Travel Ramble – Tignes No. 1

Well guys, I’m back in Tignes again for another weeks skiing and the weather is lovely! It’s amazing seeing Tignes this time around in the sun because I didn’t really see much of it last year between not skiing and the terrible weather.

This year marks a decade of skiing with my Dad and I was getting to the point in the last three years where I wasn’t enjoying skiing as much as I once did. I was getting angry at myself and constantly belittling myself for not having the same stamina as those around me, that I would get suck in my head and not enjoy myself. I have always had some issue with skiing, I love it but my body was not made for it. My muscle condition – which is managed most of the year – is always particularly painful during skiing because I’m pushing my body and using it in ways I wouldn’t normally. I’ve always had a weak right knee, I originally injured it while I was doing Silver D of E when I was 17 and it’s always been a little dodgy. For the last year and a half, I have had an inflamed kneecap – basically I have too much fluid where my kneecap rests – and it has hindered my ability to ski as comfortably as I once did.

This is the window view from where Dad and I have breakfast

For a long-time I made my frustrations public. I would swear, cry and angrily grumble while skiing because I wanted to be the one who could ski from 9-5 and couldn’t understand why I was given such a short straw in life. Every year I seem to come up with more excuses to why I am finishing my ski earlier than most. My Dad could probably write a book from all the excuses I have given. The excuses started because I felt inadequate. I started to think that it was just me, that I was the only one who couldn’t perform as well as the skiers around me. I started to enjoy the ski less and it became more about how I could mask the pain and the tears to make my Dad believe I was still having fun.

It’s hard to get out of that mindset. It was a difficult situation to digest. But I’ve been on the other side of the coin as well. I’ve pushed through and I’ve skied all day 9-5. And I’ve suffered. If I push my body too far, the risk of me not being able to get out of bed the next day it high. I have underdeveloped muscle tone, primarily in my upper body. When I ski, I have to be careful not to pull myself along with my poles or use them too heavily because I’ll pull the muscles on the inside of my arms and sometimes I end up bruising the muscles around my chest to the point that it hurts to breathe. There was one time, some years ago in the Dolomites, Italy, where I skiing all day and when morning came, I didn’t even have the strength to push myself up from bed.

Halfway up the mountain – Hot Chocolate Stop

This battle with skiing went on for longer than I would like to admit. I tried to ignore it for so long and then I tried to justify it but all along I was just suffering with something I didn’t want to have affected me. I’ve had the worst, sick, crippling anxiety for the past two years while skiing, to the point where I don’t want to eat much food – which is ridiculous while skiing.

This morning was my first day skiing for this holiday. I was a little cranky when I woke up because while the hotel – french run by the same family since 1963 – the beds are quite hard and not suitable for someone who has back trouble. Plus, the walk to pick up our skis was long and hot and slightly difficult in our ski boots!! However, from the first red run, all that excitement, joy and adrenaline kicked in and I remembered how much I loved to ski. It helps that it’s been the perfect bluebird day, with not a cloud in the sky.

I ski with lease inserts in my goggles – because my eye prescription is so bad – so the weather heavily impacts my confidence and the way I ski. If I can’t see from fog, snow, wind etc. I will not enjoy skiing.

I skied a mixture of reds and blues with my Dad today. We saw a couple of blacks but they were either too icy and steep or too full of mogals for either of us to find skiing them enjoyable. I skied from 10-12-15. Time moves very slowly when you ski and I always feel like I’ve skied way more than the time suggests. I wasn’t keeping track of how many runs I did but I skied from about 1950 down to 1800 three times from three different directions on the mountain, plus a couple of shorter trails to lead back to ski lifts.

Annoyingly, the most death defying black – at least that’s how it looks from the chairlift – is the only way to ski back to our hotel, so I got the bubble lift back down when I returned just after 1pm. The next problem was carrying my skis and walking back to the hotel, up a hill with a painfully inflamed kneecap. There were lots of stops! I’m crap at carrying skis. They’re heavy and they put strain on my muscles – usually the same muscles on the inside of my arms – and I’m not used to carrying them as my Dad has carried them for me at every opportunity over the last decade.

I left my Dad on the mountain and knowing him, I won’t see him till 5pm. He likes to ski until the lifts close and I’m so jealous that he has the stamina and the body to be able to do that.

Majestic mountain top about 1900 up

I have a new mentality for this week of skiing. I’m in a better headspace and I’m not accepting of my problems. I will never be able to ski all day but I can jolly well ski away and entire morning. I have knee pain, back pain and muscle pain and that’s just how it is. I’ve had those pains for most of my adult life, they aren’t going away and I’m not going to be able to influence them in any way, so I might as well just move on. I’ve adopted the same strategy I had while at university – where anything above a pass was fine – and I’ve decided that any amount of skiing is acceptable. There are many people who’ve had to give up skiing due to injury and I am lucky that I can still ski even if it isn’t as much as I’d like.

I don’t see it as a weakness anymore, just a mild irritant.

I will be reading this week. I brought 4 books with me and have countless on my Kindle. I’m currently reading ‘The One’ by John Marrs. I’m about halfway through but will probably end up finishing it by this evening. It’s very good but I kind of expected that I would enjoy it because I enjoyed reading ‘The Passengers’ so much.

I also bought:

‘The Whisper Man’ by Alex North.

‘The Silent Patient’ by Ale Michaelides

‘Black Summer’ by M. W. Craven.

No doubt those reviews will pop up on here at some point.

Now, it’s just gone half 3 here in France, so I think it might be time for a post ski nap – before going to the pub!

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