Monday, February 28, 2011

Back from vacation

I took last week as vacation from one job, but used some of the days to teach skiing. I had a great week off, although there is a big work backlog to deal with now at my real job.

Ten days ago, we had a major warm-up here in VT. People enjoyed some spring skiing conditions on that Friday, but on Saturday, the mountain was a re-frozen ice cube. Not good. After some grooming, we had some usable terrain, but not much fun terrain. Some coaches found that higher elevation tree skiing was not affected as badly, but given cold weather and winds, I kept my students away from that terrain. We did some practice on new skills, stayed warm, did some racing, but didn't really push the terrain too hard, due to safety concerns on my part. It was the start of a holiday weekend, and there were too many skiers and riders who were out of control - going too fast and putting themselves and others at risk.

By Monday, while things were still cold, more grooming had improved the mountain considerably. On each of Monday and Tuesday, I was assigned a private lesson for four hours focused on an 8-year-old girl from Connecticut. She really wanted to be in charge, but I was able to get her to compromise with me. In two days, her skiing improved quite a bit and I really enjoyed these two lessons.

After that, I left the mountain for a couple days for a trip to Pittsburgh. My son and I went to Pittsburgh to see the Sharks play the injury-depleted Penguins. We had a great dinner at a steak house before the game, and one of the injured Penguins, probably the best player in the NHL, sat just a few tables away. Since he couldn't play, I guess he could get away with a big steak just before a game.

We saw a great game, with the Sharks down 1-0 early, up 2-1 in the third, the Pens tying the game with 50 seconds to go, and the Sharks winning 3-2 with four seconds left in OT. The next day we flew home and my son and I were very tired from some early flights. We each took an extended nap.

Friday morning, I awoke to snow and a winter storm warning. It turned out that we had too many instructors on duty Friday, so I volunteered to take the day off. As soon as I was released, I started skiing steep terrain and treed terrain. I had an amazing day, skiing the most vertical feet in one day that I'd done in 6 years. I tried to be careful, but I did ski alone in the trees for part of the day, something that is never recommended. A cell phone can't save a skier who has been knocked unconscious. At about 3:40, I took a fall on a fairly easy single black diamond run - a fall I shouldn't have taken. That was signal to call it a day.

Then, I taught skiing the next two days. All weekend long, I felt a bit tired from Friday, but I was able to keep up with the group all weekend and keep them safe at the end of a long holiday week, despite skiing some fairly serious terrain.

We have four weeks left in our teaching season, which means that spring skiing is just around the corner.

Today, we've had rain, sleet and snow and everything is iced up. The temperatures are climbing, but it's kind of ugly outside right now. I have a ski clinic at Stowe later this week - a preparation clinic for the part of my level 3 PSIA certification. I would prefer to take the test in good snow conditions, but I'll deal with whatever the day throws at me.

And, tonight and probably tomorrow, I'll do some upper body lifting in the gym. After all the skiing in the past 9 days, my legs need some rest before I ski 4 of 5 days later this week.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Legs better, but...

So, I took yesterday as a rest day. My legs feel better today, but I am skiing the next four days.

Today, I'll an upper body and core workout after workout:

Strict presses - 3 x 5
Push-ups - 5 x 10 or more
Band-assisted pull-ups - 5 x 5
Band assisted dips - 3 x 10
Reverse push-ups (body weight rows): 5 x 5
Planks -2-3 minutes total
Knee ups from a hanging position - 3 total minutes
Supermans - 2 minutes

That should be plenty of work.

I'm saving my legs for skiing tomorrow.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

I can walk, but...

After work last night, I went to a local taproom with some friends. The taproom was pouring 27 different Dieu du Ciele beers - a great brewery from the Montreal area. I sampled a few and had a wonderful (but expensive) entree of rabbit leg confit, rabbit sausage (locally grown rabbits), cabbage and a warm apple sauce. The dish was small and $27, almost making me feel like I was in a big city restaurant. The beers that I tried (four of the 27) were fantastic.

So, this morning, I expected walking to be tough after lots of heavy leg work in the gym the previous two days. I wasn't disappointed. I think I'm going to take today as a rest day and then do an upper body day tomorrow before I start a long stint involving a lot of skiing. Starting Saturday, I will be skiing 9 of the next 13 days and 11 of 16. I'll be teaching 7 days, then I'll be a student for 2 days, and then teaching for 2 more.

After that stretch, my ski season will likely begin winding down. I've signed up for the 100 on 100 relay again this year, and as soon as ski season is over, I plan to get back to some real running, especially on the weekends. No treadmills for me though. I've spent too many VT winters as a slave to the treadmill and I don't miss it. I do occasional short sprint workouts on the treadmill, but that's about it.

Next week, I'm also taking my son to Pittsburgh to see an NHL game. Years ago, we shared two season tickets to the San Jose Sharks, but we haven't seen them in person since 1996, when my son was 3. A friend gave us two tickets to a game in Pittsburgh, and we're flying there, going out to a nice steakhouse, going to the game, staying overnight, and then flying home. With my son being a senior in high school, I'm looking forward to this trip with him, something I might not be able to do for a while after he heads to college.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Two good workouts

OK, since I wrote my last post, I have done one CrossFit workout. But, it was this morning and not last night. And, I did work out last night. Here are the boring details of my workouts:

Last night:

Heavy deadlifts to start - warm-up sets of 5 reps up to 225#. Then, 3 reps @ 275, 2 @ 295, 1 @ 315, 1 @ 335, and a failure at 355. I lifted 355 14 months ago and I haven't gotten above 335 since then. After that, I did some lower weight sets at 315 and 275.

Then, on to the squat rack. I normally squat first on days that I do these, so this was a new experience. I warmed up at 45, 135, 185, and 225. Then, I started my low-rep work sets at 245, 265, and 275. Even though I did a 300 pound squat last month, I could tell at 275 that I shouldn't push it any more. I then did a few lower weight sets at 225 to finish up.

After the squats, I did a couple sets of walking lunges while holding 30 pound DBs in my hands. I quit when a quad cramp was imminent. I think I'd done 2 sets of 12 reps per leg at that point.

After that, I went home, did some laundry (workout clothes), cooked dinner, ate dinner, watched the Biggest Loser and went to bed. I was up at 5:00 this morning to go to CrossFit, less than 12 hours after my last workout.

I got there and saw that after some stretching, we had two strength groups: 3 x 5 front squat and 3 x 5 strict press. After doing back squats last night, I knew front squats would be tough. I recently did 225 for a single front squat, but I only did 155 for the three sets this morning. I then did 105 for my strict presses. That is not my best strict press ever, but it is the best I've done for reps, I think.

Then, the MetCon workout was (at my level) 10 minutes, as many reps as possible:

9 knee push-ups
16 air-squats
20 rope jumps.

I have to admit I didn't go 100% on this one and I got through 7 rounds plus 30 more reps. I was simply feeling the effects of last night and the other work this morning. I worked up a good sweat, but it was definitely not all out.

I'm curious if I'll be able to walk tomorrow, but I'm glad I got those workouts done.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

But This Time, For Sure

I have done some lifting workouts the past couple weeks. But, I haven't been to CrossFit in 19 days right now. Today, I will be there. I am going to make it work somehow.

I've still been lifting and I've been skiing, but I've been missing the intensity of CrossFit. My adherence to the rules of the Paleo Challenge at the gym has been terrible for the past two weeks. Work has been very stressful, and even my stress-relieving weekend job has not been reducing stress.

Sickness, sporting events for my daughter, social commitments, a ridiculous amount of work, and suddenly, I feel fat and slow again. With no CrossFit next week (teaching skiing most of the week), I need to get there for some workouts this week.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Great ski weekend

I didn't work out a whole lot last week. Work was really busy and then I was a bit sick mid-week. As it turned out, this worked pretty well, as I entered the weekend well-rested. With great conditions on the mountain, I needed to be rested to keep up with my students.

With the great snow conditions, we had a high turnout this past weekend. I had seven students both days of the weekend. It snowed during the day on Saturday and a little bit on Sunday. I spent the mornings teaching and we spent the afternoons free-skiing in advanced terrain. By 2:00 on Sunday afternoon, the girls were clearly tired. We took a break for some hot chocolate and then finished the day on some easy terrain.

Working at the mountain has been somewhat stressful recently. I've heard from my boss that some parents don't think I'm pushing the children hard enough, some think I'm pushing too hard, and some think that I'm not being strict enough. The latter comment is simply not my style. Some instructors are like drill sergeants , but I'm just not that kind of person. I like the day to be fun for everyone, within some boundaries, of course. And, the first two issues just seem to balance out, although I wish I could make everyone perfectly happy.

But, luckily, once I'm out on the hill with the students, the other issues just fade away, and we are free to ski and have fun for the day. And, that is why I work this part-time job anyway.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Under the weather

I feel like I've been less healthy this winter than in past winters. I didn't get a flu shot this year, which might explain part of it. Like most winters, I am working 7 days per week. And, even on the weekends or vacation days, my day job never really goes away. My iPhone is always in my pocket, so I can be in contact with co-workers and customers at any time.

Plus, because I've been thinking ahead to the next certification exam for ski instruction, I've been getting less sleep on the weekends. I leave the house by 6:30 a.m. every Saturday and Sunday, so I can participate in training.

And, I'm old.

So, maybe my body is just telling me to slow down.

Last week, with bad weather for driving, I only went to the gym twice before skiing on the weekend. By Sunday, I was exhausted after a really intense ski day on Saturday. After skiing while tired on Sunday, I then went to the gym and worked hard on Monday.

Tuesday, I was exhausted.

Wednesday, I was sick. I slept until noon and then worked half a day from home. My wife yelled at me for working at all, but there was stuff that needed to be done. Today, I'm back at the office, although feeling a bit less than 100%.

Next week, one of my employees is gone for the week, so I need to make the drive to the office every single day. That's 10-12 hours of driving for the week, and more if the weather is really bad.

The week after that, I'm on vacation for the week. But, I'm teaching skiing on three of my vacation days and going to Pittsburgh for a hockey game the other two days. Plus, I've got a software proposal out for bid right now, so I'll have to answer questions all week that week.

I love my weekend job. I really like the company I'm working for during the week and I like the people I work with. But, my body seems to be saying either that it's tired, it's old, or both.

I'm not good at slowing down, but I don't like being ill either.

I think I should skip CrossFit tonight, even though I haven't been there for a while.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Good workout last night

I worked from home yesterday (today as well due to the weather forecast), so I went to the local college gym for my workout.

I started out with heavy front squats in short sets, trying to break my PR of 215#. I warmed up with the bar, then 135#, and then 185#. I did a single lift at 205# and it was work. Rather than trying to tie my PR, I went straight to 225# and nailed one really solid rep. My 225# rep was deeper than the 215# a few weeks ago. After that, I did three sets of 2 reps at 185#.

From there, I did 5x10 push-ups, 5x5 band-assisted pull-ups, 3x10 band-assisted dips, and two sets of walking lunges with 25# dumbbells in each hand.

Tonight, I'll probably do some deadlifts as the main strength part of my workout, but I still need to figure out what else to do. I'm thinking some box jumps and burpees will be in there tonight for torture.

Last night's snowstorm was sort of a bust - lower than the low end forecast. We don't have any big storms in the pipeline right now, but there are a few smaller storms lining up. As long as we don't get a heat wave and get some occasional fresh snow, skiing will stay solid for quite a while.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Amazing ski weekend

As I got to the mountain on Saturday, all of my friends lucky enough to ski in last Wednesday's storm really let me have it. Where was I? Do you know what you missed? The word "Epic" was thrown around a bit. Well, sometimes I get there first, sometimes I don't. The key thing was that we still had lots of great snow to be found this weekend.

We have certain areas on the mountain where we can't take students without two coaches. Mostly, this includes steep, tight tree runs, which are some of the most fun skiing terrain we have, in my opinion. Some of the girls in my group love this terrain, while some others are a bit more apprehensive. But, they can all ski it.

Last week, I had requested a second coach for the day, and luckily, my request was granted. I asked the girls to be at the mountain a bit early, so we could catch an early bus to Mt. Ellen, Sugarbush's "secondary" area. Mt. Ellen was previously a separate ski area named Glen Ellen.

In 1979, Sugarbush's owner purchased Glen Ellen with the idea of creating one much larger resort. After ski conglomerate American Skiing Company (now defunct) purchased Sugarbush in 1995, they built a mountain-interconnect chair that allowed people to ride over two miles across the Slide Brook Basin to get from one mountain to the other.

Despite the interconnect, the Lincoln Peak base area is still the main part of Sugarbush, and the site of most new resort improvements. But, Mt. Ellen has some amazing terrain and some amazing tree skiing. So, I headed there on Saturday with six students and a second coach.

Our first run was in a gladed bowl that is fairly easy to ski. It's tougher for coaches, who sometimes have to stand at the top of the bowl and watch as children spread out far from each other. Two coaches are essential here if the kids get too far apart and two different kids go down. This was a nice easy warm-up.

Next we headed to Brambles Woods, a route I hadn't skied in a while. Somehow, the students ended up on the other side of a creek bed, but I could see them them the whole time, and I watched them from a distance. I stayed uphill of them and I could have skied through the creek bed if necessary. Luckily, with an all-girl group of students, most of them ages 11-13, they are very concerned about looking good on the slopes. So, they all wear brightly colored ski outfits that are easy to see from a distance.

From Brambles, I wanted to increase the difficulty. We headed to Tumbler Woods and Moose Run Woods. Tumbler is steep and the snow wasn't quite deep enough there, but we got through OK. Moose Run is not very steep, but the snow was denser lower on the mountain and a lot of it was untracked. My lightest student struggled a bit, but we all got out safely.

At this point, the girls were screaming for lunch and I obliged.

After lunch, we headed up high. First, we skied FIS - Sugarbush's steepest trail, a moguled double-black diamond run. It was in great shape and skied fairly easily. Then a short tree run and back to the summit. The plan now was to ski "Exterminator Woods" - sounds ominous, doesn't it? One of the girls was a bit nervous about this run, and I was pretty sure she was going to use a standard ploy that she uses to avoid a run - get off the lift and suddenly announce an emergency need for a trip to the bathroom. But, I'd anticipated this in my timing of the day, so we skied some bumps and trees back to a lodge for a quick bathroom break. And then, we headed back up.

Six students and two coaches proved to be the perfect ratio in this very difficult tree line. It's easy to get separated there, and we took our time, staying in visual contact the entire time. It took us about 40 minutes to carefully navigate this steep tree run, but the snow was amazing.

After that, we went to the base and waited for bus back to where the parents would meet us at the end of the day - all in all a tiring and exhilarating day.

Saturday night, we had a winter storm warning and some strange weather occurred. At my house, we got about four inches of light fluffy snow. And then, it changed to sleet, falling at a rate I'd never seen before. Then, the thunder and lightning started. Very unusual.

On Sunday morning, I was a bit tired from Saturday, we had an inch of frozen sleet on our cars, and I was expecting the mountain to be a mess. For the first time all year, I wasn't there for first chair, which turned out to be a mistake. The mountain had gotten 10" of new snow and very little mixed precip. The snow was a bit heavy, but very navigable.

So, we spent the day in the trees again, but much easier trees than the day before. We also tackled Rumble for the first time this year. Rumble is widely regarded as the toughest trail on the mountain. Two of the girls had never skied it before, and they were amazed at its difficulty, but they enjoyed it.

And then, the day was over. The coach's locker room was amusing. Everyone was exhausted from the weekend.

I was in bed by halftime of the football game and probably should have gone to bed earlier. I now wish I had a rest day before going back to my day job, but no such luck.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Snowstorm - Finally!

I'm not sure what the final snowfall total from the storm was. I'm guessing we got about a foot of snow. We had to use the snow blower three times to keep the driveway clear and it still needs a little bit of work. Sugarbush is reporting close to two feet of new snow in the past couple days. I heard from a friend that the skiing yesterday was wonderful, and I can't wait to go skiing this coming weekend.

Because the storm disrupted so many things around here yesterday, I never did do a workout. The local gym was closed and CrossFit classes were cancelled. There was no way I was going to drive 60+ miles to go to a CrossFit class on a day where I didn't go to the office anyway.

So, I worked late, my wife cooked dinner, and I called it a night very early. Things seem to be mostly back to normal around here today, although the roads are still pretty slick.

It looks like another snowstorm is headed our way on Saturday night and then another on Monday. And, I'm swamped at work. How is anybody supposed to concentrate on work now that we have the best skiing conditions in a few years?

Tonight, I'll lift at the local gym - probably heavy squat, bench and deadlift sets.

Tomorrow, I need to go to the office, so I will hopefully get to CrossFit tomorrow.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

CrossFit Influence Again

I didn't go to the office yesterday due to snow. We got hit by a small front wave of today's big storm - just enough to make driving treacherous.

After work, I went to the gym. I started with heavy front squats - 5 sets of 3 reps.

After that, everything I did was something we do at CrossFit, although in a more set-oriented fashion:

6 sets of 5 pull-ups
5 x 10 push-ups
5x5 box jumps
3x10 dips

And then, I did a mile on the treadmill - my first running mile of the year. I did a quarter mile warm-up, pushed hard for half a mile, and then a cool-down.

Given that I'm signed up for the 100 on 100 relay in August, I should probably start running again.

I wish I was skiing today, but work is a bit too busy, and I took a day off to ski last week.