Dark Horse Championships

A few months ago my two best friends asked if I’d go to Boston for a full reunion between the three of us and to compete in the Dark Horse Championships. I actually said I could not because of financial reasons. And I left it at that.

Thanks to my supporters, I bought my ticket to Boston a couple weeks ago and stepped up to the plate. As I sit on the plane returning to Colorado, I reflect on what a great weekend it was for many reasons beyond seeing my friends and competing. But I’m only going to talk about the competition since this is my climbing blog….

This was my first Dark Horse experience-I was primarily using this as an ABS nationals trainer and to help me gauge where my strengths and weakness are. I really had no expectations especially because I tweaked my shoulder while bouldering last Wednesday and because the amount of training time I’ve had recently has been limited due to all my traveling. Nonetheless I knew I wanted to try hard so I could get an accurate approximation on where I am and what I think I should be training for. Plus, I wanted to make finals for the experience of climbing in front of a large crowd again before ABS Nationals, which is 5 weeks from now.

Qualifiers were hard both physically and mentally for me. I was feeling protective of my shoulder and boulders that I felt ‘should’ be easy for me were not coming easily. There was a very strong female field and I saw all of them sending everything that I was struggling with. It’s fair to say I was feeling under-prepared for this competition. Plus, my shoulder felt tweaky and that really tested my mental strength in qualifiers because I wanted to balance giving everything I had with leaving Boston not anymore injured than I arrived.

To my surprise, I squeaked into finals. I was extremely frustrated warming up in isolation for various reasons and part of me wanted to throw up the white flag. I’ve never quite felt that way before in isolation and I’m still unsure why I was feeling that way. Perhaps a large contributor to those feelings was that my shoulder was fatigued and I was still playing the balancing act of not getting more injured but trying to get an accurate idea of where I’m at both physically and mentally. I nearly had a break down in isolation, tears were close to flowing, and I felt pretty lonely back there. But everything changed when I sat in my chair and faced the crowd for 10 minutes before climbing. I felt comfortable, confident, ready to give it my all, and accepting of all things I couldn’t control, like my shoulder …I was ready to compete.

I fought hard on all 4 problems. I successfully gave my all and was happy with my performances on all problems. Each one posed a new challenge and taught me a little more about what I need to work on in the coming weeks for ABS Nationals. I was able to successfully dyno (which is kind of a big deal for me), commit to moves that would normally make me nervous, keep my head together, let go of mistakes, and do well on slopers!! I was also able to tap into being dynamic, which I often struggle with. I believe I do need to work on general strength, power, larger pinches and thinking more outside of the box (on problem 2, I didn’t think to grab the arête to help me advance to the next hold until I had already given a few tries).

I haven’t seen the results for myself (which is something that is strange for me not to seek out while at the competition but I think it’s a good thing…it shows that I really was/am ok with any placement because I learned a lot from this competition and I am satisfied with my efforts given), but a few different people told me I ended up in 4th. I thought maybe I was 5th or 6th. Either way, its better than my placement going into finals, which i am proud of because I was able to step up and perform despite my near emotional breakdown in qualifiers and isolation.

Congrats to Isabelle Faus and Daniel Woods for being the Dark Horse 2013 champions!

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Update:  I just found out that I officially came in 4th 🙂

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