Sunday, June 22, 2008

The Training: Day 1 and 2

This whole birthday challenge thing, I’m quickly realizing, is not primarily geared toward a month-long training session culminating in a single, victorious glorious 24-hour sprint of activity. A short while ago, after finishing up my last little bit of coursework for a Bachelor of Science degree and nearly simultaneously being rejected from the teaching fellowship that would’ve made me a 70 hour/week disciplinarian in a classroom in Poor Neighborhood, Oakland, CA, I came to the haunting yet liberating realization that my ties to the Bay Area, California, and America were scant. By that, I mean that I have nothing going on that requires my presence in any particular geographic location. No school, no job, no plans for grad school. Therefore, I am free to do what I’ve always timidly fantasized about, that is, save up some ca$hmoney and find a job elsewhere.

And that “elsewhere” can be read as “some place away from this election-year bantering, and near some world-class climbing.” I say timidly because, like the 40 foot cliff dive or the all-night sex and drug orgy, it’s the sort of thing that sounds amazing, but committing and terrifying all at the same time. Foregoing all my formal biology training to dick around as a broke globetrotter? What if I get hurt out there? What if I never get my career on track? What if…?

Like an onsight freesolo, there’s nothing to be done but to commit. Half-assed attempts are the surest way to fail. Thus, my training regimen, though not strictly regimented, takes full advantage of my resources. To wit: I have tons of free time because food runners at Pyramid Brewing Company, my place of employ, are in demand for only 20 hours per week. I have a membership to Touchstone Climbing gyms ( for 63 dollars per month, and I have two gyms (Ironworks and Great Western Power Company) to choose from within easy driving distance. I have the aforementioned realization. And I have some V-hard projects in Australia that need to be ascended and named.

Thus, after having committed enough to start a blog and a Facebook event, I began formally training for my Birthday Challenge.

Friday, I warmed up by running food for three hours, then biking over to Ironworks. I endeavoured to do every boulder problem in the gym that was V6 or easier, and was nearly able to do so (it took three and a half hours to reach bouldering exhaustion). I figured that endurance bouldering will likely be the physical crux of the challenge, hence to get started ASAP on that piece.

Then followed the pull-up pyramid:

- 3x5 pulls, thirty seconds’ rest in between. Rest 1 minute, then:
- 3x7 pulls, thirty seconds’ rest in between. Rest 1 minute, then:
(etc., doing 3x10, then 3x10, then 3x7, then 3x5)

Finished with core workout, biked back to Pyramid where I refueled with a bowl of chili and two pints of Thunderhead IPA (employee discounted, of course), and then rode my bike up the steepest hill in El Cerrito, gaining 720 feet in less than a mile. Had a smoke or two and got ready for another day.


Went over to Oakland and played around on the boulder problems for a little while, then went to the new training wall. It is, a la Scott’s house, a woodie with a grid of small holds. Unlike Scott’s, it lacks a roof but due to fewer space constraints allows for problems 6 moves long, and more. It is about 60 degrees instead of the Scott’s Wall 30, and the holds range from quite good to quite miniscule. Being that finger strength is my weak point, due in large part to a sore knuckle on my middle finger that is only recently becoming less painful, I made a resolution to begin to train here more often. Unfortunately, I tore a nice avulsion on my right index finger and bled on nearly every hold up there. Fortunately, my blood is untainted by the myriad pathogens one might find in an hIV sorority. I ended the day with a full battery of light-weight shoulder lifting, since they don’t often get to work during the movements of climbing. Cardio for the day was running food for four hours, in 85 degree heat.

Sunday will be mostly a rest day, with a little cardio and core thrown in for good measure. Hoping the split in my finger either heals soon or stops hurting. Going to go enjoy an A's game with my dad and brother, as a late Father's Day gift. Stopping the use of correct grammar and complete sentences. Signing off....


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