I’m *STILL* getting over the world’s most annoying cold. I missed two days of work a few weeks ago, and a persistent cough kept me away from Derby again for a few weeks. Hopefully now that I’ve had an injury and a cold under my belt I won’t miss as many practices anymore!
I went back to practice on Monday, and man oh man it’s been eventful! I’m going to do a quick recap of the awesome events that have transpired since then.
Monday Night: Flat Track with Dish
Monday night we had a coach that was new to me (Dish), and I recognized her as the owner of the Skate Shop where I bought all of my gear. Right away I could tell she was going to push me to try new things, but I also felt really supported.
She began practice by telling us the two rules to live by during practice:
- Don’t look down
- Keep your eyes on where you want to go, not right in front of you
As simple as this advice seems, I actually found it to be really REALLY useful. I think that even though I’ve always known to keep my eyes up I’ve never been very good at it. Tonight, I really tried to keep this advice in mind and it paid off! (More on that in a minute)
Something that has been difficult me since Day 1 is one foot glides/standing on one foot in skates. During this practice Dish had us really focus on our “edges” (what we call the sides of our skates), and this is something I’ve never really been able to get. In the past when I tried one foot glides I’d either loose my balance or run into the edge of the track because I couldn’t figure out how to turn with my bearings.
Monday night all of that changed. I’m not sure exactly what made it “click,” but all of a sudden I found that if I moved my knee and leaned in a direction while gliding on my left foot, I moved that way! It was so cool!! No longer did I need to stop when I reached a turn — I was able to turn with it.
The last metaphorical hurdle I overcame on Monday was right foot glides. I’ve been plagued for WEEKS by the fact that I can glide on my left foot but not my right. Keeping our coach’s new advice in mind, I tried my right foot glide while I kept looking up, and it worked! I was able to glide!
I stayed for 40 minutes practicing after bootcamp was dismissed because I was so excited to keep trying glides and playing with my edges.
Tuesday Night: Bank Track
Much like one foot glides, the Banked Track has plagued me since I started skating in January. Somehow it seemed to be so easy to everyone else, and yet to me it was this impossible slanty monstrosity. Remembering my last bank track practice where I actually was able to do a few successful laps, however, I was determined to try my best this night.
Our coach, luckily, had us practice a lot with our stride on the bank track, and I was so proud of myself that I was up there on the slanted slope with the rest of the skaters! In the past I felt too remedial to do most of the activities on the bank and instead stuck to the flat inside track, but this was the first practice where I completed everything on the bank!
At one point we partnered up and did a “modified timed trial” where we tried to get 5 laps in 1 minute (instead of 25 laps in 5 minutes), and I told my partner I’d be happy if I got between 2 and 3 laps since I still am pretty wobbly on the bank. The timer started and I started zooming around the track. It’s amazing how much speed you can build up on the bank! It was fun, even though every once in a while I realized how fast I was going and got a little nervous.
I was zooming along just fine until I felt myself loose my balance. Uh oh. I tried with all my might to catch myself, but in a spectacular fall, I slammed into the track with a THUD and slid down to the center. Grr!! I immediately got back up to keep skating during the timed trial, but in my haste my skates slipped back out from under me, wasting even more precious time. I finally got back up (and my fellow bootcampers were cheering me on) and finished my timed trial. The final count? 2 1/2 laps. Not anywhere near where I need to be, but considering I wasn’t even able to skate one lap around the bank a short while ago I’ll take it!
The only part that I opted off the bank track for was crossovers. My coach nodded to me that it was okay to try these on the flat track since I still had never done a successful crossover, and I started slowly trying to cross my right foot over my left. This is still the scariest thing for me to practice because it’s how I hurt my knee a month ago, but I figured babysteps would build my confidence. My coach kept encouraging me and when she blew the whistle for everyone to huddle up, she told me to go around one more curve and really cross my foot over my left, and I did it! She told me the only thing I needed to work on was picking up my left foot, but I was so happy with the progress I made!
The last part of practice was the most fun, by FAR. We played a game called “Drill Master.” Two Bootcampers wore the Jammer Panties and were “It.” It was basically freeze tag on the bank track! When you got tagged, you had to do a four-point-fall and wait for two people to “sandwich” you with their own four-point-falls. People were sliding down the bank track and falling over each other everywhere! It was hilarious and a really fun game. I enjoyed practicing my falls on the bank track as well as sliding down to help my fellow skaters get unfrozen. All in all, a great way to end practice!
Wednesday Afternoon: Tennis Court Practice
Today there is no official Derby practice, so I took the opportunity to practice on the tennis courts near my house. I’m on Spring Break right now, which leaves me a lot of free time to skate — it’s awesome!
At the tennis court I really wanted to work on two things today that have been bugging me: crossovers and T Stops.
I did a few warm up laps and then slowly started trying to put my right foot in front of my left… it was so scary! Eventually something clicked in my brain and I was able to cross my right foot over my left *AND* pick up my left foot afterwards! It was an honest to goodness proper crossover! And it was so fun!!! I can see now why everyone enjoys crossovers. It’s a cool movement to do, and it also helps keep momentum up on the curves. Admittedly I was doing my crossovers pretty slowly, but tomorrow I’m hoping to get to Derby early so I can try my crossovers on the flat track. (Part of the scary part on the tennis courts is that they are slightly sloped so I build up a lot more speed that I’d like to going on one side of the court.)
Next I tried skating loops (while continuing to practice crossovers) and stopping with T Stops (with my right foot coming up behind my left). They started out pretty rough, but I actually let out a whoop of excitement when I finally came to a full stop and didn’t feel wobbly. The best part was that I was actually skating with a bit of speed, too! (There may or may not have been a touch-down style victory dance.)
I kept practicing my crossovers and t stops, ecstatic that I could see myself improving rapidly, and I really REALLY hope that my extra practice pays off tomorrow. At the very end I tried a few t stops with the other foot, but I realized that those need a LOTTTT of work. Sigh… I suppose that’s for a tennis court practice some other day!
All in all, I feel like something has “clicked” for me this week in skating. I think I’m finally getting the hang on being on wheels, so now I can really focus on perfecting the Level 1 skills. How exciting will it be to pass into Level 2? I’m hoping I’ll be ready in a few months (maybe by my birthday in October? That’d be awesome!)