My first ‘big kid’ post

I invite you to check out Derby Girls Blog where I submitted my first article on roller derby after parties!

Check it out and I’d love to hear your thoughts. And I hope you stay tuned for future posts!

Direct link to the article can be found here. Thanks for reading!

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I just like saying the word ‘Bosu’

So many on my team are catching the fitness bug and that’s really exciting. From a group starting their own running club to my derby wife planking during breaks in her office to our sponsorship committee getting the league a great deal on gym memberships, it seems everyone is getting more active outside of regular practices!

Perhaps it has to do with the fact our training committee announced we’re going to be put through fitness testing in a couple weeks. Eep!

Time to get motivated…

I started a new regime last week. While I took it easy on myself prior to my 5k, today was the first day I did the full 3 sets of each exercise. By the end I was sweating and breathing hard and somewhat thankful the gym was deserted in the morning so no one could hear me grunt through each set.

This is going to challenge me for a while.

The trainer who designed my plan gave me permission to publish it so I’m posting for Emily Carrnage, who wanted to geek talk about it with me. 🙂 This is for you, Emily!

**My trainer did mention that I’m supposed to say this program isn’t for everyone. It’s a more advanced fitness level so a beginner should not attempt this whole program without supervision or have someone to make sure they are doing it correctly.

These exercises are broken into groups of two. I perform a set of each within the group, until I have completed 3 sets of each exercise. Takes me exactly one hour! I love it so far!

Group 1

Chest Fly with Leg Extension: 3 sets of 8-12
• Laying on bench, legs bent at 90degrees, while flying extend legs straight engaging core

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You have to control your legs on this to keep your lower back from lifting. Tough.

Plank Walk Push up: 3 sets of 8-12
• In Bridge position push up and walk hands and feet over. Keep back straight and bum down.

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Walking across the floor, doing a push up after each 'step'. This guy looks like he's having a lot of fun.

Group 2

Body Row: 3 sets of 8-12
• Using Smith Machine, hands shoulder width apart, keep back straight, pull chest to bar.

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Not gunna lie, I feel badass doing this one .

Plank Jacks: 3 sets 30 – 45s
• In plank position perform jacks with your feet back and forth

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She's having lots of fun too. Can you see?

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Group 3

Bulgarian with Bicep Curl – Shoulder Press: 3 sets of 8-12
• Alternate leg – 1 leg on bench, squat down, hold while performing bicep curl – stand up while preforming shoulder press

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This movement with an added bicep curl and shoulder press. Ow

High Knees with alternate Shoulder Press: 3 sets 30-45s
• Weights at shoulders, perform high knees while pressing up alternating arms

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This movement mixed with high knees makes me want to die.

Group 4

Squat with 1 arm Cable Row: 3 sets of 8-12
• Using Cable machine – 1 arm row in to a squat – all one movement. Keep Core tight and knees behind toes. Repeat on each side.

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I enjoy this one because it a machine. Machines are fun (but don't sound as awesome as 'Bosu')

Bosu Burpees (FSU): 3 sets 30 – 45s
• Start in plank postion, jump feet in, stand up press Bosu over head & repeat

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OMG burpees. But Bosu burpees aren't too terrible.

Group 5

Bosu Squat & Tricep Kick Back (FSU): 3 sets of 8-12
• Standing on flat side. Weights at side, squat down, hold squat, kick back & repeat

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I look like an idiot getting on this thing. Lol

Bosu Mtn Climbers: 3 sets 30 – 45s
• Bosu – Flat side up. Hold on to each side and alternate knees to chest (running motion)

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I pretend I'm doing cardio in case of a zombie attack when I do this one

Group 6

Bosu Ladder Plank (RSU) : 3 sets 30-45s
• Maintaining proper plank form lift yourself one arm at a time to your hands – hold for a 2 count (do not swivle hips – keep them pointed to ground)
• Lower yourself down onto left elbow, then right elbow. Back to starting postion & Repeat

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These are worse than burpees and make me want to die!


Bosu Plank with Alternate Knees (FSU) : 3 sets 30-45s
• In plank position (bum down, back straight, ) altnernate knees to chest while keeping bum down

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By this point I'm spent and very very smelly.

What I hope to get out of this

  • More strength in my upper body
  • Stronger core
  • Increased and stronger ‘energy bursts’

I’m not going to lie, I’m going to miss my long treadmill warmups (I’ve gone from 20 minutes to 5 minutes to keep the workout within an hour) and the machine strength training I did on my legs (I was using the squat, hamstring and seated leg press). But I hope this will balance my body a bit because my lower body is more powerful than my upper and I want to keep them even-steven as possible!

Four months to go on my year-long fitness goal setting! BRING IT!

 

Bronze-ed

My last race was a 6k in the dark. Yesterday’s race was a 5k in the sun! Thanks Taber Cornfest for holding such a fun event! I had a blast!

I had some goals going into this race which included:
1) don’t die
2) maintain my pace that I’ve been training under (5 minutes per km)
3) place in the top 3 for my division

That last goal had me really nervous and I didn’t tell anyone for fear of failing. In hindsight, even if I didn’t make that third goal, I would have been proud given the all around improvement from my last race.

Stats….

Canon time: 25:30
Chip time: 25:29 (that’s when I physically crossed the start and finish line)

Placement Stats…
Category: 3rd out of 93 runners
Female 5k runners: 12th out of 117 runners
All 5k runners: 36th out of 184 runners

Pace: 8:13 per mile (By comparison the pace of my last race was 9:46 per mile… A big improvement!)

After the race I became a ravenous being, eating everything in my path, which has spilled into this morning. Hahaha bring on the food coma!

As for my next race, I think I’m going to take a break from running for a bit so I can focus on my new weight training regime. I plan on participating in the Moonlight Run again next March. That race and the Taber Cornfest race are nicely spaced apart enough for me 🙂

I should mention that I need to thank the sport of roller derby for getting me back into this running business. I would have never remained focused and dedicated or had the drive to succeed had it not been for this amazing sport. It’s been pretty cool to achieve the goals I set for myself!

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Me getting my medal!

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Bronze!

OMG she said ‘Burpees’

The last three months I’ve been focusing on weight training as well as building some endurance as I’m participating in the Taber Cornfest 5k on Saturday.

But now that summer is almost over, my leisurely 2-hour afternoon gym sessions have to come to an end. I needed to find a way to condense my workouts to one hour as well as moving them to early morning so I can fit it in with work, derby practice, chauffeuring kids to their fall activities, etc, etc.

I wake up sort of okay in the morning; functioning effectively  is another story. At my first 2 morning gym sessions I’ve been very sluggish and have had difficulty staying motivated due to the fact the gym is deserted at 6:30 a.m.

I’m also getting bored of my regime. While I’m seeing results (enough to satisfy my vanity and my fitness goals) the Gemini in me is looking for an extreme changeup.

Enter Amber, fitness trainer at my gym.

I sat down with her today, presented what I’m doing and told her I want the same results, but condensed into an hour.

She said she’s going to build a routine that’s going to focus on multiple muscle groups per exercise, therefore effectively condensing my workout into my time constraints.

‘Like burpees,’ she says.

Noooooooooooooooooooo!

Taken in June 2010. I'm not out of shape here, but I look an unhealthy skinny. My body has definitely changed and hardened up a bit.

I’m immediately nervous at this thought. While their effects are amazing, burpees are haaaaaaarrrrrdddd and the fact I’m already having issues staying motivated at my new gym time, I hope I can find the inner strength to remain focused on my goals and look past the exercise that sounds more like a gastro-intestinal disease than an exercise.

Keeping my eye on the prize will be key in an effort to achieve success. (Yah, I have some vanity issues mixed in here) Reminding myself of this will help… And this… And the athleticism involved in derby will be key. Also Coach Brad gave me some tips on getting my derby head in check, using mindfulness, which will hopefully keep me focused in the gym as well.

I know I’m being really hard on myself. Truthfully, I’ve come a long way since I first started skating and in the last three months I’ve achieved a lot. Treating my body like a science project, feeding it and exercising it to see what results I can get, has been fun. And now that I’m well into the second half of my fitness goals that I set in January, I have what I need to reach for and need to step up.

Wednesday I’m meeting with Amber to see what she has store for me. Wish me luck!

Trucks, hangers, cushions – taking apart your skates

When I first got my skates a year and a half ago, I played with different ways to adjust them to improve my agility. The hardness of your cushions and adjusting the action on your plates are the two common ways to customize your skates. However at the time, the other obvious way for me to achieve fast wheels with quick turning was to adjust the nuts on my wheels slightly loose so they had a little wiggle action, like this:

It seemed like a good idea at the time and I’ve been skating with my wheels like that ever since. What I didn’t realize, this seemingly harmless adjustment was damaging my axles. It wasn’t until Rollercon11, when I showed my skates to one of my instructors, that she pointed out my wheels had way too much wiggling in the wrong direction and I should inspect my hangers and possibly get new ones. Wiggling like this…

Even with the nuts as tight as they could go, this is what my wheels do. The loose wheels wore down the axle of my hanger so much that you could visibly see the damage when compared to a new hanger.

Damaged one on top, good one on the bottom.

To fix the problem, I had to take apart my skates to replace the hangers. Following is a short tutorial on taking apart your skates. It’s a good idea to take your skates apart semi-regularly to inspect the parts, even if you aren’t having any problems, as a small crack can turn into a bigger problem if it’s not spotted quickly.

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Soft cushions give you more turning ability. If one of your cushions is shaped like a cone, more action will be in your skates

This is also the process you use to replace your skate cushions (also called bushings). The hardness of your cushions, mixed with how tight you adjust the truck nuts will allow you to customize your ride. The softest cushions will give you more turning action but less stability. You can customize further by choosing conical-shaped cushions, allowing for even more action.

If you are rolling on skates with adjustable pivot pins, you will also need adjust your pivots after going through the process below. (EG: Plates which have adjustable pivots include Avenger, XK-4 DA 45 and Invaders.) Check out this great video from Roller Girl on how to adjust your pivots.

Here is another video by Fluster Cluck on adjusting your pivots.

Before you get started…

Removing your wheels will make this job easier, so do that first. You may as well inspect your wheels and your bearings as well.

If you’ re happy with your current skate setup, write down your truck settings. Similar to adjusting your toe stops, your truck settings can be personalized as well. The more loose your trucks are, the easier it is to turn – however you may be less stable on your skates and looser trucks may inhibit your speed. For more information on how to adjust the action on your trucks, check out this video!

How to Adjust Your Trucks from Minnesota RollerGirls on Vimeo.

If you like where they are at, measure the distance of the nut with a tape measure or count the kingpin threads which stick out from the nut.

My front trucks are looser than my back. Make sure to record the position of both nuts. Regardless of how you set up your truck adjustment, it should be the same between the left and right skate.

Using your skate tool, loosen and remove the two nuts on your truck from each kingpin.

Lefty loosey

Pull off your first washer and cushion to reveal the hanger, then pull out the hanger. Then remove the second cushion and washer from each kingpin.

The reveal of the first cushion.

The skate hanger pulls right off, revealing the second cushion.

Easy, right? Don’t forget to take this opportunity to clean your parts ‘n pieces! Inspect your pivot cups (the part that your hanger tip is inserted into) for wear and cracks, ensure your plate is secure to your boot and look for cracks or wear on the plate itself.

The bare skate. You can see the two pivot cups next to each kingpin.

These are the cushions and washers. The hardness of your cushion affects the cornering of your skate. You can see I use conical-shaped cushions which get installed last.

To reassemble put everything back on in the opposite order, adjusting your trucks how you like them with the truck nut. If you are rolling on trucks with an adjustable pivot pin, make those adjustments after you tighten your truck nut (see first video posted above.)

Finally, put your wheels back on and tighten the wheel nuts so you get maximum spin but no wiggling in your wheels!

All back in one piece and pretty!

Remember that your skates are meant to be taken apart! For more information on other skate maintenance, check out this page.

How to adjust and/or change your roller skate toe stops

Tools for the job!

Using your toe stops is essential in derby and therefore should not be neglected. Between figuring out the correct length for your skating style and keeping them from falling off mid-practice, toe stops can be almost as confusing as choosing your first set of wheels.

Yesterday I received a new set of Gumballs, so I figured I’d share with you how I tech my toe stops while I’m changing them out. Please note that if you ask five different skaters on their chosen length, you will get five different answers. So the key is for YOU to keep a log whenever you adjust your tippy toes so you can track what works and what doesn’t.

My Current Toe Stop Settings

It’s helpful to know your most common starting position when you are adjusting your stops because often one toe stop will be longer than the other based on what foot you put in front.

I usually start with my right foot in front. This is a photo of me about to go down into my starting stance. See how my left heel is naturally much higher than my right heel in my stance? My toe stops are different lengths to reflect this positioning.

At a gear session with Coach Pauly, he said a good starting point for your front skate is to have your back wheels the same height as four fingers when you are up on your toes. That is what my right skate is currently set at. My left skate sits higher, which means your toe stop will be adjusted closer to your skate compared to the right skate.

Have I confused you yet?

Long story short, the closer your toe stop is to your skate, the higher your heel will be when stand on your stops. You need to find your balance of where you are comfortable when you stand on your toes.

There are many ways to gauge and record your toe stops… do what works best for you!

Any of these ways works to measure your toe stop height

Cherri’s Toe Stops (prior to changing them)

RIGHT FOOT
4.5 cm from skate
9 threads from skate
4 fingers heel height

LEFT FOOT
4 cm from skate
8 thread from skate
More than 4 fingers heel height

Now that I’ve established my current settings, it’s time to change to a new brand of toe stops. My stats will change on the thread count because of the brand change, but I plan to keep the distance and heel height the same as my previous brand.

Removing Your Toe Stops

I don’t like the little wrenches that come with many skate tools. They just don’t offer enough torque to loosen and tighten my stops effectively. Plus I don’t want to strip the nut of the skate. I always carry a large wrench in my bag for this job. I find it works best.

Lefty loosey

Once your nuts are loose, unscrew the toe stop from your skate then remove the nut and washer from the toe stop. They will be a little gunky so I take this opportunity to clean them and I also wipe out inside the hole of the skate.

Paper towel works fine. I don't use water.

Screw your nut and washer on your new toe stop and position it further than necessary down the stem of the toe stop. Remember, the washer goes between the nut and the skate.

Then insert the toe stop into your skate and screw it in until the desired height is reached. If your nut gets in the way, position the nut further down the stem.

Check your height

Once you are happy with your toe stop height, finger-tighten the nut down to the base of the skate.

Get it as tight as you can with your fingers so it won't move when you tighten it fully.

Using your wrench, tighten your nut. If you have finger-tightened it enough, the toe stop shouldn’t rotate as your tighten. But if it happens you may need to hold the toe stop in position while you tighten so it doesn’t move.

Right tighty.

When tightening my toe stops, I really put my back into it. I hate having to keep checking them to make sure they aren’t getting loose. So I lay my skate on its side, put my foot on the toe of the skate and pull up as hard as I can with my wrench.

Heave-ho!

If you have toe protectors on your skate…

DO NOT place them in between your nut and skate. The leather becomes compressed over time and it will slide out. Then the extra slack between the skate and nut will make your toe stop come loose. I just let mine hang loose. I guess I could also cut them off since the rest of the cover is secured by tape. I just haven’t done it yet.

Leave the piece of leather out of your nuts. (hehe)

Last step: Remeasure and log your new toe stop settings

RIGHT FOOT
4.6 cm from skate
5 threads from skate
4 fingers heel height

LEFT FOOT
4.1 cm from skate
2 threads from skate
More than 4 fingers heel height

Hope this helps some of you tech your own toe stops!

All pretty and ready to be broken in!

What I learned at Rollercon

Yes, I know some of the photos are sideways and upsidedown but WordPress is being lame with their photo editing functions today. Scroll down for bullet points!

  • I thought I was hot shit until I took Mercy’s (Vagine Regime) off skate bootcamp.
  • Las Vegas cockroaches come alive after getting stomped on.
  • The level of skating in the US is awe-inspiring and humbling at the same time. The highest level skaters I know in Canada would be equal to MAYBE an intermediate skater in the high-ranking leagues of the US.
  • There will always be another skater who is hard on you because you can’t keep up.
  • But for the most part, everyone wants to see you succeed or improve.
  • It’s just roller derby, friends. Don’t be so serious.
  • Watching friends experience Vegas for the first time is really, really fun.
  • Derby should always be played behind you.
  • Roller derby is a game, skating is a skill. Mastering skating will take more time, effort and dedication than learning the rules of derby.
  • Scavenger hunts are easy to win when you fill your team with ladies of a wide range of skills.
  • Work on your skating fundamentals every time you strap on your skates. You can never do enough crossovers, toe stop runs, transitions and jumps.
  • Do not change your game to beat the other team. Skate how you know as a team.
  • Efficient skating is all about weight distribution in your feet & toes and where you position your knees.
  • Skating on for real roller derby sport court is really, really cool.
  • Know your edges and use them.
  • It’s never to late/early for steak and eggs.
  • If you weigh under 120 lbs, wheels reps will tell you to gain weight to get rid of wheel sliding issues.
  • Loitering in a tattoo shop with your teammates until 3 a.m. is a fun way to spend a night in Vegas.
  • When in doubt, shoot a handgun. Or an AK47.