Joel and I are enjoying the most spectacularly hot week EVER (heat index supposed to be at 122 F today, I think? Dew points nearing the mid-80s?) in footloose and fancy-free fashion -- because my parents have the kids!
I'm guessing my folks are going crazy, because it's not much cooler in Chicago, and a mega heat wave is just as bad as below-zero when it comes to kids getting stir-crazy from being inside all day. But me? Living in the lap of luxury, particularly thanks to our new window-unit air conditioner in our upstairs bedroom. I can't believe we lived here for almost 10 years without it -- it is soooo nice and cozy up there now.
Joel and I caught an unbearably-hot Twins game on Monday (a makeup of an April 22 rainout, to which Jean and I wore SNOWPANTS). Then we met up with some derby friends for a bev or two. Tuesday I had to finish the August issue of the Forum (done!) and today I was supposed to volunteer to take some church kids to the pool, but the oppressive weather cancelled the trip. So I think Jean and I are going to catch lunch and a movie.
Last night I had a bootcamp practice. We aren't working off-skates anymore, and strangely I actually miss it. I carpool with 3 or 4 other gals from the east side (one of them is an MNRG veteran -- they're invited to join bootcamp for the free workout and to help us train), and we got there early enough that I could've done the PEP warmup, but I just got distracted and didn't do it. As we then started our skating warmup, my feet let me know they were cranky about my omission. I don't get cramps, exactly, but my feet feel kind of like those cheapo glowsticks that you have to bend and snap to get them to work. The tendons (or something) feel like they need to be cracked a bit to give them the pliability I need to skate the way I want to.
After a short warmup (made even shorter for me because I went to help set up some chairs for LJ, a bootcamper-cum-Deb who broke her leg in 2 places a couple weeks ago), we started with 30-60-90 squats. Yup, STARTED with them. I know I've mentioned these before, but they are absolutely my least-favorite drill. We sprint for a short amount of time (30 seconds? maybe less) and then squat (while still rolling) for 30 seconds. Then sprint, then squat-roll (but you can't move your feet, so when you roll to a stop, you stop) for 60 seconds. Then sprint, then 90 seconds. It is absolutely brutal (as evidenced by the super-crappy squat form we all have by the middle of the 60-second squat). It burns my thighs and usually makes my tailbone ache (though last night it was just the thighs).
The other thing I hate about this drill is that I have lousy bearings in my wheels, and when they tell us to squat, I quickly slow to a stop and everyone rolls right past me. I HATE BEING ROLLED PAST. Also the longer you can roll, the easier it is to shift your weight to ease some of the pressure on your leg-and-back muscles. Once you're stopped, you are stuck.
OK anyway, one crummy drill down. Next we repeated a drill we had done last week: 2 skaters line up on the jammer line, then sprint around the first turn, trying to do a crossover right at the apex (I am totally using terms that mean nothing to you, I can tell by the look in your eyebrows. Let me try to find a diagram).
Then you have to try to stop between the jammer and pivot lines (or, where they would be) on the opposite side of the track.
Now, I can totally do crossovers. I even learned a trick (thanks Wet Spot!) for when we skate as many laps as we can in 2 minutes (or when we skate 25 laps as quickly as we can -- basically the same drill, just measured differently) -- crossing over EXACTLY at the top and bottom of the track, to get the most efficiency out of the diamond.
(The "diamond" is the middle oval in that picture -- it's the most efficient, circular way to skate around the track)
But crossing over right at the apex? Another story.(The apex is about where the "15"s appear in the above picture. It's the spot where, if you're finishing going around the turn, your momentum takes you tangentially off the inside edge. Did I mention roller derby is run by nerds?)
For one, going with another girl means we're both fighting for that inside edge. And for two, JUST as I start to get some decent speed, we're at the turn and I have to scramble to keep my feet, and then there's no way I can get back to the inside line. But I guess that's why they're having us work on it -- it's hard.
So, we only went through that drill twice. I was still feeling like I wasn't getting it -- two crummy drills down.
Next, I think we went back to doing sternum hits. These, I feel OK doing -- when we did them last week (using blocking pads) all the trainers told me I was hitting well. Of course, doing them on a live person/teammate/friend/fellow mama whose children I do not want to leave motherless; that's a different story. I was paired with Jo Mauler, who was a Deb and is a fantastic skater and athlete. She is the one I am always gunning for -- can I keep up with her on the sprints? Can I start faster than she can? So it was good to be paired with her. Unfortunately for me on this drill, her body is even bonier than mine. We hit each other a bunch of times -- she nailed me in the chin, and I managed to knock her on her butt. It felt OK, but not as good as hitting the pads.
Then we worked on spread-eagles. THESE are my Achilles heel. See this picture?
Now imagine it rolling -- on skates. It's an effective trick of agility, to be able to sneak through people at this surprising angle; it's even more effective if you can then stick your bum out and bump somebody with it.
But there are problems:
1. Skates have wheels that can only roll forward or backward. Sooooo unless your feet are turned-out exactly 180 degrees, you are TOAST.
2. I can remember being 5 years old and not being able to turn my feet this way
3. I've been dancing for over 20 years now, lamenting my lack of turnout
4. Improving one's turnout, in ballet, takes a ton of careful practice, stretching, and training. It needs to come from the hip, not just the knees or feet. Forcing it risks injury.
5. Derby people just do it.
I actually have more points -- like, when we do 2nd-position plies in ballet (which is essentially what these are), teachers are very careful to never have us go too far down. And don't stick your butt out. ANYWAY! I am boring myself. Trust me when I tell you it is crazy hard. I wound up spinning myself around and falling down WAY more than I prefer... that said! I did actually get a couple pieces of awesome advice (feet farther apart; weight on one skate more than the other). It doesn't mean I'm EVER going to use it in a game, but it's nice to make progress.
So it was a semi-frustrating practice for me. And as the draft nears, tensions are bubbling a bit. With so few spots, and new transfers appearing every week, we can't help but try to gauge where we each stack up in comparison. And this is the blessing and curse of roller derby: there is no one "ideal" type. Big and tall is awesome, but can be a pitfall. Fast is great, but speed alone (without agility and stability) is worthless. Having a mind for the game is a fantastic asset, but not if you can't make your body do what it needs to. Having experience is awesome, but it might make someone harder to train. So it's definitely a "whole-package" deal, but who knows what pieces carry more weight?
Regardless, this continues to be an absolutely life-changing experience. At the moment, I absolutely have to shower.