Sunday, October 31, 2010

Mohawk turn!!

I did it!!!! Yesterday I finally taught my body how to accomplish the mohawk turn! (and stop, but the stop part is sorta easy for me). R helped me a LOT. In fact, it was her suggestion that triggered the brain process that enabled me to maneuver successfully into the turn! I will attempt to explain her suggestion in a later post with pictures, or, hopefully a video. Words are not sufficient.
For now, I am so jazzed to be able to perform the turn - I can barely sleep, even though I've only slept about 25 hours total this past week. I'm also working on being able to do it at higher speeds, but I think a moderate pace should be sufficient for tryouts.

Holy mackerel, look at this little girl skate:

Thursday, October 28, 2010

A punny morning

*Warning, un-derby related*

This morning, my coworker "H" and I were discussing what one of our student workers, "S", was working on in the other room of our office.

Me: Did you show her where those extension lessons are? I didn't know which one "L" was talking about in her note.
H: Oh yes, I helped her. I scanned the note though, and did you notice it instructed "S" to sharpen 100 pencils?
Me: What?
H: Yes!
H: I mean, it's a good idea because you get to the classroom and you give the pencils out, but they can't use them because it would take forever for all of them to sharpen their pencils. So it's nice to have them all sharpened already.
Me: Yeah but think of the transport!
(a short pause as I let that sink in)
Me: They'd all break off anyway.
H: Oh my, you have a good point!
Me: Ha! hahahahahahaha.

And I'm still chuckling over it. I love a good, unintentional (or even intentional) pun!

ECE 2010 video

ECDX Teaser from Sammy Sarzoza on Vimeo.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Tonight's skate

I only have about an hour so everything has to be short and condensed.

5 minutes warm up
15 minutes of moderate skating
-with stops, crossovers, and gliding
measure how many laps I can do in 5 minutes (goal is 25)
amount of time to skate 5 laps (goal is 1 minute)
10 minutes of some drills
-touching the floor
-crossovers and gliding
cool down glides

My new heroine

Wow. I mean, just wow. Someday - that will be me :)

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Roller Skating epiphany

I was looking through GGRD's website (because I'm going to NYC again this weekend! My friend Lynette and I are going to the intraleague championship bout, then she's letting (rather, insisting, ha) me crash at her place) and came across this photo:
And it dawned on me - roller skates are shoes with four wheels on the bottom!
Okay. Don't let me lose you here. I'm not an idiot :) I knew this before, but there's knowing something and KNOWING something, in that, I am using this in my thought process in a very specific way - namely in mastering the mohawk. I believe that this game and all its maneuvers are, for me anyway, 90% mental. I can make my body do most anything if I can get my brain to process it in the right way (plus lots of practice/repetition). Thinking about roller skates as shoes with four wheels on the bottom gives me the confidence to believe that I can do anything on skates that I can do with shoes on. And I can totally do the mohawk with shoes on!
Tomorrow will be my next attempt. I am psyched. Also, tomorrow my new skate bag and badly needed skate guards arrive in the mail from Fast Girl Skates!
I also splurged on the WFTDA rules handbook in a cute, little booklet. My printout is all raggedy so hopefully this thing will withstand my mobile life a bit better! I just love reading and rereading the rules to try to strategize. That is another thing I love about this sport - it's still so new so there is room for new and exciting strategies to emerge! How fun it would be if I found something nobody else thought of yet...

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Strange child :)

When I was in elementary, I used to pedal hard and ram my bike into the garage door. I don't remember why - I just remember doing it and my mom yelling at me constantly for it.
I was also the fastest kid in two schools in elementary school. I was still the fastest kid in school until a new girl showed up in 7th grade, but since nobody wanted to play tag anymore, I didn't care. I turned my eyes toward softball...
In middle school, my sister and I used to stuff and strap tons of pillow to ourselves and then run at each other. We thought we looked hilarious all fat and squishy then it was fun to bounce around on the ground after impact. Crazy nuts :)
During a middle school softball game, a 60 mph fastball hit my thumb and fractured it. I still finished the inning... as the first baseman.
During another middle school softball game against the parents, I hit a fly ball to left field. It bounced and the outfielder picked it up and threw it to the firstbaseman, who was somebody's dad. He happened to be standing on the baseline, which is illegal no matter if you have the ball or not. So my little 12 year old self ran into a 40 something year old solid man and bounced backward, hard, into the dirt. I had a bruise on my butt for at least a week.
In high school, as an experiment with my first hand brake bike, I squeezed the front brake first and flipped. Yes, I did this on the grass.
During a high school softball game, I was running from third base to steal home - but the catcher was in my path (noticing a pattern yet??). She didn't have the ball yet, so it's illegal to do that. Annoyed, I ploughed straight into her and somehow ended up with my face on home plate with her next to me, unconscious, the ball rolling harmlessly by. I was perfectly fine and SAFE! Another point and the win for us. The catcher ended up with a few broken ribs... and bruised pride.
Also, in high school, during floor hockey themed gym class, I was the freak who bought and brought in her own hockey stick (needless to say, I was the best player out of all the girls AND guys). I always longed to play ice hockey, but it's an expensive sport, my family was poor, and there were no leagues near me that accepted girls anyway.
In college, one of my roommates and I used to wrestle or arm wrestle all the time. It was all so fun.

I've always been intensely competitive, and, it seems like pretty bone headed, but the truth of the matter is, I'm also a HUGE bookworm (I read our entire middle school library and would have read the entire high school one probably, but I switched schools midway through). And I'm not some huge girl. I've always been rather slight in build - it's just that I don't have a lot of fear. Luckily for me, as well, I must have a solid, though still slight, build because I've never broken or sprained anything my whole life. I have an amazing sense of balance too. I once went to a winter hike with 15 friends. The trail had been snowed upon, tred upon, and then frozen over. It was a treacherous hike. Everyone fell at least once, if not multiple times, except for me. Towards the end, I became so cocky, I actually started to skip on the uneven ice! Annoyed, one of my friends pushed me while I was airborne, but, like a cat, my body adjusted to the new trajectory and I landed on my feet with a roar of laughter.

Well, with my new 187 pro killer pads on while training on roller skates to pummel and block other girls, I feel like that kid again :D

My only wish? That roller derby also involved catching and/or throwing something. I do so love to catch things. I'm very good at it. I can even throw and catch things while blindfolded.

The Secret to T-stops

Every roller derby vet I've talked to has told me that most fresh meat have trouble with either the plow stop or the t-stop. For me it's been the t-stop. I've gone to three workshops to improve it (as well other skills, but this is my current weakness so I am concentrating on this right now) and after those, as well as an hour long intensive personal practice solely dedicated to performing the t-stop over and over and over... I have finally figured out how to do it.

See this mediocre youtube video to get a sense of what I am referring to if you have no idea what I am talking about.

For the beginner, a few skills are best learned before performing the t-stop, namely being able to skate on one foot at a time, left and the right. If you want jump the gun, figure out which foot will be your front foot when performing the t-stop and concentrate on balancing on that foot. For me, it's my right foot, but I'm guessing most of you will be stronger on your left.
The next key step to performing a t-stop is being able to be flexible enough to put your feet in that t-like position. For me, it was hard so I have been practicing the 2nd position, as it is referred to in ballet. After I got pretty good at that, it was really easy to perform a t-like position! And I didn't practice 2nd position only on skates... I practiced mostly while at work and waiting for public trans.
The last key step to the t-stop is, even though it looks like you're only moving your back foot (moving it perpendicular to your front foot, placing it down on the ground to grind yourself to a halt, etc), in actuality, your front foot is also moving towards your back foot just like scissors do. All skaters perform this so fast that you don't notice this minor detail.

Tip from a vet to me: If you're still having trouble after a few workshops under your belt (like I was), but you know how to stop with your toe stops, try stopping using just the front, outermost wheel on your backfoot until you get used to the rhythm of it.
And lastly... practice, practice, practice. You'll feel like a bit of a fool, but you're a beginner and you'll stay such unless you take risks. So get out there and master these basic skills yo!

Three disclaimers:
1) Don't ever stop using one or two of your inside wheels on your back foot - you could end up with a sprained ankle! Use the outermost wheels on your back foot or all four wheels.
2) always, always, always wear knee pads no matter when or wear you skate if you want to be a rollergirl! If you mess up your knees now you'll have no chance lasting too long in derby! And that would be a tragedy.
3) I practiced the t-stop for almost an hour straight and my ankle started to tire, so I stopped. Don't push yourself too hard without supervision, especially on your ankles. If your ankles tire when you're performing a move like this, they could buckle and you'll end up with a sprained ankle! I have already bought ankle weights to strengthen those muscles - you should too, or google other ways to strengthen them!

Good luck :) I'm off to practice the tomahawk!

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Uproar on the Lakeshore Bracket

That's mine so far :)

Also. The second Philly training workshop is this Sunday. I have a skate lesson Saturday morning. Afterward I'm going up to NYC on Saturday to grab my new skates AND to skate in Central Park. Not sure if I'll use them at the workshop as they won't have been broken in yet, but at least I'll have the option.

Update: Got the skates, used em at the workshop and they were great! I rolled around the parking lot a bit beforehand to get the plastic-y surface off a bit before skating on the rink.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

GGRD New Basic

This past Saturday I took the regional rail and NJ transit rail up to NYC for Gotham's new basic training workshop. They have their own warehouse. It sounds like it'd be a huge place, but it seemed small compared to a rink. I guess that's because the ceiling was lower. It was really cool though, how each skater had a place to keep her personal belongings, instead of having to lug them around everywhere.
The workshop was good. We had more time to get to know each other and chat than was allotted during Philly's. It was more relaxed, definitely a slower pace. We weren't racing around the track the entire time (although, I enjoy doing that), but it was nice because we definitely focused more on the basics, like the mechanics of the t-stop and plow stop.
For instance, when Ariel demonstrated the t-stop, I didn't realize that the front foot also was participating in the stop, i.e. it's moving backward to meet the back foot, which is perpendicular to it. Once you nail it, you're moving both feet so fast that it doesn't look like you're moving the front foot at all - sort of like how the moonwalk works. You don't actually realize what MJ's feet are really doing. It was an invaluable experience - there's nothing online one can find that could replace it.
Now because I had my outdoor wheels on my skates, I couldn't quite master the t-stop. When I get my new skates this Saturday from Five Stride - I went in on Sunday, but they didn't have my size in stock - I will practice my t-stop for a few hours. I am very excited! I've always felt as if walking and running were too slow. Wheels have always been a part of me, like an extension of my body. My only regret is now finding this sport SOONER.

Additional notes: I also went to Gotham's doubleheader that night. Nicole was sick so she couldn't join me as planned - her ticket sadly went to waste.
Of course I still went, even if it was by myself. I thought I'd meet up with E at least, my new roller derby friend that I took the subway with to Crashpad. But my cell phone didn't work in the gym. Dang it. And it was a full house - sold out. I knew I wouldn't be able to find her, but maybe I'd find someone else who was at the workshop, after all, there were a lot of us.
I spotted a girl who looked vaguely familiar and asked her if she had been to the workshop that day. She hadn't, but then asked if I was trying out. I said yes, but for Philly. Turns out she's Teflon Donna, a jammer/blocker for Philly - how insanely random is that? I guess that's why she looked vaguely familiar. I still can't believe that out of all the New Yorkers in that place, I ran into the only other Philadelphian. Anyway, she was cool and the pack dynamics of the Manhattan Mayhem was interesting.