I've never done anything of this magnitude before. The closest thing would be an 11 hour summit of Mt. Shasta, CA with an ice axe and crampons in June of 1997. The descent by snowboard was 1 hour. From this experience, I learned you have to be prepared mentally and physically to push yourself to your goal or beyond.
I wanted to make sure I did everything I could to make Operation Heli a successful mission. As a result, I decided to find a personal trainer. Just one problem, where was I going to find a trainer for setting the vertical record for snowboarding? I checked through several resumes of personal trainers. Each trainer had a specialized skill set. I soon realized it would be difficult to find one trainer with all of the knowledge:
When I met Mischa for my first training session, I learned she is also a vegetarian. This was really good news, because she was able to give me pointers on how to adjust my diet. I added a protein shake in the AM, a little more protein in general and a few snacks. Basically, she removed any concerns I had about my diet combined with the training I would be doing.
Setting Up a Training Program to Build Endurance and Strength
Throughout my training, I met with Mischa only four times over 3 months. In each of these sessions, she would give me instructions on lifting weights and answer any questions I had. Each time we met, she would alter my weight training program. In the end, I was doing all free weights to isolate the muscles, except for the leg curls. My weight program was small in comparison to my cardiovascular training, which consumed 2 hours a day. My main cardiovascular training consisted of cycling and running. A few other activities were mixed in, including rollerblading, nordic track, stairmaster, ski conditioning and spinning classes. On the mountain, 7 hours nonstop of snowboarding was an average day.
She had me work out at my own personal level. For example, she would say to run for 45 minutes at level 7. This meant what I personally felt was level 7 for me on a scale of 1-10, 10 being the hardest. I was able to use this level concept in my snowboarding as well.
We did most of our communication through e-mail. Every Thursday, Mischa would send my schedule for the week. Every Wednesday, I would send her what I actually did for the week, and let her know how I was feeling.
Mischa was quick to tell me in the beginning to focus on my day-to-day training and not worry so much about the event itself. This was invaluable because it allowed me to concentrate on each day and not think about what my schedule would look like when I hit the Peak Week.
In the end, Mischa provided a program with various levels of duration to build my snowboarding endurance.
Increasing My Speed on the Snowboard
At this point, my snowboarding endurance was under control, but I wanted a few pointers on speed. Three weeks before the event, I decided to find a snowboarder with race experience.
On the day I met with the instructor, the snow conditions were poor. The snow was super chunky. I tried to crank up the speed a bit so he could see my technique, and I knew I was a bit OC (outta control) because of the chunks. I just B-lined straight down. He asked me if anyone associated a few words like crazy with my name!
My two hour lesson really paid off. The two most important things I learned were to:
This second pointer was critical in the flat section at the bottom where
the helicopter landed.
This is what a typical week looked like:
This was the peak of my training, two weeks prior to the event: