“DOES NOT TRAVEL WELL”

If I were a li’l critter up for adoption at an animal shelter, they’d hang a sign on my cage announcing, “DOES NOT TRAVEL WELL.”

Frankly, traveling kicks my a#$. Hard. Every time. No matter how hard I try to make the best of it or make light of it, my body just goes haywire when I shift time zones, sit in moving vehicles, lug heavy baggage around and eat weirdly/poorly throughout the duration of all of this.

In fact, I can’t seem to maintain a good diet during any travel time; it’s like the instant I step into an airport I’m totally starving, and all I can think about is what to nosh on next. Car travel is a bit better, but still, quite similar. And of course, the entire time I’m flying, the dry plane air is sucking my body’s will to stay hydrated, shriveling up my tissues regardless of any efforts on my part to maintain hydration. I can’t keep up with it, and I end up parched and dying for water soon as I arrive at my destination – which I then guzzle frantically, ending up feeling like a bloated, floating bubble of a human being as a result (and often, having to get up regularly throughout the night to relieve myself of this overindulgence).

Back home after the Spain trip, I’ve been so happy to collapse into my comfy bed at night, only to discover that I cannot for the life of me seem to sleep solidly through the night. Night one, I went to bed after 3 a.m. and only slept for about 4.5 hours. Nights two and three, I woke up every two hours, all night long, resulting in a wacked-out, surreal first-day-back-in-Wyoming climbing experience yesterday.

I trudged up in the warm sunshine (did I mention that it was warm? Warmer than it EVER was the entire time we were in Spain, for real?) to the crag; I could tell by my pace and the vague headache (not to mention the still quite pronounced between-the-shoulder-blades ache from the lovely combination of luggage grappling and airplane seats) that I was not in tiptop condition for this climbing day. On my warm up, I could just feel that I had no try-hard in me; I just didn’t care. I took at the first suggestion of having to make any effort whatsoever, and I was totally okay with this. I’d already figured that this first day would just be a beta-recon/review day for me, anyhow.

On to Throwing Hope, a route I’d been trying in January, and that’s when the day got weirder. Even though I felt like a energy-depleted pile of turds, I also bizarrely felt stronger on the moves and more comfortable overall with the angle and style that I did in January, this even despite the injury and time off and the fact that nothing I climbed in Spain was like this climbing. I can’t even quite put into words the odd juxtaposition, the sense of a totally sleep-deprived/time-warped/jet-lagged state of overall being alongside a stronger and more relaxed climber being. It surprised me, honestly. Also surprising was the fact that yes, even here in Wyoming, holds can seep when the rock’s chossy and porous like it is at this crag, and a few of the holds were quite wet on this route. Bummer.

No matter. I gave it two burns to remember beta and to work on some specific steep-climbing technical issues I have. I still felt (and feel) pretty detached and dispassionate about climbing in general, and I’m starting to think this might actually be a helpful and productive mindset for me, instead of the emotionally unstable wildness that’s often characterized my relationship with climbing (a two-decade roller coaster ride of highs and lows wouldn’t be an unfair description). Instead of being frustrated by movements that I don’t quite get, recently I’ve discovered an internal font of patience and openmindedness when I find these situations. Simply put, I want to learn and refine the movements as efficiently as I can, and if this means trying them 20 times in a row until I feel that I “get it” in my body, I will try them 20 times in a row, as I did one particularly problematic non-crux move on this route that just felt awkward and wrong – only because I was doing it wrong, as I gradually figured out. Cool.

I did another two burns on another route I’ve tried before, Baby-Faced Assassin, and again, found that I felt strangely stronger and more precise than I have on it before. I also worked out new crux beta that flowed much more than the old way; I don’t know why I didn’t do that before, except maybe some part of me wasn’t strong enough? This happens sometimes in climbing; you find that you can’t do a sequence with beta others use or that you try at first, but then later, it makes so much sense when you’re stronger, because your strength gain turns what was once a nonefficient method for you into the most efficient method for you.

After this, I wanted to want to climb more (the day was still young), but I honestly didn’t want to climb anymore. My mind wasn’t into it and hadn’t been super into it the whole day; I think (hope!) sleep deprivation has a lot to do with this. I felt encouraged by the way the routes felt to me even in the face of my jet-lagged disinterest in trying hard. Am I stronger now? I don’t know; maybe I was overtrained a little back in January, or perhaps I just needed more of a break than I realized from last year’s endeavors. In any case, yesterday was encouraging; I feel like I haven’t lost anything from the whole nerve impingement episode, and that’s a profound relief.

This morning, it’s snowing, but no matter – I have work to do, and the sun’s supposed to return tomorrow. Hopefully I’ll get a good night of sleep in tonight, so that I can put in a solid day of climbing, and then embrace my spring training program that I’m supposed to embark on post-climbing tomorrow. I can’t wait!

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