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Kristina Groves Headshot

From Schedule B to Schedule Me

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Recently I learned that I've been unceremoniously removed from Schedule B. I didn't even know what Schedule B was, or that it existed for that matter, until I found out I was no longer on it. At a recent meeting of the powers that be at Speed Skating Canada, where such things are decided, my name was briefly highlighted then swiftly deleted without so much as a sigh, or so I'm told.

Schedule B is a list of athletes, determined by each sport in Canada and submitted seasonally to Own The Podium, who are deemed to be medal contenders in international competition. The list is used to allocate resources and funding for various things like training camps, physiological testing, travel and equipment etc. The athletes on the list have earned the right to be on Schedule B through podium performances and as such have a solid proportion of resources directed at keeping them at the top as long as possible.

When I decided to retire I unwittingly removed myself from the famed Schedule B, although, as I've mentioned, I had no idea of its existence or that it bore my name for many years. To know that I could be simply deleted, from a life of 23 years in sport, with the touch of a button was, well, sad, funny and strangely cathartic. Nothing is permanent in this world, not the least of which was my place on Schedule B.

In the months since I've retired, I've had to move on to Schedule Me. After over two decades in sport, where I was, in a nutshell, given a fairly strict schedule nearly every single day (which I did follow voluntarily of course) I have come to recognize the importance of my long-dormant time management skills and the relatively new concept of taking initiative. I had heard people talk of such things in the 'outside world', but the realities are somewhat less tangible inside the insulated sporting bubble.

So what exactly am I doing with my time? On Schedule Me at the moment is a great deal of skiing. To date I've skied 19 days this winter, both cross-country and telemark (side note -- I feel pain in my legs when telemark skiing that far exceeds anything I ever felt in speed skating -- and I trained hard). In the 16 years I've lived in Calgary, I doubt I made it to a total of 19 days of skiing. And I really love skiing.

That is of course a luxury that cannot be sustained infinitely. That I have the luxury of skiing at all, let alone as often as I have recently been, is one I'm careful to appreciate and cherish. But after a few months of being a ski bum the urge to earnestly pursue new challenges with renewed purpose has emerged and I find myself excited, and a bit overwhelmed, by the possibilities that lay before me.

Thankfully Schedule Me has quickly filled up and my days are increasingly crammed with meetings, school visits, work for the CBC, athlete mentoring and a myriad of other interesting things. Like say, skiing. But with training no longer the main priority in my life, some days I struggle to fit in the bout of exercise that my body craves. You can take the girl out of sport, but you can't take sport out of the girl!

On this fine day, Schedule Me necessitated an early morning run, as it was the only time I would have to get some exercise. I left the house at 7 am (on an empty stomach no less -- something I never would have done on Schedule B!) just as the first morning light began to sneak into the receding night darkness. It was a crisp, chilly morning but calm and quiet, I was alone in my thoughts.

As I crested the bluffs overlooking the mighty Bow River, I turned, as I always do, to take in the unobstructed mountain view. It being dark of course, I could not see the mountains I usually see. Instead I gasped, and was stopped in my tracks, as my eyes feasted on the sight of the most beautiful moonset I had ever seen.

An enormous, golden yellow orb filled the dark sky, just above the horizon, and in the time it took me to run across the bluffs and down to the river I watched as the moon sunk slowly behind the dark silhouette of the distant Canadian Rockies, until it was but a speck of reflected light and then just... gone. How lucky it was that I happened upon such a sight. I could easily have missed it had I left a minute or two later, or not turned to look that way, but instead I saw it all and it made me feel so happy.

I continued on as the sun began to rise, marveling at the ever-changing hue of the dark sky cover, from black to mauve to light blue and pale yellow. It was quiet down by the river, and I felt glad I had the chance to start the day this way. Back into the bustle of the day and on with my busy thoughts, I'm heartened just a bit by Schedule Me.

I get asked a lot these days what I'm up to. To sum it all up, Schedule Me is a pretty random mélange of work, play, fun and change. I appreciate little things that I didn't always notice before, like moonsets and busyness. I will admit to feeling a small pang of sadness that it really is all over when I saw Christine Nesbitt shatter the 1000m world record a couple of weeks ago. I now fully understand that I will never have that amazing race feeling ever again.

But the pang went away, kind of like my name from schedule B, the darkness of the night, and the moon behind the mountains.

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