Climbing Up My Heart

I’ve been climbing a lot lately. Not nearly as much as I would like to, but a good bit. Truthfully I’d love to climb everyday, but stupid work and school prohibits that. School more so than work, since my school is at night, but regardless I’m loving it.

I’ve always been a fairly active girl and I’ve always loved competition. Thought, mostly, my competitive nature has always been dominated by team sports – softball and ultimate frisbee, and neither are very graceful sports. I remember when I was attempting to be a diver my freshman year of high school. It was a ludicrous idea from the get-go. I’m an athlete, but I’m by no means graceful. In fact, I normally end up walking away from simple activities with bruises, cuts, scrapes, black-eyes – it’s not any fun if you don’t get a little banged up. You can imagine how that works out with a diving board. Yes, I did hit my head, yes the ambulance was called, and yes – my parents did have to come get me from the pool, twice, because of injury. I had given it a full, honest attempt, but I knew it would be something I’d never be great at no matter the work or effort put forth, but it was my gateway into swimming.

So, I decided to finish out the season with very simple, non-dangerous dives because I’m not someone who quits easily. It was “Holiday Break” and we had a meet rescheduled against Collins Hill. We were on the bus on the way to the pool on a super, super cold Friday night.  The inside of the bus had been fogging up and all of us were writing on the windows with our fingers. The windows to touch were frigidly cold. I was sitting three rows back from the front of the bus decorating my window with little “feet” and smiley faces when Amy, a girl sitting one seat between me at the coach, turned and asked me if I could swim a 50 free. Apparently, we absolutely needed another girl to swim in order to compete. It took a lot of convincing. I hadn’t ever swam before. I didn’t know how to do a flip-turn; I didn’t have a swim cap or goggles, but my friend Justin was quick to lend me his. I was told “don’t worry about the flip turn. Just go down, touch the wall, and come back.” Begrudgingly, I agreed to this audacious task – after all, if I didn’t swim I probably wouldn’t be able to dive, either. I remember getting up on the ridiculously high start block in lane 5 at the pool. I remember adjusting my goggles, but  not really knowing if what I was adjusting was correct. The adrenaline started flooding over my body and I started getting nervous. “What am I doing up here?!” It’s a good thing that I’m a bit of a fish and I was taught how to swim in the ocean by my grandparents, but that still didn’t make up for the fact that I was about to swim in a competition.

I took a deep breath as I waited for the start beep to sound. It felt like the longest twenty seconds in my life. My brain started doing that over thinking thing it does: are my feet in the right place? what do i do with my hands? do i put them on the block? quick look at the other people, what are they doing? okay, do that. actually, you look stupid. don’t do that. hey, did you realize your ass in sticking straight up in the air? maybe you should fix that. maybe …

BEEEP! Shit. I dove in. My goggle adjustment either didn’t do a damn thing, or I just managed to succeed in making it worse because when I opened my eyes, my goggles were around my neck and both of my contacts disappeared into the chlorine filled pool. I swam down as quick as possible only opening my eyes when absolutely necessary. I attempted, quite pitifully, a flip-turn which really probably looked like a retarded duck trying to fish and then swam back down. I touched the wall and looked around in the pool. I’m blind without my contacts but I was positive: nobody was around me. The swim coach, however, was standing at the start block above me. I couldn’t see him since I didn’t have any contacts in, but I heard him. “Swim practice is everyday at 2:45; I’ll see you Monday.” Turns out, I was pretty good for never swimming before. This was my first go at an individual sport and I loved it. Too bad my junior year I ended up shredding my hamstring in Martial Arts (second attempt at an individual sport!) and couldn’t swim my senior year. I got most imporved swimmer my Junior Year. It was awesome. I miss swimming. Hey LOOK! I found me: http://www.shilohswimdive.com/html/history.htm

Since 2004 I’ve been playing ultimate frisbee. I pretty much abandoned all other sports for a new found love. However, just like softball, and how I feel about most team sports, politics plays a heavy hand in your success as an individual on a team. Some people play the political card better than I do – frankly, I suck at it. As people have read about me before, or simply know, I’m fairly opinionated and sometimes that just doesn’t fly. There are other reasons, but meh. I don’t really feel like getting into it. Unfortunately, a sport that I use to love a lot is going to take a backseat for a while.

I’ve been climbing a lot lately and I am absolutely in love with it. I think I love it because the only person who can tell you that you’re not good enough is yourself. It’s between you and the problem. A boulder doesn’t lie to you; a problem doesn’t tell you that you were good enough but there’s not enough room – it just says “come and get me.” I’m starting to realize how much I like climbing and why those reasons are.

This weekend five of us went climbing at a place in Alabama called Horse Pens. It was my first attempt at outdoor climbing. Previously, I had only been climbing indoors and primarily at my gym, Escalade. I wrote a blog post about losing my climbing shoes (I’m still pissed about that) but despite buying two pairs, I’ve gotten the use out of them, so it’s alright. Especially since I love it so much. The only problem is that I don’t get to do it enough. I love climbing because the only person who prevents me from getting better and topping out is me. When you’re up there, even though you’re not that far off the ground, and you’re holding on with every bit of strength you have in your fingers, the focus is on the next move, where your feet go and most importantly, not busting your ass. It’s a sport that is focused around me. My capabilities and what I’m able to work hard to accomplish. Not to mention, conquering a route you’ve been working on for a while is an amazing feeling.

Turtle Rock! Also known as Landown (Thanks Susie!)



One thought on “Climbing Up My Heart

  1. I’m so glad you’re finding something else you love to do! Keep it up (just don’t hurt your wrist like snoozie did… ) 🙂

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