Having Those Ups and Downs–

I hate getting sick.

As I mentioned in the post last night I came down with the cold I’ve been trying to hold at bay for the last week and a half, but it finally caught me.  I had trouble getting to sleep last night and was up at four in the morning.  I went into work, however–

Looking pretty good if I may say so myself.

 

But I was having issues getting through the morning and decided I’d not stay.  It was best to get something to eat and then home to rest.

This is the eating part.

 

So I’m resting trying to get better.  I will go to practice tonight, but only to watch: I’m not going to actually get on the floor and work with my teammates.  Because even if you aren’t practicing, you should know what the team is doing.

There, update complete.  Now to get back to resting…

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The Riot Act

I’ve been off-line for a while on the writing: even getting a new post out on the blog has taken a bit more time than I’ve spent in the past.  Part of the reason is due to commitments at work, and the few I have within my personal life.  One of those commitments involves my participation in roller derby. and as of last Monday, 27 November, that participation took a new turn.  No, I didn’t do anything spectacular: on the contrary, we made a huge shift in the way things are handled at practice…

Our last main coach, Anita Blade, retired as of the end of the last bout back on 12 November and after that we began looking for a new coach, a search in which I had a bit of a say.  After a week we had the people who were going to lead us into 2018 and they agreed to take up the challenge.

And who are these crazy people who decided to take up the challenge?

The first was someone I knew from my time doing practices in York.  Madhouse Mexi agreed to step in and help Ida with training the fresh meat and getting them certified as quickly as possible.  Mexi’s a good person and I like her, as she’s also ready to step in and show you where you’re doing something wrong before suggesting how to go about fixing the problem.  She let me know that even though I still need to do my 27/5 to certify, there are a few area where I’m “deficient” and I’m likely gonna have to improve those areas before the certification goes in and my derby name goes on.  I have no problem with this: she’s the coach, she’s seen me in practice, and she probably knows me better than me.

But our new head coach is Roxie Riot, who has a long history with HARD: in fact, she helped get our league started way back in the early days.  Yes, she knows a lot of the “old school” stuff, but she’s also interested in bringing us into the current way things are being played, and we’re starting to see that in the way we’re drilling.

About those drills…

There’s a lot more urgency in our drills these days.  We get out on the floor and we work.  We’ll spend a lot of time working on something, then rush over to the wall and get a drink before getting back on the track.  And I do mean rush: these days we have 30 seconds to get over, grab a drink, and get back to work.  No more fooling around and bullshitting.  Even though it’s the off-season, it’s still time to drill.

So in last week’s practices, numbers 65 and 66, a lot of time was spent on skills and learning how to defend in a lane.  (Lanes are a concept that have become important in derby, with one imagining four lanes, 1 through 4 from the inside to the out, going all around the WFDTA track.)  The first Monday it was the skills sessions, with everyone showing what they could do.  This is the area where I need work, particularly in plows and in endurance.  It was tiring, but I made it through, and in a way parts of it were a lot of fun–while other parts were a complete pain in the ass and frustrating as hell.  Wednesday was more about footwork and learning to cover the track–

It was also where I got hurt.

It’s been a while since I’ve been hurt at practice, but last Wednesday, the 29th of November, just one day shy of six months I’ve been in derby, it happened.  I was up trying to guard the track and Mexi was skating as a jammer.  When she came at me I tried my best to get in front of her, or at least to her side, and block her, and at the last moment I sort of lunged at her and lost my balance for my troubles.  I went down on my foot, but as I hit the floor my body went backwards while my leg seemed to move forward–

My right thigh muscle pulled and I felt it do so from my hip to just below my knee.

It hurt.  A lot.  I knew I made a sound but I wasn’t aware that I screamed as I hit the floor, something that was confirmed by several teammates.  Roxie was standing next to one of them and she told me she heard Roxie say something like, “I hope that’s not a broken leg,” which, when I think about it, might very well had happened.

But it wasn’t.  I’d pulled one of my thigh muscles enough that he hurt like hell, but it was still in one piece.  As we walked off the floor Roxie asked if I could still feel the muscle as we walked and I told her I could.  She said that was good, ’cause if I couldn’t feel it that mean I’d ripped something and I needed to go to the hospital.

No hospital for me, however: just a lot of rest.

We made it through last week and this week–Practices 67 and 68, which I’ll write about later–and we’re starting to pick up a lot of things.  I’m also starting to get even more comfortable on my skates, and just the other day I was side surfing for a bit, which surprised the hell out of me.

Before you know it, I may just be out there doing something nutty–

Like playing.

That Championship Practice

Last night was the practice that I was dreading for a couple of weeks while, at the same time, looking forward to it with tremendous exhilaration.  That’s ’cause I was about to get coached by a world champion–

Over this past weekend–3, 4, and 5 November–the WFTDA Division 1 Championships were held in Philadelphia and the best roller derby leagues from around the world when there to compete for the title and trophy, which is known as the Hydra, named after the first WFTDA President and excellent derby skater in her own right.  (Just so you know the name of our current president is Master Blaster.  Yeah, we’re cool–)  One of the past champions, Gotham Girls Roller Derby of, where else, New York City, came in third and got the bronze.  That left former champions Rose City Rollers of Portland, OR, to square off against Victorian Roller Derby League of Melbourne, Australia, for the big title.  And while Rose City put up a gallant effort and manged to be the only team to score over 100 points against VRDL, they lost 101 to 180.

That means for the first time a roller derby league from outside the US became the champions and prepared to take the Hydra back to their home country–

All save for one person.

Lorrae Evans, a blocker with VRDL, was asked by one of my teammates, Pixie Panzer, if she’d be interesting in staying over a couple of days and coming to Harrisburg to do a special coaching session.  She wouldn’t only coach us, but we’d invite players from other leagues to join us.  Surprisingly, Lorrae said yes, and the day after their championship win she’d take the train from Philadelphia to Harrisburg and join us for a night at the rink.

Besides my team, HARD, and members of our sister team the York City Derby Dames, showing up, we had players from the Dutchland Rollers of Lancaster and the Black Rose Rollers of Hanover in attendance as well.  All together there were 28 of us on the floor, with me and one of my teammates being the only uncertified players in attendance.  Also, with the exception of one other person–one of my teammates–I had the least amount of time skating, only four months, whereas so many more players had 1 to 8 years of experience.

Like I said, I was dreading this for a couple of weeks.  However, yesterday I decided that I was going to show up and do my best, so rather than get into a negative head space over this, I’d see what I was capable of doing.

What I learned right away is that I have a lot to work on.

We started out simple:  stake forward and backward, then weave back and forth, the skate and plow then skate backward and plow, then do airplanes–go from one track side to the other, moving your arms like the wings of a plane and trying to touch the line–also skating forwards and back.  We finished off with trying to skate around on one foot also going forward and backwards.

Easy, yeah?  That was a line we’d heard from Lorrae off and on during the night.  As a coach she was easy going, but she was also in charge:  she let us know when she did a double whistle it mean we were to come to the center of the track right away and form up so she could speak with us.  No dallying: get in and listen up.  It was also like that with drills: we’d do one, then come in and find out what we were doing next, usually get shown an example of what we’d do, then it was out to do it.  Not a lot of rest in between, not a lot of banter and chatting between players.  Just listen and do it.

And it went on and on.

Like I said went with the attitude to do my best, but I knew I wasn’t going to be as good as the others there.  I knew instantly that we were working at a far higher skill level than I’d seen before and I felt it through all the sweat pouring from me.  But I felt something else as well: every so often a chill would pass through me and that was an indication that I was starting to get overheated and my body wasn’t responding well.  After 45 minutes I went through 40 ounces of water and at one point I hurried off to the bathroom ’cause I thought I was about to vomit, but after a couple of minutes there I felt better.  I refilled one of my water bottles and headed back out.

It wasn’t going to get any better for me, however.

During the middle of a three-person drill where we were pushing each other laterally from one side of the track to another I was pushed to the inside and thought for a moment I had a slight groin pull.  I didn’t and one of the women with me laughed and said to shake it off.  What happened after that was me going “Wait a minute–”

And then things got fuzzy.

I know I was told I should go sit down.  I was told that more than once, in fact.  I made my way off the floor to a bench and, I was told, a coach from Dutchland asked if I wanted to lay down, where then I would ask, “You want to lay down?”  That went on for a bit before my coach and one of the refs who is also a registered nurse came over and sorta helped me lay down before getting some ice for my neck to cool me down–I was told that my head was pretty hot at this time–and remove my gear, which is a sign that you’re done for the night.

I lasted 90 minutes, which is pretty good considering that’s pretty close the amount of time we actually spend doing drills in a two hour practice.  But this was nothing like our practices; this was way beyond anything I’d done up to that point.  Some of the York women who made it through the whole three hour practice and who are in fantastic shape said they were exhausted at the end of the night, so you know it was ass busting.

After I cooled down my coach wanted to make certain I was okay and I told her that I was and I wasn’t upset that I didn’t make it all the way through: I did my best and there was no shame in not being able to keep up with women with far more experience and in better shape.  She said she’d kept an eye on me and saw I was pushing myself, which made her proud.  The ref who helped me check to make sure I was okay and was glad I wasn’t upset with myself over not being able to make it all the way through:  like she said, “You didn’t have to do it, but you’d have been kicking yourself in the ass if you hadn’t gotten out there.”  And there’s a lot of truth there.

I not only learned a lot on the floor while I was there–and one of the things I learned was I have to improve my footwork–but I watched the rest of the practice from the sideline and saw things I so want to do when I get the chance.  I told my coach that I know now that I need to work on being a blocker and pivot, as that’s likely where I’ll help the team the best, as I’m not as crazy fast and quick as a real jammer, but I can do great defense as a blocker and run offence in the pack for the jammer as a pivot.  Hey, Lorrae is a blocker and she helped her team win a championship.  Not too shabby.

After practice we gathered around for a team photo that I also joined as I was out on the floor when this started so why not?

 

We also got to pass her gold medal around–which she just happened to bring–and take a few selfies with her.  Like this one, which was taken for me by another person:

 

After practice was over I spoke with Lorrae for a few minutes.  I told her I got heat exhausted about half way in and she was sorry to hear that and said that she saw me and said I’d done well.  I did ask her if she meant that and she said yes, she did.  I told her I’d only been practicing for four months and that did elicit a moment of surprise from her, as I suspect she didn’t think someone with that little experience would be on the floor.  She also let me know that the practice we did last night was pretty much the regular practice her team does–

Which means I was actually doing a practice meant for world champions.

It was a good night.  I learned from the experience and while a bit humbled by what happened, I also know I can push myself when necessary.  I’m not as good as the other out there, but then, I’m not supposed to be–at least not yet.  I have months of experience as compared to women with years behind them.

What does that mean?

I means that by working hard, I’ll one day I can be as good as most of the women with whom I shared the floor last night.

Which is the most important thing you can take away from any practice.

The Plans For the Day

Hi there again.  I’m guessing you’re expecting something witty and intelligent and all the stuff today–

Sorry, but I gotta disappoint you.

You probably noticed I didn’t do a video yesterday.  That’s because I was out of the apartment about seven in the morning and didn’t return until nearly two in the afternoon.  I had things to do and stuff for which I needed things. Put those two together and it means I didn’t have a lot of time to shoot, edit, and upload a video.

And today is Bout Day, which means while I’ve actually written some today, I still have a lot to do before 4:30, which is when I need to be at the rink, though about three in the afternoon I’m gonna start working on my makeup for my sort of cheap and easy costume I’m wearing to the bout and after party.

So, you’ll get your excerpt tomorrow as I’m about to post this, shut down, and make another run to pick up a few things I need for today and the week.  This is what happens when I have a busy weekend due to a home bout, and if there’s any consolation, this all ends in two weeks and I head into the off-season.

Here’s hoping you like my costume when I post it–