Sunday, December 18, 2011

Fitness Insanity

On Tuesday, I drove to Vail to have my final check out with Dr. Corenman of Stedman Hawkins. They were really pleased and told me I am fully released, strong and fit for duty!

This meant that I could call Erik at Aspen Crossfit and tell him YES I'M READY!! (Oh, Lord, help...)

The Elements class had started on Monday, but they let me jump in the next day. I went slightly intimidated, because I've heard my friend Monique talk about doing huge Olympic Lifts and squats and all kinds of insane things that super strong, fit people do.

Elements Class getting after it!
I am not a super strong, fit person since my surgery for sure. And I was nervous after my experience carying the 8lb backpack to Highlands and laying on the couch for the whole next day about what lifting weights would be like for me.

We talked a bit about my limitations. Erik is able to modify ANY workout to be suitable, and so in I went.

We spent the evening learning the proper position for some very serious looking exercises, but we did it using PVC pipes. Erik is really specific about how our form is, and I was grateful for that, I have been known to get after it and hurt myslef. So my job is to make sure I'm paying attention and learn good form, and always use it.

I do feel like I'm being set up for success in so many ways, from being protected from injury through the very specfic graduated steps in which we are learning the exercises, to the community feel of the place.

Our first workout was about 10 minutes long, and I was quite sore the next day, surprisingly so.

Scott working hard and loving it.
I am combining Bikram Yoga daily with Crossfit three times a week to see if I can't get my strength and flexibility back heading into tryouts (should I be invited). I'm training like I'm going, regardless.

(**Update: There are four words you are not allowed to say in the crossfit gym: Can't, Should, Try and Never (I think the last one is never...) anyhow, Erik totally busted me for the above sentence and I gave him a Burpee for it. 

Unreal. Burpee punishment by remote. I LOVE IT. Now if he could only follow me in the bumps and make me do a Burpee for every less than excellent turn, I'd be motivated!**)

The Aspen Crossfit gym is full of all kinds of inspirational quotes, and Erik himself is absurdly positive, a strong, fit force of positivity. You almost can't help but feel like through sheer force of will, you too will get strong, ripped, fit and happy.

I left feeling like "I can do this." and then I couldn't sleep because I was so jacked up.

I hit yoga the next day, after finding myself wishing that it was Crossfit day several times. Friday morning I woke up and thought "Crossfit today! Yay!"

Friday turned out to be one of those days that you can't believe you live through. Kurt and I skied Ruthies all morning, ripping huge turns and working on my wonkiness in my turn to the left. My legs and abs were gassed, and we tuned skis.

Sometimes I'm not so smart...
In the midst of tuning skis, my file slipped and I ripped a big gash in my wrist, all the way to the tendon. But not through it. Patrol was called, I felt like a dumbass, and he told me it was going to need stitches. Bleh! I begged him to super glue it shut, I had to go take a birthday cake to Ethan at his school and I couldn't be late.

We bandaged it up, I grabbed the cake, ran it to school, and we all celebrated Ethans DOUBLE DIGITS! Then Tom and I stopped by Bodhi's class for their holiday party, and then I headed to the Aspen Medical Center where I got four stitches, one over the tendon and three to close the gash. I finished JUST in time to head to yoga.

Kate Giampapa guides us through the Bikram series.
Got there and realized it was hot vinyassa, which means weight bearing postures on the arms. Ow. Sweated my band aid off. Packed up, showered and jumped into less soaking clothes, and headed to Crossfit. There was no way I was going to miss this.

We were learning a press, which requires you to have your wrists bent back, and burpies, which require you to fall to the floor on your hands. Great.

My legs were already toast from training in the morning with Kurt and then standing in Horse stance for about ten minutes in yoga. So the Med Ball Squat Press that we learned was BRUTAL. And awesome.

Another ten minute workout and I got in my car feeling like an athlete again. That only took a week. I came home and at a HUGE piece of fish and almost an entire tub of lettuce and then fell asleep by about 8:30.

If I feel this good, this strong, this sore, this challenged and this excited and happy after a WEEK being back in the swing of things, I can only imagine what four solid months of this will do to my body, mind and spirit.

Thank you Aspen Crossfit and Arjuna Yoga for being so amazing!!

Monday, December 12, 2011

Curate Skiing in the Shower!

Curating can be FUN!
Hey, Tweeps and peeps, I'm putting a tab up just for the PSIA National Alpine Team Selection Committee on my blog of the BEST OF Was there a post that inspired YOU?

Help me curate the BEST OF and your name will go on the curator list! 

Thanks for your help! 

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Sunday, December 11, 2011

From Full-Contact Commuting to Elbows-Out Mountain Biking

Guest Post by Amy DaRosa

Amy and Kurt post ride.
Amy was kind enough to write this guest post for Skiing in the Shower this summer after adventuring all over Snowmass Mountain with Kurt and I. Sorry for the long delay, but I'm excited to be sharing it with you now!

I've never considered myself a kick-ass, aggressive kind of girl, even though I have skied moguls, black diamonds and expert trails in the east and west, have lived and worked in NYC for the better part of 17 years, have worked my way up the corporate ladder and have thrown my share of elbows on the subway. So I guess my recent summertime visit to Snowmass, CO was as good a time as any to find my inner assertiveness and bring it out -- for something positive.

In advance of this house-hunting trip, my husband and I had made plans with several friends, including Kate and Kurt who I would be meeting in person for the first time. I should really call them super friends though, because I discovered that these two are up-for-almost-anything, high-achiever, technically superior, adrenaline-junkie, endurance machines of the highest order. When meeting up with them Sunday I even joked with Kate asking if she had a cape on under all that body armor.

A-hem, what??? Body armor, you ask? Yup, that's right. We were about to learn how to downhill mountain bike, which calls for body armor, helmet, gloves and a pretty awesome, fat-tired mountain bike. Safety first, folks!

So there we stood at the base of our favorite ski area, looking up at her multiple peaks donning their lush, green summer coat. I was wearing bike clothes -- the first set I had ever owned, purchased the day before -- but I felt almost naked. I usually tackled these hills when they were blanketed with snow in my very own layers of long underwear, ski pants, North Face jacket, Smart Wool socks, ski boots, glove liners, you name it.

But, the good news was we had our super friends on our side. After getting outfitted with bikes and gear, we suited up and were ready to learn the basics on flat ground. Have I mentioned I hadn't been on a bike since 1988?

Kurt talked us through and demonstrated the important stuff then had us practice and play, making corrections and encouraging us, all of which went pretty well. The bike was fun and fairly cushy with massive shock absorbers. We learned how to stand up on the pedals, lean the bike to turn and brake the right way. We were ready for our first mini-course.

Up the gondola we went. We got out at the mid-station to practice the mini-course, which was scratched out of a faintly sloped patch of dirt and grass. We pedaled and turned and stopped. Proving we were ready, we headed downhill with Kurt in the lead and Kate bringing up the rear. I shed a few tears during a scared moment, as I'm known to do, but then we kept going. They successfully coached us down our first descent -- high-fives all around! Now for the next challenge: taking the gondola to the top.

We laughed during the ride up, but I was a bit nervous. I'm not the keen bike handler that Erik (my avid road-biking husband) is, but I was still planning to go for it as best as I could. We got off the gondola, enjoyed the view, talked about the beginner trail ahead then started down. At one point Kurt suggested I brake more aggressively, which I tried to do. Feeling a bit unsure, I told him I hadn't found my inner aggression so he instead tried to get me to channel my assertiveness.

Before taking on terrain that might prove too challenging, we put our bikes down to preview a tricky portion of the course on Kurt's advice. I decided I wasn't ready for that so Kurt led me down a slightly easier path, while Erik and Kate pressed on. I was trailing behind Kurt pretty well for a little while then got spooked by a slightly more difficult turn. Many people might not have gotten spooked by this, but what can I say? As is my normal process when encountering anxiety in advance of a break-through, I shed a few more tears. Kurt was patient and supportive, helping me regain my confidence and get started again.

We met up with Erik and Kate lower down the mountain and finished up the end of the trail together. Victory! We reached the bottom with hugs and smiles -- Erik's bigger than anyone's. He was hooked and went back up for several more laps of the course with Kate. Kurt met up with another client to start his next lesson. I stopped for the day feeling proud of Erik and of myself, and thankful for our friends who now appeared more super and talented than ever! I can give myself credit for being brave, assertive and maybe even a little bit aggressive and kick-ass after all. I think I could learn to like this :)

Saturday, December 10, 2011

On Fear, Choice, and Community

Okay, here's the truth. I haven't been writing much lately, not because I don't have a lot to write about, but because I'm not sure what to put up here! As I get closer to the selection process, I feel like I should share less, just in case someone finds a wart on my nose or something...

But isn't that silly? I mean, the whole point of this was to really share what the PROCESS of heading to the tryout was like, to sort of look at it from a journalistic standpoint.

So, part of the process is that over time, you realize that you are kind of in a job interview all the time. And that everything you post, to a blog, to Facebook, to Twitter, is part of that interview. Our employers have so much more access to our "non-work" faces now than they ever did.

Ethan and I explore Tiehack Terrain on opening day at Buttermilk
But I like transparency. I mean, we are all people. We all go through tough stuff. And I hope that being authentic and true and really going through this self and life examination process, and being willing to do it in a way that is NOT whitewashed, but real, is helpful for others to know that they don't have to be perfect to persue their dreams.

Martha Stewart, while she has a great banana bread recipe, is not real life. Real life is messy, and that is part of its beauty.

Its true that over the years, I've learned that some things, while interesting to write about and really difficult and scary (and therefore interesting to share; facing that moment and choosing to be honest forces a deeper introspection and more careful decision making) aren't really appropriate to share while I'm on this path. This was the irony of this choice. Part of the decision making here (and it was one of the tougher decisions) was chosing whether to stay true to the intention of the blog and share all, or to stay true to the path and begin to edit.

It took some long walks with some smart people to make the choice. So far, in every instance, over time, the path has won.

I wrote a lot about my personal relationships over the years, because my decision to go down this road affects them. I really wanted other people who were trying to examine their lives to know that they aren't alone in that issue; going to grad school puts stress on the other parent. Training for the Olympics puts stress on everyone around you because you live that training as your job 24/7 for years. This feels similar to both, but there had to be some balance that felt honest to the path, but in service of my family, who I love, and whom, without, this would all really be pointless.

I was curious about what would happen, to me, to my kids, to my romantic relationships, to my family in general. How would changing careers and then dedicating myself completely to becoming a viable candidate affect my life and my relationships? Would it be worth it? Would I find a choice that would take me off the path?

I think this was really the thing that has helped me most in my personal growth along the way, looking carefully at those decisions. And you guys have been there when I've asked "at what cost?".

When I first started this, I didn't think there really would be a large personal cost. I assumed that I'd be able to balance it all, kids, working out, skiing, relationships. After all, we had kids when we owned the rock climbing gym, and it was fine. But our paths were the same then, and we were more well financed.

Looking back over the last six years, this journey has forced me to examine my wants and desires, my personal accountability, my integrity, my will, my love and make choices all the way. And I got tired of learning lessons and making choices. I wanted sometimes to have learned the lesson and be done. But another beautiful nugget I get to take away from this journey is that really, that never stops.

It doesn't matter if you reach the goal or not. The lessons, the choices, the difficulties don't stop just because you reach your career goal. The more you listen, the more opportunities for growth are presenting them in every choice you make, every day.

And leaning into that, accepting it, welcoming it, is part of the gift. Its like that annoying friend who always speaks her mind. You can either stop being friends, or be grateful for the honesty and get something out of it. Make a positive change for good. When you live with that annoying friend, and you are tapped on the shoulder all day long, it gets tiring. But if you want to strive for excellence, shouldn't you want to be excellent in your person first, and in your career second?

This journey has seen the loss of my marriage, and then has aided us coming back together as supportive friends co parents and even housemates. Having talked extensively since Tom moved here in July, we have realized that our paths, our decisions, were the best, healthiest, and hardest things we ever did. We are better people, better parents, and better friends for what we went through. Turns out we made good decisions. I do think there is more than one right decision at most turning points. But making the hard, best decision you can make is the point.

This journey saw the uprooting of my kids, my mother quitting her life for a year to help out, near total poverty, the collapse of another relationship, the total destruction of my truck, spine surgery...

So many times, I have called my mentors, who have been in this game longer, are waaaayyyy wiser than I, in tears, asking, "Am I insane? I mean, do I really have a shot at doing this? Am I ruining my life and the life of everyone around me? Or am I creating a better life for myself and my kids because I'm being true to myself?"

This is why, I think, we need to have a really good, personal motivation that comes from a really true place, and a group of people you trust to help you out. When things got confusing, and they did, many times along the way, I needed a guiding light out of that cloud of confusion.

Bodhi, stoic, ready to drop in.
Because this journey has given me a life that is more beautiful and true than any one I could have dreamed up. It has led me to Aspen, to a group of people that feel like family. It has given me hope, and joy, and friendships that are so deep.  It has challenged me to be more, to be better. It pokes at my deepest fears and begs me to let go of them. It has given my kids freedom and joy to grown and expand and learn in a way I never thought possible.

In the end, you have to make a choice. I think lots of times we miss opportunity for happiness or growth because we are afraid that growth will be uncomfortable to other people in our lives. So we chose familiarity over integrity to our souls.

And while we absolutely need to take the people in our lives into consideration, and make these choices with them, and in consideration of them, we also have to be true to ourselves. Sometimes, we have to be brave and make the hard choice.

Sometimes I wasn't sure if the hard choice was leaving the path that was shaping me, or continuing along it.

During these six years, that balance, holding that polarity, has been the biggest, hardest challenge of all. And as the tryout has gotten closer and closer, I have needed more and more from my family and support group. This is really not something you can do by yourself.

I needed help with my kids, financial support, guidance in my career choices, guidance in how to share on this blog, I needed resources, teaching, history, technical, eyes on the hill. Encouragement to run and lift and cycle and work. I needed to learn when to let go of the goal because I needed to balance family in a way that is nurturing for them, wow, I needed A LOT. (and I got one, Aunt A Lot came back from Argentina, and hugged me and said, GO KATE GO!)

Friday at 5pm was the deadline for uploading applications for consideration for the National Team Selection.

Thursday and Friday, I felt like I was being held inside a giant warm down sleeping bag of friendship. My mom was calling and texting and telling me how proud she was of me for making it this far. My sister was finishing 15 days of brutal boot packing, and she still called and offered her support. My ex husband was reading and editing my material and taking care of our kids. I re shot my video four times in the last week. This took the time and resources of four incredibly dedicated, giving people who went out of their way to help.

This wasn't due to a lack of planning, but due to a desire to really represent accurately myself to the selectors, and what I might bring should they chose to invite me.

And these people, my friends and supporters did it with such ease and grace, that I had to take the lesson about giving. I learned a lot about rallying around someone you care about and helping them achieve their dream from the people who came to my aid.

The video was reshot because one of my support group said, "Its not you. Reshoot it." I agonized over this. I had already had such support from so many, I was loathe to go back and say, "Hey, I need to do it again."

I faced that question again. In service of doing this right, really giving the best that I could, after training for six years and spending every single penny I had or made, moving my family, could I really ask for more? After leaning so hard on them through surgery, through so much...

The answer had to be yes. I respectfully requested help. Again. And here they came. Gladly. I felt lifted up, and we got it done. If I had a gazillion bucks, I'd throw the worlds greatest party for the people who have carried me here. I hope to hell I can carry many many more on their journeys. It is an amazing thing to have your team of friends rally around you.

Bodhi and Dad sharing the dream.
It came down to the wire (and I'll share that story shortly), literally to 5:00pm on the day of the deadline. But it all went up, and we all looked at each other laughing. It was over. It was up. It was in. I had actually applied for consideration for the team in 2012. But it turns out that I hadn't. We had. We did it together.

And I hope they call me in February and I get to go to the tryout. But right now, I feel like I've already met my goal. I got here. Looking back at the choices, the stresses on family and relationships, I'm grateful for the choices I made. The good and the bad. Each one taught me a lesson in balance, respect, perseverance. I learned to stand on my own to feet. I learned that I'm stronger than I thought. I learned that no one can do it alone, no matter how much they want to. I learned that its not about me at all. Its about all of us.

We are all connected, as so many before me have said. Our journeys are all the same, I think, we are all just trying to live the fullest, most fulfilling, most connected life that we can.

So in the end, I'm glad I stayed on my path. The life before me is the life I love, and I'm grateful that my kids watched me fight for it. Today, we all skied Buttermilk together on opening day. I felt like it was the culmination of six years of hard work. Yesterday, I taught my first sanctioned on snow clinic at Snowmass, my dream job.

And then, the next day, seeing my kids and their dad and aunt ripping around smiling just five minutes from our house with one clinic behind me and another one coming up tomorrow, I thought, we did it. We all did it. Together. And each of us is happier for the fight that got us here.

So to my readers, who helped me through some of those hard times over the years, thank you. Thanks for being real, honest, for having my back and pushing me hard. Thanks for holding my feet to the fire and asking me to write even when it was hard to come back.

You have been the thing that kept this train on the tracks, more than I could ever tell you.

With deep gratitude,


Saturday, December 3, 2011

Aspen Academy Training News Volume1 Issue 1

I'm SUPER STOKED to share one of the things that has had me spelunking in my house for the last three weeks, the first issue of Aspen Academy training news is out! I am really honored to be editing this newsletter, which will come out bi-weekly. We got special dispensation from the Academy Training Manager to share it with the world, so here goes, enjoy it!  Double click on a photo to enlarge it. Thanks for reading!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

POC magaine featuring yours truly!

What an Honor! This fall, I got to spend a couple of hours talking with Shelly Jones of POC magazine, and our conversation became this article in the yearly POC magazine. Click here to read the whole magazine on line!