Three and a half years ago, Doug brought me to the curling club one Sunday afternoon and taught me how to walk and slide on the ice. How to aim for the broom. The difference between an in-turn and an out-turn and how to come out of the hack without falling on my face.
Or my behind.
It was humbling. It was awkward. It was, as everyone says, way harder than it looked on television.
We joined the Friday night league with two other running friends and played the second half of the season.
The next year we joined again and played for the entire six months.
The following year we recruited four more running friends and formed two teams and we've played together for two seasons in those teams.
I am now two weeks into my fourth full season of curling.
On Sunday morning, Doug and I went to the curling club to take part in a three-hour intermediate curling lesson. It was put on by members of the Brock curling team and led by the coach of the women's team.
We reviewed the fundamentals and went through some exercises to help improve our delivery, our balance and our aim. They broke the delivery down into small steps and we practiced each one - trying to do what we were told without collapsing in a heap.
They even put two rows of small pylons on the ice and had us aim so that we slid between them without hitting them. Again, easier said than done
After that session we headed back into the lounge for some lessons on strategy and tactics. I held my own for a good 45 seconds and then felt my knowledge fail. When I started out I learned how to curl and how to throw my rocks where I was told to throw them. I learned how the game was played but I never really learned the strategy of the game. I understand why one would want to throw a take out or draw to the button but never realized the layers of thinking that go into calling every shot.
It was confusing and fascinating. I quickly realized that I am glad I am not a skip but also quickly realized that I want to learn more.
Like any sport I've ever done, the first step is to just learn how to do it. Learn how to run for five minutes without dying. Learn how to swim across the pool a few times without drowning. Learn how to actually hit the damn golf ball.
Once you can run for 30 minutes or swim a kilometre, or hit a golf ball more often than you miss it, you realize that all you've managed to do to that point is go from absolute beginner to beginner plus one.
Now you have to learn how to run well. Learn how to improve your swimming form. Learn how to actually aim the golf ball where you want it to go.
I've gone from absolute beginner in curling to advanced beginner. I have now moved from advanced beginner (near the top of the heap) to absolute intermediate (bottom of a new heap).
The intermediate heap, from what I can tell, looks a lot more difficult to climb.
Thankfully it also looks a lot more interesting.