roller derby week 2ish

See week 1 here.

I endeavoured to revise and presumably master all the material we covered in the first class on a Sunday afternoon (nerd, remember. Historically 'Good At School'). It seemed quite straight forward. I would just repeat the difficult thing until it became easy. I've been there. I used to spend an hour a day just playing scales on my violin. Repetition is the key to mastery.

I failed to account for the fact that in physical activities, mistakes aren't free. They hurt. They can damage you. I'm writing this three and a half weeks after the failed T-stop at the first training, and my ankle still hurts. So when I put my gear on and stood up in the sports hall, instead of taking off with the casually intense focus of one committed to a task, I became very aware of how precarious my situation was. It seemed likely if not utterly predetermined that I would fall, badly, onto my back - maybe twisting my legs or ankles as I went down, or falling onto an arm and breaking it, implausibly - my wrists were too well protected but - presumably the forearm can break somehow - can you break elbows? This in mind, my plans of mastery withered to a single hope - to survive unscathed, and maybe be a bit less terrified in an hour.

Remembering the almost-comically predictable 'falling at the corners' I'd done at training, I managed to expand my rapidly-contracting ambition for the day to include learning how to turn. Because the gym is only available for a few hours on Sundays, I first went home and watched a lot of youtube videos (some relevant) and thought about acceleration, broadly defined.

Here is what I learned: you can turn by pushing the outer foot out. You lean a bit into the turn, putting weight on the inner leg, and push the outer foot roughly 'outwards' (actual trajectory is more like a curve since you're moving forwards at the same time).

When I realised this - in the sense of actually achieving it, rather than understanding it conceptually (which was easy), I felt so accomplished I almost forgot how wildly I had moved the goalposts on my afternoon to get there. I got excited for the prospect of trying the '27 in 5' again, because the secret to turning corners without losing all my speed had been unlocked and maybe I'd get a score I could say in public.

Unfortunately, I almost missed training session two, because I spent most of the day in a haze of pain and sickness, semi-conscious and clawing pitifully in the direction of Netflix. Scientist was baffled. I made a deal with myself where I would go via tram (as opposed to bike - not a fan of cycling when I'm dizzy) and take breaks as often as necessary. Probably not a good health choice, probably don't take health advice from me... or definitely do, because I miraculously got better, and it was certainly due to roller derby and not the extended nap I took in the afternoon.

Highlights of the class included me seeing side planks with leg lifts, thinking 'I can probably do this, I have done this before', and being totally incapable of lifting my legs, because that's what happens when you add a 2kg (?) weight to the end of your leg and also stop going to yoga six months earlier. We also did some 'agility', which involved things like balancing on one skate (I was pretty good at this - I have good balance), jumping to the side (somehow easier than it sounds), and stepping to the side while crossing one foot over the other (LITERALLY IMPOSSIBLE, anyone who can do this is a WIZARD). We also did a pattern of zig-zagging around the track (cutting from side to side) which exceeded my limited ability to do sticky feet (skating without lifting your feet) and involved a lot of baleful middle-distance stares as I rolled unceremoniously to a stop. But I barely fell, and someone said it looked like I had been practicing, so I left the place wearing the invisible sunglasses of a person inwardly giddy with pride.

I was then travelling for rougly a week while trying to finish and submit a paper, so I missed the next training - but it was actually an intro to the extensive rules of roller derby, which I have already largely ready (nerd, remember), so the exhilirating story of learning-to-skate continues uninterrupted whenever I write the next one of these. Right now I have to find a sleeping position that doesn't involve the bruised side of my body.