Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Doing Derby, and Marthons vs. Parades.

I have been planning to do a derby post for a while, so here it goes!

For the past few months, I have been skating with the derby lite girls.  What is Derby Lite?
1st off, they aren’t paying me to write this, so know it’s coming straight from my drunken little heart.  Derby Lite is a series of classes/skate sessions for ex-derby girls, people who enjoy skating, or people who have never skated, but really want to learn.  Rather than full contact derby (which can be dangerous, especially to a runner) this is framed as a fitness skate session.  We do lots of planks, squats, and core building exercises throughout each session.  There are no scrimmages in the beginning and intermediate classes, but we will do drills.  The classes have a nice balance of people ranging from older women who obviously were teens in the 70’s-80’s “skate rink era” to younger ladies looking for an adventure, and then random people like me, who enjoy the derby scene, but can’t commit to it for a variety of reasons.  They have multiple instructors at each session, so people who are new to skating can get some sage wisdom on staying off their asses, and the rest of us can refine particular skills.  (For example, THIS GIRL cannot skate backwards)  All I know is that I am a pretty fit girl, and I leave every session dripping (seriously, wringing out my helmet pads) and sore (especially my core muscles!)
PROS:  It’s open to all the ladies.  No experience needed. 
It’s a good workout.  I can feel my posture changing when I run too – less hunching!
It’s a huge confidence booster!  Everyone is really supportive, and no one cares if you are the worst skater or the best.  Also, you will get real comfortable with your body, real fast.  It’s a very hands on sport, and even for drills, you will spend a lot of time holding on to someone’s sweaty hips for dear life.  Its funny how you don’t even think about your love-handles when you are trying to stay upright.
All my derby friends think I am badass for running marathons in my free time, and all my marathon friends think I am a badass for skating derby in my free time.  So either way, I’m a badass.
Skating in the pride parade (see below)

CONS:  It’s expensive.  The upfront costs for protective gear is pretty hefty, but necessary.  You don’t want to skimp when protecting your noggin.  Luckily, I had all my gear.  Another girl found a derby girl cleaning house on craigslist and apparently saved a ton.
It’s not comfortable.  All that gear just makes you even hotter and sweatier.  But still better than a concussion or busted kneecap.
Its not a huge organization, and skate rinks are few and far between.  The current locations where you can find Derby Lite are Oak Park (that’s where I skate), Chicago’s Northside, Lombard, and Palatine.  There are also some popping up across the nation, in Maine and Phoenix, I think!
So please check them out if you are interested – if I can do it, ANYONE can do it.  www.derbylite.net
Which brings me to the Gay Pride Parade!  Yes, I skated it in it.  And what did I learn?
1.        Condoms are super dangerous.  I kept tripping on them.
2.       Marathons really are just terrible parades.
The parade course is a portion of the Chicago marathon course.  Only for the parade, all the spectators were drunk, wearing costumes, SCREAMING at you (everyone loves the derby girls!) and pelting you with beads, candy, and condoms.  It almost makes the marathon seem boring.
The parade course was only like, 2 miles maybe, but you move soooo slow that it took probably two hours.  By the end, I was having a meltdown similar to mile 20 of the marathon.  I just can’t handle crowds of people staring at me and shouting at me for an extended period of time.  And this time I was wearing rainbow booty shorts and roller skates just to top everything off.  Luckily, I was in a pack of girls, all experiencing the same meltdown, so there was a lot of camaraderie and encouragement.
In short, just like the marathon, it was a once in a lifetime experience, but also a little much for this socially awkward girl, so it might be a one and done deal.  Or, like the marathon, I will probably eventually just get drunk and sign up again.  Only time will tell.  (spoiler, I frequently get drunk and commit to doing things outside of my comfort zone.)


  1. The parade sounds like it was fun, even though it was exhausting. Roller Derby looks like a lot of fun, but I'd have the same concerns as you--that I'd injure myself and not be able to run--so it sounds like Derby Lite is a really nice option. Love those rainbow shorts you wore for the parade, BTW!

  2. I remember the heyday of roller skating. We would roller skate in our gym class, then twice a year take field trips to the local roller rink. Our whole class got pretty awesome at roller skating. On weekends, I went to the combo roller rink/arcade and hang out. It was just like "Happy Days" except it was in the early 80s and there was no Fonz. I think the rink I used to go to has been replaced by a medical center. Maybe if more people had kept fit roller skating, there would be no need for the medical center!

  3. Ahhh! I love reading about Derby Lite! That sounds so so cool! And like a great workout. And you ARE a badass for doing that AND marathons :)

    I love that you all skated at the parade! I am not surprised it was draining though. Are you going to tell us some of the best (worst?) things people shouted at you? :)

  4. Pete's comment reminds me that when I was a kid, the big social event at my grade school was our monthly rolling skating party. It was at a place called Ohio Skate, that probably looks exactly the same now as it did in 1975. I didn't go to dances, but I'll be damned if I missed a skating party. It had all the same fun and drama of a dance, but ON WHEELS!

    Anyway, I digress. There's always spectator signs at races saying this is a really boring parade, so I totally get what you're saying. Skating that slow for such a long time probably would be a bit much after a while. But it at least LOOKS fun :)

  5. I heard about Derby Lite when I lived in Forest Park! Thanks for the extra info about what it's really like :-)

  6. This sounds so super amazing, and I am not surprised that you do something so super amazing. I've always loved to skate even though I am terrible, and now, I am dying to learn.

    I bet the parade was a fun, hot mess:)

  7. I think that you are super badass! Skating petrifies me. I would not only spend a fortune on gear, but probably a fortune in the ER. Glad you are having so much fun with it. It does sound like a great workout!

  8. I've only spectated the Gay Pride parade once in my life, but my only takeaway was "holy crap this thing is long." (That's what he said?)

  9. Where in Lombard? On 22nd? If so, can we go skating??

    1. Thats the one! I will meet you anytime for a skate date!!

  10. How fun! The Broadway stretch along the marathon IS kinda like being in the pride parade and was my favorite part.

    This sounds super fun!!! I've totally thought about joining a skill class for skating just to get back into it a little. We will see.

  11. That is awesome!! First off, you're a beast. Second, the parade sounds intense but super fun!!

  12. Of course you're a bad ass!

    Love this post. So much fun and I love your outfit for the parade!

  13. You look so adorable in all of your pictures!!! Love how us runners think you are so hard-core for derbying and your derby friends think you are so hard-core for running. You are indeed totally hard core, no matter what!!! =)

  14. You look really stunning in your parade outfit!! I love the colors!!