Friday, October 29, 2010

End of My First Season - October 29, 2010

My first season as a member of the New Hampshire Roller Derby League has come to an end! It didn't go out with too much of a figurative bang, as much as a literal one... My sprained knee is finally feeling SO much better... just in time for practices to end until January! (Its okay though, because I'm taking the next couple of months to regain some strength, and re-lose some pounds ;)  Hopefully both will help me be a better skater!)

So, there hasn't been too much to report since I got hurt. I was still attending as many practices as possible. It was super hard to just sit and watch, without being able to take part. I feel for anyone who has serious injuries, because at least I knew I'd eventally get to skate again. So, I sat, and I sat, and I sat.... and gimped around... and sat and sat. September went by, then October. As soon as the doctor gave me the go ahead to begin physical training, I started skating again  - slowly with my brace and knee pad duct taped to my knee!

Its been slow going, and I've obviously been hesitant to break myself further, but last night was the final skating party at the roller rink. It was just a free skate with music, lights, and food... A fun way to end the season. I put my skates on, and started, and doing weaves. It was freeing, and I felt the breeze on my face as I was rolling around. It was so much fun! I didn't even remember that I had all that gear strapped to my knee. It never hurt me once!

I'm motivated to recover and continue on my derby journey. Its been a fun ride so far... despite all the falls, sweat, tears, pain, bruises and MRI's! Making new friends, learning how to become a better skater, getting serious exercise, participating in something greater than myself, and becoming a more confident person has far outweighed any of those negative things. I never thought I could do most of the things I've already accomplished. I know that I can do more, as long as I don't give up.... And I won't! Its way too much fun! :)

The new season begins in January 2011.
Until then, I'll be attending free-skate adult nights at Roller Kingdom in Tyngsboro, MA on Sunday nights...
Check it out HERE.

Stay tuned. :)

Monday, September 13, 2010

Practice - Thursday, September 2, 2010

First Practice as a Level One!!! Wooohoo!

We started with agility. Alot of skating backwards and transitioning, which is something Iam trying to focus my attention on. Thanks to my Skater-Sister for working with me one-on-one again! :) I had jello-leg syndrome during this practice though.... Right from the start. I probably fell about seven times for no real reason other than poor form or exhaustion. I couldn't finish the pyramid drills because at one point I noticed I had cut my hand on a fall and it was bleeding everywhere.... No wonder my hand was hurting so much! haha

I should have taken all of this as a sign....

Scrimmage time. New level ones onto the track!!! YIKES.
Hitting review and then "David and Goliath" (where there is a mini pack and one jammer). It's all fine and good to explain what is going on beforehand, but once you are out on the line and the whistle blows it's complete chaos!

I had no idea what I was doing, I just knew that I didn't want to let anyone pass me!! I did block one jammer from getting by me! Yay! I also only gave one hit and it was to my own teammate. Boo. Duh.

My most exciting time of the night was when someone threw the jammer hat at me. I was going to be the jammer???!!! (I know that everyone got a turn at all the positions during this drill, but I didn't care.) This was my most exciting, terrifying, truly awesome moment!!! I put the jammer hat over my helmet, glittery star and all. I wish my mom and dad were there to see me, or someone could have taken my picture because it was very surreal.

When it was time, I took the line. All by myself.
 It was so scary and exciting. I placed my toestop down in a form that looked like I was going to sprint forward when the whistle blew, but I really can't run on my toestops lol

When the whistle did blow, I took off and saw that the pack was already so far away. I was skating as fast as I could, and everyone was yelling for me to go faster. I came up to the pack, which had surprisingly slowed down, and I kind of crashed my way through. I know I used elbows and I know I gave some back blocks. I was mostly trying not to fall down lol

I finally made it through, then got a chance to do it again! I got stuck in the pack this time, but for some reason the opposing players got confused and I just went around them skating to victory!


They caught up with me again, my teammate went flying off to my right and before I knew it, I was also flying through the air in a blur! My left knee made a loud popping sound and my leg went off in it's own
direction. I landed in a crumpled heap on the floor. I wanted to get up, but I couldn't move. I was the jammer! I had to get up! This was my chance to do this!! But no. It turns out I've got a sprain, and now I won't be skating for weeks.

I've got to say that I was so embarrassed to be laying on the floor... Everyone turning silent and dropping to one knee out of respect for the injured. I have been on both sides of this coin now, and listening to the voices die down behind you is the worst. I have seen others get worse injuries than me, and I wanted to be able to get up on my own but I could tell it wasn't going to happen.
All I could think of was to ask the trainers if I did a good job. Haha! It will probably be the only time I am ever a jammer, so I'm thankful I got to do it before I got hurt!

"Did you see me? I was the jammer!!" :)

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Practice and Level 1 Assessments - August 31, 2010

Assessment night.... The test all fresh meat look forward to and dread at the same time! They tell you it's no big deal and don't be nervous, but I definetly started freaking out before I even got there. I know I wasn't the only one!

All of the newbies were the first ones to arrive at the rink... We were all anxious and first we had to deal with an endurance practice for about an hour!

Pulling and pushing pace lines of 4-5 people, sprinting, then keep it going the opposite direction. Speaking for myself, I was totally worn out at the end of this and figured there'd be no way I'd be able to do a fall for the test and get back up..... (within the allotted two seconds!)

drawing by me, K.Rowe

Assessments started. We lined up. You could feel the tension as we all pretended we weren't nervous, but it showed in our performances.... No hiding that! Simple things that I know everyone could do, just became the hardest things! T-stops, toe stops, falls.... Eventually, everyone got through it.

We did balancing on one leg while skating, and a bazillion crossovers...

Finally, we were finished. Luckily, Bettie and Empress were able to give us a pass/no pass right then and there. I couldn't imagine having to wait days for an email!! We all got personal feedback... Some of us passed and some of us have a couple things to hone before moving to level 1..

I have to say that I have never seen a group of ladies work so hard. All of us wanted it so badly! I am so so so proud of all of my fellow newbies, and if you didn't pass tonight, I know you will in a few days or weeks!! You are all amazing and I truly mean that. If you didn't pass, don't give up because you WILL BE PASSING SOON!!

I am proud of Dixie for having never skated before a few months ago, and she is not afraid to get right in there and do her best! I am proud of Lacey for figuring out crossovers on the spot! I am proud of Amiee for sticking with it even though she didn't feel well! You amaze me! I am proud of Kara for making a big comeback! I am proud of Bug for never giving up!

I can't believe that I passed!!!! I didn't feel like I was doing too poorly at anything, but that's what surprised me I guess! I was actually doing it. I was falling, crossing, balancing, stopping... I never pictured myself doing anything like this. But now I can't think of anything I'd rather do!!

To those I didnt mention here, I am tuly proud of all of you too!! I am SO happy to be skating with all of you, and SO happy to be a part of this derby family... Roller derby really IS saving my soul. :)

So, now it's on to hitting...... oh boy..... ;)

Monday, August 23, 2010

Practice - August 19, 2010

JFK Coliseum.... The bane of a skater's existence! It should be called Slip and Slide Stadium....

I had to make the splurge and get new wheels before practice... Just to see if it would make a difference in my performance, or if I really am THAT bad.

I'm happy to report it made a HUGE difference!! Still slippery (of course), but I was completing crossovers like nothing.... without thinking! It was a great feeling! One of my favorite drills was the "tree" (where some players form a moving non-contact pack, and some are in a moving pace line... The first person of the line races ahead to catch up to the pack and navigate their way through, finally ending at the back of the pace line.) Racing ahead to catch the pack felt awesome :) I was a little slow but I felt confident and I just knew to do my crossovers on the turns.... Because I wasn't sliding as much as I normally do, I was able to concentrate more on skating than trying not to fall.

You can buy Radar Shadows at The Bruised Boutique! :)

The one thing I really need to focus on now is transitioning from front to back/back to front. I need better form, and I need to break my mental block of fear at the thought of turning at any rate of speed... I'll get there :)

This practice was a good one for me, but seemingly cursed for a bunch of other people. There were toxic paint fumes in the building making some people sick, and a slew of injuries. I hope all my skater sisters
feel better soon... Xoxo

It's unofficially official!! - August 15, 2010

I made it through enough practices to submit my rollergirl name for approval! Woooohoo! There is quite a process for earning a derby name... It has to be approved not only by the league but by a national roster. No two skaters can have the same name! The national list takes a while to let you know if your name has been accepted.... (months!)

Sooo, my unofficial/official rollergirl name is:

 Atari JoyKick

See how I made the Atari Logo look like a JK for JoyKick... haha I'm such a genius ;)

It doesn't seem real, even though I'm allowed to put my name on my helmet (bye bye raw meat!). I mean, I'm still not a great skater and I haven't even had an assessment. I feel kind of weird about getting a derby name when I'm not sure I've earned it yet. But, according to the league I have... So I'll take it! :) Its an amazing feeling!



p.s. Okay, so why? WHY pick a name that really has nothing to do with derby? Well, anyone who knows me at all knows that I'm a video game freak, and the Atari 2600 started it all! I will never forget the day my sister brought the system home... first we popped all the bubble wrap, then we started playing games, and never stopped! One time my family even had a Pac-Man competition party. haha! The Atari 2600 represents my childhood, my competitive side, my fun side, and really just brings me tons of good memories.... I wish I had a working one now!

Soo, I had a list of about twenty five names to choose from. I kept narrowing it down, but I really didn't want to choose an arbitrary name that didn't represent anything about me. I mean, this is MY name and I just went with my gut. (PLUS this name had a great number to go with it - which is also part of choosing a derby name!) :)

Unfortunately, its tricky for others to pick a catchy nickname for me... I think I'll just remain Atari. ;)

Circus Atari!! SO FUN!! boing boing boing POP!

Robey Park with Family - August 14, 2010

My husband, son, and I went for a picnic and some skating time at Robey Park in Nashua, NH today. It's a fun place to go, and rare to have an outdoor skating rink so easily accessible! Unfortunately for serious skaters, the rink is usually filled with toddlers moving fast and in random directions.... But today we were the only ones there. (nice!)

My husband likes to rollerblade, and my son likes to use his trike. I was, of course, trying to practice a bit and my husband even asked me to show him some moves... Which was awesome :) I showed him a couple
different falls, and we tried to do some hip whips but failed miserably and crashed into a big heap. :) whoops!

I don't know what it is about skating at Robey that gives me such a huge mental block. Is it the outdoor cement surface that just gets to me? My husband asked me to show him how fast I can go.... But for some
reason my brain wouldn't let my body go at its top speed. I walked on my toestops for a bit and tried figuring out how to transition into a backward turn while putting my toestops down for a complete stop (the move I couldn't do during those suicide drills). I had the biggest block there too and could only get it while moving slowly (when we're supposed to be able to do it at full speed).

I did practice skating like a canonball, then doing a jump to get out of it. Another brain block on jumping, but I finally got myself to do it (although they were little jumps). My husband could jump right up and down with his rollerblades and that put the pressure on me to show him I could do it too! :) I will get it without hesitation soon!

I felt frustrated with my skating performance today, but it was more about my fears holding me back this time, rather than anything physical. I think the more I keep at it, and the more I fall and get right back up.... the better I'll get!

Friday, August 13, 2010

Practice - August 12, 2010

It's been a few weeks since I've remembered to write, but things have been going okay. Endurance and agility practices... Weaving in and out of cones, skating till your legs get wobbly, fall drills, stopping drills, etc etc... I had to miss a practice last week, and of course it was the first newbie contact practice (learning how to hit!!) I hope we do another one soon so I can try it!! :)

So, last night's practice was overall a disaster for me. I was disheartened, frustrated, angry with myself, angry about the slippery floor, angry at my weak back and lack of coordination.... Gah!!

We started out by doing suicide drills of falls, and I just couldn't seem to stop slipping clumsily all over the place. I couldn't get one transition (to turn around)... I'd try to t-stop and just keep going full speed. I was a frustrated mess. (Thank you to Tank'd Girl for spending some time with me on transitions... Like you said, I wish my body would cooperate with what my mind wants it to do!!)

We did "shopping cart drills" where you push your partner around the track and then switch places. Easy enough? Not when my lower back almost sent me to tears, and my legs were giving out. I kept looking around and nobody seemed to be struggling as hard as I was. I felt bad for my skater sister who got stuck with someone so clumsy and weak... Thanks to Bam for encouraging me anyway!

How can I strengthen my back? I had to drop out of a pace line - hip whip drill... I got knocked out of line near the end and I couldn't physically catch up. My back felt broken. I just don't get what I'm doing wrong... I never want to quit a drill, but that was the end for me. And where is the line between pushing yourself and taking a break so you don't injure yourself? I am having so much trouble figuring this all out.

Pyramid drills again last night too. That's where you skate laps in a group from 1 up to 5, and do exercises in between while the second group does their laps. Last time we did this drill, I admit I couldn't even complete it. I had to fake my way to the end because my entire group was done and I was still one and a half laps behind. It was so embarrassing, and I felt like I was holding everyone up.

This time, I deliberately focused on going as fast as I could. I did crossovers, and really concentrated on getting it right. Unfortunately, I was still last every time. I would take a turn and my wheels would slip out from under me. I would be going as fast as I possibly could and still be last. Will I ever get faster? At one point during a lap I felt myself questioning what I was doing there... I have never been an athlete... Maybe I'm not really cut out for this, and how could I ever make it onto a team???

Oh well, I kept going. And although I was last, I did complete every lap asked of me.... For which I felt proud and surprised that I had seen an improvement over the last time. Go me?

Thank you to everyone who was so encouraging to me last night, especially Sin D. and my fellow fresh-meats. I know I was pretty angry and frustrated but I took every word you said to heart and I love
skating with all of you! (even if I'm last.)

You know what's weird? As pissed off as I was, about twenty minutes after taking my skates off, I wanted nothing more than to put them back on and skate again!! Addicted? Hell yes :) I love roller skating!! See you at the next practice......


Sunday, July 18, 2010

Practice - July 15, 2010

Endurance Pyramids. Really? Ugh! So Everyone had to go around for so many laps, then do exercises in between... It was killer for me!! Again with the stamina... I didn't think it would be all that bad skating around for one or even five laps, until I realized I was last. That threw a mind trick at me, and a feeling of hopelessness. I kept slipping on the turns, and couldn't get the crossovers. I felt so heavy, like I was weighted down and just couldn't get ahead. Bummer. Its so hard to ditch the failure feeling.

I stuck with it though, even though I was slow. Something to work on I guess. I also didn't drink enough water and got nauseous. Ugh.

After that was fresh meat time with Bettie.. Yay! We practiced falls, baseball slides, moving in a pack (which was so fun, and even though we were going in slow motion, we took it very seriously of course!), walking on toe stops, and jumping over a line! (I fell hard, but I think I just didn't bend my knees enough.)

All in all, it was a productive practice. Luckily the fresh meat time took my mind off my horrible performance at doing laps. Next time, even if I'm slow, I hope not to be last. C'mon feet!!

Night Skate Fail - July 14, 2010

My fresh meat BFF and I decided to sneak in some extra skate time late at night. There is a new library in town with a new parking lot. Seemed perfect! Until we got there... No lights!

We figured we wouldn't stay more than 30 minutes. We parked at either end of the lot and left our car lights on so we could skate around. We took turns sweeping an area clean. The parking lot that looked so smooth was actually terrible for skating on! It was really bumpy and rocky despite our sweeping... and we were too afraid to try any of the moves from practice.

We decided to ditch the library and find another spot... Except my car battery was dead from leaving the lights on! (Her car started right up... apparently I have a crappy old battery. Now I know.) We called for the Calvary to give my car a jump, since neither of us had jumper cables (ugh!). Just when our friend arrived, so did the police!

The policeman wasn't upset with us, more worried that he didn't know we were down there. (since the library is near the police station too.) I think he was expecting to find some teens causing trouble, not two ladies roller skating... If only he had seen us cleaning the parking lot earlier on our skates!! Ha! He was fairly amused, and then gave us suggestions on parking lots that might be good!

After this late night fiasco, we decided skating wasn't in the cards for us. Instead, we ended the night with a slice of pie from the Local 24 hour diner.

So, not a total fail :)

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Practice - July 11, 2010

The evening started with us Fresh Meat watching a great team scrimmage. Those girls worked hard, and I'm sure they were exhausted after a long workout right before, and the extreme heat in that gym...

Next, it was our turn and because it was a scrimmage night, we Freshies had the track to ourselves. It was definetly awesome to practice on the track, but my body just wasn't ready to cooperate...  Happily, the foot-rigging I did seemed to work... I had no foot pain!! Yay! But, we went from weaving on the track right into a two minute sprint (the length of one jam)... I started panting and trying to breathe through a stuffy nose. I opened my mouth to get air and my mouthguard came loose. Then the sharp pain in my lower back started....

I had a mental battle with myself.. Stop skating and stretch my back, or risk it going out on me. I reluctantly left the track and did some back stretching, only to get back out there and have trouble breathing again. Argh!!!

I enjoyed the pace lines, pace line weaving, hip whips, and finally some crossover training, which I think I actually understand! I just had so many difficulties that I couldn't complete the second two minute sprint and then practice was over.

I was so frustrated and angry with myself... I cried the whole ride home. It's kind of funny that last week I was the one doling out the encouragement, and this week it was me seeking reassuring words when it felt like I'd just "never be able to do it." Thank you to my friends for listening to my babbling, and for cheering me on despite it. Xoxo to you all.

So, I know that I need to work on endurance, gaining strength, stamina, and I need to pick up a stopwatch and a better mouthguard.... I've got to figure a way around these mostly technical difficulties so I can concentrate on trying to survive those two minutes!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Pain and Organization - July 11, 2010

I think I will be making an appointment with a podiatrist this week - yes, ALREADY! My right foot is starting to get unbearable, and not just with skating. Every shoe I own, including flip flops, rubs on this area of my foot... I won't be getting to a dr. before tonight's practice, so we'll see what I can rig up for this skate session! From doing some online research, I'm thinking this is a bone spur.... Owwww. :(

On a happier and less painful note, I got a small rolling luggage set from Target! It came with a tote that fits my skates, and skate accessories perfectly... A bag that holds all my little items (like my inhaler and hello kitty band-aids), and a larger suitcase that holds my pads, helmet, and whatever is left! Only about $20, thanks Ref Meat Kerry Lee for sharing the info! :) After seeing the other skaters with their rolling suitcases, and me lugging around giant awkward bags... All I can say is "duh." :)

I'm looking forward to practice tonight, even though it's quite the bodily beating! I'm keeping my fingers crossed that my foot issue doesn't send me to the sidelines....

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Second Practice - July 6, 2010

It was a night of tears, pain, self-doubt, success, and stats training...

I have to start by saying how proud I am of my fellow newbies! We endured a night of quick-paced athletics that I don't think is normally on our daily rosters... Followed by practicing falls, which is a constant up and down on unsure legs and toe stops. It wasn't easy, and I am proud to stand/fall/skate with all of you!

One of the more experienced girls said, "The hardest part of derby isn't skating." Humbling thought to keep in mind....

So, as for me... The exercising session on sneakers made me want to die. Running forwards and backwards, jumping jacks, planks, mountain climbers... I was nearly wheezing when it was over.. Couldn't catch my breath and to me it felt like I was the only one having so much trouble. I was too busy trying to breathe to notice if anyone else actually was as bad off as me...

I did enjoy how much time we Fresh Meat got to spend working just by ourselves this time. Thank you to Vicious and Dee for patience and helpful tips! (And for laughing with me when I completely forgot what I was doing and fell randomly into a heap a few times.. haha!)

On my first attempt at getting up from a one-knee fall, I, for some reason, used my weak left leg... I felt a weird sensation and then pain. I'm pretty sure I pulled something in my upper leg. I'm having issues with my right skate rubbing on a bone in my foot too, and thanks to some of the girls for suggesting I change my lacing. It still hurt but wasn't as bad! I did okay for the remainder of the time. I did, at least, remember to boil and mold my mouthguard beforehand, so I could actually concentrate on skating and not my mouth!

At one point I looked over at the experienced women skating in their huge mega-endurance drills. Then I looked back at the raw chickens in our little corrall, fumbling and working on toe-stops. I started to fill with despair, thinking that I couldn't possibly reach the other side... I could never do what they are doing...

I had to force myself to look away, and get back to what was the reality of the moment. I did not look over at the other girls again. I cheered for my fellow Fresh Meat, and did my best. I had to stop comparing myself to the more experienced people, be they oldies or newbies, and focus on myself. If someone did better than me, instead of hating my inabilities, I concentrated on watching their movements so I could learn from their successes.

I can only do my best, and push myself to do better. It's only been two practices... I can't expect to go from couch to athlete in two days! Athleticism doesn't come naturally to me, but I promise... I'm not giving up.... no matter what!

Oh yeah, and then we learned about penalty tracking, score keeping, and position tracking.... (Thanks for the tutorial Helen! It was actually really interesting!) ;)

Saturday, July 3, 2010

First Practice - July 1, 2010

Three months. That's how long I was waiting to get to that first practice. From recruitment night in April, until July first. I thought the day would never come. Three months re-learning how to roller skate (my childhood passion), three months sucking as much information out of any roller skater I could find. I wanted a leg up before that July first mark.....

Backtrack: I am completely out of shape. I gained 65 lbs. with my pregnancy four years ago... Lost 60, gained back 30 and climbing... I have never been athletically inclined, and it's like a joke for anyone who knows me to see me doing anything physical. I can't run, dance, swim well, play sports, couldn't do a cartwheel even as a kid and months of gymnastics lessons..... But I could always skate.

Day of... Sick to my stomach. Terrified that I wouldn't be good enough, or physically able to do anything asked of me. Feeling like an outsider and an intruder on some secret cool-kids club, I threw myself into it. I gave it my all. I was confident I could do at least a little bit (like skating forward, and possibly stopping - eventually), but how could I keep up with these pros?

Stepping onto the track was an amazing high. There I was. It was real. I was on the track, in the midst of  those women I had been admiring for so many months!

I fell on my ass. I got back up. I didn't know to boil my mouthguard before hand, so it didn't fit... It made my mouth bleed, it made me drool... I wiped it off and kept going. Endurance training was literally breaking my already weakened back. I held back tears, and with the encouragement of amazing women I didn't give up. I practiced falls, stops, pace lines, and played capture the flag with the group. I was at the bottom of a five girl pile-up... I smashed my head and my body... I got up and did it again. I skated with a picture of raw chicken on my head to alert everyone that there was a student driver..... I didn't care.

At the end of a torturous eternity "just two more minutes!" I had done it. I looked around. I was alive. My newbie friends were alive. We had all been so scared, and we all felt so proud. It was in the air. The team patted us on the back and told us "good job."  My body ached, my ass hurt, my mouth was bleeding, and I can't wait to do it all again :)