Sunday, January 31, 2010

Fear or Fly

The soft music of my cell phone alarm wakes me from such a wonderful sleep, it takes every once of willpower with in me to get out of bed. It's cold but force my eyes to open, find my running tights and tank top folded neatly on my chair and pull them on. It's 7am on a Saturday morning in mid January and although I am getting ready to head outside, I am NOT going running for once.

In years past, winter was not only my time off from running to enjoy my friends and a few happy hours here and there with out feeling too guilty, but it was also my time to enjoy winter sports. Born and raised in New England, I practically grew up on skis. In fact I am not sure what happened first, my first step or my first time on skis. I was also pretty in love with ice skating, figure skating in particular. I remember almost every school vacation going to the Forest Park Ice Rink and skating for hours. I was in love of the complete grace and beauty of the sport. One Christmas I even got lessons as a gift and so every Sunday night I would head off to the local rink in my little black leggings ready to be an ice princess.
Of course as much as I loved both these things, none could ever take priority over running. Once the weather got to be above 50 degrees I was ditching my board and skates for sneakers and logging the miles.

This year though, this year I was going to do something different, something a little crazy. I wasn't going to give up anything. I would keep on running, and I would keep on snowboarding and skating and pretty much see how much torture my body could take. So that is why on this Saturday morning, after logging 15 miles on the treadmill for the week I was getting dressed for the cold. Boyfriend and I layer up and head out to pick up coffee. We drive up to the mountain with some good friends, get dressed in more gear and head out. The snow is powdery and soft on top and hard packed beneath. Not to icy but not too soft. Goldilocks would be pleased.
As we start down the mountain I resist the urge to coast away as fast as I can, taking the switchbacks like a pro. A few people in our group are still beginners and as I watch them practice chaining turns and gain their confidence my mind wanders back to a conversation from the past weekend.
Driving back from Camelback last weekend, boyfriend asks me what I think about when I am boarding. Do I think about what to do next, the skill set I use as I make each turn?
"I don't think," I tell him, "I just feel it and I go"
Perhaps this comes from my comfort with the mountain, my years of experience in the snow or maybe my love for speed. I have always loved going fast. When I am running repeats there is no feeling in the world more amazing than my turnover being so fast I imagine it as a blur beneath my torso. That feeling of invincibility is the same thing that overcomes me as I fly down the hill.
Perhaps it is because after a few lessons many years ago I just started teaching myself. Some people can play music by ear, I ride down the mountain by feel. Sure I could choose to be scared, I could choose to get anxious about the height of the mountain or about the speed at which I sail to the bottom, but that only makes me shaky inside and I am bound to fall. Fear can be good but it can also set you up for failure.
In life you are faced with a choice. You can either dwell on something that is overwhelming you and let your worries eat away at your confidence like a kid with an ice cream cone in July or you can attach it head on. You have to have confidence, and if you don't you learn to fake it by telling yourself you can do it until you start to believe it is true. "I can't do this" turns into "I can do this" and later becomes "Hell yes I can take on anything". So what's the worse that can happen? You fail? I can think of worse things. If you fall down ten times, get up ten times and just keep on going.
More and more this is the attitude I have chosen to adopt for life. You can be scared of a million things or you can go through life and just feel every bit of every moment. Feel life, and enjoy being alive.

Later that day as we head home I can feel every muscle in my body thanking me for such an incredible workout. My legs, arms and core all worked together as one to balance and maneuver me down the mountain. I am feeling good, like parts of my body that would never get to work hard during a run finally got to be awake and feel. I may be crazy - but the soreness after a good workouts is something I enjoy. It means I did my best, it means I pushed myself, and it means i am alive.

Boyfriend and I on our first boarding trip of 2010!

xx Sara

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