The year of trying new things – skate skiing

Because the same old thing is so 2015

The inspirational types on All the Social Medias are always telling us to push ourselves harder, get out of our comfort zone, that we should be trying new things. I think for the most part we tend to only think in terms of the activities we’re used to doing. The ones we’re either good at, really enjoy, or both. When I think about my running life, for lack of a better way of putting it, I know there are plenty of areas where I could improve. I’m not very fast. I could probably be faster. I can run far, but I could probably run farther. I have run plenty of races in my life but could tack on more bibs, I’m sure.

But then there are the other things I also do or have wanted to try for a long time. The sentences that begin with “One day I’ll do _________.” And I’ve crossed a few things off that list. There was that bike race I signed up for that scared the hell out of me but turned out to be not so bad after all. I learned how to skate, bought some used hockey gear and played with a women’s club team for years before my daughter was born. I’ve even strapped on ginormous goalie pads (okay, they’re child-sized pads) and let people shoot rubber discs at me at high speeds. Another bucket list item that I gave a chance and liked.

trying new things on amy up north - hockey
Old hockey rink bathroom selfie, 2012

And back when I moved up north about ten years ago, Scott and I took a snowboarding lesson, managed to make it through without dying or getting a concussion (amazingly). Hey, I even have a picture of that in the archives.

trying new things on Amy up north - snowboarding
Back when 640×480 from a candy bar cameraphone was HQ.

I wanted this year to be one where I got out of my comfort zone that involved just dropping one foot in front of the other, lather, rinse, repeat. People have been telling me for years that I should try skate skiing. “It’s just like ice skating,” they said. People watch good skate skiers glide across the snow with a perceived ease and grace. It’s like they’re skating on the snow, right? So I borrowed some equipment from a friend, plus I found a pair of old skis from one of the older kids which were shorter. Between the two sets of skis, I figured I could tell if this was something I’d enjoy.

Just like skating. Sure, I could do this.

I’d say the only thing that skate skiing and ice skating have in common is that if you’re ice skating hard (say, in a hockey game situation), your legs are toast after about 45 seconds. It’s why hockey shifts are so short. This shit is exhausting, man.

trying new things on Amy up north - skate skiing
My favorite stretch of trail on the easy loop, even though it’s a little uphill and I have to stop ten times.

I honestly thought that once I got the hang of the motion that there’d be some momentum to carry me along. But right now every movement is a lot of work. Poling is tiring. This is all a lot more difficult than running.

But I’ve been giving it a fair shot. Get out of your comfort zone, right? After a few outings, I wouldn’t say I’m getting the hang of skate skiing, but I managed to go for 5K on Saturday and it didn’t take all morning. And even though the sight of the chalet was like a glittery oasis in the middle of the desert, I didn’t completely hate myself when I climbed into my car.

trying new things on Amy up north - skate skiing
This eventually goes down, right?

One thing I realized this weekend was that temperature matters. I’ve gotten used to sleeping in on weekends and trotting out in the afternoon for some sort of activity if I can get away from the kids for an hour. My chances of skate ski success are much higher if it’s colder, not the balmy 20-30°F that I normally prefer when I’m out running or snowshoeing in winter. On Saturday I hurried out the door to hit the trails while temperatures were still in the low teens. Who am I? I don’t even know.

But the bottom line: I’m going to keep doing this, even if it means stopping every minute and moving to the side of the trail every time someone better and faster comes my way (read: I do a lot of stopping). I want to get better. I want to add this to my winter repertoire for the long haul. I’ll be looking into some real lessons (and some equipment that possibly is a better fit) soon. And even though I thought I’d never utter the words, it turns out I kind of like this, too. Imagine that: there is life beyond running.