At our last practice, Darla and I realized how scared we were that we might not make our 25 in 5 at our upcoming skills assessment. Although we tried to lay down a proper track, our Tuesday night practice space falls short about 20 feet or so of putting down a regulation sized track so it was pretty inadequate. So what do you when you eat sleep and breathe derby and can’t bear the thought of failing *yourself* in the 25/5 but have nowhere adequate to practice before the big day? Well, you shell out some big bucks and rent a space large enough for you to practice in. Thankfully, since Darla and I work a grad school schedule, we were able to take a daytime timeslot that no one else wanted. Also, even more than thankfully, more sort of awesomely, our coach and head ref who doubles really well as a coach agreed to meet anyone there who could make it and help us give our skills one final tweak before testing.
It ended up being only Darla and I who could make it (grad school…), and the small “class” size really helped me get past any performance anxiety I’d had in the past. So, we (or rather Ender and Rowdy) started out by measuring and taping down a regulation sized track.
Meanwhile, Darla and I got all skated up. We wanted to know what it felt like to try 25 in 5 before a hard practice so we started with that. Darla skated a beautiful 28 laps and I managed my 25 in 5 on the first try!!! 🙂 Ridiculous amounts of hugging rightfully ensued.
Why on the first shot? Well a few factors doubtless came into play. The first is that we did it one at a time so there was no need to slow down to weave around other skaters. Second, the floor was beautiful hardwood. And third, at least for me, I was feeling just enough desperation to force myself to push as hard as I could.
After we had let the emotional dust die down, we got back to what we had gone there for and practiced everything from falling to hitting. With just a few minutes of reserved space left we decided to take the 25 in 5 one more time. At this point the previously mentioned factors become insufficient to describe what happened next.
First, Darla skated another 28 in 5!!! No fluke there, just pure drive and talent.
But guess freaking what else?! I skated TWENTY NINE laps in five minutes. Its funny you know because I was exhausted and getting wobblier after having already endured the test once and then going on to do a full practice. But the entire time I had either Ender or Rowdy right behind me urging me on and keeping me focused. They were each in turn my own personal Jimminy Crickets. While the devil on my shoulder kept telling me it hurt too much, I was too tired, my lungs were on fire (I’m actually pretty sick at the moment), these two amazing coaches reassured me that I was doing great, my pace was on track and I was being consistent. They also challenged me to speed up when I needed to, and reminded me to take advantage of those odd moments where my muscles miraculously felt a bit of relief. Near the end, Ender reminded me to skate strong rather than fast. I managed to get into a really good rhythm…
Your vets will tell you to make the track into a circle.: move in tight around the bends and let yourself drift out wide on the straightaways. If you’re like me, maybe you’re a bit skeptical. First, you’re forcing yourself to skate *further* and second, sometimes it does feel like you’re *sliding* and that’s scary. BUT you save yourself so much energy when you don’t try to hold the inside line! Enough to go from 25 in 5 to 29 in five in my case! My rhythm ended up consisting of swimming through the straight aways and marching around the bends. That meant two long “frog kicks” on the straight aways and about 4 or so strong crossovers around the bends. After a while my legs were doing it themselves and my mind just kept focusing on keeping my breathing steady; always picturing sending oxygen to my legs.
I couldn’t be prouder of the FOUR of us on the track today. And I think our coaches deserve special nods; helmets off to Ender and Rowdy; love you guys.
I was on top of the world when I got home…