A Jealous Mistress

The general consensus about my plan to climb the day after running the Hartford Marathon was that I was nuts, but I figured my arms would be fresh enough. More importantly, there just had to be some climbing. What with one thing and another, and you can blame a lot on the rain, I haven’t climbed half as much this year as I usually do. Which has made for a season in limbo–neither here nor there, neither better nor worse. I manage a couple weekends in a row or get in a solid few weeks at the gym and see some improvement. Then life deals another scheduling blow and I’m back to start-of-season form. Now the season is nearly over and I’ve got precious little to point at. At least, not in the way of climbing.

I keep saying I’m not a runner and keep sacrificing yet another weekend to yet another race. At first glance, a race is a thing that takes a few hours. But then there are the training days and the traveling days and the recovery days. The longer the race, the more the days, the more hours in those days. Running is not my true love, but it’s a jealous mistress.

Back when I ran my first race, a half marathon, people would ask if I was planning to run a full marathon and I’d emphatically tell them no. It would take more than four hours, I’d tell them (I was probably underestimating) and I couldn’t imagine suffering for that long. For two hours, the time it takes to run a half marathon, I could suffer. For four, no.

And I couldn’t train for it, I explained to Steve when we first started dating. I had so much trouble with shin splints back then that it was hard to get in more than a dozen miles a week, which is technically not enough to train for even a half marathon. Besides, running was just exercise. It was something I did to stay in shape–to work the cardiovascular system, to build stronger bones, to burn calories. My first race was an experience, a thrill ride, but it was supposed to be a one-time deal. I’m a climber, damn it, Jim.

So maybe I’m a climber who runs.

The marathon was great. I did it in 3:39 and wasn’t suffering for more than ten minutes of it. I sure didn’t train as hard as the websites say you ought to, averaging only 35 miles a week for only three weeks, but I guess that was enough, and the shin splints held off until it was time to taper anyway. When I said I’d never run a marathon, I didn’t know that a marathon could feel like that.

But what about the climbing? Why does the balance keep shifting?

* You can always run. Climbing requires daylight, decent weather, a partner, some nice rock, and enough time to get to the rock, climb some stuff, and get back. Running requires a pair of shoes and a sports bra (and sometimes I live without the sports bra). If you only have half an hour, you only go three miles. If it’s raining, you get wet. If it’s dark, you wear a headlamp.

* Racing has a deadline. Once you click submit on that race entry form, you’ve got a goal, and that goal has a date associated with it. I have many climbing goals and dreams but they can always wait until next weekend. Or next season.

* It’s not that important. Climbing is like the really attractive PPG (person of preferred gender) you have a mega crush on. Your heart beats faster, you can’t catch your breath, and your brain turns to mush. It’s love/hate, flight or fight. You’ll die if he doesn’t notice you and you’ll die if he does. Running’s just zis guy, you know? No one gets hurt, no one gets scared, no one gets disappointed or excited or has their ego boosted or dumped on. I just run.

But what about the climbing? Aren’t you going to talk about climbing?

Ah, yes. We went to Farley, me and the Russians. There’s no guidebook for Farley, but I knew a little and Natasha knew a little more and a very kind local (there seem to be quite a few very kind locals in that area) shared his knowledge. Between us, I got to climb six routes I’d never been on before. Most were fully bolted but I did mix in one mixed route, since Natasha had lugged her gear all the way up there.

I was expecting the Russians to be rope guns but they’d over-climbed the day before and so we all happily melted into lethargy around three o’clock. We took a tour of the area and I saw Yosemite Crack. Having now seen it, I can see I need to do it.

(route names where known)
11a (TR)
Sweating Buckets, 5.9
5.10 mixed
Vinyl Siding, 5.10
Airblast, 5.8

October 13, 2008   Posted in: Farley Ledge MA, Running

2 Responses

  1. Geoff - October 15, 2008

    Wow! 3:39 in a marathon is a very respectable time. Much faster than any of mine, and you don’t sound like you suffered much. Impressive!


  2. Dawn Alguard - October 16, 2008

    Thanks, Geoff. I guess I was ready to run this race because it seemed like it flew by. I haven’t had so much fun since the first one. I ran with a pace leader, which I’d never done before, and it helps mentally. It was a friendly group and I didn’t have to think about what my pace should be.

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