Obligatory “My Year in Review” Post

Happy New Year’s Eve! I don’t know about the rest of you, but I’m excited to head down to Boston later on this evening to ring in the new year with some friends. And, as ‘tis the season to reflect on the past year, here are some highlights:

Derby things:

  • Learned to skate and passed minimal skills assessments with a lap time of 4:51 on my 27 laps
  • Learned skate maintenence (how to take skates apart, clean them, and put them back together)
    Had a great first season with my league
  • Got the “Diabetes Cleatus” award at the end of season party (which deserves a “lol”)
  • Learned to drop into a half pipe at the skatepark
  • Guest skated with another league (and had a great time)
  • Started this blog and have actually stuck with it so far
  • Upgraded my skates from Riedell R3s to Antik MG2s (I love my new Antiks, too!)
  • Went to the Northeast Derby Convention in May

Diabetes things:

  • Got a CGM (continuous glucose monitor)
  • Got a medic alert tattoo–”diabetic type 1” permanently resides on the inside of my left wrist now
  • My A1/C (90-day average) was 7.0 earlier this year, which is the lowest I have on record
  • Started to get the hang of avoiding awful blood sugar spikes after meals (especially after breakfast)
  • Started this blog and have actually stuck with it so far (hey, it’s a diabetes success too)
  • Finally found a food/insulin/exercise routine that allows me to make it through derby practice, after two months of struggling
  • Started to accept that setbacks happen and I can’t expect to be perfect on the first try (or the second, or the third…maybe by the 50th I’ll get it)

Other things:

  • Traveled a couple of times for work
  • Spent a day and a half in London (!!)
  • Bought a new car when my old one finally kicked the bucket
  • Found a really great group of friends
  • Got a pretty big promotion at work (ha, take that, imposter syndrome!)
  • Attempted level 4 of the HSK (汉语水平考试, Hanyu Shuiping Kaoshi)–didn’t pass, but I just barely didn’t pass, so it still counts as a success in my book)
  • Got comfortable experimenting with  brightly-colored make-up–I’ll get around to posting some of my bout-day looks eventually; I LOVE wearing brightly colored eye-makeup (any excuse to do so)

I don’t do New Years Resolutions (why bother waiting until the new year?  Just start new habits today), so I don’t have any of those to add, but: here’s to rocking it even harder in 2015.

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Things I Pulled Out of My Archives – Guest Skating (Written October 2014)

(Here’s a post I wrote back in October but never actually posted. I was invited to guest skate with another league in my area and I had a really great time skating with them!)

Last weekend I guest skated for the first time, and I had a blast.

Don’t get me wrong. I love my league, and I love skating with everyone there. I’m not going to ditch them for another league. But it was great to skate with another group, and I loved being able to meet more skaters.

I’d skated with a few of them at a black and white scrimmage that I attended this summer, but I’d never skated with them as a league, and I’d never bouted with them. There were a handful of other guest skaters as well, which was the most surprising thing about the whole experience–even though a number of us weren’t used to skating together, we managed to play really well as a team. After a few jams the bench coach seemed to get a good idea of who worked well together, so there were a couple of combinations of skaters who were always on the line together.

It had been a while since I’d played actual derby. Since my league got kicked out of our practice and bout space–we skate in an ice hockey rink that gets de-iced for the spring and summer–there hasn’t been a lot of opportunity to scrimmage. We’re in a bit of a lull right now and we’ve had a handful of freshmeat skaters come in, so practices have been outside in a parking lot and we’ve mostly been focused on skating skills. (Not that I’m complaining–I still totally need the practice!)

I was nervous to get up and play for the first time in over a month in front of an audience and with another team, but once the bout got going there was no reason for me to feel nervous. You know how when you’re bouting you stop paying attention to anything other than the current jam? Yeah, it was actually pretty easy to forget everything else.

The other thing I was nervous for was the diabetes thing. When I bout, I check my blood sugar every time I’m on the bench. I have a CGM (continuous glucose monitoring) device, which monitors my blood sugars every five minutes using a sensor in my stomach, but it’s not fast enough to keep up with the adrenaline rushes and surges of bouting. I wasn’t going to hide the fact that I’m diabetic from the team, but I didn’t want them to think that I couldn’t skate. My league is so used to it that they barely even notice anymore, I think, but they don’t hesitate to make me sit down and test if I start to look like I’m out of it.

Besides, I have a tattoo on my wrist that says “diabetic – type 1” so that’s kind of hard to hide, even with the wrist guards.

I don’t think they were bothered by it, though–the bench coach and a couple of players asked me if I was okay to skate before putting me in a jam, but nobody ever made me feel like I couldn’t do it or that I was being a pain over it. That’s really important to me–I struggle with feeling like I’m useless because my blood sugars can be unreliable, and one of the most discouraging things other people do is make me feel like I’m “just being lazy” or that I’m being a pain because my health prevents me from skating.

Overall it was a great experience, both as a skater and a diabetic. “Thanks for letting me skate with you,” I said as I left. “You guys are great! Let me know if you need a guest skater again.”

The Season of Forgiveness (For Your Holiday Blood Glucose Levels)

Tis the season to eat chocolate
Fa la la la la, la la la la
Don’t forget to take a shot for it
Fa la la la la, la la la la
Don we now our CGM sites
La la la, la la la, la, la la
Forgive yourself for naughty blood sugars
Fa la la la la, la la la la

(Or. Well. Something like that.) My first rule of thumb for holiday eating: obviously remember to count your carbs and take your insulin, but don’t be too hard on yourself if you forget something or miscalculate or something. (My second rule of thumb is to be careful with your holiday drinking! Alcohol affects different peoples’ blood sugars differently, so make sure you know how it’s going to affect you before you partake in that eggnog.)

For those of you out there who celebrate it, Merry Christmas! I’ll see you guys later in my post-holiday fuzz.

Side Effect of Becoming a Derby Girl #10424

There’s a number of side effects of becoming a derby girl (or guy). One that I didn’t expect is that I’d be so in love with the sport that I’d start talking to random strangers about it. It’s almost like word vomit:

“I was a woman possessed. I spent about 80% of my time talking about her, and the other 20% of my time praying someone would bring her up so that I could talk about her some more…I could hear people getting bored with me. But I couldn’t stop. It just kept coming up like word vomit.” (Mean Girls, 2004)

Okay, maybe that’s an extreme comparison. (At least, I hope it’s extreme!) But I do spend a lot of time talking about roller derby, and I find myself trying to work it into conversations with strangers. Like the pharmacy tech ringing me out last week, who commented on the rolls of Sweet Tarts I was buying (I use them to treat low blood sugars): “I like the chewy ones better.” “Me too, but they’re hard to eat with a mouth guard in. I play roller derby so I use these to treat low blood sugars.” Or the woman at the gym who encountered me treating a low in the locker room: “Yeah, it’s just a low blood sugar. It’ll take me a while to get a gym routine. I play roller derby and it took me at least two months to get a routine down.”

It’s not that I’ve never been passionate about something before, but I guess I’ve just never been passionate enough about something to gush about it without prompting to random strangers. And you know what? It is really, really nice to have something that I care so much about. It gives me more of a sense of self than what my job is or where I live.

Off-season Homework: Read the Rules!

My league may be on break for the month, but that doesn’t mean I should be stopping. At our last league meeting of the year, members of the training committee mentioned having skaters ref during bouts they aren’t skating. Obviously, most of us would rather be playing than reffing, but not everyone can skate every bout.

I’ve heard that it’s really good for players to try their hand at reffing because it forces you to learn the rules. I mean, we all know the basics–track cuts, legal hitting zones, the jam doesn’t end until the fourth whistle, et cetera–but some of the finer details of the rules get overlooked by skaters. I think this is a great idea, especially since we have so few refs that skate in my league. It would also allow skaters who aren’t playing to still be able to be on skates and participating in bouts.

A while back I saw a post on off-season “homework” a skater assigned herself like do plenty of squats, jog, and watch more footage. I want to borrow that idea. Since I can’t keep up actually playing (and man oh man, do I miss being able to hit), I need to find other ways of getting better at derby. So I’m assigning myself the homework of reading the WFTDA rules (my league isn’t a WFTDA league, but we follow their rules), which I need to do in bits and pieces as some parts are hard to visualize and take in.

I also found this really cool web app called the Roller Derby Test O’Matic. It quizzes you on rules and keeps track of your score per session (or you can create an account and it will keep track of it over time). I’m not sure if this is geared more towards players or refs, but either way it’s a fun way to reinforce the rules. I was surprised (and embarrassed) by how few I knew with the first handful of questions I answered. Lesson learned: I need to study harder!

Have you ever sat down and read the full rule set? If you’re a player, have you ever reffed (or even considered reffing)?

Obligatory “Life got in the way, guys” post

So I’m finally emerging from my “real life got in the way and I haven’t been well lately” cave to update. I’ve had a huge push at work lately to get stuff finished up before everyone is out for two weeks for the holidays (as I’m sure many people have!) so that’s been pushing me into the trap of “I work long hours then get home and don’t have the energy to do anything other than be really lazy and hang out with Netflix.” I’ve also been a bit under the weather lately (probably due to the work stress and the lack of skating) so I haven’t been able to hit up the gym. The most exercise I’ve been getting is from housework (hey, lugging five loads of laundry to and from the laundry room counts!) and the occasional plank or wall sit.

I’m super disappointed in myself for this. I feel like I could be working harder and I’m just making excuses and if I really want to be a better skater and a better diabetic I really should be making the effort to hit up the gym even after a long day at work and all those excuses. However, I also think I need to give myself a bit of a break–if I’m sick, I’m not going to have a productive session at the gym anyway. I’ll get tired halfway through a jog on the treadmill and then give up and just feel even more discouraged.

The diabetes element makes this difficult, too. When I get sick, my blood sugars get wacky. Even when I follow all the rules (count the carbs, take the insulin, wait the right amount of time between taking said insulin and eating said carbs, don’t eat if my blood sugar is high) there’s about a million and a half things that can impact my blood sugars. There was an excellent article a while back on this–a lot of my friends don’t believe me, but even the weather can mess with me! I do have a lot of control over a lot of things, yes, but come on, like I have any control over heat waves or polar vortices.

All that being said, I am trying to stay positive: I am still getting housework done (and a lot of that is keeping me active). I can still hold a plank for a minute (and I’m working on increasing that when I have the time to take a minute or so to do a plank). I’m keeping very busy at work but I think I can finish stuff up before the holiday break. I’m planning on hitting up my favorite indoor skating rink this week. I can do this. (Being your own cheerleader is underrated, guys.)

PS – here’s my new favorite thing for learning WFTDA rules: Roller Derby Test-o-Matic

Well This is (Still) Discouraging

I wasn’t exaggerating when I tweeted this earlier. It’s always tough to make it to the gym (or to make it anywhere, really) during the holiday season–even though it’s not directly a holiday week, it’s still difficult to get anything done between work, shopping, traffic, and the weather.

My own laziness isn’t exactly helping, either. It’s kind of a miracle that I picked up a sport in the first place, never mind a sport that’s as physically demanding as roller derby. At least in the regular season all my exercise involves skating. It doesn’t feel nearly as awful to do all that exercise when I’m on skates, and a lot of my teammates will agree with me there. But when it gets too cold, snowy, icy, and dark to skate outside, and when there’s no real indoor space, you have to get creative. (And by “get creative” I mean “suck it up and go to the gym.”)

So yeah. I’m not always a fan of the gym. I get self-conscious, like anyone else. I get especially self-conscious when I have to stop halfway through a workout because my blood sugars have suddenly destabilized, making it unsafe for me to exercise. It’s embarrassing because I think it makes me look like I’m giving up because I’m lazy, not because I’m physically unable to complete the workout. I had a lot of trouble playing sports growing up because more often than not I couldn’t make it through a practice because of my blood sugars, which were way less controlled than they are now. And the trouble got compounded by the way my teammates and coaches acted like I was just giving up or not trying hard enough. So while I’m definitely working to get over it, it’s still a deep-rooted belief that people see me and think that I’m just being lazy.

That being said, I really want to like the gym! I like lifting weights (and I want to start lifting more). The treadmill, while not as fun as actually running outside, is a pretty nifty piece of equipment and one of my goals for the off-season is to complete a couch-to-5k program so I’m utilizing that. The group exercise classes offered at my gym sound really fun, too. I’ve taken a couple, but I (unfortunately) haven’t had the chance to try out the tai chi classes I’ve been dying to check out.

But it’s discouraging as junk when my body won’t cooperate with what I want. It’s especially discouraging when I specifically took the time to really measure my food and take the correct insulin doses at the correct times and my blood sugar is still high as a freaking kite when I’m supposed to be leaving for the gym.

Coincidentally, Treble Maker 909 posted this today about what you can do while on injury to keep up with your derby skills. Guess I’ll just go find some footage to watch and keep calm until my insulin kicks in…

The Derby Girl’s Holiday Wishlist, Etsy Edition

Now that the holidays are upon us, are you looking for the perfect gift for the derby girl in your life? Look no further, here’s a list of things from Etsy. (I’ll do another post with other things from around the web and one that’s less lady-centric, I promise!)

A note for non-derby people: unless you know exactly what your derby girl (or guy) is looking for, avoid buying them gear. Even something as simple as socks or laces can be tricky, as many skaters have very specific things they skate with–maybe she only skates wearing bamboo socks, or maybe she can’t stand rounded laces. If you’re really set on buying gear, get her a gift certificate to a roller derby store. For anyone in the US, I love the ladies who run Turn Two Skate Shop in Portland, Maine and Spank Alley Skate in Concord, New Hampshire. Bruised Boutique in Nashua, New Hampshire is also really popular, so check them out too. (As always, support your local derby-owned and operated small business!)

In celebration of Black Friday/Small Business Saturday/Cyber Monday, I present to you Part I of The Derby Girl’s Holiday Wishlist:

Never Leave Home Without Your Roller Skates t-shirt, Etsy: now you can look like you’re carrying your skates all the time!

Praise Roller Derby Vintage Tattoo Print, Etsy: okay, I would totally get this as an actual tattoo. But a print of this will do.

Roller Derby Make-up Bag/Accessory Case, Etsy: cute vintage-style roller derby girls on my make-up bag? Yes, please! If the make-up bag/accessory case isn’t quite your thing, the seller has a number of other bag styles available.

Jeweled Bearing Necklace, Etsy: a necklace made of a bearing with a stone set in the middle. There’s a number of stones available; the one linked here is garnet.

Reversible Scrimmage Jersey, Etsy: I know the people behind Utter Clothing Company! I can vouch for this one 🙂

Roller Derby/Honor Student Bumper Sticker, Etsy: “My Derby Daughter Beat Up the Bully Who Stole the Lunch Money From Your Honor Student.” ‘Nuff said.

Custom Name Necklace, Etsy: this seller makes necklaces out of Scrabble tiles that have your skater name on them. They’re customizable–my league all got one with our league’s logo, our names, and our numbers on them at our awards party this year.

Ringing in the Holidays, Derby-Style (With Bonus Skater Shaming)

Now that Thanksgiving’s over, it’s officially holiday season. (Bring on the Christmas music in stores, the shopping, the snow, the hot cocoa…) How did my league kick off the start of the season? We skated in a local holiday parade.

We’ve got another parade coming up next week, so any of our fans who didn’t catch us at this one can come out next weekend to see us again. And after that, the league will be on a holiday break–there’s no way that everyone can consistently make it to practices, meetings, and other events during the month of December. (Not that we have a winter practice space, anyway.) Unofficially, I’m hoping to make it down to disco skate night at one of the indoor roller rinks around here at least once a week for the new couple of months.

Of course, skating outside in a bunch of slush does have its downsides…dirty skates!

Dirty skates
Dirty skates!

I got new skates a couple of weeks ago, but I’m still using my old pair for outdoor skating (they’ll hold up to that, I think…and I don’t mind getting these dirty). Even though they’re not my primary pair of skates, I still want to keep them in good working order, which means taking them apart to clean after I skate through slush and dirt and puddles.

Various skate pieces
Various skate pieces

I’ve taken my bearings apart to clean them before, but I’ve never taken apart the trucks. I made sure to get some ‘before’ photos so that I’d have a reference as to what they’re supposed to look like when i put them back together.

I also found out what it looks like when you don’t clean parts of your trucks:

Gunk on a skate part
Skater shaming–I don’t even know what this gunk is but it took some serious scrubbing to get rid of it

Everything’s just finishing drying now. I’ve got my wheels and bearings hanging out in front of my heater to dry. I shouldn’t be surprised that my trucks were that dirty–I’ve been skating on these skates for over a year, both indoors and out–but I guess that’s what I get for never having bothered to clean that stuff up. I’m making a note of this so that I take care of my new skates in the future!

As for the bearings…I’ve held out as long as I could,  but I need to start retiring some.

My poor junked bearings
They don’t move anymore so I had a funeral for them.

How often do you clean your skates? Does it take something big (like skating into a slush pile) to force you to clean, or are you good about taking them apart on the regular?