Friday, 2 May 2014

Embrace The Moment - By Jen Wilby

“But I’m afraid that I never will be. I know this sounds strange, but I’ve always felt I wouldn’t be around very long. Like I was just passing through. Which is why I wanna take that drop, why I have to. Because once I look down over the edge and I catch it, I’ll become a part of it. And in that moment, I’ll know that I’m alive”

The Maverick wave, the myth of surfing. That one wave which is so tall, it couldn’t possibly be real. Back in the day, this wave was known by few, left lingering in the minds of other surfers as a myth. A surfer, Jeff Clark set out to change that and show the world the Maverick. It was not until around 1992 that the wave became more than a myth and now the location is a venue for the big wave competition series. How things change…

Not so long ago, I had a conversation with someone around the blogs and climbing. This person said they really enjoyed reading them and that it’s great to be able to read of climbing, from someone who “climbs as hard as you do” yet manages to connect with “the punters like me”. It was humbling to hear this but what struck me the most about this conversation were the words “I will never climb as hard as you do”. At the time I just bowed my head and mumbled, too embarrassed to continue with the conversation. Thinking about this more, my first response is “why not?”.

2015 will be the magical 10th year of climbing for me and back then I would never have dreamed of being where I am now and of having the opportunities I do. It’s not all about the grade, but the reality is for me, the harder the grade I am able to climb, the more awesome lines I have open to me and the more I can challenge myself.

When I started climbing in July 2005 I could not get to the top of my local wall, on top rope, using any and every hold. It was stubbornness that made me progress quickly, that and I went outside climbing as much as the weather permitted. If the people I started climbing with loved the indoor scene more than the outdoor one, things may have turned out very different.

Ten years later I am where I am, however I have put in a lot of hard work to get here. I’m the first to admit I don’t put in all the hours I could. Working full time in the corporate IT industry for a demanding customer takes it’s toll, as well as a dog, a house and general life to contend with,  so there are some times I just want to do nothing – so I do nothing. At the end of the day, you can be what you want to be, its just going to take time and effort. Many years ago I resigned to the fact that I would never climb harder than French 6b and I was happy with that, I just carried on climbing. For those of you who think you will never be as good as someone else, firstly forget about that someone else, secondly, think about why you do want to climb better/harder, thirdly, if you have the right motivations, go for it, work out how and keep climbing. Never, ever tell yourself you can’t do something, because you can, if you don’t even try, then yes, you are correct, you will always be the one who won’t.

In my last blog I mentioned my forthcoming 7 month training plan, which looks a little something like this:

This started off well. I did the two weeks of conditioning, learning to activate my muscles that are just not switched on and took the time to prepare my body for the following phases, determined not to get injured again.

I’m now about two weeks in to the strength phase and this has hit me hard. I haven’t been on the fingerboard for about 3 years now, due to persistent tendon pain. I was so excited to start again, pain free! This phase also involved campusing, weights and core sessions. I really wanted to focus on my upper body as I am awful at lifting my own body weight, preferring crimpy, vertical/just off vertical lines, but I really want to do more physical climbs, those which you battle through and feel totally exhausted at the end! So this has been my focus. After 2.5 weeks, this week, I hit a brick wall. Suddenly becoming very tired and feeling very weak. So I pushed on through for the first couple of sessions, then on Wednesday I decided to just climb, but work on locking off and not being dynamic. All I can say is it was demoralising. I struggled with everything, had no forearm strength, no finger strength and no core, or so it felt. Mentally, I took this hard, as I had been struggling up to this point as it was. So I walked off in a strop, declaring I was leaving – ending the session. So I stomped back to my bag, quite annoyed and disheartened, even though, I knew, logically, that the training was going to take its toll, I had prepared myself for that, or so I thought. I sat at my back and did some social network browsing, I’m not sure what or why, but I turned, stomped back into the climbing wall and decided it wasn’t going to beat me and I was just going to keep trying. Of course it beat me, I was wiped, so wiped I couldn’t even manage my usual small core workout after. So 2.5 weeks in, I’ve decided to take a little rest, head out climbing and take a break, ready to start again next week.

I know a training plan is trial and error; you can prepare the physical side of it all you want but do not under estimate the mental side and what an important role that plays. 

During the Easter weekend we decided to head to the Lake District their ever expanding boulder areas. Our first stop was St. Bees. I had heard fantastic things about St. Bees and seen some awesome photos of the unique sandstone there. Driving through the Lakes was awesome, not a cloud in the sky and some snow on the peaks, eventually the sea came into view and it was stunning. It’s been a while since I’ve climbed by the sea and it was such a refreshing change. When we got there though, the rock was still damp and knowing how fragile it is, we took some time to wonder about (EPIC with a dog who runs off when he’s too scared to follow!) and check out the lines. We stuck to the closest crag area due to the bird restrictions further down and we spotted a few good lines. The day progressed and it got super hot, too hot for me, I wilt in the heat so I decided to save my energy for the mountain crag’s – which I love the most, that and the we could change the colour of the rock by just scraping it with our boots. This is probably due to the storms which hit the coast a while back; I don’t think the rock has fully recovered.

In summary, personally, St Bees was OK, it wasn’t awesome climbing and I wouldn’t be in a rush to go back, not with the mountain stuff so close. What I would say, that St Bees is one of the most peaceful spots I have ever climbed. If you go, stand still, and just listen…nothing but waves and a few gulls. Stunning!

Some wicked rock shapes

One think I love about the Lakes, is the wild camping. It wasn’t long before we found an awesome spot to sleep near Carrock Fell, nothing but openness surrounding us, totally free. It was very refreshing to be back in the van with no phone signal, no internet access, just us and the outside. I love that almost as much as the climbing itself, or maybe that is why I climb so much.

On to Carrock Fell, which is a huge hillside full of rocks, lots and lots of rocks. AMAZING! There are a few areas to choose from within this hillside and some quality blocs. It soon became apparent that doing a full training a week before was not ideal to be able to climb outside at my limit. Again, bit of a mental struggle, but it wasn’t too hard being where we were, that was enough.

I did manage 2 V8’s, one that totally suited me and the other which didn’t. So I was pleased with being able to do both of them pretty quickly. 

I’ve made a little video of the Lakes climbing and van life - it's yet to be uploaded so watch this space.

SO its another bank holiday weekend, another trip to the Lakes, day trip this time, how awesome it that? The Lakes is now a day trip away rather than a 5 hour drive WHOOP!

So onwards and upwards, if you want to do something, there are no rules, do it! 

Happy Climbing

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