Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Let's Try This Again...

Nothing dorky here, right?
Just shy of six weeks ago, I timidly stepped foot into the halls of Astro Skate in Bradenton, FL, nervously geared up, and stepped out onto the hardwood. 

My goal: derby domination.

Of course, I had to learn to skate too.

And that’s kind of tough to do with a pair of broken ribs, which came about halfway into that session.

The past several weeks, as I’ve documented here, have been alternately frustrating, discouraging, and maddening as I’ve sat back and witnessed those who started with me grow and excel while I sat on the sidelines exercising and, eventually at least, getting to “skate” on the carpet.

Until last night.

Shunning the advice of doctors by a whopping three days (that’s right; rebellion is in my blood!) I arrived once again at the Astro Skate complex and boldly geared up.  And, well, I was late.  I’d forgotten that our Monday practices were now starting at eight and involved a bit of a workout component before getting on the floor at nine.

Turns out that was a good time to forget as several of my teammates lamented the pain now coursing through their bodies.  References to “noodly legs” and “hellish exercise” ran rampant while I hurriedly (at least as hurriedly as I could) threw on my gear, something I’m still working on getting accustomed to.

But finally, I was geared up, fastened down, and ready to roll.  My family was in attendance, waiting anxiously, my daughter periodically rushing up to me for a hug and scaring the wits out of me that she’d send me rolling.  

Little knucklehead.  But I love her.

Soon, ProseHack came over, a smile on her face, and kindly invited me onto the track.  With a collective sigh of silence, I stepped to the edge (have I ever said how ridiculous it is that there’s such a stupid step DOWN onto the track?!) and gently, gingerly placed one skate down.

Now, I’m sure you’re waiting for the obvious punch line here, me saying that as I tried to swing the next skate down, quickly, too quickly, it slipped from underneath me and I fell once again, buried in a sea of shame and regret.

But no, that’s not what happened at all.  I stepped down and got both skates underneath me.  I was even able to stop!  Well, at least for a second and then it was off, down and around our little improvised practice track.  With ProseHack constantly reminding me to keep in skater stance, at least my current version of it, I took tentative steps, rolling, rolling, rolling.

And I made it!  I survived!  No broken bones!  Victory!

Now, throughout the evening there was the one inevitable willy-nilly fall but even that was uneventful.  In fact, it felt almost gentle as I plunged sideways down onto the hardwood and lay, belly down, laughing.  No pain, no gain, right?

I’ll confess that part of me was really nervous stepping out, wondering if we were just going to have a repeat of the initial night but, surprisingly, despite its tedium, the off-skates work and the on-carpet work that I’d done over the past several weeks really paid off.  I felt far more in control and comfortable on the skates than I’d felt, well, ever, and managed to maintain some sense of form.

"I think I can, I think I can..."

Granted, I looked like a dork doing it but c’mon, staying upright is staying upright.  And besides, me dressed up in all that gear makes me feel pretty dorky anyway!

And yes, I still felt the fatigue of simply skating.  It’s stupid, how something so simple as rolling around in a circle can test and tear at your body so relentlessly but, well it does.  I felt like Jim Gaffigan after a Hot Pocket but, with encouragement from my trainer and teammates, continued to keep getting back up and going around one more time.

One more time.  Sounds like a pretty good mantra to me.

The lone frustration for me is still the lack of progress, even though there was some.  It’s still difficult to watch those who started along this journey with me doing so well, so quickly while I’m, well, still learning to skate.  These guys are doing great and I feel like my feet are stuck in cement. 

But, the good news is that the cement is starting to loosen up and I’m starting to be able to wiggle my toes.  And freedom is just a few wiggles away.  And when I get free, look out.  Because I’m coming out with a vengeance.

(On a quick side note, I just want to continue to encourage you to consider giving to the cause of Project Rainbow as they help to make Christmas bright for many families of children with developmental disabilities.  If you could, give what you can, big or little, and please help us in sharing the message and the need with your friends!  It’s clich├ęd, but, together we can make a difference!  And the roller derby nation is strong and capable of doing just that!)

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