Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Week 35: On Stranger Tiles

This week, our usual practice had to be cancelled as our venue was opening later for half-term. Fortunately, a neighbouring team opened up their practice and said we could come and join them. This was excellent news as I hate not being able to practice! I'd NSOd at their venue a few times and I knew their floor was lush so I was very excited about skating on it, however, fellow skaters had been to their practices before and they sounded a little advanced, so that made me kind of nervous too.
Once again, I had a new set of wheels on (a full set of Sweet n Lows) and, seeing how slick the floor was, I was extremely grateful to not be on my 92s! (In fact, the floor made my sugars feel like 92s!) I started getting my kit on, signed the disclaimer, and realised how nervous I actually was. It felt like starting skating all over again. It was a new venue, new coaches and we had no idea what we were going to be doing. I waited for my wife and we made our way on to the track for warm-ups. We started with single knee taps which was good, then double knee taps, good and familiar, the coach then said "Right! Transitions on the whistle!" Erm...what?! No, no, no, this isn't right! We slowly made our way off the track and just kept skating while everyone else did their transitions. Then we finished with two sprint laps and had to line-up along the wall for the next set of drills. We were given numbers and had to skate out, fall on our bums, flip over onto our front then skate to the other side. That doesn't sound too...wait...what?....fall on our bums?! Admittedly, you weren't throwing yourselves to the ground, you did it gently, but still! We've been taught to always, always, always fall on your knees. I gave it a go anyway, and I think I did ended up doing a knee fall then sitting down. Haha! The next drill was a knee slide, then a push up, then skate on, which wasn't too bad, although I was knackered by the end!

We had a nice break to do some stretching, which involved some odd stretches I'd never done before, some stretches while standing up on skates, which was tricky, and then we were split up into groups. I had to go get some moisturiser as my wrist guards were irritating my eczema, so I didn't hear what we were doing except that we had to get in a pack, which I did. It turned out we were doing a drill called "pack racing" which involved getting into a pack and skating really really fast until you caught up with the other pack on the track. It was terrifying. The lady next to me was so lovely, though, and offered me her arm which I clung to throughout the whole terrifying ordeal while some one from behind pushed me. It's the fastest I've ever skated and I don't even know if I was skating! After doing that...twice...our main coach for the evening arrived. It was quite a big deal for us as he was a insanely good skater and skated with one of the top teams in the country. He introduced himself and then told us that the skills tonight were of a more intermediate level - "mainly people who have passed minimum skills and have a few bouts tucked under their belt." Well, me and my wife shot a few panicked looks at each other and, after the coach had spoken, my wife explained that the session might be a bit too advanced for us. He completely understood and allowed us to create our own little practice area and an advanced skater even offered to come and help us with the skills we wanted to learn.
We cleared our area, were joined by a few other less confident skaters, and then started to think about what we wanted to learn. A part of me thought we might have caved too early, but after seeing a skater throw themselves into a pack while the others had to avoid them, I was quickly reassured! I decided I was going to work on my plough stops (big surprise!) and I was given a few more tips about how to do them (mainly - get lower and don't bring my knees too close together or that will make me unstable.) I actually managed to do a few, I felt friction and everything! But after getting some speed, I still couldn't stop. I can slow down fine, it really is just stopping, and I did have stickier wheels but the floor was super slippy so I had no idea what was affecting what and what was actually helping! I'm not gonna lie, moral was pretty low in our little area. A few of us had stood there watching these insanely talented skaters practice drills that we couldn't even comprehend. I started to hate myself for being so scared and questioning if I was actually holding myself back and maybe if I'd tried, I'd probably be better than I am right now. I was also pretty disappointed; I was hoping for some kind of breakthrough, I was hoping for a nicer floor to improve my skating ability, I was hoping that a different coach would be able to give me some different insight on why I couldn't plough stop, I was hoping I might learn something new and surprise myself. Instead, I was doing the same thing I've been doing for ages - skating up and down attempting plough stops. I was thoroughly fed up.

I did manage to take some corners on my right foot glides, but it's hard to focus when you're skating past skaters that could be pushed off the track in to you at any moment. I practised a few t-stops that were fine. The other skaters started weaving through a pace-line and I decided not to join as I was being pathetically grumpy but it did warm my heart when one of my fellow skaters said she'd never done weaving through a pace line and the advanced skater said "I'll show you" and took her by the hand and led her around the first few people. That was lovely.
By the end, though, I was really fed up. There wasn't a cool down, just a terrifying game of "King of the Track" where skaters had to skate around and knock each other off the track. The last one left was "King of the Track". Needless to say, I didn't play that! So, I de-kitted being thoroughly miserable, gave my best smile when people talked about what a good night it was, got a sympathetic hug from my wife, and went home.

I tried to stay positive. I think I got a little bit further with my plough stops and my right foot glides got better, and any practice is good practice, but I was still fed up. I got home in a sulk, went to bed in a sulk, and woke up in a sulk, paranoid that I'd spent the night being a completely miserable, antisocial, grump and feeling like I was just really getting nowhere. I could not see myself being able to do any of the skills I saw that night so why was I even bothering? It felt like my first day all over least I could stand up on skates this time...
I do feel better about it now. I do feel a bit low when I think about it, but I know I'm not going to give up. I am going to keep trying and, as unbelievable as it may seem, I am going to be able to do all those insane skills one day. If I give up, I'm not going to get anywhere. So I may as well try.

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