I'd got my first taste of competition a few months earlier at a casual wall event. I hated it. After struggling with injury, then a giant plateau in progress, I had already been psyching myself out for weeks in preparation, comparing my climbing with everyone else and noting just how much better than me they were. A competition was not the right environment for such delicate confidence. I handed my score card in that day too, no name and soggy from tears.
Being a stubborn creature though, my sights were still set on entering my first proper bouldering competition. This time, at Blokfest, I'd know to expect the pressure to not take too long on a problem and the guts it takes to try a route in front of a crowd impatiently waiting for their turn. I also knew to expect to climb almost nothing and to try and not get hung up on that fact. As with running, this was my first event, so an automatic PB was already in the bag.
To my delight the first four women's problems I found were simple traverses. Perfect for warming up, nothing too tricky and all nice and close to the ground, to keep my nerves settled. Flash, flash, flash, flash. 44 points. Already what I'd expected to get for the entire afternoon!
|Credit: Jeremy Leong|
Perhaps this pre-determined limit was in my head when I stepped up to the next route. It was a tricksy number with a few holds at the start to get your head scratching. I couldn't get off the start. I gave myself a second chance. Another failed attempt. Maybe I had reached my limit.
Head down, I walked away to watch the 'real' climbers tackle the rest of the 25 problems. Until I got the push from a friend to try another problem. His enthusiasm is always so infectious, there was no way to back out. To my surprise, I found myself at the top.
Maybe, just maybe, I was better than I was letting myself be?
From then on the determination to grab those 11 precious points for completing a route on the first attempt, saw me flash a string of harder problems. But the wish to see just what I was capable of if I allowed myself to try, saw me attempt way more. I may not have finished some of the routes I tried but each move made was a mini win. And that tricksy problem I mentioned? Re-attempted and ticked off.
With only 20-minutes of the competition left and no energy in the tank, I began to drag my worn-out arms home without submitting my score until that change of heart made me do otherwise. The excitement at seeing my name amongst 39 other badass women, no matter how far down the list, makes me so glad I did.
Bring on the next competition!