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Training Blog 3: The Dark Horse Championships - Angela Payne

Training Blog 3: The Dark Horse Championships - Angela Payne
February 09, 2012 - 

Since my last blog, I feel like my attitude has improved and my motivation has been somewhat renewed.  I had a pivotal moment at the gym last week when I was climbing poorly during an evening onsight session.  I was feeling angry and frustrated and tired and my attitude was deteriorating quickly.  I wasn’t doing any of the boulders, and I was basically being sour and negative.  I don’t get nearly as down on myself for failing as I do for not trying hard.  That night, I knew I wasn’t trying hard, so I was getting angry.  At one point, my frustration boiled over after my foot slipped and I yelled and kicked the wall.  I hate when I have these kinds of outbursts, and I am typically good at keeping them in check…but sometimes I lose my self-censorship abilities.  I’m not proud of that kind of behavior, but that night it helped to flip the try hard switch and let me leave some of my sourness behind.  I continued to climb like a sack of wet cement that night, but at least I was a more determined sack of wet cement.

My motivation also got a boost this week from the Dark Horse Championship, a comp at MetroRock in Boston that I attended over the weekend.  It felt nice to have something on the immediate horizon to prepare for.  Both the women’s and men’s fields at the Dark Horse were very strong, so it was a great opportunity to break myself back into competing in a slightly more relaxed setting.  I felt great in the redpoint qualifier round, and I was proud of myself for not wasting too much energy early in the day.  I qualified first out of 6 for the women who did the redpoint round.  Two additional women who had won the previous Dark Horse events this season joined the field for finals.

It felt nice to be back in a more formalized comp setting after so many practice onsight sessions.  Things definitely change once there is a crowd watching, and the crowd at the Dark Horse was not small by any means.  The finals problems were high-quality and fun to climb on.  Problem 1 involved the first all- points-off drop down move I have ever done, which required hanging on a jug then letting go and landing on a huge feature below.  The move worked amazingly well, and was definitely the most memorable moment of the comp for me.  I managed to flash problems 1-3.  Problem 4 was a long boulder that meandered through some features. Francesca Metcalf, in impressive display of climbing, had flashed the problem just moments before, and I knew I had to at least do the boulder to win the comp. I felt okay going into the final problem, but once I pulled on the wall and started moving, I became pumped quickly, overlooked a heel hook that may or may not have helped me, and fell.  Maybe the extra pressure got to me, or maybe all the climbing that day caught up to me, or maybe the boulder was just darn hard…whatever the case, I was disappointed in my climbing on that problem.  I kicked myself for a while that night, and then again after watching video of the climb.  But I am learning to let go of failures like that one and focus on what I did well and what I learned.  This is not an easy thing to do, and I certainly struggle with it, but I am getting better at taking lessons away from comps no matter the outcome.  Overall, the comp was wonderful.  I got to get away from my routine for a few days, get back into the competition mindset, and see many good friends in the process.

Now I’m back in Boulder and back to training.  Nationals are just a few weeks away, and I feel pretty good.  After the Dark Horse, I feel like I need to work my power endurance a little more, so I have made a few slight modifications to my training, adding in a few long meandering boulders with “try hard” moves at the end.  The anticipation is starting to build and I’m looking forward to new walls and new problems in Colorado Springs!

Check out the Louder Than Eleven Highlight Reel from the Dark Horse


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