In Which Our Heroine Is Encouraged

This was a great weekend for roller derby. We’re not really learning the game just yet (at this level, it’s more like learning to skate), as I haven’t learned how to give or take a hit, and it would be dangerous for us to attempt skating in a pack. However, we have been learning the skills necessary to do those things: skating without lifting your feet up, crossing over, maintaining your balance, and pace lines. We’re working on box turns and backwards skating, as well as being comfortable on one leg, all of which is NERVE-WRACKING and impossible to do if you’re thinking about it. Like everything else about derby, it’s tricks–tricking your brain into not knowing what’s going on long enough to do it. Because your brain does NOT WANT YOU TO TURN AROUND FOR THE LOVE OF GOD STAY STRAIGHT AND STOP ROLLING.

right now, that’s what i’m having the most trouble with. i can skate moderately well backwards. As in–i don’t fall very often but i also am not going very fast and not for very long. i had a mild panic attack at the top of the curve because I could not bring myself to simply roll down the straightaway backwards. Too fast. Not enough control. Dammit brain, shut up. We are trying to be bad-ass and you are RUINING IT FOR US.

Box-turning was almost as bad. Apparently it’s really easy when you’ve got speed, but, OH YEAH I HATE GOING FAST BACKWARDS and why in God’s name would I want to turn around when I’m perfectly fine going this way? Sometimes I question if I’m in the right sport–banked track derby is a game of speed and finesse, which when combined spell trouble for me. But it’s fear, plain and simple.  Derby is a game I can’t think about because then I scare myself. And the only cure for that will come with comfort on my skates and time on the track.

The brilliant thing about it all is that I know that it’s a mental block.. And what’s beautiful about mental blocks is that the day I’m learning the maneuver, it’s impossible.  But  when I climb back on the track the next week, those things that I couldn’t do the week before come as naturally as if I’d been doing it my whole life. Happened with stepping up the track, and slaloming. We worked on “drunken sailor” skating this week, and I’m hoping magic is worked again because that was NOT EASY.  And it would be super nice if I could show up next week and box turn.

but all hope is not lost, readers.

there is hope on the horizon. my trainer Lacy (also known as Gandalf), really gave me a huge boost of confidence. she really talked through some of the more difficult drills with me and gave me the answers my cerebral-skatin’ self needed. BUT THEN she pulled me to the back of our pace line because it was “fast to fastest” and I’ll admit it–I was hard pressed to not do a little jig.

I stuck around for about an hour after my class just to watch the Level 2 girls skate (because they are already so much better than my class) and she came off the track, UNASKED, just to answer any questions I might have about their blocking drills. It was intensely flattering, plus she encouraged me to follow through with the Level 2 boot camp AND tryouts in March (with the understanding that it would probably be for experience only). But I don’t care if I have to wait until next fall to get into the new girl training league, the point is that SHE believes I can do it. SHE sees potential in me, sees that I am working and training and pushing myself. I’m not giving up. I’m the first girl there and the last one to leave. I am watching documentaries, youtube videos, and movies about derby, to understand the culture and motivation all these other women have for it. I know the history of TXRD, I ask questions about applicability of skills, I’m watching every move she makes. I want to KNOW this. I want to DO this. And I think they’re noticing.

I’m pushing myself harder and with more commitment than I’ve ever done before. Because derby is keeping me motivated, pushes me to work out and train for maximum effect.  I want to do every squat and lunge in Bodypump, because I know it’s only going to make me faster and stronger. I’m taking the extra time to do additional weights for my legs–the adduction and abduction machines, leg presses and ham curls. Extended stretching sessions for flexibility, morning piyo for core strength. Every day, I’m hungry to prove I can do this, hungry to get that much further ahead in the game. It’s a race against every bad decision I’ve made for 26 years, a race to see who will win–the lazy side of me or the  I want to make sure I’m putting every effort into this. I can’t get low enough to do that fall? Fine, I’ll squat until I can. Trouble with that single-knee recovery? Then I will lunge until it doesn’t hurt. I’m definitely noticing a difference in my endurance, that’s for sure. By skating laps as much as I can during the week, at warm-up on saturday mornings I’ve noticed I can go longer and stronger. I have never been more proud of myself than when I come home on Saturday afternoon and decide to never move again. 

Derby has also changed the way I’m eating. I’m keeping a close eye on my proteins & good fats while trying to minimize carbs (such as beloved breads and white pastas) and sweets. Up with veggies! Yogurt for breaky! Eating protein directly after an intense workout. It’s actually been much easier to say no to the candy in the office because the whole time I’m thinking, that’s not going to do me any good in training or endurance. And most of the time, I’m not even hungry–still full from my nutritious meals. Since Jon is so good at understanding anaerobic thresholds and how to recover from a hard workout, he’s been my recovery-meal expert. I am happy to report, my BLT with avocado (or, BALT) is considered perfect recovery food.

It’s a high to realize I can do this if I just keep my focus. I know that’s something I’ve struggled with for a long time–Zumba’s the longest I’ve ever managed to stick with a workout routine. But this is more than a workout class to pass the time. This is a lifestyle, a change from the soft to the hard, from the pudgy and sore to hard and hungry. And it’s about damn time.



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