Tuesday, 16 June 2009

Commiserate or Celebrate?

There’s no denying it: officially, I’m another year older, no longer can I pretend that I’m not an adult. Bummer. In a society that places so much value in youth, it’s hard not to catch a bout of the birthday blues but really, when you look at the alternative, it’s not that bad. I think most of us would prefer a birthday to a deathday. And I guess it’s not that bad, after all, I’m still only 23.

Some of you may laugh and tell me that it only gets worse, and you’re probably right, but I think that no matter what age you are a birthday can represent missed opportunities, regrets or failures. And no matter how insignificant these might be there is always that little question “what if?”  

On the other hand, I shouldn’t complain. My life is pretty amazing. Not only have I already had the chance to immerse myself in different cultures and experience some fantastic places, I still have the fun and challenging 4 years of undergraduate study to look forward to. I do not regret my choices concerning this or most other aspects of my life. I’m really psyched to start uni in September. Most importantly though, I’ve been lucky enough to have the support of my parents, without which I wouldn’t have gotten far.

I suppose what I’m trying to say, in a rather roundabout way, is that I wish I had put more effort into the things that are important to me now, i.e. climbing. I’m 23 and still nowhere near 8a! The problem is, that until fairly recently, I had no idea what climbing would become for me: That is, all consuming.

Ah well, there’s still hope. Steve McClure, Tony Lamprecht, Lynn Hill and many others are all still crushing into their middle ages. They’re not past it yet, and if they can do it, so can I. I won’t let this birthday represent anything negative, instead, I’m going to see this as a chance to reassess my goals and organise my life accordingly. Right. 8a by 2011. This is what I want… I’m going for a run! 

Oh yeah, I did make it to Malham eventually, and it was amazing! Can’t wait for the weather to take a turn for the worse so I can forget Kilnsey and go back to Malham.

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Off to Malham Cove on Saturday to get spanked! I'm a little apprehensive about going; it's been 10 months since I last tied in and Malham looks rather intimidating. On the other hand, I am psyched and if I pretend my name is Jerry or Wolfgang or Jibe, I'm sure I'll be just fine. PMA! I'll let you know how it goes.

Sunday, 8 March 2009

So, I’ve totally recovered from my finger injury and I’ve just set up my beautiful Beastmaker (dreamy sigh). For those of you who are still in the dark ages of training, a Beastmaker is the next evolutionary step in fingerboarding. As someone, recently, so aptly put it, “it does what it says on the tin”. Oh yes, there’s a dark horse in the making (…I can still be a dark horse if I let everyone know I want to be one, right?).

I’ve been fairly abstemious recently, with regards to boozing, but last Friday, I had a fantastic night out. I’ve decided I like having a life. The only downside to going out clubbing is that it’s much more fun when you’re drunk and, lets face it, hangovers are far from a fast track to STRONG. Whilst discussing this with a friend, it was clear that both of us prioritise climbing over drinking but felt that without drinking we’d be washed up spinsters. This has been an ongoing dilemma in my life for a while now and I’ve not yet come to a concrete conclusion, I just thought I’d share my pain.

Something else I’d like to share; “Penelope’s Web”. It occurred to me that unless you’re called Penelope, you probably haven’t heard this expression. Since I was too lazy to write out an explanation, I stole this from the interweb:

Penelope is another of those mythic heroines whose beauties were
rather those of character and conduct than of person. She was
the daughter of Icarius, a Spartan prince. Ulysses, king of
Ithaca, sought her in marriage, and won her over all competitors.
When the moment came for the bride to leave her father's house,
Icarius, unable to bear the thoughts of parting with his
daughter, tried to persuade her to remain with him, and not
accompany her husband to Ithaca. Ulysses gave Penelope her
choice, to stay or go with him. Penelope made no reply, but
dropped her veil over her face. Icarius urged her no further,
but when she was gone erected a statue to Modesty on the spot
where they parted.

Ulysses and Penelope had not enjoyed their union more than a year
when it was interrupted by the events which called Ulysses to the
Trojan war. During his long absence, and when it was doubtful
whether he still lived, and highly improbable that he would ever
return, Penelope was importuned by numerous suitors, from whom
there seemed no refuge but in choosing one of them for her
husband. Penelope, however, employed every art to gain time,
still hopping for Ulysses' return. One of her arts of delay was
engaging in the preparation of a robe for the funeral canopy of
Laertes, her husband's father. She pledged herself to make her
choice among the suitors when the robe was finished. During the
day she worked at the robe, but in the night she undid the work
of the day. This is the famous Penelope's web, which is used as
a proverbial expression for anything which is perpetually doing
but never done.

Wednesday, 4 February 2009

Valentine's Day. What a crock of shit, eh? Or is it?

Many people view Valentines Day as a yearly ritual in consumerism, or as an excuse to revel in witty bitterness, and for some, it’s both. For a lot of us, the 14th of February is just another day of the year. The occasion has become of great importance for greeting card companies and chocolatiers who have a vested interest in promoting the day as a celebration of love. However, there are the hopeless romantics out there who really do care about Valentines Day and use it to remind their special someone just how much they care.

For me, there is only one true love in my life that I can always count on: climbing. Love doesn’t exist! I hear you say (Sam). Love could just be a euphemism for dependency or it could be a genuine mix of emotions for which there is no other, more definitive word. Whatever the true essence of love, I feel that I love climbing. For better or worse, climbing will always be with me.

In the past, my relationship with climbing has had its ups and downs but when times are good, I feel on top of the world; my heart rate speeds up and I’m filled with an intense feeling of excitement. Physical activity is known to increase levels of the pleasure hormone Dopamine but I know that there’s more to it that for most dedicated climbers. So many of us invest a huge part of ourselves in devotion to what is a totally hedonistic activity and I, for one, am pleased with what climbing has given back to me and with what it still holds for me.

Recently though, I’ve had to adopt a “tough love” approach to my climbing. Following a disastrous trip to Font (the only redeeming feature of the entire 16 days was bumping into the God of Bleausards, Jacky Godoffe), I injured the A2 pulley in my left ring finger and had to stop climbing completely. Although, 3 weeks is not a big deal in the grand scheme of things, I was only just beginning to see the effects of systematic training and felt particularly frustrated at the prospect of going back to square 1. This was hard but I realized that, although it would be a mistake to carry on with my usual training routine, I could easily adapt my training to work around my injury, whilst focusing on any obvious weakness, e.g. core strength.

Well, I’ve just started climbing down the wall again and, I’m glad to say, things are looking up. Last night, I managed to hang the biggest small rung on the campus board (half crimp) without any pain. This morning, the area was slightly tender but nothing to worry about. With rehabilitation methods such as the Lewis Technique/Cold Water Treatment and some careful fingerboarding, I should be right as rain in no time.

This relationship is back on track, so I will celebrate the 14th of February. This year’s Valentines Day is dedicated to climbing, the love of my life.