As I stepped out onto the ice I wobbled. I was wearing hockey skates and just not used to them. An older woman was skating around, it was just she and I for now. I made a deal with myself that no matter what I would skate for an hour. See what came back in an hour. it’d been twenty years (gosh…. likely more) since I have been on the ice, aside from a party here and there.
I turn 40 on Saturday and begin speed-skating lessons. I have been talking about doing this for years. Olympics or not…. this has always been on my radar. I have shyed away from it because of swimming in my earlier days. In my latest years it’s because I was afraid to mess up my Ironman training. Now after 20 years in triathlon I have a house filled with medals, plaques and accomplishments. And still a yearning to take skating lessons. I decided that I will no longer put off things I want to do because of X, Y and Z. At the end of the day…… I want to look back on my life and say I did everything I dreamt of doing.
In my 20’s and 30’s I didn’t have that….. that … I don’t give a f*ck anymore I am doing this my way attitude. Maybe it comes at this stage of life? No more excuses. I am going out and doing everything I feel the need to learn.
Aside from one ice performance when I was a kid I never had formal ice skating instructions, but I knew how to skate like the rest of us….. you just figure it out. It eventually begins to come naturally.
Skated at the very edge and held onto the boards for a good 15 minutes. But I didn’t stop. Not once.
My thoughts went crazy. Oh my god. What am I doing here. I am going to die. The ice has too many ruts. I am on 4 mm blades here.
Then I thought about what my husband said. “Just go out and feel the ice.”
So I pushed off the wall. Glide. My thoughts completely stopped and I began to feel it. I just let go and began skating. I was able to push side to side and step forward. I found the inside and outside edges of the blades again. I totally and completely relaxed.
By now we had been joined by some other skaters. A guy practicing his hockey moves. A teenage girl who was practicing figure skating. A grey haired man who looked like he was also on skates for the first time in many years. A couple of college kids, some new, some not. Everyone smiled and greeted one another. The hockey guy gave the new college kid some advice. The figure skater girl twirled in the center. The grey haired man found his blades again.
And that woman I was started skating with said “Wow.” to me.
I wasn’t throwing down triple axles….. but it came. Bit by bit through that next hour it came back. One of the billion benefits of being an endurance athlete is that endurance is never an issue. I skated non stop for an hour and could have gone for two easily. The strength work I have been working so hard on showed up in the form of being to handle the lateral movements without getting sore. My issues revolved around skill. Skill, with a lot of hard work and practice….. I can learn.
My goal was to get on the ice before my first speed-skating lesson on Saturday. I simply wanted to feel the ice. What happened was so much more. In no time I was flying down the ice, still shaky on the corners (but I will be back at it again today). My heart wasn’t racing but it was full. There is a feeling I just can’t articulate. Freedom. Exhilaration. Purity. That feeling when you throw open your arms, look up and scream because it feels so awesome.
I don’t’ know the right word for that.
At the end of the hour I had to pull myself off the ice. I had to go. I am going back today. The rink time so oddly falls right at the right time for me. The two hours I have before I pick up Luc are actually…. strangely open for me. And the rink is down the street from his school. So I am headed back today. I want to feel that again. The ice beneath me. The inside and outside of my blades. I want to feel the speed, I want to work on my corners and my hockey stop. If it came back that fast in an hour, what happens if I give it another hour? And then maybe another?
Time and time again I am reminded that… when we let our heads just be quiet…. real magic happens. When we just let go we fly. When we are open to learning new things and even old things….. they can.
“Eggers you make every sporting event a spiritual experience.” One of my friends said to me. Nah…. but I often let it become that. I am an athlete at my very core, and I feel these experiences so deep. I learn lessons constantly.
These aren’t lessons I will keep on the ice. It’s a lesson that I constantly bring back to the water, to my bike, to my run.
Let go and let it flow.