01 02 03 thomasina pidgeon: My first Nationals 04 05 15 16 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 31 32 33

My first Nationals


It was never my intention to go to the Nationals. They were supposed to be in Alberta and I was supposed to be in Europe. But as life would have it, they were switched to Montreal and I was stuck in Montreal waiting for essential things like passports which arrived only a few days before the comp. It would seem like chicken behavior to escape the comp at this point but regretting not going seemed even worse.

And so I went. I paid to go and compete with the intention to give my best effort and keep my focus on the climb in front of me. The after affect: self inflicted torture and suffering I put on myself because I had a bad comp. This is one of the reasons why I avoided comps until this year. I beat myself up like an old rag if I feel I do badly, no matter what place I finish in. If I make stupid mistakes, if I doubt myself in the middle of a crux, if I don’t think of the right beta while stuck in some position, if I don’t climb aggressively enough, if I doubt myself, if, if and more if’s. Maybe I am a perfectionist who is never perfect…

And to tell matters even more personal… one of my main disappointments is not just my performance but my attitude handling the fact that I had a bad comp. In the face of failure I failed to handle it with grace. One of my best friends mentioned to me once that it is the not the outcome that is the test but more how one handles it, winning or losing.  For me there was a vicious pattern circling around in my head of self sabotaging thoughts and I just could not snap out of it. I was so mad and disappointed with myself. Maybe I should go on a diet so I can lighten up…!

Obviously, I don't feel very good about how I did. I questioned my ability on the first problem to make the big reach and I never gave my full attention to my effort because I was too busy thinking if I could do it or not. I said to myself 'oh--it’s so far, I feel maxed out in reach...' I fully doubted myself and didn’t use my legs to help push me higher. I did this problem first try when the comp was over which frustrated me even more because I could make the reach...! The difference, the self inflicted pressure was off and I was no longer thinking doubtful thoughts. With more attention, aggression and confidence, I snagged the hold by using my legs more and my head less.

Problem two was fine for me but on the third I got stuck with a case of tunnel vision in the middle of the problem. The start was incredibly reachy but I managed to burl my way through it, finding myself seconds later stuck on the 2 slopey jugs playing a game of tic tack trying to just get my feet back on the wall so to make the next move. When getting my feet on didn’t help I tried the heel which might have worked if I hadn’t wasted the energy prior. This problem taught me that it is a good idea to stop and take a ‘time out’ on the wall so to see other beta. Hang from the jug, look around and see the possibilities.

On problem 4 the last move was huge and I just couldn’t do it. This is my weakness and I know that. When I was awkwardly positioned for the last move the final hold looked like it was a mile away. I thought to myself, ‘Hell no, that’s impossible’. Do you think I did it with that mind set? No… Thoughts are very powerful things. My commitment and self doubt worked together like Jekyll and Hyde. Although the girls that did do this last move have more reach than me, I shouldn’t be making excuses here. Yes it was a long move but long moves are not exactly what I am good at so I don’t feel too heartbroken with this one. I know what I have to work on.

The final problem… having done only 1 problem at this point I really had to give my best. I feel a little mixed on this one as I didn’t climb it very well though I finally did it after many tries. The judge had told me “ohh, it’s a burly one” which may or may not have influenced how I approached the climb. Watching others on this afterwards I see that the start was not burley but rather pretty technical had I used better beta. The beta I was using didn’t feel right to move off and while the holds were good enough to adjust, I didn’t, so I fell, over and over till finally I managed my way through it. Once midway, finishing the problem was fine. Lesson here… hmmm. Better route reading? Climb smarter? Get stronger?

At the end when the results were up I didn’t look at what I placed, I didn’t care. What mattered to me was how I felt I did which is obvious from this here rant. People congratulating me on a good job frustrated me even more because I know I can climb a lot better than I did. Could of, should of, would of, didn't. No excuses - admit it thomo, if only you were a better climber. But that is why I am putting myself in these situations right… to learn? To become better? To put myself outside of my comfort zone? Oh yeah, right... it’s a good idea to remind myself of this…

Hard on the confidence these comps…at least for me. Slaying the 100 head dragon that flourishes on the many excuses of why things didn’t go as plan and stepping up to the plate is as hard to do as the comp itself. Sure some of the problems were harder if short but they were still possible. After all of the above has been said, I do not regret going. It was an experience and a learning one. Attending also helped take care of a few of the logistics needed for future plans... As well, I know that I need to work on a few things, climbing smarter, stronger and with confidence. (and spend more time on plastic if i want to improve on plastic!)

Oh and I must not forget the more important lesson: to take disappointment with a bit of grace.

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