This past weekend I stepped out of my comfort zone and competed in the SCS Nationals in Boulder, CO. Sport climbing is not something that is completely foreign to me, as I was exclusively a sport climber for 5 years of my youth, but it is definitely not something I do very often anymore. So, I knew that this event would be a challenge for me. Given that and the fact that it was at Movement, just a few blocks from my house, it was hard to resist.
SCS Nationals - Angela Payne
On Friday I worked all day, took a much-needed nap, and headed to the gym for qualifiers. I arrived in time for a quick, improvised warm-up (since I'm still not quite sure what the best way is to warm up for routes). I then spent some time watching the girls before me climb on the first route. In this format, everyone is allowed to watch all of the climbing, which is very different from a bouldering competition. I'll admit that this helped my nerves this time around, although I wouldn't usually say the same for bouldering.
I wasn't completely unprepared for this event--I had some old experience from my younger days hidden somewhere deep inside me, plus I spent four days prior to the competition climbing on a rope. It was actually sort of enjoyable and fun to enter the "other world" of the climbing gym when I tied into a rope those few days.
Typically, during a competition I am very focused on the task at hand and have to make an effort to not overthink things. This time, however, I didn't have that problem, and I was easily distracted by just about everything. This ended up helping me, I think, and on my first route I was near the top almost before I even had time to realize where I was. I fell a few moves from the end, and was very pleased with how I had approached the route. Since I have basically NO endurance (as it turns out, four days doesn't get you much endurance, who would have thought....), the best thing I can do is to find a good rhythm and climb QUICKLY. I did very well with this on the first qualifier.
The second qualifier was much more difficult for me. I was intimidated by its location on the steepest wall, and I knew I would have to climb even faster than I did on the first climb. I managed to get about half-way up before falling, and I was mostly satisfied with my performance. Still, I never expected to make finals. Luckily, they took a few extra girls (due to some individuals having certain rankings or nationalities that didn't "count" against the 8 girls they would normally take). I ended up in lucky place number 11 out of 11. It was originally my goal to make finals going into this comp, but I was quite surprised when it actually happened!
I went into Saturday's round with absolutely no expectations, which is a good feeling for me to have in a competition. Normally, in bouldering events, I put a great deal of pressure on myself. This time, however, I was out of my element, and therefore going easy on myself. The crowd for finals was very big, which did make me nervous. All I wanted was to not fall TOO early on the finals route. I accomplished that. Being the first person out was fun, and I felt okay on the early part of the route. Not surprisingly, I began to get pumped after a few clips, and then flubbed a move. I was a little upset with my performance, because I think the possibility existed for me to go maybe one or two holds further, but overall I was pretty pleased. It was great fun climbing on the route in front of an excited crowd. Plus, I got to watch the rest of the show, which was awesome! The routes were very good, and they split the field well. It was especially impressive to watch Charlotte Durif come out last and finish off the women's route in front of a roaring crowd. So neat!!!!
So, in the end, stepping out of my element and going for it at SCS Nationals was a great decision! I had a wonderful time. Thanks to everyone who worked hard to make it happen, and congrats to everyone for a strong performance and a great show!!!!!!!!!