And it’s over…
Almost one week has passed since the final event in the 2014 Bouldering World cup series. That’s it. They are over. Already! 8 World cups have come and passed. To think back over the past months is like trying to remember a dream. Initially only certain things are clear and the rest is fuzzy and blurred but more and more pieces start to fall together eventually forming a memory.
I have tried many times to write whilst I have been away but I have often struggled to get more than a few sentences down. The mood and tone of my words has been all over the place which has made it difficult to get anything of length together. However, I now feel it is time to stop and reflect.
My last blog post came after I returned home from Innsbruck, overwhelmed and satisfied with the season as it stood then. I guess this time my emotions are a little different. It is hard to know where to start. The main difference in the second half of the season was not having Mina around. After struggling with motivation and psyche in the first comps Mina decided not to attend the last four events. A decision I assure you did not come lightly.
I think people often think that going to a World cup is like going on holiday. We get to see amazing places, sometimes travel with our friends and do incredible things. It’s all true but there’s a side that is rarely shared. Every event is an emotional roller coaster and we are on it with whoever we happen to be with whether we (or they) like it or not. In a season like the one just past we only got a few days to travel, recover, process, recharge and get psyched before the next comp started. Constantly moving but with so much time spent waiting. Waiting for a plane, a bus, a train or a taxi. Waiting for the competition to start, for someone to come up with an idea to kill some time, for more people to arrive. Waiting for isolation to open, to warm up, to go out and climb, to find out if you made it to the next round. Waiting until its time to eat, to sleep, to pack. Waiting, stressful waiting, boring waiting, tiring waiting. In the past few months I have played a lot of of cards, watched a lot of movies and spent a lot of time reading. I have had time but not time to think or process. You don’t want to be sat getting irritated over a bad performance days before you are about to go out and compete again. Nor do you want to be fretting over your next performance.
I wouldn’t say doing a World cup circuit is fun. It’s enjoyable at times but it can also be tiring, frustrating, disheartening and stressful. After all we train for weeks, months, years to just try and climb a few boulder problems.
I found this season hard and demanding. At times this showed in my performance; more so in the second half of the season. I got two second places and two 5th places. Results I could never have imagined being disappointed with 3 years ago. In Toronto I fought hard and felt happy with the performance I gave. 6 days later in Vail I had my first bad competition of the season. I’d lost my psyche and I wanted to go home. I got lucky and made it to finals but in this season you had to be on your game constantly to keep up. In China I picked it up again. After spending some quality time at home my spirits were high and I felt ready to fight again. Unfortunately the second round in China was hard to enjoy. I thought wall and the holds were poor and the route setting could not make up for this. It was a real shame that only 2 boulders were topped in the women’s final. It never feels like a battle when that happens.
After China we had 5 days to get to Laval, France and muster up everything we had left for the last round. Our journey from China to Laval was horrendous. In the past I have always been lucky on long haul flights, getting a seat near the window or a whole row to myself. Not this time! 3 jam packed, hot , sweaty flights, 2 of which were delayed meaning our time on the ground was spent running from one gate to another. I forgot to mention annoying waiting earlier; like when you are waiting to get off a plane so you can start running to make your next one. Annoying. These delays also meant when we arrived in France 24 hours after leaving our hotel in China the location of our luggage was unknown.
Lets get back to the World of competition climbing. In Laval we had a big GB team. The para-climbers crushed! Dave Barrans ended up in 12th and Micheala in 11th. I found myself stood underneath the last boulder in finals competing with Anna for 5th place. Not the ending to the season I had been hoping for! I felt good in Laval, qualifiers went as well as they possibly could and semi finals were good too. Finals went down hill after the first boulder problem. I didn’t quite hold the last hold. That’s not true I did hold it but with only one had. I was unable to make the jump and I was unable to reach it and I was unable to come back from not doing it. I managed to top the following three boulders in a wapping 13 attempts! You could not just feel good this season you had to be better than good and you had to be ready to fight.
I finished second in the World. I am happy with that result. I am content with the season as a whole and the performances that I gave. Well most of them. The last one however would need a whole lot of writing to make any sense of and I won’t go on much longer.
This season taught me a lot. Most importantly I learnt that I can win. I have thought that I can in the past but now I know. I am no longer competing for the unknown. I have a gold medal, it’s real, it’s possible.
Photo Credits to Heiko Wilhelm and Eddie Fowke