Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Stepping out from the shadows

No surprise I've been on such a high after last week's good news and it has been nice to feel as though I've accomplished something with derby instead of trying to organise another physio appointment. It's all well and good to enjoy the moment but it also helps bring you back to reality. Moving up to scrimmage level means I get to be annihilated by the big kids now while I try to find my feet, the training gets a lot harder, I train an extra hour each week and I'm one level away from bouting intraleague. Basically the hard work starts now :)

For me the biggest battle up to now was all mental which resulted in my shocking injury record since I started derby January last year. I went into each training session fearing I'd pick up another injury that it's no surprise that I kept picking up injuries from all the tension. I didn't want others to think I was soft and couldn't hack it so more often than not I'd train injured which only made the injuries worse and drag on. By not having any faith in my body holding up I was too scared to try more advanced skills so that all I was really doing was just skating. This year I did a lot of work away from the derby track to try and get my head right so that this vicious cycle wouldn't continue. I think the results are starting to show now because I've now managed to have six straight training sessions without any pain in my knees or ankles which is a record for me. From that I had the training session with Newy which allowed me to start training with a bit more confidence for the first time ever. The training has certainly stepped up and asking a lot more of me but I've never smiled as much as I have at training. I'm having fun! I'm not an awesome skater but I'm surprising myself by attempting skills that I thought I'd never be able to cope with.

Now that I'm in a better head space the focus needs to shift to the physical aspect of the sport. While derby doesn't require every skater to be a size 8, it's still a sport which requires one to think like an athlete especially at bouting level. With the new WFTDA rules about to come in which is shifting towards faster derby, fitness will certainly play a large part in both scrimmage and bouting levels. I've already set the wheels in motion with the amazing derby family in MFP which has kept me focussed on my goals. The extra exercise I've been doing has allowed me to fall in love with exercise again after we fell apart for a few years so I'm being more active now.

I've got a hard arse trainer in the form of Suzie who has been very patient with me after all the injuries I've had and ended up wrecking her training plans :) She's been a great help with strengthening my legs which has no doubt added to my current non-injury period. When she found out I'd moved up to scrimmage level she asked me what sort of stuff I'd be doing for derby training now and then started planning exercises and strengthening work around my answers to put me in an even better position on the track. Thanks Suzie :)

While working on transtions on the concrete in the backyard I started to attempt jumps and toe stop runs on the grass and I was able to do both of them so much better. Granted I had the advantage of doing them on grass but the main benefit was getting used to the feeling of doing them and getting the confidence to do them on the track. Whenever I'm on skates in the backyard I'm always under the watchful eye of Bruno and he doesn't move the entire time there. He's probably thinking 'humans are weird' ;) 

If you want to be the best skater you can be you should try and learn from one of the best in the business so I asked Cherry if she'd be a mentor for me. She's helped me a lot in the past at Skatel, training and off skates and thankfully she said yes :) I've even asked Jacqui to help me out (another awesome skater in our ranks). If that wasn't enough I even asked the queen of backwards blocking Jilla for some tips because I want to try and start tackling backwards blocking. I'm getting a lot of help from so many people which I'm thankful for because it is having a positive effect on me and my skating.

One issue which I've really needed to address is my hero worship. My fav three Brig, Cherry and Jilla are without doubt AMAZING skaters and had the biggest impact on the skater I want to be. My problem is (and through no fault of their own) I put them on a such a high pedestal. I know they're human like you and me but I let my fangirl side take control. In the last month or so while I've tried to move from spectator to skater it's finally sunken in that if I continue to work hard and pass the last two levels that one day I'll deserve to be on the track with them and there won't be that be that untouchable divide that I've put in my head. Of course with their experience they'll snap me in two but I'll get the opportunity to try and return the favour ;) Don't get me wrong I'll still always be a fangirl of the three it's just in healthier doses nowadays :)

Right now the thought of bouting isn't even a thought in my mind right now. There is so much work to do before I can even realistically think about it. That doesn't mean that there isn't some awesome goals and challenges along the way to keep me on my toes! Just getting used to scrimmaging is a big deal and it'll take a while. If all goes according to plan hopefully some of the Newy guys will come down to scrimmage with us next year, as if that isn't motivation to work my arse off between now and then! Also, once I find my feet with scrimmaging I'm hoping that maybe Cherry and I can go up and scrimmage with the Newy guys one night. That would be another dah-bee dream come true for me! 

The past month has had such a such a positive flow on effect on me. I'm in a happy place right now, I really look forward to training and for the first time ever I'm going into training with confidence. With each passing training session I feel as if the real me is starting to come out. Say what?

I love roller derby, I really do but it's not my first love. That belongs to Liverpool Football Club and has so for the last 23+ years. Sport has had a major effect on my life and it's one of the few areas in my life where I don't hold back, I step out of my shell. Now that I'm feeling more comfortable with derby I feel as though I can start to step out my shell. Away from the sporting fields you're usually lucky to get two words out of me not because I'm a snob, I'm just really shy. Whenever I've played football (soccer) once I step over the white line it's game on. I get stuck in, I'll yell out instructions, I'll organise my team mates, if we're losing I'll pick up my team mates, even if we're losing on the score board I always believe we can win and don't give up. I'm competitive as hell, I get the shit's if I lose a game of uno :) That's the side I'm going to start to bring out in derby. It's probably a completely different side to how most derby people know me by. Fear not I won't start to slide tackle opposing skaters ;)

I once got told by someone that I don't wear my heart on my sleeve, I wear my body on my sleeve and they're probably right. I have no poker face, I blush easily and there's no mistaking my passion for sports. I'm one of those people that lives every hit, every move, every up and down moment. I thought I should just warn you guys so that no one is shocked by my actions on the track ;) I won't be pulling off my shirt and twirling it around in the air but don't be surprised if at the end of my first bout win,lose or draw I do something like a massive knee slide in happiness that I finally got to the point of bouting. Here's a sneak peek of what sort of behaviour to expect from me from the players and supporters alike. Worried yet? ;)

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Walk on...

WARNING: It's been a crazy few weeks so if this post is incoherent I apologise in advance!

Although I was shit scared for most of the training session with Newy a few weeks ago because I was way outside my comfort zone it had a real big positive effect on me the last few weeks training with my league. For starters I wasn't holding back in training, I was giving everything a go. That resulted in me getting a compliment from Poz during a jumping drill on Sunday :) I had a new found determination to try and make it to scrimmage level no matter how long it took me. Taking my friend Cass' advice of practising transitions and backwards skating whenever I could, whenever we had a drink break at training I'd quickly drink then practise both transitions and backwards skating until we started the next drill.

We did 20 minute endurance on both the Friday and Sunday nights and I managed to improve by 6 laps on Sunday's attempt mainly thanks to Jac who was showing me the cat's eye or whatever it's called when it comes to skating laps correctly. Around the bends I'd always slide out wide instead of sticking to the inside time which wasted valuable time. I'm currently at 76 laps in 20 minutes, I need to be able to crack 100 laps in 20 minutes so lots of work to do to get to that magic 100 laps mark. Challenge accepted :)

Instead of ignoring things that I suck at and never improving I've started keeping a derby journal of sorts. After each training session I take note of endurance laps (if we do it) so that I can track my improvements and list anything I struggled with so I know to work on it in my own time. I'm determined to move from just being a spectator to becoming a skater.

The Smashleys vs WSR bout last weekend was freaking amazing. With Newy branching out to three home teams next year there was a real possibility that this might be the last time I saw Jilla and Brig as Smashleys depending on how the home teams are set out next year. I started off as a Smashleys fan because Jilla was on the team but if neither of them are Smashleys next year I'll be cheering and cursing them while hoping their teams lose when they play the Smashleys :) The Smashleys might not win many bouts but they were flying out of the blocks against WSR and were never in any real danger of losing. Both sides love the physical aspect of the game so there was no shortage of earth shattering blocks.

The Smashleys were playing with fluidity and as one unit. Jilla would block from the back of the pack and if the WSR jammer got past her they were met by Quirky at the front of the pack which allowed Jilla to get infront of them so the jammer had bugger all chance of scoring. It was the reset drill played to perfection. I must have been a bit on the loud side with the cheering because at one stage the lady who was sitting in front of me turned around and smiled when I cheered on Brig as she got lead jammer in one jam, oops! Susy Pow played her last bout for Newcastle and she left nothing in her tank, she caught me by surprise with her blocking, I'm more used to seeing her jam. I think the biggest cheer of the night came in the very last jam when Jilla lined up on the jammer line. She was on a power jam and managed to score a 7-0 jam. For me the funniest thing was seeing her monster her way through the pack. This was running through my head while she was jamming!


It made me think how much I'd love to see a HARD vs Smashleys bout (to go along with my HARD vs NRDL dream!). Make it happen please derby gods!

Monday night will go down as one of the most strangest night's in my life. I was about to start working on this post when I got a message from Cherry. She said the assessment results were in and that the training committee had passed me so that I'd move up to Corporal level 2 which meant I was allowed to start scrimmaging. Instead of going ape shit with excitement I stared at the computer screen re-reading the message for the next ten minutes with crickets chirping outside in the background. I felt like I was in an episode of the Twilight Zone and wasn't believing what I was reading.

My response to Cherry was probably the last thing she was expecting, I literally responded with 'What the hell? Are you serious?' I went to bed shocked and still not believing it. Next morning I got up and the post was still there and that's when the flood gates opened. It felt as though I'd consumed a carton Red Bull I was on such a high the entire day at work. I couldn't believe it after all the injuries and setbacks that I've had these last two years I was finally at scrimmage level!!! GET IN!!!!!! It made the news all the more sweeter that I found it difficult to control my excitement on Facebook hehe. After experiencing so many lows for so long I took the day just to enjoy the experience of feeling pure happiness with derby. Do I appreciate it more because of all the difficulties I had along the way? Who knows. I did savour the moment as though I had just won a grand final. God knows I took my sweet time getting to this level. I don't think I'll be scrimmaging right away. Cherry's worried about all my previous injury problems so I'll more than likely eased into it. After waiting this long, I don't mind waiting a bit longer because the last thing I want to do is injure myself right away because I imagine it's a whole different thing doing scrimmage based drills and actually doing scrimmage.

The response I got when I posted the good news on Facebook blew me away, I can't believe the support I got from so many people. I wouldn't be here without a lot of help and support along the way. The likes of Cherry, Jac, Punkie, Posh, Cheya etc helped me so much at training. I'm just greatful that my league stuck by me and had so much patience with me. I want to re-pay them with interest on the track one day.

Although I'm not a member of their league I want to also thank the Newy guys, especially Cass. I've got the 'Newcastle effect' when it comes to them. It started last September when I went up for a social skate and Cass showed me some techniques for crossovers. I ended up passing my fresh meat test the next night after my second attempt at it. Their outdoor skate-a-thon helped tackle my fear of outdoor skating. Then there was the training session with them a few weeks ago that triggered something in me and from that I passed to move up to scrimmage level. I reckon if I got to train with them when they do blocking practise I'll probably turn into an awesome blocker ;)

I've had such a love/hate relationship with derby from when I started to now and there's been times where I really started to doubt whether I'd even get to this stage let alone bout. The biggest thing I learnt in that time is that if you really want it, you'll keep fighting for it even when some people (and even yourself) tell you that it might be time to hang up the skates. Keep strapping, listen to the physio, listen to your body. If it gets harder to pick yourself up physically and mentally after a setback it's ok to get a little help from your team mates and friend's. That feeling you experience when you finally achieve something that you've fought so long for, it really is the best feeling in the world. No one can take that away from you. It makes all the setbacks, tears and frustrations along the way worth it all in the end :) I know everyone is starting to wind down for the year derby wise but I don't want the year to end! Lots of skating on my own during the break I think!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Winners are grinners :D

Call it the perfect storm, all the planets aligning or everything clicking into place. I wish every weekend was like last weekend. I'll explain before anyone gets the wrong idea.

The last knee injury in September which kept me sidelined for over a month knocked a bit of the stuffing out of me. I was feeling that after making some positive progress on the track and confronting some of my fears by getting more stuck in during pack work that I was back at square one again. I was finding it a little difficult to get back on skates, not from fear but from thinking if this was how it was always going to be, little progress and lots of setbacks so that I'm pretty much in the same spot and never really threatening to get up to bouting level.

You know me I like to analyse things to death, so I sat down and started analysing one of the things I hate analysing the most - myself. One of the biggest things I need to address was belief. I've got all these derby related goals that I'd love to achieve but my lack of belief in actually achieving them left me feeling more of a spectator and less of a skater and I've probably felt like that pretty much since I started derby. Another year is pretty much over and I'm still no closer to bouting so I asked myself did I really want to feel like this next year for the third year running? The answer is no. I realised that putting so much pressure on myself to succeed because I wanted it so bad was leading me to constantly breaking down with injuries. I needed to loosen up a bit and start enjoying the ride.

Next on the agenda was the big issue of my weight. I've lost about 6 kilo's since I first started derby but the reality is I need to lose a lot more. For one my knees and ankles might stop breaking down on a regular basis. Dealing with issues away from the derby track made the weight issue more of a psychologial issue than a physical issue and after working on that throughout the year I feel as though I finally am ready to deal with it properly once and for all. A couple of my team mates Cherry and Sarah were talking about my fitness pal on our Facebook group page so I checked it out and ended up signing up. It's basically an online calorie and exercise counter. I posted on Facebook last Saturday if anyone else used and was immediately flooded by derby friend's from various leagues who use it. For me it was a pretty big deal because here I was breaking my usual behaviour by not letting anyone else in and sharing embarrassing info. To top it all off it meant I really had to start looking at myself something I've done well to avoid for a long time. You know what, it's probably one of the best things I've done. We've got a little derby community going on the site and the support, help and ideas from everyone has been amazing that it's starting to make me think that it's ok to sometimes lean on others for help and not think that I can't let anyone in.

I hit Skatel on Saturday morning for the first time in ages. I practised my form and worked a bit on transitions. Once again it highlighted how I'm as flexible as a brick wall. I don't need to be as flexible as Gumby but it would be nice to loosen up a bit because it'll no doubt help me out on the track. The skating was good, it was nice to just skate with no pressure while I was getting back on my feet.       

Sunday rolled around which meant travelling up to Newcastle to train with the Newy guys, no big deal :P To say I was looking forward to it was bit of an understatement! I was happy as larry all morning but the second I parked my car in the car park the butterflies in my stomach went on a rampage and I was suddenly nervous as hell, what the hell was I thinking that this was a good idea? I went in, said hi to lots of familiar faces, got on my skates then Jilla came up and asked me if I knew what they were doing for training? I didn't. She told me they were covering backwards blocking and I immediately thought 'ohh fuck'. I had attempted to backwards skate once and that was for a few seconds, plus lots of transition work which I was still doing at a geriatric pace. Jilla took us through a couple of backwards skating drills and I sucked horrribly but I still tried. There was one drill where I had to do a transition at speed, I tried and sucked at it and ended up feeling like that special kid in school. I had to admit it what they were covering was too hardcore for my current skill level and I was probably putting my self at risk of a broken ankle.

Someone suggested I join Rum'n'rola who was taking the group who had just passed fresh meat through the basics of backwards skating and transitioning. Ahh my skill level! I joined them and I'm so glad I did. I really needed to learn the basics and Rum'n'rola was a fantastic coach. She helped me out heaps and showed me different ways to tackle transitions and even to do them. When the freshies finished I went to the side and practised all these new things by myself. I would take a glance from time to time to see what the other guys were working or listen in when Jilla was teaching them a new skill to backwards blocking. I kept going over what Rum'n'rola had taught me and then I started grinning like an idiot. Some of the things were working for me. Here I was being pushed way outside my comfort zone. Yeah I was bricking it but my feet were starting to get in synch with my brain WIN!!! I was over the moon and didn't want the session to end.

The longer the session went on, the more I could feel that spark of 'hell yes I'm going to bout one day, I can do this' which I had been missing lately. Jilla apologised that I didn't really get to train with them and you know even a couple of months ago I would have been gutted if that had happened to me but for me the arvo and that whole weekend had been a resounding success. It felt like a win, something I haven't had too much of in derby. I went beyond my comfort zone and ended up surprising myself and having the fun in the process. A couple of bonus things which made it an even better weekend, despite all the pressure I put my knees and ankles under on Sunday I came through pain and injury free. Also Danger said if there was anything I wanted to work on that I was always welcome to come back and train with them. That made my weekend even better :) The Newy guys were their lovely and awesome selves and I really appreciated all their help. It definately triggered wanted to do extra practise by myself on the weeknights and makes me look even more forward to training with my league again on Friday :)  

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Back to 'normal'

I thought I'd wipe away the cobwebs in this place and put up a new post now that things are starting to get back to 'normal' after the crazy month of October. After screwing up my knee at training in September, I finally got back on skates at training last Friday night. I thought I'd ease back into it and train with the freshies for the week so that I could get back on my feet and it was going sweet but would you believe it my night got cut short, not by injury (for once) but by the nut that came off which secured my plate to the boot so the plate was flapping about and I had no idea spare parts so that was my night cut short. I went home and ordered two sets of mounting kits which had all the nuts, bolts and washers so that I wouldn't get caught out again :)

October really was crazy busy, I'm still recovering! It kicked off with ERRD. I watched 14 bouts over 2 days and took down notes for all of them for bout write up's. I must admit my brain did start turning to mush a little on Saturday and by the end of the tournament I was a little knackered. I think I was derby-ed out! I tried to cover as many leagues as possible and covered almost every league at least once. The tournament itself was awesome sauce. Well done to the organisers on such a great job. I can't wait for next year's one. I got to see a lot of leagues for the first time and a lot of great bouts. Some of my favourite bouts were S2D2 vs CCRG, HARD vs CRDL B, NRDL vs WIRD just to name a few. Since I covered HARD's first bout, I missed their second one because I was covering the NRDL vs SRDL bout so I missed HARD's first win :( One of my highlight's of the weekend was getting a pic with ALL three of my favourite skaters Jilla, Brig and Cherry thanks to Cherry pretty much organising it all. Any surprise it became my profile pic on Facebook hehe. The pic itself has ended up being an extra motivating factor. I fully intend to get another pic with all three of them when HARD and NRDL bout each other and I'm bouting :D

Newy had a 13km outdoor skate fundraiser for their big bout against Auckland on the 13th October. I offered to skate alongside Cass for moral support ignoring the fact that I hadn't skated in weeks because of my knee and that I've hardly done any outdoor skating. They were encouraging dress up and Cass was in a pig outfit so I chose the cow pattern for my knee and ankle strapping to blend in :) Being extra cautious, by the time I was done strapping my knees and ankles I looked like a cow held together by bits of skin. They had a group pic before they started but I stayed out of it because I'm not part of their league (I was the only non-NRDL person doing the skate) but Jilla told me to get in the pic because I was doing the skate so I joined in. I was shitting bricks most of the skate. There were a couple of hills which I snow ploughed down and lots of near misses where I almost stacked it. I did stack it once when I went over a pavement crack but I landed on the grass. It was great skating with Cass. When I wasn't skating in fear I was having fun skating alongside Cass and some of her team mates. The longer the skate went on, the more confident I was feeling. It's what I needed after I was feeling bummed out about the knee injury. It's made me want to take on the Fernleigh track which is up that way and over 30km's but that's going to take a lot of attempts before I can do the whole thing in one go. The Newy guys made me feel welcome and Booga even gave me a hug as I was leaving :)

Last week my league hosted its first ever home bout as HARD took on S2D2 (a league I'm pretty fond over). It was a pretty full on day getting everything ready before the doors open but everyone put in and it all went off without a hitch. The merby bout was good fun with the crowd getting behind all the boys. Seriously Fink is freaking awesome. He struggled a little with the physical side but his skating skills more than made up for it when he could pretty much apex jump half the track.

I was on media duties for the night but when did that ever stop me cheering on my team ;) I was cheering on my guys when they took on S2D2 while trying to take down notes. Hats off to S2D2 they were deserved winners. Ann O'War and Killabee are awesome jammers and Apolcalyss is a no nonsense blocker who more often than not annihilates opposition skaters when she them in her sight. My guys are improving with each bout, we played some nice stuff throughout the bout. Our walls are getting better, I love watching the likes of CrackherJac and Punkie Brawlster improve with each bout. Lola Ebola was back in her first bout since August and it was like she never stopped bouting. The look on her face when she nailed an S2D2 skater was like 'Fuck you I'm Lola' hehe. It was great catching with old friend's, some who I hadn't seen in a year. I also got to the meet a fellow derby writer from Victoria The Cleaner which was nice :) Since the bout was Halloween themed they were encouraging people to dress up so I thought I'd get dressed up as my favourite horror movie villian Michael Myers from the Halloween movies. I lost count of how many people came up to me telling me I was scaring the crap out of them hehe. It provided a bit of a challenge watching the bout through the mask and trying to take down notes. I had to have my notebook up to my nose and tilt my head which probably looked even more creepy but it was the only way I could see properly.

I haven't given myself much preparation since I just got back to training last week but I get to fulfill bit of a derby dream of mine by training with the Newy guys this weekend. For once I'm not putting any ridiculous expectations on myself, I'm just going to give it my all and try and have fun in the process.

Despite having some big derby moments in October I was starting to feel a little lost. The latest knee injury hit me hard but then it quickly got caught up with all the derby media work which was self inflicted. I've had 22 write up's to do in October. I was thinking yeah I could do this easily until it came to typing them up and realised it's actually a lot to do and would take up all of my free time. As the month went on I felt less like a skater, add in the fact my knee was playing up I was starting to feel as though the closest I'd get to a derby track would be as a spectator. I ended up discovering a few things over the month which helped light the fire in my belly which is just what I needed after falling into a funk. I've gone on long enough, more next week.