Laird Hamilton is an athlete that I look up to. If you are not familiar with Laird, please rent or purchase the movie Riding Giants, or surf (no pun intended) over to this link to familiarize yourself with him. For those of you who do know who Laird is, you know what he has done to revolutionize the sport of big wave surfing.
There is a quote of Laird’s that I often reflect upon during this time of year. When asked about how he feels during a long period without the earth producing the big waves that he loves, he says, “It’s as if I’m a dragon slayer, and there just aren’t any more dragons.”
This time of year is amazing because the final and climax event of the kayaking season, the Green River Narrows Race, takes place. The only problem is that after that event, well, there just aren’t any more dragons. Life goes from intense buildup to a series of competitions, and then immediately to an hour less time at night to play outside, and no goals in the immediate future to work towards. All of the leaves have fallen and winter sets in.
Even though the race hasn’t yet occurred, these snow flurries and freezing mornings are triggering the initial signs of my “feel sorry for myself” button. Although I can feel this happening, I refuse to allow wintertime to negatively affect my mood this year.
In reality, winter in the Blue Ridge is an incredibly beautiful time, and carries with it its own set of great memories. Snowfall transforms these mountains, and it’s one of the best times to check out the waterfalls of the Parkway, DuPont State Forest, or Gorges State Park. We are also very fortunate to have the ability to pick and choose which ski resorts we want to frequent. From Cataloochee to the Boone resorts to Snowshoe in West Virginia, there is no excuse not to be outside and making the most of every season.
And aside from these opportunities, every athlete knows that winter is the time to place the foundation for their fitness in the following year. The gym is always open and temperature-controlled to help us be where we need to be come springtime.
So, rather than wallowing in self-pity when the cold sets in, I’m committed to carrying the same energy through winter that I brought into it. I’ll bet I can hit that kicker faster than you can!