Too many trails

I’ve been doing rather a lot of skiing of late. In November a couple of canoe trip mates convinced me to sign up for this weekend’s Canadaian Ski Marathon. That’s a lotta skiing. And… well… I didn’t make it.

I was back in Ottawa after day one of the marathon and have been dealing with the disappointment ever since.

I started out hoping to get through four of the first day’s five sections, but after ten km, my left foot was on fire. After 20km, it felt like it was going to fall off. After I made the second check point, I got on a shuttle bus and went home.

I was almost in tears, desperately trying to avoid the usually chatty CSM-ers, for fear I would lose it. Giving up really hurt.

But my moving speed was dropping dramatically. Between checkpoint one and two, my average dropped more than 1.5 km/hr, and at one point some pre-adolescent kid passed me, pretty much without effort.

Irene had told me to listen to my body and it was telling me to quit. So I did.

When I got back to the high school in Papineauville, I iced, packed and tried to find a way back to Ottawa. There was no way I was going to go to day two.

Happily, one of the myriad shuttle bus drivers was able to drive me back to Gatineau where Irene came to get me. I really didn’t want to hang around to find out about all the fun that everyone had.

My morning hadn’t been all that fun. The pain is one thing – I’ve cycled, paddled and run through a fair bit of pain. But when it’s your foot, and you’re a weak skier like me (I feel like I could fall down standing still), having a sore foot is the pits.

All my fears about hills were just magnified a billion times. It’s hard to move your feet when every move causes pain and your instinct is to keep your foot still. On hills, this is not good.

And this whole foot thing started with a fall at the Algonquin Ski Marathon. I was going down an easy, yet speed-generating hill that I’d already done twice. I let my concentration slip for a moment as I thought about the next segment, then hit some slush. My skis stuck and I flew forward, bending my left foot in ways that it was never meant to bend.

A week later it was feeling better. But whatever healing I’d done over the week, I undid in a few kilometres Saturday morning.

In dropping out I wasted an opportunity – one I won’t have for some time – but on the other hand I think I made the right decision. I can deal with the pain in my foot, I just wonder if I can deal with pain of quitting amidst my psychological retinue of competitiveness, machismo and assorted patriarchal baggage.