Jackson Hole Bound

Posted by on February 24, 2010 in Training

Tomorrow afternoon, weather permitting, I head out to Jackson Hole (of the snow variety, not the diner).  With three friends and reported great conditions on the mountain, this will assuredly be a great trip.  Thing is, the NYC local snow report calls for 3-5 inches of snow, thus jeopardizing the departure of my flight which has to connect with another to make it into Jackson.  My buddy Craig and I are flying together and if we miss that connecting flight, we could potentially be stuck in the airport and maybe miss a day on the mountain.  That would be the worst case scenario, but with it being out of my control, all I can do is hope for the best.  In preparation for that scenario however, I’ll be bringing some basics onto the plane with me, like a toothbrush, a change of clothing, all the re-charging elements for phone, iPod, Mac, etc.

Craig is also a triathlete and a very good one at that.  We’ve raced maybe half a dozen times head-t0-head and most if not all of the time, he beats me.  I’m okay with friends being faster; of course, my super competitive nature still exists in these kinds of things, but in endurance events, it’s really more about me vs. me, not me vs. another person… unless we’re sprinting for the finish in which case, I’m going to own that person!  Of most sports though, I take great pride in being athletic and expect that I should be perfect in every aspect, despite the irrationality of it.  When I drop a pass in football, or miss a lay-up, etc., I literally lose sleep.  The other day, my good friend Darren visited for just one night from California on a layover, and we headed to a sports bar with friends Brad and Karen to watch the Olympics and play beer pong.  On two occasions, I was tasked with the last shot and all the pressure.  On both occasions, I hit it.  That night, I slept so well and with a huge smile.  Over beer pong?  Seriously?  What can I say; I want to step up in every nature of competition.  I want to be the person who has to hit the two free throws to win it; I want to be the go-to guy with the last at-bat; I want the best coverage guy on me and have the ball thrown to me; it goes on.  I don’t know what percentage of the time I’m successful in these scenarios, but when I am, there’s hardly any way to describe the feeling.  At a minimum, it does wonders for my self-confidence, and it gives me endless day-dream distractions when board in meetings!

Anyway, back to Craig; he’s an interesting guy.  We could not be more opposite in our religious and political views, but he’s such a good guy in so many ways and with such an open-ness with respect to music and culture that we have forged a great friendship.  We actually met while he dated my good friend Laurel.  When they stopped dating, it was under amicable terms, and he and I actually became closer.  He was a Marine (is the etiquette to use the present tense, as in, “Once a Marine, always a Marine?” I don’t know), and works as a federal law enforcement agent.  So his stories of take-downs, stake-outs, and office pranks are endlessly entertaining to me.  He also has had incredible celebrity encounters since he trains at Chelsea Piers, in NYC.  Just last week, he was next to Mick Jagger.  In the past, he’s been the lane next to Michael Phelps.  He also shared an elevator with Phillip Seymour Hoffman and offered up something akin to a pick-up line.  What a goof.

I’m sure we’ll be great buddies on this vacation.  My other friends with us are Sandie and Kelly, both of whom I’ve known for years through one of the football leagues here in NYC.  With any luck, my brother will drive up from Denver.  That would make this trip incredible special for me.  Last year, he and I got to spend two days on the mountain at Vail and it was unbelievably fun to do so.  He’s an amazing skier in every possible way imaginable.  I’m in such awe of his ability.  Though I mostly snowboard these days, we take on the same terrain, just in different ways.  Plus, I value the opportunity to spend any time with a sibling no matter how brief; they are extremely rare… for a variety of reasons.

As for training, things continue to improve.  Last weekend, I did a double indoor cycling session with my team.  The first session was designed to be primarily aerobic with longer sets of varying intensities, but the second one was a lot different.  Coach Robert, in one set, had us shift to the hardest gear then stand up and put forth the absolute maximum effort we could, and sustain it for 15 seconds, then recover for two minutes.  Seemed fairly benign when initially described, but it was super tough.  We did this ten times.  On my fourth attempt, I hit 41.3 mph which is fairly remarkable, I thought, for being stationary.  By the eighth one, my lungs were coming through my throat and my legs were searing with pain.  It was only 15 seconds, but it felt longer.  How crazy.  After the sessions, I did 20 minutes on the treadmill at an easy-to-moderate pace to flush out some of the lactic acid.  That night, while relaxing at home, I flexed my legs a bit kind of out of boredom I guess, and felt tremendous fatigue.  But, it was the good fatigue, the kind that comes with a smile since it’s from good hard work.

The next morning, the team had planned a run from the fountain in Central Park to a brunch spot just over the Brooklyn Bridge in Dumbo.  I charted it to be about 8 miles, and including my run from my place to the meeting spot, I figured the day would total 11.45 miles.  That’s about 3 miles more than my longest run this year, and it would be the most mileage for me since my knee injury in early October.  But, by doing it with a group, I’d likely be distracted enough to survive.  Frankly, I didn’t know how I’d fare, but I had premonitions of having sheer will power help me finish if things got tough.

I had to run hard to get to the meeting spot on time because of lollygagging at home.  Not the best strategy for a long training day.  When I got there, I saw about 30-35 people finishing their stretches under Coach Robert’s direction.  Thereafter, we broke up into different pace groups with the goal being to choose the group that was 60-90 seconds slower than one’s normal 10k pace given that this longer distance run should be at a lower intensity.  I chose the 9 minute-per-mile group that Robert happened to be leading.  Surprisingly, the plan was to run west to the Hudson River, and run along the path all the way down to Battery Park, wrap around the bottom of the island, then head to the Brooklyn Bridge.  That was not the path I charted and would definitely add distance.  Oh no!

We took off at a reasonable pace and for some reason, I was leading a group of 8 people.  One guy left us, and for a few more miles, I dictated the pace.  I guess my pace started to slow a bit, so others stepped up and did the pace-setting in my stead.  At one point, I felt myself getting dropped despite what I figured to be a sustained pace and effort level.  Were they going faster?  I didn’t want to be alone, so I picked up the effort (and corresponding heart rate) and stayed with them.  By the time we got to Battery Park City, I was back in front leading the group around the bottom of the island.  As we headed onto the approach of the Brooklyn Bridge, we saw a long climb to the main span of the bridge.  One guy took off, and another followed, and another.  I decided to pick up the pace to stay with them and before long, there were five of us all huffing and puffing as we ran uphill for perhaps a mile.  So much for the low intensity effort goal; I was working at an anaerobic rate but I felt pretty good despite it and despite the fact that I was at mile 13 or so.  By the time we got to the brunch spot, I figured I had done close to 14 miles.  Not bad!  And, I felt good and strong!   Jeez, who knew these legs would support me like that.  I’m frankly amazed.

This week has been somewhat disjointed with vacation preparation and various other things, but I’ve gotten in my workouts and will do a double session tonight with a run and swim.  Tomorrow will be a travel day, though I might be able to fit in a short bike ride on the trainer before heading to the airport.  Then, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday will be mountain days in Wyoming.  I’m sure the legs will respond, but my primary focus is finding the crazy stuff on the mountain.  Last night, one of my triathlon teammates gave me two names of guides in Jackson Hole, so I may call one of them up to hit some back-country terrain.  We’ll see.  Might be expensive.

When I get back, I’ll be in NYC for just three days before heading to Chicago for a boys weekend.  A week later, it’s the Miami Triathlon.  I’m really looking forward to the race.  I’ve begun daydreaming about how I’ll do, and that’s always a good sign.  I just bought a new base bar for my triathlon bike, and on it will attach flat aero bars that I’ve had for a few years but never mounted.  With this new set-up, a new disc rear wheel, and a few other modifications, I’m figuring to have the equipment primed for great execution.  And, with better conditioning at this point of the season than in any other year, I’m hoping for a great bike effort.  The swim will remain an iffy proposition, but I expect to run hard off the bike.  Really though, this event is just a training race for me given my primary focus on other events later in the season, but I can’t help but get amped up for it.

That’s it for now.  I’ll try to get some pics of me thrashing about at Jackson Hole on the next post. Hopefully none will be of me in the hospital… though I’ll probably be smiling in either scenario.

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