Freshie 3: Off Skates Edition

Sorry if you came here expecting to see how Kerry was going to handle the approaching Lisa on the last lap of the last race of Samhain, but you’re gonna have to wait until tomorrow to see that, ’cause I’m goin’ roller derby on your butts.  That’s because I’ve been sitting on this footage for just over a week and I need to talk about what went down because–well, that’s how I am, yeah?

This was my third freshie practice, 11 July, 2017, and right off the bat you’ll notice something different in this intro:

 

The foot is bothering me a little still:  Monday I would manage about five to ten laps before I had to skate to the side and shake off the pain, and after taking a good fall and feeling some stabbing pain shoot up my leg, I sat out the last twenty minutes of practice.  But I’ll be back tonight.

Panzer–she of the broken wrist–was coaching as our usual freshie coach, Ida, was off celebrating an anniversary.  Present were Rachel, Laura, Ashley, Erica, and Gwen, and while I didn’t do a lot besides stand on the side of the track and film, I did manage to help out at the end.  You’ll see.

First up is something I wanted to do for a while.  With the GoPro camera in hand I set it atop Laura’s helmet and let her film what it’s like to skate in a pack and do things like weave in and out while doing pull throughs and bumps.  At times it gets a little shaky because it’s hard to keep one’s head still, particularly when you’re going around and ’round in circles.  So, if you were curious about what it’s like for us to do this, now you get an idea.

 

Because I had my camera on the side of the rink filming as well, here’s how that all looked from the outside.  Because this was a long video, it was necessary to cut it in two:

 

After removing the GoPro from Laura’s helmet I strapped it to my own head and filmed as the freshie went around the track practicing bumping each other.  We can’t use our hands to push people away, which means we use our shoulders and hips for that.  I tried to follow the pack as they did this:

 

And the camera on the side of the rink caught the same action:

 

While everyone began working on their own things, I decided to talk a little about skating the diamond, which is something you learn to do whenever you’re on the track, particularly if you’re doing your 27/5.

 

Now comes blocking and jamming.  This is pretty much the game right here:  three blockers–and a pivot–working to keep a single jammer–the person who scores points–from getting through.  The three blockers here are going into a tripod, because it’s like three legs, right?  The idea for the jammer is to get a hip and/or shoulder in between a couple of blockers and break up the tripod, while the blocker’s job is to prevent that and keep that jammer from getting past the jam.  It’s a lot of fun and a lot of work, and the blockers require communications with each other at all times, ’cause the moment that jammer moves to their left or right, you want everyone in the tripod to know.

I should point out that I’ve missed three of these blocker/jammer practices.  I won’t miss a fourth.

 

And lastly…  it was time to practice plowing and a great way to do that is to be pushed and pulled and let the plowing person set up resistance for the person doing the pulling/pushing.  Since there were an odd number of freshies in the rink, I offered to work with Gwen, since I didn’t need to be on skates to push or plow.  I took it slow as I didn’t want to cause her to put up too much resistance, but by the end she said her thighs were burning, which is something that has happened to all of us.

 

We are learning more and more with every practice, and of late we’ve done more practice with the vets our on Monday/Wednesday night practices so we can do more advanced things.  We are approaching some interesting times–

I do hope I can keep up.

On the Thin Ice of A New Day

And if you know your Jethro Tull–and I can hear some of you going “Who?” right now–you know the first part of this title is Skating Away, and that should be all the hint you need for where this post is going.

Last night was not only the only practice of the week, but it was my first chance to try out my new gear.  All this new shinny gear that doesn’t smell and isn’t faintly moist with the sweat of a dozen or so people before me.

Now, I didn’t have everything I wanted:  the elbow pads I wanted did not come yesterday so I have to pick them up Saturday, which meant using the fresh meat gear in the back.  But everything else was mine, mine, mine…  yeah, I was a bit excited to get out on the rink.

And about a minute after I hit the floor I was feeling like I wanted to get of.

Let’s be real for a moment:  when you imagine yourself skating about in your own gear you see all the best.  You got speed, you got your crossovers and transitions and toe stops down, and you can backward skate like a demon.

That’s the fiction:  here’s the reality.  You kinda suck at first.  You’re all over the place–or I was–and I felt like I was back on skates for the first time in a long time, just as I did when I first came out for the team in May.  I was told it would take about a week to get everything broke in, and I can believe that.

What’s so different?  For one, you feel like you’re setting back a little on these new skates.  That’s because the heel isn’t as pronounced as on rentals, so it feels a little off-putting at first.  Then there’s the front wheels:  they’re loose.  Being loose helps you do those quick turns and weaves that you need in derby.

Only mine were too loose.  And since my left ankle isn’t real strong yet, my left skate kept wanting to turn to the right and left all the time.  Like when I was trying to skate straight.  Or when I was going into the corner and it decided to go right instead of left.  Or when I was doing a lot of things that involved moving.  I gave my wheels a bit of tightening, but I fear I’ll need to tighten them up a little more tonight so I can get used to them faster.  And once I reach that point I can loosen them little by little until they are where I need them to be.

The trade-off, however, was I could turn tight and fast, and I could weave with little difficulty, and transitioning and laying down a toe stop was a breeze.  I even did my first decent plow and T-stop last night.

But the thing I noticed most is they are fast.

There is so much less friction now that you can roll long without having to put a lot of energy into your pushes.  Which is why when we were doing weaves I had to keep plowing to slow up when I was at the front of the line:  I’m used to pushing a certain way and that gets me going quicker than before.  Learning to slow my roll is gonna take as much work as going fast.

In the end I made it through practice–

–and I was smiling for most of the way home.  Of course my shoulders were screaming by the time I reached my apartment–I had one good fall and that goes right up the arms into the shoulder joints–but ice packs and ibuprofen were made to help with that pain, so don’t deny your body that luxury.

Going to try a new restaurant tonight, then a few more days of rest before getting back into it on Monday and Tuesday.

Maybe by the end of the month I’ll be able to work on going faster…

Freshie 2: Electric Boogaloo

Just wait:  I’m not even ready to get into Roller Boogie jokes yet.

I may have dug deep to get the title of today’s post, but freshie practice on last Tuesday was anything but stale.  We got into a whole lot of different things and I’m going to show them off for you below.  Because that’s the sort of person I am.

First off, you get a couple of intros.  The first one is just me doing a date and time stamp and you get to see me remove my pink mouth guard, which should be exciting.  Or not.  Probably more along the lines of not.  You’ll notice when I skate away that my right bra strap is twisted and likely stayed that way the entire night.  I hadn’t realized that was the case until I actually watched this video.

 

And here’s the second half:

 

Now we get into the skating fundamentals.  We do eleven minutes of Sprint and Skate, which is skate as quickly as you can for one minute, then sort of coast along for another minute.  It allows you to work on your form as well as figure out how to get around the track as quickly as possible.

On this recording and others you’ll notice four little yellow markers on the track–and I should point out, most of the time when we skated we stayed inside what would be the regulation derby track.  At the beginning of this tape Ida shows us how to “skate the diamond”, which is the fastest way around the derby track.  As Ida points out, if you skate the diamond correctly, you’ll do crossovers around the track the whole way.  So throughout this video you’ll see everyone trying to get as close to each one of those markers as possible.

I’m easy to pick out: I set up on the left side of the video and I’m wearing gray workout leggings and a blue sports bra.

 

Now we play fetch the ball, which is designed to help us learn how to squat and pick up things while moving.  You may not think this is important, but during our last match in Youngstown our jammer lost her pantie–  Okay, let me explain that:

There are three positions in derby: jammer, blocker, and pivot.  Blockers are pretty easy to figure out so no need to go into a detailed explanation there other than there are three of them. The the jammer is the person who scores points for your team.  They set up behind the blockers and the pivot and when the whistle blows it’s their job to get through the pack.  The first time allows refs to determine who is the lead jammer–the person who actually controls the jam. That means they can allow it to go on as long as they like or they can and it whenever they feel it’s necessary.  Once they get to the pack the first time, anyone they pass from the opposing team after that scores a point for their team–and that includes any opposing team members sitting in the penalty box.  The pivot (and this is my understanding) can control the actions of the other three blockers and can actually become the jammer so that a team can take control of the lead.

The jammer and the pivot wear what is known as a pantie: an elastic cover that goes over there helmet.  The jammer pantie has a big star on each side, while the pivot pantie has a stripe down the middle.  When the pivot takes over as the jammer, the jammer hands over her pantie and the pivot puts it on.  See how simple that is?

So getting back to what was said the first time: during one jam our jammer lost her pantie, which you wouldn’t think is a big deal except a jammer can only score points when she’s wearing her pantie.  So she had to come around the track and, while still skating, squat down and retrieve the pantie.  Needless to say, it’s not a good idea to come to a complete stop and bend over to pick this thing up–not if you don’t want to get hip checked right off the track.

So that’s what we’re learning here: how to squat and pick up while still moving.  Kinda.  You can see a lot of falling down, me included.  You will also notice I’ve got the bending over part down pat, but I cannot squat for shit.  I know; I gotta work on that.

 

Now comes the real fun…

After we finished with their first two things Ida said she was going to have us do our 27/5s so she could get an idea of where we were as far as the starting benchmark.  What is the 27/5?  This is something needed for certification and it’s something every skater hates.

It’s simple: you skate 27 laps in 5 minutes.  If you need to work that out, it’s 11 seconds per lap, or 5.4 laps per minute.  It may not sound like a big deal, but it is, and it can actually be a bit torturous for some people. Actually, it can be a bit torturous for everyone.

We went in three groups of two.  Below is the first group.  Steff sets up on the left side of the track and does the best out of all of us, nearly breaking the five minute mark.  She also has the best form and does crossovers constantly through her skate.  You’ll clearly hear Ida give her time at the end of this video.  Ashley, the woman who set up on right side of the track, did 21 1/2 laps.

 

So we come to mine… I skated with Erica who gave me one good piece of advice: whatever you do, don’t stop, just keep going.  I had heard from reading that stopping during a 27/5 is really frowned upon, so this is one of those instances where you fall back on the Two Rules of Roller Derby, particularly paying attention to Rule #2.

I set up on the right side of the track.  On my first lap I bobble badly twice and you’ll see them clearly.  My form is really kinda crap, which at this point is to be expected.  But I make it all the way through and you hear my exclamations several times leading up to the end of this video, where I come up to the camera and tell you how I did.  Erica did 18 1/2 laps.

 

And right here we have the last set.  I’m over on the right side of the track timing, which is a lot easier to do than skating these things.  Both Jackie and Tara ended up with 21 1/2 laps, if I remember correctly. If not, I’ll be corrected and I’ll fix this.

 

And for the last event of the evening, we do toe stops.  These are simple to do: you skate forward, do a 180 transition, and go up on either one or both toes to bring yourself to a stop.  After bringing yourself to a stop we’re supposed to skate backwards, but you will notice I have a problem with that–as in I couldn’t.  But I am getting that.

You’ll notice I manage a one foot toe stop pretty well and towards the end I even managed to do both feet.  It’s not easy doing these on rentals, but if I stick to my schedule I won’t need to do them on rentals much longer.

 

After all the skating we went off to the side and did about twenty minutes of stretching. Yes, we do a lot of stretching: we had some at the beginning and we do a lot at the end.  As I’ve said before–and even joked about it during practice–it’s like were training for sport. And we are.  There’s so many things you have to know how to do before you ever allowed to get out of the course with the ladies and, in some instances, put on that jammer pantie.  And this is why we have practices every other Tuesday for the fresh meat (which is what we’re actually called), because it gives us an opportunity to work on her fundamentals without taking away track time from the vets.

Which means I’m not only looking forward to our next freshie practice on 11 July, but I’m also wondering what I’m going to use for the title of that post…