Thursday, February 24, 2011

A Higher Gear

Alright. No more distractions. No more excuses. "Its too cold," "there's too much snow," "I'm tired," "I should be writing/cleaning/entertaining Maile the Great"...are no longer valid reasons for skipping out. Its time to kick my own ass and get moving. You see, I've got this beautiful machine that carries my mind, heart, and spirit to all the incredible places I want to go to in this world. And, the machine wants to move. Time to shift into a higher gear.

After, oh, I dunno, maybe 3 weeks, of thinking about it (aka lazy procrastination), I've completed my first training plan for this year's climb-o-rama. Time is flying faster than snow falling in our hills these days. Before long, the season will be in full swing. So, here 'tis, y'all. I cant wait to wake up with that familiar, lovely ache in my muscles again, and feel the glow of strength being built.

Yes, strength is important for hanging on in sketchy situations. Despite being a burly girly (in a past life, i'm pretty sure i was a hawaiian rock hauler who built heiau/temples), I know I cant rely on brut force alone. I need strong cardio and endurance to get me to the base of a climbs and to sustain strength through long days and routes. I need a sound, grounded mind to keep my head cool in airy situations that take my breath away. And, I need flexibility in body and mind to adapt to the terrain and conditions we come across. This plan is my attempt to work all of these aspects.

Included in my plan:
  • Hal Higdons free 12-week training schedules for half and full marathons. Whatever your distance, I highly recommend these (along with a running buddy for long, long runs). Hal has helped me complete 5+ half's and a marathon in '09.
  • Drills from friends in the twitterverse. Thanks jrmontag, TaxNerdAtPlay, and The Climber Girl for suggestions. Have one? Send it to me. (I have not read Eric Horsts books yet, but they come highly recommended. As soon as SPL has them ready at my library, I'll start reading and adding his suggestions in.)
  • Practicing yoga on-and-off the past 3 years, I've developed tools for maintaining mental peace and strength in addition to building physical strength. Eiric Ovrid of Yoga on Beacon, has been an amazing instructor for me -or teacher's assistant as he would prefer to be called- helping me to discover my own "teacher within". Whatever my mood, however much energy I have or lack, whatever my challenges are, I leave his class with an elevated feeling of calm, possibility, and optimism. As he says, "Its not good, its not bad, it just is."
    Maile the Great is a fan of OR's new climbing wall.
  • I'm lucky to work for a company that supports my "play." The new climbing wall at Outdoor Research is going to be a big part of my training ground, in addition to our workout room and proximity to the Seattle waterfront for lunch-time runs. 
    Wish me luck or better yet, join me now and again; I'm fueled by encouragement and camaraderie and would love your company. To quote a Sara-ism, "Shitballs."  This is going to hurt so good. Off I go.

    PS - music is key for me and training/working out. My dear friend Rachelle just sent a kicking mix-CD to get me moving and Kevin Rudolf's "Let It Rock" is my current fave (I havent figured out how to share this in a prettier way than the link, let me know if you want it).

    Tuesday, February 8, 2011

    Opening Day

    Teresa and I finally moved the skis aside to dig out our climbing gear last week... we started with a quick night of bouldering, abs, and slackline fun at the Outdoor Research bouldering wall, which is likely to be our "Home Gym" this season until the Seattle Bouldering Project opens. I have to admit... I'm a bit burned out on the existing gym scene. Partly, it's geography -- now that I live and work south of the city, it's hard to get stoked to drive north to Ballard. Partly, I miss the climbing family I had out in Bremerton, and my feeble efforts to settle in at a Seattle gym just haven't "taken" yet.

    When the weather report for the weekend predicted rain for the ski areas, we tentatively started talking about the possibility of a little drive out to Vantage. As the weekend approached, and the forecast held: Saturday, temps in the 40s, low chance of rain, partly sunny... a gamble on Vantage's weather became more and more attractive.

    Saturday, February 5th -- a full month earlier than my typical Vantage season opener -- we got an excited but not super early start. I honestly thought we'd be taking our gear for a drive... I've had freezing cold days at Vantage in March, and when it was still drizzling past Ellensburg, our odds didn't look great. Luckily, we had an iPod full of tunes and the two of us never seem to run out of topics of conversation even after living in a little house together for nearly a year... so the drive went fast, with little attention to the weather. I realized -- while still driving east, before even reaching our climbing destination, I already felt my climbing bliss. My eyes were relaxed and happy, and my smile exactly where it belonged.

    When we reached the Columbia River and the weather was dry, my visions switched from rain and cold, to a vision of Sunshine Wall covered in climbing parties, with line-ups for the moderate routes I hoped to warm up on. I can, on occasion, be a bit of pessimist in my secret head, I guess.

    An aside. If you don't like dogs, this might not be your blog. Maile the Great is likely to feature prominently in this one, since she's -- by far -- the most photogenic of the bunch (no offense, Teresa -- but you and I both know it's true). not offended, its totally true, just look at that face! she's model material -teresa

    Maile did a happy dance for all three of us when we pulled into the nearly empty parking lot. The ground was soaked from recent rains, but Sunshine Wall and the other backside crags generally dry fairly quick thanks to frequent windy days and nights on the Columbia River Gorge side of the climbing area.

    After a two-girl effort to help Maile through the Dog Catcher -- a notoriously not dog friendly downclimb on the trail to the back side crags -- we found ourselves looking out over a dry, clearing, warm-enough-to-take-our-gloves-off day at one of my favorite, most underrated climbing walls in Washington.

    Yes, it's crumbling columnar basalt.

    Yes, it gets used and abused by far too many climbing parties of various levels of skill and style.

    Yes, it can be can't-hear-your-belayer-crap-the-rope-is-stuck windy.

    But on a good day, Sunshine Wall is a little bit of heaven.

    And we happened to be blessed with a Good Day.

    We spent the whole day on 5.8s and 5.9s, each of us taking a turn on lead and also working our currently-non-existent endurance with long pitches on top rope. While we've been friends for a year (Happy Anniversary, T!) this marked only our second time ever climbing outside together, and served as a well-timed reminder, for me, of the best parts of climbing.

    Teresa and I climb without pressure, and with fun. We support and encourage each other; we are quick to praise, and more patient with each other than the average bear when the going gets hard. We pace ourselves. We crack jokes. We coach each other and sing through hard parts of climbs (Me: Extraordinary Machine, by Fiona Apple. Teresa: Just Breathe, by Pearl Jam). Teresa wants me to add that her favorite song of all time is Bryan Adams "The Summer of 69." (please dont hold this confession against me -teresa) Now, Teresa is having an in-depth conversation with Maile about what HER favorite song is.

    The verdict: If there were a song about squirrels, that would be Maile's favorite.

    Back to climbing.

    I am blessed to have a short list of the world's greatest climbing partners, and even more blessed to get to reside with one (and her little dog). From start to finish, this year's season opener was one of those absolutely perfect days I dream about at Vantage. Calm climbing. No pressure. Lots of laughter. No crowds. The sound of quickdraws clanking against each other. Clear views. Climbing without a jacket on. Maile chasing bugs.

    And sunshine.

    If our season opener was any indication, it's going to be a great year.

    How are you starting your season? Share your season opener in the comments. And, don't miss any of the action. We're live on Facebook and Twitter!

    Wednesday, February 2, 2011

    Puxatony Phil Says So

    I don't know if we jinxed the ski season with all our talk of and goal-planning for climbing; maybe we did. Maybe we pissed li'l miss Nina off with our chit chat of things to come in warmer weather when she wanted the show to be about big snow. Or maybe she just really prefers to play with the folks out East rather than us in the PNW. Either way, I don't mind. My skis are already back in the garage. Because, despite what the calendar says, it's spring. And it's time to go climbing. Puxatony Phil said so. I couldn't be happier if you wrapped spring up in a beautiful, lacy new brassiere with a side of wine and chocolate and a sexy sailor to go along with it too and sent me on my way. It's Climbing Season!!

    Since my bud, Pux. Phil said it, and since we were both desperate to climb even if we didn't know it, today we kicked it off. The two solo's of Solo in Tandem officially have blood coursing through their climbing veins again. Halle-fricking-lujah.

    Utilizing the amazing new bouldering area at my work, Outdoor Research, we maxed out; sweaty, with arm shakes kind of maxing out. It felt amazing; I haven't been this sore or in this good of a mood in too long. But it made me realize that, to reach the goals I've made for myself and committed to with Sara, I need to get diligent and busy about this training biz. Training for me needs to be laid out day-to-day and week-to-week. When I ran the Rock and Roll Marathon in '09, the keys to me crossing of that finish line were having a good training schedule and having a fantastic, encouraging teammate. And I already have the teammate. So tonight, I'm putting a training schedule together.

    Having strength, skill, time and endurance goals along with cross-training will be key. I know there will be days that I don't complete my planned workout. That's ok. There will also be days that I'm so jazzed on what I'm doing, that I'll do more. Remembering to rest is another important part of the plan too. Time to get me on my feet and get focused.

    Fueled by an invigorating, inspiring, and a "holy-crap-i've-missed-this-so-much" feeling, I'll be putting together my first "program" tonight in the Little Green House. I'm shooting for 4 weeks first, see how it starts and go from there. I'm a little nervous since I've never set out climbing training this specific before, but I'm excited. I'm excited to share them too and get feedback. (friends, I've just opened the door for ya, feel free to speak up and share your thoughts.)

    Tonic with lemon is poured. Computer on (obviously). Queue Sex and the City Season 4 - its a great "soundtrack" for the background.

    And I'm off!