Monday, October 28, 2013

Pursuit and Happiness

Kidlet is making out his December gift list. He has the unfortunate luck of having a birthday smack dab in the middle of the Holiday Season. One of the things he asked for was the new Skylanders video game. (Let’s not tell him he won’t be getting it. We are trying to cut down on screen time. He’s getting books.)

But, knowing me well, he sweetened his sales pitch for this game with the following bit of information:

“Mom, they have a character named Roller Brawl!”

Yeah, I’m going to need to paint my helmet like that.

Kidlet has also pointed out other places he has found Derby Girls. One place was in my favorite kid’s show Phineas and Ferb. If you haven’t had the great pleasure of watching this Disney animation, you should make some time to do so. I won’t even tell anyone if you don’t have kids. It’s a great show.

In an episode called “Crack That Whip,” (See, right out of the gate. Great title.) Betty Jo Flynn and Hildegard Johnson rekindle their roller derby rivalry. Betty Jo, grandmother of the titular characters, and Hildegard draft their grandkids to skate with them, pitting the smitten Candace against the boy she is crushing on. Skating ensues.

I am a little surprised—but tickled pink—that Kidlet is enjoying my Derby journey. But he sincerely is loving it. He writes about it in school. He talks about it to his friend. He throws around terms like “derby tough” and “hip check.” And I smile every time.

I like that he is seeing his mom as determined, strong, and daring. When he watches me give myself my shot, he is thinking that I am tough, not that I am sick. He loves to see bruises on my legs because I let him believe that they are from derby, not from Avonex.

I’ve said it before, but Kidlet is the reason I can never, never quit. He has too much faith in me, and I cannot disappoint him. I cannot let him see me stop something because it got hard. He knows that I am strong and fierce. And he knows that I will always stand by him, behind him, and, if necessary, in front of him.

But, more importantly, he will see that the coolest things are often the hardest things. The most amazing experiences are often the scariest. Being brave does not mean never being scared. It means doing it anyway.

When our family was in Mexico, one of the activities that Kidlet tried out was the trapeze. He got into the harness, climbed the ladder, and swung on a bar that was 30 feet in the air. I asked him about it later. He said, “I’m really glad I tried it. Now I never have to do it again.” He tried it. He is so brave.

I dig that kid. So, in the immortal words of Candace, see you on the track, chump!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Fresh-ish Meat

Last night, I started with the freshest round of Fresh Meat training, or FM2. The nicest part about it was that were several familiar faces that shared my same skating philosophy: train with the beginners until my skills and confidence are strong enough to skate with the veterans.

I did exponentially better than I fared on Day One of FM1. But I still got fatigued last night. The two skaters who were graduating from the Junior’s program to skate with the big girls—girls literally young enough to be my daughters—rolled circles around me.

I still can’t do a great crossover. And, I still didn’t do very many laps, let alone 27 by 5.

27 laps in five minutes is a minimum requirement for being able to scrimmage. This both measures your speed and your fitness level. It is difficult at best, impossible without mastering a crossover.

But here is what else happened last night: I got some individual coaching on how to do a turnaround toe stop. I need to break it down into the components involved. Open the door, close the door, up on your toes. Meaning you roll one foot forward, placing your other foot behind it heel-to-heel. That’s the open door. Then you bring the first foot around to close the door. You roll backwards for a moment, then pop up onto your toe stops.

A couple veterans talked me through how to work on crossovers while I am off skates. I need to practice the moves near a wall so I begin to master the weight shift from one foot to the others. I need to use the simple task of going upstairs as a training opportunity. Instead of putting my feet perpendicular to the stair, put them parallel to it and push up, crossing your outside leg to the next stair.

I learned about a ball stretcher. It’s ok fellas. Uncross your legs. A ball stretcher is a cobbler’s tool to expand and stretch certain parts of your boot.

I was having uncomfortable cramping and pain on the base of my little toe. Jane, my derby Yoda, told me she would loan me this tool that, along with a hair dryer, can make my skates much more comfortable and help lessen the foot fatigue I was experiencing. Once again, I was fighting my equipment.

As an aside, don’t search Amazon for ball stretchers while at work.

I need to break down my 27 by 5 into manageable bites. I need to get my strength and endurance up to skate 27 laps with no regard to time. I need to master the crossover. OK, maybe not master, but certainly be a crossover under-graduate. I will baby-step my way to clearing this minimum.

And this happened last night. I made some new friends. I really felt like part of the group. I was razzed and teased and included in the razzing and teasing of others. I was complimented on the Velma stickers I put on my helmet. We talked tattoos and haircuts. I felt both welcome and missed while I was off on vacation.

I didn’t leave the training frustrated or down. I walked out the door already thinking about the next practice and how to get some extra training in until then.