Tiny Tim and the Pleasure of Godman Creek || R2V6 #3

I was going to cut my hair, but then the bathroom was occupied so I thought I’d write this post. And then I was going to write this post, but I got occupied checking flights to Quebec City from Vancouver (nonstop, obviously) for a week in July. I could fly nonstop from Vancouver to Quebec city for $463 roundtrip. Not bad. Really good, actually. I haven’t been to Quebec in a long time, at least five years or so. And yet I listen to Quebecois radio all the time living near Vancouver. And I once did an immersion program in Quebec, so for a brief period of time in the summer of 2010 or 2011 my Quebecois French was pretty damn good.

La, la.

Fait que….

(one person in a thousand will get the previous two lines and I’ll love them forever because of it).

I’m on the boat right now, heading back to Blaine tomorrow and then up to Vancouver on Saturday to take care of my friend’s cat for a week. It’s a pretty good deal, though at times I think her cat is the spawn of Lucifer. But other than that, it’s a sweet apartment in Vancouver, close to climbing, and it’s like a vacation from my life that’s already a vacation. Plus, when her cat is not acting like the spawn of Satan, she’s pretty sweet. Her name is Penny. She’s overweight. She takes an inhaler.

The point of this post is to write about my sesh at GODMAN CREEK the other day, but we’ll get to that. First I want to talk about my latest experiments with OMAD (one meal a day), or the “Warrior Diet,” or whatever you want to call it. For the past four days or so I’ve basically done an extreme form of intermittent fasting. I (mostly) fast 20 hours a day, and then I allow myself a four hour eating window. I say “mostly” because it’s not a true fast. It’s a dirty fast. I allow myself to have cream in my coffee or tea, I allow myself to have drinks like Spindrift (five calories per can), and I allow myself to have collagen/protein before and after climbing on the days that I’m climbing. But the calories I consume during the 20 hour fast are pretty negligible.

If my climbing sessions during this intermittent fasting experiment are anything to go by, it’s having exceptional results. At GODMAN CREEK I climbed the hardest I had in a long time. Most of my efforts were spent on a V3 called Tiny Tim. The top of Tiny Tim is easy; it’s the first couple moves that are tricky, especially the sit start. After getting the top wired and trying the sit start a bunch there was a distinct moment in the session where I thought, Oh, man, normally this is where I give up.

Why would I give up? Because I wouldn’t want to push my body too far. I wouldn’t want to get injured. And that feeling has come up repeatedly over the past six months whenever I’ve tried to climb hard, which means I basically haven’t sent anything in the past six months. But something different happened at GODMAN CREEK. After thinking, OK, this is where I give up, I sat down, took a breather, and realized my body actually felt pretty good. I realized I had it in me to keep toying around with the start, and by working the problem from above I came upon on a new placement for my right foot (pistol squatted on a good leg right under me), and that changed everything. I was not only able to pull onto the boulder, I was able to move from the initial position. And within a few goes, I sent the boulder (and got it on film but then lost the footage when I erased my iPhone to give it to my mom).

There was something very significant about this send. It wasn’t so much the grade (though I hadn’t sent V3 in a while); it was about how hard I was able to try. It was also implementing new projecting techniques which allowed me to figure out ideal beta much more effectively than in the past. Sending this boulder was a triumph on so many fronts, and a reminder that good diet is key to climbing hard when you’re in your late 30’s. Basically, after sending Tiny Tim and a couple other fun boulders (see: Tic Tac Toe V1), I was elated, and felt as good as I had climbing in a long time. I spent the rest of the afternoon in a kind of post-good-session bliss, that is, until I ran into traffic in the Langley/Aldergrove area and kind of wanted to die (why is Vancouver traffic so bad ALL THE TIME??? slash the city has multiple millions of people and a road system designed for 1500 inhabitants max).

Today I’ve (sort of) broken with the OMAD thing. I’m still only allowing myself a four hour eating window, but I took one of those hours from 12:15pm-1:15pm. Aka I had lunch. But it’s still better than my regular eating schedule, because normally I just eat all day to fill the gaping voids in my soul, and this way I don’t.

Anyway.

GODMAN CREEK.

Great Vancouver bouldering is so far awesome. Squamish is awesome. BC bouldering (and just in general) is awesome.

Slash, I need to marry a Canadian girl.

Slash Tim Horton’s.

Slash “They’re always specifying whether they’re paying with Mastercard or Visa.”

– Wetz

Have I Cracked the Code? || R2V6 #1

So, I’ve decided to start giving these Road to V6 posts numbers, because I’ve decided to take this goal seriously. So even though there have been a lot of previous R2V6 posts, today’s, as you can see, is labelled #1. How many posts from here on out will there be in the R2V6 series? Probably quite a few. Time will tell.

ANYWAY, I climbed yesterday, 6/1/2022, and the previous session was four days before that, on 5/28/2022. The 5/28 session was at the Weiner Lake Boulders in Alaska. I didn’t really send much, just some warm-up stuff and then worked on a V3 traverse and a cool V3 slightly overhanging juggy face climb. But here’s the deal about that session and yesterday’s: I felt pretty damn good. For yesterday’s I might even say I felt amazing.

Of course, even after the first sesh I was thinking, Why did I feel good today? What was different about today’s session? And more importantly: How can I replicate and optimize it?

Before we start discussing some data on the sessions, please note that I basically hadn’t felt that great climbing since about January 2022. I felt like I had plateau’d or was even making backwards progress. It was quite distressing. So to climb and actually feel pretty good for these last two sessions has been a breath of fresh air. It’s no fun to feel weak, tired and on the verge of injury basically every time you go out climbing.

THE DATA

1st Sesh: Weiner Lake Boulders, Alaska (5/28/2022)

Rest days before sesh: 2

Sleep before the sesh: Decent.

Diet in days leading up to sesh: Not great, but somewhat intermittent fasting

Diet morning of sesh: Coffee with cream in the morning from a cafe in Girdwood, nothing else but water, then some collagen powder right before the sesh

Warm-up: Decent. Basically went with the flow of the sesh. Hung from some rock. Tried some easy warm-ups. Worked the fun part of the traverse V3.

Crux of the sesh: Worked a V3 that I got really close on. Fun problem. Tried pretty hard. Shoulder felt OK. Elbow felt OK. Most importantly felt like I COULD try pretty hard.

Notes/conclusions: Two rest days before the sesh probably had a pretty big influence. No carbs or big meal weighing me down before sesh could’ve had a decent influence. How did the coffee in the morning influence the sesh/did it?

2nd Sesh: SBP Fremont (6/1/2022)

Rest days before sesh: 3 (!)

Sleep before sesh: NOT THAT GREAT (maybe about six hours)

Diet in days leading up to sesh: Decent, some intermittent fasting

Diet morning of sesh: Koia cold brew protein shake, tea with collagen/protein powder, PCC hot bar chicken and vegetables around 12pm (so pretty low net carb leading up to sesh)

Warm-up: Decent. Did some scapula pull-ups, then some scap engage core (basically keep arms straight and start to pull into a front lever [for an example of a warm-up I want to try to follow, check this amazing Hannah Morris video with coach Belinda Fuller). Climbed yellows and reds and greens to warm up, made half-assed attempt to focus on things like straight arms, downclimbed, did a decent amount of volume.

Crux of the sesh: Tried a black on the slightly overhanging well that felt like a pretty hard black. Gave it a good flash go with semi-terrible beta. Then rested standing and walking around and brushing (not just lying on the mat with my elbows back), thought about the beta, then two goes later sent it. Felt thuggy and proud. Probably could’ve optimized beta better and engaged shoulders better was still super psyched.

Notes/conclusions: Three rest days before sesh amazing. Another point in favor of minimal carbs before sesh but YES on protein. Had coffee morning of sesh, still not sure how this influences things. Shoulder felt decent. Didn’t feel like I was tiptoeing around injury nearly as much. Tried pretty damn hard on the black/hardest I’d tried in awhile. Felt so good to try hard and actually send something. Quit immediately after sending black.

MOVING FORWARD

If you’re still reading this I commend you. You must be pretty obsessed with bouldering/really bored.

My takeaways so far are the following:

  1. Rest days are absolutely paramount. Right now I need a minimum of two rest days between sessions.
  2. Low carb with protein the morning of climbing could be helping quite a bit.
  3. Intermittent fasting could be helping quite a bit.
  4. Need to continue to prioritize technique/proper form while climbing.
  5. Party.

That’s all for now. The next sesh will hopefully be Saturday, after two days of rest, and hopefully outside.

Weather permitting.

– MW

 

 

Bend to Seattle Driving Directions

I leave the LOGE, everyone’s favorite hipster motel, at around 8:00am. I’ve now been fasting for over 60 hours. At 72 hours, I can break the fast. I’ve put a lot of thought into what I’ll break my fast with. So far the frontrunner is grass-fed bougie yogurt by Alexandra, which I plan to purchase at Whole Foods on the way to my boat. Other candidates include bone broth, sardines and a coconut smoothie.

The girl at the reception gives me coffee despite saying that it’s only for guests “who’d been promised it.”

I was promised no such thing, I tell her, but she gives it to me for free anyway.

I’m now on the road, making my way through Bend to Highway 97, drinking said coffee. There isn’t much traffic.  A little bit heading north to Redmond, but that soon peters out. After Madras and a stop to refuel at the Plateau Travel Plaza, a place I’ll now go to for all my gasoline needs since they allow self-service in Oregon (!), it peters out completely. It’s just me and the open road and a Subaru who seems hellbent on passing me. Heckbent. I pull over to check some boulders, but realize their access is blocked by a gate because they’re on private land. How many amazing boulder problems will never get climbed because they’re owned by some guy named Cleatus in Central Oregon who’d rather shoot you full of buckshot than let you climb his fantasy blocs? Probably not that many, actually. But some.

I like transitions when driving. I imagine we all do. Which is why it pleases me when the ponderosa pines and the sage brush give way to evergreens as we climb into the foothills of Mount Hood. Then it’s all evergreens, and it’s wet, and pretty soon it’s snowing. A black BMW is tailgating me and eventually passes me in a lane covered with slush and pebbles, their tires slinging slush at the Subee. I flip them off. Damn right I flip them off. Why not? They’re driving like an asshole, and I want them to know it.

In Sandy, Oregon, I stop at Safeway hoping they’ll have the FitAid Zero recovery drink, which has only five calories and I’ve decided is OK for my fast, but they don’t. In fact, they don’t stock any FitAid products. Instead I buy some kind of Evian drink with zinc and magnesium, and also some Smart Water, and go out in the parking lot and sit in my car. In about a half hour I’ll be in Washington. As far as any weather goes, the hardest part of the trip is behind me. But the only interesting part of the trip is also behind me, too. Driving the I-5 corridor up from Portland to Seattle is about the most boring drive on the planet, especially when you’ve done it many times. To top it off, the Subee doesn’t do well at high speeds. She hates them. The Subee was happy back when the speed limit was 55, because then she could go 59 and feel like a badass. But she doesn’t like I-5. Going 67 feels SORT OF OK, but anything above that and she gets nervous. Couple that with the fact that I feel a bit delirious from the fast and the coffee and I’m not exactly looking forward to the second half of the trip. But c’est la vie, or asi es la vida, or so ist das Leben or however you’d like to say it. For now the only thing that matters is that I’m sitting in a parking lot in Sandy, Oregon, and life is pretty good. I’m in the process of doing my longest fast ever. My body feels supremely not inflamed, though it must be said that the recent back exercises I’ve started doing have me feeling a bit weird. But whatever.

I stop at a rest stop somewhere on the I-5 corridor about a half hour north of Portland to do a little walking around and possibly my back exercises. There’s a dude with an old Subaru with a bunch of shit in it and a cardboard sign that says something like, “Homeless. Anything helps,” and I think, Dude, you’re not homeless. You have a car. I do a couple laps around the rest stop. Rest stops are such a weird environment. Everyone is transiting. No one really talks to each other.  Most people don’t stay for more than a few minutes. I guess the truckers stay for a long time sometimes. The truckers sleep. The truckers sit in their trucks watching YouTube videos. The truckers sit in their trucks reading Proust.

My body starts feeling gnarly right around Centralia. My back feels gnarly. I need to get out of this fucking car. I love the Subee but mother of god get me out of here. In about four hours I can finally eat, but I have a sudden urge to do some climbing on the way home, and also to hang out with someone. I want to see what it’s like to hang out with someone after not having eaten for three days. I call Matt and ask him if he wants to climb at SBP. He says he’s there “working” and just come get him when I get there. When I get there we sit and talk about climbing and his living situation for a bit, and then we make our way downstairs to do some easy climbs. My body feels gnarly, but it also feels kinda good. I feel kinda free. I don’t feel strong, exactly, but I feel kinda free. I have abs. There’s nothing like starving yourself for a few days to get abs. I can’t wait to get home and pee on a keto strip to see just how deeply I’m in ketosis. Thing’s gonna be purple AF. I climb fairly easy, not trying anything harder than a purple, and down climbing rather than falling. And when things get too hard I bail and down climb, rather than push myself to where I might take a fall. My back will thank me. My back is thanking me.

Finally, after a stop at Whole Foods on the way home from climbing, it’s time to eat. I do my back exercises one more time and then it’s 5:33pm and now I can do whatever I want. The world’s my oyster, and it’s shucked and sitting right in front of me with lemon and a nice mignonette. Except in my case the oyster is a vat of premium yogurt, which I tuck into. Or at least try to tuck into. It doesn’t taste that good. It’s disappointing. And my body is actually screaming for something else, so I reach for the sardines.

 

 

Sagebrush and Juniper

I’m standing in front of the supplements in Whole Foods in Bend, Oregon trying to find a certain kind of turmeric. It’s apparently liquid soluble and thus more “bioavailable,” and it must be said that when I took it before my digestive system felt better than ever, though that could’ve been because I was supplementing magnesium or any number of other factors. In the end I don’t find it and thus leave with only two wares: a hop tea by Hop Lark, and a Zevia black tea blood orange flavor. Neither of these have any calories, which is ideal. I can’t have calories. I’m fasting.

I traverse the parking lot to the Costco section where I parked. This is Bend, Oregon, known as an outdoor paradise, but I’m in a Costco parking lot, which is decidedly less paradisiacal. My plan when I get in the car, though, after drinking one of the beverages, is to drive east. I don’t know where I want to go, just not here, somewhere without cars, where the only things are dirt, sagebrush and juniper trees. I want to hear the sound of the wind on the high desert, to not be surrounded by cars and buildings and people. This will prove more difficult than I imagined.

I head east on Neff Road and pretty soon things are how I wanted. It’s just me and a road. No traffic behind or in front of me, and the houses are gone now, given way to ranches, and pretty soon these are sparse, too. With the help of Google Maps I make my way to where I think there should be some trails to hike up to some cliff-looking formations where there might be boulders, too. But every time I think I’m getting close the road either becomes a dead end or a private road or simply impassable. Every damn parcel of land out here is owned by someone. Every sage bush, every juniper tree, has a human owner, and the ones I see in the distance on the butte next to the cliff, though presumably free of any owner, are blocked by private land. There are no trails, only roads that turn into driveways adorned with hostile “Private. No trespassing signs.”

Private driveway.

Dead end.

No trespassing.

The butte looms in front of me like a dream and that’s all it will ever be for me, since access looks impossible. I briefly contemplate just driving down one of the private driveways but imagine some guy in a cowboy hat toting a gun sauntering off his porch to point it at me. I don’t feel welcome out here. I’m sure the people are welcoming once you get to know them but if you’re just driving around in your ’97 Subaru looking for a place to look at some damn rocks it certainly doesn’t feel welcoming.

Finally I give up and turn around and start driving towards Bend. After a few minutes I stop to pee and there’s a dead coyote lying near the road, flies buzzing around it, its fur the same color as the brown grass, soon to be fertilizer for the brown grass. I thought it might be silent here but above me power lines crackle and every 30 seconds or so a car comes screaming by. When I finally get back on the road I’m immediately tailgated by a man in a Jeep who’s so close I can see individual stubble clusters on his face. Eventually the degenerate passes me, and I’m free again for a short while. I have the road (sort of) to myself. As we get closer to Bend, though, the traffic becomes thicker, and pretty soon I’m back at the strip mall that houses the Whole Foods where I was just looking at the supplements. I failed on my quest to go to the butte, but it still felt good to get out of the city for a bit, amongst the juniper and the sagebrush, even if I barely left my car.

The Duck Pond (and other thoughts)

Five days ago since I wrote the last post, and I’ve made a couple attempts to write posts since then. The problem is usually I start too late in the day, and for me to be even remotely successful at writing blog posts I have to start in the morning. Take now, for example. It’s 1:53pm. I just boiled water for mate. I’m sitting at my computer. Things are quiet and I feel a bit tired. I don’t have much to talk about. After this paragraph whatever enthusiasm I’d garnered will probably peter out, and I’ll be left just staring at a computer screen, wondering if I should go in the next room and watch YouTube videos. I know it sounds a bit depressing. It sort of is. But in November in the Puget Sound region when you should be working and can’t climb, there’s not much else to do.

I did got to Victoria this weekend. Victoria, British Columbia, to be exact. There I stayed in the James Bay Inn and saw some old friends, wandered around the city a bit, and went to the local bouldering gym. Probably my favorite part of the trip — apart from seeing friends — was hanging out around the duck ponds in Beacon Hill Park. I love watching ducks interact with each other. I often watch them by my boat where I live in Seattle. I love the seriousness with which they go about their tasks. Life is a serious thing to them. Predators are a serious threat. Finding a mate is not a trifling matter. Conversely, in our species, life is a serious matter. Getting a job is serious. Finding a mate is serious. We do all of these things as if they have some kind of inherent meaning.

When I was in the park I couldn’t help but think about Eckhart Tolle, and how after his supposed enlightment he spent a couple years sitting on park benches. It made me think about how the contents of our brains are probably generated by the stimuli that goes into them, and if you were to sit on a park bench for a couple years, contemplating the ducks, your life would probably be as serene and carefree as the scene is when you stop to watch it for two minutes. However, when you start exposing yourself to the ‘real’ world, to busy streets and deadlines and people yelling at each other, the contents of your brain start to resemble that. I’m not saying we should all go sit on park benches for the next couple years, but I am saying a couple of us should. Maybe I should step up and take the plunge. Maybe you should. Some of us have the responsibility to be the keepers of a tranquility that the rest of us will never know.

Taking the ferry back to Port Angeles, the Olympics were bathed in celestial light. On Tuesday, I had the pleasure of seeing my therapist in person. I’ve been talking to her for a year, and I’d still never met her in person, mostly because she’s far away. I wondered how doing a session in person would be different from doing a video session. And it turns out it was different. It was more intense. I somehow felt inhibited by being around a real, actual person, instead of just a face on a screen. However, when we started getting into the nitty gritty, I also felt the intensity of the atmosphere, the intensity of her words, so much more than if I were sitting at home on my boat by myself. In fact, throughout the rest of the day, I felt lighter, empowered, in a way that I’ve felt after few sessions with her.

Maybe it’s finally time to sell my boat.

And now I’m going to try to work. I say try because this week it’s felt like an immense struggle. All I’m doing today is writing two blurbs. That’s it. Two blurbs. And yet it feels like I’m trying to move mountains. I’m compensating with mate. I’m trying to get my diet right. Figure out how to have more energy. But it’s a slow process. You can’t give up, and basically since July I’ve given up on trying to be healthy, thinking it didn’t matter that much. And now I feel worse than I’ve ever felt in my life, body health wise. So I’m going to claw myself out of this hole, one intermittent fast at a time, one 24-hour fast at a time, one less carb at a time, one more cup of mate at a time.