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Western Bureau Report #4: Reality Bites!
By:  Tom McCarthy   (2004/03/21)

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Well, not really. Reality doesn't really bite at all. But it is different than the world I was living in before.

Prior to this year, I had spent four years doing my undergraduate degree at Carleton University, spending lots of time training and thinking about training, and racing and thinking about racing. I lived at home, fed and housed by the graciousness of mom and dad. Dollars were just units of currency. I considered them less important than another important unit, hours, the unit of training. Racing was fun, but it was more than fun, too; it was important.

This year, I moved away to go to school. I was planning on racing lots and training lots in Vancouver. I bought a car, drove it out west, and it was to be my chariot to the races. But then I got here and I realized that I had to deal with all this other stuff. Stuff like rent, food, hooking up my phone line, keeping track of money. Dollars were all of a sudden units of something real; they represented food and shelter. Hours of time weren't only measured in time training. Hours became a relative unit, like money, which represented all of the things one had to fit into the day; studying, cooking, shopping for food, etc.

I've still trained a lot. I imagine I'll have trained in the neighbourhood of 580 hours by the time the year is finished. Training is pretty easy; it's the racing that's hard all of a sudden. No-one is setting deadlines and making plans. I have to get to the races myself, figure all the wax out, make sure I have the right granola bars, etc. Not only that, racing is expensive. Expensive in both money costs and time costs; the opportunity cost associated with taking off for a weekend to some loppet is a valuable measure, when compared with all of the other things waiting here. Plus, the motivational factor. I'm used to having a supportive team with a pushy coach. Now my team is on the other side of the continent, and my motivation to get out of bed is decidedly weaker when I don't have a practice to be at in the AM.

Things are very different now. But not different in a bad way. I haven't missed the racing as much as I would have thought; I've missed the people and the familiar faces more than anything. The few races I have done this year have been lots of fun. I've even found myself warming up with a smile on my face, excited with the prospect of working hard and challenging myself. It's been a while since I've found that. Maybe all the other things I have to do now make me enjoy skiing that much more.

As the racing season winds down, and everyone thinks hard about whether to make the commitment again for next year, remember that skiing isn't over when the serious racing is over. Skiing and training is a lifestyle, and it's a pretty good one.

 
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