Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Back Cramps, Indian Food, and Untraditional Jammers

First off, can I just tell you how angry I get that Word doesn’t recognize the word “jammer” or “jammers”? I just added both of those to my dictionary to keep my anger under control. Now to the real part of the blog (fuck! Word does it with “blog” too!)… Did I mention I work for a book publisher by day?

Back Cramps
Back cramps – they suck. A lot of people get them. I get them. Did I mention they suck? Well, short of lopping off my DDs and losing 50lbs, the cramps aren’t gonna just stop anytime soon without a little help. So, I’ve been on this personal quest for back-cramp relief.

First, I treated the back cramps like muscle cramps: replenish electrolytes during exercise and thoroughly stretch the muscle before activity.

Next, I went to the herb store and asked the guru there if there was anything herbal I could use. She gave me two options, both of which I’m giving a try: 1) Comfrey root: make this into tea and drink an hour before exercise; 2) Ruta Grav pellets: place 3 under tongue when back pain starts (aka, before a cramp sets in).

Then I talked to a friend about the situation. This friend is a massage therapist and is totally getting off on the fact that she gets to break out her anatomy books to plan deep tissue massage that will help me.

So, how’s this all working? Well, it’s interesting. Like a typical American, I suppose, I have been looking for a “cure.” But the information I’ve gathered through all this research has led me down a different path than I expected. It seems that the back cramps may not actually be the problem, but a result of a larger problem or combination of problems. They’re just a really painful end result!

The massage therapist’s mentor, so to speak, a person who has been in practice for a long time, suggested that it may instead be a pelvis and breathing problem. Come to find out, the left side of my pelvis is jacked up like 4cm higher than the right, and the muscles on the left side of my body, from my abdomen to pelvis and pelvis to knee are significantly tighter, which is likely causing the wrench. Hmmmm… What could cause all that on the left side of my body??? Perhaps going fast and turning left – a lot? Yep. Turns out going one direction really fucks w/your body. The second part of this dynamic, incorrect breathing, contributes to the cramp according to the guru.

So, what am I doing? Well, I went into practice last night a lot more cognizant about my breathing. It sounds dumb, but I think focusing on breathing like you would in Yoga prolonged my need to stretch. Two days prior I got that deep-tissue rub-down and I could feel an immediate difference in my posture. I certainly think that helped as well (loosening the muscles around it did lower my pelvis significantly).

I felt a difference in the right direction last night. Here’s what I did:
- 10 min yoga before leaving the house
- stretches w/the group
- drank Smart Water
- mindful breathing
- took 3 pellets of Ruta Grav when back pain started
- stretched when I needed to (only twice the whole night!)

It’s still not all worked out, but at least I feel like I’m on the right path now. I think finding the “cure” for back cramps is like finding the cure for cancer in the roller derby world. But, like cancer, perhaps it’s more about predisposition (size, bone structure) and prevention… I’ll keep you posted in this ever evolving quest.

Indian Food
I’ve discovered something better than chocolate covered pretzels for PMS: Indian food. I’ve always loved Indian food, but it was quite by chance that I discovered it satiates the cravings you get at that time. A new Indian restaurant just moved into my work neighborhood, and we cannot stop going. It’s like crack. The VP told me a story not to long ago about a Chinese restaurant that served crappy food and was always being shut down by the Health Department, but always had a line out the door. Turns out they were adding opium paste to all their food, and people became addicted. This of course has nothing to do w/my obsession w/good Indian food aside from the fact that I just compared it to crack.

Untraditional Jammers
I jammed last night during scrimmages. It was so much fun. I never jam, and I think that’s why I had everyone cheering for me – we all want to root for the underdog. I actually established lead jammer and won 1-0 (I strategically called it off my second time through the pack after having passed 1 person). I think it may be several more months before I jam again, if only to build the suspense back up and garner all the cheering again!

This got me thinking though… If I had a little more endurance, I think I might actually rock as a jammer. As a bigger girl (and a blocker) I can get pummeled and stay upright for the most part. So, who’s a better jammer: a tiny fast girl who avoids getting hit and can wiggle through the pack or a larger girl who is solid and can force her way through the pack? There’s no right answer here. Just thought I’d pose the question…

Friday, January 26, 2007

Liberty Belles vs. Mobtown Maulers

I’m a little late in writing this, but work has been a bitch this week, so get over it. Last Saturday (1/20/07) we hauled it up caravan style to the suburbs of Philly to play the Liberty Belles. It was the 1st bout in their new home, a sports arena with sport-court flooring – and beer. I was really interested to see if the crowd dynamic changed with a little help from the liquid cheer, but more about that later.

The local was rad, the floor a little noisy (sport-court tiles that made it sound like you had busted bearings the entire time you were skating), and the hospitality warm. The Liberty Belles kept referring to us as their “little sisters,” as they helped us out a bit in our 1st year through advice and teaching us drills – they’re really a great group of ladies (who all have awesome hair extensions or are awesome because of their lack of any hair).

Now, to the bout…

We were off. Way off. Our strengths lie in our ability to work together as a team, and Philly really kept us from doing that. Mad props to them. Philly has really played up their strengths: they have big blockers who hit hard and rarely tip over, and their jammers jam. Only once did I see a jammer in a blocking position. Last year we were so short on players due to injury that doing that had never occurred to me – keep your jammers fresh by reserving them for jamming only. Interesting.

I’ve somehow lost any sense of pre-bout nervousness I ever had, but looking back on it, I wish I could have had a little fear and apprehension driving me. We got schooled. We didn’t even play our game – ever. It was bittersweet though, because although we lost by 50 and did pretty awful as a team, I had one of my better games, and it showed. After the bout several of my teammates and some fans congratulated me on “stepping it up,” something only a handful of people knew I had been doing for the past few weeks.

I’ve been in the midst of a very difficult bout of depression following the unexpected death of my dad several months ago. Depression breeds odd things. For me, it’s been a lack of self confidence, something I’ve never in my life had to worry about before. Now, it’s a struggle, and my game has suffered because of it. It’s a bad cycle. You feel bad about yourself, you do bad, and people know you’re doing bad. That further feeds the negative self image, etc, etc. But several weeks ago it all came to a head and I decided to say “fuck it” to myself. I came up w/a new tactic to boost my self confidence, and as a result I’ve been putting 110% into practices and then the Philly game. I’m back.

As for the beer? Well, I don’t know how Philly fans usually are, but they weren’t as loud as I expected them to be. On the other hand, the Baltimore fans who attended were as fucking loud and crazy as we’re use to :) Go Mobtown.

Monday, January 8, 2007

1/7 Bout: CCRG vs. CRG

Last night in our 1st WFTDA bout, we hosted Carolina, currently ranked 7th in the nation and who also recently beat the 4th ranked team in the nation. We lost 74 to 145, but I still think we put on an impressive battle for a little 1-year-old Division 3 team taking on a 3-year-old Division 1 team!

It was a tough bout. CRG definitely took us off guard in the 1st period. We were reacting and playing their game rather than playing ours. By the second period, however, we rearranged our strategy and started holding off their jammers and helping ours.

We definitely learned a lot, and playing a team with so much more experience was a great opportunity to see just where you can get to in 3 years. The plays, the vertical blocking, the speed - it was fun.

I must say that my added activity level must be paying off, because there was no point in any one jam that I felt I couldn't keep up. And today, the day after, I'm not sore. A little fatigued, yes, but definitely not hurting.

Things I did differently:

1. Smart Water throughout the game. This was way better than Gatorade. The sugar in Gatorade gives me the mouth pukes. No mouth pukes with Smart Water but all the benefits of electrolytes.

2. I wore a ThermaCare heat wrap on my back. I wound up taking it off half-way through though, so I'm not sure if it did anything at all, but my back never hurt.

It was a great learning experience - I hope we can take a lot away from it and become even better from it!

Friday, January 5, 2007

What’s a Girl to Do?

With the ongoing refinement of the WFTDA and their rule set and their re-opening of league applicants, it’s no doubt that roller derby leagues across the country are stepping up their game.

Practices are becoming more frequent and more intense, and it’s easy to get down on yourself if you can’t keep up with endurance practices. This past week, out of a practice of 40 women, I counted the number of people NOT in the current drill. It was astounding: 10 ladies stretching out their back or leg cramps and 4 skating at their own pace along the outside of the rink. That’s 14 people – a whole team’s worth of skaters.

The funny thing is that nearly every person I’ve talked to who “can’t keep up” at one time or another thinks she’s the only one. She’s not.

Once I started looking around I noticed that the 14 not in the drill were not what I would have expected – they were skaters of all body types, and they were blockers AND jammers – some of our best jammers, in fact. So what does this tell us?

You aren’t alone.

Accept it, but know that like anything else you can accomplish anything you put your mind to if your will is strong enough. I live almost every aspect of my life with this in mind. I know I’ll only live once, and time is ticking away every day. If you want something out of life, you have to get out there and take it.

Now, notice I said I live “almost” every aspect of my life with this in mind. I’ve been successful in following my own advice in business and in my personal life, but I’ve never even considered that I could do this with respect to my body. It’s always been the one thing I feel I don’t have control over. But now I’m beginning to think that the “I will do this” attitude I use in other aspects of my life is a necessity, at least with me, in provoking actual change and accomplishment. I’ve always wanted to change my body’s physical parameters, but I never thought I actually could. So, what’s a girl to do?

Well, like many others in my league I’ve joined a gym to up the ante. I try to go at least twice a week to supplement the exercise I get at practice. I do calesthenics and sometimes my elliptical at home. I walk during my lunch break at work. And the most fun of all, I got Dance Dance Revolution for Christmas, which is more fun than exercise to me, but I do break out in a sweat trying to win the game!

The thing is, my body isn’t going to change next week. It may not even get to a level that would make me comfortable in endurance practices in 6 months, but I am doing something about it, and I’m doing my best.

Next time you’re ready to cry or strangle a coach with their whistle, remember that no one pays to come see you do an endurance practice. They come to see you play roller derby, and lets face it, none of us would be here unless we were good enough to compete. Endurance practices are suppose to be challenging. They’re suppose to be just out of reach. But they make us better, and eventually, if you want it bad enough, you’ll get it. Just give yourself some time and cut yourself a little slack. Also know that fit comes in many packages. I could try and persuade you all to “get skinny” but only because it would make it easier for me to punt you when our leagues play;) Thin shouldn’t be the goal here. It’s just the shape of the package, and as we all know if we look around, even some thin gals have problems keeping up.

Yours in solidarity.

Thursday, January 4, 2007

This Blog's Mission

I've decided to publish this blog as a testament to the excellence bigger ladies can bring to the sport of roller derby.

Although it's been said that "roller derby's the only sport where you wish you were a big girl," some people still believe that there is no such thing as "fit and fat" or even that girls with more girth could or should do well in any sport.

As a woman, I've become increasingly conscious of supporting other women and their many endeavors. Roller derby is no exception. We're a sisterhood and a very unique generation of women who have worked hard to help ourselves and each other succeed. The barriers women once faced, and still sometimes do, are non-existent in female skater-run roller derby organizations, yet the body-image barriers still exist.

I hope this blog will challenge your perception of women who don't fit into your subconscious idea of what a rollergirl (or any other woman) should be.

We're blockers, pivots, and even sometimes jammers. We can take a hit, give a hit, build up walls and tear them down. We're members of the largest DIY-type organizations taking root in the US (and other countries too) right now. We help each other excel by sharing stories and experiences that have worked well and not so well. We learn from our mistakes. We succeed. We're unexpected role models. And we come in all shapes and sizes.