For quite a long time I was able to see and feel the effects an active lifestyle had on my body. My clothes would fit a little looser every week, I could place on hands on my waist and feel it slimming. I know it’s shallow, but I really enjoyed it. There is actually something rather addicting about meeting physical benchmarks, like seeing that lower number on the scale or fitting into a smaller clothing size.
For the past several weeks though, the number on the scale has been going up. I don’t feel my body improving. I’m running practically everyday, I work out, I’ve started yoga. But I haven’t been feeling any improvement. It’s been disappointing. I know that my weight increasing is a good thing- it means I’m building muscle. But some part of me is still stuck on the ridiculous idea that a low number means skinny means good.
But last week my mindset has changed from discouraged to inspired. I’ve accomplished 3 things that show me I am getting stronger, faster, and fitter.
Last Monday I ran the farthest consistent distance I ever have. It was 16.89 miles (27.1 km). It took me 3 hours and my average pace was 10′38″ a mile. Certainly not a fast time, but it means I have something to work towards. I never thought I’d even run a half marathon, and here I am, running practically 17 miles for the hell of it. Pretty exciting!
On Wednesday I ran my daily loop the fastest I have since I got here. It’s also the longest I’ve sustained a high (for me) speed. I ran 2.59 miles in 21′14″ for an average pace of 8′11″ per mile. Considering a year ago a 10′30″ mile was pushing it for me, I’m really happy with this time.
Finally, today I did a true lead climb* for the first time. Oh, and it was trad**, which I’ve also never done before. While I’ve done a couple of mock-leads in gyms and on real rock, this was my first time actually leading. It was fantastic.
Photo credit goes to Tim Marsh, the guy who taught me everything I know about trad climbing. Because, well, I just learned today. From him. Thanks Tim!
Admittedly, I did not make it to the top of the wall. I fell, which was fine (more than fine, actually, it means I’ve already got my first lead fall in the books, another important accomplishment). I tried to climb past the spot where I fell, but I couldn’t find any decent feet on the granite slab. I had to schmear my left foot on the rock very high (close to my hip) and stand up on that with my left hand in a crack. Doable, but not today. I called it and was lowered to the ground.
So I’m feeling pretty accomplished. I have some clear evidence that I am improving and growing. I’m feeling very inspired to get even better! I’m even thinking of doing a half marathon (something I never thought I’d even consider)
*Lead climbing is when you have to clip in to the wall as you climb up because there is not already a rope on the wall. This adds challenge to climbing a route because 1, you have to find a stable position and hold it for long enough to clip the rope into the wall, and 2, because if you do fall, you first fall the distance to your last clip and then that same distance again (plus whatever stretch there is in the rope). To contrast, I usually climb top rope, meaning there is an anchor above me which the rope runs through, one end attaching to the climber’s harness and the other is managed by the belayer. Here’s a video of somebody else doing a lead climb in a gym
**Trad is short for traditional, meaning you mush place gear in the rock before clipping in. Essentially, specific gear designed for such purposes are placed in crevices in the rock and then attached to a carabiner. The rope is run through the carabiner, thus providing an anchor point. As with any lead climbing, you must find a stable position in order to stop and do this. However, the climber must stop long enough to examine the space in the rock, select an appropriate piece of gear to place, place said gear, and clip in the rope. Here’s a video about trad climbing. And don’t worry mom, I’m not doing anything nearly that intense.