Friday, March 28, 2014

Two awesome skiing days - Sugarbush - 3/26/2014-3/27/2014

I just spent two days in a PSIA "Off Piste" clinic at Sugarbush.

PSIA (Professional Ski Instructors of America) requires us to take at least one of their clinics every other year to maintain our certification level.  Last year, I was planning to take a certification exam called "Children's Specialist II" (CS2).  I had completed CS1 the year before.  But, the prep for CS2 is fairly intense, and I got behind last winter.  The person running the study sessions at our resort completely forgot to inform part of the staff when the sessions would start.  The people that weren't reminded were all of the coaches in our seasonal children's programs.  Oops.

So, without the study sessions, I opted to not take that clinic last year.  I decided I'd take it this year instead.  And then, health problems derailed my season a bit.  I once again missed the early study sessions.  And, I had a technicality to worry about.  If you fail a certification clinic, it doesn't count for your clinic requirement; a passed exam counts, but not a failed exam.  I probably could have passed the clinic, but I had a lot of studying and paperwork to do on my own.  In the end, I decided it wasn't worth the risk to pay the higher exam fee and then risk a fine for failing to meet my educational requirements.

So, I had two late season options at Sugarbush to fulfill my clinic requirement - "Off Piste" or "In Search of Corduroy".  For a few years, I've said that when I feel I should sign up for the latter of those two clinics, I should retire from teaching.  So, despite my health being not quite where I wanted it to be, I signed up for the Off Piste clinic.

We had two groups doing the clinic, with one instructor from Sugarbush and the other from Gore Mountain.  Because I know the off-piste terrain at Sugarbush very well, I went with the instructor from Gore, to help him locate terrain.  The groups did not get divided quite the way the instructors wanted.  They had watched us ski and wanted to create an "upper" and "lower" group.  But, a group of 4 instructors from a single mountain refused to be split up, and this caused both groups to have some strong skiers and some less strong skiers.

I knew early on that our terrain would end up being somewhat limited by safety considerations; the instructor could not allow us to go just anywhere safely.  But, we had some good, fun skiers in the group, we had great snow, and our group leader was fun and talented.  We skied a lot of trees the first day, even though we were limited in terms of difficulty and limited by a mechanical problem with the Heaven's Gate lift (this would last both days of the clinic).  But, we still managed to ski Eden, Pump House Woods, Eden again including the unofficial "Lower Eden", Lew's Line, two passes through lower Domino Woods, and Sap Line woods.  We also did a handful of bump runs, because tree runs that have seen traffic are essentially bump runs with obstacles.

At 3:00 the first day, 4 of our 7 skiers called it a day, and 3 of us plus our instructor remained.  We weren't ready to quit, and we now had the three strongest skiers in the group, so we headed for hard terrain - the Mall and Christmas Tree Woods - a steep woods shot between a difficult single black diamond and double-black diamond run.  That was a challenging run, followed by an easy cool-down to end the day.  It was the hardest I'd skied all year and it was a blast, being the guide and sharing Sugarbush's amazing terrain with other instructors.

The second day, we did a quick warm-up and then headed out of bounds for our next run.  We headed into the Slide Brook Basin, but rather than skiing an established tree line, we skied directly underneath the Slide Brook Express chair on a run nicknamed The Elevator Shaft, or sometimes just called The Elevator.  I'd wanted to ski this run for years, but we are not permitted to do so in uniform, so it was a treat to finally ski this long semi-steep path.  The snow was a bit wind-packed and slabby and there were a few falls, but I'm big enough that I blasted right through the snow.

From there, we went to Mt. Ellen and skied Black Diamond and FIS.  Then, Tumbler to Tumbler Woods to Moose Run Woods to Lower FIS.  Then, back to the summit, for  FIS and Hammerhead.  The theme of the day appeared to be steep bumps, and our instructor spent a lot of time focusing on bump tactics that translate to the trees as well.  He had me focus on narrowing my stance, centering my weight, and allowing myself to pivot the skis quickly and simultaneously.  Later we added some aggressive pole plants on some steeper bump lines.  After a very late lunch, we headed to Castlerock.  Everyone was getting tired, so we did two slow runs in Castlerock.  Because it was clear we were all tired, the instructor had us focus on "low energy" techniques to safely navigate steep moguls.  It really helped.  It's not how I'd want to be seen skiing on an everyday basis, but these were great tactics for tired skiers on tough terrain.

We were the last group off the hill.  There had been about 150 instructors in clinics, and our group skied later than any other group both days.  I was exhausted.

I went home, got some dinner, made myself a cocktail, and fell asleep on my couch before 8:00.

Tomorrow and Sunday, I get to ski again.  The mountain forecast for Sunday is 13"-20" of new snow.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Last weekend of teaching skiing for the season

Overall, we've had a cold but below average snow season here in VT.  I know people in southern New England and the mid-Atlantic states wouldn't describe their winters that way, at least the snow part, but they got hit by a lot of storms that stayed south or east (or both) of Vermont.  Things finally started to turn around in mid-February, and conditions this past weekend were the best they've been all season.

I had a large group of students this weekend.  We have a party for the kids and their parents the last Saturday of the program, so we tend to have a lot of the kids show up.  I got to the mountain early on Saturday and grabbed one of our "outback guides" to request a trip to the Slidebrook Basin.  This is a beautiful area that sits between the two main parts of the Sugarbush resort.  It is all glade skiing, well outside the main ski area boundaries.  A handful of lines are maintained, but it's still wild territory.  If an injury occurs in this area, it can take a long time for ski patrol to arrive.  Our outback guides have emergency outdoor care training and they are required for trips to Slide Brook.

We got to the top of the North Lynx chair early and headed straight to the Slide Brook basin.  The snow was simply amazing.  We took the steepest main line into the basin, although it really isn't all that steep.  About halfway down, we split the group for a bit.  I stayed in the main line with some of the less adventurous students, while the others went looking for untracked lines.  They found a lot of untracked snow and I was jealous that I missed it.  But, it was still a great run.

In the early afternoon, we headed to an official glade called Gangster's Grotto.  We hadn't skied it yet this season.  This glade has multiple entrances and multiple descent routes.  On skier's right, there is a tight chute that is frequently unsafe to ski, so I prefer to traverse to skier's left and then drop.  But, as my students got to the chute, all they could see was snow - no roots, no rocks - just snow.  They started chanting "Chute, chute, chute...", and after I took a look, I obliged them.  We had an amazing run down the chute and the into the wide labyrinth of options below the chute.

Regretfully, we lost some skiing time after this run, when a handful of my students skied somewhere I'd told them not to go, and it took them 25 minutes to get down the hill.  There were conflicting stories from the children.  Some talked about it being a prank - hiding out uphill.  Others said someone had fallen and others were helping.  Given the amount of time it took for them to come down the hill, and the history I have with this group, I find it hard to believe it was simply a fall and rescue, although it might have started that way.  And, they shouldn't have even been there to begin with, given that I'd clearly instructed them to take a different path and 6 of 8 ignored me.  This incident marred an otherwise amazing day of skiing.  After that run through the Grotto, I decided we needed to stay on trail for the rest of the day.  I simply cannot run the safety risk in the trees with students who refuse to listen to directions.  We ended the day with some racing, which seemed to make everyone happy.

Our goal on Sunday was the "Elite 8" - skiing all 8 of Sugarbush's double black diamond runs in one day, or in our case, in just 5.5 hours.  I have done this with groups before, but I was skeptical that this group could pull it off.  Every time we go inside for an alleged "5 minute warm-up break", half or more of the group buys food and we end up losing 20 minutes.  I told the group over and over that we had no time to waste all day if we wanted to ski all 8 of the runs.

We started on Stein's Run, where I'd had a scary slide a couple weeks ago.  There were soft bumps with lots of ice between the bumps, so this became a run where I tried to get the students to link turns across the tops of the bumps and not ski the troughs.  Two girls really struggled, but we all made it safely.  From there, we headed to Mt. Ellen via the Slide Brook Express chair, where it was cold and windy.  This is where things began to go badly.  Two girls insisted they needed to buy hand warmers.  This necessitated an otherwise unnecessary trip to the base lodge.  While I stopped in the men's room, the usual suspects bought candy, chips, brownies and cookies.  I tried to impress upon them that we had no time for this, but they simply didn't care.  I felt really bad for the two students who were most intent on finishing, knowing that the behavior of a few was ruining our chances.

We finally got to the summit and skied FIS.  It was amazing.  I hit no ice at all of the run, and this short, steep run is almost always icy.  Back inside to warm up, and the same kids bought more food.  Back up and we skied Black Diamond.  This run was more challenging but FIS, but it's also fairly short, and the kids headed back inside to warm up.  This time, despite me telling them to buy nothing, half the group bought candy or hot chocolate.  Inside, I was seething.

We finally got back outside and skied Exterminator, and then returned to Lincoln Peak on the Slide Brook express chair.  We headed inside for a quick lunch.  Most people had been snacking all day, so I asked everyone to quickly get a small lunch so we could eat and get back outside.  Three of the students bought a full meal plus ice cream.  Instead of 15 minutes, they spent 40 minutes inside.  We now had 90 minutes left and I knew there was no way we could do the required 6 chair rides to get to the four remaining runs.

We headed to Castlerock and the lines were surprisingly short.  We headed to Rumble where some of the students struggled.  Rumble is usually considered to be the most technical run at Sugarbush, and it took longer to get down than I'd hoped.  Up until this point, I thought we were going to make it to 7 of the 8, and we would only be missing the recently groomed Ripcord.  But, it was now apparent that we were running out of time.  We headed back up Castlerock to ski Lift Line, which we'd skied earlier this season.  I suggested that the students skip a particularly treacherous section about 1/4 of the way down, and use a snowy bypass route.  But, two students ignored that request and one of them got into trouble - too scared to ski down and too far down to hike up.  Before I could offer her any advice, she had taken off her skis and poles and tried to throw them down the hill.  Then, she slid on her butt down the icy stretch - somewhat dangerous all by itself.  Worse yet, one of her skis had gotten stuck well above her and she needed to hike back up icy terrain to get it.  While she attempted this, another student had a bathroom emergency and hiked into the trees to urinate.

I was at my wit's end.  But, I also realized this was my last run of the season as an instructor.  I finally got everyone back together, the equipment was rescued (I didn't get the girl's equipment because she had done something really inappropriate in removing her skis and throwing them; I considered it a teaching moment), and we made it back to the Castlerock lift.  It was 2:56.  Ripcord and Paradise would have to wait for another day, perhaps another season.

I dropped the children with their parents and headed to the locker room.  I did my end of season paperwork, handed in my uniform, all the while feeling frustrated with how the season had ended.  These children are in our higher level program, although they were one of the youngest groups in that program.  Earlier in the day, the best group in our lowest level program had managed to ski the Elite 8, plus a 9th run that I think should be a double-black diamond run.  They were 6 year old skiers.  My 10 year old skiers couldn't pull it off though.  We didn't even come close.

It's honestly been my most frustrating season as an instructor.  Certainly it didn't help that I missed 3 weekends of work after surgery, time that I might have used to create a bit more discipline within the group.  But, with this group, I really doubt that it would have mattered.

I headed down the hill from the locker room to the Castlerock Pub.  Beer never tasted so good.  And, I started to relax, realizing that this was the beginning of my "free" skiing season.

Later this week, I have a professional development clinic, focused on skiing the trees at Sugarbush.  I'll finally get to the places I was not able to get to with my students this year.  And next weekend, I'll be skiing with my wife and friends, going places I want to go, at the pace I want to move.   Despite some frustrations this season, and some obvious personal distractions, I really do love to ski.  I'm looking forward to the rest of the season.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Lots of snow for skiing this weekend!

I worked out hard Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday at CrossFit.  Yesterday, we got to pick our work for the first part of the workout and I did bench presses and pull-ups.  I picked them primarily because I wasn't too sore to do those movements.

The second part of the workout was a CF benchmark workout called Annie.  It's 50 double unders, 50 sit-ups, 40 of each, 30 of each, 20 of each, and 10 of each, done as quickly as possible.  I can't really do double unders.  I can do a few of them some of the time, but not consistently.  I typically do this workout by doing twice as many single unders as a substitute.

My previous best time was 10:16, and I did it in 9:59 last night.  On the drive home, I was thinking about posting this new PR to Facebook.  But, I then realized that writing "I did Annie in under 10 minutes tonight for the first time ever" would only make sense to CF people, and would sound perverted or at least improper to most others.  So, I refrained.

So, today I'm sore and tired.  Last night, Sugarbush got 10" of new snow.  We are expecting more snow tomorrow.  The skiing this weekend is going to be the best it's been all season long.  This is my last weekend of teaching for the year, and we should have a lot of fun in the trees this weekend.  I need to really make this weekend fun for the group as the season winds down.  We (my students and I) have been contemplating skiing the "Elite 8" tomorrow.  Sugarbush has 8 double-black diamond runs between its two mountains.  It's a logistical and skiing challenge to ski all of them in the amount of time I have the group - about 5.5 hours.  But, I've done it before.  I don't know if this year's group is capable of going that fast, and I do worry about long lift lines for two of the runs.  So, it might not be possible.

If we don't go after the Elite 8, we will simply spend the weekend skiing off piste in the trees.

Next week, I have a two day PSIA clinic at Sugarbush that is devoted to skiing off-piste.  Given our snow conditions and the weather forecast, it should be a fun clinic.

There are even rumors of another snow storm on Wednesday, although the local forecasters think it will be too far out to sea to give us a lot of snow here in VT.

Trout season opens in three weeks and we have a lot of snow that still needs to melt and run off the mountains.  It's easy to envision an opening day where all of the streams are too high to be fishable.  But, between now and then, the skiing should be pretty amazing, and I'm planning to take advantage of that.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Overdoing it at CrossFit

After missing CrossFit all of last week, I made up for it last night.  And, I'm likely to be sore for days.

I like to do squats every week.  I think it's a lift that all lifters, and many other athletes (skiers, for example) should do at least weekly.  To really improve in the squat, I think I need to squat 2-3 times per week.  This year, our gym has been on a fairly fixed schedule.  Monday has been squat day.  Tuesday is Olympic lifting.  Wednesday is a pressing day.  Thursday is "work your weakness".  And Friday is a wild card, but I rest on Fridays during ski season.

I also take Mondays as a rest day after I've skied all weekend.  So, I've been missing the squat days.  Recently, I decided that I would modify my Tuesday workouts, and do the Monday squat work instead of Olympic work on Tuesdays.  We have a back room at the gym where I can squat without disrupting the main workout.  The schedule for Monday was back squats - 5 sets of 3, followed by barbell lunges - 3 sets of 8 per side.

I wasn't sure how heavy I could go on squats, given that my heaviest squats since my surgery have been 155 or so.  But, before surgery, I would have built to 3 x 315 on the 5x3 workout.  So, I decided to start at 135 last night and increase the weights until I hit a safe max for the day.  I ended up doing sets at the following weights:

185 (barbell wheels come in weights that make pure linear increments more difficult)

So, I did 8 sets rather than 5 and it was difficult.  Then, I did the lunges with 65, 75, and 75 pounds on my back.  That was plenty.

Luckily, the metabolic conditioning was short (but painful):

40 seconds of max thrusters (start in the bottom front squat position and end with the bar overhead)
Rest 20 seconds
40 seconds of max burpees to target (jumping at the end of the burpee to a target 6" above your reach)
Rest 20 seconds

Do this three times.  I got 61 total reps, and most of them were from the thrusters.  I'm pathetically slow at burpees.

Today, I'm amazingly sore, but I'll be back at Crossfit at 5:30.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

Losing a week of workouts

This week isn't turning out the way I'd hoped it would.  I've gotten to CrossFit three times each of the past two weeks and that was my goal this week.  But, it just hasn't gone that way.

Monday was a planned rest day after skiing all weekend.  And, I was tired, so I was glad for the rest day.  My wife made it to the gym though.

Tuesday, I had a meeting in the evening.  So, I wanted to get to CF at lunch.  It takes two hours or more out of my day to get to the gym and back for a noon workout.  Work was really, really busy, and I simply couldn't spare the time.  While I was at my evening meeting, my wife made it to CrossFit again.  At least one of us has our priorities in order.

Yesterday, a big snow storm arrived.  My wife and I decided that if evening classes got cancelled due to the weather, I'd go at noon and she would take a rest day.  If no classes were cancelled, we'd go to the 5:30 class.  No classes were cancelled, so I didn't go at noon.  And then, we started to get reports about very poor road conditions, and out of safety concerns, we decided to head straight home from work so we could drive in daylight.  This turned out to be a great idea.  The roads were in poor shape and it took us two hours for our normal 55 minute commute.  I always emphasize to my ski students that safety comes first in every ski run we do.  This same rule applied to our commute last night.

Today, with about 20" of new snow on the ground, I didn't even go to my office.  I'm working remotely.  My wife has the day off to take care of some personal business.  I am guessing that I'm going to get a workout of sorts later today.  One of our cars is completely snowed in and we need to dig it out and move it so that the guy who plows our driveway can finish the job.  If my wife or kids get it dug out before I'm done working, I might go to the local gym and row 5K tonight.  That's an efficient workout that can be made as hard as you want it to be.

And then, it will be Friday - another rest day before a weekend of skiing.  With a lot of new snow, the skiing will be fun, but taxing.  I keep thinking that I might go to CF tomorrow, but I doubt that it will happen. I want to save the legs for the weekend, although with no workouts at all, I'm not sure that it's really necessary.

And suddenly, a week is gone.  Well, the work-week anyway.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Near disaster on Stein's Run

Stein's Run is a classic run at Sugarbush.  It's a long, steep double-black diamond run that is the mountain's primary run for late season bump skiing.  The run was named for Stein Eriksen, who won the Olympic gold medal in the giant slalom for Norway in 1952.  He also won silver in the slalom in those same Olympics.  Stein served as Sugarbush's ski school director for a period of time, in the 1960's I believe, but I can't seem to find the exact dates.

He designed Stein's Run after complaining to Sugarbush's general manager Jack Murphy that many of the early runs at Sugarbush were not aligned with the natural fall lines of the mountain.  He was challenged to design something that met that criterion, and Stein's Run was the result.

As double-black runs go, I tend to think of Stein's as fairly benign.  There are 8 double-black diamond runs at Sugarbush, and it's frequently the case that Stein's is the easiest of the group to ski, although it is one of the longer double-blacks.  A straight shot about half a mile long or so, although I've been unable to find an exact length or vertical for the run.

In preparation for spring skiing, when big moguls will form on Stein's and some other steep runs, the mountain has been aggressively grooming some of the steeper runs, including Stein's.  I skied it Saturday with my group and it was about as easy as it gets to ski on Stein's - no bumps, still steep, but not icy at all.  Lots of fun and you could really ski it at high speed.

On Sunday morning, my group wanted to ski Stein's to warm up.  They are good enough skiers that this made sense; Stein's had been groomed again on Saturday night.  I watched all five of my students dive in, and as I looked at the freshly groomed snow, I felt very confident.  I had no idea how terrifying the next minute or so of my life was going to be.

I dove in confidently, deliberately launching off the top to build some speed.  And somehow, on my very first turn, I crossed my ski tips and fell.  Both ski bindings released.  And, I started to slide.  At first, my only thought was that it was going to be a long hike back up to my skis.  That was really the least of my worries though.  I began to pick up speed, sliding down the run.  I immediately realized that my slide was too fast and I needed to stop.  I let one of my poles go, knowing I wanted to self arrest with both hands on a single pole.

The goal in a slide like this is to get your feet downhill, try to kick them into the snow to stop, and hold your ski pole in a way that you can dig into the snow to use the pole tip as a brake.  At first, this seemed to work, and I was slowing down.  And then, I got turned around a bit, and I was heading downhill face first and I couldn't even get my pole tip in the snow.  I knew that if I tried to plant the pole tip at the wrong place, the pole might get ripped from my hands, leaving me with no protection at all.

I rapidly gained speed and I gradually slid right towards the trees.  I knew that if I slid into the trees at my current speed, the best result would be multiple serious fractures.  If I hit the trees at the wrong angle, I could easily be killed.  This was a sobering thought as I flew down the mountain, and I honestly had no idea how this was all going to end.  It seemed like this slide was going to go forever.

I managed to get myself re-oriented, so I could dig the pole tip in.  For a while, it was working.  And then, I started to speed up again.  I was now even closer to the trees on skier's right.  Despite how scared I was, I managed to stay calm and focused on self arrest.  I sped up for a bit, and the pole lost contact with the snow again.  But, I maintained my orientation, and I got the pole tip dug in again.  Suddenly, I noticed that the groomed snow on top of the firm base was a bit deeper.  I managed to kick into the snow and dig the pole into the snow and I started to slow down.

Suddenly, there was another skier beside me.  He had witnessed my slide and skied fast to catch up to me to try to help.  He was willing to put his body in front of mine to try to protect me.  And suddenly, I was stopped.  I had traveled 2/3 of the length of the run with no skis at all.  The chair that I'd ridden gained over 1500 vertical feet.  I'd skied a traverse to the top of Stein's, and I still had 1/3 of Stein's below me, although that is the mellower part of the run, plus a run-out back to the chair.  I am guessing that I slid about 700-800 vertical feet of double-black terrain.  I have no idea what my top speed was, but I'm guessing it was 30 mph or higher.

The skier who had caught up to me asked me if I was OK.  Remarkably, I had no injuries at all.  My heart rate was really high and my legs were shaky as I stood up.  I think it was just sinking in how badly things could have ended, but I was lucky.  Yes, I maintained my cool and did what I needed to do, but there was still a lot of luck involved.  And, one very poor ski turn.  That was all it took to set off this event.

Another skier brought my skis to me.  One of my students (I had slid past 2 of the 5) brought me my abandoned ski pole.  As I stood up and put on my skis, I was suddenly embarrassed to have had that event happen while I was wearing a ski school uniform.  But, my relief at being alive and uninjured outweighed that embarrassment quite easily.  I thanked everyone repeatedly for their help.  I think everyone knew that it could have been much worse, and everyone was relieved at the happy ending.  I'm sure a few people now have a great story about how they saved a ski school instructor.  I'm just grateful for their help.

I skied the rest of the run and we took a short break.  I needed to get the snow out of my helmet, my beard, my ski pants, my jacket, etc.  We then skied a couple runs on a single black diamond, so my students would work on jumping.

And then, just before lunch, we returned to Stein's.  This time, I made sure my ski tips never got close to each other.  And, it was a beautiful run, with Stein's skiing as easily as it ever does.

Friday, March 7, 2014

And Thursday Makes Three (plus CrossFit cheaters)

For the second week in a row, I made it to 3 days of CrossFit midweek.  It was tough, but I pulled it off.

The first part of the workout last night was 20 minutes of "work your weakness".  I picked barbell bench presses and sumo deadlift high pulls, using the same barbell for each movement.  For 20 minutes, I alternated the two exercises doing 5 reps of one and then a minute later, doing 5 reps of the other.  I kept the weight light, but it was getting harder as I approached the 20 minute mark.

Next, our conditioning work was to accrue as many reps as possible in 12 minutes of the following:

21 sit-ups
15 push-ups
9 jumps over a box

I did four rounds plus 9 extra sit-ups.  Because I'm not yet ready to do box jumps quite yet, I simply stepped up on the box, down the other side and then repeated this to 9 reps.  Overall, I did it at a controlled pace - not all out - hoping I'd be recovered in time to ski on Saturday.

I'm sore today, but I hope to feel better by tomorrow.

I was working out beside a guy in our gym who drives me absolutely nuts.  It is possible that this person is simply incapable of counting.  But, night after night, workout after workout, he plain and simply cheats.  I've been watching this for months.  He will do part of a set, rest for a bit, and then act like he finished the set and move on.

Last night, he wrote on the board that he completed 5 full rounds of the workout.  Yet, I repeatedly counted his reps (and mine at the same time), and I was shocked at his rep totals.  For example, his middle three rounds of sit-ups were 16, 13 and 18 reps - barely two rounds worth.  One of his push-up sets was 2 reps, rest, 2 reps, rest, 2 reps, rest, 2 reps, rest, and call it done.  The closest I saw him come to completing a set was 8 box jumps.

I have no problem with people scaling the workouts.  Scaling is what allows us non-elite athletes to do these workouts without getting hurt.  But, when I scale, I do one of two things.  I either write on the board and in my logbook exactly what I did.  Or, I don't even record a score on the whiteboard.

This person cheats his way through workout after workout, and then writes lies on the board.  In this case, it probably makes me a bit crazier than it might otherwise because we are close in ability.  On Wednesday night, it was almost comical.  I'd start a set before him, but he would finish before me, despite the fact that I was moving faster.  So, I'd start the next set behind him and I'd finish my reps before he finished his cheater set.  So, I'd start first in the next set.  He'd cheat his way to finish ahead of me again.  And so on.

The "why" of this completely eludes me.  Who benefits?  Maybe no one gets hurt either, but why blatantly lie about what you've done?  How do you know if you are improving if you have no accurate records of what you've really done?

It's just bizarre and I need to let it go.  But, it drives me nuts.

On Monday, I watched one of our better athletes cheat his way through a very tough workout.  This guy did all the reps, but did every single one of them poorly.  If he was being judged for the CrossFit games, his reps would have been disallowed repeatedly.  Again, why?

I have no answer.  I admit I don't like finishing last in some of our workouts.  But it happens sometimes and I just get over it, write my time on the board, and come back to fight again another day.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Upping the ante

It's now been 8 weeks since my surgery and I'm feeling physically better all the time.  The past two nights at CrossFit, I pushed the effort a bit more than I have been doing in previous weeks.

I skipped a really hard workout on Monday night, a workout done in memory of one of our former members who died on the professional skiing freestyle tour a few years ago.  I felt bad missing the workout, but I watched my wife and many others do it.  But, I'm sticking with my schedule of skiing the weekends and limiting CrossFit to Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday until I'm done teaching skiing for the year.

Tuesday, the workout didn't really seem that hard, but it took a lot out of me.  We started with 3x8 of back squats and then did 3x8/side of barbell step-ups - a loaded barbell on your back and you step up onto a box, alternating which leg goes first.

I kept my weight moderate for this workout, but when I recorded it in my workout log the next day, I noticed that I hadn't done any back squats since the surgery.  I had done front squats, but not back squats.  We finished the Tuesday workout with wall balls, power cleans and hanging knee raises.

Last night, strength work was focused on push presses.  The prescribed rep pattern was 5332211.  I started at 75 pounds for the 5 reps - way too easy.  Then, on to 95 for the first set of three, increasing by 5 pounds every set.  I got to 120 for the second single rep and still felt like I had more.  To be honest, I don't even know what my one rep max is for the push press.  I've done 145 for the strict press, although I couldn't do that now.  And, I've done 195 for the clean and jerk, using a split jerk to get that weight overhead.  So, my best for the push press is between those two weights.  But, 120 still seemed easy, so I added single reps at 125 and 130.

From there, we moved to pull-ups, shoulder to overhead (any movement allowed - strict press, push press, push jerk, split jerk, etc.) and kettlebell swings.

Today, I feel like I've been run over by a truck.  Every muscle in my body is sore, it seems.  I'm sure most of it is from the strength work on Tuesday, but this is by far the worst I've hurt from a workout since my surgery.

Tonight's workout includes a "Work your weakness" segment, so I can pick movements that won't kill the muscles that already hurt.  The latter part of the workout includes sit-ups, push-ups, and box jumps (step ups for me).  I should be able to get through that before a rest day tomorrow and then skiing on the weekend.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Ski Season to Date

This has been an odd ski season in many, many ways.  First of all, I lost three weekends after my surgery.  Those 6 days easily exceed the total number of days I've missed in my previous 12 seasons as an instructor.

(I just typed a whole lot of stuff about goings-on at the mountain, but on the off-chance that anyone in management would see what I'd written, I deleted it all.)

We haven't had a good snow year at all.  This might be the worst snow year I've ever seen at our mountain.  With one exception, every major storm has gone to our south.  A week ago, it looked like today would bring us lots of snow.  Instead, that snow seems to be targeting Baltimore, a city that probably doesn't want the snow at all.

For the first time in 12 years, I have a brand new group of students - not a single hold-over from the previous season.  For the most part, I like the children in the group, but they are the most challenging group that I've had.  I've had one girl behave so poorly that she went home for the remainder of a day.  I've had a student ask to borrow my phone to make an emergency call to her mother, and then change my pass-code without telling me, effectively locking me out of my own phone.  Yesterday, I had to hike uphill a long way when the group decided to play a prank on me, and then a student slipped on some ice and claimed she was hurt.  In reality, she wasn't hurt at all, but I was furious that they had done what they'd done.

And, they don't even want to ski.  They just want to sit in the cafeteria and eat junk food and drink sugared water of one form or another.  Or they want to play outside.  Or, if they want to ski, they want to ski terrain that isn't appropriate for the conditions or their skill levels.  As an instructor, I'm supposed to improve their skill levels, but they won't listen when I try to teach things to them.  On more than one occasion, the group has defied my directions and skied terrain that I did not believe was safe.  They simply took off on their own despite what I'd told them.

So, we have three weeks left in the teaching part of the season.  I'm really hoping we get some snow soon, because the time when I can actually ski on my own starts at the end of this month.  And, if we don't get more snow soon, a couple warm spells could quickly reduce our open trail count and limit my skiing options for late March and into April.

It's not over yet, but at this point in time, I'd have to call this my most difficult season as an instructor, in just about every aspect of the job and skiing in general.  It's been the kind of season where I've told my boss many times that I've been ready to just quit.  It's a job that costs me more to perform than I earn, and when it's a net negative cost, it should at least be fun.  This year has failed in that respect quite a bit.