“How good are you at skiing?”
That was the question asked of me when I answered my phone while grocery shopping a couple of weeks ago.
“Um… I’m OK?”
“Are you speedy?”
“I can be, kind of, I guess?”
“OK, you’re in.”
The caller was a friend of mine, and the “in” was as the skier for a team in the Prince George Iceman, an annual competition where racers ski, run, skate, and swim in the midst of a cold February day.
I’d thought about doing the Iceman before, but always found that by the time sign-up rolled around I hadn’t trained, wasn’t ready, couldn’t do it this time. Now on a whim a group of friends had decided to form a team and put me on it- one week before the race.
* * *
“We’ve also also had a couple presenters drop out, so there’s still room for more! We’re looking for stories about the impact of play, sport and movement in your life.”
This was four days later. The Facebook page for PechaKucha Prince George was looking for more people to take part in its inaugural event. For the unfamiliar, PechaKucha is sort of like “TED” on speed: presenters get twenty slides that last for twenty seconds a piece, amounting to a six-minute-and-forty second talk on a diverse range of subjects. The theme for this was “The Power to Move You” on how activity has influenced your life.
I’d thought about taking part, but was pretty busy with various work and home projects. But I wanted to see the night succeed so tentatively emailed- was there anyone talking about biking? There wasn’t. So I was in. I had two weeks.
* * *
I’d been fighting a cough, so didn’t get out skiing in the week leading up to the Iceman. In fact, my first day of training was the day before the race. I had to borrow some racing skis, and find a volunteer to show me where the course was.
The next day, people watched anxiously as the temperature dropped below the minus twenty cut-off point where the race was cancelled. Things were pushed back to a later time, but ultimately it was too cold, and so the Iceman was called off for only the second time in its twenty-seven year history.
But my friends wanted to go for it anyways. So we drove out to the track, and I did the race by myself. I then spent the rest of the morning watching the rest of my team complete their sections. I later looked at my time and found it was nearly twice as long as some of the top competitors in previous years. Overall, I would have been right near the bottom.
* * *
The fears I had about being too busy to prepare for PechaKucha had come to pass, as well. I had lots of ideas drafted up in my head, but I didn’t have a chance to start writing them down until the day before I was supposed to speak. I hastily completed the slides the day of, and only got a chance to run through them once before I was supposed to do it in a room full of strangers. In the end, my timing got muddled and I had to drop a big portion of what I’d prepared in order to fit into the time limit.
* * *
So I had one of the slower times in the Iceman, and one of the worse presentations in PechaKucha.
Do I regret doing either? Not at all.
I figure, the worst is over. Now that I’ve done the Iceman without any training, I can no longer use the excuse of “I haven’t done any training” to get out of it. All I have to do is practice twice and I have a leg up over this year.
Same goes with the PechaKucha. I know where I went wrong, and I have a better idea of how to prepare for the next time I take part (assuming there’s a theme I can fit in). It certainly makes me feel more comfortable with public speaking, knowing that I can do it with very little time to prepare.
In both cases, all I needed was a push. Now it’s time to keep going.
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