.: Ski XCOttawa.ca :: Skiing in Ottawa and Gatineau Park

You get what you pay for.
By:  Karl Saidla   (2014/09/09)

The XC Ottawa organizational model is fairly unique among elite ski racing teams. Essentially, the team is organized by the athletes who are part of it. We do receive incredible support from a large number of supporters, sponsors and friends. The day-to-day operations, however, are managed by the team members.

From time to time, this can feel daunting. Coordinating training times, liaising with our coaches, planning travel and waxing support, selecting the the team each year, maintaining the website, keeping track of our spending, looking after team equipment, and continuing to make a variety of contributions to the ski community are examples from the "to do" lists of people on our team. Sometime along the way we started having to be active in social media circles as well.

Most of the members of this team don't exactly have much free time to begin with. People have the normal work, school, and family commitments, not to mention additional volunteer efforts that may not be directly related to the ski team. All this can leave you momentarily asking yourself if it's worth it (like, for example, when you are writing an article for the website late at night because you were supposed to have it finished two days ago).

But then, and with surprising regularity, you go to a training camp (see Lake Placid) that is so much fun and so satisfying that you have absolutely no doubt about whether or not your investment of time is justified. Or maybe it's a weekend of races that leaves you feeling that way, or a comment from someone you've never met at the grocery store telling you how much they appreciate the website and how it has inspired them to get out skiing and to stay in shape. Sometimes it might simply be a casual bike ride with one of your teammates, or trail run on a rainy day with a few more. Of course, seeing people on the team simply get faster and faster is also fairly good motivation to stick with it.

This morning, for example, had a very satisfying feel to it. I stepped out the door into the crisp, late summer air, grabbed my ski poles off the wall, and jogged over the the Old Chelsea picnic field while waving to a couple of people I knew riding their bikes to work. I met my teammates at the picnic field, a few of them back in town for the first time since at least the summer began. The sun shone through the trees as we jogged up to the Penguin picnic field and then drew our customary line in the dirt.

Then of course, the hard and (mostly) satisfying work of 4 minute ski striding repeats of Penguin began. I can't say the time "flew by" because this is, simply, a pretty tough form of exercise. At the same time, breathing hard and feeling the burning rhythm is probably described by most skiers as satisfying in some way, at least from time to time.

Overall, I reason that you get what you pay for. Skiing (and all the organizational work that goes into running a ski team) is without doubt very challenging. At the same time the rewards are irrefutable. So, I guess we'll just keep doing it....

Gathering at one of our customary spots to draw a line in the dirt.

Andre. This is only his warm up sweat.

It looks like that guy is balding.

Looks satisfying, doesn't it?

The leaves are still very much green. Normally they have a bit more of an orange tinge before do workouts as tough as this, but Coach John is experimenting a bit this year!

If you have one of these markers near where you want to draw your start line, then you can be pretty sure that the start line you drew last year is in the same place as the one this year. Obviously, you want to compare your performance to last year so you know how much faster you are!

Getting the watches in sync.

Colin is back in town. His hair is long and he has a broken wrist. He still runs up Penguin with us.

Finally, you will know if it is us on the hill if you come across numerous drink belts resting near the trees on the side of trail. Big thanks to E Load and Vauhti for all the help over many years!

Interesting Reading. . .
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