Sunday, June 08, 2008

AMHL Training, Part II: Back in the Saddle

Continued from Part I

Saturday, June 7

Back in my chestnut-colored chair at the computer desk, I’m listening to the New England Hockey Journal Radio Show. I missed the program last week because the AMHL Photographer and I were out west.

Besides visiting family in Fort Fun, CO (elevation 4,984 feet) the vacation afforded me an opportunity for high altitude training. Driving north from my hometown, the AMHL Photographer and I passed deer and antelope along Highway 287 en route to our safehouse in Jackson, WY (elevation 6,209 feet).

There in the Teton valley, in the see-your-breath cold air, I watched magpies fly and listened to ravens caw as I stepped up my training.

As Tuesday AMHLlers snacked on donuts after their game, I took hockey-like strides and breathed deep through my nose. I walked up Budge Street, a 12% grade along West Gros Ventre Butte.

On Wednesday morning, I ventured on another hour-long expedition: I hoofed it to the local rink— home of the Jackson Hole Moose Hockey Club—and ascended into the cemetery in the shadow of Snow King Mountain (elevation 8,003 feet). That afternoon, the AMHL Photographer and I hiked into Cascade Canyon, along snow-packed trails, from Lake Jenny to Hidden Falls.

On Thursday morning, we drove from the land of Harrison Ford to the land of John Denver. After another rigorous ride on the hotel’s stationary bike, it was time to take my training to new heights.

West of Fort Collins, beyond Horsetooth Reservoir is Lory State Park. Atop “Buddy,” my dad’s Spanish Barb, Mr. Hockey led my sister-in-law (riding Shawnee) and I (on the steady steed Cimarron) along the two-mile East Valley Trail.

Passing below Arthur’s Rock and riding—intermittent walking, trotting, and loping—toward the base of Horsetooth Mountain, I was beginning to feel the collective effects of altitude and lactic acid build-up in my legs.

You try squeezing your thighs against an equine’s barrel for almost forty-five minutes. And at more than a mile high.

“Keep your heels down,” my father reminded me for about the tenth time.

“I can’t hear you,” I said. “My thighs are screaming.”

In another hour or so, my ultimate hockey workout was complete.

The soreness subsided just in time for my hockey game on Thursday. And now that I’ve had my first donut in three weeks (happy belated National Donut Day, by the way), and have listened to my favorite hockey show, it’s time to mount the exercise bike. Giddyup!
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