Monday, 23 June 2014

Week 51: Summertime & The Skating Is Easy...

After another week off (I'm NSOing a lot now, too!), it was back to normal skating. It was a hot day, a hot, muggy, sweaty day. I would usually say that every day is a good day for skating, but today was horrid. I had a headache before I'd even got to practice, but I took some paracetamol, drank a tonne of water, and got to it!
Our coach didn't seem to notice the heat, though, and gave us a killer of a warm up. Laterals, stepping across the track, squats on the whistle, knee taps, stops, sprint laps, backwards laps! I'm not complaining, though, I love an excuse to get in some backwards skating practice, and it certainly made me realise how lazy I am getting with knee taps and plough stops. My left knee taps are just not improving, it still takes me ages to get back up. My plough stops also seem to be taking ages. I seem to have forgotten that even though I can do it, I still have to keep working on it!

I was recently messaged by one of our coaches, asking if I could look after a new Level 2 who was a bit unsure of pack skating. She described her issue perfectly - at Level 1 (now pack skating has been removed), you get to skate around, happily by yourself, and then at Level 2, you're thrown in with a load of other skaters and told to skate very close to them! It made me realise how far I'd come with my confidence in pack skating. I found the very idea terrifying to begin with. I remember when an all-star skater came up to me and went "Soon, you'll have to be able to skate...this close to people. You'll have to get used to touching people and being touched." Now, it doesn't really bother me. I do constantly look at my feet, I am very handsy, and I am weary of wheel locking, but I'm not as scared as I once was. Falling over doesn't even phase me now. I had a very awkward fall this week, and almost got another lady's skate in a rather intimate area... But, I just laughed, made sure we were all okay, and got my ass back in the pack.
We did our usual pack work - pack speed, wheel locking, even a bit of bumping (where people hit into us, quite gently). We also had a go at moving through a pack. Unfortunately, I was forgotten about and had to go last but, by that point, the pack was getting a little cocky and decided to actually block me! It took me ages to get through that pack! It was fun, though!

Next was something new to me: Leaning. I'm sure a few of my skater friends from higher levels tried to teach me before, but I had no idea what they were on about! We were taught it in steps. First, you had to have dead arms, and then lean from your shoulder right down your side to your hips, against the wall. Like you are trying to push the wall over. If you can pick up the foot closest to the wall, and feel like you could stay there all day, then you are doing it right! We then moved on to leaning against people. This was alright standing still, but got quite awkward while rolling, especially with all the wheel locking! Furthermore, it didn't half make you ache! My poor legs and side were killing me that we had to keep swapping sides to even it out. Next, we were turned against each other, and leaning became pushing. It was exactly the same as pushing, except instead of working together, you were trying to push each other out of bounds, and you had to remember to yield once they were out of bounds to avoid a penalty. This was so much fun! It was the first kind of contact work I have done, and I loved it! I think we were meant to give in a little bit, but my partner was showing no mercy so I gave it my all too! Needless to say, she was much stronger than me, but I still managed to get her out. We also had a coach keeping an eye on us and giving us tips on our stance, posture, and technique. It was tiring but great!
After a short break, we moved on to endurance skating. Fortunately, it wasn't going to be a timed 25 in 5. It was just skating for 5 minutes, following the jammer line, working on our crossovers, etc. I found it very useful. I am useless at doing crossovers during endurance, so I took this as an opportunity to focus on them. I made myself do crossovers for as long as I could, and soon got it down to doing two on the straights and cruising round the corners. I did keep an eye out for my laps and managed 23 1/2, which is a quarter of a lap less than my PB, but I was nowhere near as tired. I was out of breath, sure, but usually I'm collapsed on the floor, legs burning, trying to suck in as much air as possible. This time, I sat down, caught my breath, and actually felt alright! I know that if I nail those crossovers, and really push for it, that 25 in 5 will be mine! Afterwards, one of my coaches came over and told me how much my speed skating has improved. "Not really" I said, "I'm stuck at 23!"
"Oh" he said, "but your skating has definitely improved!", a fellow slater chimed in too "Yeah, you've definitely improved!" This was nice to hear. I agree, my skating has improved, but it is always nice to hear that others see it too.

That was the end of our track time, so we moved down to the end for some transition practice. We went through the break down of transitions, that we did last week, and then just kept practising them. I kind of cheat with transitions and, instead of picking my foot up and putting it behind me, I keep just my front two wheels on the floor and kind of swivel it behind me and my left foot follows. I cannot do this anti-clockwise, though, or so I thought... After a while of practising, one of the coaches gave me the challenge to see how many I could do in one length. Going clockwise, I managed 4 or 5. "We have our Queen of Transitions!"
"Hardly" I said, "I can only do them that way"
"No you can't! I've seen you do them the other way! Just don't think about it. Look at this wall, and then turn to look at that wall. Try and do as many as you can." I skated out a little anxiously, but just tried to think about how many I could fit in. I think I manage about 3, if a little sloppy, but I did it! Woohoo! I kept trying that way and could occasionally do it, but it was very sloppy. "I've been watching you, trying to figure out what is going wrong... I now know! Your right foot is the dominant one, so it's turning before your left has even moved. Make sure you move your left first before your right"
So I set out to give that a go. I was thinking far too much, and my mental block came back, I went to turn my left foot, freaked out, stopped halfway, I think my right had gone already, I couldn't regain my balance, and I fell pretty hard on my back. I sat up with a laugh and a thumbs up, though. "Please remember your derby stance!" said a concerned looking coach. I kept trying, but after that, my mind had taken over, and I just lost it. I was gutted, but I now know that I can do them, it's just my silly head stopping me!
I stretched and went home with the most painful headache - one of those ones where any movement causes it to pound and make you feel sick, paired with an achey shoulder, a sore back, and a bruised butt. I hadn't felt this good after derby for a while, though! I was falling in love with it all over again.

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