Keeping motivated… or attempting to at least

Blah…

My new case decked out with a Roller Girl sticker and cherry keychain 🙂

Another week of crap weather has left my skates permanently in their case and my cross training non-existent.

Speaking of case, I found myself a wicked-ass gear bag, well suitcase, at Value Village, a’la Maude Lobrowski’s for $9.99. Saweet! Holds all my gear fabulously and lots of room to expand. New set of wheels? HEL-LO!

Surprisingly, my lack of activity is leaving me with soreness and stiffness that’s new from the weekend. But it could be from hiding under blankets all week due to the weather.

The good news is I managed to take an extended skate on Tuesday before the weather hit.

STATS
Elapsed Time: 1:04 hrs
Avg Speed: 15.6 km/hr
Distance: 16.8 kms
Max Speed: 20.2 km/hr

The bad news is I’ve fucked my tail bone. I took a really hard fall at Bootcamp, square on it. I rolled it off at camp, but skating on uneven terrain and moving my body in certain directions brought the pain back that day.

I took that as a hint to take the rest of the week off.

Now it’s Sunday and I have practice in 3 hours. My shoulders are killing me, my tailbone is achy when I climb stairs, the muscles around my knees feel ridiculously weak, my wrist… don’t even go there.

Is this normal aches and pains from just starting derby? Do I simply need a massage? I have no idea. The important thing right now for me is to find out what my limits are (when it comes to competing while injured or sore) and keep within them.

You think that’s right? I’m grasping at straws here. Never in my life have I been in a league that requires such physical skill mixed with agility while being ‘right’ in the head.

I’ve heard other roller girls mention that it’s okay to take some time off, whether it be for physical and mental reasons. Hell, I had a long conversation with another girl at Bootcamp, who is now scared to go back on the track after witnessing one of her teammates lose their front teeth and then another get a compound fracture in their lower leg, all within a span of 2 weeks. (If you don’t know what that is, Google it. But be warned, it’s nasty shit.)

I met another, who I’ll call Hot Physiotherapy Doctor, who gave a talk at Bootcamp about injury prevention and coming back after an injury. His wife is also a derby girl. He gave me an interesting stat… over half of the rookie girls will be injured to the point of not being able to skate within the first 6 months of their career.

It’s easy to see how this derby business can fuck with your head.

Do I really know what the fuck I’m doing?

Aches and pains aside, I’m still looking forward to practice today. I feel like I haven’t seen the girls forever! I miss them!!!!

Space… the nonexistent frontier

Meeting many girls from different towns across Canada this past weekend has led me to realize Lethbridge is suspicious, bias, snotty and just plain no fun (when it comes to derby).

For example…

Conversation A:
Me: “Hey, nice to meet you X roller girl. Where are you from?”

Her: “I’m from a-town-that’s-smaller-than-yours-and-we-have-a-fully-functioning-roller-derby-team.”

Me: “Wow! That’s great! Where do you practice? What’s your venue like?”

Her: “We have a great indoor arena. We have to share it with the roller hockey team, but they let us keep the tape down to mark out our track.”

Me: “You’re really lucky. How much do you have to pay for that?”

Her: Slight pause… “We’re fortunate. We only have to pay $65 a month.”

Me: Bitter jealously…

I had varying forms of that conversation several times over the weekend.

Being on the Space Committee for the league it’s our job to try and find an appropriate, permanent and affordable practice space. Right now we’re practicing in a local gym, who have graciously opened their doors to us for a manageable hourly rate. The space is nice, but the size of the gym doesn’t allow space for a regulation track and the 80%-sized track that Coach taped down leaves a few feet between the boundary and the wall, which is just not safe. I didn’t get into derby to be boarded like a hockey player.

Finding a suitable space has been like wandering aimlessly through the final frontier.

Most are afraid we will ruin their precious floors. Offers to bring over our gear and give a sample skate to see if we’ll mark the floor have been met with disinterest to try.

Others, it’s cost. A certain venue that remains empty for most the month and allows cows to shit on their floor occasionally, have offered us to use their space 2 times a week, for 2-hour practices for $1000 a month.

One-Thousand-Dollars.

Excuse me?

That’s more than my mortgage and I use my house every day of the month. But you know, I get it. They’re in it to make money. Plus they have to pay a staffer to come in, turn on the lights, clean up after us, yadda yadda yadda yadda.

Arenas in town are pretty much the same price, but you’re competing with the lacrosse leagues and roller hockey leagues as well, leaving time slots such as Tuesdays from 9:45 – 11:45 p.m. (yup, practice till 15 minutes to midnight) or Friday evenings, which makes it difficult for those with weekend commitments to attend practice.

Not to mention, of the 2 arenas that remove their ice over summer (with only 1 of those having a good enough surface to skate on) they are only available from mid April to mid August.

Not much of a derby season.

We’re not looking for handouts. We will pay for space. Our girls pay monthly out of their own pockets to secure the space we have now. We’re just looking for one kind soul who will take pity on a bunch of girls who have tattoos, like to swear on occasion and wear fishnets; who will let us use their 83′ x 108′ ft smooth surface; who will let us lay painter’s tape down for a regulation track; who will have their area swept lovingly by gals in skates before every practice; who are willing to make a few hundred bucks a month (and possibly more if we can hold bouts there).

Likely 100 per cent of my subscribers already know our dilemma. (Hi Scott, Laura, Corynn, Trinity, Desi, Kym) And I realize I’m bitching/whining/complaining. So this is more of a random rant into cyberspace. But if any of you six hear someone complaining about a space that’s not making any money sitting empty, send them our way… Gyms, warehouses, farmers’ quonsets, abandoned schools, not heated, not air conditioned… we’ll take it.

Hell, we’ll even let the lucky landlord watch us fall on our asses if it turns them on, but pants are still mandatory for them to watch.

In the meantime, myself and other gals from the space committee shall continue our mission. To boldly go where no roller derby league has gone before… in Lethbridge.

Just for fun – battle scars from the weekend

Since this is the first time I’ve had multiple bruising happen in a short span of time, I figured I would document it for sentimental reasons. Don’t worry, I’m not going to post a picture every time I get a bruise, unless it’s bigger than the size of my fist. But I figured these first few are my rights-of-passage into the derby world and are meant to be shown off.

Here’s my battle scars… here’s hoping they won’t be the last 🙂

Day 1 - Left shin, hit by a skate

Day 1 - Left calf, hit by a skate

Day 2 - Right hand. This pic doesn't do it justice, but my pad under my thumb all the way down to my wrist is swollen and a lovely shade of grey. That dark line near the middle of my hand is a darker bruise where the edge of my wrist guard hit my hand.

Day 3 - Right thigh bruise after taking a hit.

Day 3 of bootcamp

The training session by the speed skating coach was so amazing, it’s hard to put into words. But he worked us really, really hard. He put us through a half hour of isometrics followed my an hour or skating doing various techniques in low squat position. He called it the meat grinder LOL Extremely difficult, but he gave us great drills to help improve our technique for getting around the track using the least amount of energy.

He also helped me and a couple of other girls out with our knock-kneed skating. I’m very aware of it now and it’s going to be really hard to break me of it because it’s all muscle-memory for me. My ref who did my benchmark test said I look like I deer when I skate. LOL Right now my improper technique doesn’t affect my speed, from what he could see, but I would be curious to find out what happens if I correct this to see how much faster I can get.

The following session we did hitting again. FINALLY everything clicked and I’m way more confident with my hitting skills. It wasn’t so much the hitting itself that had me falter, it was the keeping my balance while hitting that was messing me up; causing me to flail my elbows, which made an illegal hit. Plus I think the fact that with all the agility training we did this weekend, I’m way more confident on my skates and I’m much more aware of my weight distribution while moving and leaning on my skates. I’m realizing more and more how important basic skills are to become a better derby player. You can be a really hard hitter, but if you’re not aware of your body and balance, hitting hard won’t matter.

I took a couple falls but my hand was able to take it, thanks to some new wristguards. But my palm today is turning some lovely shades of colour so I really have to be careful for about a week I suspect to not injure it again. I got off lucky this weekend. I heard of several girls that had hospital visits. Broken wrists, saw a few ankle injuries as well and knocked out teeth.

I was anxious to get home in time for derby practice with my gals, so I bowed out of afternoon sessions and hit the road back to Lethbridge.

The weekend was amazing, frustrating, painful, fun, crazy. It was great to skate on a regulation track; it was great to be on skates for 6 hours a day; it was great to see the number of amazing girls willing to help fresh meat far outnumbered the gals who wouldn’t give rookies the time of day. On Saturday I met a great gal who gave me tons of encouragement, advice and answered my gear questions. She was in the exact spot I was one year ago. She assured me next year will be so different for me and I will get even more out of it. Thanks Shelly! You’re the best! Plus all the other gals I met, particularly in the rookie group, I hope to see you on the track soon!!!!

My next step is writing all this info down from my head in a way I can pass onto the other dames. Last night I couldn’t sleep because every time I closed my eyes, I was running drills and scrimmage scenarios in my head, breaking down crossovers, thinking about technique. It’s ridiculous, but I was twitching my leg muscles while doing this. I guess that’s visualizing and it’s a good thing… but not at  3 a.m. LOL I gotta get this out of my head so I can quiet my mind once and for all hahahaha

And for your viewing pleasure… I had the pleasure of being taught by this gentleman this weekend… QuadZilla!!! Crazy man on skates and I learned the most from him!!!!

Day 2 going onto day 3

So yah, I needed help out of bed this morning. Never in my years of being in various organized sports have my muscles been screaming this much. It’s good for me, I know it is.

Yesterday was a mixed bag of activities and emotions. The morning consisted of more footwork, hitting and blocking drills. Then a quick lunch followed by my skills test.

I honestly had no idea how I would do. I’d say there were about 30 (?) rookie girls doing the test at once; we were each assigned to a ref to watch us. Hissettfit would yell out skills for us to complete, while skating at 50% speed around the track.

I had to get out of my comfort zone, performing jumps and hip pushes at a much faster speed than I’m accustomed to. My adjudicator Andrew, was super encouraging and helpful too.

My greatest feat? 28 laps around the track in 5 minutes. (you had to do 25 to pass) that was the hardest I had to skate in my life. But once I got into a groove the only thing I was thinking was ‘cross cross cross cross, step step, cross cross cross cross, step step’ getting into that pattern was key.

Worst thing? Hitting. I suck at hitting, I know this. And I kept getting called out for illegal hits.

I’m proud because I think I did well at the booty blocking section because I struggled with that in session.

When I found out I failed. I was pretty bummed. Coupled with the fact that a fall I took during the test was causing my hand to swell larger and larger by the second. I had to bow out the rest of the afternoon to ice my hand.

A bonus though, a met Lisa from rollergirl.ca and she sold me some new wristguards and got to watch her skate too. Pretty kick ass.

Today is the last day. I’m going to through myself in hard and see what happens. First session is with a speed skating coach so I’m pretty excited.

Dames and friends…. Thanks for all the encouragement after my skills test. Love you guys!

PS I had some great convos with some gals yesterday while I was sitting out. I’ll share when I have more time to write.

PPS sorry for typos, I’m in a rush to get to class today.

Derby Camp Day 1

Under instruction from the other dames, I’m trying to absorb as much as possible to bring back to the team. But it’s 8 o’clock and I can barely keep my eyes open.

Here’s a brief outline of the day’s happenings, realize I’ll still likely write novel, but whatever.

The rookies started out the day with Estro Jen. She worked us through some warmup drills which resembled an NFL practice. Then we practiced turns, stops and some other basic skills.

Following that session was Quadzilla who took us through drills to improve our stride, jumps and little maneuvers to increase our agility on the track.

Then lunch. Mmmmm food.

During lunch break a scrimmage started with some gals that also included Estro and Quad joining in, as well as some refs… So it was basically a coed scrimmage. Watching Estro and Quad move on the track was well worth the price of admission. Estro has a roller derby workout video of her own and you can YouTube Quadzilla to see what he does. Crazy stuff.

Yelling from the sidelines was coach Pauly, who’s basically been around since flat track started in the US. I had yet to have a session with him, but he knows his derby.

After lunch we broke into seperate groups so all the rookie, intermediate and advanced skaters were together. This is when we started doing various teamwork drills, strategy drills and blocking… Lots of blocking…

Which is why while I’m writing this I have ice packs placed in a couple strategic places. I took a couple pictures of my injuries, but the camera does not do them justice lol

I was a little lost on the derby strategy talk. But considering I’ve never been in a bout I kinda assumed that would happen. Hopefully tomorrow I won’t be as clueless.

By the end of the day, I was exhausted. Tonight was an official derby match and I was too pooped to make an appearance. Plus I’m pretty sure my aunt is wondering what I’m doing with my day to make me want to go to bed at 8 pm. Lol

Tomorrow I’m taking my benchmark skills test. I’m going to give it a shot. If I don’t pass, no worries. Because the coaching I’m getting from these top notch instructors is getting me on the right track for sure.

A couple things I need to jot down before I forget.

MOVE YOUR FEET! Step, step, step! To get the most out of your track, corner to the top right outside outside then move left corner inside. Coast on the straightaways, move your feet on the corners. Work up to crossovers all the way around the track.

Plow stop
Put all weight on the left foot facing 12 o’clock, move right foot forward and bring toe into 10 o’clock and push.

Don’t use your toe stop. All it takes is for someone to fall on your ankle and it will break.

Use your legs as a spring for greater maneuverability and agility.

The track is safe so don’t look down. If your focus is down, you’ll fall down.

You’re going to fall, a lot. Accept that and get out of your comfort zone to move your body to get around the track.

Lower is always better.

Nite all!

I don’t want to brag… Wait, yes I do

An opportunity came tonight for a late-night skate. Sorry for not inviting you this time fellow skaters, but I wouldn’t of been good company due to day’s events leading me to be very pissed off for a number of reasons.

But guess what suckas?

PERSONAL FUCKING BEST!
Time: 39 minutes
Distance: 11.1 kms
Average speed: 17.1 km/hr
Max speed: 25.4 km/hr !!!!!!!!

By comparison to my last personal best, this route was way more challenging. So not only was I skating really fucking fast, I was doing it while navigating curbs, potholes and pedestrian traffic of all sorts.

Hey pretty girl with the curly hair and rollerblades, smirk at me cause I’m wearing full gear? Let’s see you skate that fucking fast.

Bitch.

I guess you never stop learning

A couple things I’ve realized…

Cross cuts (moving quickly from the inside of the track to the outside)…
They have been my nemesis. But that morning I spent practicing at the skate park really paid off. I went from not being able to do them at all, to being able to cut the track pretty effectively. Apparently all my coaches from my junior years were right; practice makes perfect.

Don’t skimp on equipment…
While practicing cross cuts, I took a stupid fall, didn’t fall properly and effectively bruised my muscle below my right thumb on the palm of my hand. (My texting thumb nooooooooo!!!!) I need better wristguards to protect that area.

Jamming is wicked fun…
We did our first real scrimmage last night! Elbows were flying, I was out of bounds all over the place, but I scored 🙂 Can’t wait to try that on a real track.

Blocking is fun too…
The strategy of blocking the other jammer while making a hole for your girl to go through keeps you on your toes. This game is not just about hitting everything that moves, you have to be constantly thinking. The pivot position within the pack is pretty fun too!

It’s time for me to hit the books…
I can’t beleive it’s been two months since I started training. It’s gone by fast and when I look back at my first posts, I’m amazed how far I’ve come. I’m pretty confident I can pass my benchmarks; or come pretty damn close, anyway. But part of passing the benchmarks is a written rules test. Time to study!

P.S. Sliver is officially gone! My foot feels great! Thank Jebus!

Well, this is frustrating

I overdid it yesterday. My morning skate was okay, but it took longer for me to get started so I pushed myself faster and harder than usual. Then later in the morning some other dames and I played at the skate park for a little while. I took a couple tumbles there… I really need to work on falling properly. Then in the afternoon I put my skates on again to test out a new potential venue.

Last night I stepped on some glass, right in the ball of my foot… In a spot where I push hard with my skate.

I woke up this morning pretty sore.

Well crap.

I know my muscles will quickly recoup but I’m really paranoid about this foot injury. What’s even more ridiculous is this is probably going to be the lamest injury of my derby career.

Next weekend I’m heading to Edmonton for derby bootcamp and I HAVE to be healthy.