Last weekend was make or break. I got told that since I passed all the skills and scrimmage the previous week I was been given one final chance to get my laps for endurance. I was feeling somewhat conflicted about getting another chance since I had already been given two chances the previous Friday and flunked. I thought that should have been it and that I'd have to wait six weeks before attempting it all again. I had never cracked 22 laps but my team mates seemed to have more faith than me that I'd get the 25 in 5 on my third attempt. I thought stuff it, the worst that would happen would be that I'd flunk it again so I decided to give it one more crack.
Friday training session was a damn good one. Dee ran a really good session covering drills that were beneficial for pack work and scrimmage. Doing the brace drill scared me a bit because I got so used used to transitioning one way that when I had to transition the other way I was so slow. Another issue I found was that I'd be so concerned about trying to stop the jammer from breaking through our wall that my team mates were basically being crushed between my arms and the jammer and they'd end up coming to a complete stop which ends up causing a stop block. During one of the training drills I had to jam. I suck arse at jamming but I really enjoy it. I would like to become an all-rounder in derby. I see it as a puzzle by trying to figure out how to get through the pack successfully despite all the obstacles in the way.
The scariest thing of the night for me was the cannon ball drill. It was the first time I tried it. It scared the crap out me. Every attempt I grabbed my team mate and dragged them with them which wasn't smart but it was my natural reaction. Someone told me to get down lower and stick my arse out and it actually felt ok! I was feeling stable and if I did make contact with the jammer it actually ended up stopping me from going off the track.
Throughout the week I was doing a lot of reading and practise tests on the derby rules to prepare for the written exam for Sergeant's level. On top of that I was also looking on the net for tips or videos on how to crack the magical 25 in 5. I know one of the biggest problems with my technique was that I'd glide into a bend and then try to crossover coming out of the next bend. Problem with that was that I was losing speed by doing that because I'd go from fast to slow so not only I was wasting energy I was also over relying on my left leg which was causing me to get stabbing pains in my left quad.
On Saturday morning I headed up to the NRDL social skate for a special one on one session with Dangerass who was awesome enough to give up her Saturday morning to help me work on my skating technique for endurance. This was literally my last chance to try and conjure up a miracle to help get me to the 25. It felt like a proper training session, I was there to learn, not waste her time. She watched me skate a few laps and picked a few things that I could fix up especially my stance and the way my body was angled when I approached the bends of the track. She was getting my legs moving in a way they probably hadn't been moved before. It was about de-constructiong everything from the crossovers, to the stance, to the best way to move along the track and put it all back together again. I was getting taught all sorts of new things even more effective stretching, it was all stuff I could incorporate into my training.
It came to the point of the session where Danger timed me doing 25 in 5. I started off ok but then I thought I wasn't going fast enough so I automatically reverted to my old form so of course I quickly got tired and my form went crap. I was really struggling and wanting it to be over. What I didn't know was that Danger was timing me actually do 25 laps and see how long it took. She was recording each lap which was actually really good because I could actually analyse my performance. My legs felt wrecked by then so I spent the last 30 mins coasting on the track but I used the time to practise trying to take the perfect line on the track and getting my body angles right. Considering how much time I spend up there with the NRDL guys when I finally do bout against them it's going to feel like an intraleague bout for me :P
Sunday rolled around and I was feeling nervous as hell. I was within touching distance of passing Sergeant level but I needed to finally break my record of 22 laps. Before I went to go off and do my laps I had a quick chat to Matt while we skating around during warm up. I don't know what he does but after having a chat with him, getting some last minute tips helps my nerves. He's just so calm and his advice is sound.
I walked off to the other court like I was walking off to my own execution hehe. Jac decided she'd skate behind me during endurance to keep me going and I had Posh skating ahead of me to try and keep up with. Katie and Apple were keeping track of my laps and time on the sidelines. Thankfully the track wasn't slippery like it had been for the last couple of weeks. Once that whistle sounded I just went for it. I tried to do everything that Danger had taught me the day before, long strides, correct stance, body angled correctly around the bends etc. One thing I quickly noticed that by moving my feet around the bends instead of my usual gliding my left quad wasn't hurting like it usually did. The couple of times I started doing it Jac quickly told me to keep moving my feet. Jac was great she was on my arse the whole time, not letting me slow down it was such a massive help. Apple used some funny motivation by yelling out to pretend I was chasing down a jammer with no shortage of funny comments to go with it. Out of all the skaters in the world the first person that came to my head was Jilla so in my head I was chasing her down on the track.
At the half way mark Katie told me I was on 13 laps which momentarily stunned me, I was actually on track to pass! Holy shit! I kept pushing on. I don't know how I looked but it felt the most strongest and confident I've ever skated, like I was doing it right. I started breathing heavier and with each lap it sounded like the cheering was getting louder. I stumbled a little and almost stacked it. I think someone said I had one lap left and they were telling me to hurry up so I gritted my teeth and kept my legs moving. The second I crossed the starting line I dropped to the ground feeling completely fooked. Then I got the good news I passed with two seconds to spare! I couldn't believe it. I was getting pats on the back but I couldn't get up off the track. When I finally got up on my jelly legs I hugged every single one of them. All of them helped me get over that line and achieve what had been impossible up until that point.
We went back to the other room where the rest of them were training but I wasn't celebrating just yet I still had to do the written test. I spent as long as possible on the test re-reading the questions and checking my answers more than I ever did for my driver's license test years ago. I handed it in and then went back to training. They were covering a few different things which was fun and challenging. The last drill I did was blocking and trying to evade blocks. I was with Cherry and she absolutely nailed me with a cracking hit but I stayed on my feet while quickly checking to make sure none of my ribs were broken ;) We went at it again when she got me with another belter of a block but this time I stumbled and my right leg did its best Gumby impersonation with all my weight going on it. The pain in my leg was blinding. I felt it in my knee, ankle and foot. I couldn't stand up and dragged myself off the track. I thought it would die down and I could back on the track but it didn't so that was the end of my training night.
Before the guys went off to scrimmage on the other court Betty came up to me to tell me that I got 93% on my written test which meant I passed my Sergeant level! I was trying to get my head around it so I didn't end up telling anyone until once scrimmage was over. The first person I told was Jac and from there it was just one big hug fest, I lost count of how many team mates came up to hug me! I really am lucky that I'm with HARD, they stuck by me and never gave up on me especially the first two years when I spent more time on the sidelines and physio table than on my skates. I really can't wait for the chance when I get to line up alongside them on the track and REPRESENT!
The first person I told outside of HARD was Cass. Her and I have almost mirrored each other's progression through derby and with both us on the verge of getting to bouting level at about the same time it was only right to tell her. She was happy for me :) but then completely surprised me when she said she was going to post about it on the NRDL members page. Does that make me an adopted member now ;) I may have started off as an NRDL fangirl but it has gone well beyond that. All those social skates and training sessions have helped me make a better skater that it really does feel as though I'm being coached by both HARD and NRDL.
I know I was quick to thank everyone who helped me along the way and I've never forgotten that because I wouldn't be here typing this up as an intraleague bouting level skater (hehe) if it wasn't for all the help and guidance I've gotten the last 2 1/2 years. I'm also proud of myself for not giving up along the way when I kept picking up injuries, couldn't do consecutive training sessions or even get through a training session because my knee or ankle injuries got worse. This is the end result of not giving up, I'm at Sergeant level! There were plenty of times along the way I thought I wasn't going to get here but it all came down to hard work and determination and of course wanting to fulfill the derby goal I've had since October 2010.
I've enjoyed the moment of knowing I've got to Sergeant level and although I'm currently off skates due to my knee injury I'm already thinking about the future. I didn't work this hard to get to Sergeant level to put my feet up and say yeah I made it. The hard work really starts now. I've got to lift another level so that I can actually perform at bouting level and not just be the weak link. Now that I've got to Sergeant's level I get to train with the big kids on Tuesday night's with Friday night training being optional. I've got a lot of things I want to work on so that I can become a better skater so I'm still going to go to the Friday night training sessions to try and become a better skater. I'll still got to the NRDL social skates when I can because they've helped me out a lot also.
Lastly I know I'm probably one of the most boring people in derby in that I couldn't care less about skate out's, uniforms, fishnets etc. It's the sporting side of it that has always interested me. I've been thinking about this for a while but I've decided to drop my derby name and instead go with my actual name. Sylvia Klobucar doesn't sound as cool as Lisbeth Slammed-her but it's my name and how I perform and act on the track is all me and not some other persona. The only crap thing about this? The postcard that Jilla signed for me has now become redundant :( I wonder if she'd sign another one for me!