It’s pretty much almost time. Time to keep pushing forward and focused on the goal. Tonight’s practice is going to be interesting. It’s been said to be a mock skills test. Granted, it sounds intimidating, but I am really stoked if this happens tonight. The worst scenario for me would be to get to the real test (t-minus 6 practices after tonight) and not pass because I wasn’t prepared. Tonight gives us the opportunity to see where we stand, get feedback on our skills, and most importantly, give us the much-needed insight into what we will face in April.
Monday was crushing with a Dicer practice. After I made the decision to fully focus on health and wellness to really get me where I wanted to go (ie: a derby team / fully focused athlete), I found myself more emotionally attached and more involved in my derby life than ever. I was connected. I cared where people were if they didn’t make it to practice. I wanted to know more about nutrition so I wouldn’t have to keep stopping mid drills to recover. I wanted to get involved in more of my derby sisters lives so that I could find support and offer the same to them. I wanted to build something bigger than myself. Derby is offering all that and more. No wonder I broke down.
It all started with a bit of a rumor mill / messaging system by word of mouth. It was said that Dicer was taking over practice that night (which, if you don’t know, you do have to mentally prepare yourself for they are tough!). I immediately went in stress mode. Looking back on it, I wasted a lot of energy doing that, which probably led to my early fatigue. I know we’re going to be pushed to the limit far beyond a Dicer practice when we pass skills and make a team and by certain graces possibly make a travel team, but shit! I’m no where close to where I wanted to be yet! I stressed out because I wanted to be at a level where Dicer practices no longer scare me but excite me. I was no where close to that yet, so this night was already looking harsh.
I knew we’d be expected to pull a 25 in 5, which is always stressful. I wanted just to improve on my time, which I did. I should have seen that as a happy moment! I had a small victory starting off the night! But I didn’t, I saw that as, ‘oh shit, starting with 25 in 5? What other hell shall be unleashed upon us?!’. Negative Nancy indeed. Derby Downer most definitely. Then came some typical practice drills. We’re hitting now so it is pretty stressful. For me, the hits aren’t so much my focus of the stress as the whole, ‘omfg I’m on some wheels for a very top-heavy person, wtf did I sign up for!?!!?!?’ is. It freaks me out when my skates hit someone else’s skates. I can’t get that leg in front of someone else confidently. It’s hard to put all the touching, hitting, pushing, speed, and skater stance all together for me. This is my stressing mind at work. I think of everything all at once that should be going into the drill and it psyches me out! It’s like I am finished before I start or something… And then came this ladder toe-stop drill.
The pressure of starting a group with a fancy turn around toe stop motion when I could barely do the move to begin with was hard. Then to know it would take me almost 3 full minutes to get through a 6 to 8 person (this is seriously small) pace line was just mockable. Then to have to catch up, take forever, do a shitty toe stop, hold up the line, be unbalanced, have a cramp in my foot, have a loose skate, and still move forward? AWWW HELLZ NAH. I broke down after the third person. I really just wanted to chuck my helmet into a corner and throw a chair. Instead, I had a mini tantrum, cried, “I CAN’T DO THIS!” out loud and proceeded to skate off and cry like a wee lil girl in the corner. I was just SO FREAKING MAD. I was mad I couldn’t get it. I was mad I couldn’t force my foot to stop cramping so I could give it more juice. I was mad that others were kicking ass at this drill and I wasn’t. I was mad my body told me no when I told it yes. I was mad because I started to cry, another thing I did NOT give my body permission to do, and I was mad because I was embarrassed at my crying and shitty attitude moment.
I tried to skate off to pout and get it out of my system. Luckily Reaper was there to give a little encouragement and a little reality to the whole process. She said told me everything I needed to hear in that moment and focused my attention on practicing the toe stop in a break down progression on the side. It distracted me enough to get me to stop blubbering and pushed me forward to not give up on the goal of the drill. After we got through some more drills and the rage subsided, the last drill, a 25 in 5 as a pack came in. Rage fully engulfed again. Well, maybe not rage, but like desperation. Signing up to play derby is more than rink rash, panty hose, hard hits, and bad ass names. It’s hard fucking work. It’s like a boot camp, but on skates, because that’s what crazies do. They see something dangerous, add more danger to it like wheels, and then they call it Roller Derby. That is what you sign up for. That’s what your life will be like if you stick through the boot camp. By my 6th lap my body hurt but it was my mind that had enough. I couldn’t take the pressure anymore. What the freaking hell did I sign up for? Really!?
This is the farthest I had ever gotten to in a derby girl camp. I’ve always given up by the third week due to injuries, schedule conflicts, work needs, blah blah blah. This is the furthest I have come. I skated off to the side, tried to stretch my chest out (I had fallen earlier on my chest cave and proceeded to knock all the winds out of me) to get some full breathes in and man.. I had to go be a lil beeotch and cry again. I figured it out though. As I shrunk off to the side, I figured out why the pressure got to me. For the first time EVER, I realized this moment, this time that I had broken down, it was THE pin point moment that I mentally say, “I quit”. It was the moment where I question if what I am doing is worth it. I didn’t recognize it at first. I usually brush off the emotion or close it off when I get here and just quit. This time, though, I stayed. I stayed the rest of the practice despite my breakdown and unconsciously told myself: “Fuck that. I’m not quitting. I have put in too much to give up now”. And it’s true.
I literally just bought knee gaskets and some sick ass bearings and new wheels. Why the hell would I let all that mental energy, all that money, all that time, all my coaches and supporter’s time go to waste? Why? Because it’s hard? Well, duh. I knew it would be hard. I didn’t know it would be THIS hard. I didn’t know in the end I was the one and only thing holding me back from victory. Had I known I was just going to fight myself I would have tried to get that out-of-the-way a long time ago, but SHIT. This is hard. I’m glad I broke through. I am glad I got to the other side. I expect some emotional hiccups in the future but I am seeing it now as a good sign, I am seeing it as a progression to take my evil name Chloroform Cupcake to the next level and earn that bad ass jersey. If I need a time out to get my mind right I will take that time. It’s my time. I am going to use every failure and pause in practice as a moment to realign my goals and intentions. I am going to pass my damn skills test eventually, and I am most definitely never ever ever going to give up on myself.