05 May 2007

My Apprentice Year Or How I Lost 22 Pounds

Although my apprentice year with the ski patrol has been effectively over since St. Patrick's Day, it's not 110% official until the banquet tonight. So, it's only now that I've chosen to encapsulate it in a single post.

I finished up OEC last June, the day after I turned 35. I'd had several conversations with Barkernews and some of the other 'Inverts' about sled training and decided I ought to get off my ass and at least put in a couple days a week in the gym working the legs. But I slacked off instead, spending the summer drinking too many beers at OBF and not getting any healthier. I did get in some shadow days with the patrol, and played 'victim' for the Inverts' FRT sessions, but little else in terms of exercise.

In August, I decided to go see the doc about a physical, since I was now 35 and hadn't had one in I don't know how long. I don't think I'd had one since my Army exit physical in 1997. I started working out in September anyway, because I knew at 5'7", weighing 192 isn't any good at all. The doc got back to me about the rest of the results from my physical, and the report was my cholesterol was higher than it should be, I was overweight (I knew that already, but whatever), and whatever numbers indicate liver health weren't where the doc wanted them.

Okay, so add eating right to the workout. More veggies, no more fast food, less beer. I'd taken a month off from beer in October/November, and finally started sled training after that. So I was getting 3-4 days a week in the gym plus the workout on the weekend of dragging rescue toboggans all over the place, on top of a better diet. Nothing fancy, just eating smarter.

It started working. As I learned more about toboggan-handling techniques, and practiced them weekly, the pounds started slowly melting away. I was working hard on the hill and in the gym. And I just flat-out felt better. Except for getting sick a couple times, I had more energy, I had goals, I had some new friends (fall OEC class), and re-connected with some classmates from the spring class.

By the time February rolled around, I was getting very comfortable in the handles running sleds, having tackled pretty much all the tough stuff at Ski Bowl, and some nice steep stuff over at Meadows. Thoughts turned to memorizing the maps for the map test, and to FRT. Also, by then, I was down to around 170 pounds, which is where I've been hovering for a while. I figure I dropped about 3-4" off my waist, too. I've still got work to do, and I know I can do it because I've been maintaining my weight while slacking a little bit on both diet and exercise.

March saw the completion of my training on St. Patrick's Day. It was a relief, but also exciting because a new chapter of my Ski Patrol saga was beginning. What was interesting to see was the increased acceptance into the 'club', and trainers other than JG were interested in what I had to say about how I felt training went and what could be improved. We've got a good batch of trainers, but I think the strategy could be improved. I'm planning on taking an active part in that improvement.

April was all about putting it into practice. I got to make more new friends, patrol with some of my spring OEC classmates, and start earning vouchers. I wonder when I'll get to use them?

What did I learn through all this? I learned that I still have some self-discipline. I learned that I still love to ski just as much as I did when I was racing. In fact, joining the patrol is proof positive that I'd do just about anything to get out on the hill. I learned I don't have to be a beast to handle the sled well. I learned to carry extra straps around 'cause you never know when you'll have to carry armfuls of bamboo. I learned not to leave my aid pack's rain cover stowed when it's crappy weather. I learned what "off to the side" really means. I learned not to fear lap-loading sleds. I learned to bring my camera every time I go up. I learned how to get a tow from a snowmobile without getting sprayed with snow. I learned from 2 different people that you should make sure your radio is well secured. I learned that the patrol is an interesting and odd family.

And I learned I still have much to learn.