For some reason, back in 2014 I thought it would be an awesome idea to compete in Red Bull’s Crashed Ice event here in St. Paul. If you haven’t seen the sport of ice cross downhill before, it’s pretty insane. It’s basically extreme downhill racing on hockey skates, on a course made of ice, full of jumps and obstacles. They build a giant race course on Cathedral Hill once a year in St. Paul. The top racers from the racing circuit, plus a few dozen locals get the chance to compete on the big stage.
I did well in the qualifying event that was held on a local hockey rink (without any jumps or cliffs), and was invited to come to the main event for the time trials before the big races in the evening.
I’d been a hockey player all my life, and I played tons of Tony Hawk video games growing up. So this was a no-brainer, right?
That year, they built the tallest initial starting ramp they’d ever constructed, with a huge jump right off the bat. Just a casual, totally-not-scary 40 foot drop to start the course.
They started us off lower on the course, letting us try some of the smaller jumps and simpler turns, before eventually bringing us up to the giant starting ramp. It was like staring off a cliff.
Even though I was covered head to toe in my protective hockey gear, I was pretty sure I was either going to die, or get injured, or at the very least embarrass myself in front of dozens of other athletes. Could I close my eyes while I did it? Come to think of it, when was the last time I updated my will?
The race director demonstrated proper form on the start ramp and jump, and made it look super easy. I was pretty sure it was all a trap.
He had one piece of advice before it was our turn to try:
“You have to go all-in. If you half-ass it and don’t commit, you won’t have the momentum you need to make it over the top. If that happens you’ll have to get off the track and start over. So just go for it.”
As much as I wanted to follow his advice, fear got the better of me, and I just couldn’t bring myself to skate hard enough down the hill to clear the gap. Every time, I slowed down and pulled back right before taking the leap. I tried 4 or 5 times, but just fell on my butt/head/knees/spine every time. I had to crawl on my hands and knees off the side of the track, and make the long walk back up the five flights of stairs to the start. Each time I was more frustrated, and each time my confidence got lower.
I never went all-in, so I never made it over the hard part. I never really committed. Eventually I missed out on my opportunity altogether.
Have you felt like you just keep trying the same thing over and over with your health, but you can never make it over the hill? No matter how bad you want to change, it just keeps stalling out. It feels like you’re always starting over. Or, maybe you’re scared of starting at all. Change is hard.
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