Just Write 7 ~ 7 out of 7 ain’t bad

   February 26, 2013 1:40 am

 

I’m shivering at the start line of the Highmark Quad ski race and wondering how I’m going to get up the steep hill in front of me.

It’s my first ski race and the first time I’ve ever skied more than a couple miles. I’ve done the quad many times, but the ski event has always been canceled, or I blew it off.

Last winter, I invested in some traditional cross-country skis and took a lesson at the lodge where the girls ski every Saturday afternoon.

One lesson and a couple weeks of kick-gliding through the trails at the lodge did not prepare me to get up that hill.

“Be careful when you cross the road,” Julie told me when she found out it was my first time. She didn’t tell me what to be careful of, and I was too afraid to ask.

“Watch out for that last hill with the bridge; it’s steep and it’s on a curve,” Suzy warned.

Shit.

How did I not know there were hills — big hills — on this course?

OK…well, whatever. Just finish it. Correction: Just finish it without breaking any bones.

The horn blows and the skate skiers take off. They’re up and over the mountain before us newbies even get to the bottom of it. They left us a gift though — chopped up snow, perfect traction for cautious v-stepping skiers.

I strong-arm my way up, digging in hard with my poles and pushing up off them.

At the top, we meander along a winding path.

This isn’t so bad. It might even be fun.

Then I see a ski patrol guy guarding a hill.

I try to slow down by snowplowing and it occurs to me that the snowplow doesn’t work for shit when there’s no snow to plow. I get low, bend my knees and pray to God the old guy in front of me doesn’t fall down because I have no clue how to turn or stop.

About 2 miles in, I hear them announcing the first finishers.

How depressing.

I ski on. Up and down. Around and Around. I gut it out at the hills and manage to make it down most of them without falling.

The course is not for beginners. It’s exhausting, and I just want it to be over. But it goes on and on for five long miles.

As I come up to the finish line, I see the girls standing on the porch of the golf clubhouse, waving and smiling.

“Go, Mom!” Kelly yells.

I give her a big smile and cross the finish line just shy of an hour. Not bad for my first time on a difficult course, but more than twice the time the good skiers turned in.

I’m in last place in my age group for the ski event. And I’m in last place in my age group for the overall quad (those that finished all four events) — 7 out of 7.

I hate that I’m last, and I wonder why I keep doing the quad when I’m so bad at three out of the four events. Part of me wants to fight — to get better at those events, to buy a new bike, to take swim lessons, to try harder, to train like a quad champ, to invest in skate skis — and the other part of me wants to bow out and just quit doing the stupid quad.

I’m embarrassed by my last place finish, but I make it a point to tell the girls where I placed because I want them to know that I’m not good at everything I do, that it’s OK to finish last, and that it’s not always about winning or placing.

I had the courage to start, the strength to get through it, and the determination to finish, which is all that really matters.

quad champs

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About Just Write
“What ends up revealing itself when free writing is that everything has meaning. That is a magnificent gift of writing. If we write from a free heart-gut place, our souls start speaking.”

 

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