Sunday, February 28, 2010

Day 11 Open skate and Greenlake

Today had a lot of challenges and a lot of accomplishments.

We started out at the open skate with the kids. My friend was meeting me there, giving up a practice for her to help me skate.

This is one of the things I think is so important to the survival of a small sport, the camaraderie and teamwork. I still suck at skating, but she was happy to help me and help me wrangle my two children with my husband. The fact that she is a preschool teacher probably helped, with me and the kids.

Anyways we showed up, chatted and had some food. Greasy and yummy, but at some point we will probably stop eating at the rink. I think right now we are still surprised we're out doing stuff so we treat ourselves.

Next we geared up to skate, and I didn't have my knee pads. Nancy was adamant about my knee pads. So was I. Another thing I like about derby. It's mostly women. Women aren't as likely to do the "skate without them bro" line. Which is stupid and irresponsible. So I drove home and got them. I live about 10 min away so no big deal.

I get back and David has been dealing with two kids, no skating and the noise of like 200 other kids. It was Sunday so the madness was at a fever pitch.

So finally I gear up and skate. Nancy stops me every few laps and instructs me to try a new move.

First was the hardest, skating while squatting. Well sort of, I bent my knees and went as low as I could, but wow am I ever a freaking weakling.

So after a few laps, and I was squatting for like 5 seconds and then standing up for 30, not impressive, we switched to constant stepping. Which again I was a sucky weenie.

Then we did sticky skates. I was not so bad.

We did maybe 10-15 laps and my thighs hurt so freakin bad. I can't believe she does this several times a week. Well I can believe it, but I foresee several months of significant pain. But I'm into it.

Then we called it quits. David did a few more laps and had reached his noise threshold.

So all in all it was pretty chill. But that was just the beginning.

David graciously stayed home with the kids and Nancy and I headed for Greenlake.

We pulled up and the fear didn't hit me yet. I had planned all along to practice trail skating at a small park near my house. It was short and sweet and with few people. I thought I would break in my fear before showing it so blatantly to a peer. But I didn't and here we were.

We got out and walked in our socks to the trail. It was downhill from us, I still braked poorly and the grass was a muddy mess. Ok.

Then the reality hit me. We were there on the trail. People walking by. No fences, no smooth pavement, hills that could have been mountains for all I knew. Greenlake the last great paved frontier.

I stood up and I didn't like it. There was a slight slope and a few smooshy pine bits. I instantly had fear, fairly major fear.

We were ready and there we went. I rolled like 30 feet, tripped on a stick, pulled the bad quad muscle I pulled before and went down. I didn't actually fall, but my confidence did. I had reached the point of fear, that if I had been alone, would have sent me back to the car.

But I wasn't alone and I was with an amazingly patient and kind roller buddy. This makes the world of difference. We limp skated to a flat off track area and stretched. All the while I was trying to figure out how to say I needed to weenie and call it quits for the day.

I am often surprised when I meet people who don't show disappointment or annoyance when with beginners. Encouraging a newbie while caring for their fragile ego, but also getting them to try harder is a difficult and a tedious process. I worked as a manager for many years and teaching without embarrassing or admonishing is hard.

So I said I wanted to weenie like 6 times. There was never a "no" or even negative reaction. Just a lets go a few more minutes and if it's not better we can go back.

I said that we weren't supposed to skate the wrong direction on the trail. Her response was "If anyone complains I will tell them you pulled a muscle and they can deal." Having someone stick up for you're weenie-ing is really nice.

So we went farther. And farther. And farther.

We went the whole way. It hurt. It was hard. I was a little scared. But once I got going it really wasn't that bad. The terrible fear I had backed off as my leg performed mostly as required.

Nancy called out directives and tips from time to time. Down hill bend your knees and ride through it. Bumpy spots, bend your knees and ride through it. That was the answer for a lot of stuff.

We worked on gliding, weight on one foot and the rear foot raised. Using the back foot to push off to get full use of the leg muscles. I'm not there yet, but she skated ahead and behind. Sounded the warning for stray dogs and upcoming hills or sticks.

Everyone should have a skating buddy who is so patient. Fortunately she had been there just a few short months ago, so she knew what was up.

So we got all the way around. It was cool in the sense that I am probably a better skater, I got a good workout and I got a much needed confidence boost. I think it will be much better next time. I think by the fifth time it might even be enjoyable.

Getting by in the beginning is definitely a lot about the people you train with. They have to push you a little, but without freaking you out. Tomorrow is my first full practice. I think I'm going to like derby.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Day 10 roller rink!

Well we went to our first roller rink.

There were small children to dodge. My own children to chase. Oh and skating.

I haven't skated on a smooth surface yet other than my hallway. The rink is a lot smoother.

David took Koz around for a while and I watched Meza in the video game area. Once Koz was ready for a break David took over watching both and I headed out for the floor.

I strapped on my skates and knee pads, I'm seriously not taking chances. And a little nervous and wobbly, I headed out to the floor.

It had a progression. I was not comfortable and was once again regressed. But the improvement happened faster this time. It's like I relearn to skate each time I try but the learning curve speeds up to only a few laps before I hit a new skill level.

I started focusing on slaloming. This I think is going to be the key to my smooth transition in the basic skating movement.

I also did more cut turns where you lean on one leg with the other out at the side to turn.

It's all starting to work better. I actually skated until my muscles were tired. How cool is that?

Friday, February 26, 2010

Day 9 resting

No practice today. The weather was crap, I am still sick and I need a little break.

At least no practice on skates.

I practiced the online quiz for a while. I'm consistently at 100% for section 1 and 2. Now I'm working on section 3.

Tomorrow we're all going to the Skate and Bowl for a lesson and free skate. And then again on Sunday.

I'm a little nervous but I know that each day I go, the better I get.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Day 8 indoor practice with Koz

After a bit of icing, resting and stretching the leg is sore but doing fine.

It may sound weenie-ish to make a big deal out of a little pulled muscle, but I'm an old lady. I may only be 35 but in terms of my out of shape body I may as well be 85.

I have had two babies in the past 3.5 years and little physical activity in between.

I think one reason I'm doing this blog is just so I can reassure other ladies that being a sedentary, uncoordinated super chunk is just a momentary hindrance in the pursuit of the derby world.

In a month or two, when the muscles remember what it is like to move, I'll probably be back to a 30 year old. But until then I will be a baby and take it slow. Again the beauty of ref/nso training. Not so intensive, not so difficult.

So Koz got his skates. It is awesome!

He loves them and instantly wanted to strap them on. Of course he rolled around on the carpet and then hung onto me or dad while in the hall.

He's not even 4 so he's got a little longer learning curve than me, but that's even cooler. By the time he's 5 he's going to rock. By then Meza should be able to use his skates and start the process.

The coolest thing about having kids is indoctrinating them into your hobbies. They are generally pretty agreeable. I totally have my sights on Meza doing roller derby. Oh yeah.

But back to training.

More one legged balancing. Maybe the slightest improved.
More turns. No real improvement.
Backwards skating. Maybe a little regressed.

But whatever. Half of the importance of practice at this point is just reassuring myself that I won't die and that I really can keep trying.

I keep thinking about this weekend. Rollerskating indoors, on a smooth floor. With other people. Well, I've still got three days.

Oh and I've been taking the online test for the WFTDA rules. When I take the whole test I've been scoring in the low eighties and slowly improving.

Now I'm doing each section one or two at a time. I have the first two sections at 99-100%

Of course those are the easy sections, and they are only on paper. But, every little bit counts.

Day 8 first injury

Well it's not a big deal. Just a little pulled quad muscle. But it is kind of annoying.

I usually do a little skating in the house before I go outside so I effectively warm up. Today I decided to go straight to the court and skate. Bad idea. Well it would have been ok if I had warmed up.

I didn't and when I started to stand up I felt a little pop and stinging feeling in my right quad. It's not terrible. I stopped and stretched for a minute and was able to skate.

But I was a little stiff and tentative on my leg. I tried stepping over a crack and it definitely hurt. So I practiced figure eights for a few minutes. As I warmed up my leg felt a little better.

But I don't want an annoying injury four days before my first practice so I called it quits pretty quickly.

I came home, looked up quad injuries and am now rest my leg and icing it. I plan on stretching today and doing some warm ups. Then I'm going to practice indoor skills like balancing on one foot, turns and other low key stuff.

On a brighter note my son's skates came in the mail today. And my husband ordered skates. One reason I am so excited about skating is that we're going to do it as a family.

David of course can skate, he's mister coordinated. But he hasn't done it in ages. And K is super excited. He's convinced he already knows how to skate. He's been watching a lot of Transformers lately and one of their new characters rolls on wheels like skates.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Day 7 indoor for sure

Yeah didn't make it outside. The weather cleared up but having two small children who successfully made me crazy today were a huge deterrent.

Right now I am very concerned with getting in a large amount of constant practice. By doing this daily I can get to an average skill level. This may not seem much, but I just need to be able to skate, not skate well, just skate. Once I have the basics the rest can come slower.

So balancing on one foot is really hard. And doing a forward to reverse turn is hard just because my feet don't like to turn that way. But I did jump, standing still. Totally anticlimactic. Jumping while moving should prove to be difficult.

But I think the most important thing is just hanging out on skates. I feel so much more comfortable now.

And I have been doing some reading about indoor versus outdoor skates. I have decided for now to stay with my outdoor wheels.

My goal is to be a skating ref so super speedy isn't really an issue. And I've come to the conclusion that I don't think I will pursue ever being a player. I have crap knees and I don't want to deal with the injuries.

I just want to participate in practices and help out at bouts. I want to volunteer to set up and sell tickets. Help the ladies with costuming. Be super good at reffing. Get some exercise.

I think the coolest thing about this league is their attitude towards refs and nso's. They call us all refs, we are allowed to participate in as many practices as we want, but are only required to participate in a few.

I like the freedom to be as hardcore as I want without having to commit to much when my kids get sick or I start going to school again.

This is going to be good.

Oh did I mention my first official practice is on Monday? I'm hoping I don't pee my pants.

Day 7 indoor?

Well it is Seattle, or a close approximation. So the weather is overcast, chilly and a bit wet.

I could take a day off. But I don't think so. I think today is all about balancing practice in the hallway.

My goals are to roll on one foot both directions. The hall is only about 30 feet long, so it's not much of a fete, but it's what I got.

Also I want to work on open third position to get ready for tight turning stops.

And of course there is always the hustle. What is this hustle you say? You know like in the 70's. Or maybe more like the electric slide. Either way, getting used to stepping without losing my balance.

Oh and I want to start jumping. Just little jumps, but it's time to start.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Day 6 indoor and outdoor training

So today was a school day for Koz and with the overcast chilly weather I wasn't feeling motivated.

But when motivation is low for me, I read blogs about derby and everything gets rolling.

So I started getting the itch and strapped on my skates to practice balancing on one foot while skating.

This actually turned out really good because my hallway is super short. So I do one foot transitions in the normal skating form forwards and backwards. It's funny how backwards is almost as easy as forwards.

I did this as long as I could and practiced doing some spins with alternate heel and toe pressure. I'm trying to figure out how to spin around when not standing totally still. No significant luck yet.

So after a few sessions interrupted by Meza wanting to be snuggled with on the couch, I finally geared up for the park.

We made it down and strapped it all on. And I am happy to report that I have made significant improvement. Like a solid 8% better than yesterday. This may not seem like much, but considering that the day before appeared to have no improvement, I was pretty stoked.

I did figure eights and went faster around the turns. I even did the slightest of crossovers. Not a total crossover, but my feet were less than 6 inches apart which is a huge improvement from my usual barrel legged stance.

I'm also interacting with Mez more while skating. Just being comfortable standing is cool. This is somewhat attributed to me practicing the "Hustle" in the hallway. My hall is only about 3.5 feet wide so doing side steps up and down the hall requires me to stay fairly well on the same line.

Oh and I'm working on putting one foot in front of the other and balancing in a line.

Everyday I am improving. When I started 5 days ago I felt like a Greyhound on a Vet clinic floor. Now I feel almost normal.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Day 5 outdoor training

We made it to the park and to my beloved tennis courts.

Strangely it wasn't easier, and somehow it was a little harder. It hurt more today.

But when it seems like I want to give up that's when I focus on training exercises.

So I did figure eights. Practiced doing the step step motion that propels you forward. I currently do a one step onto my left leg. But after telling myself that I won't really progress that way I kicked it up to a four step motion.

I am really still very uncoordinated. I don't feel anymore balanced. And it isn't any easier. But I am doing more. Circling away from the fence. Stepping over cracks and rocks. And falling less.

So while my general skills may not have improved, I am now equally unskilled at more types of movement. If you can't move forward, try moving laterally.

The plan, if the weather holds, is to spend the next 4 days practicing my basics at the court. Then on Saturday we'll go to the frisby golf park and skate on the path. For some reasons paths seem harder because there are no walls. Even though I haven't been actually touching the fence.

Then on Sunday, we go to the roller rink. We'll take the skating lesson and hopefully make it to the open skate!

Day 5 indoor training

I haven't gotten outside yet. David's working on his workshop and the it's still chilly out. But that doesn't mean I can't start practicing.

So I've been reading and watching Youtube videos on roller skating. Not a lot of info specific to roller derby skating, but there is this entire world of jam skating, circa 1980, that seems to have continued on into this century.

It's pretty freakin crazy. Some of it is cool, some a little silly, but whatever.
What these jam skater people do really well is do crazy moves on their skates.

In derby it's all about dodging, taking and giving hits, but mostly moving in one direction. With jam skating it's all about dancing like Jamiroquai on the Virtual Insanity video. But instead of sliding with your feet, they slide with their skates.

Pretty much these guys are more coordinated on skates than I will ever be on my feet, but they have some good pointers.

So I currently skate like someone very freaked out and surprised that there are wheels on my feet. I do the wobble, the concerned facial expression and the robot moves. I would like to change this.

When I see competent skaters move, they have this whole smooth flowing gate like gliding on water. Well on wheels. I would like to do that. I currently shuffle like an Parkinson patient.

So while indoors is limited for track practice, it is perfect for jam practice. Which while I won't be bustin moves on the derby track, it will highly improve my balance on skates.

So with T.V. on I am doing heel toe balancing transitions. This gets me used to balancing on one foot and smoothly transitioning to the other. And it's helping figure out how to skate backwards, which is super cool.

I'm hoping this afternoons post will be full of how just a few hours indoor practice improves my outdoor practice.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Day 4 Skating outside some more

So today is Sunday and I am more than a bit sore. I have quad muscles I haven't felt since my days of working out in a gym.

But whatever. I did a bunch of laps around the house. I plan on strapping on my skates and messing around at least once every 2 hours in the house.

Then we planned to go to the park and do some skating. Well I would skate, David and the kids would watch.

Did I mention that I have been sick this whole time? Sadly being healthy will not likely make skating easier, but it makes me sound more dedicated.

So down we went to the tennis court. Left just like I remembered it. The cement is in good condition but there are lots of large cracks filled with grass.

I have decided this is a good thing because it will require me to get good at dodging and stepping over rough ground.

My friend wants to go skate Greenlake, which at this time is a bit terrifying. But I think in another week or two I will be ready.

So I skated, I fell a few times stepping over the cracks and tripping on rocks.

But I skated until I was actually physically tired. Not exhausted, mind you the terror is still exhausting enough. And this only took about 20 minutes.

But that was at least 10 laps. And probably closer to 13 laps. Way more than I expected to do.

Definitely have a new goal of adding 10 laps to whatever I've done the day before. I love beginning learning curves. I can actually feel the difference between the start and finish of each session.

Tomorrow should be pretty cool. And tonight's hot tub. One of the best parts of doing any kind of exercise. Relaxing in a hot tub afterward.

Day 3 skating outside

Day three is Saturday, yesterday. My first time skating outside.

I decided I need to do 10 laps around the house each day and 2 more outdoor laps than the day prior. This doesn't sound like much to the casual observer. But to the newly shod terrorized skater this sounds like more that I am really prepared to do.

So the plan was to drop off my son at a friends in Carkeek, then drive to an open parking lot or basketball court and try my hand at rolling around.

It always sounds easier in my head.

I drove around for 45 minutes. There were like 6 parks and school, with perfect places to skate on. But it was a blessed sunny day in Seattle and every freakin place had tons of people.

I don't know about anyone else, but when I am going to look like a total fool I really like to do it privately.

I drove back to my house and ended up at the tennis courts at the abandoned school.

It was perfect, no one around, caged in, a bit rough, but nice and level.

My daughter could run around in the caged court and I could roll without worrying about her. There was no way I would be able to effectively catch her on skates should she decide to bolt.

So skates on, helmet and pads on. Yes I was wearing near full gear. If I was going to fall I wasn't risking anything. Maybe in another week or two I can skip the helmet, but not right now.

I did almost 3 laps. Really. It hurt, I was scared, I didn't like it and it felt all wrong. But I did it and did it about half a lap longer than I had planned.

When you start out it can really suck if you are not a natural.

I am ok with this. I have found that I don't have to be a natural at anything. All I have to do is keep trying and push myself slightly harder than the last time. And do it every day.

I think the everyday thing is what makes it work more than anything.

So a little freaked out but a little bit satisfied I ended my outdoor attempt with the resolution of doing 2 more laps more each time and 10 laps around the house several times a day.

Day 2 Skates in the mail

So I bought skates.

I bought them online. Which is a mistake I realize now.

They were supposed to come two weeks earlier. Two weeks that could have given me the experience that would have allowed me to say "Yes I skate, not well but I can skate." at the orientation.

Instead I had to fess up that I didn't skate but was planning to. Which effectively relegates you to the "maybe, but not likely" status.

Ah but they don't know me. They don't know that I have blind determination. They don't know that I set unreasonable goals and have tenacity that borders idiocy.

I've learned a few things on my own, guitar, swing and latin dancing, poi, sewing, hacky sac, and while I am not particularly skilled, mediocre really seems to do me just fine.

They took two annoying extra weeks because of the excess snow back east. But whatever.

Anyways they showed up on Friday. David was back from out of town. My niece was staying with us. And there they were. At the front door.

So I was pretty excited, I ripped open the box. Everyone was super excited. David was a little skeptical, but that's just him being married to me.

They are beautifully boring and ugly, black shoes strapped to beautiful metal trucks and blue wheels. Perfect!

So I wasn't getting out of the house yet tonight. There was still the "I don't know how to skate and minor terror" issue. But regardless I strapped them on and made a quick mini track in the hallway, living room, dining room, front hall.
It's got handicaps of rugs and varying surfaces. Children often bar my way. But it's there.

Once strapped on and assuming the standing position the minor feeling of terror took hold. I really am uncoordinated on these things. But I know it's not rocket science, I'm great on a bike, and can dance fairly well. Those things taken into account are the main things keeping me going.

I did like 3 laps around the house. They really hurt my feet. I'm working very hard at remembering to balance over my ankles, relaxed and knees bent. And I have the walls to catch me, and the table, the front door, various paintings, the windows and mirrors I'm trying to stay away from.

This may be awkward, frightening and slow, and maybe painful, but I will prevail.

Day 1 referee orientation

Well this day actually happened a few weeks ago, but who's counting?

I've had a few friends who were in roller derby. They were clearly far to cool for me by that time. But I love and envy it, so I thought the time has come for me to be cool too.

I emailed. I showed up. I made stupid jokes and acted way more comfortable than I was. They layed out the rules and needs and set us free.

The goal is to be a skating ref. Whether I want to actually play is not really the issue. I want to be involved. I want to skate. I want to get the hell out of the house.

So I got the rule book and spent four days committing most of it to memory. I actually think I could call most penalties right now. This is to be determined in real life with actual real live players.

Then I got the skates. Did I mention I can't skate? Yet.

At least four times I roller skated in grade school. I was that dork who stayed on the carpet and held onto the wall.

When I was in highschool my brother took me ice skating 2 or 3 times. I sucked, but at least I got off the wall.

Before I had children, my husband and I went rollerblading. Maybe only once. I lived through it.

But I think roller skating is cool.

I like the roller dancing dudes in the parks. Not the head band wearing guys that clearly have no lives other than being labeled "rollerking". But the guys and girls who for all appearances are normal and like to dance with a little extra motion.

So I'm going to have to learn to skate.