Tuesday, January 27, 2009

It All Led Up to This

Not leaving the office until 7pm again last night had me in a foul mood – I stayed late to get something done as a courtesy to my coworkers but I instead caught shit. I looked down at the clock on my computer when a complaining coworker rolled into my office, and it was already 6:45pm, with our first scrimmage of the 2009 season set to start at 7pm, 30-minutes away. And I still had to go home first to change my clothes and grab my skate bag. I was in a blind panic.

If I had been in the type of mood I was in last night several years ago, I might have convinced myself to skip practice. Don’t think it didn’t go through my head, but I quickly made the decision that even if I only made it for the last half of practice and didn’t even get credit for attendance, I would still go. I had to. It was the first scrimmage of the 2009 season, but more importantly, it was my first scrimmage back after my second shoulder injury last July. It’s what I’ve been waiting for. I was timid, but I was more than ready to get back out there and put everything I’ve been working on since July to the test.

“No time for fear,” I told myself, “just get out there and do it.”

Having suffered through prior injuries, most notably a torn PCL in my right knee about 4 years ago, I had a really hard time “coming back”. Not only was I behind the learning curve of everyone else who had been practicing regularly for the last 3 months, but I also came back unprepared – in worse physical shape – than I was before I left. I had to fight to get back up to par with my team, but I also had to fight not to be winded after half a jam, noticeably falling behind the pack, my ego crushed as I noticed the separation between me and my peers.

After the first shoulder injury I had last April, I was motivated by fear. I had told myself the previous October that I the season starting in April was going to be “my season”, so when I got taken to the hospital during the first bout, I was crushed. I vowed to keep my endurance up, so I went to the gym and made sure I did cardio. This is when I started running – twenty-to-thirty minutes at a time at a speed beginning at 3MPH.

I was back at my first scrimmage practice since the initial shoulder injury in July. I made it 2 hours and 50 minutes through a 3-hour practice feeling great. Ten minutes before the end of the night, I succumbed to the same type of shoulder injury, only on my other shoulder. I cried and cried and cried – not so much because of the pain, but because I knew this meant I’d be out for the remainder of the season, and that’s exactly what happened.

Devastated and knowing I couldn’t scrimmage again until January, I did all I could to get my body prepared for the 2009 season. I stopped snacking – I stopped eating crap. I only ate when I was hungry, and I taught myself to get over the guilt of only eating half of what I’d bought or put on my plate. It was no longer a waste of money, it was insurance on my performance in the 2009 season. I started challenging myself when I ran. I still only did twenty-to-thirty minutes at first, but I bumped up my speed a little bit each time I went running. I took my dog to run at the lake every Saturday morning, and I stopped drinking like a fish, so I could get up to do so! Then, come late November I got a hold of the All Star training guide for the offseason, and I did it. I did the muscle-building and conditioning exercises, and I bumped up my time on the treadmill to forty-five minutes to an hour, still slowly increasing the speed and introducing sprint intervals about half-way through my planned run time. I spent a lot of time by myself at the gym, and I definitely dispelled the myth that fat girls can’t run to all the other gym patrons. To this day, I can outrun some of the girls you’d think had body types that everyone aspires to have, and I love it when one of them gets on beside me twenty-minutes in and then bails, red and gasping for air, only to watch me continue for another twenty minutes or so after she’s gotten off.

Finally, the off-season came to an end in early January, and I started attending practices again. At first, my knees felt weak, my feet were cramping, and I couldn’t believe how sore my thighs were afterwards, but I’ve kept going. Someone said to me at the bout last weekend, “Did you realize you’re the last original member of Speed Regime this year?” I hadn’t wanted to think it through, but I knew that having started this league I’d better have something to show for it this season.

So last night I race home to change, and without time to eat I continue my race to the rink. I’m late. Everyone’s already geared up, so I get my outer clothing off and my gear on. I had decided to wear the gold booty shorts I wore to the April game I got injured at. I was nervous – very nervous, but I also knew that all I could do was give it my all and there was no other reason to try for less than my personal best. But what was my personal best? I guess I’d just have to find out.

We started with “newbie/returning injury” scrimmages, which included me. I jumped in the first jam of the night as blocker 2, and less than a quarter of the way around the track I started laying out the jammer and holding her off, over and over. When she was down and my jammer was coming, I was making holes and trying to escort her through the pack, slamming on the breaks to drop back and beat up their jammer when she was back up and approaching. It was fucking beautiful, but I was also with all newbies.

Second part of the night was a general scrimmage, and to my surprise I kicked ass in those jams as well. I challenged myself by playing two positions I’ve never usually played: lead blocker and jammer. Okay, I sucked at jammer. I never did make it through, but I threw a devastating blow to the opposing jammer after I made the decision to stay at the rear of the pack and just block.

Then they asked that a crew of ladies get together to go up against the All Stars in the final scrimmage portion of the night. I wasn’t going to do it. My skate and sock were off my left foot – a lovely new blister hiding under a callous had formed in a spot I’d never had either form before. Although it was an excuse not to play, I fought the urge to sit back and not even try, and I jumped into the first jam against the All Stars. The jam was fast and hard-hitting, but we fucked some shit up – I fucked some shit up. Continuing in this manner, I rotated in for the remainder of the night.

As I was leaving, I caught a “good playing out there tonight” from Justice, which isn’t something I hear him say too much (at least not to me). I rambled on about how it was my first scrimmage practice back, giddy that it had gone so well, when Oy Fey (formerly Pixie Rocket) comes out and says, “Man, you’ve gotten fast! One second you were behind me and the next thing I know you’re in front of me – you’ve got some really explosive pack skating going on.” Did I? Do I?

I’m unsure if my performance was due to the added physical training, my believing in myself, or just a willingness to try my hardest – I tend to think it’s a combination of all three. I originally started writing this post nearly a week ago, and tomorrow marks our second scrimmage practice. I’m super excited about doing all I can to replicate my aggressiveness in the pack. One step at a time, one day at a time, I can only do my best to keep up the momentum I’ve built thus far. In a way, it’s all led up to this, but in another way this is only the beginning. Either way, I’m happy to be on this road.


Erica Ortiz said...

YAY! That's awesome news! Knock em out girl!

Big In Day-town said...

Just ... all kinds of yay for you, woman! Congratulations! We start our season in a month, and I'm all kinds of nervous (a returning player from the original league, I'm one of only four remaining).

Lee aka Rebel said...

i'm so happy that you are scrimmaging and feeling good about it!

Kate/Domme said...

Great job! I'm sure it's hard coming back after that long but sounds like you kicked some bootay. Keep up the good work and keep holdin back those jammers!

Domme E. Nation

Midlife Crashes said...

Hooray! I am so happy for you. Big girls rule!!!