Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Normal service has resumed.

Last Saturday night was tops. I headed up to Newy to celebrate Cass' birthday with some of her Newy team mates. It was great to hang out with some awesome derby folk away from derby. There was lots of laughs and drinks. Tantrum really is something special. She just exudes confidence, the more I hang around the likes of Tantrum the more I start to come out my shell. I love the fact that derby has helped me out in more than just skating skills.

On Monday I entered the physio's office hoping that I'd finally get my clearance to go back to full training. My knee was responding well with the increased training and exercise and my physio was pretty confident that I was reaching the stage where I could go back to full training, her only issue was the impact on my knee when I'd fall on it during training. She worked on my knee and was happy with how it responded so she said she was going to write a full clearance letter for me!! You'd have thought I would have jumped off the physio table in happiness but it was mostly relief that I was feeling at this stage because it meant I could finally move onto the next stage.

I'm in limbo right now about which level I'll be at when I go back to training. Our league has a policy that if you're off skates for more than 3 months you drop down a level. I got back on skates before 3 months BUT it's been over 3 months since I did full derby training. I'm waiting to hear back from the relevant parties on what my fate is. If I do drop back down to Corporal level 2, it'll mean I passed Sergeant level but never got to train at that level because I got injured the same night I passed the assessment. It would be typical of my derby journey to date so at this stage I wouldn't be surprised if that happens.

Throughout all this it has made me realise that I don't fear coming across anyone on the derby track anymore because I don't think anything could be tougher than all the crap I've had to go through just to get to bouting level. If I was going to have a problem with anyone or any team it would have been Jilla and Newy. Having had the chance to do some blocking with Jilla earlier this year I got to have my 'eek I'm fangirling about blocking with Jilla' moment that it's now out of my system. Now it's about not giving her the satisfaction of putting me on my arse and getting added to her trophy cabinet :) Same goes for scrimmaging with NRDL earlier this year, having experienced that it has made me prepared on what to expect so that I don't get all the caught up in the moment for when we finally do bout them.

There's some amazing scrimmage/bouting opportunities coming up for our league. If I get to remain at Sergeant level I'll be putting my hand up for that because it'll be an amazing learning experience coming up against other league's. Regardless of which level I end up at on Friday night one thing I am looking forward to now that I've got my full clearance is going back to the Newy social skates. I've always treated those as extra training sessions and they helped improve me a lot. There's also the CKO social skates that I want to try and get to because I would be able to skate and block with my friend Candy again which I'm really looking forward to.

It's onwards and upwards from here!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Like a kid on Christmas morning

I'll be the first to admit that I have a real love/hate relationship with derby. It may do its best to piss me off and frustrate me beyond measure but it has also produced moments of pure, unadulterated joy. This knee injury hit me hard physically and mentally but when I finally decided that it wasn't going to get the better of me I started making a recovery with the injury. With each bit of improvement it's hard not to get excited and start thinking I'm ready to go back to full training but my physio brings me back down to earth. I'm still restricted to an hour each session but I'm now allowed to do more advanced stuff like carves, stops, transitions. The last few times I've gone to the physio and not been given the full clearance there has been that initial disappointment but then I think back that it wasn't that long ago that I wasn't even able to skate. I've done everything the physio has told me to do so far and I've not had any setbacks so I'll keep doing what she tells me to do.

Each session back on skates is another little confident booster which in turn makes me appreciate being back on skates that little bit more. After almost each training session I'm on such a high because I've done something different even if it was a stop or something most would consider mundane that I can't help but post about it in happiness on Facebook. It's funny how you begin to appreciate being able to do all the little things again when you get forced off skates for a few months :) Apologies Facebook friend's I'll try and quiet it down on Facebook for now with the over excited posts!

Last Saturday was a whole lot of fun. Cass came down to Sydney for the weekend so I organised a skate at Skatel. Some of my team mates Betty, Cherry and Roadtrain also came along. It was a fun morning being able to skate with them all. I must admit I broke the physio's rule of no contact work. I was caught between feeling I'm doing something I shouldn't be doing and feeling like a kid on Christmas morning about the thought of doing some blocking work for the first time in months. Cass and Cherry finally met each other and had a good chat. It didn't take long for Cherry and I to settle into our cat and mouse game we play at Skatel. I was just so happy, doing what I love with some amazing friend's. Life was great. I was attempting to carve Cherry on her outside but ended up clipping her wheels and I ended up dropping to floor like a bag of shite. I didn't land on my knee so I was all good and ready to go again.

By the end of the session I still hadn't solved one of life's greatest mysteries - how to get around Cherry on the track. The problem isn't that I get all fanigirly and go all 'OH MY GOD IT'S CHERRY', it's nothing like that, it's just that she's too quick for me that it doesn't matter if I go to the left or right of her I can't get around her. It was great to be able to go social skating again, I'm hoping to go to a Newy one in a few weeks time when I'm not working on a Saturday. I'm also hoping to bring up a few of my team mates at a Newy social skate if they fancy waking up early on Saturday morning. I probably shouldn't have done blocking work before I got cleared by the physio but my knee pulled up well. It was a good confidence booster, what better way to test yourself out than against someone of Cherry's calibre. I definately felt the hunger to pick up where I left off pre-injury (when my body is ready for that) which was a good sign and I'm satisfied with that until I get my full clearance.

As most derby folk know by now the 'mercy' rule was looking to be introduced at the next derby world cup. I was horrified when I read that. That goes against everything I believe in. It only takes a few power jams to turn a bout on its head. It punishes the team that has worked their arses off to get to a level where they can potentially dominate other sides because they're forced to call off a bout. Where's the incentive to continually improve if a bout will be called off? What does that teach to the team getting flogged, it's ok to quit if it all gets too hard? Fuck that. If I was on a team that was getting hammered on the scoreboard I would want us to fight for every point and make the opposition fight for it too right until the final whistle. You might not win on the scoreboard but at least you know you gave it your all.

I've been reading one of Bruce Lee's books from his series. I was a fan of his from a young age when I first started watching his movies. Over the year's I really appreciated his determination and constant search for improvement which led to his awesomeness. It wasn't luck, it was his hard work and near constant practise  that got him to where he was. While reading his book this one particular quote stood out for me, it's basically what I try to strive for with derby.

You must be fierce, but have patience at the same time. Most important of all, you must have complete determination. The worst opponent you can come across is one whose aim has become an obsession. For instance, if a man has decided that he is going to bite off your nose no matter what happens to him in the process, the chances are he will succeed in doing it. He may be severely beaten up too, but that will not stop him from carrying out his objective. That is the real fighter.

 I'll be bouting one day with my team mates and one of those bouts will be against Jilla and co at Newy. Mark my words :)

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

It's the little things.

WARNING: This post contains ridiculous amounts of over excitement. You have been warned.

One thing I've learnt these last two months is to be careful what you wish for. When I had that disasterous scrimmage with NRDL I told myself that even if I passed my Sergeant level the following week that I wouldn't put my hand up for the family and friend's bout the month after. I certainly got my 'wish' and then some. Not only did I not bout but I missed out on two months of training and the amazing CRDL and VRDL bootcamps that my league hosted. So I've decided to have a more positive wish out there in the hopes it happens - I really want to scrimmage and bout with HARD against NRDL, I really want to scrimmage and bout with HARD against NRDL, I really want to scrimmage and bout with HARD against NRDL. We'll see if that works!

Last Thursday I walked into the physio's office mentally crossing everything I could possibly cross in the hope that all the rehab work had paid off and that my knee was strong enough to get back on skates. My physio didn't waste any time, she asked me if I was ready to go back on skates. You know when you're trying so hard to supress a smile that you have a ridiculous looking expression? That was me. It's funny I'm really not the hugging type but I could have given her a massive bear hug in that moment. She put me through various tests and my knee pulled up sweet with no side effects, so far, so amazingly good! While Shirley was working on my knee she laid out the ground rules for my return to skating, I didn't argue with any of it. It takes a while for me to trust people, over time I've gotten to trust my physio to the point I wouldn't go to anyone else, and of course I trust her advice. The deal was I was allowed to go to training on Friday and Sunday night and skate by myself for an hour each session. No falls, no contact, just skating.

Armed with this important piece of paper I celebrated all the way to my car the second I stepped out of the physio's office, by that stage I really didn't care if anyone saw me I HAD MY CLEARANCE LETTER!!!! :D

Friday night really could not come fast enough, regardless of how busy it was at work time went so SLOW. I was clearly rusty with going to training as a skater because half way to training I realised in my excitement that while I had packed everything in my skate bag I forgot to bring my helmet with me IDIOT! so I had to return home to collect it. By the time I eventually made it to training I had lost complete control of my face, I had a permanent grin on my face that I could not get rid of haha. My team mates were pretty ace as I walked past them while they were doing off skates training. I quickly sorted through the insurance paper work and then seriously I could not get my derby gear on quick enough. In the past I've mentally struggled getting back on skates after an injury layoff sometimes to the point that I would sit out a session after almost making myself sick from fear of injuring myself again. This time though after the battle of almost losing derby I was prepared both physically AND mentally that the second my wheels hit the ground I got up skated with confidence instead of crapping myself that I hadn't skated in over two months.

I took it easy getting some slow laps in and getting used to being on skates again. It didn't take long to realise that my form and technique have deserted me these past two months but you know what I didn't care in the slightest for once because I was back on skates and that's all that mattered :D While my team mates were doing paceline drills I was skating alongside with them on the outside of the track. I know I wasn't actually training with them but it felt like I was back with them again and that made me even more happy. I had team mates ask me throughout the night how happy I was being back on skates again, truth be told there wasn't enough words to describe how happy I was so all I could do was give them a big grin hehe. Some of them asked me how my knee was feeling too. It felt pretty good, there were a couple of times when I'd push off my right foot I'd get a quick, sharp pain straight down my knee that my knee started to give out on me but I'd stop, stretch and go slowly and it was fine. It was most probably because it was the first proper work out my knee had in months. I really didn't want the hour to end or take off my skates. Up until this last injury I really couldn't tell you the last time I just enjoyed skating. It was always filled with feelings of frustration that I was so shite or pushing myself to try and improve. For that one hour although all I did was 'just' skate around in circles, I was the happiest I'd been in a while and I really appreciated the fact that I was on skates especially when it could have been so very different just a few weeks ago. I realise this post has already exceeded acceptable cheesiness levels but it was such a great feeling being able to tick my name off for training attendance again :)

I've got great, supportive team mates. Halfway during training Butters grabbed her phone to take a pic of me back on skates so that 'I could put it in my blog' haha so here it is :) WOOHOO!

While there was no skating for me on Saturday it didn't mean the derby awesomeness stopped at all. I took the all too familiar route up the F3 to watch the latest NRDL home bout. I went up a few hours earlier to catch up with the likes of Mon, Mick and Candy for some lunch and a proper catch up away from derby. It was great fun and I'd love to catch up with them on a more regular basis.

We rolled onto the main event as we made our way to the bout. One of the first people I ran into was Marilyn Tantrum who was scoregirl for the night. One of the first things she told me was to feel her boobs haha. I've gotten to know Tantrum from the Newy social skates, she's one of the funniest people I've ever met. At one of the social skates earlier this year I was bending over to get something from my skate bag when someone started touching my arse. I froze in shock before turning around ready to deck the person responsible only to realise it was Tantrum mucking around! It's basically become a running joke between us, in fact it's probably helped get used to having my personal space invaded during scrimmage and pack drills and not get freaked out by it. I was catching up with Cass when Jilla came out of nowhere to give me a high 5 for getting back on skates haha.

The Smashleys were having their best season to date result-wise as they were the only home team still undefeated. Their last bout against the Rollers was a close one so I was expecting another close one. Despite having the brighter start it was all Rollers after that. The Smashleys jammers could not break through the strong Rollers walls, not even the Smashleys blockers favoured tactic of taking the pivot line when Babycakes jammed was helping. I may bleed blue for the Smashleys but it was hard not to be once again impressed by Danger's performance for the Rollers even though it was having a negative effect on the scoreboard for the Smashleys. She picked up where she left off from the Dames bout. It has been interesting watching her play in Quirky's absence. Quirky pretty much plays at the front of the pack as the last line of defence and pulls off a lot of blocks when she bascially launches herself at the blocker to get one last hit in if the blocker manages to somehow try and evade her. Danger was also playing the last line of defence role but she was sticking to the Smashleys jammers like glue that she never had to try and launch herself at a jammer. If the jammer managed to get aroud Danger they were usually fucked by the end of it because of all the energy they used trying to get arounf her. The Smashleys picked up a lot of penalties in the first half which allowed the Rollers to have a huge 50+ point lead.

It was really a game of two halves. In the second jam Jilla forced a track cut on the Rollers jammer which allowed Babycakes to score a 30-0 point jam. From there the Smashleys kept chipping away at the Rollers lead, picking up quick points and then calling off the jam. Despite being sick and on cold and flu tablets Jilla was once again bossing it with her backwards blocking. Watch her skates when she backwards blocks, she alternates feet on her toe stops so it looks as though she's doing the moon walk hehe. I didn't think it was possible but I became an even bigger fangirl of Jilla's that night. There was times when she was playing 2-3 consecutive jams despite being sick. It doesn't matter if she's sick or well she manages to churn out consistantly high level performances. The final jam of the bout saw the Smashleys hold onto an ever so slender lead but the Rollers had a power jam with who else but Danger lining up to jam. I could barely watch but was it any surprise that Jilla targeted Danger with her backwards blocking and eventually knocked her down forcing Danger to call off the jam but 6 points short as the Smashleys held on for a 132-126 win. I nearly had a fecking heart attack watching that bout! I may be a Smashleys supporter but if there was ever a case for a drawn bout this would have been it because neither side deserved to lose considering the performances they put on.

On Sunday I snuck in to watch a part of the VRDL boot camp that HARD hosted with Mad Mel and Ruby. Fecking hell that was amazing to watch and I'm sure it was even more amazing to participate in. Mad Mel us 100 miles an hour the WHOLE time! I absolutely loved the discipline and professionalism they brought, it was how a training session should be. Mel even provided some great tips to Poz and I for benching. I found myself agreeing to everything she said. It was just such an amazig bootcamp. I took as many notes as I possibly could.

I stuck around to get another hour of skating in. While warming up on the track it took all my self control not to engage in little blocks on some of my team mates. I wanted to so badly but I made myself remember that I still wasn't cleared to go back to full training so I really didn't want to fall and stuff up all the progress I made with my knee rehabilitation so I just did what the physio told me to do - just skate. I joined in with my team mates to play the rules game that Rex came up with. It was actually a lot of fun. Being so competitive I raced to the next rule and did one foot snowploughs on my right foot and got no pain in my knee which was a great bonus. Getting through another hour on skates pain free was more than I could have hoped for :D

I was over the moon with how the weekend went and the return to skates had no side effects. Here's hoping it continues to improve over the next few weeks!