Thursday, May 15, 2014

Milestone Reached!

As I mentioned in previous posts, I created a calendar of goals for each month. I also had some overall goals of things I wanted to be able to do again. Last night I reached on of those overall goals; I climbed a rock wall again!

The rock wall at REI
Over a month ago I signed up for an open climb night at my local REI and for various reasons had to keep postponing it. Last night I almost didn't go because it had been a long hot day, I was tired, my body wasn't well rested so I knew it wouldn't be able to perform at it's best, and I was scared that maybe I wasn't ready. I talked to a friend whom I hoped to see later that evening and he encouraged me to go and have fun. I'm so glad I did!

The instructors were great; very positive and encouraging and engaging of all the climbers. There were four climbers and two belayers (instructors from REI) so we all took turns climbing. I kind of got pushed into being first up. Since I was not sure if my body was ready for this I decided to tackle the easiest part of the wall (a 5.4, I believe, for those who know rating scales, that only went half-way up). I got so close to the bell at the top of the section, and wouldn't you know it- I looked down and lost my nerve.

I repelled back down a little disappointed and frustrated. I had almost reached my goal- to get at least half-way up- I was proud of myself for trying and for getting up there and doing it, but at the same time a little embarrassed and self-conscious as I watched the other three climbers scramble up the wall to the very top on harder sections. Of course, they also came with their own gear and have been climbing more recently than I have. It's been about 7 years since I last climbed a rock wall, so I was able to let go of that judgment and give myself grace. I had done my best. Or had I?

With a little goading/encouragement from the male staffer belaying us I decided to try the other 5.4 section that went all the way to the top. He said the grips were bigger and easier. I don't think I got more than 20 feet off the ground before I got frustrated. I didn't know where to go for the next grip and I was angry with myself. I hung out there for a sec and then in another moment of embarrassment asked to come back down.

I had some internal conversations with myself. My goal had been to climb again- I'd done that. My goal for that night was to get at least half-way up- I hadn't done that. So was I done, or was I going to try one more time? ...

I decided to try the first section one more time. I scrambled up quickly to about the point where I had
The section of the wall that I climbed.
previously quit. And then I got up one more step. The bell at the top of my section was almost within reach! And I couldn't find a good spot for my foot to give myself the final push to ring the bell! I was mad and determined to not quit! I found a spot that was where I wanted it but not quite as big as I would have liked. I put my foot on it, found some good hand holds and stood up. And there was the bell! I tapped it. It gave a little jingle. Not nearly enough noise to signal my accomplishment so I grabbed the thing and shook it again, hard! I climbed the wall! And I made it to my goal! I rock!

I repelled back down with a big smile on my face and restored confidence in my body. It has taken a lot of abuse over the years; all the crap food I've eat and the neglect I've given it, but it still was able to help me get up the rock wall and make it to my goal. Thank you, body!

I'm going to keep working on improving my fitness and next time I go back to the wall maybe I'll make it three-fourths of the way up- or maybe even to the top! Let's see what else this body can do!

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