In which Dany learns that skiing and skating aren’t quite the same thing

Last week I had some time off from work, so I was able to go skiing! I’ve been skiing since I was about twelve or so (hey, I grew up in New Hampshire, we have to find some redeeming qualities about winter here), and I picked up snowboarding around seventeen or eighteen.

As of last Monday, I had not been skiing since March 2013. This means that I had not been skiing since I started skating.

Skiing for the first time since learning to skate is hilarious

What I expected to happen: “It’s been so long since I’ve skiied, and they said it was tough transitioning back to skiing after learning to skate, but it’s fine, I’ve been able to ski for ages.”

What actually happened: “Derby stance!” [falls over] “More derby stance!” [falls over again] “Bend your knees!” [falls over for the third time this run]

It turns out that skating can help your skiing, sure. Both use very similar sets of muscles–my first day on the slopes every year is usually marked by extremely sore legs the next couple of days after because I don’t usually hang out working on my ski muscles when it’s not ski season. I got in a pretty full day of skiing and barely felt a thing on my legs. On the contrary, I didn’t feel like I was getting low enough when skiing and kept losing my balance and falling as a result!

I was laughing the whole way down the mountain, that’s for sure.

My body seemed to remember how to hold itself when on skis after a couple of runs, and I wasn’t having any problems at all by the time I stopped for lunch. But those first couple of runs were tough, especially since I couldn’t figure out why I kept falling at first! I’m not sure how to explain the difference between skiing stance and derby stance, but I think they key parts are: a) you balance your weight differently on skis than on skates and b) skating stance (never mind derby stance) is much lower than skiing stance.

I probably won’t be able to go skiing or boarding as often as I like this winter because of my job (boring, I know), but man, I can’t wait to experience that again.

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I Wrote a Thing, Just Not Here

I don’t have a new post here today, but check out my post on my league’s blog about some of my off-season adventures (skateventures? Is that a thing? It is now).

I’m on vacation this week, and the plan was to ski and snowboard all week…but it’s way too effing cold for that:

So I guess I’m just gonna enjoy my time off from work by being lazy and catching up on chores.

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.

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.”

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)?

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?

End-Of-Season Awards Night, or: What Do You Mean, “Diabetes Cleatus”?!

We had our end-of-season awards night this week, and what a great way to wrap up the season. Our season actually ended at the beginning of September, so while a good number of people have been going skating (outside or at the skate park, mostly) there are a number of skaters who I hadn’t seen in a couple of months, in addition to a few who won’t be coming back in 2015. We also get awards–the league president comes up with awards for every skater (things like “Ejection Queen” for the skater with the most ejections in a game, “That’s Not How You Use Your Head” for the skater who had a habit of falling and hitting her head a lot (!), and “Best Wardrobe Malfunction” for…well, you know).

My award? “Diabetes Cleatus.”

(I had to look it up, but apparently ‘cleatus’ refers to hillbillies. Thanks guys.)

I knew it was coming–it’s been a pretty big thing for me and I haven’t exactly made a secret of it–but it still made me laugh when I was presented with the award. It also inspired this Facebook post:

"Seacoast Roller Derby is one of the best things that's ever happened to me and last night's end-of-season party solidified that (as if I wasn't convinced before). I never thought I could do something like play roller derby (and actually wasn't even convinced I could do that until about six months after I started) but you all have been incredibly wonderful and supportive. This is sappy sorry not sorry it needed to be said. Here's to rocking it even harder in 2015."

I know, gross, how sappy. But I mean it when I say “here’s to rocking it even harder in 2015.” I’ve got a general goal (be good enough to earn a spot on my league’s A team) and I’m working on breaking that out into smaller goals to work on during the off-season (more to come on that later, I’m sure). And, of course, I have the goal of “kick my diabetes in the ass.” Rock on, Dany Stormborn.

I guess I should start with an explanation, right?

My name’s Danielle, I’ve had type 1 diabetes since I was five years old, and I just hit my one-year anniversary of playing roller derby.

First of all, the fact that I’ve stuck around this long and succeeded in derby is a miracle in and of itself. It’s not easy to balance diabetes and exercise, and it took a lot of wicked supportive teammates to help me get this far.

I skate with Seacoast Roller Derby located in New Hampshire, USA. I’m primarily a blocker, but I enjoy jamming too. (The tough part of jamming is the toll it takes on my blood sugars, but I’ll get into that on another day.) If you want to see me talk about derby, here’s a video interview I did a little while back.

So why am I blogging? Recently I was sitting around thinking about cross-training. I’ve hit a point where practice alone isn’t enough to get me to the level I want to be at, which means that I need to start looking at other options for exercise. The problem with picking up another sport (other than the fact that I’m lazy :)) is that any new sport or form of exercise comes with a period of “how the heck do I figure out a new routine for this.” It took at least a couple of months with derby before I really figured out what I need to eat, how much I need to eat, how much insulin I need to take, and how often I need to test my blood sugar when I skate. And that’s just for practice–I’m actually still trying to figure out what I need to do for bouts!

In my “think, think, what should I do for cross-training” talk, I found myself saying “I wish I could just get a personal trainer who works with type 1 diabetics! Then I’d have the support I need and the knowledge to help me figure out a good routine.” And while I’m sure there are personal trainers out there who do work with type 1 diabetics, there probably aren’t that many of them, and bam! Idea for a blog was born.

I’m no personal trainer. I studied linguistics in college and now work in an office, which is about as far from personal training as you can get. So I can’t provide professional advice, if that’s what you’re looking for. But I at least want to start a log of what I do, what works, what doesn’t, and how I feel about it. Maybe if I start talking, someone will listen. And maybe if someone listens, I can get some good advice in return.