BLCC- 28th July 2007.

22nd Aug 2007

Well, it was that time of year again- training indoors and pulling on plastic, my old routine of getting ready for a national competition.

But it all felt a bit strange. The sun was shining (in between the floods), the holds felt sweaty, I should have been in Ceuse! ‘That time of year’ had been changed.

Historically our comps have always been held Autumn/Winter time but a change was afoot. The BMC wanted to do something different and by holding the comp on an outdoor wall in the middle of Summer, they certainly managed that. Instead of holding a series of comps to decide the national champions, there was going to be just one comp where everybody who wanted to stand a chance had to be present.

This was at Blackpool towers over the weekend of 28th-29th July, seniors on the Saturday and juniors on the Sunday.

When I got back from France a couple of months ago, I wasn’t sure whether I was going to compete in the BLCC. I wanted to make my annual pilgrimage to Ceuse in July and competing would mean shortening the trip out there, so I was fairly undecided.

But as the weather was pants, I was getting into some indoor stuff anyway. Sampling the delights of ‘The Climbing Works’ which had opened while I was away. What a place! I was really enjoying doing some steep bouldering (as while I was away in France for the winter, my power training was somewhat neglected) and I felt like I was making some gains.

Then, RIP!!!

While I was doing a very extreme heelhook and pulling in hard, something went in the back of my leg. It wasn’t a sharp pain but a dull nagging ache. It didn’t feel right at all, so I packed up and hobbled home.

How annoying, isn’t it the way, when you feel like you’re getting somewhere an injury thwarts you. I’d been getting into running, which was most unlike me- as it’s not something I find easy- and I guess my hamstrings were tighter than normal and PING, end of story.

So, that was 6 weeks ago and with physio, my hamstring tear has slowly improved. I really didn’t want this to be something that lingered on, so I’ve been very careful and tried to rehab it correctly.

That was Ceuse knocked on the head though. So in a way my decision was made about the comp, I thought I’d keep training in a modified way and see how my hamstring improved and whether it would be possible to compete.

It was annoying because I couldn’t do anything on steep ground because all that toeing in really pulls on the back of your legs and especially when you are smaller, you really have to use your legs and body tension to hold yourself in positions.

So I did some campussing and foot-free stuff which helped me to direct my frustration and I also worked on my forearm endurance. It was all good fun but I did feel low and the nearer the comp came, the lower my motivation got.

But about two weeks ago, I hit a real purple patch and started to feel really good on the routes at the foundry and it was like ‘yes!’ finally the training’s kicking in.

It seemed to drop off after that though. Various things happened, the worst of which was getting stranded in the middle of a river (previously a road) in the floods. Our van conked out and we had quite a terrifying experience trying to get us and our dog, (Kodo who can’t swim), out of a raging torrent. It was all pretty mad and we ended up having to walk to Stratford-upon-Avon to find somewhere to stay and ended up in a school that the red cross had turned into a sort of refugee centre.

It all turned out ok but it took a few days for my body to recover from the trauma.

Anyway, I decided to give the comp a go and of course I’m very glad I did. Although I knew I was under par, sometimes you just have to go in and give as good as you’ve got.

It turned out to be a pretty good comp. We were very lucky with the weather, not a drop of rain in sight. Also the field was strong this year. Some young ones came through from the juniors, seeming to make the transition smoothly and notably Jemma Powell and Audrey Seguy were looking very strong.

The wall was a great venue for a comp, steep impending routes that were pretty long. The angle we had our final route on was not my forte, so I knew I would just have to get it right first go and plough on. I found it burly but managed to push on until I was two moves from the top.

Jemma put in an impressive performance, looking very strong on the powerful moves and got very close to my high point and suddenly ran out of steam. That’s what I was afraid of happening to me, you just can’t hang around on that angle- just pull and go!

So I’m happy to say I am now the British Leading Champion for the seventh time and it feels great. Also I think I am going to retire from comp climbing, so it is nice to finish on top.

That day at Blackpool really brought it home how stressful comps are and mentally draining, they take over your lives for a little while.

So, it’s time for me to focus on other aspects of my climbing and get out and do some awesome routes. I’ve got a few ideas up my sleeve but obviously it’s weather dependent.

Bring on the sun and dry rock....