I made a promise to my teammates. We had a great bout on Saturday against a roster that turned out to be quite an even match for us. There were a couple of lead changes and both teams battled until the end, with our girls emerging victorious. Not wanting to revel too much in the post-bout high, the next day I reminded my teammates via our online group that our schedule still includes some very fierce opponents, ones we expect to be more challenging than the one we beat by a dozen or so points last weekend. Victories in those upcoming bouts will require more than what we have given to this date in practice and in competition. I pictured our team as a speedometer with the needle pointing at the farthest number to the right. Then I pictured us giving it more gas. Here’s what I posted:

 

Photo courtesy of Mark Sheehan / Enjoy a victory, but don't use it as an excuse to rest on your laurels.

I am committing here to giving MORE than I do at every upcoming practice. …. We can always go harder and faster and more aggressive at every practice if we mentally commit to it — I know that I can and I hope you’ll all take up that challenge.

 

Not terribly eloquent, but you get the idea. Fast forward to our first post-bout practice Tuesday night. As I took my first warm-up turns around the track, this promise played in my mind. Because I kept thinking of it, I became acutely aware of the competing voices in my head throughout practice. It’s impressive the number of complaints and excuses that bubble to the surface during the course of two hours on skates. “My muscles still ache from the bout.” “I’m tired.” “My feet hurt.” “It’s hot in here.” “I just sprinted so now I deserve to rest and skate upright.” “My ass hurts — specifically, my left ass cheek hurts.” “I need to take off my socks because they’re making my skates too tight and hurting my feet.” “My back is sore from staying in derby position for so long.” “It’s so hot in here.” “My ass hurts.” “My eyeballs are burning from sweat.” “I’m thirsty.” “My muscles are so sore.” “This drill is hard.” “My ass hurts.” Yep — the interior monologue of a derby champion! I’m sure Suzy Hotrod is burning up the track at a Gotham practice, whining to herself all the while about how sore her butt is!

This is not to say that you should skate through every pain, as we derby folk are well known for our propensity to re-injure for failing to allow true injuries the necessary time to heal. But when we take the time to give the situation a proper reckoning, most of us know when we’re contending with something serious or a serious case of whine-itis. Despite my Greek chorus of complainers, I did try to keep my word at practice and I think I’ve begun to recognize what I’m up against, which is at least part of the battle. Screw you, voices! No butt ache, eyeball sweat, roasting hot venue, hard drill excuses are going to come between me and my promise!