I did it, FINALLY. Didn’t think I could possibly freak out a guy who runs 100 mile races, injuring himself halfway and continuing to run on for 60 more miles.  [He's signed up for the Leadville 100 in August, I can't wait to go see and support him, and take him to the hospital afterward in the medivac helo. :-)]

 He’s the same guy who ate a Nathan’s Hot Dog from a NY State Thruway rest area, the day before he decided to run a 50 mile trail race.  (Yeah, that didn’t work out so well for him and his intestines, as you can imagine.) The guy who just ran a mile last week in 4:56, and does 6 X 800 repeats at 2:45, which is a seriously sick pace I can’t even fathom for one 800.

 Last week I actually set a new record for myself with a two-footed, weighted plank. 7.5 pounds (just spread the weight out more evenly), and held it for 7:30.  Yep, blew away my old record of 6:19 that I blogged about last week. Yay!!  One thing I did learn – not to do that again while wearing my racing flats. My feet kept sliding on the mat the entire time, and then my calves were killing me for most of the rest of the week.

When I told my brother this, he said I blew his mind – I DID IT!!  Then, he said that he can only do it for about 2 minutes without shaking and stopping. I was like “really??” Wow! Never thought I’d hear that.

I realized today that “running topless” remains a popular phrase whereby people find my blog and tweeted about it. A male friend of mine, who shall remain nameless out on the West Coast where he lives and whose first name rhymes with “hill,” suggested a few terms I should use in my next post and see if they drive up traffic. I will just put them in bold font throughout this post, and also use them as tags to see if his prediction comes true.  :-)

Wow, are those people going to be sad when they get to my blog…. ha ha ha

I actually had a really good weekend. Went climbing with a new friend I made at the gym.  It’s the first time we’ve hung out, and I felt like I’d already known her for a long time.  So, that was very cool.

That's the climber, toward the top of the red stripe. Notice the tall ladder to the right, for a height perspective. People in foreground are sitting down.

My friend had never top-roped before, so they wouldn’t let her take the test at Metro Rock Gym (we went there because we knew the other place, Boston Rock Gym, was having comps (how they refer to competitions in the climbing world, I am learning), all day long. But, I took the top-rope test (which means I can climb and belay people there) and passed (phew!). We then just decided to boulder for a few hours. By the time we were done, my palms had gotten calloused (a good thing for doing it on a regular basis, going forward), and  my fingers hurt, but luckily the rest of me, other than my fingers, were not really that sore. Guess my body is getting used to the new muscle groups being used.

This guy made it look so easy. Needless to say, there's not an extra ounce of fat on this guy. Insane in so many ways.

The Metro Rock Gym definitely has a much different feel to it. Some of the top-rope routes are much taller than at the other gym (which kinda freaks me out), and it’s a much larger room, rather than a few rooms. The crowd does tend to be a bit younger, because it’s accessible by the T. I even saw a woman who was “climbing topless.” Get your minds out of the gutter, boys. She had on a sports bra like I do when I run topless.  She wasn’t necessarily stacked enough to fill a DD-cup (really, guys, how many do you think actually exist who do?), but I was glad to see that kind of thing was acceptable there too.  (Yeah, it might take me a while to get to that point, however.)  I think I will probably go to both depending on my schedule, but I definitely like the approach the folks take at the Boston Rock Gym, and can understand why a lot of people prefer the atmosphere of it too. 

We were clearly newbies there, as were a lot of other folks. But a really friendly, supportive and experienced boulderer gave me some pointers, which definitely helped every time I tried it afterward. (He was helping out another newbie friend at the same time as he was helping the two of us.) I was crouching up my body too much, and holding all of my weight on my arms, when I should have been resting them, and I also learned that once you commit to take a move, you just have to go for it.  And I just got a book called Training for Climbing (yep, I am a librarian after all), and a good portion of it is about mental training, something I think I can also apply to running.

Guy is just about hanging by fingernails, and the wall also forces him to be leaning back away from it, like an overhang. Cannot imagine the upper body strength it takes to do that!

I went to see a bouldering comp on Saturday night at the Boston Rock Gym. For those of you unfamiliar with the term, it’s climbing that doesn’t involve ropes, and usually you’re not higher than 25 feet in the air (probably even less inside, I’m not a good judge of height), and if you fall, you land on crash pads. It’s great to have a spotter for support, but you can do it alone. Some of the climbers involved in the Finals were professionals, and it showed. I’ve posted a few pictures throughout the blog.  While they really don’t do the climbers justice, since they were taken with the iPhone 3G (which doesn’t have a flash), the strength and control these folks displayed was pretty awesome. Guys had to start one route by jumping and grabbing the handhold with one hand (seriously difficult), and at times, both men and women had to climb upside down to pull $ off of the boulder. (Yes, part of the incentive to do well…)  It got me inspired.

And ladies, yes, the guy is bouldering without a shirt on up above in one of my pictures. For some reason, still unknown to me, a lot of the guys tend to “climb topless.” If I ever figure out why, I’ll let you know. I can just think of so many ways that that could cause pain if you made the wrong move. Or, on the ropes. Can we say “ouch?”

My brother asked what I liked about the rock climbing so far. I told him it’s a new challenge for me, and one that  I think I can get better on given time and lots of practice, and some good mental and physical training. As runners, I think a lot of us are in really good shape, but let’s admit it, we usually have little chicken arms. Rock climbing is definitely a sport where you can easily find out where your muscles are weak. I’m hoping it helps me to improve my running times.  And, honestly, the people in that world seem to be so chill. Concerned about safety, of course, but it’s a nice break from where I spend my working hours. (I like my job but the institution can, at times, be overly concerned with its image, to its own detriment.)

The only bad thing that happened this weekend is that Ruthie’s dad and I will continue talking about and arranging for visits with her, but that will be it. I don’t want to go into details here, other than to say I think it’s for the best, honestly.  It’ll make for more of a clean and final break, and maybe it will help us both move forward more easily. No, I’m not made of stone, I do think it’s sad, but it honestly is probably a good step for both of us to take right now.  And Ruthie remains the one thing we both love, so I’ve included a picture of here too. I’ll continue to take lots of long walks with her and love and hug her to death when she visits.

Ruthie playing with one toy while another one waits to be mauled, lying next to her.

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