Cartwheeling, tumbling and cratering myself to confidence

Yesterday I cartwheeled, tumbled, and cratered countless times on the slopes while snowboarding. Normally, one might not be pleased with such a performance, but these mishaps were a major milestone for me. Up to this point after surgery, I have been very tentative while snowboarding. To fall so many times meant one thing: I was pushing it on the slopes and feeling absolutely wonderful.

Last year during my initial two times out boarding post-surgery, I fell a lot too. However, that was a different situation because those falls were caused by my muscles being weak. Yesterday, the tumbles happened because I was going faster, turning more aggressively, venturing onto some black diamond runs and even doing some tiny jumps (okay… I only caught a foot of air, but it was something). And most importantly, I had finally let go of some fears that had been holding me back.

During my earlier snowboarding trips this season, I was always afraid of falling. What if I twisted a weird way? Would my body be able to handle it? Though the fears were likely justified in the beginning, I was having growing suspicions that I was babying my body too much while snowboarding the last few times. So, this time I put the trepidations aside and went for it.

As I zipped down the slopes, I not only had some little tumbles, I also managed to squeeze in a few of my most dreaded fall types. One of these was an edge-catch going at a slow speed on a catwalk. My healed butt incision survived the resulting sling-shot slam on to my bum and back just fine. I also did a great snowboard nosedive into fresh powder. My body twisted as it came to a sudden stop, but weathered this graceful move as well as it did during the countless times before surgery. In the late afternoon, the sky clouded up and the light became flat, and I couldn’t see the ungroomed terrain beneath my feet well enough to gauge my speed. I soon found myself in a vertigo-induced cartwheeling fall. Yep, I came away from that one unscathed too.

Getting up from one of my many falls.

By the end of the day, my legs were so fatigued that I could barely link my turns. Doug and I had caught the first (well, about the 20th chair–we were in line) and last chairlifts, and except for a short lunch break, had snowboarded at a hard pace all day long. The conditions were phenomenal and it was just like the old days when we would do countless laps up and down the mountain, not wanting to waste a minute of time on the snow.

I sometimes think back to the time when I was sick with Ulcerative Colitis, and how it felt like my body had betrayed me by attacking itself and causing me to become ill enough to lose my colon. It has been extremely difficult to build up trust in my body after that. Even though I have recovered and regained my health, I still find myself with the unsettling feeling that something else could go wrong. Without trust in my body, it is very difficult to overcome fears that could prevent me from reaching my goals, not only in sports, but in life as a whole. I desperately need to believe in it again! As I put myself through the wringer on the slopes yesterday, I finally felt strong signs that my post-surgery body is working hard to regain my confidence.

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