I went to my first roller derby crash course last night. Can I call myself a derby girl, yet?
Actually, I don’t know what I was expecting, but it felt a lot like taking skating lessons when I was a kid. You know when you watch Tim Bits hockey and all the little tykes are shaky on their skates and wobbling around and falling over? Well, it was exactly like that, but with more quad skates and fifty full grown women. Seriously, if badassery is a requirement for roller derby, then I cannot call myself a derby chick because there was none to be found for miles and miles. Also, I suck at falling. Which is not something I ever thought I’d say in my lifetime, but it’s entirely true.
The class started with an off skate warm-up which consisted of running laps and then doing bodyweight lunges and jump squats. I had been stressing out about the fact that I would be the least athletic person there, and when the instructors opened with “Okay, we’re running laps,” I had a momentary flash back to high school phys ed, when I used to struggle through the Cooper run and then hide in the washroom out of embarassment. But it turns out a lot has changed in the past 7 years because I managed to keep up with all the tiny girls at the front of the pack without dying. Go me.
I was also reminded how much I love lifting when the first activity we performed with our skates on was simply holding a bodyweight squat for 40 seconds – and not even at parallel. I heard a lot of comments to the effect of, “This is such a good workout! I really need to practice squatting” when I’d been thinking about how easy it was to just hang out in a squat position at this point in my life.
But while squatting ain’t no thang, the skills portion was a whole ‘nother story. Here are the skills I learned last night:
- How to skate
- Falling on one knee
- Falling on the other knee
- Falling on both knees
- Falling on all fours
- Stepping sideways
- Stepping forward
Yes. I repeat: all of those things were skills. And they were hard. Saying I learned how to stop is hyperbole, because apparently hitting a wall doesn’t count as “proper” stopping, though I can attest that it gets the job done.
More important than the skate portion, though: one of my primary motivations for signing up for this course was to try and deal with some of my social anxiety, and on that front I was actually kind of successful. I had to take the bus to the arena and I could see a couple of girls who were obviously headed in the same direction, but my brain decided it was going to do its “Omg social situation! Shut down!” routine and so I chickened out of saying anything.
But then as we were walking over as a group, we did finally start up a somewhat nervous conversation and I was not immediately rejected, nor did the world end. And when we got to the arena, there were a lot of people awkwardly standing around and introducing themselves and obviously unsure of whether they should say anything or not, which made me feel about a million times better. I am completely normal.
After the class I bused home with a couple of the girls and I managed to strike up a 20-minute chat on Star Trek, which means I was able to successfully carry on a non-lifting related conversation. I consider that a fricken’ PR in life, man.
So I was kind of worried that this would be a huge failure and I’d chicken out of going back, thereby choosing to remain anti-social for another year. But instead I’m going back and I feel reassured that stepping back from PL for a few weeks was a good decision. My lifting is a mess, and really that’s okay. I read Eric’s Cressey’s “Your kid doesn’t need a strength coach, he needs a bike” this morning and that really hit close to home. Except, this isn’t about my child, it’s about me: I need to enjoy my life a lot more than I need to squat 400lbs.
On that note, I think I’m going to skip the meet I had planned in July. Hopefully I will still qualify for provincials with my total from before Christmas and I do want to go to Nationals when I feel more focussed. In the meantime, I am going to work on passing my roller derby skills assessment and I’ve been eyeing either Olympic lifting or strongman training, just to learn the technique involved in either one and maybe not lose all of my strength while avoiding PL. I had briefly considered Crossfit or bodybuilding, but I don’t think I’m that desperate just yet.
For one thing, my lifting might be a mess, but for the sake of consistency, so is my diet. I was doing okay but this weekend I ate a ton of junk. Actually, it wasn’t all junk. On Saturday I just ate about a million calories in fruit and then followed up with alcohol. Yesterday I managed to eat an entire bag of sunflower seeds while watching the first season of The Wire – which is appropriate because I often feel like a junkie when it comes to food. I can stay clean for a few days and then I just need a sugar, fat and salt fix when I’m alone in my apartment on Saturday night. At least I wasn’t so far gone that I consumed dairy, so I don’t feel like death today.
Time to get back on track today – just like everyone says on Monday. But I am tentatively making plans for Canada Day and those plans involve a strong motivation and desire to be as lean as possible. And I know that eating properly for 4 weeks will make a noticeable difference, even if I don’t get hung up on the scale. So here’s to the month ahead: which I’m obviously starting off on the right foot by skipping the gym tonight to go to Gary’s for dinner. Actually, I agreed to this because it will probably be acceptably healthy. After all, he doesn’t drink and he’s obsessed with clean eating. I don’t think he’s even touched a bag of chips or a can of pop in +5 years.
Anyway, he messaged me this weekend saying, “Want to come over for steak and salmon? I’m realizing I have no social life beyond the gym.” Funny, I’ve been realizing the same thing, myself. And yes, I absolutely do want steak.