Wash out

I’ve been putting this post off and avoiding this blog for several weeks.  I kept hoping that the situation would change before tonight; but, here we are.  Three months after sucking it up and hauling my cookies out onto the track, tonight is the skills testing night.

And, I’m not there.

Several weeks have passed since my urgent care visit.  My foot, though definitely better with no skating, is not back to where I can strap my skates on again.

The other night, while the home alone, I put my skates on.  I just rolled around a bit on what little tile we have.  The nagging pain that I’d experienced before sharply reintroduced itself.

I’ll admit it…I cried.

I don’t know what to feel.  Part of me is so disappointed to be missing the skills test…so disappointed that it almost chokes me.  As I follow the progress of my fellow Cherries on Facebook, I am jealous and I feel left out.

The other part of me – the scared, really bad skater part of me – is relieved.  Derby is hard.  It’s one of the most physically and emotionally demanding things that I’ve ever done.

Several of the trainers and other Cherries have encouraged me to try again with an upcoming group and that originally was my intention.

However, as the weeks go by, and my foot is not showing enough improvement, I’m worried that it will never cooperate.  It’s not like this was a new injury.  The only time that I can remember suffering a broken bone in my foot was in college.  That was almost twenty-five years ago.  Pressure is never going to improve with more skating.

So, if I can’t skate, what?

The league is always looking for non-skating officials (NSOs) and I could do that, but, that’s not why I started this whole thing in the first place.  I wanted to be a derby diva, crashing through the pack, not standing in the middle with a clipboard.

I am torn.

I’m going to have to think long and hard about this.  As my mother says, “When the mom goes down, it’s hard on the whole family.”  Is it really worth pretty certain additional damage to my foot to be scared out of my mind, yet exhilarated beyond belief?  There are still several things demanding attention, with family, work, the other hobbies that I’ve taken up.  Derby is a huge commitment, and I would need to invest a lot of myself to get better than I am.

Tonight, the Cherry Posse is skating their 25 laps in 5 minutes, running the obstacle course, jumping, falling, sliding and celebrating.

To my fellow Cherries, KICK ASS!  I am so proud of all of you!  To the trainers of our league, you are my heroes.  Even if I’m cheering you on from the cheap seats, I am your number one fan.

The time in between…

It’s been a couple of weeks since my last post.  The Cherries were off this past week, thanks to the holiday and shortened hours at the Castle, where we train.

On Thursday, a couple of the trainers and several of the Cherries met up at a pub for some bonding time.  It was a good opportunity to let our hair down and get to know each other.  I spent a lot of time talking to UR Mom, one of our trainers from the Joon Cleavers team.

I had the chance to ask her questions about being on a team and some of the differences in the teams.  There are different philosophies, depending on the captains.  We talked about how derby is suddenly getting hot.  Many women are joining for reasons other than the desire to compete in a sport.  Some are lured by the crazy derby names and what is perceived as the “bad girl” persona associated with derby.  Some join to make friends and some join just to lose weight.

I can say that after six weeks of some of the hardest physical challenges I’ve ever faced, I am in this for the sport itself.  I look forward to getting past the skills tests and to being on an actual team.  I like the idea of the game itself, and competing.  The distressing part is that I don’t have the physicality yet needed to get to that point.  I struggle with some of the skills that we have been learning.  Others come easily to me.

I told Mom that I worry that I can’t get past the tests to be able to be drafted.

Perhaps I put too much pressure on myself.  I spend too much time thinking about it. 

I wish that our practices were spread out through the week.  With so many days in between, it’s easy to psyche myself out.  I start doubting myself and begin talking myself out of going.  It’s the same with going to the gym.  If I were smart, I’d go to the gym early in the morning, before work.  Having all day to think about all of the things I’d rather be doing – most of which involve pajamas and a remote control – allows phantom aches and pains to creep in.

Once I’ve been, though, it’s hard to imagine what I was so worried about. 

In the next couple of weeks, we’re going to start doing more contact drills…blocking, hitting, etc.  I’m looking forward to that, as I think I will do better with things that approximate actual bout situations.

Also, I’ve submitted a name change.  On the Fourth of July, I watched “Gone With the Wind.”  Belle Wattling is a minor character, but that’s a great name.  I really think that Belle Throttling is going to work better than Showmee de Monet.  Showmee is too long, and too many people don’t get it.  It doesn’t quite suit me.  We tend to call each other by our derby names during practice.  Belle will be easier for the team to pick up.

This week, I resolve to get in at least one extra practice day, go to the gym as scheduled, do my crunches each day and stay out of my head!

Wipeout!

Ooo! That’s a beauty!

Behold…my first, official derby bruises!  They don’t hurt, and they certainly won’t be the last ones I sport.  Probably the best part, though, is that I feel like I earned them.  Each bruise or floor burn represents getting out and doing something that scares me.  They are reminders that I’m challenging myself and getting better with each attempt.

Last week, the Cherry Posse had one long practice Wednesday night, rather than two shorter practices over two days.  The league was holding tryouts for their new traveling team, and needed the rink on Thursday.

I’m not ashamed to admit that I was worried.  Regular practices run an hour and a half.  By the end of that time, not only am I soaked with sweat, but, I’m also exhausted.  A three-hour run would be tough.

I was also nervous, because I felt that there were some things that I was falling behind on.

Credit is due to our awesome trainers.  They knew to plan well, and structured the practice so that we were changing things up constantly and taking water breaks about every ten minutes.

While it was tough, I’m happy (proud!) to say that I was able to keep up and improved on some skills that I’d been having trouble with.

The last thing we did was to establish a baseline for one of our skills test.  We have to be able to skate twenty-five laps in five minutes.

The trick to building up speed is to really use crossovers as you go around the ends of the rink.  Though I used to do them without a thought on ice skates, I’ve had a rough time with them on roller skates.  Heavy roller skates and big , bulky kneepads make the movements more difficult; and, I’ve not really trusted myself to be able to go that fast.

We partnered up with a teammate and one person skated first while the partner counted laps.  I paired with MoMo, a tall blond with a great attitude.  She was awesome!  She managed twenty laps and made it look so easy.

Then, it was my turn.  As I got going, I built up some speed and really tried to focus on picking up my feet, staying low and turning into the curves.  I got a rhythm going and suddenly, I was crossing over.

Our teammates were cheering us on, and a couple of the trainers could see that I was picking my foot up and placing it correctly for the crossover.  They started calling, “You’ve got it!  Good job!”

With that, I my focus evaporated, and I was just barreling around the corners, out of control.  The next thing that I knew, I was sliding sideways.  I crashed into the long wall, laughing, but frustrated.  This was slowing me down!

I shook my head and got to my feet.  I wasn’t hurt… I just needed to get back into the rhythm.

I definitely lost time with the fall…I lost one or two laps’ worth.  When the whistle blew, I was rounding the corner on my fourteenth lap.  From an endurance standpoint, I was fine.  I just need to get faster.  I’d love to be one of those already at twenty laps; but, considering where I started, I know that I will only get better.

Below are some pictures of my “brain bucket.”  I messed around with a silver marker.  The trainers asked us to put our names on our helmets, so that they don’t have to refer to us as “Hey, YOU!”  When I get drafted to a particular team, I’ll upgrade to a helmet that is coordinated to our team colors.  For now, it’s got a “Desert Rose,” inspired by M.A. Brotherton.

Showmee de Monet

Desert Rose, inspired by M. Brotherton

Lucky #5…why not three of them?

Showmee de Monet

I’m four days into Cherries training.  Last Wednesday night, as I packed up my gear and headed to practice, I had a few butterflies.  I know that the trainers and the other Cherries would be nothing but encouraging; but, as is always the case, fear of the unknown can paralyze you if you let it.  I practiced lots of deep breathing, distracting myself on the ride to the Castle, blared loud music…anything I could come up with to just suck it up and get down to it.

Last weekend, the Desert Dolls had a booth at Phoenix ComicCon.  They picked up several new recruits, some of whom have never skated.  They joined us on Thursday night for their first practice…scared, unsure of what to expect and some even wobblier than me.

Suddenly, I was no longer the slowest, weakest or most hesitant.  I was the one high-fiving girls and encouraging them.

Don’t get me wrong…I still have a very long way to go before I’m smacking into anybody; but, the last two nights of practice were better than the two before, and a huge boost to my confidence.

In addition, I’m making friends with the other Cherries and the trainers.  The league’s founder set up a Facebook group specific to our Cherries training set.  We are setting up time to meet outside of practice, to work on skating other nights of the week.  One skater, upon hearing that I want to swap out my wheels, offered and then showed up with extras that she’s not using.

Some girls already have derby names picked out.  I’ve been kicking around several options, checking them against the international registry.

I thought about the fact that my ultra-conservative boss refers to me as his “favorite little Bolshevik,” thanks to my liberal tendencies.  I toyed with variations of that and emailed my mother.  She suggested “Belle Shevik” and I added “Bomber.”  I also considered “Belle Throttling” after Belle Wattling, in “Gone With the Wind.” 

The one that I’ve submitted to the league is a play on my ancestry.  I’m related to Claude Monet on my grandfather’s side.  I fancy myself a sort of artist, so I came up with “Showmee de Monet.” 

I kind of like that…I think that I’ll sit with it for a while.