Tuesday, June 14, 2011

I Should Learn to Keep My Big Mouth Shut

I am regretting having ever blabbed to the entire world that I want to put more effort into derby, because now the entire world is holding me accountable. I don't have the option of just talking the talk without walking the walk, unless I'm okay with looking like an ass. And considering that I'm walking like a cripple this morning, I'm borderline being okay with looking like an ass.

Putting in extra effort is hard and it has been kicking my butt. I've been pushed out of my comfort zone, into doing burpees (up/downs), planks, wall squats, and learning new vocabulary for proper derby stance that, quite frankly, makes me blush. Here's the rundown of the first week of my "extra effort".

Monday: Skated (actually skated, in a forward motion, not just side-stepped) outside with Tasha, better known as my waxer / spray tanner, and soon-to-be Rockette. When I introduced Tasha to my fresh meat mamas, I told them that she'd seen my naked body and said, "I want to go to there"; to which I responded, "Someday, this can all be yours" as I elaborately swept my hands over my body. "You just need to join roller derby." I think that's when I did the lunge-heard-round-the-world. Obviously that's all it took to convince Tasha to join up. Can you blame her?

We did laps on an outdoor track for about 45 minutes, and I felt pretty proud of myself until I saw that other derby girls are skating SEVENTEEN MILES A DAY. Seventeen. MILES. But, I did crossovers. Successfully. We also had a tender moment when I realized that Tasha has the exact same Big Five skates that I started on - finally, someone will empathize with my plight.

Tuesday: Wasatch Roller Derby (the "real" roller derby girls) strategy / endurance practice, which I like to call, "Here's All The Reasons You Will Never Be A Good Derby Girl." We were told the practice would be on skates (some weeks are just drills on foot). About a minute after I got there, I learned that we were actually starting out on foot. Awesome. My footwear options were flip flops, skates, or work boots. So I chose barefoot, and left sweaty foot marks all over the floor. So hot. And also slippery.

We started out doing a series of wall squats and planks, which had me sweating and panting about thirty seconds in. I had strategically placed myself between two other Rockettes, Bruiser and Liz Tailher, who have both been doing a 7 AM boot camp. Bruiser helped correct my posture and plank position, which was really helpful. Unfortunately, no matter how many times she adjusted me, I still ended up resting my sweaty face against the wall during the squats, and resting my gut on the floor during the planks.

Then we did burpees (I know them as up/downs), which is when you do a jumping jack, then drop down into a push up, then pull your legs up, stand up and do it all over again. Which really ended up with me looking like I was doing the worm, because that's how awesome I am at doing pushups.

This class was led by one of the founders and coaches of Wasatch, and the focus was on strategy. The way she explained different techniques made a lot of sense, and it was really helpful. I found myself saying, "Oh, now I understand why Wanton grabbed me by the pants to slow me down..." We even got handouts with flowcharts and graphs, all explaining different strategies. Now, if I wasn't such a negative person, I probably would've come away from the class thinking, "Wow, that was really helpful! I learned a lot!" But, I'm not, so I came away with the following pearls of wisdom that were tossed down from the coach:

1. "If your arms jiggle, you will never be a good derby girl." As she was saying this, I was trying to discreetly tuck my arm fat into my armpits, hoping she wouldn't single me out as having jiggly arms. I also resisted the urge to ask her if having stretch marks would stop you from ever being a good derby girl, because I got the sense very early on that she wouldn't appreciate my humor.

2. "If you can't run a mile, you will never be a good derby girl." This gave me flashbacks to highschool gym class, and me walking a 15-minute mile. That was also the only time in my life I didn't envy my sister for having big boobs, as just watching her run the mile made me hurt. But once I hit my mid-twenties, and hadn't run a mile in like ten years, I figured that the downside of having big boobs wasn't enough to stop me from getting them.

3. "If you can't skate 25 laps in less than five minutes, you will never be a good derby girl. I can do it in 3:30." K, I'm not even going to touch that one - I think we all know where I stand on the speed and endurance issue (read: I have neither).

4. "If your coach puts you on the inside line and tells you to stay there, it's because there's nothing else they can do with you." When we heard this little gem, all of the Rockettes in attendance burst out laughing. I can't count how many times my fresh meat mamas have said to me, "Just stick to the inside line and don't worry about anything else." Any idealistic notions I had about being put on the line because I'm a good blocker went right out the window. I wanted to gather up my arm fat and just leave. But since I had flapped my gums about wanting to get better, I couldn't tuck tail and run in front of the other Rockettes. I'm pretty sure they would have physically stopped me from leaving, and I love them for that.

In defense of the Wasatch coach, I can completely appreciate where she's coming from. She's leading a team of intense girls who are out for blood, and practice is very, very serious for them. She's all about the brutal honesty, and while I understand that? I was yearning for the coddling, gentle love of my fresh meat mamas.

Thursday: Red Rockettes practice. I was so glad to be back with a familiar group of faces. Practicing with Wasatch gave me a whole new appreciation for the Rockettes, and the environment that our coaches have created for us to learn and have fun. We have such a large group now that practice is split up: 7-9 is for the rookies, 8-10 is for the vets. I think the highlight of my night was at about 9pm, when I was already sweating and dying, and one of the rookies (who had been skating for two hours and was barely glistening) said, "Didn't you just get here?" Yes, yes I did, which makes it that much more sad.

Friday-Sunday: Pretty much one continuous cycle of eating, sleeping, and watching Bridezillas. Whatever, don't judge me.

Monday: Happy Valley Derby Darlins practice. This is a group that was formed in December, and is currently recruiting skaters. They skate just a few minutes from where I live, and had extended an invitation to the Rockettes to come practice with them anytime. So E-Rolla Virus drove down from Salt Lake, and she and I entered the lions den together.

HVDD has about 25 girls, and they all looked like they could beat me up. E-Rolla and I just looked at eachother like, "What have we gotten into?" but we geared up and joined in the stretching. Their coach, Breaker 1-9, immediately sensed outsiders amongst her crew, and called out for us to state our names and business there. When we said we come in peace, and from the Red Rockettes, they all started...cheering. They let out a chorus of, "Yay! You're here to help us!"

Blink. Blink. E-Rolla and I exchanged glances that said, "We have absolutely nothing to teach you, seeing as how we are still trying to learn how to skate", but they all looked so...hopeful. They had no idea they where about to be underwhelmed by the Alamo of the Red Rockettes. So instead of just coming out with the truth about how novice we are, E-Rolla and I rode the celebrity status wave for the next thirty seconds, aaaaaaaaaaand then we started skating.

It became very clear, very quickly, that these girls have been focusing on speed and endurance for the past six months. They were fast, stable, and had perfect derby stance. They almost never broke form, and if they did, they heard it loud and clear from Breaker 1-9, no pun intended. She was loud, and she was very, very clear with her instructions. The last time someone screamed, "MOVE YOUR ASS!" at me was in highschool, when my tennis coach would make my two-syllable first name into a one-syllable word, indiscernible to the untrained ear. "Moo ya fee, Sah! MOO ya FEE!" (Translation: Move your feet, Sarah! MOVE your FEET!)

Along with "loud" and "clear", Breaker had a very distinct way with words. This is the part where I learned new vocabulary for "proper derby stance". We've been taught tits over knees over toes, hands in the vag. Simple as that. That phrase has been drilled into my head, and it's almost become second nature. And really, "tits over knees over toes" is as descriptive as you need to get with me when it comes to proper derby stance - I get it, I understand it, I need no further explanation.

Breaker 1-9 has a different opinion when it comes to explaining proper derby stance, and honestly, I don't know if I can even bring myself to write it here, because it's straight-up prison talk, and the thought of my sister reading it makes me feel embarrassed. And although I have the sense of humor of a thirteen-year-old boy, even I draw the line somewhere.

We were doing a pace line, skating a figure-eight pattern. It teaches you how to skate close to eachother, and to keep pace with the girl in front of you while not breaking away from the girl behind you. We were also practicing sticky skates, which is skating in a forward motion without picking up any of your wheels. It kills my thighs. Breaker kept yelling at us to get as close as possible to the girl in front of us, as low as we could with our asses out. Really, that statement from her would have been enough. "Get your ass down and out", or "Get all up ons", or even "Get your face close enough to kiss the butt of the girl in front of you" are all very self-explanatory, but Breaker took it to the next level.

I really can't bring myself to write what she actually said. I've tried several times, and I'm just too modest. (Whoda thunk? Me? Modest? Pfffft. But seriously, this is just too far for me to take it. At least on my blog. In person, I have no problem saying it, but for some reason, seeing it in writing is too much.) Suffice it to say that it started with 'E' and ended with 'ATHERASSHOLE.'

In other words, it sounded a lot like, "Meat her class mole."

If you were playing Mad Gab, your clue would be, "Eater as hoe."

That's how close she wanted us to the girl in front of us. My response was to turn around to E-Rolla, who was directly behind me, and say, "Toss my salad."

While it was a great workout, I'm not sure if I'll be going back to the HVDD practice. I get my fill of prison lingo from Lockup, thankyouverymuch.

Monday, June 06, 2011

Lessons Learned

I drove home from last Thursday's scrimmage in tears. As if I didn't look enough like a crazy person, I was also shaking my head and talking to myself. I'm sure the other commuters got a good laugh out of it. But let me back up.

I skate with an amazing group of girls who are all getting better and better and better each week. I watch them lap me during warm ups, juke me on the track, and generally leave me in the dust during a jam. On a normal night, I'm slow. Last week? I felt like I had peanut butter flowing through my veins; which, normally I would say is a delicious feeling. But I haven't eaten any peanut butter in six months (I have a bit of a ... problem with peanut butter. As in, if there is any peanut butter in the house, I will eat the entire jar with a spoon in one sitting. I wish I was kidding.) I didn't even get to enjoy the peanut butter euphoria while my butt was dragging around the track; I just got the after effects of sweating, panting, and a stitch in my side.

I started every jam at the beginning of the pack, and ended every jam halfway around the track, behind everyone else, just trying to catch up. I was always the straggler. And it's not like I went unnoticed either; did you know that there's a ref assigned to keep an eye on the stragglers? Neither did I, until I heard the head ref yelling to another ref, "Keep an eye on the stragglers!" Meaning that I had my own personal ref skating alongside me the entire time I was gasping to catch up to the group. Nothing like a little public flogging to really give you confidence.

I felt like every time I was out there, I was holding my team back. And of course everyone was so nice about it, which made me feel even worse for dragging them down. England suggested that I stick to the inside of the track so that I have less distance to cover. Pushy asked what the team could do to help me out there, and all I could think was, "Slow down!" And Wanton took a more practical approach by grabbing my waistband and pulling or pushing me so that I'd stay with the pack.

So I spent the whole drive home being angry with myself and trying to figure out what the heck my problem was that night. I felt like I was trying hard, but no matter how hard I pushed, skated, and puffed out my cheeks, I just wasn't getting anywhere. My first reaction was to blame my skates.

For the past six months, I have been skating on top-of-the-line, highest quality Big Five skates. The hard plastic toe stops have been implemental at teaching me how to stop without using my toe stops, because instead of stopping me, they just squeak across the floor. The hard plastic wheels really help me keep my balance and grip the track as I'm not doing crossovers. They give me a good, solid stance. I highly recommend Big Five skates to anyone who wants to work twice as hard and get half as far.

I've been putting off buying new skates because a) I'm cheap, b) skates get expensive, and c) did I mention I'm cheap? Then Sugarplum Scary made me an offer I couldn't refuse: she had bought a new pair of skates because her original ones didn't fit right, so she was looking to sell them. And they just happened to be my size. I skated around a few times and was in awe of the actual rubber toe stops and grippy wheels. The toe stops actually stopped me! My wheels didn't slide when I pushed off! In my state of wonder, I realized that I had no idea how to skate on good skates.

I also realized that it maybe wasn't the best idea to break in new skates on a scrimmage night. Because although I finally had the right equipment, learning to use it was a different story. I felt like I was starting from square one.

For a few minutes, I convinced myself that surely I wasn't the problem; it was the skates! Yes, that's it! The skates! How could I be expected to keep up when I was trying to get used to new skates? It had only taken me six months to learn how to skate on Big Five's, which buys me at least another three months before anyone expects me to be useful on the track, right? Yes, that must be it.

Then some nagging thoughts started creeping in. I thought about all the new girls and how amazing they're doing. I thought about girls who had started the course six weeks late and were lapping me, and girls who can only make it every few weeks and they're lapping me. Everyone seems to be getting better every week. Bascially, everyone laps me and I knew in that moment that it wasn't because of my skates. And that kinda sucked.

I finally admitted to myself that I haven't done anything to help myself improve outside of Thursday nights. Most of the other girls skate at least three or four times a week, they go to an endurance skate class on Tuesday nights, they go disco skating, they do a boot camp at SEVEN IN THE MORNING! These girls are hardcore and serious about getting better, and what have I been doing? Drinking diet pepsi and watching Mob Wives, that's what. If I hadn't gone off peanut butter, I guarantee I'd be sitting around eating that too.

Getting better at skating isn't something that's just going to happen to me, no matter how bad I wish it would. I have to be willing to put in the time and effort to get better, otherwise I'm just going to stay in the same place while everyone else continues to lap me. I don't want that, I don't want to hold my teammmates back, and I'm pretty sure the straggler ref is sick of skating alongside me.

So I made a few decisions. I'm going to start attending the Tuesday night endurance class, which I'm already dreading. The thought of doing squats and sprints and running makes me want to puke. But everyone who goes has said it makes a huge difference in their skating, so I have to give it a shot.

I'm also going to make an effort to use my new skates more than once a week, and I'm already off to a good start with that one - last night, I skated around a park trail with my friend/waxer/tanner Tasha, who's going to join next session. And guess what else - I actually did crossovers. Seriously. I know. I know!

I could come up with a million excuses not to do these things - gas is expensive, the drive sucks, I'm tired, I'm lazy, The Real Housewives of New Jersey is on, blah blah blah. But I can't keep making excuses for sucking at skating - it's either put in the time to improve, or quit because I'm just getting in everyone's way. And like E-Rolla Virus said, derby is cheaper than therapy, so there's no way in hell I'm quitting.

You heard it here first - Bone is getting her butt in gear.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

San Antonio: I Didn't Really Get It

It's June, and there is still snow on the mountains here. I'm so over the Utah winter, so for Memorial Day weekend my roommate Tiff and I decided to take a trip somewhere hot and sunny. We ended up going somewhere sweltering, sticky, and confusing to me: San Antonio.

Neither of us had ever been there, and we were excited to see the Alamo, the Riverwalk, and of course, the sun. I know I run the risk of pissing off a lot of Texans by saying this, but I was really looking forward to gaining a better understanding of why the Alamo was such a big deal - I totally didn't get it, because the Mexicans won, but the Alamo is "a symbol of Texas liberty". More on that to come.

Let's start with the things that didn't confuse me.

The Riverwalk

The San Fernando Cathedral


Optical illusions

Another optical illusion.

Beyond that, San Antonio kinda lost me. I spent most of my time there with a puzzled look on my face, asking, "Huh?". Actually, I spent most of my time sweating, chafing, and trying to breathe with my mouth closed so Tiff wouldn't realize how out of shape I was. I'm pretty sure I walked more last weekend than I have in the last five years combined.

These tourism posters were all over the place.

Hello, my name is "I don't really get your slogan."

Who wouldn't want a free sniffing of Bone swass after a day of sweaty thigh chafing?

These cryptic messages confused me. At first, I thought the Mexicans were just really bad at writing a haiku, but they still didn't make sense. Tiff was smart enough to figure it out: it's all about the river. I never would've gotten that on my own.

Alamo City Ghost Tours. We had a couple different tours to choose from, so we went with the group that had the most confusing website. http://www.alamocityghosttours.com/. We knew we were in for a real adventure when we read one of the testimonials: "I feel as if I have been transported into the 1980's movie Ghostbusters." Plus they promised that everyone gets ghost hunting equipment! I was fully expecting a proton pack, and fully planned on shouting, "Don't cross the streams!" at least a dozen times. However, the equipment we got was not quite Ghostbuster-caliber.
Tiff demonstrating how to use the "ghost hunting equipment": point, shoot, get temperature. Her laser temperature gauge confirms it: my butt is hot.
The scariest thing I saw on the ghost tour: a dead bird. Even scarier was when a competely oblivious lady stepped on the dead bird and I heard it crack. It creeped me out worse than anything else on the tour.

Which brings me back to the Alamo.I was excited to go inside and find out what all the hoopla was about. I thought there would be people dressed as Davy Crockett, whooping it up and firing pistoleros into the air; and I was hoping that one of them would be able to explain why this place was such an integral part of Texas freedom if the Mexicans won...

My hopes of seeing Davy Crockett were quickly dashed as soon as we went inside. It was made clear that there are no shenanigans or tom foolery at the Alamo. The Alamo is very serious, as you can see. Which gave me that much more reason to be pro-tom foolery and anti-seriousness. I still don't fully understand why it was such a critical point in the war, but here's what I did learn:The walls are only like eight feet tall. Which confused me even more! Why did it take 2,000 Mexican soldiers almost two weeks to get over these walls and take the Alamo? I'm neither Mexican nor a soldier, but I'm pretty sure I could clear this wall pretty quickly. I didn't say I could do it gracefully; there would be a fair amount of huffing and puffing involved, but still.
There are many rules at the Alamo. Like no stepping on the grass. And no touching the walls. And no photography inside.

And especially no photography inside whilst touching the walls.

Surprisingly, there were no rules about where you were allowed to sit during the tour guide's presentation. I think people thought I was part of the presentation and kept waiting for me to get up and do something, but I just sat there, politely listening and making the guide feel weird.

At the end of the weekend, I came home with a sunburn and a whole new appreciation for dry heat. Try as they may have, the Tejanos just couldn't instill any culture in me; but at least I blended in with the natives.