Thursday, June 23, 2011

Can I get a hell yeah?

WARNING: I'm listening to Weird Al Yankovic's new album while I'm typing this so if I start going into a polka midway through this you'll know why :D

It was bit of a weird week for me. I got the MRI on my ankle and heel done last Saturday then I spent the next few days nervous as hell for the results to come in the post. Why the freak out? Well this ankle injury is the third ankle injury I've had in six months from roller derby since I started training in January (gosh think of all the time I've wasted stuck on the sidelines recovering). It's the second time I've injured my right ankle. I was dreading that the doctor was going to tell me that my ankles were too weak to cope with the rigours of roller derby and that I'd have to quit roller derby. On Tuesday I couldn't wait any longer so I went home during my lunch break to see if the results came in the post. The report only managed to confuse the hell out of me with words like anterior talo-fibular, subcutaneous oedematous. My initial reaction was can I still do roller derby, not have I caused any permanent damage or anything else. Roller derby has well and truely gotten underneath my skin! Some of my derby mates Dr. Rae, Dr. FiFi and Dr. Squeaks helped decipher the report for me. Looks like I sprained some of the ligaments in my ankle and I got some fluid build up in some of the joints. The doctor confirmed this morning and I'll be able to skate again once it heals after some physio, strengthening exercises and taking anti-inflamitory pills. No skating still but I am so happy it's not funny, my roller derby dream is still alive and well!! I would have been absolutely gutted if it was all over. In derby I found something that I thought I could be good at and if I got real good I'd get onto the H.A.R.D travel team.

I've decided to be productive while I'm off skates so I've been going through the rules and I've managed to pick a few new things. One rule got my attention, rule 6.8.11 - There is no penalty for blocking a skater who has jumped off both skates and left contact with the track from in bounds. So if someone is being a smartarse or trying to be tricky by jumping while on the track during a bout you can hit them with a legal hit while they're mid-air. The skater on the receiving end will be up for some serious air-time if you hit them at the right moment hehe!

I've been working on something the last couple of weeks that'll help me both on and off the derby track. My cousin Mark's girlfriend Suzie is a personal trainer and she's agreed to take me on as a client. The cool thing is that she won't take crap and I'll be given homework to do on my own. She covers everything including nutrition so having her help me out with everything when it comes to creating a healthy lifestyle will help make me a machine on the track, at least that's what I'm aiming for.

Last Sunday at training that had enough competant skaters to do scrimmage practise. It really sucked not being able to scrimmage 1) I haven't passed my Corporal test and 2) I'm out injured. Those of us that weren't scrimmaging helped out with keeping track of the score, penalties and I got to blow the whistle to start and end the jams and time the jams. While it may not be as 'fun' as scrimmaging I actually had a lot of fun doing it. It's also a good way of learning more about the rules. Another cool thing was it made me fall in love with my league and roller derby even more if that's even possible. Watching my team mates scrimmage made me want to do roller derby even more.

Lastly here's a really cool article on becoming a more agressive skater. It's a good read.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Ground hog day

I have a dream, a daft dream but it's still a dream of mine. Given my love of Liverpool and roller derby what better way to combine the two than if H.A.R.D flew over to Liverpool to bout against the Liverpool roller birds? That would be my ultimate roller derby dream. Maybe if I start working on the board members now it might happen by the time I eventually pass my orange star test :P

Back to reality we've had a few of the Privates pass their Corporal aka white star test. I'm absolutely made up for them, they've done themselves and the league proud. I wish them all the best as they learn new and more advanced skills. Well done guys :D

I know roller derby is going to hurt, if not from pushing yourself then the hits and stacks will surely do the job. The last few weeks my ankle has been hurting while I've been skating even with my ankle guards on. I was also getting a pain in my heel, whenever I tried stretching my foot or if I was skating for a while it felt like the muscle/tendon/whatever was tearing in the back of my heel. Last Friday when we were re-doing the endurace part of Corporal test I didn't even last the full 5 minutes because of the pain in my ankle. Last Sunday through my own stuborness I went to Skatel but I didn't even last 30 minutes nor work up a sweat because of the pain. The decision got made for me right then, I couldn't continue skating while I had this ankle/heel problem. I honestly thought I'd be able to work through the pain and that it would heal itself during the week when I wasn't skating. I didn't want to come across as a piker and that I couldn't handle the demands of roller derby but I ended up  waving the white flag and went to the doctors. I've got a referral to get an MRI scan done this Saturday morning on the troublesome area to see if they pick anything up.

The last couple of days I admit I haven't been the easiest person to be around. It all kind of exploded on Sunday night. First up it was making the decision not to skate until my ankle was fixed up, then it was finding out that I've only passed snowploughs so far on my Corporal test, I've flunked everything else then it was followed up with having to sit on the sidelines and not being able to join in while the new Corporals got to train with the big guys. I knew ages ago that I was never going to pass my test on the first attempt but it still sucks arse when you're left behind like the slow kid in class even though you're genuinely happy for the guys that did pass. As for these bloody injuries it's starting to feel like ground hog day. I start making some progress but then it stops because I pick up another bloody injury. This sport is going to frustrate the living hell out of me but by the same token the personal achievements are going to feel pretty amazing too (I hope!). I figure that for every derby related setback I come back from, it's another little victory for me because I haven't cut my losses and quit. I know I let the disappointments hit me hard but the way I see it is the fact that it gets under my skin the way it does shows I still have the fight for it and I want to make it. Eventually the physical hits I'll cop on the track won't hurt because I know I can get back back and continue on. I find it tough sitting on the sidelines watching my team mates train because I want to be out there with them so I've decided as a way of distracting me I'm going to take derby rules with me to training and go through that.

To finish on a positive note, Friday night wasn't a complete disaster I tried showing Liz how to do t-stops and snowploughs, she got the hang of it pretty well. Also I've worked my way up to doing half a crossover (if you can call it that. I can't fully cross my right leg over yet but I can bring it up slightly further than my left foot which for me is major progress considering up until then I was too scared to even try that.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The switch has been flicked

Well that was certainly an action packed derby related weekend. I'm still feeling the effects from it. It all started on Friday night at training. As promised us Privates were exposed to carving for the first time at training. For those that don't do derby carving is basically a quick way of cutting across from one side of the track to the other. You can carve into an opposition player and depending how hard you get them you can push them off the track by leaning into them and hopefully create a gap for your jammer to get through. The more experienced skates carved us, I loved it and countered them all pretty well. The funny thing was FiFi's carve had more impact on me than Matron's did :) We alternated so that us freshies did the carving and then I hit a stumbling block. I couldn't hit my team mates through fear that I'd accidently hurt them if I did the wrong thing. Throughout the whole session I only attempted three carves with one of them completely missing FiFi. I felt like such a piker.

Saturday at Skatel was lots of fun with the gang. I managed to skate lower and faster which I can never seem to replicate at training. I was on the receiving end of plenty of carves from Cherry as usual which I loved. At one stage I was actively encouraging her to carve me. One time she caught me off guard when she carved me so I tried grabbing onto her so I wouldn't fall only to end up accidently gropping her boob, oops :D Hayley told me I was fearless at Skatel, I'm certainly more confident skating there but Cherry won't move our training sessions there booo! Given my fear of attempting to carve my team mates the night before Cherry was telling me to hit her. I know she meant for me to give her a derby related hit but I decided to punch her in the arm instead :D I still maintain she didn't specify what type of hit give her so I was well within my rights to punch her hehe. Poor Liz pulled a muscle in an unfortunate area and I couldn't help but laugh when she described it. I know I shouldn't have laughed but it was funny when she said it. I met some WSR freshies there too and we had a nice little chat. I'll no doubt see them over the coming Saturday's.

Roll on Saturday night and it was time for the bout. I brought along a mixture of family, friend's and neighbours who have never been to a bout before. I tried explaining the rules as best as I could and did more explaining during the bouts that I think they got the gist of it. All of them had an absolute blast and want to go and watch more bouts. I'm pretty sure I'll be bringing even more people along to the next bout. It's such a great feeling when you can show off something you love to others. It makes me proud to be involved with the sport. I can't wait until H.A.R.D starts bouting. Lyndall loved when some of skaters would do something to work the crowd up whether it would flashing their derby skinz, waving their arms etc. I promised I would do something to them when I started bouting. One of the funniest moments of the night was when my mum thought the Team Unicorns mascot was a cockatoo :D As for the bouts I love analysing them to see what the strengths and weaknesses are, what tactics are used etc. I wish there's a recording of the two bouts so I could analyse it properly but one thing that stood out was noticing a pattern from the last bout I went to and this one, there was a pivot from one side who would often skate too far ahead of the pack in their attempt to block the opposing jammer that they risked being penalised if they did hit them instead of paying attention to where the pack was. I think most people who went that night will agree that the 30 point jam by Winnie Bruise was bloody amazing and worth the entry fee alone. I also ended up talking to Bede and Mon at the bout about me being afraid to hurt my team mates at training. They were great, I think they helped me be more at ease with it. Lastly Liz and Sarah were cheerleaders for the Beauty School Knockouts for the night. No doubt Liz especially will give me crap when I'm forced to wear a dress for my sisters wedding when the photos end up on Facebook so I thought I'd get ahead of her and post her pic first :P

It was virtually empty at Skatel on Sunday morning which was great for skating but there was a group of annoying fuckers who decided to skate in the wrong direction for the entire session.At one stage Cherry, Cheya and Mon were all trying to teach me how to do a crossover. I ended up being able to parts of it but I couldn't combine them all together to do a crossover. They even got me to do scissor skating and in those few minutes I sweated more than I did for the entire session. Towards the end I tried keeping up with Cherry when we were skating laps. I'm not near her standard yet but my speed is improving. I've decided to make the Saturday and Sunday morning sessions at Skatel permanent. It's helping me with my skating and my fitness, it just means that from Friday night to Sunday night I'll be doing up to eight hours of skating/training.

At training on Sunday night we were told that we would be going through a mock up white star test just so we know what to expect when the test does come around. Since my ankle and now my heel were still hurting Cheya told me what things I shouldn't do like jumps and other things but I really wanted to push myself and see what level I was currently at so I'd go all out. I was happy with my snowplough's, t-stops were ok, I tried four point falls for the first time that night, no jumps at all and when I was getting up I wasn't using my toe stop a) because I have no confidence with these new stops and b) when I'd tilt my foot the pain in my heel got worse. Next up came the endurance test 20 laps in 5 minutes. I still couldn't do a crossover so I wasn't going to try doing them but I decided to hell with it I was going to try and skate like I do at Skatel even though the bumpy floor scared the crap out of me. So I went all out and once it was over I had nothing left in the tank and my ankle felt like it was on fire. It was definately the fastest I've ever skated at training. Matron was counting my laps, I ended up doing 19 1/2 laps. Dammit I was half a lap off from 20 that really got on my nerves, so close yet so far. The cherry on top was when we were catching our breaths back Cherry tells us 'that was your white star test'. For fuck sake!!! I've known for weeks that I wasn't going to pass on my first attempt but it still sucks when you know yourself that you haven't passed. I gave everything I had but for now it's not enough to step up so I went home shitty with myself.

I'm a bottler, I've lost count of how many things I've started over the years and given up. In roller derby I've finally found something I really want to stick with and try and be good at. This time instead of walking away I turned the disappointment and anger into something positive. I don't know why but I tend to perform better when I'm angry, I'm more focussed and don't overthink. Clearly the fear and softly, softly approach I've taken so far has held me back. It's time I start living up to my derby name. Given the size of me I haven't been playing to my full potential yet. It's time to take the shackles off and start using what I've got. Firstly I'm going back to my old toe stops because I could get up on those confidently. Next up guess what I'll be practising this week at home - yep crossovers. I have no intention of deliberately hurting anyone but I realise there's a risk I might accidently hurt someone in training, I apologise in advance! It's funny it took a knock back to finally find my feet in derby.     

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

I hit a brick wall, nope my bad it was Cherry.

I'd like to say that I was productive during the week and did a lot of off skate training but the reality was I did none, absolutely zip. I could sprout off a load of excuses but it doesn't change the fact I didn't do any off skate training which has continued on into this week. I was doing off skate exercising before I got the flu but I'm yet to get back on track. If laziness was a talent I'd be extremely talented in that department. I really need to get my arse back into gear.

I don't hate training but there's a part of me that dreads it somewhat due to my lack of self confidence of trying new things on skates. Driving to training I'm fighting myself, there's that part of me that wants to bail but once I get my skates on I'm fine. I swear I'm doing my head in. Friday night was somewhat frustrating as my ankle injury from the previous Sunday night flared up while I was training. I was getting angry because I had to keep going off because of the pain in my ankle. Mon picked up I was angry because I couldn't skate freely and being the kick arse derby wife she is she got me back on my feet and then the most amazing thing happened. I headed over to the drill that Cheya and Scott were doing which involved doing jumps. The only time I jumped in skates was when I was holding on to the rail at Skatel so of course I was crapping myself. I told Cheya I couldn't jump and she stuck with me trying to teach me how to do it on the spot. She tried to get me to do one while she jumped but I would remain frozen on the spot because all I could picture was me jumping and the wheels rolling out from under me and me landing smack bang on my arse. Cheya was really patient and helpful and guess what I ended up jumping and landing properly :D Massive relief. I practised a few more times on the spot until I worked up the courage to jump while skating. When I say I jumped they were so small I doubt I would have cleared an ant but I managed to get all eight wheels off the floor and land without breaking anything or injuring anyone! One day I'll work up the courage to jump like FiFi

It was off to Skatel for the usual social skate with the regulars. I tried to carve and almost landed on my arse. I'm not turning my left leg enough to do it effectively yet so I still can't hit Cherry :D Cherry on the other hand had no problems carving in front of me multiple times. I'm still elbowing her which annoyed me because I can't counteract her carves properly. She gave me a shoulder hit which she claims was a light touch so light that I almost stacked it :) Cherry mentioned in her blog that us Privates aka freshies will get to experience carving and one on one action at training this Friday, something tells me that there will be lots of stacks! I also attempted walking on my toe stops which I still can't do effectively and after Saturday that hasn't changed. Cheya and Mon were both trying to teach me with Cheya also doing a Riverdance impersonation on her toe stops :)

On Sunday morning I headed out to Skatel again with Liz and Sarah our future Privates. They're both pretty cool to hang out with. My legs were feeling the effects so I didn't go hard out but I tried working on my skating technique. I also showed Liz and Sarah how to do single and double knee falls. It's pretty cool when you can pass on your knowledge to others like the other guys in H.A.R.D have passed onto me.

Sunday night was bit of a disaster. I didn't even last the warm up because of my ankle injury. Cheya got the Privates to do knee taps and four point falls both of which I haven't done yet amongst other things while I was stuck icing my ankle on the sideline so that sucked.

Like I mentioned in my last post and on my Facebook page, H.A.R.D is having its next fresh meat intake soon. Poz managed to get us in the Hawkesbury Courier, here's the article with yours truely in the picture

Of course I analysed my stance in the pic and it was incorrect just as I expected. I'm not squatting down far enough so I'm bending my torso forward to compensate. I'd be more likely to land on my arse than to stay on my feet if I got hit.

The more I skate and train the more I realise that in order to gain more confidence and improvement the skates will need to be become an extension of my feet so to speak so that it feels natural doing things on skates almost like walking. Another thing is overthinking when doing things like jumps, stops etc. Unless I do all these things like it comes naturally to me I won't be passing my Corporal test. It's not all doom and gloom my team mates love correcting me on the way I pronounce derby. Growing up on English football I pronounce it darby due to a football team being called Derby County. Everyone else says it the American way, the funny thing is they think they'll change me :) Another cool thing is that the more experienced skaters are helping us Privates out instead of just relying on Cherry and Cheya. We've become a close knit bunch with everyone sharing their knowledge so it'll help us out in the long run. Cherry has joined the world of blogging. She's got some good stuff on there, here's the link.

Lastly, here are some clips from the Carolina based roller derby league with their hits of the year. I know a lot of people love watching the big hits and they are cool to watch. My geeky side loves watching these clips to see the techniques they use to hit and absorb a hit and which ones are legal and illegal hits. You'll find plenty of examples in these clips, enjoy :)