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.

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