by Jennifer Stevenson
This week I’ve been learning about “lengthening my power band.” That’s the distance your skates travel while touching the floor. Ideally, you are pushing your skate against the floor for every inch of that distance, so you accelerate with every inch of travel. My power band is only about a foot wide. This is not wide enough. I’m short-legged, but if I lean over far enough (like a motorcycle on the wall o’ death) and step out wide enough and let my feet slide wide enough apart, I can lengthen that power band. If I do it right, it will actually make my stride more efficient. I’ll skate faster and work less at the same time.
I started getting the wall-o’-death part right last week, so I’m a bit rocky on lengthening my power band. That’s okay. It’ll come.
I started skating about four years ago. I was fifty-two.
This has been a weird journey for me. I’m loving it, but at the same time I look around me and see women my age “settling down,” giving up on their their health, deciding that “at my time of life” certain illnesses and discomforts translate into inescapable disabilities.
And at the same time I’m also meeting women my age who have suddenly committed to intense physical discipline: horseback riding, dance, martial arts, running, tennis, roller derby,
In fact, I know more women athletes over forty doing roller derby than I do women athletes over forty who run. It’s as if something has exploded in them, as it has in me: some huge upboiling of life and energy, a female empowerment that yells, “Hell, no!” when somebody (like their doctor) suggests that maybe they’re a little too old to be pushing themselves this hard.
This isn’t a surprise for me, exactly. It’s the time bomb I expected would go off when I hit menopause. But menopause hit me fourteen years ago. It was after menopause that I lost sixty pounds and became so fit that my BMI is scary. Why, as I approach sixty, do I feel that I’m accelerating, not slowing down?
When I was a kid of nine, I figured I would eventually learn how to fly.
I didn’t think it would happen when I was old enough to be my grandmother.
For those of you out there who might be feeling a strange stirring, I offer this: you may not know anyone who is yelling, “Hell, no!” Maybe you’re the only one you know who feels an urge to return to ballet after a forty-five year hiatus, get back on a horse, or strap on skates for the first time in her life. Your darling husband may think you’re nuts. Your kids may worry loudly at you.
I’m just saying, you are not alone.
Read a sample of Jennifer’s latest novel, A Taste of You, a roller derby vampire romance.
She’s easy to find on Facebook