Back on the wall!

After an incredibly long 3-month hiatus from climbing, I finally feel well enough to get back on the wall, and climb my little heart out 🙂 As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve recently started weight training again. My elbow seems to be supporting my weight pretty well given the circumstances.

So this past Friday, I went bouldering for the first time in 3 months, and I can’t tell you how great it feels to be climbing again. It’s not without its challenges though. After months of not being able to exercise my upper body, I’ve lost quite a bit of strength, and also confidence in my ability to climb. I was struggling quite a bit on the wall. Sadly, I couldn’t even finish a lot of the problems that I climbed. For a lot of them, I’d get pretty close to topping, but then fear would eat at me, making me not want to make the next move in the sequence. I do think that it’s something that I’d be able to work on as I get back into climbing regularly again.

Grip strength is another thing that I really need to work on. Mine isn’t as strong as it was before my little climbing accident. I also need to start building callouses on my palms again, as weird as that sounds lol. Callouses are actually really good for climbing. They toughen up your skin, which makes climbing easier. It’s a good thing my climbing gym put in this new training area for their members. I had a lot of fun playing around with the hangboards, and the cannon ball holds. They were actually easier to pull up on than expected. I’d love to have a set-up like this at home, but it’ll probably cost several hundred dollars to put together. Maybe in a few years…A girl can only dream 🙂

Hub Training Area

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Fitness Update: Won’t be needing surgery!

I met with my surgeon today…and I have some pretty great news! 🙂 After examining my arm, he decided that surgery won’t be necessary given the fact that my elbow is already looking like it’s healing up nicely on its own. He even said that with time, I’d be able to go climbing, and lift weights again. The only thing is, I might not be able to regain full range of motion in my arm. He thinks physical therapy might help with the problem, but it’s not a guaranteed solution…Even so, it’s something that I seriously need to consider. If I’m going back to bouldering, I have to be able to really reach out my arms. The longer the wingspan, the better!

Anyway, I just wanted to update you all on what’s happening. Hopefully, my elbow heals nicely without any complications.

Fitness Update: high-grade tendon tears

Today, I got the call from my doctor that I’ve been dreading…I apparently damaged the tendons in my elbow when I fell a few weeks ago while I was bouldering. For those of you who have not seen my post about the whole incident, you can click here to learn more about it. But long story short, I was climbing a V3 problem when I slipped and fell, and unintentionally landed on my right arm.

Given the fact that my arm has slowly been feeling much better, I was really hoping that the injury is just a minor sprain, but according to my doctor, I’ve partially torn several of the tendons in my elbow. I’ve been ordered to get an MRI as soon as possible, and then I’d have to go see an orthopaedic surgeon. My doctor even mentioned that I’d probably have to go through rehab after all that. It’s honestly a bit hard to process just how serious my injury is. I really thought that it would take me 2 weeks max to get back on the wall. Now, it’s looking like it’s going to be a long while before I can even go back to working out 😦 I feel like I’m losing all of my hard-earned progress with every minute that I spend just sitting at home. I’m even considering running now that I can’t lift weights, AND let me tell you…I hate cardio with every fibre of my being! 😥

Anyway, I will update you all as soon as I learn more about what’s in store for me in the coming months. Wish me a speedy recovery!

USA dominating the IFSC Bouldering World Cup in Vail

The title of this post says it all…The American athletes absolutely dominated. Nathaniel Coleman, whom I’ve never even heard of before last week’s comp, took the silver medal at today’s event in Vail, Colorado. In Toronto last week, he also placed second. He’s definitely starting off the season really strong, beating out other veteran climbers.

Megan Mascarenas (left) fixing her shoe mid-climb XD and Nathaniel Coleman (right) doing a 360 campus move

Megan Mascarenas (left) fixing her shoe mid-climb XD and Nathaniel Coleman (right) doing a 360° campus move

Megan Mascarenas, another American, was also really amazing in the finals today. At 17, she’s fairly new to the big events. I’ve only seen her climb at a few other bouldering competitions, but she managed to take the gold, topping 3 out of the 4 problems! I definitely was not expecting that. I thought for sure one of the more experienced climbers would win the comp, but these young athletes are coming out, blowing everyone out of the water. My pick, Juliane Wurm, didn’t even make it to the semis, which was a complete shock to everyone. Anna Stohr, my second pick, made it into the finals, but unfortunately had to bow out after topping the F2 problem due to a finger injury. I do hope her finger heals nicely for the next event in China.

Well, at least one favourite of mine in the female category managed to podium today 🙂 Shauna Coxsey took the bronze medal, having been edged out by Akiyo Noguchi for 2nd place.

Overall, I’m pretty happy with the competition. Jan Hojer, one of my favourites in the male category, took the gold, making a lot of the problems look so easy and effortless.

I was also super pumped about the fact that there were 2 Canadians in the finals! 😀 Sean McColl did really well in the semis, qualifying 1st. Unfortunately, he didn’t manage to podium in the finals, having only topped 2 problems, but I was still really happy with the way he climbed. He’s always such a pleasure to watch.

Jason Holowach, the other Canadian who made it into the finals, placed 7th (last) in the male category, but you know what…this was his first ever competition, so I’m absolutely looking forward to seeing how he does in the upcoming events.

It was very interesting to see so many North Americans make it into the finals in Vail today. Usually bouldering competitions are dominated by the Europeans and the Asians, so maybe we’re starting to see a change in the mix here?
¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Special mention goes to Alex Johnson. She, unfortunately, didn’t make it through to finals, but it was great listening to her cheer on her fellow athletes. She made the commentary a lot more interesting with her humour and amazing personality 🙂

IFSC Climbing World Cup Vail 2015 – Bouldering

Tomorrow marks the second IFSC World Cup event of the year for the bouldering category!

I’m sad to say that I didn’t get to see the competition in person last week when they were here in Toronto, but I did watch the live stream on YouTube. I will probably catch them next year when they’re back in town 🙂

Anyway, they’re now in Vail, Colorado for the 2nd event of the season. So, I will be tuning in pretty much all day tomorrow for the semi-finals and the finals. I’m really rooting for Sean McColl in the male category. I’m hoping that he does well tomorrow morning so he qualifies for the finals. In Toronto, he didn’t end up getting into the main event, having only topped 1 problem in the semis 😦

I’m pretty excited about watching Jan Hojer climb as well. I’m not sure how he did in qualifiers today though. Last week, he didn’t even make it to the semi-finals, which was so surprising because he’s one of the strongest climbers out there.

As for the female category, I’m rooting for Juliane Wurm, but honestly it’s a tight pick between her, Shauna Coxsey, and Anna Stohr. I’ll be happy with whoever wins 🙂

Join me tomorrow on the YouTube live stream page! Watching these great athletes climb is always so incredibly inspiring.

Bittersweet moment in my climbing career…

I’ve talked about how I got into climbing in my last post. Now, I’m going to be writing about a particular incident that happened last Saturday. This story is a combination of funny and horrifying. It’s actually what drove me to start this blog. I thought, “why not put my thoughts out there on the internet for everyone to see and judge and critique?” ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ After all, I was starting to get a little bit bored of just laying around the house, recuperating from an injury that I will be talking more about later in this post↓. Anyhow, I also just wanted a way to document my progress with climbing, among other things, so I decided blogging might be a good idea? 👍

Going back to my story…about a week before “the incident,” I’ve been eyeing this particular V4 problem, which involves a small jump from one volume to another. That entire week, I was conditioning myself to not chicken out, and actually try the jump even if I fail to stick it. I just wanted to get up the courage to take the leap.

So when we (my cousins and I) got to the gym on Saturday at our usual time, we warmed up with a V2 problem, which I flashed by the way 😀 Then we moved on to a yellow V3 problem. The V3 route had quite a few crimps, but they felt surprisingly secure so I didn’t have too much of a problem with them until I reached the tail end of the route, where I had a crimp in each hand, and only one small foothold for either my left or right foot. The next move in the sequence involves reaching over with one of my hands around a small corner to a good positive hold. But I was so worried about the tiny foothold the entire time that I found myself hesitating to reach for that second last hold. I tried a few more times to climb the route using different techniques, but I still got stuck on that particular move, so I decided to work on the other routes.

I wish I had photos to insert here to give you a better idea of the routes I was climbing. I will try to take pictures next time.

Anyway, I moved on to a blue slope-y V4 problem next. I have a little bit of love-hate relationship with slopers. While they can be fun, you would need a lot of body control to climb them, so when I decided to climb the slope-y V4 problem, I didn’t expect to actually finish it. I was just having fun trying it, but with my cousin’s coaching, I was able to flash the problem! 😀 I took so long up on the wall, trying to contort my body into different positions, but in the end, I conquered those slopers.

After climbing that V4 problem, I moved on to the other V4 problem that I’ve been eyeing the past week. On my first attempt, I forced myself to jump…and nothing bad happened! I didn’t stick the jump, but at least I got up the courage to go for it. After a few more tries, a climber came up to us and gave us a few tips on how to stick the jump, so I immediately tried it his way and what do you know…I was able to grab the volume with both hands this time! :O The only thing is, it was hard to stop the momentum of my body so I ended up swinging off the volume and landing on my face! XD Oh my! What a sight I was. I kind of wish that I had a video of that dyno fail. Luckily, I didn’t hurt myself. I think I got a little cut on the inside of my mouth, but it was very minor. At that point, I was running on adrenaline. I tried the jump a second time and unfortunately, the same thing happened. I face-planted yet again XD Let me just say, that I was doing this in front of a small crowd of people, but I didn’t care. I was on a high and I felt invincible. After that attempt though, my left elbow felt a little sore, so I decided to try a different route, and save that V4 problem for another day.

So, I went back to the yellow crimp-y V3 problem that I still haven’t finished and I tried different techniques again, growing bolder and bolder with every attempt. I was finally doing things that I would have wimped out on before. On my last attempt at the V3 problem, I managed to grab the second last hold, but I think I had too much momentum, so I slipped, fell from about 6 ft high, and landed on my right arm :\

Climbing InjuryIt all happened so fast that I didn’t have time to think about how to position myself properly while falling. When I landed, I heard a loud cracking sound in my elbow. For the next minute or so, I just laid there in fetal position, scared of moving, and making things worse. Most of all, I think I was just in shock. A staff member quickly jumped into action, getting me an ice pack for my elbow and checking up on me. It actually didn’t hurt too much right after I fell. It was hours later when I actually started feeling the pain.

My arm is still currently a bit swollen, but I’m able to move it more now. I still have trouble extending my arm out fully, but it seems to be healing nicely. I think it’s just a minor sprain, so I’m not too worried about it now. I’m managing to do more and more with my right hand as days go by.

I will hopefully be back on the wall next week…Yes, I do still want to go bouldering. I will just have to learn to pace myself, and to make sure that I’m not taking unnecessary risks. I’ll take this whole experience as a lesson in patience.

Getting into climbing

About a year ago, my cousins introduced me to bouldering, which as some of you may know is rock climbing without a harness. Before long, I was hooked. It made me feel strong and really good about myself. I think a huge part of why I enjoyed it so much was due to the fact that I was physically primed for climbing at the time that I was introduced to it. I had already been doing P90X3 for about 4 months, so I’ve gotten a lot stronger from lifting weights. If I hadn’t been working out at all prior to my introduction to bouldering, I’m not too sure that I would have liked it as much. I probably would’ve gotten stuck on a lot of the problems because I lacked not only the technique, but also the strength to climb them.

The first time I went climbing with my cousins, it was a good experience, but I wasn’t completely amazed by it. The reason for that may have been due to the fact that I didn’t get to climb as much as I wanted. I spent a lot of time just sitting on the mats, watching other people climb, because my hands got sore pretty quickly. Seeing as it was my first time, I also wasn’t comfortable doing a lot of the techniques used in climbing like flagging (standing with one foot on a hold, while the other foot is pushed out to the side or resting on the wall). I was definitely a bit out of my element. I was also struggling with my fear of heights, so whenever a route got too scary for me, I would just jump down from the wall without even trying the next move in the sequence.

Me back in October 2014, climbing the V1 problem on the dragon

Me back in October 2014, climbing the V1 problem on the dragon

Even though climbing wasn’t as easy as I originally thought it was going to be, my first bouldering experience was good enough for me to want to go back a second time 🙂

The next few times that I went climbing was when I really fell in love with the sport. I slowly got more comfortable with various climbing techniques, but I was still wary of small holds (crimps), so I would only pick out routes that had nice big secure handholds.

Then after about 2 months of climbing, I took a break from it for various reasons that I’m not going to get into, simply because it would make this blog post way too long. But the main reason as to why I took such a long break (about 4 months) from climbing was because I went back to the Philippines again for the holidays. I was there from December 2014 to early March 2015.

During that trip, I did make a point to go climbing at a gym in Manila, but the whole setup at the place that we went to was not great at all. They were a small top-rope gym with no air-conditioning, and the holds on the wall were slippery and old. I remember almost having a heart attack after grabbing one of the holds, and discovering that it wasn’t screwed in properly 😯 Luckily, I was on a harness so I didn’t panic too much when the handhold moved as I grabbed it.

Overall, I do think I prefer bouldering over top-rope, mainly because I’m just not too keen about being up that high. With top-rope, you usually go up much higher than 20 ft, which is the bouldering limit, and I usually get a little bit shaky once I pass that point, so I think I’ll stick with bouldering for now 🙂

Anyway, when I got back to Canada in March, I immediately signed up for a monthly membership at the bouldering gym near my house. Ever since then, I’ve been going twice a week with my cousins, and I’ve improved a lot since I started. I have finally conquered my fear of crimps, having completed quite a few problems that rely on small holds. I am happy to say that I am now climbing V3 problems (although there are a couple V2 routes that I’m still struggling with 😕 ).