The Little Engine That Could

I know i’ve been a little quiet around here lately. It isn’t that I haven’t had much to write about it, it’s that I don’t have the time in which to write. Buying a house and training for a very intense sport does not lend itself to lots of free time. If I’m not headed up to the warehouse for training, I’m running around Lowe’s, gathering items for my newest project. Right now i’m finishing up installing rain barrels, just in time for another drought! I installed a cat door and am trying to get my new front door up as well, and I’ll be buying the first few gallons of paint for this place just as soon as I have a free weekend.

But today I want to talk about derby. I didn’t recap my New Girl training experience because I didn’t want to say too much, but the experience was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. It wasn’t nearly as emotionally draining as that first weekend, but there were a few physical setbacks that were frustrating. My knee inexplicably pulled out of alignment halfway through training (an overdeveloped quad muscle was to blame). As a result, my mid-point evaluation was terrible: just good enough to eek through but nothing to write home about. I did whatever I could to help speed along the healing process, and just as it was on the mend, I took a  hit by a vet at a league practice that sprained a rib. Did you know you could do that?? The impact of my spine on the rail (admittedly my fault for trying to back out of the hit rather than run it out) knocked it out of place, and although it was easy enough for my chiropractor to put it back into place, four weeks later I’m still feeling the pain if I overuse that particular muscle.

So going to extra practices was tricky: I didn’t want to risk a further injury, and i definitely didn’t want to have to sit out in front of league members and look like the New Girl who couldn’t cut it. But I also didn’t want to just not show up and miss the opportunity to hang out with the vets. It was a balancing act, and one I was constantly adjusting to. I had to listen to my body every day; I’ve never been so in tune with myself. There were a few nights after practice I would cry a little in my truck, because I was so frustrated with how my body was holding me back. I just wanted to be able to give it my all and really learn and get better, but I would get hit a certain way or breathe too heavy too long and I’d have to sit out.

Last night was our final evaluation. It was a three-part tryout that left us all exhausted and soaked by the end of it, but I must say: I am prouder of that tryout than any of the others. I did my very best and put it all out there. After each section, as I came off the track, I couldn’t help but think that I was not ashamed of any part; there was nothing I regretted or wanted to do differently. No matter what the results are, I can say I was proud of how I ended it.

I was so nervous when I got to the warehouse, and when we started warming up on the track. My legs were a touch shaky, and my mouth was drying out. I was the third person to go, which I thought would be a bad thing but ended up being rather nice. I gave myself a firm talking to: “You’ve done this a thousand times before. Stop it. You are not new to the track. This is something you CAN do, so just go out there and show them what you’ve shown them in all the other practices. Chin up.” I then proceeded to sing my toughen-up song to myself right before hitting the track in a burpee. And you know what? It worked! Yeah I was still nervous, but I wasn’t incapacitated. I felt in control and like I could handle what I was doing. That’s one of the things I wanted for myself, so if I walk away from this with nothing more than that, I will be content.

This evening I will get a phone call that will determine how much work I get done on my house this summer. I am trying my very hardest to not have any expectations: there are several spots open, but there are also several very talented skaters in my class. I am balancing my good evaluation with my not-as-good last few weeks, and I honestly will not be surprised if it goes either way. I have looked deep inside myself to some fairly raw places, and I am not ashamed of what I saw. I learned that I can grow from hardship, that crying does not admit defeat, that I do not have to buckle under pressure, that I am able. If nothing more, I CAN. And that’s a win-win no matter how you look at it.