Monday, 24 May 2010

Time flies...

Long time, no update. Ooooops! But time does fly in the world of derby when you're having so much fun!

Where do I start?

Since my last update, we've acquired a new coach: Tui Lyon, aka BB Bombshell from the Victorian Roller Derby League in Oz. A statuesque amazon of a woman, she looks like she was born to play derby. She's over here in sunny (!) Wales with her man for a few months, and has been kind enough to come and help whip our fresh meat asses in to shape. And by gods, she is GOOD. Watching her you'd find it hard to believe she wasn't born with a pair of skates attached to her feet: it looks so effortless and natural! However, she has assured us that there was a time when she was a wobbly learner and fell over all the time. It's so heartening - I look at her and think with enough time and practice, what will be me someday.

On to the training...

We had one last session on the swamp that is Fitzalan high, and Sian took the opportunity to introduce us to pylometric exercises. Oh my, the PAAAAIN! They involve lots of squats, jumps and other moves to help develop strength and muscle tone in vital areas (thighs, ass etc). I had gone to the session straight from work so I was already pretty the end of the session my legs felt pretty much dead. The next day I struggled to walk! I wasn't the only one though, which is good. The more I skate, the more I will develop these muscles and the better I will skate. My theory, anyway.

During our sessions on Channel View (and it's ice rink floor of death) BB has been teaching us the derby skills we will need to pass our minimum skills: crossovers, derby stance, laterals, etc. I'm noticing improvement in my skating every week - things I was too scared to even try a few weeks ago I'm starting to get down. I'm not afraid to push myself, and every time I fall (and I do!) I get back up and keep going. There are a few things that are still eluding me though: crossovers, plough stops and laterals. And I know that I just DON'T BEND MY KNEES ENOUGH. That is my worst derby crime and the reason that the last couple of times I've wiped out I've ended up on my hip/ass and not on my knees. It's something I really need to keep working on. My crossovers are coming on though - yesterday I managed one or two around the corners without getting the fear. I know it'll come with time and practice. There are some things I am good at T-stops are pretty good and I can transition (go from front to back) quite well. Kat and I have been working on my transition stops in our dining room and we seem to be getting it down. It helps so much to have someone watch what you're doing and give you feedback - in my case, it mostly consists of 'BEND YOUR KNEES!'. It's the key to so many things in derby...

Finally, on to kit - BB gave us a really useful talk on skates, wheels and pads. I had a bit of a windfall last week (well, money back from my ex) so I invested in a pair of Smiths Scabs knee pads. I'd noticed my knees were really, really hurting after doing falls in my anarchy pads and did a bit of research (and posting on forums) I decided to upgrade. They seem to work very well for me - I'm pretty tall and they're quite long line. They're taking a bit of getting used to for crossovers though as they're so bulky compared to my old means having to lift my leg over further, which is scary! Hopefully this will just teach me to do deeper crossovers and make me a better skater in the long run.

I also have my new skates! Sure Grip Rebels with Fugitive wheels ^_^ I love them, although they took a bit of getting used to after so long in my Rios. I've decided to get some new wheels soon - channel view is so slippy I'm going to get some grippier ones. Sure Grip Sugars seem to be the best choice, and if the new floor we're going to be skating on in Coleg Glan Hafran is better I can mix them with my fugitives and have them as pushers.

So, until next time derby fans...over and out.

Sunday, 9 May 2010

a whole new meaning to 'sticky skating' and a night on the ice rink

So, since I last posted two derby training sessions have come and gone, on two very, very different types of floor.

The first was on Friday, in Fitzalan High School. After a small amount of getting lost, we were in the vast sports hall and getting ready to roll. Then we tried laps - oh no! None of us had any idea of the type floor in the hall, and unfortunately for us it was soft, sprung wood. Between my skates (cheap and grippy) and the floor (soft and also grippy) it was akin to trying to skate through treacle! It was damn hard work doing laps - even a slight let up in effort meant you stopped dead. I even managed to walk in my skates (a very weird feeling). However, the super-sticky floor had some advantages - it allowed us to practice some techniques and footwork that I've not been feeling too confident on. Falls were a little trickier, but my main problem was I still felt that I lacked control and ended up sprawling on the floor a little. I did manage a vaguely respectable crossover though, and I left the session feeling positive that I'd made some progress.

Today were in channel view, which has the slippiest floor known to man - it's more like an ice rink, and after Friday it was a real shock to the system! It took me a while to get in to my stride, and I felt my confidence wain once more. Chloe, who was leading the session, asked all the least confident skaters to form a group (which I lovingly nicknamed 'team special mittens') and run through a few exercises. During the weaving/pace line exercise I kept being told to slow down, which made me think that I should have had a bit more faith in my abilities and joined the faster girls. Ah well, a lesson learned for next week. We also went through falling drills, and I was paired up with the lovely Sian who gave me some good feedback and gave me some ideas of things to work on (not looking down, staying low in derby stance ect). By the end of the drills I felt I had made progress, maybe just baby steps, but steps forward none the less. The only drill that terrified me tonight was the last exercise - a form of the trolley dolly where one person faced the other way. Oh. My. God. The idea was to get us used to the feeling of going backwards. Now, over the last week or so I've been trying to go backwards in the safety of my dining room and getting about 3cm before I was gripped with fear. Tonight I was paired up with a girl far more confident than myself, and whipped along at a fast pace as I held on tight, trying not to look down. I managed not to fall on my ass, so I learned something - perhaps sometimes the best way to learn is to throw yourself in at the deep end.

Friday, 7 May 2010

you get what you pay for

I'm 3/4 of the way through my annual leave from work, and it has to be said this has probably been the least productive time off I've had in ages! Things like tidying my room and making a start on packing/going through all my junk before I move have all taken a back sleep to lazing, sleeping and skating. To be fair, it's been massivley enjoyable - I can't remember the last time I just did nothing but relax and enjoy myself!

So, on to the skating. This time off means I can attend all 3 weekly sessions, which is awesome. The week I was due back in work I had been put down to work on every single day of training! Luckily, one of my friends came to my rescue and swapped, so I'm only missing wednesday's still annoying, but at least I'm not missing any of the derby-specific training. I'll have to make sure I skate plenty on my days off and after work to try and make up for it.

This week's Wednesday veledrome session was a personal success for me- after falling there last week I was feeling deeply apprihensive about going there again. For some reason I'm far more scared to fall outdoors than in, and it doesn't help that so far the team are down two ladies with broken ankles! I know from my time on the ward that it's all about how you fall, I've seen people that came off motorbokes and in to walls escape with minor injuries, and someone that tripped over their cat need to have major surgery...still, I was very hesitant to begin with and skated slowly until I could calm my nerves. After about 10 minutes, I was feeling good and hitting my stride. I did notice though that I have this wierd habit of dragging my left foot a little- this is something I need to work on! Also, I've been finding it hard to corner, although I do wonder if that's more to do with how tight the trucks are on my rios. Sian, one of the founding brawlers, let me try on her R3's with amazing kryptonics wheels...and oh my, what a difference! At first it was terrifying (so much more 'slippery' feeling than the rios) but they are so much lighter and responsive. I took them for a spin on the straight, and they felt AMAZING...I found cornering a breeze, and I even managed a T-stop (I've failed every time I try to do these outdoors in my rios, they're too bloody heavy!). Skating in my rios after that felt like trying to skate in treacle.

This has gotten me pretty fired up to get some new skates, and more to the point some derby-specific skates. Nothing too fancy, but good enough to get me though this fresh meat stage until I'm ready for scrimmaging (about 8/12 months I reckon). Only problem? Ordering decent derby skates in the UK is a NIGHMARE. Riedell and sure-grips are like bloody gold dust. After much internal debate and internet trawling, I decided to buy some sure-grip rebels. They are more expensive than the R3, but I figured by the time I'd upgraded the wheels from the bog-standard ones the R3 comes with I would have spent the same amount, if not more. The rebel comes with decent wheels that should do me well until I can splash out on sugar hybrids :) Sadly, the place I've ordered them from is out of stock until next week, which means another week at least of skating on my rios...gah I'm so impatient!

On a more positive note, my quad is a hell of a lot better now. The extra stretches I've been doing seem to have made a lot of difference! I've not tested them out with any falls on skates (just off skates in my dining room) but as long as I remember to stretch out well tonight I should be able to throw myself in to the falling drills tonight...pun very much intended!

Let the good times roll...

Monday, 3 May 2010

growing pains

Yesterday was my first full-on intensive derby training session with the Brawlers. Carly, aka Biertrix from Rainy City Rollergirls. It was two hours of in-depth, non-stop training and my thighs certainly feel it today!

Within minutes of arriving, she gave us 5 minutes to kit up and start doing laps. Anyone who wasn't on the floor after 5 minutes had to do the plank in the middle of the hall for 30 seconds. Eeeeep! Then followed laps, stretches and then drills. The first drills were falls, and my left quad hadn't quite healed from Wednesday's fall. I tried to fall on the other knee, but just kept sprawling. I didn't feel I was able to do it safely, so after a quick word with Biertrix (who advised me to sit out the falls and stretch) I moved to the sidelines. Unfortunately, this was the point where I started to berate myself for not being good enough. I'm such a perfectionist, I always want to be the best. I want to get to the standard where I can play on the team, and I want to be worthy of rollergirl name. It's not enough for me just to think of a name: I actually want to feel like I've earned it. Of course, there is only one way I can earn it, and that is with my blood, sweat and tears. It's like sitting in front of a piano when you can play 'twinkle twinkle little star' and suddenly expecting to be able to play a Beethoven concerto: it's just doesn't work that way. It took me a while to stop feeling sorry for myself, but this morning I've come to the conclusion I was just being too damn hard on myself.

So, no more moping. Instead, I've come up with a list of things to do:

1. Strengthen my legs. Biertrix gave me some good pointers for exercises I can do to give me better strength in my quads. Not only will this mean I will be able to skate faster, but it will also minimise the chance of me pulling my quad again. I also need to remember to stretch, stretch and stretch some more.
2. Practice falls OFF SKATES in dining room (it has lovely laminate flooring). I want to be able to get my technique down and get it so that my falls are controlled and safe. The reason I hurt myself falling at the velodrome is because falls are not second-nature to me at the moment. I still over-think, tense, and end up hurting myself. This is something I really, really need to work on.
3. Work on my balance. Part of the basic skills is that you have to be able to skate on one leg for the length of the track, alternate legs. I read on the LRG forum that standing on one leg in your skates on a carpeted floor is a good way to train yourself until you feel confident enough to do it while moving.
4. Crossovers. I'm finding it frustrating that I lose speed when cornering, but I get THE FEAR every time I try and do a crossover and end up doing some weird hybrid thing. I'm going to start walking my crossovers until it doesn't feel weird to put one leg right in front of the other.

For those that are still feeling disheartened, Kitty Decapitate from LRG has these words of wisdom: