After climbing WAY too much in the past week and a half despite my own advice about resting for recovery (I am human, after all), we took three much-needed days off. The reason for this ultimately stupid schedule had to do with the weather. Not only has been way too nice and unseasonably warm this spring but also, we could see the three not-so-nice days coming up in the forecast – and the forecast was correct; it snowed and rained and got pretty cold again Friday, Saturday and Sunday. But, still, by the time we were climbing last Thursday, it was obvious that everyone was overworked and underperforming; we all were in serious need of multiple rest days.
The results for me proved yet again the value of more rest and recovery, especially when you’re climbing routes that push your max-strength levels to failure. After warming up yesterday, I easily sent the route that had handcuffed me to the rock, unable to move, that I described last week. Sure, it’s “only 13-,” but it’s almost certainly the steepest, most big-muscle power-dependent route of that grade that I’ve ever managed to send. For me, there’s no pump involved; it’s just straight-up pulling between big holds, giant one-arm maneuvers that just kick my large muscles into failure, a peculiar feeling of failure that has no visceral feeling of pump or burn involved. I just stop being able to move – only yesterday, I didn’t feel this. In fact, I was psyched to bypass the few intermediates I’d been using on the climb, moving fluidly and directly from bigger hold to bigger hold. What a difference! Happy to be done with that one.
I moved on to a harder effort after that; I knew that once I went up this route that my day would likely be done, even though it would only be three pitches of climbing after three days of rest (making me observe that in this way, climbing is sort of similar to MMA; we train and train and build up everything for such a small amount of actual performance effort, relative to the time put into training and resting for climbing or in their case, for 15 to 25 minutes of trying to beat someone else up).
I spent a lot of time working on one problematic move right where the route takes off; it was a little frustrating, but when I finally threw out the mental picture of what I “should” do, based on the beta from other (taller) people, and just let myself climb it naturally, I discovered that “getting my hands backwards” actually worked out just fine and made the whole sequence possible for me with much more ease than forcing the issue to get the hand order in the “approved” way. I could easily swap them back with a match where I was matching anyhow. Cool – I love this about climbing, that patience can persevere and result in rendering a sequence that feels impossible when you start trying it into something that you know you can do.
I worked my way up the climb with trepidation. It was only my second venture up this route, and I still feel uncertain and out of my element with everything that’s involved on this climb, not to mention that it’s three letter grades harder than the route I’d just sent, and a very similar style of climbing – giant one arm pulls on steep rock, only on this route, the holds aren’t as juggy and the feet are more consistently less-than-perfect. I kind of have to keep steeling myself mentally with each forward push up the rock, forcing my brain to accept the motions ahead and convincing myself that I can make it to the next clip and make the clip. It’s sort of weird; I want to be comfortable with this, and I know I have to inure myself to it and that the only way to do it is to get on that horse and ride it. And it’s fun, but at the same time, still a relief when I’m done with my flailage and lowering down from the anchors.
Next time will be better, though; that’s how it works. But with the weather not-so-perfect and the group psych and mojo curiously still rather low yesterday, we bailed shortly after this. I knew that I’d just put in a max-strength workout on the rock, seeing as I can’t really do more than 1 to 5 moves in a row on this route at a time right now before I simply cannot pull. This means I’m taxing my maximal strength levels. I just get handcuffed over and over and over again. It’s desperate for me right now, but oh-so-cool at the same time. As always, max strength is such a strange monster, really; I don’t feel worked or burned after I work it the way I would after a solid power endurance or endurance-based effort, but I’ve learned from experience that the feeling of torchedness will come later (today), and that if I had tried to climb again yesterday, I most likely would’ve experienced colossal failure pretty quickly.
Knowing that we’re only having a day off and hoping to get out and climb again tomorrow, I chose the wiser course of calling it and coming home to stretch out and have a delicious recovery meal (thanks to Bountiful Baskets) – pesto pasta with broccoli and a heavenly dessert of sliced fresh strawberries, honey-flavored Greek yogurt, cashews and Ghirardelli Chocolate Sauce. Yum!