Training for my challenge has commenced and it’s not pretty. Even though I have good base fitness, and very good particular fitness for, say, running and biking fast, I’m nowhere close to where I need to be in order to have a shot and what we’re planning on doing. I’d better shape up or it’s going to be down right ugly.
On Sunday Mick, who’d just come in 5th in a 100-mile trail race, and I decided to test our climbing fitness on the longest route in the Wasatch, Squawstruck, a 22-pitch, 2,000’ climb just down the road in Rock Canyon. Because neither of had climbed “enough” we knew it would be an eye opener of sorts. But we’ve both ton a lot of long stuff and figured that our historical prep would be enough. Not so much.
This blog spends a lot of time discussing training that you can apply to sports but not so much about sports specific training. And while getting the body prepped is vital, if you’ve gotta play if you want to win. No matter how fit you are if you don’t practice your intended activity it’s always much much harder, if not impossible. Not due to lack of fitness but specificity. Climbing, like most sports, creates specific breakdown that you need to prepare for. Hands, feet, elbows, shoulders, forearms, and back take the brunt of the work, along with the skin. Oh, yes, the skin. Un-prepped skin is the path of least resistance to pain in the off-the-couch challenger. Our body’s personal Maginot Line in the war of specificity.
Our goal was not just to finish the route, mind you, but to finish in comfort. We were pretty certain we’d get up the sucker. And we did; easily if the summit’s all that counts. But we got beat down. The four and a half mile descent wasn’t exactly a death march but we weren’t enjoying the fall scenery as much as we should have. Lots of things hurt; the above list, along with my hips and legs. And our skin, of course, which was totally cooked. At the car I lamented that we’d forgotten to put a couple of beers in a cooler and Mick said, “If I drank a beer I might not make it home.” Did I mention Mick just did a hundred? Cooked, I tell ya.
It was a good, little adventure day lasting about 10 hours in total. But it’s an ominous sign for a birthday challenge, given we’re planning to nearly triple the amount of climbing, quadruple the amount of hiking, and do a bunch of bike riding and exercises as well. I’m a month away from staring down the barrel at a major fail.
There’s a Birthday Challenge saying that goes, “If you know you can do it then it’s not a challenge.” And even though we’ve not announced exactly what we’ll be attempting (Bob is also slightly injured and Josh is in China) it’s going to be a frick load harder than what happened on Sunday. I’m not nearly prepared. But as the other saying goes, “it’s not birthday pretty hard…”.