Tuesday, September 23, 2014

September 23rd, 2014: Where am I now and what is going on? Update post rest week.


Last week was very busy despite the "off week" from training.  I regained almost 30 hours from the previous week but I filled those hours quickly with the following activities (in reverse order for some reason I cannot explain this morning):

1.  Traveling to Hypoxico (NYC).  On Friday, I left Fairfax at 4:10am and arrived at Hypoxico a little after 8am.  Not bad time for I-95 at rush hour.  Brian Oestrike was out of town at Ironman Tahoe so he put me and my hypoxic unit in good hands with his namesake Brian (Bilius).  We met each other down by the curb and Brian took my unit upstairs while I did what every good NYC driver does....I backed up my car about 200 feet to enter into the parking lot.  Why go all the way around the block to get just 200 feet behind where I was sitting?  Silly question.  I parked and then went up to find out how to troubleshoot the strange noises coming from my Hypoxico unit.  By the time I got up to the 5th floor, Brian had the unit apart and was already checking into the problem.  I knew I was in good hands.  He walked me through how to take it apart and identify all the critical pieces.  It was a DIY'er (DIY = do it yourself) dream.  After this trip, I intend to troubleshoot the problems myself and then send back the faulty piece rather than the entire 60 lb. monstrosity.  Brian and I worked diligently until about 10am when he had to push off for a doctor's appointment.  He was extremely thorough and took the time to describe each step.  During my break, I walked around the city (downtown area around 21st and lower Manhattan), grabbed a hot dog from one of the many Sabret stands, and enjoyed the wonderful weather.  It has been a while since I walked the streets of my home town.  Here is one picture I snapped on my phone:

I realize this picture has little to do with climbing but it was an important vantage point - one I had never seen before.  Yes, I have been to Washington Square Park many times but the new World Trade Center or 1 WTC (formerly known as the "Freedom Tower") is a novelty for me.  I enjoyed the walk - especially after my 4-hour drive earlier that morning.  Next, get back to meet Brian to wrap things up....

I returned at the same time Brian got back from his appointment.  We made quick work of the remaining tasks.  All was fixed on my unit and I learned a ton about the simple device.  After I picked up a few extra things - sleeping mask and a few internal filters - I was ready to push off and head home.  My trip up lasted 4 hours; the trip back was about 4.5 hours.   Again, not bad for an east coast trip up I-95.  I arrived home in time for dinner with my family.  Needless to say, I was dead tired.  Bedtime could not come soon enough.

2.  Giving a Presentation on Wednesday night.  Two days  before my trip to Hypoxico, I gave a brief presentation to a client gathering hosted by my friend's company.  Here are the slides for those interested.  The event was a ton of fun.  I met some very interesting people and had a chance to tell part of my preparation story for Everest 2014.  Even though my climb was not successful, I still believe I prepared well and controlled what I could control.  Thanks to Glenn Mickelson for inviting me.  

3.  Organizing my training schedule on Monday.  My huge spreadsheet needed some updating.  Previously, I scheduled summit days to fall on Sundays but as previously mentioned, I found it far easier to have a long, hard day on Saturday.  That change required a ton of updates on the Google doc.  I spent a few hours updating that sheet on Monday before my meetings and Google Hangouts with students.  

4.  Digging a ditch (queue the Dave Matthews song).  

Yep, I dug a drainage ditch in the front of my house to divert water from the front to the side.  We had some water damage in our basement from years ago.  Now that we have our basement renovation almost done, I wanted to ensure that water had a better place to go rather than gather in my new bedroom.  Here is a picture of the ditch (post refill) so you can get an idea of how my 6-hour restful dig looked after the fact:

5.  Sorting out details with my climbs.  We still have a ton of things to do for both Aconcagua and Everest.  I need to book my travel to/from KTM and sort out the details of flying into basecamp.  It might be a little early to jump onto those plans but it is never too early to start planning the checklist of tasks.  I am almost done with the Aconcagua planning.  There are a few details about food for the expedition, timing of the climbs, and gear for my family.  I ordered a few new BD Express ice screws (3 x 16 cm and 2 x 22 cm) to replace my aging and dull BD ice screws.  Here is a picture of the Express:

Very purdy, ain't it?  These are essential for my planned climb up the Polish glacier on Aconcagua.

5.  Working.  Oh yeah, I work too.  My students rock!  We meet each week for an hour (Thursdays from noon to 1pm - called the MRES (pronounced mysteries) meetings) and I also meet each of my students for an hour either in person or via Google hangout.   I believe we have 7 papers ready for submission in the next few weeks.  It should be a productive semester.  My lab also has a grant currently funded and several in preparation.  Our support from the Office of Naval Research (ONR) enables us to delve into many different topics.  Right now, we focus our attention on simulated training - go figure.  The grant funding allowed me to "buy out" of one course so this semester is a relatively light teaching load.  For the first time in a while, I am teaching an undergraduate class.  I find it quite refreshing from my usual routine.  The undergrads are really enthusiastic and keep me energized from class to class.  It is early in the semester when we are all fairly excited.  Expect routine updates on how my training and teaching affect my disposition; I expect smooth sailing.

See you next week when I preview my 12 week run before departing for Argentina.  Week 1 (this week) is only 18 hours and I progress to 27 hours in 12 weeks.  Should be a fun ride; hope you enjoy the trip with me.

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