Tuesday, 30 May, 2017, was a real turning point in my life. That’s the night I decided I would see if I had what it took to become a member of a roller derby team. I met the people who would coach us, signed the release forms, and strapped on the gear after finding stuff that fit us.
We didn’t do much. We got on our skates and went around the rink and did a few exercises and introduced ourselves. I discovered quickly that I was out of shape: I had to lay down three times because I was getting dizzy due to not breathing. (Hot Tip: every kind of physical activity goes better when you breathe.) But I made it through the evening and resolved to return for practice the following night.
The next day at work I had a couple of people ask me how things went. I told them I didn’t do as well as I hoped, but it was a good time and I was going back. Oh, and this: “I don’t feel that sore. I thought it would be worse than his. I shouldn’t have a problem with this.”
That was perhaps the dumbest thing I’ve ever said.
That Wednesday, the 31st of May–that was the real deal. The Fresh Meat–that’s us, the new kids–had to get out there and actually work out. Like we were training. I think the first thing we did was thirty laps for cardio. I managed like… five. And I fell. Hard. Actually I fell several times that night and a couple were pretty good wipe outs.
How did I feel at work that next day?
Sore. Real sore.
Since becoming a HARD Derby Woman there hasn’t been a moment when I haven’t had an ache or pain somewhere on my body. My shoulders tend to hurt at various times throughout the day, mostly due to throwing my arms out to keep my balance. I’ve hyperextended by right elbow because of balance issues. I’ve had some soreness in my hands due to falls. I hit my chin and nose on the floor when I fell during a game.
The ones that were really bad were the slight groin pull I experienced during the above mentioned game, and then, last Monday the 21st of June, I went down hard and jarred my left hip so bad that my first thought was that it might be broken. I was actually laying on the ground going “Ouch, ouch, ouch,” because there was a whole lot of pain. I eventually got up and continued, but the next day I hobbled around work wondering how long I’d need to recover from this injury.
This has all happened in the course of seven practice sessions. Seven.
Here’s the progress of that Monday night practice. First, notice how I look like I can’t wait to get out there and kick ass?
Yeah, this was me two hours later. I kicked some ass all right: my own. You can see it in my eyes: I was just dead to the world and ready to get out of there.
I’ve discovered quickly that if you train for a sport–and let’s not kid anyone, we are training for a real sport–you are gonna get sore. You are gonna feel like hell sometimes. You might not be able to go to sleep because some part of your body is in pain. You may spend the next day walking around like a 90 year old woman because some joint or joints or the muscles that control those joints were overworked the night before.
As Roseanne Roseannadanna used to say, “It’s always somethin’.”
A couple of days before that Monday practice I even joked about it:
This is getting ready for practice? Sure is. Because just as you need pads and a helmet and a mouth guard and skates, you need that stuff as well.
Ibuprofen. These days I take two to four a day to help with minor pain. I can’t take Aleve because the active ingredient in that, naproxen sodium, can mess up my liver, so ibuprofen is the go-to drug of choice. A 200 count bottle should be good for three months. Should.
IcyHot is my liniment of choice. Some people prefer Bengay, some prefer Tiger Balm, some get totally insane and go right for the Deep Heat. This last Tuesday and Wednesday I was rubbing IcyHot in my groin to help with the injury there and it seemed to help, though I’m walking funny again today–probably because I skated about sixty laps last night. I’ll get to that in a bit.
I also have two ice packs that I use to ice down the parts of my body that need it. Here’s a picture of me around midnight after the 12 June Monday night practice, cooling down my sore shoulders and getting twelve ounces of water:
One night I slept with one of those ice packs strapped to that hyperextended elbow because I couldn’t sleep due to the pain. After my groin pull on the 14th I jammed one of those in my crotch and rested for about twenty minutes, letting the pain subside. They’re life savers, y’all.
Now, what about that Kleen Kanteen? You need that to work out? Damn right you do.
Even if you’re not working out in a hotbox, you need to keep hydrated so your muscle work properly. When you’re skating your working out the largest muscle groups in your body: your thighs, your gluts, and your abdomen, and those muscles need to stay properly hydrated so they can continue breaking down fats and acids into triglycerides, which becomes the energy that powers you body. When your muscles aren’t hydrated you lose energy and eventually hit a wall–and in the case of skating that last can be a literal thing.
My Kleen Kanteen holds twenty ounces of water and I take two with me to every practice. And I generally go through both within two hours ’cause you sweat your butt off doing the things we do. And when I get home I usually fill up that twelve ounce mermaid mug and drink that down after getting out of the shower because I want to make sure I’m well hydrated before going to bed. I also drink a lot of water throughout the day because staying hydrated is important even if you’re not skating a ton of laps. It’s not just something you do during workouts: it’s a constant thing.
I never thought I’d start working out like this at my age. And I never thought I’d feel all this soreness, either. But it’s part of training. It’s part of becoming–dare I say it?–an athlete. Oh, sure: you may not think we are, but once you’ve spent some time with us you’ll see it differently.
Maybe you’ll even feel what we feel the next day.