Block one was derby stance, skating stride, track movement and sticky feet. Last time, my track movement was the thing which didn't let me pass - apparently, my stride changed everytime I went to turn which meant I wasn't as fluid or as stable when moving from one side of the track to the other. So this time I tried so hard focusing on my stride and making sure that I kept it going when moving back and forth. In the first attempt of derby stance I even heard a "Right now, Honey is the only one who is low enough" which gave me a huge boost of confidence as I had difficulty getting low enough in the past, being so tall and what not.
Next was my arch nemesis of derby skills - stops and one foot glides. I can't stop and I can't glide, so I don't know why I even bothered. All my t-stops result in me flailing and veering off to one side. All my plough stops result in me still rolling, just lower and with my legs wider. One foot glides, well, they just don't happen at all!
I got to sit out for falls/taps as I passed them last time and then next was stepping and weaving. I was told, at the end, that I passed this block yet I'm slightly bewildered by that, so I'm waiting for this to be confirmed in my Sign Off Record before I truly believe it. Stepping side-to-side, I'm quite happy with as long as I concentrate. Stepping forward was good as I pretended to be a dinosaur but I thought I'd done terribly at stepping backwards! I thought I'd gone no where, but maybe everyone behind me was just stepping faster or with bigger steps, who knows? Then there was weaving - another skill I really do not like. However, I now had my new super soft cushions, so I was a little more optimistic. My first attempt I managed to make it through the cones without knocking them or falling over, but I was told I had to do it faster (I also know I look hilarious while weaving as I lean so far forward to keep my balance and to stop me from falling backwards!) so I tried again and managed to scrape by with it being "jussssssssssssssst fast enough". Woohoo! I really am still in disbelief that I passed this whole block though.
Next was one foot balances and lateral hops. Now, I kid you not, I actually managed a 15 second right foot balance! I did it on my second attempt and I actually did it! I was rather thrilled by that! Left foot, not so much... I gave my best during lateral hops, but ended up falling and losing my toe stop, again, which was very annoying and the block had finished being assessed before I could get back on the track.
Finally, it was 20 in 5. I wasn't expecting to get 20 but I went out there and gave it my best shot. Tried crossovers, kept skating, really went for it and ended up getting....wait for it....18 in 5! Yeah! That's right! Eighteen! I couldn't believe it! I was expecting to be disappointed, but I had beaten my personal best by 3 laps! After 2 weeks training! Woohoo!
Okay, so 18 isn't 20. But it was a personal best and I think that's what a lot of derby is about. It's about getting better and stronger and faster and constantly challenging yourself to be the best you can be. I stopped comparing myself to other skaters as everyone learns at different rates and some people take to things quicker than others, but if you can do better than you did the week before, if you can see yourself improving as the weeks go on, then you know you're doing something right, that the training is working and that you'll eventually reach your goal. And once you do, you'll have another goal to strive for and on it continues. Even the elite derby players still try to beat their personal bests. That's what should keep you going. That's what should make you happy. It's not about being in competition with the skaters you're learning with. Sure, you need to be better than the other team. ;) But if you have to be in competition with your own skaters, then that's never going to work and you're never going to be truly happy with yourself. (Like I was after these sign offs. I even did a little air punch when I got home, I was so happy!)