“Follow me down, watch the back of my knee.” My ski instructor directed me. I was in a moment of terror on that hill (which in terms of ski hills, this wasn’t a difficult one, I am a beginner). Honestly, until that moment I finally felt like I was making progress. The rhythm was coming to be, and then in one fell swoop, I absolutely froze. There were legitimate TEARS in my eyes. I don’t really know why, it just happened.
As we skied on he grabbed my right arm “Reach for your right boot” his voice was exactly the voice I needed. Not coddling, not comforting, but directing me. “Reach for your left boot”, and that’s how we continued on.
Right arm right boot, left arm left boot, back of his knee. Over and over. The moment passed. This must be how some people feel in open water, I thought to myself. His method of working through it was so perfect. As much as that feeling sucked, man it sucked hard. Once I was on the other side of it though, it was awesome.
I had worked through some serious fear, and now I knew that I could.
I love shit like this. I love the chance to work through something, anything. Fear. Skill. Ability. Failure. I love the process of it. That’s why I keep learning new things and finding new adventures. Swim bike and run never scares me anymore (but it excites me).
Going down a hill fast shouldn’t scare me. I ride head first down the descent in Lake Placid over 50 miles an hour on an eighteen-pound carbon fiber bike. This shouldn’t scare me. But sometimes it does. As much as I don’t want to feel that feeling of terror, I do want to feel it. I firmly believe when things scare us we must pursue them. We must push through that wall of fear because on the other side of it, is something awesome. I want that awesome, and I am willing to do whatever I have to do to feel that. I am addicted to THAT.
My ski goals? I want to become proficient by March. Now that I have had a glimpse of that rhythm I want to feel it again. “Now comes experience” my teacher told me. I have flooded myself with lessons, now it’s time to ski.
I joined the ladies brigade at Bristol (that’s where this lesson was), and ironically I skied with three other nurses, who hadn’t skied in a long time. Two of them moved up a group, and I need to get time on the slopes to join them. Just like anything, that comes with frequency, consistency and practice. I have skis and my season pass. Now it’s time to ski.
It’s time to let GO. Let the HELL GO.
When my athletes get hung up on data, I remind them to let it go and go with the flow. At this stage of my triathlon game, it’s easy for me to say that. I don’t have an issue doing that anymore. On skis…. I am overthinking. I am allowing fear to hold me back. Skiing brings me back to what that is like. Take a deep breath, point the skis down and lean into it. Trust myself.
“You have to develop your NO button” my instructor told me.
The NO button comes in when you find that moment right before you allow fear to take over, that split second in which you lean back, panic and tighten up. You have to say NO, you have to say it out loud, shout it if you must. NO. Then you lean forward and commit to it. Commit to the turn, commit to the stance. Right arm right boot. Left arm left boot. Rhythm and flow.
You say NO to the past, to the fear and to the bullshit story that you can’t do this. NO.
With time it comes. Fear will take a backseat as long as I keep getting out there. Like for swimmers new to the water, just keep swimming. Let it come. Let it find you. Find that mantra as my instructor did with me, let it pull you out of the bad moments, know that they WILL pass.
What’s on the other side of that wall of fear, is worth it.