Saturday, December 10, 2005

Snowshoe Racing at Beaver Creek

I’m not sure it is a good idea to write about such a hard experience when you are still feeling the pain. No, I am not going to share the details of my last romance…. I’m talking about my snowshoe race today! Race might be a misnomer. Let’s just say I raced against the mountain (in my own plodding style) and the mountain won. Actually, that is not true. If you only look at my time and stats, you might come to that conclusion. I, on the other hand, did not even look at the giant clock at the finish line. How’s that for setting priorities? It is nearly impossible not to see it – but I didn’t even think of it until after I past the finish line – finishing in a sprint was my goal. Therefore, I met my goal!

It was one of those picture perfect days that Colorado is known for. The sky is this indescribable intense blue and at a ski area, everything is steep and it reaches up and touches the sky. The pain of the race is fading fast but the good memories (sunlight filtering through the aspen; sprinkles of snow shimmering as it drifted down on us; encouragement from strangers; winning a t-shirt in the raffle!) are solid and becoming part of the fabric of my life.

You could break the race into three parts. The first mile was uphill all the way, starting with steep groomed switchbacks, followed by a stretch up the side of a very steep ski run. Uniformed employees hold back and warn the skiers as we, the human snowshoe chain snaked our way up and then actually across this ski run. It was greatly appreciated that some skiers stopped and wished us well with encouraging words – or were they actually wondering why oh why would we walk up a ski run when we could just take the lift?? The second mile was a gentler up-hill cross country ski trail but with the added challenge of being covered in several inches of unpacked powder. Negotiating it is a little like treading water. The last mile was a mixed bag of steep downhill on groomed trails/ski runs and short single tracks through stands of dense, tall aspen trees. The conditions in the aspen consisted of knee-deep powder on uneven terrain. And thrown in for good measure were the entry and exit drop-offs to these little wooded sections. I like to call these the “bombs-away” areas. You can take them slow (I saw numerous people actually slide down on their rear-ends!) but you will probably fall and then get run over. I like to go full speed ‘bombs away’ – it provides a little rush and you feel a great sense of accomplishment when you finish unscathed. I guess a younger person might simply call it…fun!

So I ask myself…why oh why do I do this? Shouldn’t I be sitting on the sofa inside of one of the multi-million dollar homes that line the ski area? Sipping some wine, while my successful mate is making plans for our next European adventure? Well, maybe but only if it included a European snowshoe race!

Seriously, (something I try to be less and less) why does anyone do things that aren’t easy? I guess I think of it as escape from the ordinary. You will miss so many beautiful sights and experiences if you always take the easy road. I certainly don’t drag my aging body up that ski slope because I enjoy pain; I do it because the rewards always outweigh the energy expended! At the same time, I cultivate appreciation for the very simple things in life. A good life is always a matter of balance.

I am tired and sore now but you can be sure I will be up before the sunrise tomorrow morning, reaching for more of those beautiful OMG moments!


At 12:24 AM, Anonymous She-Who-Gets-Winded-Speed-Reading said...


You take an active interest in,
and participate in, living.

You Go Girl. =)

At 5:24 AM, Blogger George said...

52 years old and you are out playing in the snow?


When you think of most folks our age, the guys are sitting on their fat asses watching NASCAR races and the women are shopping at Wal-Mart.

Good stuff.

At 5:50 AM, Blogger Ptelea said...

My fat ass never (well almost never) shops at Wal-mart!:)

At 7:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I worked from 7am till after midnight yesterday, but in honor of your physical effort, I also took a break and spent an hour and a half going up hills and down.....

...on the treadmill in my bedroom.

I didn't take any photos.


At 9:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I read your blog often. I love the Denver area and enjoy the outdoors. Thank you for sharing all of your wonderful pictures. The snowshoeing race looked awesome! Congrats on your accomplishment.

At 1:05 PM, Blogger Ptelea said...

I greatly appreciate these words of encouragement - I already LOVE doing this - but if I can give any of you some enjoyment or incentive (v), it just makes it better for me:)

At 3:44 PM, Blogger the old bag said...

Yay! Great to hear about your experience. Do it because you can, and because not everyone does. Sipping wine sounds just long as it comes after hard day in the 'shoes!


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