Tuesday, September 4, 2012

AWF Munich-Vienna-Prague Day 4

Workout of the Day

Climb the Mountain (not that mountain :-)
On day 4 we departed Munich and headed towards Salzburg, Austria.  Having seen and experienced so much in Germany already, it was hard to imagine what our group would look like entering a new country.  But as soon as we boarded the bus, I knew it was right.  As on the Iceland trips before, there’s something very appropriate and appealing about a group of exploratory personalities on a bus.  The seeds of bonding that had been planted during our first workouts in Munich immediately took root and we were one whole.  I’m convinced that it’s as much these transitional elements as it is the picturesque workouts that make this trip such a unique community building experience.

Our WOD for the day was simple, get to the top of the mountain.  The peak in question sits just more than a mile above sea level atop a small ski village on the German-Austrian border of the Alps.  In a word: sick.  We cautiously looked over the map to pick the right trail but quickly discovered that there were plenty to choose from and none were clearly marked.  Following Sven’s lead, our party turned away from the switchbacks and instead headed right up the face of the ski run.  There was no running; in fact we were barely walking for most of it.  The grade was so steep that the group quickly spread out from itself, with one person barely being able to see the person in front or behind him.  Despite beautiful conditions and cool temperatures, I was literally pouring sweat.  We weren’t 20 minutes in and I was completely soaking through my shirt.  Some of this came from the pack I was carrying, but the majority of it was simply a result of mountaineering being downright hard.  They ain’t kidding when they say Sherpas are the fittest people on earth. 

About ½ mile from the top the grade leveled out and I was able to run again.  This was a welcome break from the constant burning that had been in my legs and calves for the last 45 minutes.  Coming around the corner I could see the lodge at the top which promised warm food and beer, giving me a surge of energy that I could ride to the end.  At the top were Sven and Ross, cheering me on.  After me came John, Matt, Maddy, and Vlad.  The view was spectacular, as you might imagine an Austrian Alps view to be.  The mountains stretched into infinity on one side of us—the valley with dotted with tiny German towns fell away on the other.  As each member of the group conquered the final climb we cheered louder.  In response, everyone finished running and smiling.  In all, we had gained approximately 1200 meters in elevation over the course of only a few kilometers.  Our times ranged from :49 to 2:00. 

After eating a warming meal at the lodge, we headed back to the trail to explore the top of the range a bit.  Not far from our trail we stumbled upon a rocky outcropping right on the edge of the cliff that was begging to be climbed.  After establishing that it was secure and not extraordinarily complicated to maneuver, we began scaling it one by one.  Now, as anyone who has experience climbing can attest to, it takes a few holds to get your groove back when hugging a rock.  You can only imagine what whose in our crew were feeling who’ve rarely climbed at all.  This was one of those spontaneous opportunities for people to face their fears and for the rest of us to help coach them through it.  Everyone that attempted the climb made it the 80 or so feet to the top and got to take in the amazing view.  This proved to be a seminal moment in the trip for many in the group.

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