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.


Johanna said...

Well lady, look at it this way. You had an awesome and sexy Joan Collins moment, in a Mustang no less. You dont have to go to "meetings" for a peanut butter addiction, and you're actually motivated to get better. Unlike me. When I have a moment its usually likened to that of Becky Connor (From Roseanne). Plus I drive a Jeep so I look more like Melissa Etheridge belting out a ballad than your than sexy Joan Collins in a 'Stang. Furthermore, I have a wine problem - which is far more looked down upon than PB. And I'm not really motivated to do anything.

I think you're on the right track. Pun intended. I wont spoil housewives for you, I fully support this endeavor :)

Jackie said...

You go girl! And I mean that with as much passion and enthusiasm as a white girl like me can.

Seriously, I'm impressed. You can do it!

Heather said...

You are seriously amazing. The last time I was at derby, I felt defeated, and knew it wouldn't get better, because I couldn't make the time in my schedule to make it happen. It is so hard not to compare yourself to others, especially when you are in a position of being there longer, and watching people do better that just started. It is just about practice, nothing else. Your will and determination has always been there, none less than the new girls. I only have one suggestion, eat a god damn spoonful of peanut butter before you step on the track. Life is too short not to super charge it with peanuty goodness! Oh, and if it helps, I will let you point and laugh at me when I drag my pathetic ass back on the track. Loves and all that mushy shit.


em said...


I look forward to your twice-weekly derby updates now that you'll be skating at least twice weekly :)

See? It's a win-win: you get more skate practice, we get more Bone hilariousity. (The hilariousity will not necessarily come from your skating skillz, just FYI. Hopefully you know I mean the hilariousity will come from your story telling skillz about your skating skillz.) That is all.

lindsey said...

I love you!! and I will be there by your side Tuesdays and Thursdays, well i will be there with ya but i cant be by your side for a few more weeks, then we will both be vets! you are amazing, you just need to keep believing me and start the extra stuff! i will skate any extra time you want! and i love you even more now that i know about your peanut butter issues! i am so glad its not just me! you can do this! love ya ~scarlett

IndyGo Wylde said...

It looks like lots of us are having confidence crises. I promise not to laugh at you if you promise not to laugh at me. AND. I'll kick your sweet hiney if you'll kick mine. I have to get in at least twice a week on skates or I'll never keep up.
"Never give up, Never surrender!"

Tarable said...

You rock. You know why? Because it is SO EASY to blame something else. But you listened to your thoughts and were honest with yourself. Then you came up with an answer and, AND you're doing something about it. I think that is pretty cool.

Those derby girls are lucky to have Bone Junior on their team.

Andrea said...

Oh Bone. If only you knew how much you rocked. It's easy in derby to focus on the stuff you need work on, and forget what you kick ass at. Honestly, every single time I go up to jam and see you on the track in front of me, I mutter "crap, Bone's up there."
I'm with you, though, on feeling frustrated. I think everyone hits a plateau where you don't feel like you're getting better anymore, and that's where I am too. I think you're awesome for going to the Tues night class. I went once, and in my wussiness, said "screw it" and haven't been back. I'm trying to get up the balls to go again though. And you are always welcome to join me disco skating. It helps a ton with skills, and I usually wear a leotard. That's incentive enough, right?

Josh and Gloriana said...

I am so proud of you and love you so much!