Dry Toast and Bananas

 

After spending a few hectic days with lots of meetings and business I was on my way back to Manchester airport and I was back in the all to familiar place with a coffee once again. This time however a face that had been missing from these ventures for a while was now present again. With lots to catch up on Mina and I chatted away and after quite a quick flight and then a long coach journey we arrived at the Hilton hotel right next door to the Porsche Arena. There was little time for a pause before registration, briefing and then out to dinner.

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The sense of friendship and community was really highlighted at this competition for me. It was so nice to be at a comp where it didn’t matter where you were from, what team you were on or what sponsor you had.

The dinner on Friday night was great but I think due to my hectic week at home and generally being a little run down something didn’t quite agree with me and most of Friday night was spent in the bathroom. Food poisoning sucks. Food poisoning really really sucks the night before a comp!

I think I managed to get around 3 hours sleep. I got half a piece of toast down at breakfast and half a banana in isolation. I tried to warm up a little and it didn’t really work. I was unsure about if I should climb or not. I wanted to climb but I also wanted to curl up in a ball in bed. What if I felt totally fine the next day? I didn’t want to not compete and then have to sit and watch the next day feeling totally well. Luckily I was out early so I could get it over and done with. I went out onto the mat with every ounce of concentration on climbing. I couldn’t feel sick, tired or lame if I didn’t think about it right? Well, somehow this worked. I topped all of the boulders with only one fall finished in second.

Day one done. I went back to the hotel and woke up 3 hours later still in my climbing clothes on the bed not even under the covers. I managed to eat a little pasta in the evening and was starting to feel like I was steadily heading along the road to recovery. 10 hours sleep and even half a bowl of cereal for breakfast. It was time to go see what I had in me for semi finals.

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At Adidas rockstars they allow us to look at the problems from a distance before the isolation closes. I wasn’t sure how this would effect me. Most people found it lowered their nerves and their anxiety but I thought it could easily do the opposite. It is so hard to tell what the boulders are like from a distance though. I didn’t find it made much difference. They all looked possible and fairly basic so it was just about going out and climbing.

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My aims for this competition were never clear for me. Of course everyone wants to win but in my mind the season had finished and I was just there to have fun. The problems did not disappoint. They were super fun! I was a little frustrated as I had so little power, turns out not eating much really doesn’t help you burl your way up a steep roof or stick big dynamic moves, things I would normally consider preferences. I tried hard though and one thing I can take away from this event is a deeper understanding of how hard you can push when you feel a small percentage of your best.

I qualified for finals in 6th place. I was so so so happy, tired and overwhelmed.

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I was surprised at how good I felt when warming up for finals. I had literally eaten half a bowl of cereal and a few bananas all day. Although a coffee was still necessary before going out for presentation and observation to help mask the fatigue. After looking at the boulders I had very mixed feelings. They were everything we could expect but that unfortunately for me that meant the were pretty funky too. My concerns were mainly about the second boulder which was a running start. My worst nightmare!

It was hard to tell the difficulty of the first boulder. My first attempt was a little lame, my hand was over the hold and it just didn’t hold on. My energy was sapping and my body just wanted to give up but I managed to make the move on my second try after consciously willing my hand to hold on. I was climbing first so I had no idea if the boulders were even possible for us or if they were super easy. I usually like climbing first in finals because of the lack of expectation that there is. However going first on the running start was not something I was looking forward to. However, I went out with a smile, ready to face the all to familiar humiliation that usually comes with this kind of boulder for me. Luck must have been on my side as after my funny little run up (that people always make fun of me for) I did not find myself back on the mat but on the starting holds. The rest of the boulder was harder than I expected but my fear of taking the run up again pushed me to the top.

The Finals had a stranger format. 6 climbers competed on the first and second boulders and then 3 advanced to the third boulder. These were myself, Jule and Akiyo. The third boulder looked hard and powerful. Normally something I would be really excited about but I felt so drained and lame I had no idea what would happen out there. I seem to be quite good at ignoring how I actually feel and making myself believe I feel good. Well good enough to get me to the top of the third boulder anyway.

The third boulder decided on who went to the super final. The super final is two identical boulders which the top two competitors race up. Well in theory. Jule and I were to go head to head. It was so nice to be climbing against Jule because I really didn’t mind at all who won. She is the nicest person and I was excited to get to share the experience with her. And then we both failed and failed and failed and neither of us topped the boulder. Possibly the most public height of embarrassment in my climbing career.

After the boys super final we were sent out again to battle our way up an easier version. I was unable to pretend I felt good by this point and could barely manage a smile for the crowd. I knew the boulder would be way easier and it was going to be a full on race. I tried and gave everything but it wasn’t enough and I had not expected it to be. I had little left to give.

The next hour or so was pretty overwhelming. Podium, some really kind words about my climbing from Alex Huber whilst receiving my trophy, confetti. Lots of press bits and bobs, photos, interviews, autographs.

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I got back to my hotel room and I realised in that moment I understood the meaning of exhaustion. I was sick and I cried. I was not in the least bit disappointed or upset. I was happy with my climbing and my result. And I wasn’t ill anymore. I was just exhausted. I made an attempt to go to the after party but my search for some food and a glass of water failed. I went back to the room and curled up in bed. Safe to say breakfast was well and truly welcomed!

Now I am filming for 5.10 with Mina and Jon. And then on tomorrow Mina and I head to Sweden. Busy busy busy…

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