Freshie 9: Number Nine, Number Nine

Yeah, had to get that Beatles reference in that for the title, doncha know?

Last Tuesday was my freshie practice and something of a special day.  Why is it a special day?  I tell you in the intro:

 

Now, you’ve seen push drills before, but this one I liked because I was really moving along well the whole time.  I started getting a little back soreness at the end but it’s not that bad that I can’t finish what I do.  While I’m not quite able to keep up with the OG, I like getting the speed on here.

 

The 27/5 keeps coming up from me a lot and there’s reasons for that: it’s like the Golden Fleece of the Derby World: once you do it you never have to worry about it again.  Ida wanted Sam and me to skate our and while I was feeling a bit tired from the previous night’s practice, when the coach tells you to do something, you make it happen.

It was not, however, my finest hour.  I start out okay and even managed to do half-ass crossovers around the track as I skate the diamond–and I was hitting it almost perfectly.  It’s just that on Lap 3, as I go into Turn 3, I lose it big time.  From what the video shows it looks like my leg buckled because I wasn’t maintaining a good form, and I just did a baseball slide into Turn 4.  From the time I started to fall to the time I’m back on my skates is ten seconds and I figure the fall screwed by time by thirty to forty seconds.  However, my time of 6:18 was good enough for almost 22 laps, which is what I’ve skated before, so I figure without the fall I’d have made 24 laps.  Closer and closer every time.

Sam was up after me and as you can see, she has great form.  She also skated a 5:25, so when she builds up her speed a bit and gets her form right, she’s gonna beat a 27/5 like it was committing a crime.  It’s all each of us want to do.

 

After that skating to a back seat to rules.  Registered Curse, a ref who lives nearby and comes over to help now and then, stopped by to go over some of the rules of derby.  We first start out leaning about the pack: what makes one, what doesn’t, and how you can find your zone of engagement.  This is important because it lets you know when and where you can score and hit people.  It also lets you know why, when you go to a bout, refs are yelling, “No Pack” and “Pack is Here”.  This is why.

You’ll need to listen closely: I didn’t mic Curse and we have to deal with open spaces and background sounds.  But you can hear her.

 

Part Two of Registered Curse’s Rules of Derby involved going over where you can hit another place and what parts of your body you can use to hit.  She also goes over what constitutes a cut track and how to get a misconduct call made again you, which I help out with from off-camera.  We had to deal with a lot of background sounds here as the men’s roller hockey was on the track and they were being supper loud with their slap shots.

 

Lastly we go off-skates and Curse shows us the ins and outs of block, starting off with something I’m bad at doing–as she points out–the clockwise block.  She also shows a stop block and tells out the quickest ways of getting kicked the hell off the track, which does happen from time to time.

 

There you go: nine freshie practices, nine different things going on each time.  The next one, next Tuesday, is my tenth, which means I’ll have twenty weeks of freshie practice under my belt.

It won’t be long before six months done is here–

Freshie 8: Pretty Great

It’s been a week, which means it’s time to talk about the last freshie practice, which was Tuesday, 19 September, 2017.  And as you’re gonna see, we had a whole lot happening.

First off, it’s not video time without me having something to say at the start:

 

Now, this skate around.  About the only reason I include this here is because we had a lot of people show up last Tuesday night. This is due to old and new freshies being together for the first time since recruitment night.  So suddenly your practice goes from sparse to looking like you’re working out in the middle of a bout.

 

Then comes the pyramid sprints.  My partner, Sarah, and I just happened to set up where you can clearly see us while we work together.  Sarah is one of the freshest of freshies, and I’m helping keep track of laps and stuff.  I’m getting better getting up speed and keeping it, so give me a few more weeks and I should start burning up the track.

 

At this point we start doing backwards skating.  Let me remind everyone that four months ago I had never skated backward, so I consider it an accomplishment to be able to do this now, if only for a short time. I’m also getting to where I can skate backwards and talk to someone to give them instruction, which is a great thing.

 

Ida decided to run a few 27/5s that night, and Ashly was one of those picked–maybe it has something to do with Blade saying the night before she’d tell Ida to put Ashly on the track.  Jackie was picked to fill out the other side of the track, so while Ida timed Ashly, I set up behind her and timed Jackie.

Both women actually did pretty well.  I’m not sure about Ashly’s exact numbers, but Jackie managed 24 laps in just a fraction of a second over five minutes and did 27 laps in 5:38.  Take away the few stumbles they both had and 27/5s are in their sights.

 

The other two 27/5s were performed by the freshest of freshies, so I’m not certain of their names.  Let’s just say that the woman I’m timing on the right side of the screen did one of the ugliest skates I’ve ever witnessed, and yet she did 24 laps in 5 minutes as well.  As Ida and I told her–and you can hear it near the end of this video–when she gets her form down she’s gonna kill her 27/5.

 

After that we did some side-to-side work, along with people coming up and talking into the camera, because that’s what we do from time to time.

 

And lastly we have the Scary Monster.  I’ll just let Ida explain:

 

There we are: more freshies, more fun.  And more work.  We’re always working.

Always.

Freshie 7: The Almost Magnificent Seven

Sure, it’s been a week since I did this practice and shot this video, but hey:  life gets in the way, right?  That life included more practice and a lot of depression, but I got through both for the most part.

Anyway, with this being my seventh freshie practice the movie The Magnificent Seven comes to mind, which means the movie The Seven Samurai also comes to mind as that’s the movie The Magnificent Seven was based upon.  While there were seven of us–at least–I would say we weren’t quite as magnificent as the characters in those movies, but we did our best.

And while there were seven of us, only five were skating:  Tara was down with a concussion and Laura had a bad tummy, which kept her off skates but didn’t keep her away from mischief, as you’ll see.  That left Kiley, Erica, Mary, and myself to do practice with Ida.  Like I said, seven of us.

First up is my intro, which doesn’t say much, but it’s me yacking to the camera.  So gotta do it, right?

 

That leads into push drills, 2 to 5 to 2, with Kiley and Erica as one group and Mary and me as the other.  As you’ll see Group 1 sorta crashed and burned at one point, while I had to bail from Group 2 for a few laps because my back was locking up.  While this was going on Ida decided that she wanted to attempt a 27/5, ’cause when she certified she only needed to do a 25/5 and she wanted to get it done.  Needless to say she did her 27/5 with seconds to go, so I guess this means she can stay a coach.  🙂

 

Then we skated around the track and every time the whistle blew we had to transition 180 degrees and do a toe stop, then head off in the direction we were facing.  You’re going to hear a lot of Whooing going on in this video: that’s Mary doing a tornado every so often (spinning around 360 degrees) before coming to a stop.  I’ve already suggested her derby name be Tornado Whooie.

You’ll also notice I fall down a few times.  Yeah, get used to seeing that.

 

Now we get into some pain–and I do mean that.  The idea here was to sprint to a couple of sets of cones and plow to a stop.  Since I can’t plow for shit right now, most of the time I just blow through the cones.  Then when we get to the far wall we were to plow or use our toe stops to, you know, stop, and sprint all the way back.  If you watch this you’ll see me not only fall down (I think the fourth time), but the first time, maybe the second, it looks like I kind of shake all over.  That’s because I started thinking about which way I should turn to stop and by the time I did manage an “Oh, shit!” stop, I slammed into the wall with my back and shoulders.  Not a lot of fun.

Now, you can’t see it, but around the 5:30 point you’ll hear shout of pain from me.  That’s because Laura, who needed something to do, decided to throw a hand full of floor cones at me and they made a bee line right for my crotch.  While things don’t work down there the way they used to, getting hit in my lady parts can sting like a bitch and did.  Not only that, but I had to get up and skate to the end and back.  Yeah, not fun.

 

Last but not least we did T stops and drunken sailors, which involves slowing brings one leg over the other as you balance on one foot.  You’ll see me fall down a couple of times and by now I was getting a bit frustrated not being able to pull this off as well as I would have liked.  In fact we did these again the next night and I found it necessary to have a two minute cry-out because of said frustration.

 

There you have it:  seven practices down and another five weeks to go before freshie practice 10 rolls up.

I hope I’m not slamming into walls by then.

Freshie 6: Big Freshie Six

I know:  most people checking in thought they were gonna find out what happened to Annie and Kerry as soon as Coraline arrived at the ICU.  And I had fully planed on presenting that excerpt, except…  well, I’ve been sitting on this video for a week and yesterday I thought it would be a good idea to get off my ass and edit it for proper consumption between watching episodes of The Defenders.  By the way, while I know Jessica Jones is a fictional character, I want to kanoodle with Krysten Ritter in the worse way.  And she knits and crochets as well, so she’s got that going for her.

So you’re gonna get that excerpt tomorrow.  Today you get my look at my last freshie practice, where I have dipped into the Disney for the title, though unfortunately I don’t come off at all looking like Go Go:  I’m more like Honey Lemon ’cause I have a big purse and science is my thing.  But I need to get this out because after a week I cannot sit on it any longer.

As always it’s have video, will travel, and I was set up.  This came the night after a totally ass busting cardio session and everyone was feeling it–something I allude to in the intro below–

Introduction:

 

We did a quick thirty laps of cardio, though mine weren’t fast.  I was last off the track and suffering from a lot of back pain.  I mentioned in my last derby post that Shux said my posture was bad and I was “tits over skates” a bit, and that can lead to a bit of back pain, so tonight I’ll do what I can to get that posture right.  That and work on my core, which is gonna help.

So…  for a while I’ve been anticipating we’d do another 27/5 (skate twenty-seven lap in five or fewer minutes) and sure enough, that was the first hour of the night.  With six of us ready to do one, it was time to get two skaters on the track at the same time and let us have at it.  Panzer timed one skater and I timed the other, and unlike the first time everyone did five laps and got their final time after it was over.

First up were Laura and Jackie.  Both have done this before so it wasn’t unknown territory to either.  And having done this before you know what sort of hell awaits, so you just suck it up and go at it.  For reference, Laura is on the left side of the screen being timed by me and Jackie is being timed by Panzer.

27/5 One: Laura and Jackie.

 

Next up were Ashly (or is it Sarah?) and Mary.  This was Mary’s first time at only her second freshie practice, much like what happened with me, but Mary is in a hell of a lot better shape than I was when I did my first 27/5.  For reference I timed Ashly on the left side, and Panzer timed Mary on the right.

27/5 Two: Ashly and Mary.

 

A long last it was my turn and, like the first time, I did mine with Erica on the other side of the track.  The first time I did this I wore rentals so I anticipated I’d do better on my own skates:  in fact, it was my goal to break at least 20 laps in five minutes.  And I knew I could do it.  I just knew it.

Annnnnnd…  well, watch for yourselves.  Erica’s starting on the left, I’m on the right.

27/5 Three: Erica and me.

 

*Sigh*

My final time was 7:18 for 27 laps, and it was all I could do to keep from melting down.  I didn’t improve at all:  I managed only 18 laps in that time, which was the same thing I did on rental eight weeks earlier.  For a bit there I felt like a certain incestuous drunk queen stripped naked and forced to march through a angry screaming crowd.  With my teammates around me I felt like I was on my own Skate of Shame and all I needed was a nun with a bell…

 

I did meltdown later: it was Crying Time all the way on the drive from the rink to the apartment, and I don’t hide that fact.  This was probably one of the most ego-shattering moments I’ve ever experienced and it almost got me to the point where I wanted to quit.

Almost.

See, there are two rules in Derby.  Let me show you:

 

Yeah, you just don’t walk away because you had a bad night.  You think about what you did wrong and work on making it right.  I heard from a number of my teammates in the aftermath of this 27/5 and they had their own horror stories about their own struggles to certify, so as I said on my Facebook wall, I’m not the last derby woman to cry over a bad practice and I certainly won’t be the last.

It’s all about getting up and doing it all again.  And doing it better next time.

In relation to this–I did some checking on my skate due to something I was told early Wednesday morning, and after some research I’m taking a different track on my hardware.  Let me just say, setting up your skates for optimal performance is not all that different from setting up a race car for a track.  Good thing I know how to do that…

Enough of this sobby bullshit.  Onward.

We did a lot of 180 transitions and toe stops.  Sort of working at our own speed.  I’ve had to cut this into two parts because the video was too big unedited to upload to YouTube–and I had four of my teammates–Erica, Ashly, Mary, and Jackie–decide to leave a message.  It’s the last minute of this first one if you just wanna jump to the end.

Start of transitions/toe stops:

 

And here we have the end of the Great Transition/Toe Stop practice, one where I spent a good deal of it on the far side of the rink talking to Panzer about stuff… and things.

The End:

 

One thing I learned from these two videos is that I’m far too timid on those transitions.  I need to get a little more speed behind me before I turn and stop, because you may not be inching along on the track in the middle of a jam, right?  Right.  You know it.

You might say, however, well, what if you are zipping along and you fall?  Isn’t it gonna hurt?  Answer:  yeah, it likely will.  But guess what?  It’s not about falling–

It’s about how fast you get back up.

Packin’ and Attackin’

My last practice was Wednesday night and while it wasn’t freshie practice–I’m still editing that video–we still got things done.  A lot of things.  Like things that made us sweat a lot.

Because of injuries and work related stuff going on Wednesday was mostly a Freshie event.  And we had four guest come up from York to get a bit of a work out as well:  Awe Shux, Not Amanda, Grimm Scarytales, and Rock N Rose.  You gotta love the names, am I right?  One day I’m gonna start calling myself by one of these names and you’re gonna go, who?  That’s for a ways down the line, however.

What did we do?  Pace line  and pack work, tripod/jammer practice, and a jammer practice where everyone played blocker and everyone got a chance to be the jammer.  For this last I do not have video, however, as I hit the mode button at one point and switched my GoPro over to time exposure mode, so I ended up with like 140 pictures which were unusable.  But I did get video of everything else.

Tripod practice you’ve seen before, but in our little group everyone had to play jammer at least once.  No need to get out the big girl’s panties–the star pantie for our helmets–because with four of us in a group it was pretty easy to tell who was blocking and who wasn’t.  Maybe the next time when we get a little crazier we’ll be geared correctly, but this night–nope, not necessary.

You’re gonna notice I talk in these videos.  I talk a lot.  When you’re bracing it’s your job to know where the jammer is and tell your other two blockers her location so they can react.  A tripod that doesn’t communicate is one that’s gonna let the jammer by every time.

But I’m yacking a lot.  I’m getting good with knowing what I’m doing wrong due to rules and a couple of times I’ll stop and say what I did wrong and we’ll reset and go at it again.  The more you understand what you’re doing wrong, the more you can fix those things and not do them.

Tripod Practice 01:

 

And after some yacking we finish up:

Tripod Practice 02:

 

This was something new to try.  It’s a pack weave, only you’re close to a person on your left or right.  And I mean close:  we reach over and touch each other’s thighs to keep it tight.  The idea was as you move through the pack you get used to being right on top of someone else, which may happen when you’re blocking.  For this I was with Ah Shux and we talk back a forth a little.  You’ll hear her say that she was about to correct by posture because I was leaning over.  As we sometimes say–and I do in the video–proper position is “butt back, tits up”, which is to say you bend your knees and put your butt back like you’re going to see, but you keep your torso upright and your head looking straight ahead.  As Shux told me later, I was getting “tits over skates”, which is leaning forward, and that’s not something you want to do because it’s easier to fall that way if you take a hit.

Us Derby Women:  we have the best language.

Hip to Hip Weaving:

 

This was something else we’ve never done before and it’s also a little different.  We stayed in a pack and as our name was called we were given a place in the pack to go, after which we were expected to go there.  The idea again was to get us used to moving quickly in a pack while said pack is going down the track.  The best you can do this, the better you can play the game.

Pack Movement:

 

There you go.  And maybe tomorrow I’ll have the last freshie video ready to go–

And expose my shame.

Working Through the HARD Times

Remember how I may have mentioned that I was sore Tuesday?  Yeah, that was due to Monday night practice that worked out butts off.  At the time I thought I couldn’t feel any worse–

That’s because I hadn’t went through Wednesday night’s practice.

Of late the practice work has stepped up.  We were told Monday night that we’re going to start working a little harder so us fresh meat can get better at what we’re doing.  And by getting better, that means we can play faster.  Given that a lot of the stuff we’ve stared doing involves scrimmaging–playing blockers against jammers–it doesn’t take a great leap of faith to see what’s happening.

Last night was a lot of cardio and line work.  I mean like a lot of line work:  there were about a dozen of us to do pull throughs and we averaged about a lap and a half for every person to wing through the whole line.  For pull throughs we went three times, so a lap and a half times twelve times three is fifty-four laps, plus we did hip checks which we did twice each for another thirty-six laps, with our at-the-start pyramid sprints adding another nineteen laps for a total of approximately one hundred and nine laps–

Before we got to scrimmage.

Oh, and we ended the night skating forty laps in a pack, so it’s a good bet we did between one hundred and forty-five to one hundred and fifty laps last night.  When you figure we likely skated about one hundred and ninety feet per laps, we covered a distance of about 5.4 miles, or 8.7 km.  Yeah, lots of skating.

Now, about this scrimmaging…

We were once again working on bridging much like we did the Wednesday before.  However, we weren’t quite as sharp as we were that night and things were a bit more disorganized as in we didn’t hit our marks the way we did that first night.  When I blocked I didn’t do as well, but that may have been due to being tied by that time.  I went down more than a few times and had people wiz by me in an eye blink.

But I was also jamming and I did a little better.  Well, I did great against the freshies.  In fact I have video.  In this case there are three freshies on the track and one veteran OG player.  So getting through wasn’t bad.  Oh, and need I mention:  there’s some swearing.  Yeah, it happens.

The Good Jamming.

 

But with the good comes the not-so-good, and a bit later I was pitted against three OGs and a freshie and the vets kinda showed me what it was like to be a jammer having to move a little over five hundred pounds of women who don’t want to move:

The Hard Jamming

 

Notice I was either knocked down or went out of bounds, or both, and came at the pack four times, huffing and puffing like crazy the whole time.  I figured I skated about three hundred and fifty feet and likely pushed the pack around for about a third of that distance.  When I stopped at the end I had nothing left:  I was getting light headed and things were going a little gray.  I didn’t think about it at the time–mostly because I was damning myself for stopping–but those claps at the end were for going back even when it was obvious I was tired.  Sometimes that’s what it’s all about–

Though when we were leaving one of the refs stopped, looked at me, and went, “Don’t quit!”  I don’t know if she meant don’t quit on the track or don’t quit what I’m doing–

Maybe I’ll just do the same for both.

Freshie 5: Still Alive

Yeah, you knew I was gonna go with this title.  And if you didn’t, you don’t know me well, do you?

Tuesday, 8 August, was my fifth Freshie practice, and there was a full house this time.  In addition to Rachel, Laura, Erica, Ashley, Jackie, me, and Coach Ida, my political protesting friend Mary decided she had to try out this derby thing after watching HARD go at it a couple of days earlier.  I think she’s hooked, but we’ll see how it plays out over time.

Unlike the practice we had the next night, we freshies worked on a lot of pace line work.  There were hip and shoulder checks, but a new drill we undertook for the first time involved two people coming up from the back , skating to the front on either side of the line, and then trying to force one or the other out once they arrived at the front.  It made for some interesting outcomes and, in one instance, comedy on my behalf.

Because of the size of the original video I had to cut this into three parts–

Pace Line 01.

 

Pace Line 02

 

Pace Line 03

 

I also took some Go Pro video of what some of this looked like from my point of view.  I thought I had more, but it turned out for about 10 minutes of pace line shooting my camera was looking more at the ceiling than the people in front of me.  So this is all you get from that.  This was shot during the last pace line video seen above.

Pace Line Go Pro.

 

Now, about that comedy…  If you watched the first pace line video you may have heard someone retching followed by a large girl in a pink tank top having to skate out of line and head for the wall.  Both those people were me.  What was happening?  I was gagging on my new mouth guard because I have a shitty, hair-trigger gag reflex and even with a bit of trimming I’m still getting that gagging feeling, though it wasn’t as bad on Wednesday night.

But Tuesday night?  Gagolicious, baby!   In case you didn’t watch that first video all the way through, here’s the highlight:

Me gagging.

 

We also worked on knee drops and plows.  I still can’t plow for shit, but I’m slowly getting better.  Knee drops, however:  I can now drop and tap either knee and keep going, though not at great speed.  Yet.  Now that I can do a Tap and Go, it’s a matter of picking up speed.

Knee Drops and Plows.

 

Because the dudes who play roller hockey–that’s the game with sticks and balls, Mary–took over half the rink at 9:30, we went over to our half side and worked on shoulder hits and trying to force people off the track.  You get a pretty good view with this video as you’re seeing it from right behind the “track”.  We were hitting just a little harder this time as we were told during Bout Review that we need to start “Getting our Grrrr on”, which is to say we need to step up our intensity a bit.

Shoulder Hits.

 

Again I had the Go Pro going, but during one of the hits the camera on my helmet mount flopped down and no one told me it was pointing at my feet.  Probably because we were too filed with derby lust to go out there and knock someone off the track!

So I only managed a little Point of View work and missed one part where Ida hit me pretty good.

Shoulder Hits Go Pro.

 

There you have it:  our latest venture into Fresh Meat territory.  Next week I think I’m gonna haul the cameras into the practice with the OGs, because we might get some good blocker/jammer practice in again.

I can only hope.

It’s About the Bout

This has been an interesting week at the rink as my team, HARD, aka The Girls in Green, get ready for a home bout this Sunday on the 6th of August.  Though I’ve attended two bouts, this will be my first at home and freshie attendance is expected.  Needless to say I’m a bit excited because, well, home is where the team’s at, right?

It also means the team has been practicing extra hard this week.  Part of the reason is we are playing at home, another is that we want to win.  We’re also working with members from the York City Derby Dames, the team in York, PA, that has become a sister team, allowing their people to play with us and us to play with them.  (One reason for this is to allow for a deeper roster, which comes in handy when you’re playing against teams that have like 15 active players.)

And our teams are working out hard ’cause during Monday night’s practice we lost our resident mermaid, Ariel Wildfire, to a broken ankle that happened when she went down wrong after a hit.  Yes, kids:  you can get seriously hurt even during practice.  She was back using a kneeling scooter on Wednesday night and will be at the game as an observer.

As for my injury…  after sitting out through nearly all of last week my foot is better.  Maybe not one hundred percent, but close enough that I’m back to skating and walking to work.  Now I know that if I’m hurt like that, don’t try to come back on it right away:  take a week off and let it heal.

Since I could practice I managed to get plenty of video with my Go Pro, so you can see some of this stuff happening up close.  Let’s me start off with Monday night…

Scalloping is when you use one foot to alter your trajectory quick, usually to the right or left while you’re going forward.  Normally it’s used to get in front of someone fast, which is what we were working on in this first video.  Needless to say I didn’t do it right, so Ida shows me what I did wrong so I can do it right.

 

I’m getting much better at weaving now that I’m fairly used to my skates.  I’m not quite whipping down the markers, but I’m a lot better than I was when I was back on rentals.

 

A 180 Transition Block is a simple thing:  when someone comes up from behind, you spin around one hundred and eighty degrees and put a shoulder into them to slow them up.  Jackie and I worked together, trading blocker and jammer positions in the next two videos:

 

 

And lastly–I Finally got the chance to do some pyramid blocking.  You have two people shoulder to shoulder, hip to hip, forming a wall, and a third person holding on to you both, letting you know which way to move because the jammer is trying to get around you.  As you can see we’re both doing well:

 

And just like that it’s Wednesday night!  Ida was working that night so Gracehopper, the latest freshie to move up to the “adult’s table”, as I call scrimmaging with the vets and playing in bouts, was asked to work with us.  She had us doing a little weaving and plowing and stuff like that, but we really worked hard on blocking.  And first up was single jammer block, which is a bit like scallop blocking, only we didn’t have to get in front, we only had to make contact with the jammer and push her out of bounds–which is why we’re working on a short stretch of made-up track.  Grace was moving fast when I was working with her, which meant I had to keep up with her.  And I did.

 

Now back to the pyramid blocking.  It was a little different than when we did it on Monday night because rather than just block and be done if the jammer was either forced off the track or managed to get around you, Grace made the rule that once we engaged, it was up to the jammer to push the blockers to the end of the track.  You got that right:  one person had to push three people about thirty feet down a laid out straightaway and not stop until we were at the end.  And if the jammer went out of bounds?  They came back on where they went out and got back to pushing.

So these first two are with me being in the wall:

 

 

And here I’m the jammer coming up on the blockers, which means it’s pushing time!

 

And lastly I’m the brace in the pyramid, so I’m calling the directions for which way the jammer is going.

 

Here I am doing something I haven’t done before:  I’m skating backwards.  It’s only taken about forty years, and I’m only going about twenty feet, but I’m getting there.  It’s all about putting the moves together.

 

Lastly we were working on crossovers and while I don’t have that move down pat, I decided to see if I could turn on a bit of speed and see how it felt.  While I didn’t go as fast as the vets, I was skating outside the track and close to the wall at a good clip, doing a lap maybe every twenty-five seconds.  When I realized I hadn’t filmed this, I went back out for a couple of laps, only stopping after a couple of laps due to a cramp in my back.  But while I was out there doing this I finally felt as if I was getting into some kind of grove.  Now to work on the form and build up the endurance and see how this looks when I’m inside the track.

 

Eighteen practices in, but the reality is I was not doing much in two due to injury and I’ve missed three others for the same reason, as well as missing three others when I saw my daughter graduate.  Still, in sixteen practices, thirty-two hours of work, I’ve gotten this far, and in the next thirty-two hours of practice I expect to be much better than this.  Which means when I get to the end of September I had better look back at this video and think, “Yeah, I was really starting to get better then–”

Let’s hope I exceed my expectations.

Freshie 4: In the Round

With this title I feel a little like Yes back in the day when they performed on the rotating stage.  Though I can’t image they moved as fast as me.

Our last Fresh Meat practice, 25 July, 2017, was a bit light.  Ashley headed south to see her brother graduate from the Marines.  Rachel was out with tonsillitis, Jackie was also sick, and Rachel Rey and Tara were out with family issues.  Emily was MIA and Gwen, we learned yesterday, is moving to Pittsburgh and hopes to join a team out there, which leaves us with the possibility that one day some of us will have the opportunity to knock her on her ass during a game.

And Grace?  Last night was mandatory practice getting the team ready for our bout on 6 Aug, and as I remarked last night, she’s moved up to the “adult table” and scrimmaged with the vets.  It’s sad to see her go, but eventually we’ll all do the same.

As for the four of us there with Coach Ida–Erica, Laura, Resi, and me–Resi and I were off-skates as we were The Walking Wounded:  she with a sprained ankle and me with the bad foot.  That meant Erica and Laura got all the workout, which they totally deserve as they are tough fresh, so they can take it.

It also allowed me to film from the inside of the track, which means I got to spin around as I followed the ladies.  It was good practice in case I’m ever allowed to do this, but that’s something I doubt will ever happen.

First up, then, is seeing if I can even do this.  That means I track them ’round and around the track as they do cardio:

 

After that they got into single blocking, which consisted of them throwing shoulder blocks at each other.  There was blocking, there was laughing, there was swearing.  Pretty much how all our practices go.

 

Then it was time for double blocking with Ida helping out.  This is what happens when you have two blockers trying to stop a jammer and you do your best to wall her up.  Depending on penalties a team can find themselves in this position and when it happens, you better be ready to hold that jammer until your people start streaming out of the penalty seats.

 

And lastly 180 toe stops, where one spins around and goes up on their toes to stop.  Most of this video, however, is everyone waiting for me to find Ida’s whistle, which I couldn’t find because it was attached to the outside of her bag.  Duh.  There’s also a bit of hilarity here as we were getting a little punchy by then…

 

One last thing before I go:  last night I was still off skates, so I spent the time watching the team scrimmage as they got ready for the upcoming bout.  My depression, being what it is, started to get the better of me, and I found myself crying for a bit as I wondered if I was ever going to get as good as the rest of the women on the team.  I can’t let depression get the better of me as its done in the past as that’s caused me to give up on projects before.

I push myself way too hard at times.  I know it’s all a process, that it takes time to train yourself to do things.  That happened with writing and it’s gonna happen here.  I need to just let my body get used to things in their own time and not push it too hard, least I screw up royally.  Like with this injury:  if I’d gone completely off-skates for two weeks after it happened I’d have practiced well this whole week.  Lesson learned here.

And lesson learned that believing you aren’t good enough to reach the top isn’t the same as not reaching the top.

Sometimes it takes a while longer for us to walk the same path.

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…