In the great 1991 film, What About Bob?, Dr. Leo Marvin (Richard Dreyfuss) counsels his eager patient, Bob Wiley (Bill Murray) from his latest work, “Baby Steps.” The movie moves on to find Wiley taking Marvin’s work and living it out to the nth degree, reveling in the glory that is “baby steps.”
I’m pretty sure that “baby steps” is my new go-to mantra for derby.
Because, finally, the very simplistic truth and practicality of it started to take root in my knuckleheaded brain last night.
Stepping out while thinking about all the great advice and encouragement I’d received over the weekend, and taking very literally ProseHack’s blunt but very appropriate advice that I “get my ass to practice,” I entered the rink, wet from trudging through a mini-monsoon that was going on and weary, but eager to step back up to the plate.
ProseHack eventually skated over as we finished readying our gear and shared with us that the “bigs” were going to be doing a lot of endurance stuff and that we’d do some, but not all. Thankfully, that plan fell through as, putting the finishing touches on my pads, I watched as they got started, racing like wild men and women around the track, dropping for push ups, sit ups, and God knows what other forms of torture.
A comedian whose material that I used to enjoy used to share that he did one sit-up a day, he sat up out of bed in the morning and lay back down at night. That worked for him and is unfortunately about where my fitness career has found itself as well, hindered by work and other concerns, pushed to the side. And push ups? Last push up I ran into was of the ice cream variety and it was delicious. Nothing quite like what guest coach Bruce was offering up last evening.
But, thankfully, and perhaps because she saw the doe-like fear in our eyes, ProseHack let our little trio of rookies keep to the side, working on getting our feet under us, stopping, standing, stepping, and more. And damn if I didn’t need every last bit of it. I remarked that how frustrating that it was that just one week off had one feeling like it was back to ground zero, nothing like riding a bike, and Punchline, who’d skated over to say hi, shared, “But we rode bikes everyday as a kid; not skates!”
But, I set to it, shaky at first and then, growing and growing in confidence with a fall here, a fall there, but thankfully, not a fall everywhere. Eventually, Patron would stop over and give some helpful advice, taking to loosening my trucks (who knew they could do that!) as well as adjusting my toe-stops. Encouraging me to stay at it, he showed me some new little tricks and drills to work on in our little circle which will prove most helpful in the long run.
(Is it frightening that I identify with this clip far too much? "I'm skating! I'm skating! I'm a skater! I skate!")
And as I set to trying some of those tricks, working on all of my fundamentals, I found myself, well, rolling. “Duh!” you might find yourself saying, “It is roller derby!” But what I mean to say is that I found myself in a place where, dare I say it, for a few moments my body and mind found a rhythm and I glided across the floor, sashaying back and forth from left to right, finding some momentum and confidence.
Of course, when it came to stopping, well, let’s just say that FallRisk doesn’t disappoint in living up to his name.
But in the meantime, that little feeling of accomplishment, of feeling a little more confidence within as I stretched for the next glide, is going to be what keeps me going till the next time.
And there will be a next time.