LGN 133: Slopes & Strokes

Inside: Snowboarding! Return of the Mack; Swim IV; the Cooper Test

You don’t understand.

I am stoked to be able to snowboard. I’ve been thinking for years that I was going to have to sell all of my snowboard gear.

Not my baby!

Back in early 2015 I did the REI Learn to Ski or Snowboard class at Liberty Resort. Then I kept going back. Went with some friends once or twice. M showed me the ropes and ended up taking me on a black diamond run. I wasn’t ready. I wanted to be. I wasn’t. D and Z spent some quality time with me on a weekday night on the green runs. Many thanks. I bought the rest-of-the-season deal, I bought a snowboard and accessories, and my family gave me $$ for my birthday so I could buy a season pass for the following season. (Guess who cheaped out and didn’t buy the season pass insurance.)

Then I overdid it and my knee started acting up. Then I did some running, ran a 5K for the first time in my life with nephew #2, ran with Sara, did my training in the gym, and things got worse. Went backpacking, hiking, bike riding and so on, punctuated by varying degrees of knee discomfort. By the following December things came to a head. Went to a doctor, started physical therapy. On Christmas Day of 2015 I squatted down — a full ATG (ass to grass) squat — to pick up a heavy bag full of gifts and I felt something go very wrong. A muted sharp pain followed by a sustained pain echo.


That was the exact moment when I tore cartilage or finished tearing it. A few months later I had surgery and have been trying to build up ever since.

(If you guessed that it was me who cheaped out and didn’t buy season pass insurance, you guessed correctly. Flushed that money right down the toilet.)

Parts are never the same after surgery. My eccentric leg strength is poor. Even now you can see my legs start to shake when they’re under a load going down, but apparently that’s something I can work on.

My knees get annoyed more easily than they used to. I have to recover a little longer and assertively.

But after the cross country skiing REI outing a few weeks ago — you know, honestly, my body doesn’t get skiing. I dig Nordic skiing but that wedge is hard. I came very close to groin trauma and not in a good way. One of the guys working there told me that I had to channel my inner Norwegian or Finn. Ha. Little did he know that my grandmother has Scandinavian in her ancestry so I actually do have some inner Norwegian or Finn to draw upon. Go figure.

Anyway, snowboarding. I figured I’d give it a shot and just accept the consequences. Maybe my lower leg would snap off at the knee and go cartwheeling down the slope. Maybe not.

At Whitetail Ski Resort with the 30s & 40s Going Out Group I took a beginner lesson in the morning and an intermediate lesson in the afternoon. It started to come back to me but better than before. I was linking turns and not steamrolling over small humans like a champ but the annoying bad habit I developed years ago was there.  The intermediate instructor nailed it, though. I end up going into full braking mode to bleed off speed because I’m over-committing and heel turning too aggressively. He said I only need a little pressure. I get it now but I need to practice.

The Sidewinder (green) at Whitetail is a lot of fun. If I can get my turns quicker I can tackle the blue slopes.

The thing about snowboarding is that it’s addictive. The effort versus dopamine/endorphin payoff is without equal. (Except for the ski lift. The dismount still stresses me out ’cause I will fall and make an ass of myself.) I watch a ton of YouTube videos — SnowboardProCamp all day — and it looks like people have the most fun when they’re just on the edge of control.

The weather in the Mid-Atlantic has been balmy. Not great for snow conditions so I’m looking for deals to places with good snow. It’s a lark, a whim, for sure, but I never know what’s going to set me off. Oh my word. There are Summer snowboard camps?! Why does no one tell me these things? Help a brotha out.


I’ll be going back to Inside Ski Training Center. For the curious, it’s like an astroturf treadmill. The instructor can vary the speed and incline depending on what you’re working on. Real snow is more forgiving (unless it’s icy), but I’m looking forward to working on my skills throughout the year.

Next year’s snow season? It is mf’in on.

Wear long sleeves. Maybe knee pads. If you expect to fall, that is. I know how to brake, but the psychological comfort of the bar was too inviting. Eat carpet, fool. Lesson!


We had the swim IV test tonight in the penultimate class. I didn’t pass but I didn’t expect to. [singing mournfully]Under the seaaaa[/singing mournfully]


First of all, I need time to warm up. Like, twenty minutes. Swimming two lengths at the start doesn’t qualify as a warm up. That’s just enough to max my heart rate, set my kicking muscles ablaze, and begin the process of clearing out belches that taste like lunch.

Unfortunately, the next Swimming IV is full and I’m on the wait list. Not sure what I’m going to do. There’s nothing stopping me from practicing on my own. Plenty of resources on YouTube. But my self motivation blah blah blah blaaaaah.

So it looks like I’m going to be at level IV for a while. My vessel, aka my body, isn’t suited for aquatic efficiency. It’s like … the opposite. I’ve been told that I’m built like a truck. [flicks haters off both shoulders] Ladies.

So technique is critical, is my point.


Even though I was wiped and it quickly became evident that my legs were sore as hell from snowboarding, I had fun doing the Cooper Test even though I was dreading it. You need to go all out every now and then, especially when it comes to things that are a little out of your comfort zone. It was as painful as I thought it would be but more so. Basically, how far can you swim in 12 minutes. Eight lengths. Nine, kind of, but for the last one I used the fins because I thought we were done. That’s 225 yds with cheating, which qualifies as “Very poor”. Damnitsonofabitch. I’m so sick of being bad at things. I need to accomplish something.


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