

Before we left I felt pretty bogged down. My team doesn’t play in a bout again until October, and let’s just say at best, we have a reputation for being un-teamy with each other. Two of the teammates I’m closest to are leaving, and I feel stuck between eager freshies and seasoned vets who are annoyed that I suck. So … All in all I haven’t been feeling very motivated.

Luckily a good friend of mine is preparing for the next tryouts, and I found this great site of daily roller derby exercises. I’ve got a couple vacations under my belt, some ideas in mind on making the most out of my time …

Derby seems to be all about highs and lows and plateaus. It’s hard staying motivated and competitive and interested year round. So I laxed a little. So what? I think I’m ready to re-commit.

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I heart footwork drills. Especially when we spend time dissecting each part ad nauseum. What did I learn tonight? Edges and twisting the upper body.

We had a special guest coach – the rink owner, who is not only a super kind guy, but an amazing figure skater to boot. At first I thought, “oh great, yet another person coaching who doesn’t remember what it was like to suck …” but luckily he was gracious and just concentrated on showing us a few simple ways to turn around and stay light on our feet. It seems simple enough – the ability to casually turn around while skating. But first you’ve gotta get this confidence and balance stuff out of the way. Then you can concentrate on whipping your hips and shoulders around – woop! – and make your feet follow. Woop!

Turning around has always been a challenge for me, but each time it’s brought up it becomes so much more FUN! One practice we had a little while ago concentrated on jump turns, which I assumed would be painful and embarrassing. But soon I realized I just had to whip my hips around – woop! – and just maintain hang time and then I was golden. Me! Jumping AND turning at the same time! Me, who can’t usually get all her limbs cooperating together!

So tonight, with the rink owner’s teaching of a quicker way to turn around, and a lot of practice cutting and using the edges of our feet, I felt like I’d nudged my derby skills forward another small step. Woop!

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Ouchie ow wow

My legs are revolting against me. My inner thighs sear with ripped pain every time I go down stairs or go up stairs or take a step. And sitting down to go to the bathroom? That’s the worst.

Yes – this is what speed skating class does to me. The first hour of off-skates lower body exercises, sprinkled with random heart-pumping strength training, tire me out. Then I’m expected to pull on my pads over my pre-sweatied skin to begin skating for an hour straight. My legs all a-jello, my technique non-existent, I do my best to stay mobile and not give up. For a while, I stay in the “vets” line, pushing myself to keep up and feeling heartbroken the second I lagged behind and a vet scolds me. I get water, stretch my cramping feet, and then skate around the track by myself, behind the vet line, still participating but by alone in my slowness. If I start to get too sedentary, I rejoin the vet line, push myself, and then slip away before I get too frustrated and discouraged. When Fresh Meat are around, I join the Fresh Meat line, so I can continue at a pace and feel more like I belong. I tell myself I’ll push myself and try the vets line at least once every practice. Sometimes it works, sometimes I defeat myself before I make it to the vets line, and head straight for the Fresh Meat line. There’s no shame in this line, but I decide that I need to feel shame about it anyway.

Why do I participate in the speed skating session? Because I need to get faster, damnit! I’ve got what amounts to be the opposite of the skater’s physique – I’m long and skinny and klutzy and have unwieldy limbs. If I can’t bend my limbs to my will and get them to distract other skaters, I’m done for. If I can’t dodge and fake and take off at lightspeed, then I’ll be forced to continue with my current routine of getting knocked down, popping up, getting knocked down, etc., until I’m too exhausted to care anymore.

Therefore I’ve decided that speed skating = good. What’s even better? Muscles that ache to that Nth degree that tell you that you’re on to something. If you can get used to this shit, you’re really getting somewhere.

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