Back on Track: A Story On Not Giving Up.

What makes us tick? What is it, inside of us, that just doesn’t allow us to give up? Determination? Stamina? Hard-thick-headedness?

I have returned to roller derby. I have also returned to a world of pain.

Last night, which was technically my 2nd practice after spending one year and two months away from my skates (yeah, spelling it out makes it look longer than 14 months), I worked on skating backwards on the banked track. I worked on healing all internal wounds from my past hounding me with attacks of “you can’t do this” and “you’re a spaz” and even “oh just give up already, you’re embarrassing yourself.”

“I shut that hateful bitch up.”

And I skated. I also fell. But those who don’t skate on the fringe of pushing themselves slightly beyond that line of what they can do well and what they do lesser than well never fall. They also never learn. 

The practice only lasted one hour. What’s the worst that can happen in one hour, right? At one point we switched from the banked track to the flat track. I took advantage of this transition to quickly skate to my locker and sneak two quick inhalations from my asthma life-saver. My lungs were screaming, and my passageways were closing up on me. But I didn’t want anybody to know. I don’t – I refuse – to be labelled as the old lady among these 20-yr olds.

“But I am the old lady among the 20-yr olds.”

Shoot, I’m even older than some of them bitches’ mommies! Don’t get me wrong, I use the term bitches with love and affection. As in “Them chicks be my bitches, you mess with them, you mess with me, now get me my inhaler and a walker and I’m coming after you!”

We ended the practice with a game called BLOCK PARTY. The rules to BLOCK PARTY are:

  1. Skate around the track and knock each other down.
  2. You fall – you’re out.
  3. You fall on your own accord – you’re out.
  4. You lose your balance, and drop down on one knee – you’re out.
  5. You skate out of bounds – you’re out.
  6. No elbows. Just godhonest body hits, pushes, grinds, and *whiffs.
  7. It’s a last-(wo)man-standing-rock-em-sock-em kinda game.

I won. Me, the fortyfuckingseven year old, was that last annoying one who just refused to go down. When it got down to three there was a dude (a strong skater part of the referee team who skates with us regularly) and another chick of about the same body size and strength as me. Yeah, she’s a hottie.

The dude and I were roughing it, he and I almost lost our balance when she stepped in to finish him off. He fell, and she and I high five’d each other. With the Goliath gone, she and I were on an even playing field. I wanted to run back to my locker for the lifesaver I had stashed away. But nooooo. We had to fight it to the end. I felt like Rocky in the ring with that Russian: I was wore the fuck out.

“But also determined that I was NOT going down.”

Funny how as I was slamming with everything I had left in me, I also looked on to her as my teammate and didn’t want her to fail. I wanted to hug her, and tell her she could do it, and keep trying.

“Never give up. Just don’t.”

And then in this imaginary hug, I would knock her down. I wanted to win it so bad. I needed to be the last (wo)man standing. I needed to shut all the “I’ll never be good enough” complaints my head screams at me. I could taste it in my teeth grinding through my mouthguard.

I’m looking forward to more derby in my life, and being pushed beyond my limits, as long as have access to helpers (inhaler) and more helpers (ice packs) and then more helpers (ibuprofen).

What keeps YOU going through challenges?

p.s. I’m (trying) to apply APPLYING these roller derby principles to my job search.
p.p.s. Thanks Marie for the kind reminder. Trying is not doing or achieving. It’s just trying

* A whiff (not sure of the spelling) is when you know you’re about to get slammed and you slow down just with the right timing and the opposing skater slams off in mid-air, hopefully skating out of bounds, or losing balance. Very useful strategy when skating against Goliath’s.


16 thoughts on “Back on Track: A Story On Not Giving Up.”

  1. Fantastic!
    Age and treachery beats youth and skill every damn time. And I bet you looked cooler than any of them out there.

    I go with stubbornness and a refusal to acknowledge that something can’t be done.


    1. Oh that totally works for me too! I refuse to accept that something cannot be done. Sometimes that attitude can get me in trouble though…


  2. I’m so happy to hear you’ve returned to roller derby, you clearly love it. I just found out that my new manager’s family are really into roller derby, so I’ve been grilling her for info. I too made the decision to return to what I love this week. I went skiing in Italy for the week, and being up in the mountains in the fresh air, doing something challenging, made me remember what motivates me. Good luck with the training 🙂


  3. I suspect that determination (stepping into the derby) is strengthened by NOT using the word ‘TRY’ …. it’s amazing what can be achieved by eliminating the word ‘TRY’. Your blog exampled this perfectly. As soon as ‘try energy’ is added the project is history, ‘gone’, ‘all for nought’.

    Try to lift a chair: (which is different than lifting a chair or leaving a chair alone) TRY brings on a state of notdoingness. It’s like Yoda said, ‘there is no try, only do or do not’.

    Only at the end did of your blog did you say you would ‘try’ to incorporate the tenacity and power you experienced in the game into your job hunt. I say nix the TRY. Your current ‘win’ proves Yoda’s hypothesis.

    And by the way, great job ‘old lady’!!!!!!!A cane is nothing more than a big stick, and an inhaler can be used to blow giant spit balls.


    1. Truer words have rarely been spoken. Wisdom of a thousand Yoda’s, you have.

      I remember a teacher in high school who scolded me for not turning a paper in. I explained how hard I “tried”. She pointed a pen on her desk and told me “try to pick it up”. I obviously picked it up. She reprimanded me “I said TRY, I didn’t tell you to pick it up.”

      I need to edit my ps.

      Trying is for losers. Thanks for reminding me of that!


  4. Hmm… That “whiff” thing… If I could perfect that move, and never ever get slammed, I might have a ghost of a chance at survival in your badass bloodsport. But with a tooth waiting to be root-canalled, just reading this makes my head want to explode.


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