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?

It’s gonna get easier; or else I’m getting a Segway. #postaweek2011

I woke up this morning with a vague sense of dread.  I was having a hard time walking, and I couldn’t imagine how I’d be able to do more than wobble into the gym and just look at the machines, let alone actually work out.

I tried to walk out some of the stiffness at lunch.  I went over to the mall near our office and went into Dick’s Sporting Goods.  I wanted to look at helmets and pads.  I haven’t done anything with my mom’s skates yet; but, I’m not stupid…I know better than to tempt fate & try to skate without some protection.  I should probably invest in one of those donuts you sit on and a hockey mask.

I found a helmet and a set of pads for my wrists, elbows and knees.  And not a Hello Kitty in the batch!  I found an actual skating helmet, though a review of their skate selection revealed only inline skates.  Derby is done on the old-school type 2×2 skates with a toe stop.  The AZ Derby Dames site does advise that you don’t go out and buy a bunch of stuff; but, again…we don’t want to become a statistic this early in the game.

Derby Gear

After picking out a helmet, the pads, some thick socks and a pair of shorts to wear to the gym, I went out into the mall and walked a circuit.  Well, walked is a bit ambitious.  I sort of hobbled around, wishing I could knock Paul Blart off of his Segway and finish the lap that way.

Paul Blart, Mall Cop - or Dude, You Stole My Ride!

I was scheduled to meet Tom at 6:30 at the gym.  I got there a bit early, and saw the girl who originally signed us up with the gym.  When I had been talking to the trainer supervisor about why I wanted to get a trainer, she told me about R.  R is in a roller derby league and I decided to stop and ask her about it.

The coolest thing about anyone that I have talked to so far that is involved with derby at all is that they immediately say that I should try out now.  R was no different.  She has been part of the league for a couple of months, and is getting ready to take her skills test.  She took me into the office and pulled out her phone.  She had all sorts of photos and videos showing the practices and bouts.  Her league is a flat track league vs. the banked track league that I think that I want to try.  R insisted that there are plenty of people who have never skated before.  I told her that I really want to get into better shape.  She kept saying that it’s not necessary…that I would get in shape doing it and that they would teach me everything I need to know.  She showed me a video of the skills test, and even with my limited time on skates in the last several years, I could do all of the things required to pass the test.

This is a whole other avenue.  In watching the videos, it’s definitely derby.  But, somehow, there’s something about the banked track and the “show” that is Arizona Derby Dames.  I like the camp that goes with the sport.  This league is not as flashy.  There aren’t the same uniforms or rock and roll edge to it.  I’m going to have to think about all of this.  I feel like I should stick to my original goal.  It’s not an easy one, but it is something that I could get real satisfaction from.  Apparently, there’s a closeted exhibitionist banging on the door to get out!

Tom had me jump right in, and though I did utter a few whiney mews, he kindly pushed me through each exercise.  Judging by the amount of sweat pouring out of me, it’s working.  I left feeling a bit better…we stretched out some of the stiffness and worked different muscle groups.  Tonight, I’m weak & wobbly, and not a little bit sore; but, this is a day that I won’t have to do again.  I’m that much further down the road toward my goal.