Friday, November 30, 2012

One More Round

“I can, I can, I can,” I mentally chanted to myself as I drove to practice last night. Monday had been such a crappy practice, my attitude and demeanor in the dumps even before I set wheels to the floor, and I was intent on staying upbeat, focused, and positive. So I kept my mantra going.

“I can, I can, I can.”
Of course, as I got to within a few miles of the rink, it shifted just a bit.

“I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.”
Hey, I’m a realist. Always leave a little wiggle room, right?

But soon I was there and heading into the rink. I threw on my gear in record time and hesitantly stood.  Then it was out onto the track.
And no little micro track to start this night for me.  No, why not go around the big track and see what happens? The irony is that just a little over a week ago I’d done it for the first time and had no issues, save for possibly winning awards for being the slowest skater ever.  Yet, after that ill-fated Monday practice, I was tentative.

But I did it. I pushed myself and got to rolling and round and round I went. Okay, so round and round went everyone else and I, well, I went around twice while they lapped and lapped me but c’mon, I gotta start somewhere! Then it was off to stretching and warming up a bit more.
Let me just say this about stretching: I’m not 21 anymore. While my body could bend pretty well in those days, it doesn’t quite manage as well these days. Or, as Malice in Rollerland so cheekily reminded me, “Yet.”

But then it was time for the bigs to part ways with the rookies for a bit and we took to doing some weaving drills. And while I’m sure that these weaving drills are old hat for those who’ve been doing it for so long, for someone who can barely manage one tenth of a mile per hour, it’s a bit daunting.
Of course, that’s nothing compared to the stepping drills. Now, on the carpet when I was injured, I rocked the stepping drills. Oh, a waver here and there but I felt like a pro. “I can do this!” I thought to myself then. On the floor, however, it’s a whole ‘nother ballgame.

Especially when your ability to stop is questionable at best. Let’s just suffice it to say that FallRisk lived up to the “fall,” albeit it generally safely, portion of his name.
Then it was off to our little mini-track on the side to work on just that, stopping.  Specifically those damned snowplows.

For the non-skater (I’m pretty tempted to include myself here in this) the snowplow requires the skater to lean forward while allowing your skates, and by proxy, your legs, to spread out, as you then turn your toes inward, get low, and tighten your butt, thereby stopping.
At least that’s what I’m told.

For me it’s a work in progress. At one time I wasn’t low enough, another I simply just didn’t have my toes inward and kept going. A few times I got it and then, due to the inward pointing of my toes, proceeded to start rolling backwards. This I was not entirely prepared for.
And sure, I might have fallen a few times too. On my hip. And yes, it hurts. Thanks for asking.

T-stops were next and I was pleasantly pleased. While I’m certainly no pro at this one, I feel far more comfortable stopping this way than by throwing my whole center of gravity out over a large area. Few falls and some actual stops made this a small victory for the night.
And then we were off to skate the around the big track some more as the bigs worked on their drills on. This provided me the opportunity to work on one of my biggest frustrations thus far which is getting going. When I start, I always feel like I’m stuttering for a bit before I finally hit a rhythm and actually pick up some speed. I’m no speed skater at that point but it does threaten to break my usual super-slow record so it feels nice.

So I skated around and around, would stop for a breath here and there, and then skate again. Tonight, while coming in with a “can do” attitude, I was also adding in the element of “one more round,” ala Rocky Balboa. (What can I say? I was weaned on the great movies of the 80s!) I wanted to leave as much of me on the floor (okay, that sounds weird but I’m really hoping you get what I’m saying) as I possibly could. So when I felt like I couldn’t do one more lap, my back burning with pain and my legs with that quiver familiar only to those crazy enough to strap on skates, I did one more round.
And then I was challenged a bit more. Because pushing and pushing and pushing yourself isn’t enough, the bigs want to join in too. So, for the last little bit of the night, we got to participate in another super slo-mo jam. Actually, this one felt a little faster than ours the previous week but nonetheless, we were blocking and I was tired. And, did I mention, stoppings not my strong point?

It was an adventure to be sure and, this time, I did fall, twice. That not stopping thing really does get in the way but it was very cool to have the support and the experience of the bigs around us, giving us both tons of encouragement and plenty of good instruction.
One more round.

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