Sunday, January 24, 2010

Adventures in Snowboarding

This is a diagram of a snowboard. Most of it means nothing to me,
but hopefully it will give you an idea of what I'm
talking about, like heel and toe edge. Oh,
and by the way I'm Regular footed. Not Goofy. : )

Well, hello, blogging world!! It's been a while. So, I figured since something DID happen that was news-worthy, I should blog about it: I attempted snowboarding!! Such an accomplishment for me because 1. it was scary to even think about and 2. I've worked at a ski resort for a 1 1/2 years and had never tried it!! Disgraceful, right? Yeah, well. Not anymore!! I'm sure anyone who has read my previous posts knows that I am never short for words. And this post is no exception. : ) I'm gonna give you ALL the gory details. Ready? Here we go!!

So, my first obstacle in my pursuit of snowboarding was finding the appropriate clothing and equipment. I had my green and blue ski coat that would do, but I really did need a new one. Had to wait though. During the Summer, Snowbird has a Lost and Found sale every year and through some miracle, I found some snowboarding boots for $7!! Ridiculous, right?!? Sure, they were used and a little big, but still!! Jackpot!! I also got some goggles and a pair of gloves, so including the boots, it only cost me $11!! Yay for Lost and Found, right? : ) So, when it got closer to Winter, I started looking for pants. Now, I'm not a small person. Yes, I have lost a good amount of weight, but I'm still 5' 10" and I have hips. This presents a problem. I checked online and quite a few stores including Sports Authority, Ross, TJ Maxx and several others good.

First of all, the sizing is whack and most have a super high waist, which sucks. I'm ALL about the low-rise pants. Yes, I know that higher pants meant less snow DOWN my pants, but did I really need them right under my armpits? Really? I think not. Well, one day in December, I was dropping off 2 co-workers at the Trax station at 7200 S. and....something East (directions are not my strong point. Clearly.) and there happened to be a Sportman's Warehouse across the street. I decided to check it out. After a good amount of searching I FINALLY found a pair that fit me!! Huzzah!! Bad news: they were brown. Not ideal. So, I decided to put them on hold and mull it over a bit. Blah, blah, blah. I finally decided it didn't matter THAT much to match. Bought them the next day. Yay! Pants!! So, it turns out my mom was planning on helping me get pants for, it was either she could pay me back for the pants I had already bought (with no surprise on Christmas) or she was willing to help buy me a new coat. Yay!! My green/blue coat was a great coat and it had serve me well over the past 6 or so years, was time for an upgrade. We checked the same stores I had looked at for pants, and again, no success. We randomly decided to check a place called Recreation Outlet (I think?) and I found one that was this ice blue color with brown on it (maybe to match my pants?) and it totally fit!! And only a little over $100 (my mom's cut-off point as far as her contribution). Very generous of her and I LOVE IT!!! We also found some base layer clothing (I paid her back for that) and at that point, I felt like I was finally ready!! I planned on renting a board and bought a cheap hat I could wear, so I was set!! All I needed was someone who was willing to teach me... : )

First Attempt

These are the bruises from my first "lesson"

My friend and co-worker, Matt, was kind enough to "volunteer" to teach me to snowboard. I say that because I sort of coerced/guilted him into it. Haha! But being the good guy he is, he was willing to giving me some beginning lessons. My lesson occurred on a Thursday. The 17th of December, I believe. First of all, getting all those layers on and boots laced up took a while that first time. You want to be warm, but not TOO warm, not bulky. The boots, tight but not TOO tight. I got mine at such a good price, that I didn't mind that they were a bit big. Matt says that they should fit tight, but not uncomfortably so. Better fit, better control on the board. Hm. Well, I did what I could. So, he waited for me to get all suited up and then we took the elevator up to Cliff Sports, the rental place in the Cliff Lodge. I already had boots, so all I needed was a board and bindings. Had to fill out some paperwork first, which included my height and weight (awkward), necessary to get me the right size board. They also determined whether I'm regular or goofy. Meaning, is my left foot in front (regular) or my right foot (goofy). They did that by having me stand with my back to them and the guy pushed me to see which foot I would step forward with. In my case, left. Which make me regular-footed! Also, we told them we worked down in the bakery and Matt casual asked if there was any scenario where rentals could be exchanged for baked goods of any sort. That had worked in the past, but they're a little more strict these days about that sort of thing. Meh. It's fine. So I got up to the register and the guy was nice enough to say that I "seemed like a nice person" and since it was my first time, I was just "good to go", unless I wanted to contribute to the tip jar. I threw in a $5 and off we went. Yay!

So, we walked outside of the rental place and then down the hill a bit to where the bakery is. Matt has his own board, which he keeps in the bakery office, so he went to go get it. And now, I was....ready. : ) He taught me how to put on my bindings, although I did almost lose my board down the hill first. Haha. He caught it, though. Luckily. Anyway, I got strapped in and he then explained the edges: toe edge and heel edge. Sounds easy enough, right? Well, the first step in snowboarding is mastering the heel edge. It's all about finding that medium where you are just sliding down the hill on your heel edge, controlling your speed and basically trying not to fall. Well, that was the plan, but I had a hard time getting in the standing position from my butt. Like I said, sounds easy, but you have a slick piece of wood strapped to your feet and, honestly, I'm a bit top-heavy. Haha!! So, that first time, Matt got in front of me to brace my board with his so I could get up. Yay! I was up!! Then...I'm pretty sure I fell. What? It's hard!! Anyway, after some difficulty, I discovered I could get up on my own from my knees instead of my butt. Progress!! Sort of. The only thing is, if I don't get flipped around facing down the hill the right way, I ended up catching my heel edge and falling flat on my butt. Which HURTS LIKE A MOTHER!!! Seriously. You can't stop yourself from falling at that point. Down you go. Yup. Best thing is to catch yourself with straight wrists and your fist instead of with an open palm. That hurts your wrists after a while and you're more likely to break a finger that way.

Anyway, so I finally made it all the way down the hill after a few more falls. Matt was waiting at the bottom by the chairlift for me. I took a while. haha. Now, when getting on the chairlift, you have to take one of your feet off the board, but keep the other strapped on. From there, you have to navigate your way through the chairlift line with an awkward piece of slippery wood stuck to your foot. Not. Easy. Really. I fell a couple times just doing that!! I felt like such a retard. WORSE than Bambi on ice, I swear. I contorted my body somehow so I was sitting on the board with one foot still strapped on it at some point. *sigh* Whatever. Probably took me 15 min to get on the chairlift that first time. Matt shared a chair with me that first time. Not the best idea. I almost broke my ankle after sitting on the chair cause my toe edge got caught under the chair. Yeah. Fun, eh? After getting on, the ride is pretty calm. Then....the anxiety of getting OFF the chair builds. There's a certain finesse to getting off the lift with a board stuck to your foot. I did not master it that first day. Fell every. Single. Time. Mostly onto my knees, hence the bruises.

Well, it was a long 2 1/2 hours with many, many spectacular falls involved. I think I even ran into the pole of the chairlift at one point. Don't worry. They pad those things for a reason. : ) My last fall of the day was a doozy. I started at the top of the hill, sliding on my heel edge when somehow, I adjusted my weight and caught my entire toe edge and totally face-planted. It happened so quickly and it kind of knocked the wind out of me, so I sort of laid there in the snow for a minute. I could here Matt calling my name and he was scampering up the hill with one foot off his board at a pretty quick pace. I think I worried him, cause he was all serious and all "Anika, are you okay?!?", which was weird. I finally lifted my head and told him I was okay. I don't think I actually hit my face, but I tried so hard not to, that I sort of gave myself whiplash. My neck and shoulders were VERY sore the next couple days. In the course of that fall, I somehow bounced my goggles to the top of my head and I think I lost my hat. It was almost, what Matt called, a "yard sale". Goggles, hat, gloves, everything lying everywhere. Quite the sight, I can bet. So, I sat there for a minute, gathering my senses, and I decided that was enough for one day. Matt was headed in anyway, so I thanked him and he headed back to the bakery. I slowly got up and rode my heel edge over to where the rental place was. I turned in my board and walked through the lodge to the bakery. I could already tell how incredibly sore I was going to be. Neck and shoulders from whiplash, arms from picking myself up, knees and butt and hips from falling, legs from using unusual muscles from dealing with that board....yeah. Pretty much everything. It hurt SO bad to move for the next WEEK!! My knees were really the only physical evidence of the soreness, but they were pretty good bruises. I had to show them to everyone. : ) So...that was my FIRST attempt. Ready for the second? Mmkay.

Second Attempt

On the chairlift. This pic is actually from my third attempt,
but I didn't have a pic from my second. : )

Before I even started this adventure, I had to promise myself that I would go a second time. Everyone told me it would be better. I had my doubts, but I was determined!! I gave myself about 2 weeks to heal up before trying again. Well, actually, I waited until all the vacationers and crazies left until I went, so it was closer to 3 weeks, which was good. I think it was the 8th of January, a Friday. I had gone into work early that day, like 5:30am, so I wouldn't miss out on hours and also could get my work done. Matt had opened that day and planned on snowboarding as well, so he said he would do a couple runs, the harder runs obviously, and then come over the Chickadee (the bunny slope) and give me a few more "progress reports". Very nice of him. I'm sure it was painful to watch the first time around. And boring. Haha!! Anyway, he headed out before me and then I got all suited up. Didn't take me as long as last time, but it's still a process. Went upstairs to get my board. I dealt with a different guy, so it cost me $12.15 with half day and employee discount. Eh. Still, not bad. Walked out onto the hill, strapped in, and off I went!!

That day, I was still working on my heel edge and not falling. Oh, and the chairlift. That dang chairlift!! Getting on was a bit easier and the one boot off the board movement, too. Getting off, though? Man!! Bain of my existence, I swear. Fell every. Single. Time. DANG IT!! I did 6 or 7 runs, the actual boarding down the hill getting better every time. I even tried going around trees and changing direction and stuff. Much improved. Yay! I was sort watching out for Matt, but he was wearing black pants and a black/blue coat, which is surprisingly popular on the slopes. Including Snowbird Mountain School. So, I just kinda did my thing, listening to tunes on my ipod. Without music, boarding alone kinda sucks. : ) Anyway, so on my 7th lift ride up to the top, I fell of course, getting off. Boo! I got up, dusted myself off, and headed over to the side to strap my other foot in. I saw someone out of the corner of my eye, glanced over, and hey! It was Matt. Just watching me look retarded. He was literally 3 feet from me and didn't call attention to himself. Odd. So I just said hey and took a seat right by him, very gracefully of course. It's not like my board slipped out from under me and I sorta plopped down in the snow in a heap. I swear. Riiiiiight. We chatted for a bit. He told me where he had gone boarding, he said he saw me on my last run when I went around a tree. Impressive. Sorta. haha! I said I wanted to work on my toe edge, but it freaked me out a bit to go down the hill backwards. He gave me some pointers. He was about to head in, I thought I had 1 or 2 more runs in me, so he headed back to the bakery and I carefully and slowly attempted sliding down the hill on my toe edge. Scary! I like to see where I'm going! I'm weird like that. He watched me for a sec from further down the hill and gave more advice. At that point, I accidentally caught my heel edge and, of course, fell flat on my butt. OUCH!! He's all "That's the worst way to fall. Most painful" I assured him I knew that by now. Ha!! He headed in. I tried toe edge a little more, then gave up and slid down the rest of the way on my heels. One more run after that, or more like just rode down to where the rental place is, and I was done. A few falls inbetween, but very much improved from last time! Still a bit sore, but not nearly as bad as last time!

Oh, I almost forgot!! KNEE PADS!!!! Best invention EVER!! I highly recommend them for beginners. Or anyone, really. I bought mine at Sports Authority in the snowboarding section for $19. They actually DO have what you could consider a "butt pad", which is actually like bike shorts with padding. They were about $50 and I just couldn't do it right then, unfortunately. Anyway, the knee pads TOTALLY saved me. Seriously. Worth the money. I wear them under my ski pants. Can't even tell. : )

Ready for try number three? I know you are!!!

Third Attempt

Yes, that is a bruise. On my hip. About 8 inches in diameter.
Yeeaaahhhh. Ouch.

Try number 3 occurred the Wednesday after attempt number 2, which was, like...January 13th? Yeah. I definitely should have waited a few more days, I've decided. My body needs more healin'. But before I get into THAT, I guess I should tell you how it went. Pretty well, actually. Totally solo this time. Rockin' the iPod. Got dressed, got my board ($18 this time, what the...?), and I was good to go. I mostly worked on toe edge. Sorta. It still kinda freaks me out, quite frankly. Sliding backwards down a hill with a board strapped to your feet? Sounds safe, right? Plus with my whole history with catching my heel edge and falling flat on my butt, it's still possible to happen again. Ick. Anyway, I still tried it. Just sliding perpendicular to the hill and after a bit of that, I tried something Matt suggested. He said to ride on heel edge to one side of the hill and then ride on toe edge to the other side of the hill. Definitely helpful, but I'm still kind of chicken as far as speed, so I end up almost completely stopping before I turn to toe edge. haha! Yeahh...heart of a Lion, this one. : )

But guess what?!? I totally mastered getting on the chairlift!! No trouble whatsoever!! Yay!!! Now, the first couple times getting off were shaky (aka falling) and two of those involved my board sliding out from under me and falling straight on my right hip in the exact same spot, resulting in the above-pictured fabulous bruise!! It's been 3 weeks and it is still discolored. Seriously. Definitely getting better, though!! ALMOST healed. I'm hoping to go out again on maybe Friday, February 6th, but I'll just have to see. The bad thing is that I got it getting off the chair, so there's a high probability that it might happen again. See the problem? Yeah. Here's hoping though!! ANYWAY, the first couple times off the chair, I did fall, but then, one time I just stood up on my board and just rode down from the lift! I was completely shocked!! I just laughed and looked around for someone to tell, but of course I was by myself, so I just proclaimed it in the biggest caps EVER on facebook and Twitter!! Next best thing, right? ; ) So, ahem, I may have fallen the next time, but the next TWO times I stood up!! Fell one more time, but the last time? Totally nailed it!!! Yay!!

So, after 3 attempts, I have mastered getting ON the chairlift, heel edge riding, and improved on toe edge and chairlift unload!! There is a definite learning curve to snowboarding and it's fun to see yourself improve. It's still HARD though. To begin with, anyway. Not to discourage anyone from trying!! Just know that you WILL fall, be SORE, and be discouraged. But make sure you go again!! It really is worth it. But seriously, KNEE PADS!!! I kid you not. Life savers. After the third time, I would have to say I was less sore than the first time in general, but in more pain than the second time because of that dang hip! I could seriously FEEL it swelling and bruising as I drove home. And even putting on jeans hurt for a while. And sitting. And brushing against anything. Really. I couldn't sleep on my right side for about 2 weeks. Really sucked. BUT all is almost well now. Hardly sore at all! : )

Mmkay. Well....I guess that's about it. This post only took me a week and a half to write!! And yes, it was long, but you enjoyed it, right? RIGHT?!? Alrighty then. Peace out!! : )