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2 years.

This weekend, I get to see what 2 years of the grind looks like. I get to see what numerous derby games, countless bootcamps, and much sacrifice gets me. I get to go to my hometown and I get to leave it all on the track..

Derby ate my life, my soul and my relationship… and I don’t look back in regret.

Sure, I probably should’ve focused on my nutrition, did more power lifting.. maybe transferred to a better team.. but I’ve prepared the best way I can with what I have.

I’ve gotten up at 5 am to go to boot camps in the morning to make sure I have fresh legs for practice, I’ve also gone to practice directly after boot camps to see what it’s like to have tired legs and to train hard. I’ve driven out of town to get more time on my skates with different skaters, I’ve skated on my lunch breaks to get even more time on skates – I skate pick up with ANY team who wants me, did my share of tournaments, shed tears, had my share of frustration and pain.. I feel so much more prepared this time.

 

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2  years of my life was spent looking forward to this weekend.

I know in my heart that I am double the skater I was last time I did this. I need to believe in myself that I am a good skater and that I can show them how hard I can work on both sides of the line. I will take the kind words and support and the butt kickings I’ve had over the years with every league and skater I’ve skated with with me, every little part of their lives have contributed to this journey and I appreciate every single one of them.

I feel like I can leave it all out there for the coaches, I’ve lost so much on this journey that I have nothing to lose on Sunday – and I will skate my heart out.

I see you tryouts, and I hope that you see me.

… until then..

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Awesome things in 2014

2014 is nearing the end, and to reflect on the year that was… I figure I would write about a few awesome things that took place in 2014 …

1) I did a mud run and then played roller derby in the same day (capping off a 5 week streak of derby games – starting with a tournament!)

Photo by Kelly Dutchak

Photo by Kelly Dutchak

I have played more roller derby this year alone, than the previous 4 combined. Most of which took place between April and May. I also issued a challenge to myself at the beginning of the year to finish a mud run, so I trained accordingly for the demands of what my body needed for many derby games and a mud run… but what I didn’t factor in, was playing a game AFTER a mud run.

I was asked to play with the Revelstoke Derailers after the Kelowna MST run, and being the fool I was, I said yes! My first mud run was quite the experience and I’d defintely do it again! The challenge was to get home, shower off and get all the mud off of myself and then sit in a car for 2 hours and then get un-stiff to play the derbz. Well, I did! And came along with the Derailers as they claimed victory against the Kamloops Wreckers.

This year has been a great year in roller derby, I have had such fun skating with the Sun City Sirens and the Thompson Okanagan All Star Team (annd anyone who wants to pick me up! ūüėČ ). Between home games, tournaments and scrimmages, I’ve been fortunate enough to be part of this amazing Okanagan roller derby community.

I’ve learned that I LOVE tournaments, and I love the physical challenge of training my body to see how far I can run, how fast I can go, how much I can lift. I can’t wait to see how much I can push myself in 2015!

2) I finished school!!

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I’m done, done, done done! No more working all day in code, and then going home and coding (unless I’m working OT, which seems to be happening a lot this week). My last semester was definitely the hardest and most trying just dealing with program requirements and taking 2 courses at the same time, but I feel so great and so much lighter and happy to say I finished school!

3) Lego

Bike Shop and Cafe

EVERYTHING IS AWESOME! Seriously, it is! I got back into Lego in 2013 and 2014 I started to collect more buildings, I even annexed the train table to give my Lego a home and now I have my little city (as yet un-named) to build and it’s been a great hobby that I’ve taken on. I love building the sets I get, it’s a great way for me to get working with my hands and more about spatial awareness. Also, I *think* I’m getting Dave into Lego, so I’m hoping it’ll be a fun hobby the both of us can do ūüôā

Santa was awesome to me this Birthday-mas and I finally have a few modular buildings to add to my modest collection, I look forward to posting a small tour of my lego town for you guys!

4) Rose City Wheels of Justice

THIS TEAM. omg. Watching their rise to the WFTDA finals was amazing, and with the late season acquisitions of Serelson and Rivas, it just made an already strong team.. SUPER strong. I love watching Scald Eagle jam because she just exudes power, something that I’m trying to work towards is to be powerful.

They took such a fight to Gotham that nobody has ever done before, and it was amazing to watch this team come together and be strong and be there for each other in this amazing moment. My heart broke for them in that last jam, but I know they’ll take what they’ve learned and become even stronger, and from them, I draw inspiration to become a better team player, and become a skater.

5) Skating Park

I like skating, skating is the best

To me, this is easily one of the highlights of the year… getting the balls to go to the skate park and mess around in the ramps and jump all over things. Skating park has opened up a whole new avenue of things to do on skates (and I LOVE skating, skating is the best). I love getting up early, having the park to myself with tunes in my ear and just jamming around on anything and everything I can think of. I am by no means a pro skater, but I love park skating and can’t wait for the snow to melt so I can skate MOAR!

6) Going home for the holidays

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For the first time since I moved, I was able to go home and celebrate the Christmas season with my family, and boy was it a whirlwind of a trip. Did some last minute shopping, helped with cooking and wrapping gifts and I still was able to do some work-work while I was there. It was nice to be able to celebrate my nephew’s birthday with him and to be able to participate in the Christmas Bingo as well as being the Santa for this year. It definitely was awesome to be able to spend time with my family and see their faces when they opened gifts, and awesome to see the amusement on my nephew’s face when he was opening gifts. It was definitely worth the wait, and hopefully I’ll be able to afford to be out there more for the holidays.

 

2014 was a great year filled with amazing accomplishments, some difficult times (being injured sucks), trying times and of course happy times. I couldn’t fit everything that I would love to write about in one blog post, but I look back at the year and I smile at the good memories that were made and look forward to making even more.

Thanks for the memories everyone! Let’s make this year even better!

– Until then…

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The C’s of Jamming

I have been asked recently for advice on how to be a better jammer. I’ve asked this advice of other skaters before, and I know I’m not the best jammer a’la Kim Janna, but ¬†I’ve spent 2 years honing my jammer-skillz and am now a blammer for the Sun City Sirens! The game of derby has evolved so it’s not just the small speedy skaters that can be amazing jammers, but wrecking balls and all sorts of jamming techniques. I haven’t quite figured out what type of jammer I am (jukey, wrecking ball, juggarnaut, speed demon), but I like to think I’m a decent combination of all of those.

These are a few of my little jammer training¬†C’s, things I like to think about in training and while jamming

Cardio.

Much like Zombieland, the very first rule is cardio.

Yes my dears, it’s cardio. You need to be able to move at high intensity for a short period of time and then be able to bring that intensity down for your lap around. Cardio is key, having the endurance to be able to be forced out, jump on your toe stops and then run back before you can get recycled too far is a lifesaver. By working on your cardio, you’ll ensure that you have the endurance and ability to enter the pack in a mostly-controlled state which also means that you will remain clean. You don’t know how satisfying it is to skate a game as a jammer and get zero penalties, and I can owe all of that to cardio.

Remember, when you’re tired, you’re not going to play as clean as when you are not as tired (man, that was a poorly written sentence.). I can attest to this, in my peak this year, I was able to jam and block games and get zero trips to the box, I recently played against the Revelstoke Derailers (last week) and I was coming off of an injury and not training as hard, and I got 4 penalties! Cardio not only helps jammers, it helps blockers!

Cardio keeps you clean!

tl;dr: think of the opposing blockers as zombies and RUN LIKE HELL!

 

Confidence

 

From http://fuckyeahdragracegifs.tumblr.com/

Own it. Embrace it. You are a jammer.

There is quite the difference between HAVING to Jam and WANTING to Jam. I spent last season as a jammer, because I HAD to be one. I was still learning very much how to move my lighter body around, and at the same time, learning how to throw that body around people who were throwing their bodies at me. I was the skater who was one of the most agile on the team, so by default.. I became the jammer. It was a good way to cut my teeth at the art, but at the same time… the mindset wasn’t there. Fast forward to this year, my team has a wealth of skaters who could throw on the star at any point in time and do well in the position. This gave me the chance to explore jamming at my own pace, and through that I’ve figured out that I actually really like jamming.

I often look at a successful pass as me outsmarting not just 1, but 4 blockers. At some points in time, it’s you vs. 4 other skaters, at others, you have back up. There’s this amazing ebb and flow to jamming that you just kind of have to go with, and with confidence you can just go with the flow. I know I can move my skates like this, oh look a blocker has moved there, that’s okay, I’ll just contort myself into this position. Now when the time comes, I LOVE to jam, I love to play mind games, jamming makes me feel really good about myself and my skills on skates.

tl;dr: Do it because you want to, not because you have to!

 

Consistency

You know that thing you really suck it? keep doing it, and doing it, and doing it until you can no longer do it wrong. Nobody got good at jamming  just by doing it once in a while, they kept hammering and hammering and doing it over and over again. Consistency is the key to success, simple having a training routine that remains consistent, maintaining consistent nutrition will help you on your journey.

I spend lots of time doing a skill over and over and over, sometimes the skill doesn’t make sense to people, but it’s something that I want to be able to put in my toolbox that I can bust out in the heat of the moment. Muscle memory is important in sport, nothing becomes a fast twitch motion until you’ve practiced it hundreds and hundreds of times.

tl:dr: Busted out an awesome pirouette? Do it again, and again, and again until you can’t get it wrong.

 

Creativity

Really, it’s more like trying new things. I like to call it “science-ing” I find myself wanting to try all of the things on skates lately, and through those forays outside of my comfort zone, I find myself improving. I go online and look through bout footage, I read training blogs (http://fastersoapbox.blogspot.ca/) and watch animated gifs over and over again (yay!¬†http://rdjunkies.tumblr.com/), I’ve even found myself on youtube looking at videos of skating that has nothing to do with derby to pull moves and body positions from there.

From youtube or various blogs, I find things I want to do on my skates and I try them, and sometimes they fail and I fall down and it sucks, and sometimes it’s amazing and I add it to my box of things I practice and practice and practice.

Creativity is an amazing thing!

tl:dr; SCIENCE!!

 

These are just a few of the little things I like to think about when I train for jamming (or am jamming), but this doesn’t say that none of these rules apply to a blocking! Now, go out there, work on your cardio, be confident, consistent and creative!!

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And here we go, Blair tries out for Team Canada: Take One!

All my bags are packed, I’m ready to go.. and a short bus ride later, I’ll be in Chilliwack, BC for my first Team Canada try out. It’s taken me over a year to get to this point. I’ve trained hard and pushed myself so far outside my comfort zone that I no longer know exactly what it is.¬†IMG_20130703_071727

I’ve been up at 5 am, away from home several nights a week, I’ve become stronger than I’ve ever been before, and this weekend will be a jumping off point for even more greatness. I’ll admit, it’s going to be a long shot, I know that there are far more skilled skaters than myself out there, but I’m going to leave it all on the track and skate away with a big FUCKING grin on my face because I can say it. I can FINALLY say it.

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“I tried out for Team Canada.”

… and I did it on skates.

I want to set a benchmark for myself to meet and exceed, I want to come back year after year and get better and better…. and this try out hasn’t even started.

Hey! 16 year old self, remember when all you wanted to do in your life was become a speed skater? Remember when nobody would help stand by you? Remember those dreams that you had?

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Well, kid… this weekend, these dreams come true. It may not be the olympics, but it’s damn close and you’re going to leave it all out there for the coaches to see, I want you to make those coaches want to watch you. You’re going to go there and be a sponge, you’re going to learn everything you can, because this is the dream, and you’re going to live it, and you’re going to have the BIGGEST fucking smile on your face!

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I’ma show you how great I am.

There was a moment this weekend, it was exceedingly simple.. almost cheesy, but there was this moment. I was sitting in the back seat of the car… crossing the Alex Fraser bridge on the way over to watch the Terminal City Rollergirls double header… and it was just a moment of absolute clarity.

The night before, I had just finished Apolo’s Book “No Regrets” and I found myself in the same locale as he did when he started and ended his skating career. I thought about how far he was able to take himself as an athlete in the years following SLC’s olympics… and then the thought came back to myself… I looked back to how far I took myself in the past year. I lost so much weight, I became a stronger skater… I was able to make it onto the Thompson Okanagan All Star Team… I was in this moment, having played a game in the morning and now off to watch even more games.

I could block this, or be blocked by this all day long.

I could block this, or be blocked by this all day long.

In that moment, I decided to myself that I was going to build the best skater I could possibly build. I was going to make myself into someone who there would be no singular doubt in anyone’s mind that she belonged on an All-Star roster. In that moment, everything that held me back.. negativity and doubt left my mind… and I just imagined all of the possibilities that I had the very capable abilities to unlock.

As you can probably tell, I had an amazing weekend last weekend. Almost, life changing.. personally.

I had the amazing opportunity to try out for the Thompson Okanagan All Star Team (TOAST!!!), a massive conglomeration between several leagues in the Valley (OSRDA, RDD, TCDD, OKRD, SORDA) they chose the best skaters from the try-out and took these skaters to the West Coast Dust Up.

The West Coast Dust up was created from the ashes that once was the RDAC Westerns tournament. A labour of love from many parties, the tournament came together in little than 3 weeks. Teams converged on the Cloverdale arena from Red Deer (Belladonnas), the Okanagan, the Terminal City All Stars and of course the home team, The Anarchy Angels. Each team would play each other once.

The tournament was an amazing experience, topped off with a double header to take in on Saturday night courtesy of the Terminal City Rollergirls.

On Sunday, the TCRG All-Stars took me to church.

I look up to every rostered skater on the All-Stars, their commitment to derby and their excellence in skills. I was lucky to have the opportunity to skate against them, in my head I kept repeating to myself “this is why I got up at 5 am, why I bike to practice… why I lifted those heavy weights.. why in one  year I pushed myself further than I had ever gone before. This game, right here… is the beginning of a new chapter.”

That game, was a series of small victories for myself and for TOAST.. and a realization that when your opponent is giving you tips right in the middle of game play, that this sport is an amazing and magical thing.

Roller Derby brought TOAST together, the love for the sport and the want to skate at that higher-level. It’s safe to say that TOAST also became a magical thing, a team.. that had only skated 3 weeks together meshed so well on the track and brought so many surprises to the crowd. Roller Derby made the Dust Up happen, it was the pure love for the sport that made this event happen.

Roller Derby saved my soul.

… and now I sit here, at work… listening to motivating music, feeling renewed and refreshed.. although exhausted. There are still faded numbers on my arms, velcro burn everywhere, bruises forming… but deep inside I have a growing smile, and a new found motivation to show myself and the world how great I am.

-Until then…

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Oh Mah God, it’s Summer!

Why yes, it’s the sunny time in which there is NO SCHOOL!

I am quite excited to be done school for the summer and I am looking forward to some awesome things. I’ve got my craft room all primed and ready to go to make cards for the summer, and lots of new ideas that I want to put on paper.

Roller Derby is also super exciting for the summer… Firstly, I am skating for the TOAST! TOAST stands for the Thompson Okanagan All Star Team! I feel so lucky and privileged to have been able to try out, and even more so to have been rostered on the team! TOAST will be playing in the West Coast Dust Up (Facebook Link here: https://www.facebook.com/blairblock#!/events/399432733511059/). We’ll be facing the Terminal City All Stars, Red Deer Belladonnas, and the Anarchy Angels. TOAST has already had one practice and I am loving skating with a different set of amazing skaters. It’s definitely been a whirlwind of 2 weeks, and I am looking forward to the challenges that do come!

I am also announcing the week after the Dust Up at the OKRD’s championship Bout, where the Sun City Sirens will face the Bad Apple Betties for the OKRD Championship skates! This bout should be super-awesome to watch as the Sirens have really brought up their level of play to where the Betties are at, and the Betties have been playing some really tough and hard hitting derby. I can’t wait for this barn burner!

On August 10th, my derby wife and I are headed down to Seattle to watch Rat City play… GOTHAM! We’re so excited to watch two amazing teams go at it and play some hard derby. I can’t wait to see Suzy Hotrod and most of all, Bonnie Thunders live and In PERSON!

Summer is shaping up to be an awesome 2 months, and I look forward to all of the fun!

-Until then…

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Awesome things happening in May!

I have so many wonderful events to tell you about that are taking place in May!

Saturday May 4th – May the 4th Be with you! Sun City Sirens Vs. Bad Apple Betties

Poster by James Calder

Poster by James Calder

 

The second of 3 OKRD house team games takes place on May 4th, and I believe Darth Slay-her will be lending her pipes to help announce for this game *wink wink nudge nudge*. Watch for great strategy and a really good cerebral game between these two teams.¬† The Sirens are looking to make an impact against the Betties, they have not yet faced each other since last year’s Championship bout. The Betties continue to dominate the OKRD, that said, the Sirens and the Rollers hope to train hard enough to give the Betties a run for their money. After a strong win against the K City Rollers, the Bad Apple Betties look to add another notch to their belt of wins.

At half-time, the best dressed spectators will be called down to the track for a costume contest ran by yours truly! Come out, watch some awesome derby and dress up in your sci-fi best!

Saturday May 18th – Charity Scrimmage for Lucydynamite’s sister!

Hurt to Heal Poster

Poster by Erin “LucyDynamite” Foggoa

The Hurt to Heal scrimmage is a fundraiser for a local derby girl’s sister who is suffering from Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. The derby community is pulling together to raise funds to help pay for her treatment and travel expenses. Great fun for a good cause! Not only is there a scrimmage, but also an auction chock-full of wonderful items for you to bid on! The cost to each skater to scrimmage is $25, and you get to participate in some awesome derby. The cost to spectate is $5, which is super cheap when you consider you’re going to get to see two scrimmages! I look forward to skating with some new friends and learn new things while putting my money towards a great cause.

Saturday, May 25th – K City Rollers vs. Penticton Pistoleras – MAYhem

Poster from Penticton Pistoleras

Poster from Penticton Pistoleras

The last time the K City Rollers faced the Pistoleras, they came out victorious. The Pistoleras are looking for redemption, and so this rematch on May 25th is happening. Taking place at the McLaren arena, tickets are on sale for $10 in advance and $12 at the door. Tickets are very limited, so get yours soon! This is the K City Rollers’ first away bout of 2013, and they’re looking to create some momentum!

Saturday, June 1 – K City Rollers vs. Sun City Sirens

In likely the most highly-awaited rematch in OKRD history, the K City Rollers face the Sun City Sirens on June 1st. Their last match-up was decided with a score separation of 20 points. Expect a lot of back and forth action between these two teams as they work to come out victorious in this match up. Tickets will be on sale soon!

I’m definitely looking forward to all of these events, and looking forward to participating in all of them, starting this weekend with announcing at the May the 4th Bout! Can’t wait to see everyone at ALL of these awesome events!

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One Jam At a Time

On my way home from practice last night, I remembered saying something to my fellow team-mates before I left about our upcoming game with the Bad Apple Betties. We just have to work on winning the jam, and we work with one jam at a time, with the knowledge that the next one will be a clean slate and we can try it again and again.

Derby is a tough sport to learn and master, and for some people the strategy can be overwhelming. As a team we are quite anxious (and rather excited) coming up to a game where we face the top-ranked team in the league, but I believe if we take the game one jam at a time, and focus on being a better team than we were last season, we can come away from this game with a positive outcome, no matter what the score. We’ve been working hard as a team to gel and focus on playing the sport smarter, so I can’t wait to see how things work this season.

We get together as a team prior to the game, and we set out our goals for the game. Some people think it’s cheesy, but if we have something to focus on within ourselves, we can always work towards that and consider it a success when it does happen. As a captain, I want to foster the positive vibe within my team (and anyone who comes and joins us), I want my team to always be working towards a goal as a team and as a player.

I look forward to more practices and ultimately the game, come see us play – April 20th – Memorial Arena – Kelowna!

Facebook Event Page here: https://www.facebook.com/events/358624610916685/

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Progress – The Journey

So, I may have started a tumblr blog, found here: http://blair-block.tumblr.com/

.. but now I return to WordPress! I found that tumblr just felt too limited in what I could do with layout and sharing, it was almost.. TOO simple.  It was quick and easy to share things, but I feel like I wanted something more in depth as far as my writing was concerned. So yes, here I am again.. back on WordPress!

I am going to try to keep this blog updated, as well as my Stuff and Things blog with Rinny, we hope to cover more topics such as RuPaul’s Drag Race, more product reviews and monthly favorites.

This blog will take on a new life as not only a progress blog on my fitness and my dreams and aspirations to try out for Team Canada Roller Derby, but also a blog about my roller derby league the OKRD and my team, the K City Rollers, a blog about card making, DIY projects, and really, anything I can get my hands on. I hope with a wide variety of interests that my writing will keep you coming back!

My journey has taken on many forms since I started this little blog almost 3 years ago now, I have lost the weight I wanted to lose years ago (and I’m still going to lose more!), I’ve spent the past few years playing derby and gaining some skill in that respect, I have started making cards again, and finding a whole new love for the handmade… I have learned lots about life and love, and I’m excited to write out this journey for anyone who really wants to read it.

and so, it begins again….

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New things on the horizon!

I’ve been hoping to have more time to blog about things lately, give reviews on new objects I’ve acquired (such as Avenger plates!), and it’s been quite a busy few months! This is a good busy though.. and I have been working on a new project with my friend Rin, and we’ll be debuting it in the next month or so!

Derby is awesome, 2012 is shaping up to be an exciting year for the OKRD and I look forward to leading the K City Rollers to awesomeness, more to come later!

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