Tuesday night, for the first time ever, I got on roller skates.
Let me give you some background here. Ask anyone who is related to me to decribe me and the words “clumsy” or “uncoordinated” will probably come up. I am prone to getting these wicked leg cramps in my sleep and one time when I was about 16, I got one in the early morning and my dad was passing by room and heard me groaning and said something like, “Wow, she’s so clumsy she can hurt herself lying down.”
That is pretty much it. So I don’t know what I was thinking when I signed up for roller derby training this summer. I guess I was thinking that willing myself to be intrepid might make me so.
Well I got up on roller skates, and I spent an hour and a half trying very hard to keep my balance and not fall down. I fell down a lot. I very quickly realized I couldn’t even do the basic drills the others were doing. About 10-15 minutes after strapping on those skates, I was ready to burst into tears. What had I gotten myself into? I collapsed. I could not do this.
One of the other girls noticed me sitting on the bench and came over and said “Are you okay?”
I said “I don’t know – maybe this is not for me.”
She said “Sure it is!” and somehow I got up and kept trying.
An hour and a half later, I could more or less skate around without falling. I still wasn’t as good as anyone else, but I was way better than I’d been when I first started. I realized that you can’t compare yourself or your speed of learning to anyone else – you can only compare yourself to yourself. It’s hard to remember that in a group activity – especially if everyone else is a beginner too and they’re all catching on faster – but if I want to keep at this I will just have to be a trooper and be okay with being terrible for awhile.
The next morning I woke up with the muscles in my legs, feet and butt just a world of sore. So I did a very not me thing – I stretched them out, and went for a 22 km bike ride. This may have been slightly excessive – but I am going to get those muscles stronger, dammit! Next time I get on the skates needs to be less embarrassing!
I was telling someone about this experience later and she asked, “So do you think this is going to be a good exercise for you?” I felt like she was kind of missing the point. If I just wanted to exercise, I could bike, I could swim, I could any of a number of things I already know how to do well. Here’s the number one reason I am doing this:
I scares the crap out of me.
It scared me to go the first practice, and if anything, knowing how hard it is, it scares me MORE to go the second one. But if I go, and I try hard, it’s impossible for me not to get somewhat better.
I’ve been thinking a lot about Katie running her first marathon Sunday. This is so amazing I can’t even contemplate it – when she talks about this being a lifelong dream, I’m so proud but also I just can’t relate because I’ve never had dreams like that, about pushing my own physical limits. But ever since I saw a derby game last year I’ve wanted to be able to do this and I
think know I can. It’s amazing even to imagine it.