Wednesday, 26 March 2014

Week 40: Level 1 Sign Offs - Take 5 Pt. 1

It's that time again! Unfortunately, we were only allowed into the venue an hour later than usual so it was kind of a half sign offs session. We even got kitted up in the car park to save time for when we got in! It also meant that whatever we didn't cover this week, we'd get to do next week and we might even be lucky to get reassessed on the blocks we didn't manage to pass.

I only had one block to pass, which consisted of right and left foot glides, plough stops and t-stops. My anxieties had now moved from plough stops to right foot glides. I had spent a lot of Friday practising them and just not being able to fully make it round a corner. After balancing on my right leg for what felt like the whole of the weekend, I came to the conclusion that it was how I held my left leg. I always used to instinctively tuck it behind me but I then found that this caused me to lean forward and get really low, which then threw me off kilter and caused me to put my foot back down. So I tried to work on a different stance, putting my left leg in front of me and keeping my knees together. It was a little ambitious to change my technique the day of sign offs but if it worked, why not? I gave it a go during the warm up and it seemed to work, so I started to feel a lot more confident.
We had our usual warm up of squats, knee taps and a couple of sprint laps and then were divided into groups to be assessed. I was in Group 1 so we were first to go on track. It seemed odd that I was on track straight away, only having one block to pass which wasn't the first block, but we were just told to skate around so I carried on. A few minutes later, we were told to go into sticky feet, which confused me. I had passed this block. Why was I having to do it again? The blocks had been adjusted a little, did this mean I had to be assessed on everything again? I started panicking; what if I failed a different skill, one I knew I could do but didn't know I was being assessed on?! I confidently finished the block, but was not particularly happy about what I might have to do next, so I asked a coach, who set my mind at ease - "You guys are just showing the others, who haven't done sign offs before, what to do." Oh phew! We were just demonstrating the structure of sign offs. That's alright then!

Next up was the block I needed to pass to move on to Level 2. I made my way on to track and started skating. A lady behind me was saying to herself "I can do this, I can do this..." which made me realise I too was really rather nervous, so I focused on my slowing my breathing down and stopping my legs from shaking. The first skill was right foot glides. Right, this was it. On the whistle, I shifted my weight on to my right leg, picked up the left, brought my knees together, got half way round a corner, lost my balance. Balls. Right, lets try again. Weight over, leg up, cut the corner. Bollocks. I looked to my wife, who was sitting in the middle, and shook my head at her. Right, one more time. Weight, leg...nope not happening. Fuck, fuck, fuckity, fuck. I'd buggered it up. I hadn't passed the block, but I still had to keep going with the other skills. Left foot glides were a doddle. I could do them all day. (Why won't you do that, right leg?!) Next was t-stops, and every time the whistle went, I was on a corner. They were a little wobbly, but I stopped every time. Next, was plough stops. Ahhhhh, plough stops, how I still fear you slightly. Once again, I managed to stop every time. It might have taken a little longer than some people but I stopped. My only concern was that my plough stops are quite narrow. They start wide, but I always end up quite upright. I kept looking over to the coach for clues in her facial expression, but they never give anything away. Then we were told to come off track. It was done. Let the chips fall where they may.
I spent the rest of the session obsessively watching my wife. I'd be talking to people in the centre but as soon as a whistle went, I had to stop mid-sentence to see how she was doing. She's been training as long as I have but due to commitments or illness, this was her first sign offs. I so badly wanted her to do well because I knew she was awesome. I knew she could do it.

A little while later, I got pins and needles in my feet so I skated up and down the end, practising stops (oh yeah, I could do them when people weren't looking!) and then stretched. I almost didn't ask the coach how I'd done as we'd had so little time to get de-kitted and out of the building, but I needed to know.
When I asked, she showed me her notebook, under the number 182 were the notes R Foot Glides. "Right foot glides?" I asked. "That means you managed the left ones" "But that's it? Right foot glides? That means I did plough stops?" "Yeah you did!" Squeeeeee! I did the biggest, happiest jump and ran off. Plough stops! Muthaclucking plough stops!!! A few people saw my dance of happiness and asked if I'd passed. "No! But I did plough stops!!!!"

I was over the moon. I drove home with butterflies in my stomach and my cheeks aching from smiling. Right foot glides, I will master you. And I will get to Level 2 next week. Just you watch me.


  1. So proud of you. I really, really, really hope I can join you in level two very, very soon. x