Today we had our first cross country ski lesson. We had been looking forward to this day for a few weeks now, every since we registered back in the middle of December. We knew that this year, we wanted to find some sort of winter activity to keep us active during these long Minnesota winters. Well if any of you know me well, you know that Kyle and I attempted to go downhill skiing in Colorado, four months after we met each other. And failed miserably, when I fell within the first two hours and couldn't walk very well the rest of the trip. And then found out five months later that fall had caused me to tear my ACL. So skiing isn't really our strong suit, obviously. But Cross country skiing is different, no large hills, so we thought we'd give it a while. Only THIS time we were going to do the smart thing and start off with a lesson.
We woke up this morning to read a wonderful -14 on the thermometer... ARE YOU KIDDING ME? Of all days for it to be in the negative teens we were going to be outside in it, learning to ski. So we got all bundled up.
1st layer: Synthetic material to help wisk away sweat
2nd layer: turtle neck, sweater, fleece, or soft shell to help stay warm
3rd layer: water proof jacket
Alright we were dressed and BURNING up inside! As we began to walk out the door, I got a phone call "hm I don't recognize this number" It was the park calling to see if we still wanted to come for lessons, she said "we're calling people to give them the 'option' of coming if they want to, otherwise we can reschedule since it's so cold. The instructor has agreed to come if you still want to" I explained that we have been looking forward to this, we were already dress and already over the fact of how cold it was - so yes we were coming.
We made it there to a class of 6 which was just perfect, because if all 11 of the original people had come it wouldn't have been as beneficial. There was the 50 year old instructor, boy he was a die hard skier and the perfect teacher. He teaches a High School XC team so I know he has patience. There was a mother and daughter, 13 year old dauther that didn't want to be there AT ALL! An older nice woman in her 50's as well, I only know this because she said "in my 40's I took a downhill lesson so I figure in my 50's I'll take a cross country lesson". Then another girl, probably about our age. The lady in her 50's later told us about how she works for the park that we were at and she had looked at the roster last week and Kyle was the only boy on it :-)
We listened to the instructor for a bit inside because he said once we were outside he wanted to keep us moving so he went over all the talking parts inside. We bundle up and head out.
First (and second) lesson: putting the skis on and learning how to get up after falling. Putting on the skis wasn't as easy as I thought it would be (the first time) I got one foot in, then kept slipping every time I tried to lift my other foot to get it snapped in. But finally with the help of the poles I got it on.
We started off very slow, which was good learning stride without poles, stride with arm movements, and finally stride with poles. Well before we added poles and skiis we did one go of jumping (no skis) with poles. We went back and forth, back and forth in the little track near the lodge.
"Alright class, you think you're ready to go around the Star Loop"
"Ummm, suuure" was our reply :-)
Of course since Kyle was the only boy we had him go first, followed by the 13 year old girl that almost ran me over during the practice passes. Everything was great as we started around the loop until the track broke. See there is a track of two runs in the snow which is what you keep your skis in, like this: (although this picture is from later in the day when Kyle and I went out on a different trail, but you get the idea)
In some spots, the one side of the track might drop off and be flat, just something that happens a lot of time on curves it gets worn down. So a girl got off track and was standing there, here I come and go right off track right next to her... RIGHT next to her "why hello there" :-)
alright keep moving, our first minor hill (up hill). I'm in front of the 50 year old gal and the other gal my age. Push, push, up, up, ooops I lost my footing and slide backwards, we're laughing as I look down and see 6 skiis right next to each other, lol. Back up we go.
Okay that wasn't so bad if I just keep going, if you stop on a hill you're going to fall back down it. But the next part was the hard part for me. Mind you at this point Kyle and the 13yo and her mother (i think she was up there or maybe behind) anyway they are way ahead of us and the instructor was on the side cheering us on. So the next part was a 'little' (it was rather tiny, but in my mind it was steep at the time) down hill run. My heart was POUNDING! All the fear that was placed when I feel in Colorado came rushing back, so I breathed... okay this can't be too bad, I can do this, so I pushed off and the fear in my body caused me to tense up and lock up (which is not good in skiing) and I fell. Nothing major mainly just me being a puss and falling over. We practiced getting up so that was the easy part except now I was on a hill and in some deep snow to the right of the track. The instructor is by my side, everyone else passes (later Kyle said "the instructor was waving the other gals on but no one wanted to go cuz you freaked them out", lol) I finally get back on the track, almost at the bottom of the 'hill' now and go on my way.. "okay well that wasn't that easy". We finish this little loop and end up back at the lodge. The instructor says "well there's 15 minutes of lesson left you want to try to go around again?" He looks at me "you good?" I say yes. I HAVE to do this, I HAVE to overcome this stupid fear and make it past that tiny hill. We go around, this is easier the second time around. We make it to the hill, I make it to the top just fine. This time I am at the end of the line because I know I don't want people to have to wait on me again, he comes by my side at the top of the hill, "stay relaxed and just slide down" When you have the poles in your hand you don't really need to use them for the hill so he suggested holding them back and having your hands like you're carrying a tray... this was VERY helpful info. I just concentrated on holding my 'tray' and viola! I made it!!!!!!!!! I made it down the hill!!!!!!!!! All my body parts were in one piece and I was still standing!!!!!!!! That was the best feeling being able to over come that little issue. Not saying I'm perfect at downhill skiing now, but the huge rock weighing me down was then lifted and gave me a lot of hope! We made it back around and class was over.
Since we had the ski rental and the ski pass for all day, we wanted to get some more practice in. There was another short trail that was 'more easy' so we decided to do that. We had been visiting with the 50 year old gal and she came along with us. She said if it wasn't for us she wouldn't have skied anymore by herself (her co-worker was suppose to come with her but chickened out because of the cold weather) and we were more than happy to have the company.
Getting the skis on this time was MUCH easier than that first try, before the lesson. We glided off to do this next run, it was about .8 miles. A few down hills slopes (smaller than the one I delt with above) came along and I handled those just fine. Then a steep uphill, which conquored Kyle because he ended up taking his skis off and walking up (uphill is hardWORK!) then a few more downhills that I handled VERY well! No falling, no freaking out, and I tried to remained relaxed. At the end of this loop there was a bigger downhill, but holding my 'tray' and singing Frankie's Relaxed got me through it. This loop ended up kind by the first loop we did so we ended with the Star loop again.
We got back to the lodge and said our goodbyes to our new friend, and decided to go out ONE more time around the loop we just did. It was easier and I felt more comfortable, but I could tell I was tired. Our bodies are going to feel this tomorrow, but it felt so good at the same time!
I can't wait to go again next weekend!!!!!