Naturally since today is the day after Thanksgiving, I have heard more Christmas songs than I could have imagined even existed. How foolish of me to think that “Rudolph the Red-Nose Reindeer” and “Santa Claus is Coming to Town” were the extent of it. Sit in an urgent care clinic for 3 hours, and you’ll know better.
Did you know Frank Sinatra believes in Santa Claus? Like, he really, really believes. So much so that says he believes… 21 times in a 2.5 minute song.
Well anyways, I went to urgent care to get an x-ray to make sure my ankle injury wasn’t worse than a sprain. Because Minh was being a dick about me going to the CVS Minute Clinic and calling that an official diagnosis. All is well: just a sprain, and a brain now filled with Christmas cheer.
This past weekend, the Virginia Climbing Team and I made our way down to HP40 in Steele, Alabama for the 3rd leg of the Triple Crown series. After 600 miles of driving and a miserably cold night spent on the ground, the competition was on. Big names were among the competitors for me to gawk at such as Daniel Woods and Kasia Pietras while my friends embarrassingly pretended they didn’t know me as I fake fanned myself off whenever we encountered the pros.
This was my fourth Triple Crown event; however, this was the first time the boulder field hadn’t been new to me. As in, I had never touched a single climb in the respective boulder field before these past events. My attitude at the previous three competitions was to just… rock climb. Try a ton of new stuff and attempt to fill my scorecard with 10 climbs. But this round was inevitably different because it wasn’t new. The plan was to repeat a handful of climbs I had done the year before.
Good gawd, repeating climbs sucks. I was so confident these boulders were going to feel easy because my climbing has improved so much in the past year. Wrong. Getting on a boulder I know I have finished… and falling, falling again, and then falling some more? Not fun. Not to mention Horse Pens is the most sandbagged boulder field I’ve ever been to. Since when has a V4 “warm-up” felt so hard?!? Needless to say, my ego was shot pretty much right from the start.
Towards the end of the day, I pretty much had my scorecard filled out. 1 V6, 5 V5s, and 4 V4s. Alright, not the strongest card in the world, so it was time to start bumping off my lowest scores: my lowest was 317 points. There was this slabby, basically no hands, climb that some guys were trying worth 355 points. I thought, well might as well try, it looks fun. Low and behold, “Pope In A Cowboy Hat”:
After a couple of pretty unsuccessful goes, I honestly didn’t think I was going to get to the top. But on my next try, all of a sudden I was there… and stuck. My hands were on the top of the boulder, but the chalk had sweated off. There were no more footholds for me to move my feet onto. My right foot was too low for me to throw a heel over the top. And lastly, there was no way to bail. Fuck. So, I took the whip. There were two guys holding a pad off the ground like the guy in the picture. I landed on the pad, hit the ground, and pain shot up through my left leg. Fuuuuuuuuck. I had to just lay there for 5 minutes to wait for the pain to subside, trying not to cry in front of these total strangers. I was pissed. All this for 40 extra points?! You idiot!!
But the strangers took care of me. One of the guys took my shoe off for me, my friend gathered my things while the guys got my crashpad together and carried it out of the corridor. They offered to help me walk, but I wanted to gauge how bad the injury was so I got out on my own. Welp, my climbing day was over. I hobbled back to the vendor village to try and get some ice, but instead I crawled behind the Evolv table to be out of the public eye and started bawling. Fuck. Fuck fuck fuck. My plans to climb over Thanksgiving were shot. My chances of placing were shot. OW.
My hiding spot was pretty awful. Soon enough, the Evolv dudes were back. Paul got me some ice and a beer. Chaz stacked his crash pad on top of mine to get my ankle elevated. Kaitlyn magically had an ankle brace and some Advil because she had sprained her ankle not 5 days before. Everyone trying to reassure me that a sprain isn’t so bad, telling me stories of their injuries. And there I was tears running down my face. Oh my gawd Juliet, stop crying there are pplz around, ugh ur so embarrassing. Dammit why are you still crying STAWP. Eventually I settled down, ate some chili, and decided to stop being anti-social hiding behind the table.
Ya know, people are pretty great. I can’t say I’m biffles with a lot of climbers because we only see each other at events or by chance on a weekend trip. But everyone took care of me. They let me whine and cry. Gave me their own words of wisdom. Changed the subject, got my mind off of it. Made bad jokes. The climbing team brought all of my stuff to my car for me. Gave me a piggy back ride around. Like, damn. Since when do I deserve to be treated so kindly? I felt guilty and thankful all at the same time.
And now here I sit in bed, with my leg propped up and an ice pack on my ankle. I walked kind of like a normal person today! The swelling has finally gone down and the pain isn’t so bad anymore. It’ll be better soon. I knew it’d be fine in the back of my mind the whole time, but the freaking out over my fatass, black and blue ankle kind of took over in the beginning. Luckily, I had people around who were nice enough and who cared enough to help me out, whether I was a complete stranger or a semi-acquaintance kinda friend person. So for that, I give thanks.
As the final stretch of this semester approaches with the inevitable exhaustion that comes with it, it’s important for me to think about what’s to come to stay psyched through it all.
11/22/14: HP 40
Yeeee, last Triple Crown event for me, psyched to get back to this boulder field. I’ve only been once and it was for Triple Crown last year. Going to get back on some climbs I flailed on last year hopefully to find that I’ve gotten stronger and poop on them (in the nicest way possible). My small ticklist:
The Thief 7B
This will get me through next week in which I have a debate, an exam, and a paper due.
11/25/14: Chatt toooowwwwn!!
Thanksgiving will be spent outdoors with some turkey sandwiches this year. The parents aren’t super happy, but I haven’t been able to make many trips this semester and I’m itching to get on some sandstone. Le ticklist:
The White Face 7C+
Fatigue Syndrome 7B+
The Wave 7A – try to flash
Bosley Traverse 7C
Man Hands 7B+
Jerry Rigged 7B+
The Orb 7B+
Helicopter Traverse 7B+
Golden Shower 6C—try to flash
Tractor Traylor 7B+/7C
Sherman Photo Roof 7A+
12/13/14: My last finals. Go home, train, get stronk.
12/26/14: GTFO from NOVA. Back to Chatt? Most likely.
1/12/15: Classes start back up. For the first time in my college career… I have no Friday classes!!! Which means way more adventures to be had. I also applied for graduation. And will soon start applying for jobs out in CO.
Better things are to come, just have to trudge through this final month of the semester.
Tendonitis. Womp womp. I went to the hand clinic yesterday finally and got my diagnosis. The doctor gave me two options: stop climbing until it gets better or get a cortisone shot. I was like lul, the shot plz. She stuck a needle in my hand and said that it should take care of everything. 5 days off from climbing, then 10-14 days for the full effects of the cortisone. So I’m off until Tuesday, going to focus on cardio and core until then.
This summer I spent almost every weekend climbing out at the New and was training in the gym 1-2 times a week, so it was clear that my focus this summer was physical. However, now that things have slowed down and I’m climbing much less, my focus has shifted. With all this downtime I’ve had a lot of time to think. And think. And think and think some more. Which is not a bad thing… mental training is definitely as important, if not more important, as physical training. Now 10 weeks into the semester which equals 10 weeks of straight thinking about climbing, I’ve made some realizations about my mental weaknesses. The first was my competitive mindset that seemed to be hurting my climbing more than helping it (which I wrote about a couple days ago: https://julietamanda.wordpress.com/2014/11/02/i-take-it-personally/). And now… my mentality around being short.
I’m short. There’s no way around that fact and it’s not going to change. I’m 5’0″ with the only consolation being that I have a +2 ape index. The growth ship sailed long ago, sayonara, adios, this is my body. And obviously, my stature has a huge impact on the physicality of my climbing: it impacts my strengths (tension-y overhung crimp moves) and my weaknesses (big, powerful moves, making moves when I’m fully extended). But it additionally shapes the way I think about climbs. Sure, there are positives to it: I get creative on climbs, figure out weird beta, crimp my face off on nonexistent intermediates. But generally, being short causes me to think pretty negatively about my climbing. And I’ve slowly been realizing that this negative mindset is holding me back more than I think.
Being short, it’s easy to blame the inability to do a move on… well, being short. But 9 times out of 10, that’s total bullshit. Chances are I can do the move, but I’ve made up my mind that I can’t because of my height and I stop truly trying.
Example: The Vagina at Rocktown
This move. Get set up on a left hand crimp then throw your body to a right hand crimp. This move requires power and precision. And maybe a couple of giant tick marks to guide you to your target. The first time I got on this climb, I couldn’t even get the height to reach the crimp. I shut down, told myself it was too big, and stopped trying. But being in Chatt during winter break, my return to this climb was inevitable. The next session on it, I stuck the move in isolation. The next session, I stuck the move in isolation consistently. And the next, I sent. No change in beta, no tricks. I wasn’t too short, I just had to get big.
And then sometimes I’m convinced that taller beta won’t work for me.
Example: 1, 2 Punch at the New River Gorge
On this move- reaching up to the pinch where my left hand is- I had convinced myself that I couldn’t use a lower foot to go for the hold because I thought I would be too short. I kept putting my left foot up higher making the move way more difficult. But I told myself I had to use that higher foot because of my height. Which was a hilariously misguided thought as you can see from the picture: I was able to comfortably reach the hold from the lower foot. This happens all the time. Which has taught me… I should at least try the “taller” beta to make sure I actually can’t use it and then go figure out personal beta. Otherwise, I could be wasting a lot of energy when it could have been avoided.
So yeah, I’m short. But there are plenty of strong, short climbers (ahem, Ashima…). It’s an attitude adjustment that’s needed before I can really start trying harder climbs. There are going to be big moves that I can’t do, but more often, there are going to be big moves that I can do if I tell myself I can.
I think it’s so easy to fall into a competitive mindset with climbing. The type of mindset where your success can only occur at someone else’s expense.
It’s easy to talk about it from the outside. For example, on Thursday, I heard the climbing team captain telling one of the new girls that her goal at the next Triple Crown event should be to beat this other girl on the team (who wasn’t present at that time). And I said, well, maybe that isn’t such a great goal because the only way you can achieve it is if she fails. Maybe your first goal should be to finish 10 climbs. And then the next goal up from that should be to place in beginner. And after that to win beginner. The girl agreed with me that this was a better set of goals to make.
But when looking inward, it’s hard to have that same objective outlook. I start to feel bad about my own climbing if so and so is looking stronger than me. Or if what’s-her-face is sending harder than me. I think, I wish I were a couple inches taller. I wish my hands were a little bigger so I could hold pinches better. I wish this and I wish that. And you know what all this wishful thinking accomplishes?
What is in my control? My climbing. What is not in my control? Their climbing. So how are the two even comparable? Unless I’m entered into an actual competition, who gives a shit?
I need to remember that climbing is a personal sport. I do with it what I want to do with it. I have to accept my height, my current living situation, my schedule that only allows for so much training. I need to get over the fact that none of it is ideal. And I need to realize that things are never going to be ideal. I can’t sit around wishing for one thing or another, because in reality, I will keep sitting around wishing forever. No other climber is me. I am not any other climber. I need to focus on myself in this sport and not base my success on other people’s successes or failures. My success will stem from what I define as my own success.
My definition of success for tomorrow is to go out to the parkway, touch some real rock regardless of how “quality” or not it is. Enjoy some time being outside. Appreciate Fall. Take a deep breath, and chill out. Then make some goals for myself that involve only myself, and get after them.