Every one of my blogs has been neglected since forever. It's time for some long overdue reform.
So, six months since my last post. Six months of skating, of injury, of encouragement and discouragement, of frustration and thrill. Lots of practice, a trip to watch WFTDA regionals, and a first sort-of bout. Wondering if I should quit, and wondering how I ever lived without this.
If I start in July and try to catch up, I'll never get to now - I can't even remember what some of the half-started posts were supposed to be. So I'll start now and work back in the slow times, and see where that takes me.
Tonight was a practice, part drill, part scrimmage - our first scrimmage since our Christmas/New Year's break. The drill part started out awful - for some reason, members of the training committee have fallen in love with running as an off-skates warm-up, and I hate running. Hate it with the fire of a thousand suns, with the chill of the deepest levels of Hell. My speed and endurance are poor - the weakest in the league - to begin with. But running - running makes everything worse. After just a few strides my calves seize in pain, pain which lingers for the rest of the evening, and comes back to haunt me the next day. I can't concentrate on anything else because I can almost hear my legs - and then my feet - screaming at me to stop. Tonight was a little better than previous practices because I found a helpful article on running injuries, and spent much of the day following its advice about stretching to avoid them. However, I also spent much of the day dreading the promised warm-up, so a practice that I'd been looking forward to began to loom over me as ominous as a court appearance once I saw the "bring tennis shoes" notice.
Of course, things one dreads are rarely as bad as expected, and that was the case tonight. I managed to alternate brief periods of running with walking - perhaps managing 30 seconds at a stretch sometimes - and it didn't hurt too much afterwards. The rest of the practice was a pleasure, as I partnered with one of my favorite skaters, and got to reinforce some skills from the Triple Threat Roller Derby Boot Camp I attended a couple weeks ago. These boot camps are great, because skills that seemed like flashy tricks just months ago - quick transitions, or sideways skating - are becoming staples for everyone in the league as skaters bring back things they've learned. Or, at least, as some skaters bring back things they've learned, but that's a different sort of post.
Tonight's scrimmage was great fun, although I can't tell if I'm improving or not. I realized after the fact that I sort of drew a penalty at one point, when I tripped over a skater that I probably should have been able to dodge if I'd worked harder at it and been faster on my feet. She went to the penalty box for it - so in a real bout, it would probably have been good for me to flop, but it seems sort of unethical. Then again, I'm supposed to play within the rules - and as long as it doesn't look like I'm deliberately falling, it's OK. I think.
Anyway, I think I tend to overthink things. The scrimmaging was fun - and once it was over, they decided that one of our refs needed to jump in and jam, because he's been practicing with a men's derby league that's forming in Peoria. This guy is fast, and incredible agile - but it turns out he falls pretty easily. It also turned out that, with Team Zebra down one man (and already short-handed), a fast-paced jam can get pretty furious pretty quickly. It was loads of fun, but I'm pretty sure we all would have wound up in the penalty box if there had been enough refs left to watch. I still use my hands far too much, and really need to work on that - I can't just tap opposing blockers on the shoulder to try to gently move them out of my way.
I'm so excited about having the guys at practice, and the formation of a local men's league. I think it will really raise the level of our game. I'm happy that 21st-century roller derby started as a women's sport, and I love the feminist aspects of it. I'm very happy that it hasn't taken on the "let's giggle at the silly men and suggest they couldn't do this because they have penises" aspect that so many female-dominant activity groups have. But, having seen men's derby, I think having the guys around will keep us on our toes. Practicing with them helps me overcome nervousness. In one jam today, I - and I think all of us - were intellectually defeated the moment the other team's jammer took the track. She's the best skater in the league, and we just knew she was going to get around us. I was stuck in an outside position with a large swath of track to guard, and there was no question that she was going to own me - but I was so sure of that I might as well have sat down and let her skate circles around me. I hope doing some practice against guys twice my size will help me be less afraid of my league mates.
Saturday should be my chance. There's a co-ed open scrimmage in Iowa City, and a handful of us are planning to go. I can't wait!