Bouldering 3: Here Comes the Fear

Bouldering again. It was great. Again. We whizzed round some easy routes to warm up except I went a bit too fast. I am rubbish at climbing back down. It’s boring and I normally just jump off. I shouldn’t be doing that! I think next time I will park further away and run to the climbing centre for a proper warm up.

I managed to master three climbs I couldn’t do the week before – which I am really happy about! I tried a whole bunch of new ones too. One on an overhang which I so very nearly completed – I was one hold away from the top. An hour went by and I hardly noticed. My hands didn’t hurt in the same way, so all of the thinking I’ve been doing about changing my grip and being more efficient seems to have actually worked.

One of the projects I tried was really tricky and I kept ending up hanging from the wall unable to get to the next hold. my friend called one of my maneuvers “elegant” and that sent me into fits of giggles. I have never been described as that before – and probably never will be again!

We attracted some attention and one of the guys came over to join in and watch me fail to climb the route. Brilliant. That’s what the newbie needs, to be in the spotlight. Maybe it was my super cool Bowie t-shirt. Maybe it was my overwhelming elegance – erm, no. Maybe it was because I was the only woman in the whole place. Maybe I’m just socially awkward and the guy was just being friendly. Maybe he was just an ass.

Anyway, back to the climbing. I don’t remember which route it was, but I started seriously overthinking things. I started to feel nervous and I had to tell myself to just GO. I got through it, but I missed the naive bravery I’d had the week before.

Once I started letting that voice creep in, it was like a virus. First I started to worry I was going to fall – which is silly, because it’s not far to the floor and I know I can either land on my back or even my feet into a squat – it’s not a big deal. It was like a cartoon where Wile E Coyote suddenly looks down and it sort of does that springy in-out of focus thing.

Wile E Coyote Gravity

Next came me feeling self conscious. We did a climb which I’d done last week. I’d cheated and used my knee, so I avoided doing that this time. I did it super ugly. I mean, geez. It was bad. I don’t know whether he did it through sympathy or not, but my friend tried it after me, got stuck in a completely different way and managed to make it ugly as well! This made me start thinking how my climbing looked. My ass grew ten times in my head – I really need to get some loose climbing trousers.

Then, I started forgetting routes I’d already managed to climb. I mean, half an hour before. Couldn’t remember I’d done them, never mind how.

We managed to overcome this. Guess how? We talked about it.

We stopped for a drink and I told him my head was doing some strange things. We did a few easier routes to rebuild my confidence and then went back to tackle one of the ones I was really close to getting.

The next thing we did, was call it time before I was too exhausted and ended on failure. So I finished on a high, having completed a route I was really happy to have done.

Thirdly, we both went and did something new, so we were in the same boat. Neither of us could do it but I actually managed to get further than him! Again, not sure if this was his tactic. He’s very good at motivating me and probably knows me worryingly well…

The final thing we did was to finish on fun. Oh yes. The slack line. Instead of going for steps, I went for stability and duration. I focussed and found that staying on my toes helped me balance (this is probably really bad form?!). I could stay on there for longer, but still only doing three steps. I waved my arms around like a crazy thing, but my “trunk” stayed put.

There are lots of things to put into place, lots of information to take on and file away in the right place. I still really enjoyed the session, but it felt a lot more real this time. I need to remember to slow down and enjoy it. I don’t need to commit to this thing, I should be having fun!

The good news, is that the next day my hands don’t hurt! So it’s all good progress. Even better, next week the routes are being reconfigured, so the next time I go it will be fresh and new.

I need to sort a pull up bar though. Even if it’s just to practice hanging from.

I also need to remember to give myself a break. There’s a time and a place for being hard on myself. If I was coaching someone else doing something new, I’d do it gently, with words of encouragement. I should stop forgetting to do the same for myself. I’m new at this and I am already finishing climbs I could hardly look at last week – that’s pretty frickin’ awesome.

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