The feeling was building up all day from the moment I woke up and only intensified as I left the house to go to the first derby training session for the year. However terribly cliqued it may sound I was genuinely excited to be going back to derby this year. The first year I was shitting myself, the second year I was a little jaded due to injuries and setbacks. The interesting thing is between my previous post and this one things went horribly wrong for me that my preseason plans were derailed and things still aren't 100% but despite it all the experience has given me a new attitude to take into this derby year.
The first sign of trouble was over a month ago. The further along my preseason went the more I exercised. At the same time I was getting a sharp pain in my right hip with any sort of movement. The pain was getting worse so I hit up my physio and she identified it as bursitis. I was suddenly restricted to just pool work, weights and rest which sucked because I was starting to some positive results with my fitness. The physio part not only physically hurts but I also have to expose more of my arse than I care to because she needs to work on all the tendons connected to the bursa so I close my eyes and wish for it to be over. The things you have to do to try and get yourself fighting fit again!
While I was dealing with the injury in the off season I also had to deal with my grandmother ending up in hospital. To cut a long story short she has cancer again for the third time but this time they can't operate on her because her heart wouldn't last the surgery so it's spreading. Her immune system is wrecked from all the medications she has consumed for all sorts of medical issues over of the years that her organs are starting to give out. She ended up in hospital because she got pneumonia. Her condition is stabilising but ultimately it's a losing battle as her health deteriorates. I'm close with my family so it has hit me hard especially as I see her condition get worse and I can't do anything to help her. Despite the really shitty situation my grandmother has taught me a massive lesson. She's had health problems for over 25 years and in that time she's pulled through situations that no one should have the right to because she refuses to quit. She has more heart and fight in her than Rocky Balboa. Although I'm struggling with her situation I decided to take a leaf out of her book. She accepts what's ultimately going to happen and she isn't fearing it but she sure as hell will be going out fighting. This year for derby I will be turning cannot into can regardless of how many falls I have in the process I will keep getting back up. There will be no quitting on my part. I am my grandmother's granddaughter.
Butters ran our first training session for the year on Sunday. It was really great to see my team mates again and train with them. I am one of those 'lucky' people that if my exercise levels drop even just a few days my fitness levels all but disappear. I felt a little off with my skating for a while and by the time we were doing paceline work my quads were protesting very loudly but my new sassfit compression shorts were trying to tell them to shut up. My blocking was a little off and rusty but if I keep working at it it'll come back. My agility shortcomings were hugely apparent and I made a mental note to work on that in my own time.
It was blocking week so we were working on a lot of blocking drills which I really enjoyed. Butters tested out a new drill which was quite fun and educational. When I was in the same line with Cherry she pointed out that I needed to try and slow down the jammer more instead of gaining speed. I also discovered that it has become so natural for me to resist when someone pushes me on the track that I'm even doing it to my team mates if they're trying to push me onto an opposing skater. I'm not exactly small so if someone like Butters struggles to shift me then someone like Rex has no chance! It's something I need to be mindful of. When I had to jam I liked the fact that I started thinking about how I was going to try and split the wall and get through that way.
I was like a kid on Christmas morning when they said we were going to have scrimmage. I didn't care that we were short of players which meant we would have to play multiple jams WE WERE SCRIMMAGING! Both sides were evenly split in experience with some team mates scrimmaging for the first time which was awesome. Cherry might not talk much on the track but in between the jams she was a wealth of knowledge pointing out things she picked up or different tactics to try. I really enjoyed scrimmage, personally it felt like one of the best ones I had had up to now. I was working on offensive blocking trying to break up the opposing teams walls to help my jammer get through which is something I hardly attempted last year, I was very focussed on defensive blocking. I even attempted wriggling my arse to break up the wall behind me without doing direction of gameplay. It was such a good learning experience especially when Butters caught me winding her up for a block and sidestepped me which highlighted the need to do quick, sharp blocks. Butters and I jammed against each other in one jam, she got lead but I chased her down and we had a bit of jammer on jammer action going :)
I got a massive compliment for Butters. She annihilates opposing players for fun on the track and in one jam she came up on my inside and tried to take out our wall to help her jammer get through. She hit me but I hardly moved. She then said that I was hard to move, coming from her that's a massive compliment and I couldn't help but smile :D That scrimmage finally cemented in my head that I finally found something I was good at in derby - counterblocking. I'll fight my ground so if you're going to get me out of the way it better be a good one. Although the likes of Cherry still gets me off the track I think it takes her a bit more effort to do so :) Throughout the scrimmage I had opposing skaters lining me up to try and take me out and more often than not they bounced off me and fell. I was just standing my ground. I feel as though I've finally laid my base in derby now I can really start to push on from being so one dimensional and become a better all round skater like working on things like my lack of agility.
There are so many amazing bouting opportunities coming up this year starting with 5x5 kicking off next month. I'm still one level away from being able to participate in things like that. It's so hard not to be excited about this year even about bouts that haven't been confirmed like us against the Harbour Harpies (yep I'm not giving up on that one!). This year has the potential to be my breakthrough year for derby. I'll certainly put the effort in to make it happen, anything is possible!