Monday, December 28, 2009


After working so hard to release a new software product before Christmas, I took advantage of the holiday and the weekend to just stay away from my computer for four days. I will admit I took a few looks at e-mail on my iPhone, but I wanted a break from the laptop that seems to be permanently affixed to my hands.

We released the software on Tuesday. By Wednesday, things seemed pretty stable, and I left work for the four day weekend in a good mood. Wednesday night, I went to a holiday party with some friends. On Thursday, I did a little bit of final shopping for Christmas. And, I practiced guitar for 90 minutes. Then, we went out for a nice Christmas Eve dinner - just my wife and the kids. It was very enjoyable.

Christmas Day was somewhat low key. My daughter had gotten most of her presents early, primarily a fancy new cell phone, and my son either got clothes (T-shirts and hoodies advertising his favorite bands) or video game stuff. I got a big gift certificate to buy some new cookware and another gift certificate for a local gourmet shop. My wife got a book, a new winter coat, some amethyst earrings, and some other clothes. We visited family for the day, but I needed to get home and to bed at a reasonable time because I was teaching skiing all weekend.

Saturday, the mountain wasn't very crowded, but six of the girls in my group showed up and we had a good skiing day. But, the weather turned on us and it poured rain most of Saturday night. Sunday's skiing was pretty marginal - only groomed terrain was really any fun and it rained all morning. By lunchtime, everybody was soaked, so I took the girls to the mountain's health club, where they split time between the pool and the climbing wall.

Today, it's back to work to me, but the lack of e-mails and low volume of posts on Facebook makes me think that I'm the only person at work today. If the system is still looking stable over the next day or so, I'll probably take Wednesday-Friday off from my "real" job to teach skiing for a few extra days. It's snowing today and we are expecting a big storm later in the week. By Friday, skiing conditions may be very nice.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009


Last night's workout was pretty simple. Three lifts - squats, bench presses, and then deadlifts. I did 5 sets of each lift with 3 minutes rest between sets. My rep counts for the five sets were 5-4-3-2-1. And, in every set, I increased the weight from the previous set.

My legs were a bit tired from skiing over the weekend, and I could feel it, especially on squats. I did a 285 pound squat last week, but last night I started at 225 and finished at 265.

For bench presses, I started at 135 and finished at 155. I don't know if I'll ever be any good at bench presses in comparison to the leg-dominant lifts.

For deadlifts, I started at 275 and finished at 315. After doing a 355 pound deadlift a couple weeks ago, only getting to 315 seemed kind of weak, but it was at the end of a tough workout. I was surprised that my grip seemed to be a limiting factor last night. I may have to resume doing farmer's walks to work on my grip strength for deads.

I'm hoping to get in some kind of workout over the next two days, but I have some last minute stuff to do for Christmas, so I'll have to see how it goes. Plus, my company released a new software product today, so I've got to monitor our systems pretty carefully for the next few days. I worked until midnight after lifting yesterday, making sure that the product was really ready for release today.

I'm certainly looking forward to taking some time off work later this week and again next week, after working hard on this new product for the past few months. I'm planning to ski on Thursday with my daughter, and then get in some more skiing days next week. Plus, I need to do some running.

Monday, December 21, 2009

It's a good tired

Two days of skiing have left me feeling a bit beat up again. I just don't have my ski legs back yet and we skied some tougher terrain this weekend. It's impossible to describe how much I love this job. There are parts of it that are frustrating - mostly little things, things related to the constant change in management at the resort, small rule changes (they doubled the price of an employee cup of coffee this year), etc. But, it's really pretty simple. Between 9:00 and 9:15, girls start showing up with their parents. I have the only single-sex group - 10 girls including my own daughter.

At 9:30, we head for a chair lift - no parents, no bosses, and I essentially revert to being a 10 year old for the day. Yes, I am a very responsible 10 year old, but I feel like a kid when I hang out with these girls all day. I sing silly songs on the chairlift, primarily to embarrass the girls. We joke with each other. They call me the "fat kid" in the group - really referring to me being adult-sized rather than truly fat. Yesterday, they decided they needed a female coach, so I needed a new name. They started with Dana and then realized that could be a guy's name. So, I became Delilah for the day. I told them that I loved being Delilah, because Delilah conquered the world's strongest man with nothing but a pair of scissors.

We ski a run to warm up. Then, I teach a skill. We practice that skill explicitly for one run. Then, we use a second run to blend the skill into our skiing. And then, one or two more runs and it's lunch-time.

After lunch, we head to harder terrain. I want to spend part of every day taking the kids outside of their comfort zone. That's where they learn the fastest. But, too much time out of their comfort zone, and the risk of fatigue and injuries increases. So, after one or two tough runs, I start dialing it back. I'm constantly reinforcing the morning lesson, but I do it by either telling the entire group when someone does it right, or whispering recommendations in an ear when someone doesn't quite have it. By the end of the day, we are all tired. Six hours together is a great length for our daily play date.

I take the children back to their parents. I suddenly have to revert to being an adult again. I tell the parents what we worked on and where we skied. If the parents are going to ski with the kids before I see them again, I give the parents a few pointers to reinforce my teaching. Frequently, the parents are impressed enough that they say they are going to take a lesson with me. Sometimes it actually happens, but most of my teaching time is devoted to my little group of best friends.

The days seem to go by so fast and two weekends are gone already. But, it's early in the season and I have 28 more days to ski with my littlest best friends.

It's really an amazing way to spend my winters.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Good day for a rest day (yesterday)

I am ridiculously sore today from Wednesday's squat workout. Resting yesterday was a good idea. Resting again today might not be a bad idea, but I'll probably do a short run to try to loosen up the legs before skiing this weekend.

The highlight of yesterday was a tasting of some amazing beers at an amazing pub in Montpelier - Three Penny Taproom.

The planned highlight of the evening was a beer called Life and Limb - a collaboration between Dogfish Head and Sierra Nevada. Three Penny got 5 gallons of this beer - enough for eighty 8 oz. pours. A friend and I arranged for my wife to pick us up, so we wouldn't drive after tasting some high alcohol beers. The taproom has 22 lines and there were so many amazing beers to try last night.

Before the Life and Limb got tapped, I had Allagash Four from cask, Allagash Odyssey, and Southern Tier Cherry Saison - all very good. Then, at 6:20, the Life and Limb started flowing and every person in the room was smiling as they sipped that amazing beer. I figured the keg would be gone in about 15 minutes, but it actually made it for an hour, allowing some of us to get more than one taste of the beer. I would rate it as one of the ten best beers I've ever had. It's too bad that the production is so small. Many lovers of good beer may never get a chance to taste this beer.

Tonight is Christmas tree decoration night. And, I have to do a little gift shopping after work. Hopefully, I'll have time to squeeze in a run.

Then, the weekend will be all about skiing. I'll have fewer children skiing with me this weekend than I had last weekend. Many of the families that live outside of Vermont spend the weekend before Christmas getting ready for the holidays. So, it's typically a slow weekend. Sugarbush has more trails open than any other east coast resort and the skiing should be fun this weekend, despite some very cold temperatures.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Squat PR

After not completing my bench press at 175 pounds on Tuesday, I returned to the gym with squats and vengeance on my mind last night. I set a new PR last time I did squats by doing 275 pounds. This time, I intended to go beyond that number if possible.

After my warm-ups, here were my sets:

6 x 225
1 x 265
6 x 225 (wanted to not do too much before the next set)
1 x 275 (felt easier than last time)

At this point, I was supposed to do two lower weight, higher rep sets, but I wanted to go beyond 275. So, I added 10 pounds and gave it a whirl. My depth might not have been ideal, but I completed the rep.

So, I finished with the following:

1 x 285
10 x 205
18 x 155

Then, some Bulgarian Split Squats, some step-ups, and some core work.

My hamstring was not happy with the heavy squats. Sometime in the past few days, I irritated the hamstring muscle in my injured leg. Last night's lifting bothered both the muscle and the tendon attachment point. So, today will be a rest day.

Hopefully, my leg will feel better for some hard running tomorrow before I spend the weekend on snow.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

After four days of leg work...

Last night was an upper body workout in the gym.

The main event was an attempt at a new bench press PR. Last winter, my best was 165 (yes, that's pathetic, but I'm mostly a runner and skier with no upper body strength), and this winter I've done 170. I did a single rep at 165 last night that felt almost easy, so I decided to try for 175. I pulled the bar down and headed back up. And then, it just stopped moving. If I'd made it one more inch, I would have finished the rep. But, after what seemed like a minute (maybe 5 or 6 seconds), I asked my spotter for help. I'll get it next week.

My bench press sets were as follows:

6 x 145
1 x 155
6 x 145
1 x 165
1 x 175 (failed)
10 x 125
18 x 105

I mixed in bent-over barbell rows between the bench press sets. After that, lat pulldowns, dumbbell shoulder presses, windshield wipers, incline reverse crunches, and dips. After skiing three straight days, doing my first run in a couple weeks, and then hitting my upper body last night, I'm pretty much tired everywhere today.

Tonight is squat night at the gym. If my legs are feeling strong, I'll try shoot for a lift of 280 or higher, which would be a new PR.

I made minor progress towards Christmas last night. I bought our tree. We'll decorate it Friday night. I wanted to buy it yesterday before our weather put us into a deep freeze, which would have all the trees stored outside frozen solid.

Luckily, there's still plenty of time until Christmas, right? Nine days? Plenty of time.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Running? Oh yeah, I remember now.

My lungs are finally clear from the cold that has been dogging me for 2+ weeks. OK, maybe not 100% clear, but almost there. Last night, I did my first run since Thanksgiving Day. Regretfully, it was on a treadmill, but it was nice to be running again. I listened to tunes and just cruised my way through an easy 5 miler.

After skiing the 3 previous days, I wasn't sure how my legs were going to feel, but I felt pretty good overall. And, it was nice to just do some running again.

Between now and Christmas, like most people, I'm going to be really busy. Not only are the holidays coming up, but my company is also doing a major software release next week. My weekends are busy with teaching skiing. I still don't have a Christmas tree. And, I still have some Christmas shopping to do.

But, last night reminded me that, even on a treadmill, I still enjoy running. So, I need to make sure I find some time over the next few weeks to get back to running more regularly.

And, I somehow need to find the time to keep up with my guitar practice as well. I'm working on learning the Allman Brothers' "Melissa" and Pink Floyd's "Breathe". Both are much easier than the Dead tune "Around and Around", which has been frustrating me quite a bit recently.

Tonight, after 4 straight days of leg work, I'm going to do some upper body lifting. I'm also going to buy a Christmas tree tonight.

Monday, December 14, 2009

First weekend of skiing

What an amazing start to the ski season. A week ago, the mountains were brown and Sugarbush had two upper mountain trails open. But, with a storm last week followed by a lot (and I mean a LOT!) of lake effect snows, the trail count grew very quickly this past weekend. I got out on Friday afternoon and took my first run on a single-black diamond natural snow trail - no rocks, no sticks, just soft sweet snow.

Later on, I joined up with some other instructors and we hit a number of tough trails that were skiing very easily with small moguls, soft natural snow, and just perfect coverage. We skied for about 3 hours or so, maybe a bit less, and then had a couple beers after skiing. It was a perfect day.

Saturday morning was somewhat chaotic as we wrapped up a few items that needed to be done before we could start teaching. But, we got groups organized fairly quickly and I basically had returning students from last year, one of my daughter's good friends, and two other new girls who I've skied with before. I had 8 of my 9 assigned students all weekend.

I spent Saturday focusing on a few basics that we needed to get out of the way. Late in the day, we took those few tactics to our first bump run of the year and most everyone skied well. After that, we backed off for the rest of the day. There's no sense burning people out the first weekend.

On Sunday, I added one more skill to what I'd given them on Saturday. My timing was perfect, as I was teaching this new skill just as my two supervisors rounded a corner to check up on me and the group. Later in the day, we took that skill and Saturday's work, and skied our first black diamond bump run of the year. Near the end of this one, I could see that the girls were getting tired, so I decided to back off for the rest of the day. Regretfully, at that point in time, essentially every trail on the mountain was bumped up, and there wasn't any really easy terrain. So, we took a long break inside to let them recover. I could tell they were working hard because the girls purchased "snacks" that were essentially a second lunch. Finally, we did one last easier run and called it a weekend.

I have a really good group of girls and I'm really looking forward to the rest of the season. Until last year, I'd always had mixed groups of boys and girls, but I accidentally ended up with all girls last year and it stayed that way this year. I offered to take the little brother of a girl I'd taught the past few years, but when he found out he'd be the only boy, he backed out quickly. I don't blame him. In ten years, he'd kill for that ratio, but right now, it's terrifying.

It was a great, great start to our ski season. The whole weekend just reminded me how much I love this job. At times, I definitely envy my friends who can do it full time and still pay their bills.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Snow, snow, snow!

Early in the winter, there are conditions that can create huge amounts of snow in the Green Mountains of Vermont. If the fall is warm (which it was this year) and then the temperatures drop suddenly, cold air moving across the Great Lakes can pick up lots of moisture, which saturates the cold air. When that cold air starts blowing east and it hits the Green Mountains, it gets forced uphill and the air cools even more. At that point, it can't hold all of its moisture any more, and the moisture from the Great Lakes (Lake Ontario is our benefactor of the moment) becomes snow in the Green Mountains.

Right now, conditions are perfect for this type of snow and the mountains are getting pounded by snow. To the best of my knowledge, Sugarbush became the first resort in the east to open natural (no snowmaking) trails earlier this week. And, the snow just keeps on coming.

I drove home through whiteout conditions last night, courtesy of the lake effect snow. It's snowing now and I'm hoping to go skiing this afternoon. It's also windy, so the lifts might get shut down before I can get to the mountain, but if the lifts stay open, I'll be skiing this afternoon.

By the time the lake effect snows taper off tomorrow, the NWS has projected 40"-50" of new snow in the mountains this week. And then on Sunday afternoon, a storm is going to move in with some more snow.

So, in one week, we've gone from no natural snow at all to full-on winter. I can't wait to make those first turns of the ski season.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Driving in Vermont

Here is a copy of the map from the state's driving conditions web-site as of a few minutes ago. Areas shaded in pink mean difficult driving.

I'm glad I'm working in a coffee shop a few miles from home. The winds have really picked up and Sugarbush has recently put its lifts on a wind hold that will probably last for the rest of the day.

I love winter!

It just keeps hanging on (aka excuses)

I first started feeling a cold coming on around Thanksgiving Day. I felt sick enough that I took an entire week away from workouts. I feel fine now, but my lungs are still not quite clear. It was cold (19F) and blustery when I got out of work last night. After some early morning snow that had melted during the day and then re-froze, the footing was questionable. And, I knew my lungs weren't going to like running in the cold air. Oh yeah, it was dark and I was going to run by flashlight on an icy bike path. I just wasn't up for running in those conditions.

So, I went to the gym and lifted again. I did an upper body workout - bench presses, bent-over barbell rows, close grip lat pulldowns, dumbbell shoulder presses and dips. I finished with a little bit of core work.

Today, it's snowing like crazy. The snow is going to turn into sleet and then rain and then back to sleet and then back to snow. By the time we go to bed tonight, there could be as much as a foot of snow on the ground or we might have 6" of wet snow and sleet. I think my workout for the day is going to be running the snowblower to clear the driveway. If the snow gets covered with sleet or soaked by rain, it will take a long time to clear our driveway tonight.

The mountains are supposed to get hit hard by today's storm, and then hit hard the next few days by lake effect snow. By Saturday, the skiing could be pretty good. I'm going to ski Friday afternoon - a few runs before I start teaching Saturday morning. I have brand new boots that I've never used, and I need to get the feel for the boots before I have an audience of young students on Saturday. I'm going to ski with a couple other instructors, so we can critique each other's skiing and hopefully dial a few things in before we start teaching.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Monday workout - Deadlift PR!

Maybe I should take a week off more often. Last night, my workout started with deadlifts. My deadlift PR when I started the night was 335. Here are my deadlift sets from last night, with a 3 minute break between each set:

Warm-up (135 and 225)
6 x 245
1 x 315
6 x 265
1 x 345 (PR!)
1 x 355 (PR!)
12 x 225
18 x 185

Then, I did the rest of my workout. I'm tired today.

When I got up this morning, my plan was an easy five mile run tonight. But, given our weather, I'm leaning towards an upper body lifting workout instead. I'll see how the wind and snow change by the end of the work day.

We are supposed to get our first real snowstorm of the season tomorrow. It's the same storm that's already hit a lot of the rest of the country, and it looks like I'll be using the snowblower tomorrow night for the first time this year. My commute to work today was a bit slow and slippery.

Monday, December 7, 2009

PRP Update

I had my third follow-up with the doc about my PRP treatment this morning. By now, most of the healing is done, although I may still see some slight improvement.

At the last appointment, he told me he wanted me to push the hamstring harder. So, I ran a 5K and I've done a number of interval and tempo workouts. I would have run a second 5K, but this stupid cold was in my lungs on race day.

I've been able to set a new PR in the squat and I did a deadlift within 5 pounds of my PR. I set a PR on the bench press as well, but my hamstring didn't have much to do with that.

But, every time I go hard, the hammie does ache a bit for a day or two. I can't push hard on back to back days, and not even with two days between hard workouts. But, perhaps that will come as my fitness improves.

By next weekend, I'll find out how the hamstring handles skiing bumps, which will be another significant test.

Today, for the first time, we talked about the option of doing a second treatment and maybe even a third. At $900 out of pocket per treatment, I'm not sure if I want to go that route or not. I doubt that I could do it before the end of ski season, because it would require me to miss one or two weekends of teaching skiing.

So, I'm better than before the treatment. I'm not 100% though. The improvement so far was probably worth the $900. If the doc could guarantee that I'd be 100% with two more treatments, I'd agree to them. But, there are no guarantees. I have a few months to think about it and see if the hammie continues to improve on its own.

My stupid cold is still lingering a bit. I really want to work out, but I'm not sure if it will be today or not.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Talking about skiing

Sugarbush wasn't able to open yesterday. So, I had a six-hour day indoors with other ski instructors, talking about skiing. To be honest, I don't mind talking about skiing most of the time. During the season, groups of instructors often get together after the day to have a beer or two and talk about the day. But, talking about skiing when you can't ski isn't very exciting. Yesterday was made worse by the fact that the first 2.5 hours were spent talking about safety, risk management and other related topics. I'm sure we spent at least an hour talking about the risks of falling while walking.

On the positive side, Sugarbush did open today. Because there are only two trails open, management requested that employees not ski, leaving the snow for paying customers. As much as I'd like to ski today, I understand that request and I'll wait a bit more.

I start teaching Saturday morning, so I think I'm going to take half the day off work on Friday, just so I can spend some time in my new boots and on my skis, remembering how to make a turn. It's kind of tough for me to teach the first day of our seasonal program if I'm trying to remember how to ski for myself.

My cold seems to be lingering, just as it did for my son, who got sick a few days before I did. I lifted hard last Saturday, had a half-hearted lifting workout on Sunday, and I've been idle since then. Maybe tomorrow will be the day I really get back to working out. I feel like a slug. But, this is the first complete rest week I've had all year, so perhaps it's just something that my body needs.

It feels kind of odd to me, knowing that the lottery for next year's Western States 100 was yesterday, and I just plain don't care. I wasn't in the lottery, I have no idea if or when I'll be training for a 100 miler again, and Western States seems like such a remote possibility right now. Right now, I just want to be healthy, get back to working out, and mostly, I want to ski.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Skiing this weekend?

I finally visited the doctor today to get some medicine for the cough I've had for the past week. I've been coughing so much that my chest muscles are sore. Hopefully, I'll get some better sleep the next few nights.

So, the ski mountain didn't open today.

They couldn't make snow last night, so they've announced they can't open until Sunday at the earliest. They need two nights of snowmaking to be ready.

Sunday? Maybe. At this time last year, we were skiing on high quality natural snow. This year, we simply wait.

I do believe that I'm likely to get back to working out tomorrow. That's a positive.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Rain, Rain, Go Away!

Ski season was supposed to start on 11/21. But November was too warm and when we got any precipitation at all, it was rain. It wasn't cold enough to make snow for Thanksgiving weekend. The snow guns finally started up again last Sunday, but right now, it's pouring and the expected high temperature for today is 55F.

Snowmaking probably can't resume until Saturday night.

Will ski season ever start?

Wednesday, December 2, 2009


Still feeling sick and it's less than two weeks before my company has a major new software release, and I've written most of the code for the release. It's a good time to focus on work while my body gets over this stupid cold. No workout today.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009


I'm taking today as another rest day. I'm feeling way less than 100% and I simply need some rest so that I can get healthy again. Despite doing way less mileage than I did last year, I've still been working hard this year without much real rest. Back to work.