Goal-setting for next season

We’re coming to the pointy end of the year, and as much as I’m going to miss derby during the 5 week summer break, I’m also looking forward to a bit of downtime. We’ve had a massive year with the League, with lots of home games, travel games and multiple tournaments including the first ever Australian Men’s competition last month, as well as being super-busy on the Executive front as we negotiated for a new venue and dealt with some membership turnover. Personally I have also had a rather insane last 6 months, with a lot of work travel and several management changes and I’m really looking forward to having a couple of weeks off work as well. The weather is getting hotter, and with all of the social and family events that happen at this time of year it’s useful to get those evenings back and to have a short respite from saying ‘I can’t, I have derby’.

That being said, the break doesn’t mean no skating and no derby family. The sudden influx of free time (since I normally train 10h/ 3-4 nights a week) means I’m more likely to go outdoor skating, something I have missed a lot since I started bouting and therefore training and travelling more. It’s also the season for BBQs and movie nights, and WFTDA have just released another rules update so it’s a good excuse for a rules party . Last summer over the break I made a WFTDA Rules drinking game to help us learn said rules, and practice drunkenly arguing with refs at the afterparty. It was a lot of fun, but 2 rules updates this year means I need to make an entirely new game if we want to do it again! (I also don’t recommend sitting next to the League’s head ref to play it, I got a lot of drinks that way. Unless that’s your goal for the game…)

Anyway, other than making a new version of the WFTDA Rules game, my goal for this summer is to get fitter and stronger. I’ve had a lot of injuries this year, most notably two separate triangular fibrocartilage complex tears (aka TFCC, both in my right wrist) which amounted to over 6 months in a brace, and a grade 2 tear from a sprained ankle which led to a week on crutches and 3 months on I’m only just getting the same strength back from before the accident (not there yet with flexibility, and the joint is still swollen). Add in a nasty case of the flu which knocked me around for a month after The Great Southern Slam in June and that’s almost the whole year spent broken. I still went to training as much as possible, and even around all the work travel I managed to scrape minimum attendance for the League (although not always for the team, though I tried), but I’ve really noticed the plateau in my performance. Yes, my skills have improved overall with more time on skates and more challenging training, but my fitness hasn’t kept up. My off-skates workouts have been pathetic to non-existent for most of the year other than my physio exercises (my main go-tos are weights or floor exercises, it’s hard to do either with a busted wrist or ankle), and it shows in my skating. I’m staring down the barrel of the 27-in-5 early next year and I desperately want to complete it. I have done it before, but that was before I did my wrist the second time and got the flu. The best I’ve managed since was 25.5, which was also only a few weeks after I’d busted my ankle which didn’t help either. So I know it’s achievable, I just need to get out there and do it! Kettlebells a couple of times a week, outdoor skating 1-2 times a week and some core and plyometrics work will set me on the right track, and if I can keep up the kettlebells once training starts up again in January all the better. Getting fitter will also reduce my chances of injury down the line, so that I don’t get stuck in another cycle of broken-so-I-can’t-exercise-so-I-break-myself-more again.

So, my derby goals for the summer (and the new year):

+Kettlebells 2-3 times a week (because they’re awesome!)

+Pass 27-in-5

+Skate the Western Basin of Lake Burley Griffin (my goal for this year was originally to skate the entire lake in one go, a distance of roughly 28km/ 17.5mi with a large number of hills, but that now seems unrealistic given my lack of fitness and outdoor skating. I’ve done the 5km Central Basin loop many times, so next up is the 16km West Basin!)

+Blog more regularly. It doesn’t have to be often, but I want to actually schedule this blog, make it less whim-based and get rid of those several-month-long gaps!

+Improve my rules knowledge

What are your big goals, and how do you intend to achieve them?


Edited to add: A few hours after I wrote this I saw my physio, and she gave my ankle the all-clear! I’ll still need to tape it for games or hiking, and keep up the exercises on a semi-regular basis to prevent further injuries, but overall it’s good enough that I don’t have any more appointments with her. Hooray!


Break? What break?

Training started up again a couple of weeks ago on the 12th. I rocked up, banged out my 20 sit-ups once the appropriate member of the Training Committee arrived, and boom I was a Yellow Star. I geared up with the other new Yellows and we attended the Advanced Training session and had our first scrim. It was exciting and a little scary, but I will talk more about that later.

Over the break, I tried to get as much time on skates as I could (between work, family commitments and the weather). We started the week of Xmas with a bunch of us meeting at the local uni’s sports complex for a roll around. The floor there is much nicer and better cared for than our usual training nevue, and this time I didn’t find it as slippery as I did the 1st time I skated there a few months previously (one of the benefits of practice and improving!). We had 15 or 20 people, but being a loose collective of VDL, CRDL and social skaters we were all sort of doing our own thing instead of practicing any drills or playing games. Skating in circles does kinda wear thin after a couple of hours. But I worked on my transitions and chased Jamme and Doc’s small children around and had a good chat with folks so yay 🙂

skating at ANU

I also had a number of trips outdoors. Down the lake of course, but I also discovered the awesomeness that is the Mt Stromlo Criterion. It’s a super-smooth asphalt track  with a gentle incline in a 1.2km loop build for cycling. The slope isn’t very steep, but it’s a couple of hundred meters long (each ‘end’ is raised and it dips in the middle) so it’s great for endurance as well as practicing plow stops or lateral cuts on the downslope. I managed to do a loop in 4:26 (works out to an average speed of 16km/h or 24-in-5) so next time I go back I’m going to trial Runkeeper or similar to see what my speed is going downhill (I got speed wobbles!) and to track progress as I practice and build up my endurance (skating uphill and into the wind is a serious slog!). It also has a nice square bit in the middle about the right size for a derby track to practice crossovers on the flat(tish).


I actually had another skate at the lake only yesterday and discovered a taste of what autumn holds for skaters. Good juking/ footwork practice!


This weekend I will unfortunately miss practice, but it’s OK because it’s in the name of derby! There’s a friendly on in Woolongong which a bunch of VDL players have signed up for. 1 day. 5 bouts ( 90min 3-period co-ed game / full length women-only / 5-on-5-for-5 all-male demo bout / full length Tall vs Tough coed game /20 min reverse direction mini-bout), and a mix of players from both Canberra and a number of Sydney/ NSW leagues forming draw teams. Because so many of our skaters are participating in the friendly, scrim won’t be on this week anyway. So instead, I will watch a buttload of derby and learn as much as I can! And I might go for another outdoor skate since it’s a long weekend…

Once around and back again

VDL new recruits at the Carillon 19Oct2013

VDL new recruits at the Carillon 19Oct2013

On Saturday we met up for another Bridge-to-Bridge skate. This time I organised it- after missing the previous Sunday I wanted to get some extra skating time in, and I also thought that genetle, low-impact exercise was the best thing to help my knee heal. I out a shout-out on Facebook and soon enough I had offers of company from (lr-) Joebotron, Thuggernaut, Space Cadet, Sap’er and Jamme Slamister. We met up at 10am and were soon underway!

It was a beautiful clear day, warm without being hot, and there was some sort of bicycle event on by the lake as well so it was busy without being too congested. We didn’t get particularly fast as we wanted to stay together as a group and also all the other foot traffic, but we managed the 5.2km loop in about 45 minutes, including the hills and the road crossing. Once we got back to the carpark we just kept talking and chatting and after about 10 minutes went- hey, none of us are in a hurry to get home, lets do it again! Jamme had to head off for family commitments, but the 5 of us went for another lap which we completed in about 35 minutes this time since people were now more comfortable with the terrain and being outdoors. I was pleased how well my knee handled it, although I did have to plead for a 5 minute break in the final 3rd of the 2nd lap as the joint was starting to ache.  We had a couple of interesting stacks from Joe and Slap’er coming down one of the inclines, but other than a bit of grazing they were fine.

Skate it til you make it!

Monday the 30th of September was a public holiday here in Canberra (Families and Communities Day), so a bunch of us took advantage of a beautiful spring day and did the 5km Bridge to Bridge loop around the central basin of Lake Burley Griffin. Outdoor skating was a nice change, I haven’t had much of a chance to do any since I started training regularly with the league (winter means it’s dark too early after work, and the weekends vanish before my eyes! Plus changing out wheels is a pain and wears out the threading on the nuts, I look forward to the day when I will have dedicated pair of outdoor skates!). The path around the lake is lovely, smooth and wide in most places. There is no handrail which is a little nervewracking for new skaters, but skating clockwise keeps you to the left (away from the water) for the most part and the path is approximately 3m wide so it’s a good gap. The most difficult parts of the skate involve the two bridges. Commonwealth bridge has a steepish hill on either side (moderate on foot, considerable on skates!), going up needs a bit of speed and a lot of power and then getting down is a very good motivation to practice your plow stops! Kings bridge is much flatter, but the challenge lies in the particularly irritating pattern of gaps between the concrete slabs (they’re too close together to be able to step over them in a balanced stride, and the gaps are quite wide which reverberate through your skate when you roll over them) and it ends with a crossing on a busy road. There was about a dozen of us, and it was a nice chance to talk to some of the more experienced League members. Because we haven’t been rated to attend all-league training yet, we’ve really only met the Freshie trainers and the last intake of Freshies/ White Stars.

Lake skate 30Sept2013

I also had the week off on leave, so I wanted to get as much skating in as I could. In a fortuitous turn of events, Doc’d Marx and Jamme Slamister hired a basketball court at ANU for themselves and their three kids to do some practice for an hour and put out a shout on Facebook for anyone to join them. I ended up being the only one to take them up on this, but it was lots of fun. Chasing energetic young boys is great cardio, I got to practice my crossovers on a much emptier track than usual (feeling much more confident now!), and we looked at Star Test skills such as weaving, jumping and knee taps, as well as truck and trailer and some tag-based games. I also enjoyed the opportunity to experience skating on a different surface. The Woden courts where we train each week are coated wood, but it is an older building so they are rather dusty and a section has been water-damaged which has made it all ripply. The ANU court was also coated wood but appeared much newer and felt slicker. I almost lost my footing on the corners a few times, especially when trying to turn sharply. But it made me really think about my balance which I think helped me with my crossovers. By the end of the 90 minutes my arches were on fire, my thighs were aching and I was exhausted (my body was definitely questioning the wisdom of going skating 4 times in 5 days!) but I really enjoyed it.