I started climbing again when I was 24 back in Worcester, MA. I went to my first ABS National event with my dad in Boulder, CO. I got rocked so hard, I never made it half way up any boulders! I think I may have been last. But watching the final round in a small venue with a loud crowd and Chris Sharma and Paul Robinson battling out for the win, I was motivated to one day improve and become a better climber and competitor (i.e. get to the top of a qualifier boulder).
For the last 4 years I have competed at every ABS Nationals and each with some surprises.
2011 I went to Virginia and managed to top only one qualifier problem but shockingly that was not enough (ha) to make semifinals.
2012 I was able to make the cut to semis with a final placement of 18th.
Something is working here.
Then I didn't make semifinals in 2013, I missed it by 1 spot, 1 point.
So I went back in 2014 and placed, 13th. Okay, I'll go to some World Cups, travel, compete a lot and learn as much as possible and return next year make it count.
Then I turned 29, NBD.
The 2015 ABS Nationals hit Maddison, WI and this time I prepared as much as I could without over doing it. Prepared in different ways than previous years like climbing outside more leading up to the comps. I went to Bishop and had a great time climbing some of my hardest blocs to date. I was playing with some different training tactics and nutrition. During Nationals, I also played with my head a lot. I gave my brain some sort of reset and all problems became a possibility. Thinking for so long that I was going to get better, wasn't working. One day I had to say "I'm better. I'm ready. This is possible." Sometimes we are always in the "getting better stage" or "I'll have another chance if I don't do it" or "there's always the next comp". Are we always training and learning? Most of the time we should be, but there is a time where you have to cut those thoughts out and drop the hammer. You have to focus on what you have to get done, right then and there. That's what I thought when I went to Maddison this year. All I thought about in each round was just staying focused on my beta, breathing and trying hard. Not about making finals or winning or thinking about making the US team, just each moment. Each move. Sounds simple, but I think we are wired to think about the bigger outcome (positive or negative) of what will happen if you're successful or if you fail. I had to reset my brain, rewire it.
I was the second to last climber to come out of 62 climbers. Ian Dory was climbing last right behind me. Ian and I warmed up and hit the wall together. 4 of 5 blocs Ian I both flashed and it was this crazy motivation we each kept giving each other. A chain reaction of me pushing him, then him pushing me. Really memorable round for sure. The last boulder neither of us did but Ian almost finished and placed 5th and I landed in 6th heading into semi-finals.
This is the hardest round if you ask any competitor. 20 Strong climbers down to 6 to make the cut for finals. Everyone is willing to push their hardest to make the cut. Everyone is ready. What do I have to do to make top 6? I need to focus on each move and not about making the cut. Period.
A reminder for me is my 3 comp "F's" (sometimes 4 but we won't mention that one) are; Flash or Fail, I need to Forget and move to the next boulder.
Bloc 1: was a cool double dyne to a techy finish on slopers and crimps. I missed the jump once then took it to the finish on my next go
Bloc 2: was filled with big orange slopers and pinches, with a big jump mid way. I flashed it and sat back down to kill the pump and prepare for the next battle.
Bloc 3: was a bunch of slopers to a hard finish that I reached 3 times but failed to do the remaining 3 moves. A little pumped I sat down and rested for the final bloc, the slab.
Bloc 4: was a wild looking slab with not many holds. The volumes were stacked on top of one another and they were far apart. Interesting and fun, I did not top but I made it pretty far after completing the no hands jump that seemed way to far at the time before take off.
Waiting for results and....I made the cut and placed 6th. This finals they took 7 because Muhammad made finals and he is not a US citizen.
So it was my first ABS Finals and holy damn it felt great to make the cut. "Okay, now forget about that and think about whats next, winning".
If you're in finals you have a chance to take the gold, no matter who you are.
Bloc 1: Slab-tastic on the far right side of the wall. Easy to read start to a weird and unplanned finish. It's one of those boulder where you try your best to plan it out, but you still haven't sold your self on the beta, yet. First go I got pretty high up and foot slid off the volume. Next go my hand slid off the start hold, 3rd go I was able to get out of that position I fell in and finish off the slab with a jump to the finishing volume. 6 of 7 competitors finished this bloc.
Bloc 2: was a wild and really fun swinging sideways campus start to some slopers. I had a hard time with the beginning but as soon as I hit the campus move, I hustled to the last move where I was so pumped I really had to buckle down and think I wasn't pumped. I threw for the end pumped out of my mind and slid off the finishing hold. Damn. That was super fun! Woods, O'rourke and Colman only ones to finish. Strong effort by those boys!
Bloc 3: Foot hold, mono crimps on a vertical wall. Yea, not my favorite boulder but it needed to be done. I had to try some whacky beta by stemming into the left far corner and use it to gain a hold that no one was able to control other than Mohammad who was the only guy to top this boulder.
Bloc 4: This was my chance to get 2 tops. I needed it to win. If I did this bloc and Woods, O'rourke and Mohammad didn't, I'd take gold. I sat in my chair waiting for the countdown and the only thing I told my self was "Do this boulder, one move at a time". The boulder consisted of 2 hand jams to start, big wide compression with the tricky foot work to get out of and a heinous top with really slopy pinches to a side pull finishing hold. My first attempt I taught myself how to crack climb, i'd never really slammed a fist into a crack before that moment. I slipped out. Next go I got through the hand jams and before I knew it I was trying hard in the headwall section. I chalked quickly knowing the hold before the finish was bad, set up for the last static move and grabbed the middle of the finishing hold, the crowed screaming and pushing me, the part of the hold was not good enough to match, I needed to bump up and when I went to bump to the good part my foot that I did not adjust for the bump, popped out and I plummeted to the pads. That was it, that was my chance to take it. But I had one more go in me, I rested, chalked and tried my best to un pump my cement truck forearms and headed up again. This time falling a little before where I fell last, I was done. I'm super happy to be ranked U.S. 3rd place and be on the official U.S. Team.
I've been laying low for the last 3 weeks. Climbing around with no training or nutrition plan. Eating healthy but not training diet yet. I'll be heading to all 5 Bouldering WC this year. 2 in China, 2 in North America and 1 in Europe. Looks like i'll be ticking off another continent this year! I'll post about my World Cup training plan in the coming weeks, until then, I'm off to Puerto Rico to find and climb boulders and DWS. YES!