In the fall of 2007, my son joined his school's cross country ski team. It looked like a lot of fun and the team was always in need of parents who could ski to help out at practices. Over the holiday break, the team went away to a cross country ski "resort" where they basically skied, ate and slept for three days. I saw the pictures, and I think "rustic" would be the kindest way to describe the accommodations. Since they are teenagers, they don't care much about the surroundings and had a blast skiing and hanging out. The team needs a few parents each year to come along and help, but the catch is that you have to know how to ski. Although I can downhill ski, I had never been on cross country skis. I asked for skate skis for Christmas and made it a goal to learn to ski well enough by the time he was a Senior to be able to go along to camp. It's two years later and my son is now a Freshman on the team. That first year, I skied a few times and succeeded in aggravating my already nagging IT band problem. Since I was training for my first marathon during that time, I gave up the skiing for the season. Last winter, I tried again with limited success. I skied a half dozen times and didn't get past being petrified. I still hadn't made it to the point that I was having any fun.
Yesterday, my son's running coach emailed that he was going skiing today and would I like to meet him and get a few pointers. Yes, I would! I waxed my skis, changed the tips on my poles from roller skiing tips to snow tips and scrounged up my lobster mittens. Part of me was worried that he would laugh and say that I was doing it all wrong. The other part of me was hoping that he would laugh and say that I was doing it all wrong. Maybe if I was doing it wrong, that would mean that the right way was somehow easier than what I had been doing. It certainly couldn't be any harder because, geez, my way was just so hard!
The good news is that I was doing it right which is, of course, also the bad news. We went to a flat area and he showed me a couple drills to do without poles. Apparently, gliding requires standing on one ski at a time which requires being able to balance on one foot while moving. Balance is not one of my strong points. After getting warmed up, we did a short loop course which had some down hills and, unfortunately, some up hills. Going up hill is challenging to say the least. I think my triceps are going to hurt tomorrow.
After making it around, we did a couple more drills and I started to get the idea of gliding on one ski at a time. Notice that I said that I got the "idea", I don't think there was actually a lot of gliding going on. We took another lap around the course. Even though I was getting tired, I felt like I was getting the hang of it and forgot about being afraid. It was a beautiful day to ski. After a stretch of very cold weather, today was in the mid twenties, the sun was shining and the course through the trees was peaceful.
Ever since I set the goal of learning to ski, my heart just hasn't been in it. I've taken little steps toward that goal, but I'd never been able to actually picture myself doing it and enjoying it because it is so difficult. Getting some expert help and encouragement has made me excited about really dedicating myself to learning how to do it. Normally I'm rooting for a snow-less winter so that I don't have to fight the snow during my runs. Now I am torn! There is snow in the forecast for next week, and I find myself pretty excited about it. Maybe I will make it to ski camp after all. I'm sure my son will be thrilled. Ha!