Monday, March 26, 2012

That "Egg" Ain't Gonna Move Itself

Bill in the Rock Garden

Leon doing one of many Burpees
Carrying my "egg" up the mountain, one step at a time

The forecast for today called for rain showers. I was looking forward to this as it would add a difficult dimension to the training that Bill had planned. It never did rain but the workout proved difficult none the less.

Bill’s goal was to simulate the hills of Vermont as much as possible, not an easy task to do in Maryland. We met at Gambrill, a state park in the mountains west of Frederick. A thick fog hugged the ground which gave an eerie feeling. We were told to bring our backpacks, our 50 pound sand “eggs” from previous workouts, nutrition and hydration.

Our day started with dead lifts of the eggs. We didn’t do a lot of them but it was enough to get our blood pumping. Next, we loaded the eggs into our backpacks and headed off into the forest, opting to bushwhack rather than take trails. We had parked near the top of the mountain so our route took us straight downhill. Along the way, we stopped every fifteen minutes for burpees, push-up or crunches. The first part of our hike was made difficult just by the need to duck under limbs, going through underbrush, and climbing over fallen logs. Soon we came to an area we called the "rock garden". The area was littered with granite rock outcroppings that were covered with lichen, moss and wet leaves. The lichen and moss were actually quite pretty. This portion was treacherous as the rocks were very slippery and many of them were loose. The weight in our backpacks added to the difficulty of staying upright. As we stepped over each rock, I am sure Leon and Bill were thinking back to the sign back at the parking area warning about Timber Rattlesnakes, as was I. After about a mile of making our way through the rock garden, we climbed into a stream and waded our way down the rest of the mountain. The water was cold but refreshing.

Near the bottom of the mountain, the stream began to parallel a private drive where we came across a couple of people chatting by a pickup truck. They turned towards us and gave us the now familiar “what in the hell are you doing?” When we told them we were training, the grouchy old lady told us to leave her property. Realizing we had wandered out of the park, we ever so politely apologized and turned around to head back up the mountain. This time, we opted for the private drive and then bush whacking again when we reached the end of it. This route was even more steep than the way we came down. Every step strained at our quads. The steep slope caused us to take small steps which only made the trek longer. I actually began to look forward to the calisthenics as a way to take a break from the climb. Eventually we made it back to the parking area. Leon had to leave early for a family event. Bill and I jumped into our cars for a short ride over to the Frederick Watershed Area for the next part of our workout.

We left one car at the top of this mountain, loaded our eggs into the other car, and headed three miles down the mountain. This road was one of the steepest and most winding roads I have ever been on. Our task was obvious, carry the eggs back up to the top, no backpacks. We moved way slower than either of us thought we would. To be honest, it was painful but I knew it would pay off in Vermont. Every so often we would need to put the eggs down and rest. When it was time to get moving again, our mantra became, “These eggs ain't gonna to move themselves”. Finally, the top of the mountain was in sight and our workout was over, for this day at least.

1 comment:

  1. Hey Bruce,
    I found the article in the NCSU alumni magazine on the death race site, I'm headed up to VT as well to help my cousin john finish this year. He too tried last year and did not make it. I'm also an NCSU Alum, (99) and will be cheering a fellow wolfpacker on as well!
    Best of luck in your training.