Today we learned our first block–the elbow block. Apparently Polly is famous for this: it was impossible to get around her when she threw this block. And it’s trickier than it seems–I kept wanting to use it to push myself off my partner, as opposed to slamming my upper arm into her solar plexus. Luckily I partnered with Tasha, who was in New Girl Training for a bit and is more than willing to teach a girl what she knows. She always gives me bits of advice, and is very encouraging when I’m working through a difficulty. She showed me how to deflect a block, the best way to throw it, and let me throw more than she did. She gave me good usable advice, as did my next partner, Erika, who’s a scrappy ex-New Girl too. Get to the side but more to the front of them–they are in YOUR space, so make them move back with that elbow. Throw it out there and commit. Good stuff to remember.
But it was an off day. I had pizza and too much hard cider Friday night, so my system was feeling clogged up and run down. It’s amazing to me that just six weeks after giving up gluten/grains I can tell so easily that I’ve cheated. I also didn’t go in to the warehouse until right before class started, so I didn’t warm up much, and ended up doing a very painful slide because the cold floors+ cold wheels= loss of control. It was the very first time climbing onto the track seemed like more than something I wanted to do. It was not a pleasant feeling.
The worst part, however, was when we were practicing our stepping up/down the track. I have GOT THIS, except that on Saturday, I didn’t. Off. So off. Kept using my toe-stops, kept losing my balance and doing the torso shuffle. I got frustrated with myself for not managing to nail it, ESPECIALLY as I had really mastered it at bootcamp last weekend. But I just reminded myself to breathe and tried to refocus, and told myself it was an off day so I should just accept it and move on, as opposed to being all dramatic, even internally. Everyone sucks sometimes.
I felt better after we had warmed up and stretched. We did some clock-wise skating around the track, which is the opposite direction and can be quite unsettling. Everything you’ve learned gets thrown out the window, which is the point, I suppose. It just feels unnatural to be leaning the other way, and trying to do a crossover was out. of. the. question.
We also did some backwards skating, and I always appreciate getting some backward time on the banked track. The only problem is that some of my classmates aren’t quite used to it yet, so it was difficult at times to maneuver around them. Of course, I’m sure there were several others who thought the same of me. It’s all relative, I suppose. I was really loving that I’m finally getting to the point where I can actually use the box turn to transition from forwards to backwards skating, which is, you know, the ENTIRE POINT. I’m feeling more confident on my feet–I’m not thinking about them most of them time anymore, which is helpful when we’re doing pack work.
I’m just gonna be honest and say it though: I don’t want to be a blocker. I want to be a jammer. There is something in me that just wants to make my way through the pack. I don’t want to be hunkered down in it. I understand that’s part of being a team player–I can’t jam every time. But I feel like that’s where my strength lies–I’ve got speed and I’m good at getting past people. That’s how I see myself–star panty on my helmet.
All that being said, when we did our pack work, and practiced using the elbow block as a way to maneuver through, I really tried to use that time to improve. That’s one of the 3 rules of a good practice: don’t waste your time. If I’m going to pay good money for this class and spend my time here instead of sleeping, I might as well use it to my advantage. If I don’t need instruction for the moment, I want to make sure I’m focusing my energy on something I DO need to work on. So I tried to work on my in-pack communication, filling the holes, skating closer to the others, plow stopping to keep pace or “packing up” the back, and slaloming instead of striding. I’m learning just how much I need to sit down into it, or my lower back is gonna suffer long-term, so that means more (and longer!) squats.
(Sorry if it’s a lot of jargon. I’m trying to get it right so that I can keep an accurate journal of my Derby journey. These entries are more for me than for you.)
Blerg. By the time practice ended, I was finally comfortable in my skates and ready for REAL training. I guess I just got a slow start, and that taught me more in one morning than I could have imagined: eat & drink properly, show up early to warm up, and always be willing to climb on the track.