watching rob go through the same learning process i did a year ago has been instructive. he stayed away from the gym too long and lost his momentum. tonight his climbing was significantly worse than the last time we met. but since i've been through this before, i was able to tell him that it's a beginner thing. once you've been doing it awhile and gained some muscle memory, you don't lose it all at every absence. i was out of the gym for three weeks recently and got back into it with no problem.
however, his attitude has actually improved a little bit, i think. he's no longer dazzled by it all, he's buckled down and concentrating. he's a very good listener, he's willing to accept that i'm a little bit better at it than he is and that the stuff i'm telling him is likely correct. very refreshing, compared to a year ago when i was climbing with my cousin. she was not all that enthusiastic about it and never listened to anything i told her.
they've got satellite radio at the gym, and whatever they're playing is apparently determined by whoever was fiddling with the receiver most recently. tonight they were blaring "classic rock" really loud. i started to get angry over how cheesy and ridiculous it is. then i remembered, oh yeah, i'm totally over the h8in' these days. so there's a problem i've fixed from the motivational end, but i've still got the bad habits i need to break. note to self: don't automatically fly into a rage over every little thing. that is so 1998.
as i was making it up my second route of the night, the sound system was blaring "dream weaver." that was the first song that ever made me cry, when i was a wee lad of nine living in ottawa, kansas. revealing that information on the intarweb is giving me a very ooky feeling indeed. somebody told me gary wright was gay and i was like "NO WAY HE IS NOT YOU SHUT UP HE JUST WEARS FLASHY CLOTHES AND MAKEUP BECAUSE HE'S AN ENTERTAINER." because you see, if a gay guy's song made me cry, then that would totally make me gay, too. so he's not. end of story.
on my third climb it was "heat of the moment," the asia song that comes closest to representing the month in 1982 when i met the girl who i was doomed to be obsessed with for a full eight years. climbing gets you to a heightened emotional state anyway, and there i was hearing that song that is fraught with its own kind of emotions ... well, it was something, that's for sure.
i am happy to report that i managed to outlast rob, stamina-wise. the sweat was really rolling off him by the end of the night, but i was still holding up pretty well. my internal monologue was all like "ha ha ha pal" because last time around he somehow managed to outlast me, despite being a total n00b. i think the sneaky bastard slipped me a roofie. well, no longer. i am getting more sure-footed and better at budgeting my strength.
so there you are at the end of the night, pretty well exhausted. i've heard other climbers talking about doing a "cool down climb." i think it's supposed to be something simple, to ease you back into your normal sedentary life. i find it more interesting to go the other way. i usually pick a final route that is hard for me, one that i can get to the top of when i'm feeling good, but not at the end of the night when i'm tired. it's overwhelmingly likely i won't be able to get to the top, but when i fall off i'll know that i'm as exhausted as possible. (i suspect yephoe is going to chime in here and tell me what important physiological rule i am breaking. oh well!)
tonight it was the 5.8 route where you have to wedge your back into a corner and try to find enough leverage with your feet to squirm your way up to the next hold, which is impossibly far away. oh, how i hate that route. i can do it, but it kills me. it makes me aware of abdominal muscle groups that i didn't know i had. i feel like i am being pulled to pieces. and here i am doing it as my last route. ugh. seemed like a good idea though, since rob was more wiped than i was and ready to go home, so i wanted to blow through all my remaining energy in a hurry.
i got to the back-in-the-corner part of the route and braced myself for the worst. it always seems like it takes an eternity, moving upward at a rate of approximately one inch per century. but somehow, i just slid right past the hard part. it was such a shock, i wondered if i was mistaken and hadn't actually gotten to the hard part of the route yet. even now, i still can't explain it. it's like how you can use your muscles without having to know anything about nucleotides or mitochondria or any of that stuff, you just think about it and your arm goes where you want it to. i'm getting to the point where my muscles know things about climbing that i don't.