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?

Over the hump #postaweek2011, #fb

Wow.  It’s been a while since I’ve posted here.  September was a crazy month, full of client meetings, travel for me and for my husband, tweet-ups, weddings and an office move.  Add to that two kids with full time schedules, and life is full.  I’ve been going faithfully to the gym three days a week, except when travelling.

While I was in Colorado, I spent a lot of time walking.  We stayed in Fort Collins for part of the time, and I got ambitious.  I took a walk that was intended to be a short one; but, ended up taking several hours.  I was walking along the Poudre River, and every time I thought about stopping and turning around, I’d decide to see what was around the next curve.  Unfortunately, I had the worst shoes possible with me.  I ended up with silver dollar sized blisters on both heels.  It was worth it, though.  It was a beautiful, clear Colorado Indian Summer day.

Walking along the Poudre River

Things have improved significantly with the change in trainers.  We have some consistency, and LC is just as interested in helping me to train for derby as I am.  He’s made a point to do some research and has talked to a couple of women that are on derby teams now.

The overwhelming opinion of all of the women that he’s talked to is that I don’t need to wait to try out.  I’m grateful that LC understands my need to get into better shape for my own self-confidence.  As I’ve said before…I have no doubt that I can compete mentally.  It’s the physical side that worries me.  I want to be in the best condition that I can, so that I can hold my own with girls half my age.

A couple of weeks ago, someone sent a link to my mother, with an article interviewing current derby girls who are all in their 40’s.  They didn’t start until they were in their late 30’s or early 40’s themselves.  It was inspirational and exciting.

I do have to admit…I am still pretty nervous about all of this.  Though I am seeing results from the time in the gym, I have yet to get back up on skates.  I’m going to need to do this SOON.  Now that it’s cooler out, I can spend time outside.  I’m going to have to get to the tennis courts down at the park by our house, and get skating!  I was invited to a skate-along with the Brutal Beauties today; but, it was way out in Mesa.  That’s at least an hour’s drive, and probably closer to two.  I really should have gone, but that nervousness still gets me.

I am over the hump with the gym.  I’m past the ‘dreading it’ phase, though I am learning to keep my mouth shut.  When LC asks how I feel about doing arms, or lunges or other circuits, I’ve found that to say, “I like doing arms,” or “I hate lunges” just makes him push harder.  I can’t win.  The other night, we focused on arms, chest and shoulders.  I would never have believed that just working hard on upper body could actually make me feel like throwing up.

He did say that the next time I’m in, we need to update my stats.  He is starting to see significant changes in me.  That’s gratifying.  All I know is that I still have to do “Old Lady” push-ups, but at least I can do them!

Here we go! #postaweek2011

THIS is what I’m talking about!

I had my first session with LC this morning.  Right off the bat, I knew things were going to be different.

He came in with a large duffel bag, a laptop case and books under his arm…very LARGE arms.  When he opened the bag, I could see all sorts of “stuff” – nutritional supplements, healthy snacks and more books, along with his own workout gear.

We spent the first half hour talking, taking measurements, and performing an overall assessment.  We were both surprised that this hadn’t been done before.  I do have to say…it’s one thing to know that you’re not in the best of shape by the way that your clothes fit.  it’s a whole other type of rude awakening to see it in numbers, on a piece of paper.  Even if I didn’t have derby as a goal I sure as hell need to so something for my overall appearance and health.

Once I’d gotten through the humiliation of that, and LC was very cool about it, we moved over to the open floor.  I love, love, LOVE that LC made a point to do some research even before meeting me.  He had talked to R, the derby girl at the gym, and asked her alot of questions.  She initially told him the same thing that she’d told me.  “I don’t know what she’s worried about.  She can do it now!”  He asked her about the drills they do and how long they spend at each practice and bout.  He also watched some videos online.

You have no idea how much I appreciate that.  I feel like he’s taking this as seriously as I am.

Over on the floor, the very first thing LC did was to pull out a Bosu Ball.  It’s like a big rubber ball that’s been cut in half.  You can stand on the round side, or on the flat side.  The purpose is to work on balance and strength.  It’s used in rehabilitation therapy, as well.  He had me up on the ball, and then brought over a large metal rod.  While keeping my balance, I had to raise the bar from down next to my body to shoulder level, arms extended.  Suddenly, you’re trying to maintain your balance, keep your core tight, raise this bar and breathe correctly…not easy.

Bosu Ball

We progressed through several variations, with dumbbells and kettlebells, and also worked on what I refer to as a circus platform.  You step up and down off of it, much like an elephant in the circus.

Circus Elephant

Pretty soon, thirty minutes had gone by.  It didn’t seem like we’d done much, but judging from the muscles I’m feeling this evening, and the amount that I sweated out, I know that what we did was effective.

LC wants to concentrate less on machines and more on strength, agility, and cardio.

Because of the type of movement that I will have to do, and the way that my weight will be distributed on a banked track, he can foresee what areas I need to concentrate on.

We also spent a lot of time talking about lifestyle, diet, etc.  One of my health goals is to improve my blood pressure.  he’s going to provide some suggestions for diet, not just for me, but for my whole family.

I am thrilled.  Suddenly, I feel a different kind of excitement, not just for derby, but for a new me.

Starting over…again. #postaweek2011

I fired my trainer.

As I’ve talked about before, it’s been quite a challenge getting time with Tom.  he’s a great guy, and a really good trainer; but, there was no way I was getting my money’s worth.

So, on Thursday night, I hauled my cookies to the gym and plunked them down in front of the manager.   I presented my case, telling her that I just wasn’t walking funny enough, and that it was way too easy to wash my hair every day.  She looked at me funny.

I went on to explain how much trouble we’ve had with scheduling, and that I needed to work with someone on a regular basis.  She pulled the book with my card in it.  It was blank!

She asked, “Have you started yet?”

We were both puzzled.  Tom hadn’t recorded any of my sessions to date, which means that he won’t get paid.  Very strange.

After scrolling through the list of trainers, she found one with a compatible schedule.  She got my info transferred, and promised to let Tom know.  I decided that I would reach out to him myself.  It’s a bit different from breaking up with your hairdresser and going to a different salon.    I’m going to see Tom around, and I didn’t want it to be weird.  I texted him yesterday, and explained myself.  He was really cool about it, but I wanted to make sure to turn in the session info so that he’d get paid.

Last night, LC called.  I’ve seen him around, working with other members.  He’s an enormous black man…looks like a football player.  We ended up talking for 1/2 an hour.  I explained my derby goal, and that I’m not worried about numbers on the scale, or a dress size.  I know that will come with getting into shape.  We talked about his methods, and he asked questions to sort of feel out my mind-set.  I said that my husband and my kids would be coming with me often, and we talked about the family.  When I told him about Ben playing football, he asked which league Ben’s in.  Turns out, he was the strength & conditioning coach for a team in the same league for three years.  He offered to include Dave and the kids in our sessions.

Our first session is tomorrow morning.  I’m excited and not a little nervous, knowing what Ben and the other kids in the league do!  I know that I’m in for some pain, but it’s all for the greater good.

Change is gonna come… #postaweek2011

Another week done, and I’m not nearly as far along with my training as I’d like.  I was supposed to have a session with the personal trainer yesterday morning.  I got a call from Tom on Friday night, asking if we could bump the session to Saturday evening.  Because I already had tickets for the Arizona Derby Dames playoff bout, I had to say no.  He’s not in on Sunday or Monday, so it will be Tuesday before I get time in with him.

As much as I like Tom, and as comfortable as I am with his training, this scheduling thing is not working.  I signed up for two hours a week, thinking we could do 1/2 hour sessions, supplemented by cardio on my own.  Tom’s schedule rotates, due to his day job.  this means that he doesn’t have the same times available week to week.

I really need a set schedule.  With Ben back in football, and Isabel working after school, there are only so many days a week I can get to the gym.

The trainers are responsible for making up sessions missed, and I know that Tom feels bad when he has to cancel; but, I’m going to have to make a change.  I’m going to the gym several days a week; but, there’s just an extra motivation there when you are paying for personalized support.

Tomorrow, when I get to the gym, I’m going to stop at the admin desk and discuss this with the management team.  I’m going to have to switch trainers or figure something else out.

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.

Chipping away at excuses #postaweek2011

Why NOT try?

Day 2 of Operation Derby Dame started out a bit slowly, and there *may* have been a creak or two.  My first official day in the gym went well, though I probably started out too eagerly.

When I rolled out of bed this morning, I was pretty stiff.  My thought is that, in addition to getting into better shape overall, I really need to concentrate on my legs, back and rear.  Those are the muscles that will get the most abuse…well, aside from the ones that get tagged, bruised and beaten!  At least, that’s how I remember it from the last time I was on skates.

I do have to admit that there is a potential hitch in this whole derby thing.  The fact that I haven’t been on skates in almost ten years could present a challenge.  I don’t even have skates anymore.

About ten years ago, I bought into the whole roller blade phase.  The problem, for me, is that I live in an area where front yards are primarily gravel or rock.  Those rocks often migrate to the sidewalk, making for a treacherous time.  Nothing like zooming along, filled with a false sense of confidence, only to hit a rock and go flying, arms pinwheeling.  That phase didn’t last too long.

Last night, I was talking to my mother.  She had assumed that derby girls wear roller blades.  When I explained that they wear skates more like what we had growing up, with the 2×2 wheels and the big toe stop, she was excited.  She has a pair that she’d bought a couple of years back.  As we were talking, she went out to her garage, to make sure that my stepdad hadn’t hauled them off to the dump.  She found them!  She said that I could come by and get them any time.

One more excuse down.

Have I mentioned how gung-ho my mother is about my trying out for the derby?  She WANTS a daughter that is on a roller derby team.

My kids are also really into this.  Last night, I took a long walk with my son, Ben.  He’s a football player, and I give him credit…he’s working very hard to get himself into the best shape that he can.  We talked a lot about how it’s not about the number on a scale, and it’s not just about losing weight.  We both agree that we want to be in the best condition that we can, in order to perform at the best level that we are able.  My daughter, Isabel, can’t wait to turn 18, so that she can try out, too.

I am scared.  It’s amazing how, since I’ve mentioned this online and in conversations with the gals in my dental office, how many people know someone who is on a team.  Most people say things like, “I’m too old for derby” or “My friend loves showing off all of her ugly bruises.”  It’s not like I don’t have an amazing, full life.  I have a wonderful husband, two really good kids, dogs, a house, a new hobby with writing/blogging, drawing. 

I know about all of that, and I guess that I really do need to take that into consideration.  But, part of me really wants to try this.  I think that I can do it.  I don’t know how I know.  I just feel it somehow and I’ve never been this certain of anything before.  There have been a few people who have looked at me sideways.  I am just going to have to do this, and prove them wrong.

We just got back from the gym.  On the way there, I was talking to Dave, my husband.  With Ben trying to get into shape correctly, I expressed my concerns about doing this right, as well.  With Dave’s blessing, I sat down at the desk with the gal that manages the personal trainers at the gym.  I said, “I want to be on a roller derby team, and I need help.”  She just about jumped across the desk at me.  She said that one of the women that works there is on a team here in the Valley, too.  With that, we talked about my goals, and I signed up for personal training twice a week.  I told her that I didn’t care if it was a guy or a girl…I just needed someone who was going to kick my ass and get me into fighting shape.

I want to be an example someday.  I want to be the woman who people look at and say, “She didn’t start derby until she was 43, and she’s still going strong.”  I want to give my kids the confidence that you are never too old to start something new or do something that is out of your comfort zone.   I want to look good in a bathing suit!

And one more thing.  If WHEN I make it and get to skate on a team, I am going to get a tattoo.  Nothing outrageous, nothing that can’t be covered up for when I meet with a client.  I will design something that is totally me, and that signifies belief in myself.