fatgirlskates: (Default)
The Lupus Loop was last Saturday. I raised over $500 for it, and my whole team raised almost $2000! It was awesome! We didn't win a top prize, the race itself was miserable, and we almost got ripped off for our pledge prizes, but it was still totally worth it.

Note to fundraiser organizers: if you are going to invite skaters, please consider our needs. If the course is going to be in open traffic and involve darting from sidewalk to road to bike path -- that is not typical. We need to be warned of that in advance!! The organizers of this race made a special course for the skaters because the runner's path wasn't paved in parts. That was good! Unfortunately, the skater's path took us on a very rough public road where there were no signs at all directing us and no notice to drivers that there was any race going on. We were beeped at a lot and several of us took wrong turns at one point or another.

There have been 5k races starting off from the exact same place that stayed on sidewalks and paved paths the whole way and they should have gone with one of those routes. As it was, Morty -- who is the whole reason we were there and wanted to skate so badly -- had to stop halfway through and didn't complete the entire race. MESSED UP.

It also would have been very nice if the skaters had been able to start a few seconds before the runners, or if we'd been able to just line up in front of the runners. Instead, the serious runners lined up front and squished all of us skaters into the 3 feet next to the river. RIGHT next -- there was no barrier, so if I'd taken a step to the right, I would have fallen in. I didn't object because I figured we'd get a head start. But we didn't.

Naturally, when they blew the whistle, those us on wheels were a bit hesitant to take off at full throttle when a wrong step would run over a tiny little marathoner or throw us into the river. As a result, we got stuck behind a huge crowd of runners and couldn't break through. It was extremely nerve wracking and irritating. I tried to be courteous and careful in my passing the runners but I still got dirty looks and I still didn't break free until a third of the way through the race. My time was actually worse for this very easy course than for the challenging Portage race, because I couldn't skate fast for a third of it! What it the point of a race when you can't go FAST?! I am bitter.

Also, we didn't receive the free stuff that the runners received and we weren't offered our pledge prizes. We had to go seek them out when the runners were given their prizes when they signed up. AUGGGH

And it RAINED a miserable drizzle ALL MORNING.

On the other hand, we raised a ton of money and we got a picture with a Pittsburgh Steeler. AWESOME!!! Next year, we will raise even more and we will CRUSH those Butterflies of Hope!

Catch up!

Sep. 29th, 2011 09:01 pm
fatgirlskates: (Default)
Last Saturday was the first every Portage Park n Roll Skate Challenge in Kent, Ohio, and I won a medal!

A picture of me not realizing we were supposed to pose with our medals. )

I was 3rd out of only 4 women competing in my division, but whatever! My FIRST MEDAL! WOOT! The women who beat me out for the gold were a very nice speed skater and an awesome fellow derby girl. The fourth place skater in my division came in not long after me, and she had only been skating for a few months! The other skaters were mostly inline speed skaters, and some of the best in the entire world. It was amazing seeing them zoom by, already heading back to the finish when I was barely started on the course.

It was definitely a skate CHALLENGE. There were hills, sidewalks, traffic, pedestrians, and as a suprise bonus, water. It didn't rain during the race, but it had rained all night before so everything was damp. Skating uphill on wet asphalt is like walking on a treadmill. My feet were just slipping out from under me with every push. But there is nothing more fun than zooming down a nice hill and there were several. The course was beautiful and I loved skating through the Kent State college campus. I managed to frighten several squirrels. :D

The race was fun, but it would have been much more fun if there had been more signs and volunteers to help everyone stay on course. I skated half a mile out of my way at one point because I missed a turn, and other times I had to ask very confused Kent State students, "hey, did you see where the other roller skaters went?" Apparently every single skater got lost at one point or another so they are going to work on fixing that for next year.

And hopefully next year more girls from my league can go. *crosses fingers*

Two days until the Lupus Loop 5k Run, Walk, or Skate in Pittsburgh. I'm just ten dollars away from my goal of raising $500! The 200 mile goal... well it didn't happen. Today's 6 mile skate put me up to just over 100 miles. I was just waaaay to optimistic when I made that goal back in August. The week before, I skated an epic 22 miles from Wheeling to Wellsburg and back so I was like, I only have to do that 10 times! Piece of cake! Until you consider how that 22 miles took me 5 hours including breaks, how I nearly passed out from dehydration because I forgot to bring enough water, how I was exhausted for days after, how I was fuelled by crazy anxiety energy at the time because of my sister's upcoming wedding, how I didn't even plan to do it until that morning so I didn't have a chance to second-guess myself... It was basically total insanity, looking back. When I made the goal, I wasn't planning on literally skating that particular trail ten times, but I seriously figured I could skate 20 miles every weekend, on top of skating to work a few times a week, on top of DERBY. (Derby practice didn't count towards my goal, because I couldn't figure out how many miles each practice would be.) ?!?!?! Well, now I know that next year, 110 miles will be a challenging but achievable goal. :)
fatgirlskates: (Default)
1) Speed is your friend! The faster you go, the more easily you can roll over things in your path. My mom is a little scared of skating outdoors. We tried out her new skates the other day, and her technique involved spotting a crack 5 feet away, slowing down to a near stop, panicking when the crack did stop her, and then very carefully picking up her foot to step over the crack. "That could've killed me if I was going faster!" she said. And then I roll at a steady pace at the crack and go right over without a bump. Much easier! On the other hand...

2) Control your speed. Even a slight grade can get you going fast enough that you won't be able to stop, if you're a beginner. Plow stops and t-stops don't seem to work very well on inclines. I wouldn't advise anybody to skate even the littlest hill until they can slalom and turn-around toe-stop REALLY well, and at speed. There are a lot of videos on YouTube about skating downhill that have helped me. But even the best skater can still get out of control, and that's when...

3) Knee pads, wrist guards, and a helmet are VITAL!

4) Constant vigilance! I think outdoor skating has helped my roller derby playing, because it forces you to pay attention to what is going around you, especially when you are skating on the sidewalks/street. You have to watch for traffic, broken pavement, cracks, weeds, surface changes, curbs, pedestrians, skateboarders, bicyclists and so on. Watch what the surface looks like a few feet ahead of you. Don't get distracted by idiots yelling out their car windows or you'll really give them something to laugh at when you trip over a patch of gravel.

5) YOU CAN'T SKATE OVER GRAVEL! You may look at #1 and think, well, if I get up enough speed, and it's a small area, isn't it just like rolling over a bunch of pebbles? NO IT IS NOT. I have no idea why, but gravel is not just a bunch of tiny pebbles added together. It is a skater's KRYPTONITE. I tried to skate over a little patch of very very shalllow and light gravel yesterday, at a pretty good clip, and I swear the instant I hit it, WHAM. I'm glad I was able to aim for the grass next to the sidewalk. Still, OW. My general rule is to come to a complete stop and pick my way across on my toe stops. I can't even duck walk across gravel!

6) Get good wheels! I love my Kryptonics Route 70's. I've also used a Canadian wheel from RollerGirl.ca called the Blue Demon, but I'm not sure they're made anymore. Great wheels.

7) When coming up to a large crack in the sidewalk, put your weight on your back wheels. I'll help you roll over easier.

8) GET LOW. Especially when transitioning to a new surface, lower your center of gravity as much as you can. When the sidewalk changes from concrete to cobblestone, my butt is practically on the ground I'm so low. This will help you keep your balance and momentum even when the new surface feels like it's grabbing at your wheels and yanking you back. If you do fall, you'll fall a shorter distance, and probably on your knees instead of your head. It's such a simple thing, and it'll save you from a faceplant every time.

9) Have fun! Even when it's kind of scary, sidewalk and street skating are really fun. My favorite things are hopping over curbs, going up and down ramps, swinging around lampposts, getting nice comments from passersby, and slaloming down long hills with nice wide sidewalks. Ramps are the very best, though!!
fatgirlskates: (Default)
Soooo I have had this crazy idea for while about incorporating some elements of longboarding into my roller skating, mostly because these cute hipsters look like they are having a lot of fun. :) Plus one of my biggest challenges in outdoor skating is controlling my speed downhill. I have a lot of mass and not a lot of skill, so I go from zero to WTF-how-the-hell-am-I-going-to-stop?!?! in about 2 seconds. Some longboarders wear gloves and kneepads with sliders on them to do cool tricks. One area where I am somewhat talented is falling without seriously injuring myself by sliding on my safety gear. Combine longboard sliding and roller derby falls... and I think I've figured out my technique for handling hills. ;D

I put this idea to the test this morning. With some old, cheap elbow and knee pads, a pair of work gloves, a helmet, my outdoor skate set-up, and a whole lot of Gorilla tape in tow, I set out for beautiful Oglebay Park. It was my first attempt at tackling actual West Virginia hills instead of flat wimpy river valley trails, and boy did Oglebay chew me up and spit me out! Maybe it was my fault for looking for the highest, steepest hill I could find on my first try. I had to hike up that thing on my toe stops, it was so steep! And going down -- WOW!! I went into a very low stance, made it 20-30 feet down, felt my speed getting out of control, and did a single knee fall, grinding to a stop on one knee while gently steering myself on the narrow trail with my hands. Another 20 feet, knee stopped again. Rinse, repeat. When I made it to the bottom of the hill, I discovered that my right knee pad was completely demolished. The strap had broken, the styrofoam padding was coming out, and I had a nice bit of road rash through my jeans. And my poor right skate! The asphalt burned right through all four layers of duct tape I put on the toe, and then ripped apart my laces.

But I can't wait to do it again!! Those short bursts of amazing speed were totally exhilarating and yet I never felt out of control. Stabilizing and steering my high-speed knee falls with my hands worked really well (even though I could hear my derby coach in my head yelling at me -- "Quit putting your hands on the ground! Someone's going to roll over your fingers!") I think with some equipment adjustments, downhill skating could be my new favorite thing!

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