Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Week 6 Turning the corner

While I've been learning to skate, all the supportive and encouraging skaters on my league have told me how they turned a corner. That one day it all just clicked and everything started to flow or make sense.

And I may have light-years to go until I am really a competent skater, but I have turned the corner. I skate comfortably and fairly fluidly. I'm starting to do 180 turns, slowly, but I do them. And then today we started trying transitions.

I haven't tried to do a transition since the first week when Brian was teaching us. I did very poorly and it got to a point where T-Rex actually came over and asked me if maybe I should try something else. Yes it looked that bad. There was a lot of flailing falls.

Anyways, this weekend Bricks taught Megs and I how to do turns. Which we both failed and whined about. But it gave us the beginning skills to practice. I watched a bunch of Derby Dolls instructional videos on Youtube where they broke down skills into steps.

I spent a good bit of time practicing in the hallway working my way from hands on to hands off and then was able to turn. At the next practice I showed Megs and she started to do it too. This got us started turning. Just practicing rotating our bodies seemed to open the door to the transitions.

Then at today's practice, after Rpod effectively murdered our weenie quad muscles by practicing knee slides. My favorite at this point. We took a little break and continued to practice 180 turns. We had loosened our trucks a bit and found the turning was much easier.

Then I said lets try transitions. We both did and we both did it. How freakin cool is that?

Monday, March 29, 2010

Week 6 Scrimmage

Today was freakin awesome. This was the kind of day everyone needs in their journey into a new sport. I had the pleasure of learning and sort of accomplishing new skills. And acting as an NSO for our scrimmage.

First about NSO-ing. I had some concerns it might not be that much fun. Totally wrong. It was the coolest thing I've ever done. I was in the infield watching players and refs zooming around me. That kind of chaos and noise is pretty much my favorite place to be. The only thing that could have been cooler would have been to skate as a ref!

So then about my mad new skills! During the day I practiced 180 spins in the hallway. First I started by holding onto stuff as I spun. Then as I got more comfortable, I was able to do them hands free.

When I went to practice we got to warm up and I tried to do the spin again. It worked! Not skillfully, not fast, but it happened and that is soooo cool! I can move in more than one direction!

Then I stayed for open skate and worked on slaloming. Totally did it, pretty well. And it really really hurts my legs. Then I worked on t-stops while going fast. Just to slow me down. Up until this point I had only done them when moving really slow.

And I practiced more one foot skating. So much improvement. This was an awesome day.

Week 6 Practice

Sunday morning practice was good. I'm good on skates now. I feel good on skates now. I can't wait to be on skates.

Once the skating skill starts, then enter the obsession. This is a really cool phase. I have an athletic sport that I love and want to do constantly. This is a really good thing.

We were without our head ref today and left to our own devices. There are certain skills I really want to work on. Turning around. Bricks showed me how to do a couple of "get you there" exercises. So I know what to work on. I haven't really made any progress yet. But it will come. I definitely need to loosen my trucks more.

We practiced more hand signals while skating. It was good. I was still really tired from Greenlake. But even that is good.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Week 6 Super Sucko

Today I pushed my comfort level. The day was lovely and I wanted to get some skating in before practice. So I called up Bricks and off we went.

Greenlake is a strange phenomena for me. Technically it is not a difficult path. There are no major hills. The surface is relatively well kept. Even the people are not half as bad as Bricks says they are. But Greenlake is terrifying.

I skated one lap before. It sucked, but it shouldn't be harder this time. I should be able to do one full lap, maybe even two. But somehow it didn't work out that way.

So Greenlake kicked my ass and sent me packing. We skated one lap, which is shorter than you think, once you finish it. I bitched and moaned but I skated it. The second lap was where it all went wrong. I'm not even totally sure what my problem was. I couldn't skate. I freaked out the whole first lap, no gliding, and freaked out even harder the second.

I thought that with my improved skating skills Greenlake would not be the monster it initially was. I was quite wrong. I didn't complete the last lap. Yeah, for reals. I got about 2/3 back to the car and had to take off my skates, sit on my butt and wait for Bricks to pick me up.

This was not a good start to my day.

So after my full on weenie, and may I say that Bricks was so incredibly great during my entire weenie process. New people need to have a Brick on hand because I don't know how I would deal with the shame if I was with someone else.

We headed back to my house to get a quick snack and try skating the trail by my house. Well we didn't make it there. Practice was at 5pm and my pain, soreness, and humiliation was enough to keep me home until practice time.

On to practice and it was canceled. Bummer. But we weren't giving up on skating. I really wanted to skate the trail by my house. I felt like some good practice on concrete might help my nerves issues at Greenlake.

It didn't quite work out that way. What is it about open concrete that is so terrifying? The track was terrible. There were so many lumps that I actually couldn't even stride. We made it one lap and decided to move onto familiar territory.

The tennis courts! It wasn't Bricks ideal location, but it was really great for me and Megan came with after practice. Thankfully she is as inexperienced and out of shape as I am. It can be a little demoralizing practicing with such awesome skaters. In a few months, I may be an awesome skater. But until then, it's nice to have company on my level.

So Bricks gave us some pointers and exercises to do. There is such a difference in trying to practice on familiar ground. Sometimes I need to push my comfort level, well I need to push it all the time. But too much push and I'm not learning anything. I'm just trying to get through it.

Next time at Greenlake we have agreed that we will skate 2 laps. I will make it through and I will be ok. I need to do this a lot more. The more I skate outside the better I will get. But I have to get past the terror. I can't say there was any improvement, but I have a clear goal now.

Thank you Brick. There is no way I could have done it without you!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Week 5 off skates day

Thursday and Friday are the two days that I plan to not skate. Or at least the two days I don't have skating plans. This could change if someone was going out and wanted company.

Anyways. Last week when I took Thursday and Friday off I was incredibly relieved. I was tired, sore, sick and emotionally exhausted. Sometime between last Thursday and today I turned a corner. I officially have lost the fear and gained more love.

But now, taking Thursday and Friday off doesn't sound so appealing.

I used to be in great shape. I worked out, I ate well, ect. But this crazy phenomena happened called babies. Now some women have their children and don't miss a beat. Not me. Not that kind of girl. It took me three and half years to recover from having children and it has taken it's toll.

Now I'm 50 pounds heavier, nothing fits me but yoga pants and mumus. I've spent a good deal of my energy thinking about coffee and sleep. And in general fallen apart.

But now enter Roller Derby. I love when an activity encompasses so many things you want to do. Exercise, socialize, create, learn. It's all good stuff.

Now I'm over 30 days into roller skating and I'm not so horribly out of shape. I have a remarkably long way to go until my legs will be anywhere near where they need to be. But I don't die in the first 20 minutes.

Some things that I have concerns about is the balance of activity. I want to make sure to do non-skating activities that will augment roller skating. One easy way is to join a gym.

We used to be part of the Y. It's a really nice facility with child care, so ideal for us. Last fall we had to quit due to being super broke. But things are starting to even out. Bless those tax returns that pay off credit accounts. So now we're not completely broke.

Anyways, today I went to the gym. Called them up, reinstated my account, and got in a work out. I did the elliptical in reverse for 30 minutes. Biking for another 15. Then came home to do a little weights and abs.

Yeah me!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Week 5 Open skate

Went to open skate. The ladies all went to Greenlake, which I really would have liked to do, but strangely my husband actually likes to see me from time to time. So I stayed home and went to the evening skate.

I'm finding that the best way for me to warm up, physically and mentally is just to practice my basic push and glide skill. Balancing on one foot reminds me that standing on two feet is really very easy. After a few laps it started to come back again.

I spend most of my time with my knees bent as low as I can deal. This is good and bad. Obviously it's good because it really increases my strength, balance, speed and maneuverability. But the drawback is I get really tired, really quick. In another month, hopefully this will not be so much of an issue.

I do feel more stable. I do feel like my form is better. And I am beginning to enjoy the feeling of freedom skating gives me.

Another cool thing about skating and derby is I'm meeting people. I've been going to the adult skate fairly often and I'm starting to chat with people I run into there.

I'm constantly pimping out Tilted Thunder. Oh you like skating? Have you ever thought of doing derby? Not sure if you want to be a player? Maybe try reffing? Well you should definitely come to the next fundraiser, maybe check out some local bouts...

Derby gives me something to talk about. I've watched it for years. Now that I'm studying the rules I feel some confidence in understanding the game. And with going to practice and meeting the girls, I've learned that you don't have to start out an experienced skater to become bad ass.

So I've met a few ladies at open skate and talked to them about derby. Girls, who I think want to do it, but just needed someone to give them that last little push. Probably they would have eventually joined up on their own, but with a little encouragement that decision may come sooner.

I needed a push. Actually I need a lot of pushing. Every day. But I am so glad every time I skate, every time I go to practice. I need derby in my life. Something to love, to work for, to spend my time on, and get my butt moving.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Week 5 practice

I went to practice today. I took a handful of mucus, sinus, cough, sneezey, all around leaky pills, sucked it up and went.

I still have days where I'm not sure if I want to do this. Not because of the skating or the social aspect. It's just that I've gotten used to doing not a whole lot and it's a hard habit to break. But whenever I follow the thought out, the realization that not going to practice would mean I'm sitting in front of the tv, well that changes my mind quickly.

So I went, we refs did our chat and I went on to practice skills. This was actually a pretty good day. Two different people mentioned that I looked smoother in skating. I didn't actually feel smoother, but it feels good to hear it from someone observing my skating. If I can't feel the progress at least it looks better.

I worked with Sally on crossover work. Getting closer. No cigar yet. But she breaks it down into easy steps and I'm getting closer.

I'm also still trying to remember the vast number of names and faces. Holy smokes there are a lot of lovely ladies and I think I have about 10 names down.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Week 5 open skate

So today I'm still technically sick but I felt well enough to go to the open skate.

I headed out and did my thing. Skating, working on the elusive crossover, sticky skate.

It felt weird as usual. I haven't put as many hours in this week and I'm starting to make the sad realization about my progress.

You see when you first start skating all you want to do is get to the part where you're no longer freaked out on skates. Then you just want to be able to skate.

Well I can skate now. Not well, but I can and now begins the real work. This is the part of skating where my improvement will likely not be measured in days but in weeks and months.

I'll keep updating often, but if I miss a day or two, it's because progress slows down at this point. Even if I learn a new skill, it will be the beginning of the skill and I will have weeks and months of work before I can say I do it well.

But that's ok. I expect and look forward to the work. I have a new activity now. I'm in it now and I can just enjoy the ride.

Today's skills included sticky skate, better shifting of my weight, balancing on one leg and crossovers. I usually start off skating with the one leg push and glide. This gets me to remember how to skate for the next half hour. Then as I get warmed up, I include trying to do crossovers on the turns and sticky skate when I get tired of those.

I'm definitely improved on one foot balancing. I still need a ton of work, but I don't feel completely out of control, just off balance. I'm working on it at home. Granted I do it off skates, but every bit helps.

Then the whole crossover thing confuses me so I'm breaking it into two parts. Practicing bringing my leg around in front of my other foot and pushing. Then I practice pushing straight back with my inside leg. The goal is to push away from the turn, behind my outside leg, but it feels weird so I'm working my way towards the right direction.

Then I'm working on alternating sticky skate. I keep watching all the skaters and they do these smooth flawless movements where their feet never leave the ground. How do they do that? I still look like a Parkinson patient.

Oh well. Hopefully in a week I'll see some improvement.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Week 5 Sick day

I'm sick. Officially. My lungs hurt, my cough is terrible and causing all sorts of pain. David went to get his shoulder checked on and I got antibiotics for my lungs.

I'm missing two practices today and the derby skate tonight.
I will likely not skate tomorrow either. But by Tuesday the antibiotics should have made some progress. And once again I can go to practice and begin the long slow climb to becoming a great skater.

Week 5 Thunder jam

Today's rollerskating went a variety of directions.

Mainly it was a date night for David and I. The kids were spending the night at Grandma and Grandpa's house. We will go skating outside, out to lunch, take a nap and then go to Thunderjam, a fundraiser for our league.

Well things didn't work out that way.
We dropped off the kids and headed out to skate. First we drove by the frisby golf park, which has a nice flat trail. But it was crowded and I'm feeling nervous.

So then we go to a school down the road. It has a big play area and basketball courts. the ground was kind of rough and I was feeling really intimidated. I need to skate outside more and get used to it. The cushy smooth floor of the roller rinks is so easy to get used to that I'm getting spoiled.

Anyways after a few minutes we decided to go to the tennis courts. The concrete is super smooth and fence gives me a lot of mental comfort.

It's times like these that I feel awful at my progress. But I'm really doing ok. I've been skating for one month now and I can do it. Not well, but I can skate. Now I have months to improve my skating. I feel so behind because everyone else is so good at skating, but I need to just chill and take a little time.

Anyways, we skated at the tennis courts for only a few minutes. There was a wooden pallet on the ground in the center and as I get comfortable doing figure eights David is trying to jump the pallet. Yeah jump it.

He skated a little bit as a kid and hasn't been on skates in 30 years. He got skates 3 days ago and has skated the cul de sac outside our house a couple times. David is one of those people with amazing natural skill. He put his skates on and just did it. No fear, no hesitation.

Anyways he starts jumping this pallet. The first few times he landed on his feet. Then the subsequent times he stumbled a little. Falling on his backside, on to his knees. Then he falls hard and tumbles onto his shoulder. And no big surprise his clavicle is now an extra inch higher in it's protrusion from his shoulder. Oh and he is in a lot of pain.

We went home. Doped and iced him up and set him on the couch. I went to the pharmacy and got him a sling and some junk food and we spent the rest of the afternoon watching tv. It was lame. I really was looking forward to showing off my handsome husband to my league friends. But it was not to be.

I took a nap and later went to the skating party. It was fun. The music was good and totally random. I started out with my usual rough skating that slowly improved. I actually did pretty good. Except for one little thing. My lungs really hurt. Like I've been chain smoking clove cigarettes.

We have all been sick. It's been lingered on and on, but I've been doing ok. Then the past two days I've been getting sick again. I know going out late is not necessarily a good idea, but there is no way I'm missing this.

Anyways I went and skated and coughed. I came home around 1 am and snuggled up with the drugged up honey.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Week 5 At home

Not much to tell for today. It's my second rest day. I did a wee bit of indoor work until the kids couldn't take it anymore. They have a short fuse when they are under 4 and 2.

Then I finished cleaning up the driveway and gave it a roll. That was challenging. For whatever reason they made the driveway out of 7 different pieces of concrete in random sized triangles. So the cracks are big enough that when I go slow they trip me up.

If I can just get over the corner turning thing I can probably go fast enough to deal, but everyday is a new thing to get over in my head.

Anyways tomorrow should prove to be a lot of fun. We will be child free and off to skate at various parks and roller rinks!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Day 27 at home

Today is day one of two days of rest. I really need a break. I tend to take on new hobbies and projects with a break neck speed and try to kill myself in the process.

My muscles need a break. My emotions need a break. Sometimes it's so easy to focus on how far I have to go, that I miss what I've done. Today and tomorrow will be reflection and looking at new ways to incorporate skating into my life.

One of the most important ways for me to really get into a sport or hobby is to make it a big part of my everyday routine. Having my husband and kids jump on the bandwagon really helps me keep going.

So we have a really big driveway. Like 6 car parking sized. It's a little ridiculous, but our house was built in the suburbs in the 50's during the big car hey-day. They liked their cars and assumed everyone would have multiple behemoths.

On Saturday, when the kids go to the grandparent's house, we will be sweeping, decluttering, power washing and scraping all the years accumulations from the driveway. We'll park the cars on the street side parking and make a nice sized space for outdoor skating.

This gives the kids and the parents opportunity to skate whenever the weather is good. And around here we get pretty impressive spring and summer weather. The more chances I have to be on skates, the better I am and the more I want to do it.

Oh and today I did a little bit of skating in the hallway. Not a ton, but enough to look forward to skating on the rink again.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Day 26 Not impressed

I went to the adult open skate again tonight.
I was hoping for some improvement.
But I got tired instead.

Some days are just going to be like that.

The next two days I'm taking off from open skating and instead will work on hallway skills.

Balancing on one leg the whole hallway.
Turnout so I can finally do transitions.
Backwards skating and stopping on my toes.
T stops.

It's ok. I need a break.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Day 25 Practice

It's really nice not having major anxiety before practice anymore. I know that I will try new things. I know that I will be tired afterward. But I won't be afraid of skating, and I won't be intimidated by not knowing the people.

I'm not so out of shape now. I still have a very long way to go, but my legs don't shake the moment I'm standing on my skates. I can go around the rink for most of the practice. This helps a lot.

So on to the skating. We practiced throwing hand signals. These are nice drills to do because it allows us to work on other skills as we go around the rink. I'm really close to crossovers. Well, it feels close to me. I still have a lot of work to do. But it's cool to see what's coming up.

And I tried skating backwards. It was pretty silly. I do a shuffle step and slowly slide around the track. But I did it. Twice. So I'm cool with that.

It was good. Practice was good. I skated ok and tried some new stuff. I'm getting a little better endurance. And I have off skate exercises for crossovers.

Life is good.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Day 24 Open Skate

The coolest thing just happened.

I went to the adult open skate. Saw a bunch of friends. Skated a bunch, not as much as I wanted to, but that will come. And... I saw a friend who I haven't seen in 7 years.

Technically she was the girlfriend of an old friend, but whatever. I only met her like once, but I thought we would totally hang out. You know when you meet people and you just know they are going to be good friends.

Anyways, she's awesome. She's skates at Lynnwood all the time. And she wants to join roller derby. How much better can you get?

Oh and I'm close to doing crossovers. Well, closer.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Day 23 Double practice day

On the weekends we often have practice at Lynnwood and in Ballard at the Rat's Nest. I've never been able to do both with how out of shape I am. But not today.

Thursday's skate almost did me in, I was near tears and depressed. I just thought I was never going to get it. But then it turned around and I was skating. I officially had that click moment when it all started to make sense. I can skate.

It really helps that I am not in major pain anymore too. The whole muscle exhaustion does not help my balance. But there was not a lot to do other than plow through it until my body recovered. Well I've recovered and today showed it.

I went to the first practice with my friend Megan who is now a new ref. This helps immensely. I have a friend who lives nearby, who is reffing derby with me and is in a similar skill set as me. It's ok to suck, but it's nice not to do it alone.

So Megan and Zoe, our other new ref, worked on skills. They were really nice and let me jabber away at them about the stuff I've learned. I learn things so much better when I can regurgitate them to others. Yes I like to talk and slightly sounding like I know what I'm talking about is a good confidence builder.

So we skated the infield. It's a lot easier to skate that tight circle when I am distracted. Gary is really good about keeping us included so he had us follow him and calling penalties. I'm still at a point where I feel like I'm in the way, but he likes to throw us in and give us the opportunity to practice. The more time we spend in the infield trying to see calls the better we get at skating in tight spaces and watching the game.

I actually called one penalty correctly. Which is a proud mark for me. Everything is so new that I'm still kind of going through the motions. In another month we'll probably be really good, but it takes a lot of practice until then.

The second practice was spent with me being pretty lame. I was just happy I had made it. The floor at the rat's nest is pretty crazy to skate on but I still did ok.

You know it's really nice not being in the "I can't skate" stage anymore.

Day 22 Open skate and FIRST BOUT!!!

No I didn't ref the bout, that's silly, I can barely skate.

Well actually I'll scratch that, I can now officially skate. Not well, not skilled. But there is no terror or anxiety before skating. I don't ask myself why there are little wheels on my feet when I strap my skates on. And it doesn't take half an hour to warm up before I feel ok. Now it just takes a lap or two. What this means is that I can no longer be a weenie at practices. I have to skate the whole thing and skate a lot harder.

But I digress. Lets talk about the day.

The bout was Saturday and there were no practices so I wanted to get in a little skating before I went. I may have grossly miscalculated how much time I would have, but I still got about 45 minutes in before it was time to go.

It was a family open skate, which I initially felt was a bad idea. I couldn't go very fast with all the small children. Kids are tough because they explode like landmines left and right and you are constantly dodging. But in the end I decided this was a good thing as I needed to practice sticky skate. In the short time I had, my thighs were thoroughly brutalized and soaking me with sweat.

Onto the next project. The bout. And not just any bout. We had our first bout. Our league has not yet separated into individual teams so they took a group of our best and set them against the Hula Honeys of Jet City Rollergirls.

The game was awesome. It's funny because I've only been with these guys for 3 weeks. But I feel so into the whole thing. I'm pretty sure that even with all the newness, my inability to skate well and having really no experience at all, this has still made the coolest I've ever been.

But anyways we bouted. The girls worked hard. They were getting their feet wet for the first time and did a pretty good job. We didn't win, but there were some freakin awesome moments and jams. We had a big group of fans cheering and it made everything that much more fun. I don't think I've cheered so hard for anything.

My husband and kids were there. The kids are still a little young for watching a full bout, but they had a great time cheering and watching the skaters.

After the match I went to the after party. That was pretty cool too. I'm not a world class socializer. Small talk is not my forte and I really don't know anyone that well except Bricks. But it was actually the most fun I think I've ever had at a bar/party function.

No one parties like derby girls. And when I mean party, I don't mean drunken craziness. That would have actually been kind of boring. You see the thing with derby girls, and I don't know if this true for all of them, is they don't seem to pull the cool card.

I used to hang out with people who were cool. I wasn't cool, but somehow they still let me be around. And it was lame and boring. They were so focused on being super cool that they seemed to have forgot how to have fun.

With the derby girls,and their associates, I feel like they do something really cool that they work hard at so they have their default cool guy card. They don't need to try to act cool on top of it. They are cool. So when they party they just have fun.

They were dancing, there was karaoke, there was Spice Girls. It was fun and comfortable, kind of like a big pajama party, but at a restaurant with drinks. I had so much fun watching everyone, singing along. It was without a doubt the most fun party I've been to.

Then there were all the players, coaches, associates and refs. No one knows me that well. We've mostly just met a time or two over the past weeks. But that doesn't seem to matter. I sat at a table with a few other league members chatting away. People kept stopping by to talk to me and the other ladies at the table. It was so comfortable and nice. It was kind of like how I think people should, but don't seem to be.

Honestly I don't need a lot to enjoy someones company, but it's amazing how few people try. Last nights party everyone tried. People I had never met introduced themselves, chatted it up, and in general were just great. I don't know if it's always going to be like this, but if it's even half this good, I'm in, full on and for real.

Friday, March 12, 2010

Day 21 a day of rest

There is no practice today. We had a long week of back to back practices. 6 total practices in 5 days. I only went to 5, but it was as much as I could manage.

So much of the exhaustion I feel is the stress of learning a new skill. Roller skating has been particularly brutal on my emotions. Many of the past 20 days have left me feeling depressed and hopeless. But I keep going back because I really like it.

Today I can relax on a high note. Last night was the best skating I ever done and I really needed a win. Sally had asked me what I wanted to work on and I told her I just wanted to skate. She was welcome to give me pointers, but I just needed to feel the thrill of skating without freaking out.

I don't know if anyone else noticed how fast I was speeding around the track. Or how I am so close to doing crossovers. Half of the fun is the excitement from my teammates. But they had a lot on their minds. Saturday is our first bout. The very first real deal with a crowd and everything. Their nerves must be frazzled.

I'm really impressed with our league. The coach, the managers or whatever they call themselves. Basically the two girls who made this all happen. They decided they wanted it and did it. They planned, they researched, they organized. It's an amazing amount of work. But when it's something that you think is so cool, how can you do anything else?

That's why I keep going back. These women, and a few men, are like magnets. Their dedication and excitement keeps pulling everyone to them. While I wish I had joined up months ago, I'm so glad I'm here now, witnessing our first bout.

To be able to say I was there in the beginning, or close to it, makes me feel part of it. This is definitely the coolest thing I've ever done.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Day 20 Skating for reals

Today started out bad.

I got to practice and things immediately went downhill. My feet were cramping, my heel was sliding out. I felt like my foot was askew and everything was wrong. It was like the very bad, no good day.

We stretched and started doing drills and I went on to do my regular skills practicing. I wasn't hopeful and I toyed with the notion of packing it in. But I wouldn't leave during practice, and I really want to do this. It's just depressing when nothing feels like it's improving.

So I tightened up my skates and got moving. Today was a fun day as our first bout is in two days.

Gary wanted things to be relaxed and easy. There was some hokey pokey and the chicken dance. A limbo bar came out at one point. But my savior was the music.

Once the music came on, I had something to distract me. I had something to move to. And that seemed to be the solution to all my problems.

All of a sudden I could skate. Not skillfully, not even mediocre. But I skated and it felt incredible. I went faster than I have ever gone. I skated more laps than I have ever skated. I even got closer to doing a crossover on a corner than ever before.

At the end I even felt like I could have stayed for an open skate. There wasn't one, but I wasn't exhausted.

Today was a good day.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Day 19 Practice Scrimmage!

So today the hubby didn't get home until 7:30, so I didn't get to practice and in skates until 7:45.

In the future days like this will be augmented with staying for an evening open skate session and/or practicing skills in the hallway. A 30 foot strip of hardwoods can cause a lot of pain and progress with some good knee dips and rolling squats.

But today was a chill day for me and I was glad for it. I am really tired. And part of it is the emotional exhaustion of putting yourself full force into a new social sport.

We set up for scrimmages. Myself and Zoe were Outside Pack Refs. So went spent our time circling the outside of the track watching for penalties on our respective teams.

This was actually really fun, because I get to watch a game very close and while skating. Nothing takes your mind off the fact that you are skating like watching girls slam each other around.

This was by far the coolest thing I've done. Right now I'm pretty stoked I decided to join derby.

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Day 18 Practice

Today was worth the regression of past days.

Part of the problem of taking on a new sport at this time in my life is I am out of shape. So the skills that I am learning are becoming physically impossible simply because my muscles are too tired to perform them.

This holds me back, but happily is only a brief problem. I've taken on exercise regimens in the past and usually within four weeks I hit my stride.

Once my legs can physically keep up with the activity I will be able to spend more time on the floor and further develop my skills.

Right now I'm kind of limping along, but it's getting better.

Today I practiced more striding and balancing on one leg at a time. It's a challenge to put my whole weight on one leg as the muscles are too fatigued to hold my entire weight.

I can't say there was significant improvement on my balance, but my stability as a whole has improved. I'm thinking less about the skates under my feet and a lot more about the pain in my feet and thighs. At least it's distracting.

And the coolest thing I learned new today is the T stop. I actually did ok with these. The hard part again is putting weight on one leg so as to position your braking leg, but I did it and it felt pretty good.

Tomorrow may be harder as I skated longer today, but everyday gets a little better.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Day 17 Practice and open skate

Practice today was a total, but expected, regression. My legs were still sore and noodle-y from practice the day before so my skating super sucked. I just got tired so quickly that even after a few laps I was shaking.

It is expected that some days will just be down time days. I spent a lot of time sitting on the bench. Talking ref stuff. And trying to get back up.

I hate these days because I feel like a failure when I sit down. These are the days when just showing up is progress.

I'm tired of the "sucking" dialogue. I actually told my fellows refs we were no longer allowed to mention my sucking or progress. It's too easy for me to chatter myself into a hole. I need to just shut up and do.

So I did, as best I could. Which was not much. But I did it.

I stayed afterward for the open skate. My legs were feeling a little better and I had not honestly done much skating during practice.
I didn't stay long, but I pushed myself and kept going for another 45 minutes.

And while this doesn't seem like much. It's about 40 minutes longer than when I first started.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Day 16 buying skates

So when I started skating, two weeks ago, I bought cheap outdoor skates. These are fine and serve their purpose.

But I just got new indoor skates, and yes I know the wheels are the only thing that makes them indoors, that cost twice as much.

My comfort and ability to maneuver is about double on the indoor skates, which seems to be mainly due to the fact that the better boot doesn't make me feel like I am standing on a metal plate.

I'm going to keep my outdoor skates for beating up outside and indoor for inside. Unless I can't handle the crappy ones anymore.

But if you are thinking of investing in skates, and have any confidence that you might stick with it, even for a while, get a nicer skate and get it from a skate shop that fits you in it. I bought my first ones online with no knowledge of how they are supposed to fit. Bad idea. Or just fairly uncomfortable.

Think of it as 15-20 dinners or drinks out. (I eat cheap, if you eat good food it might only be 5-10 dinners worth). Oh and get your pads and helmet when you get your skates. I bought crappy ones only to have to buy better ones (and only like $10 more) two weeks later.

Day 16 Practice #3

Today's practice was a big emotional accomplishment. Everyday I wake up and think maybe this is not a good idea. Maybe I just can't ref derby. I feel like this because my progress is very slow and being able to skate competently seems an insurmountable task.

But if you feel like I do, take heart and know that progress is just around the corner. Because at the end of practice I felt awesome and I can't wait to skate again.

Today was by far my best skating day. Everyday that I skate the progress feels as follows.
1.I start out on skates, freaked out and uncomfortable as hell.
2.I do a few laps feeling like it's day one again.
3.I start to warm up, the awkwardness starts to abate and I start to skate.
4.I make a small progress in either confidence or skill or both. (super duper small)
5.I get tired and start to regress. Feeling less confident and wobbling until I stop.

Today I skipped step 1. The total fear was not there. I still felt a big regression until I warmed up, but it took less time. Which is good, because that saves warm up energy for longer improvement energy.

And as it follows my improvement was a lot more significant. I can't say enough for squatting down. The lower I go, the more comfortable (in terms of balance) I feel. But it really hurts my quads.

I worked with Sally Von Trample today, which was awesome. I'm really liking how everyone is so incredibly nice, forgiving and encouraging. I'm a nervous talker, and I'm rather chatty as it is. So put together with my nerves and all the new people and I am one annoying chatty mother f-er.

I'm working on that. I'm looking forward to the day where I can be given instruction and I can silently work on it, instead of talking the f out of it. Maybe next time.

So Sally had me work more on balancing more. I have to glide on one foot until I fall down. This has me practicing falling small (a controlled knee fall) when I can't stay up on one leg. I love falling on my knees.

We also worked on proper back leg push, which I was doing in the wrong direction. That helped a lot.

All in all, I am not competent in either skill. But, I am starting to do them. And in the distraction of working on new skills I am no longer worrying about the crazy rolling wheels under my feet. Well most of the time.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Day 15 one rest one rink

Technically yesterday would have been day 15, but it was Friday and date night for me and the hubby so I didn't skate.

I should have skated indoors, but I lamed. In better news though, my 1.75 year old daughter got her Dora the Explorer skates and was ecstatic about them.

Today is Rat City's second bout of the season and I was looking forward to watching the bout with derby friends.

I sent the kids off with Grandma and headed south to Fastgirl Skates to get indoor wheels and proper fitting pads. Then I headed back home to meet up with an old co-worker friend to hit the open skate before heading to Key Arena.

This is really cool because she lives nearby, is still in the beginner skating level (sort of) and wants to join up.

By having another friend to skate with, my chances of getting lots of practice in and actually becoming a competent skater are increased greatly.

So we went to skate with my new indoor skates and see how far I had regressed. Megan, of course, started skating and it "all came back to her". Biznatch. She's supposed to be a beginning skater like me. But whatever.

The indoor skates were remarkably more comfortable and easier to skate with. The only difference I had to adjust to is the wheels are farther back on the toe. I'm assuming this will give me better toe stop control, but it's a little weird to get used to.

I had the progression as usual. At first I felt like I had never skated, then it started to feel ok, then I made a small improvement. We didn't skate long enough to get to the tired regression phase.

We only skated for about 45 minutes. Which is lame, but it was nice to do an easy day. One of the best parts of skating with Bricks is that she pushes just a little bit. If she had been there I would have skated for another hour. But sometimes I just want to weenie. I won't learn or improve as quick, but some days you just need to weenie and call it good.

Megan and I are going to skate a few times this week, so hopefully by next weekend we will increase our open skate time to 1.5 hours or two.

I my gliding stride was better. And that was kind of the extent of the practice. Tommorrow we have practice, then dinner at the in laws. They have a great flat street in front of their house so maybe a little skating with the kids?

One of the best parts of skating. Doing it with everyone else.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Day 14 Tough all over

I sat upon my backside the entire day. It's a little hard to get out for skating when you have small children. They follow you around and want to be doing what you are doing. And I'm pretty sure, if I left them at home so I could go skating, they would take issue with it.

So daytime skating was out. But I decided to check all the local skating rinks to see when they have adult or open skates and, as it seems, there is a skating session everyday depending on where I go. And at this point in my skating I need as many hours as I can get.

Tonight it was at Bellevue Skate King. Adult skate 8:30 to 11:00.

There were a lot of things I wasn't counting on when I started skating. And even more when I went to Skate King.

Previously I said I didn't want to be a roller king. I didn't want to be the dork doing the electric slide in Bellevue with other 50 year old's. I may have to change that. But before I get ahead of myself may I first discuss Bellevue Skate King.

When I was in grade school one of the big social events that our school participated in was going to the roller rink. I believe it was only once a year, or maybe it was more but I didn't go often. I was the youngest of four children, and by that time you kind of get the shaft when it comes to parents driving you around.

Anyways, I went to Skate King at least once every other year for the eight year period I was in grade school. So maybe 3 or 4 times? My memories of Skate King are kind of like your friends groovy 70's shag carpet romper room. Cheesy, with a strange odor, poorly decorated with painted cement block walls and random pillars.

Skate king hasn't changed. It's damn near trailer park-esque in it's decor and rundown feel. The carpet does not appear to have been replaced since I was there 30 years ago. The floor still has a warped wave effect under the Formica. And the mushroom seats are still covered in the red shag, which by now looks more like red putting green.

The people who were there were like the grown up version of the kids who used to skate. It was weird. The music was top forty hip hop style. There was also a group of 50 plus in the middle line dancing, on skates. For all appearances, this looked like a place that was kind of lame and trashy, but for some reason I really liked it.

The skaters were freaking awesome. They bobbed and weaved, danced and swirled. How the hell they moved the way they did put them into a category of phenomena I can't really describe.

I had no idea this culture subset even existed and the combination of setting and people was strangely inviting. It's the kind of thing I can see Tom Waits singing about. The digs aren't fancy but the dedication is impressive.

So about the roller king thing. I changed my mind. Some how going to Bellevue Skate King on a Thursday night changed it all. I love them and I love it. I want to be a skate king. I may not wear the wrist bands, but oh I love the feel.

Now on to the skating.

I brought my knee pads and skates and got hell for it. Apparently when you skate with derby people, they want you to wear full gear. Now to the casual observer you might feel like this is dorky. Like you're the short bus riding roller skater. But it really is a good idea, and let's face it, I should wear full gear to walk, let alone skate, and remember, we are at Bellevue Skate King, no ones going to worry about you looking dorky.

So after being appropriately chewed out for not having my full gear I was reinvigorated with my terror of the floor. This is one of the annoying parts about learning to skate. Every time I step onto skates it's like starting over, and totally over, like day one over. But fortunately after four or five laps around the rink it started to come back to me.

My main focus currently is gliding on one foot. To get the push off with my rear foot and balanced glide on the other. You know, basic skating. It takes surprisingly long to get the move down. If you are a new skater, take heart in that for ever 2 steps forward you make, you'll take another 8 back in each skating session.

After 20 minutes it kind of came back and I made some improvement to feel good about. And after another 20 minutes my legs were tired enough that I started regressing again.

Skating is surprisingly hard work. And it's not huffing and puffing and working the lungs like other physical activity. Well not yet. It's a quiet slow exercise that creeps up and wears you out like taking air out of your tire. You're going just fine and then your start slowing and it takes more effort to pick up your feet. You didn't feel it happen but it sapped your energy and you're on your way down to being wiped out and sore.

I felt good about the practice. And don't worry it's not just you. I, at least once a day, wonder if this for me, if I can make it. And I doubt it, especially when I'm starting out again and I seem to be much worse off than my first day on skates. But then I warm up and make a small but visible improvement. It keeps me going. That and my understanding that this is going to take work.

I practiced with my friend again. Brick Howitzer. She should coach all the super lame newbies like me. She's super nice, consistent and give just the right amount of push. If she hadn't come out with me, I would have likely just stayed home. If she hadn't spent the time skating painfully slow to give me pointers, I likely would not have practiced the motions that are helping me improve. Having someone support and encourage you is so important.

There were a few other derby people there. Three or four players and another ref. They were friendly and helpful and I love how comfortable I feel around them. I'm not a social genius. It takes me a little to get warmed up and ok around new people. But derby seems to encompass a group of people that don't make me feel like an outsider.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Day 13 Holy smokes, for reals ref practice!

Tonight we did the real deal ref practice. ie we were on the floor moving and not chatting penalties.

So it's official, I am the absolute suckiest skater in the league and of all the refs. No bones about it. But that's ok. I think if anyone reads this and can't skate they should pay attention to this post.

When you are a new person you need a positive tongue and a firm hand. Every word out your mouth is "I can do it, it's just going to take time." Though it might be in the form of "kick some ass!".

Because unless you really are physically incapable of doing a maneuver, and you would not likely be in roller derby if you were, you can do it. Maybe not today, or next week, but in a month, 3 months, even 6 months, you'll get it. If you are patient and keep trying, you'll get it. Remember, it's skating, not world class gymnastics or rocket science. Maybe you won't be the best, but you'll do fine.

That's the soft tongue. Keep out any language that is in anyway negative. The firm hand is even more important.

Beginners need to practice basics. The majority of the time, they need to do basic skating, balancing on one leg, blah blah. But they also need to be pushed and challenged to try move advanced moves.

There should never be a question of whether or not you should be trying something. Try it, practice with the group. If you can't do it, if you fall, if you do it completed screwed up, who cares? That's part of learning new stuff and that's a big part of the fun.

Do crazy leg moves, try weaving, try turning. The more unstable motions you do, the more you get comfortable with it and the better you learn to recover. Don't worry about pushing too hard, just give it a try. The worst thing that can happen is you have one new fall under your belt.

I tried a bunch of stuff I can't really do. I sucked, but I tried it. Remember the lateral moves. It's better to suck at many things than to only suck at few and not be able to do more.

Oh and by the way, by the end of practice I was worse than when I started. My legs were sooo tired, that I could barely skate.

Homework for me, for the next month probably. Skating on one leg. Lots of skating on one leg.

Thank you to today's ref team members Lehanna, C-man, T-Rex and Brian. You're breaking me into skating and I'm loving every minute of it.

Day 13 At home

Today I have my 2nd ref practice. We'll likely do more actually skating this time so the practice will be good. There is also an open skate afterward, that if I am not super tired I will stay for.

But that is not until late tonight and I am getting antsy for skating!

I love doing activities that give me cravings. I really love skating on the rink floor. Just straight up skating, but the smooth glide feels so great.

It reminds me of a funny scene in "What about Bob?". It was a totally ridiculous movie with Bill Murray. His character is the kind of person who would accidentally drown in two inches of water so when his therapist takes him sailing, they duct tape him to the mast. The rest of the scene is Bill Murray calling out "I'm sailing! I'm saaaailing!" That's totally how I feel on skates.

Yesterday I didn't skate at all and spent the day dreaming and visualizing the motion I wanted to be doing while skating, instead of the shuffle. So today I've been strapping on the skates and rolling in the hall.

Part of what my friend has been teaching me is to use the full range of motion when doing a basic skate. I currently kind of jump onto my leading foot and let the momentum carry me. Now I want to push with my back foot and lean into my front.

My hallways sessions are great because there is really no fear involved. I have to try really hard to fall with walls on either side of me. So I tried doing the proper motion and it seemed to work.

And I've been practicing t-stops and spin around turns. The turns have improved but my wheels are adamantly opposed to the t stop. They are so sticky that they refuse to drag. But I decided that I am committed enough to skating at this point that I shelled out for the indoor wheels. Hopefully this will help.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Day 12 Derby Name! May I introduce Geekk 3000

I'm working on being a ref so my derby name is not so important. But I've been thinking of names for years should I ever attempt the track. Besides, isn't the derby name the real reason we get into derby?

So today I finally, after days, weeks, or years of pondering persona's, clever name jumbles and tough girl slogans I've realized that I am neither suggestive, hardcore or clever.

My name decision was kind of a scavenger hunt of random stuff I like and words I like.

When in doubt go with what you know. I like chickens. I like scifi. I like ridiculous. I like nerdy stuff.

I like Coop Commander. Which is weird and silly. Ok. But it wasn't quite right. I just couldn't commit. Here's the test, if you feel weird saying it out loud, it's not the right one.

So I tried to come up with extra names to add to make it acronym-able. So I added Elvis Eggman. Random you say? This makes a lot more sense if you know me better. We have a big white rooster named Elvis. He looks like Elvis from the days of the white jumpsuit.

The whole chicken theme may seem weird, but most of the derby themes are a little odd so go with it.

So I got the letters to EECC. Which reminded me of a friend who we call eek. Which I really like, but then it sounded like geek, which is even better, but adds another letter. I don't know if anyone else came up with their derby name as randomly as me, but again, whatever works.

Then there were issues with the pronunciation, blah blah blah. I finally ended up with GEEKK. General Elvis E. Koop Kommander. Does that seem like a mouth full? Well of course it is. The name is actually somewhat appropriate as the skaters are ladies, ie birds, and I am a ref, ie authority figure.

Anyways long story short. I like the name Geekk. I wanted a little more scifi flash so I added on 3000. Geekk 3000. Ah it so entices my nerdy side. Like some sort of superhero nerd with x-ray vision black framed glasses.

God I hope no one asks me how I came up with it.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Day 12 First Ref Practice!

So I was super freaked out. Today was the first practice. With the refs, with the team. I am not a skilled new social setting person as it is. This was pretty much as nerve racking as it gets.

There were a few moments where I thought maybe I shouldn't go. Maybe this really wasn't for me. But I want to skate, I want to skate really well, ref or not. And I want to participate, meet new people, be a part of something. So I went.

I was mildly nauseated all day. Fidgety. By the time 5:30 rolled around I was fairly well freaking out. I had been practicing algebra problems for my upcoming placement test. Strangely figuring out math problems kept my mind off the practice.

Finally 6:00 came around and I had to go. Of course I couldn't find my keys. I was crabby with my husband and generally harried, heading out the door.

I got to the skating rink and lined up behind the various skaters. They were all chatting, fiddling with gear, what not. I tried to be inconspicuous while looking around to see if my friend was there. Of course she was at the head of the line in the midst of lots of conversation.

After a few minutes she saw me standing there and graciously came to my rescue. There were a few other referees and she placed me with them. We exchanged names. One of them commented on my striped hoodie and I did my best to hold a conversation about clothing alterations for derby.

Finally the doors opened and we all went in and geared up. I was loitering, looking for a signal of what I should do. One of the refs named Able C-Man chatted with me briefly discussing a few gear details. Then our head ref showed up.

He's a zippy guy named RPOD. It stands for Ref Prince of Derriere, but I really like Rpod. It sounds like some sort of technical device or robotic unit. He sent us out onto the rink to warm up and and chat a bit. I of course trailed behind everyone else, but I didn't fall and didn't wobble horribly.

Everyone else is really good on their skates. Which is no surprise as they have significantly more time on them. Every so often a ref would skate by and give me some supportive comment on my progress.

Then as the practice switched to stretching we rolled over to one corner and began the ref huddle. This is basically where the refs get together in a circle and shoot the shit. Often the shit is penalty and game related, but at this point it was a bit loose.

We introduced ourselves and then headed off rink for the players to get their practice on. The rest of the practice was pretty much spent talking penalties and plays. It was kind of cool. I didn't know everything they were talking about, but I could fairly well follow the conversation. I've never been able to follow sports, but between watching matches and reading the rules it made a lot of sense.

We didn't do anymore skating today and I was really ok with it. Next practice we will do drills and more skating. If I'm not too tired I'll stay for the open skate.

The whole experience was easy, low pressure and completely non-intimidating. It was exactly what I needed. Next time I'll be ok, I won't be freaked out, I won't be the only one who doesn't know anyone. Next time I can think about calls and skating.