Summer 2017 in Review

As September enters in and we approach the autumnal equinox I figured I would take this weeks blog just to give a recap on the summer, the progress I made and what lies ahead.

Summer started with me in the disc golf scene moving up after three straight wins in intermediate on July 1st I made the bump up to Advanced.  While it felt like the right move to me Dan Kilgore was still trying to convince me to move into open, dont quite think I’m there yet.

The Bishop 2017. The Bishop held at Lakeview Church in Parma OH is a heavily wooded course.  As my first Advanced tournament I had a good showing I played really stead in the first round. playing really steady avoiding trees playing simple par golf a few bad OB on the driveway of the course in the first round which cost me a few strokes.  In the second round I started off really hot through the most wooded section of the course putting an ace run off the basket on 15 to start the round and going -3 through the first 4 holes.  I struggled late with two, three putts in on a few of the open greens where the wind really effected my putts.  Came into the last hole tied for the league and was trying too hard to park the hole for win and turned over my comet too much which put me out of position to par and I ended up putting a 40 foot putt from a knee under a tree for the tied off the basket just an inch low.  Finished 2nd.

Medina Trifecta.  The Medina trifecta marked the one year anniversary of my first tournament where I finished 2nd from last in intermediate last year.  This year I played a lot of scramble par golf through out Sam Masi and Roscoe Ewing courses.  I’d never played the long tees on either course so I was largely playing blind.  I ended 1 off the lead heading into Poolside, a course that is truly birdie or die, I missed the first two hole just not having great drives, grabbed a birdie, followed by a bad bogey then finished birdieing the last 4 holes to come in tied for second two off the lead.

Red River Gorge Climbing:  Rich Haren and I planned to go to the New River Gorge the last week of July, but the weather turned on us so we turned the car to the west and went to the Red.  Typically we would not expect Ideal Climbing weather in late July in Kentucky, however while Friday was a rainy mess, the rest of the weekend provided low humid a bit warm but very good climbing conditions.  Friday before the rain hit Rich and I headed out to PMRP to the Gallery and Volunteer Wall.  We started at the Gallery and found it wet damp and mossy and rough discouraging start to our trip.  A quick trip across the creek to the volunteer wall we found overhanging, dry rocks which were beautiful climbing where we did Same Way 11b, and Rich who had just started leading in the spring lead Darwin Loves You 9+.

On our way out of PMRP it had started to rain on us.  When we got to the car and got the car back to the main road of the area we found our primary road out was completely submerged from the run off the of the afternoon rain.  So we had to wait an hour for water the drain off.

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Saturday left us with great weather to climb at Muir Valley.  Rich having never been to the Red we took a lot of the trip a general tour of the area.  So we traveled all over Muir finding good routes staying mainly on the 11’s through out the valley we found fun routes on good holes and no crowds on them.

Sunday we went up to Zoo and I took a chance and Got on Hypocrite 12a,  It was actually surprisingly easy.  I went up the route bolt to bolt.  Did not get the onsight or the send.  we were on our way out when I attempted it and an other group wanted to get on the route, so I never gave it a proper sending effort, however I was happy with how well I did on this trip considering how little training I had done over the summer.

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West Virginia State Championship.   I had a really rough start to this event, I couldn’t get anything going in the first round, putts weren’t falling, and had a lot of bad kicks off of threes.  I ended the first round 16th out of 18.  However the second round I played much better playing really well getting clean off the tee, making my putts an unfortunate OB and I had the second best round in the field from the long tees and pulled by self up to 9th place 1 stroke out of the pay out.  I was not happy with where I placed however I was very happy with my ability to battle back from a rough start.

Summer Showdown at the Springs:  Like the Memorial in the spring, this tournament had begun with a climbing trip to the New with Clinton getting canceled due to the forecast in WV.  I started off playing well the first round at Hudson going -2,  I took a very unfortunate 5 on hole 15 which was frustrating for me.  The second round I played relatively flat, no large numbers but didn’t make the same birdies I had in the first round.  I started the round solo in 3rd place, and ended the tournament tied for 3rd.   I was happy with this finish and showing heading into Hall of Chains

Hall of the Chains.  Hall of Chains was a tournament I really wanted to play well at.  I had structured a 5 week plan just to get ready for this tournament.  The first round started in steady rain, which really effected my grip of the disc and left the discs largely feeling uncomfortable in my in hand.  I had an unfortunate last two holes in the first round and put me a poor spot.  My second round I came out hot shooting far better and moved myself up to the chase card, which is where I wanted to be after the first day.  However I again stalled out at Massillon.  Both rounds I never got things going.  I slid back to finish 9th out of 18th middle of the pack.  I was largely displeased with my showing here.  I just felt off the whole weekend and could not make things happen.


Oderus:  
 The Oderous was held at Punderson a round short to shorts and Longs to Longs.  On the first round in the shorts I played really well an unfortunate OB and chain out on 14 on a 15 foot putt ended be -2 one off the lead and on the lead card going into the longs.  I stayed steady on the first few holes from the longs but 2 and 3 I took a 10 and 8 which ended up really costing me, as well as not having a good feel for my comet.  I ended the tournament in 6th out of 16.  I made a few mental mistakes that I would like to have back.  This weekend is the Pine Lake Open two rounds form long tees at this course, so I am really looking forward to a second chance.

September in the New:  I’ve spent the last two weekends climbing in the New.  Last weekend Sept 9th and 10th lead to great temps and I put solid leads on several 12’s  I fell off the Crux on Tongue and Groove but lead the rest of the route clean, and one hung the onsight of Fly girls.  So last weekend I went back and  put an effort on Fly Girls but the humid conditions last weekend found me sliding off the holds that just the weekend before had felt crisp.  This left me feeling a bit frustrated because it feels like lost progress to have come close last week and this week to struggle so poorly on the route.

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In writing this it feels a bit discouraging because I know the results I’m seeing are not where I want to be I wanted to be climbing harder and winning tournaments.  However when I look back to where I was this last year and even this spring, I can see progress that I have made.  I’m learning to project routes, I’m playing more consistent golf, and my tournaments that I am not playing well I am still hitting cash line in Advanced, and a year ago I wasn’t close to the cash line in intermediate.

For the Fall I look forward to trying hard climbing if my schedule allows. and beginning a training plan for my January trip to the Obed.  On the disc golf side I look forward to working on developing my forehand drives.

I hope you all had a great summer pursuing your passions and are able to find progress in your pursuits.  Time to start planning for 2018.

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Language Barriers

I was talking to my friend Rich who had just asked me if I was going to the climbing gym that morning.  I had to tell I was not because I was on my way go play a disc golf tournament.  The next time we were talking he was asking me how it went and I had placed middle of the pack in my division but what I was trying to think of was how do I explain in a way he could understand how hard of course it was I had played.  Now for the disc golfers here I can say I shot an 84, +14 and it was 926 rated and par on the course is usually 1000 rated but to a climber none of that means anything.  I ended up describing to him that the course was probably 5.13c ie its really hard.

What I have come to understand in talking with people in different sports and outside of the sports I play and there is a definite language barrier that makes in hard to explain what I actually do.  How do you explain how hard 5.12 is or how good 970 golf is.

The language differences do not end at just the skill or difficulty it takes to do it.  The things we actually do have names that are complete jargon that are far outside of the lexicon of the general public,  anni-forehand flex, offset-tips-crack.  These phrases mean whole lot to a small subset of people and to everyone else they are left to the imagination.

We develop our own language to describe what we do. Its helps make our tribes inclusive.  The language forges a bond with us.  Its not a bad thing it solidifies the community.  At the same time it makes it hard for new people to come in and understand whats going on.

At the end of the day I like the jargon it is fun to part of the tribe, but it just creates a barrier between two groups that I really enjoy and hard to share the experience across those lines.

 

 

Its Your Favorite Sport Shouldn’t it be Theirs: Tips for Introducing New People to your Passion.

As someone who has taken a lot of people out climbing, backpacking, disc golfing and to ultimate for their first time, I’ve made all the mistakes I’ve detailed.  The biggest thing to remember is your role.  Which is to help curate an enjoyable experience for them,

We all love the games we play outside weather its high up in the mountains or deep in the woods we love what we do.  At the same time most of us don’t want to do things alone all the time.  We have all found new friends in our chosen sport that speak the same lingo, understand the passion that guides you.  However you still have a lot in common with your old friends and still want to see them, so at some point your going to convince them to come out climbing, or disc golfing with you so here are a few pointers that will help make the outing more fun for you and for them.

Choose an appropriate level outing:  When bringing new people out make sure to bring them to a place that will be accommodating to the new skill set they are going to be starting to develop.  I remember earlier this year I was taking my friend out on one of his first outdoor climbing trips.  The problem was it had rained all day Friday where we went down to and a lot of the routes were still seeping wet.  This led us with very limited options for where we could go.  In the end we ended up at a section of dry wall that all that was available was fairly technical harder climbing routes, which made for a rough outing for our new climber, and did not yield the most enjoyable experience for him and made me felt bad bringing him out to where we were.

Similarly if you are bringing out new disc golfers realize some of the limitations in the skill set they have.  Ideal find short open courses where it will be easy to track discs, navigate, and have an understanding of what the game is like to play.  It is easy to write just choose the right place but choosing the appropriate challenge for people is one of the hardest parts.  If you choose to easy they will think its boring. Choose to hard and they can easily be overwhelmed and turned off to the possibility of ever coming back.

Keep it Simple: While often its the bigger objectives that capture our imagination we should temper expectations bringing new people along.  Your first time climbing is not going to be El Cap and your first disc golf experience is not going to be a four round two day tournament.  Your first time should be something simple either a quick 9 hole round with the option to continue, or a half day of top rope climbing.  The goal here is first not to overwhelm them as we previously discussed, and to show them the accessibility of the sport so they can come back on their own or see what they will need to do to be able to  become a full participant.

Vocabulary:  All of our sports have their own lingo whether its a Hyzerflip-forehand, or kneebar-to-a thumbs up hands jam, and those can be very helpful to the seasoned veteran who understands and can execute it. However most people outside of the worlds we play in will have any idea what that means.  Make sure to keep your sport related jargon to a minimum.  Teach them some of the language and what it means but keep most of the conversation and communication to a way they will be able to understand.

Preparation:  Odds are unless you have furnished a full packing list several days a head of time your friend you are bringing along will not know what to bring.  Even if you did furnish a full comprehensive list odds are they either did not have everything on the list, forgot something or decided they wouldn’t need it anyway.  In order to help make the experience the most enjoyable for other people I find it easiest to just prepare for them and have stuff ready.

I have taken many college students on their first backpacking and climbing trips, and I always plan to pack a few extra layers of clothing, snacks, water, and hats just to help make sure people are comfortable.  So similarly even if its just a quick round of disc golf or an afternoon at the crag think what they may want midway through that they aren’t thinking about now, normally its snacks and water, sugar tends to make lots of things more enjoyable.

Advice: Giving advice is a really touchy subject.  Some people can easily feel belittled and shutdown by too much advice.  I’ve been really bad at giving unsolicited advice to new people and some crave it they want to be told and walked through the whole process every move how to throw.  I’ve also gotten a lot of dirty looks.  I’ve found that if they are completely new give them a quick run down of a few basics to frame the outing and then late ask if they want some help or pointers.  Unsolicited advice can ruin the day and take away from some of the challenge they are looking for.

 Fun and Memorable: It seems obvious but its truly the most important thing.  Find ways to make it a fun unique memorable experience.  Build them up.  Celebrate the the joys of the days.  Find ways to make it memorable, laugh take pictures, commemorate the event with a special dinner.  If you can build positive memories around the sport you help create a foundation to keep your friends coming out with you.

 

As someone who has taken a lot of people out climbing, backpacking, disc golfing and to ultimate for their first time, I’ve made all the mistakes I’ve detailed.  The biggest thing to remember is your role.  Which is to help curate an enjoyable experience for them, something they can learn from and want to come back.  Have fun, teach, make memories and grow the sport.

Don’t Get Older Get Better

It had been a rough night and It was definitely making the days objective seem like a bad idea.  This was the start of my birthday challenge.  We had rolled into the campground after 11 the night before, tired from the drive we threw our tents on the first available platform after checking in.  The first spot probably was not the best idea as we quickly learned when our newly adopted neighbors for the weekend rolled in yelling, Lets do shot.  I looked at Rich but we were both to tired to move to a new spot.  Our neighbors made it hard to sleep as they carried on til 2, then an owl howled above our spot for a few hours then a nearby rooster beckoned the morning, which was finally followed by near by dogs barking for a solid 2 hours.  So after such a restful night we were off climb as many boulders as years I had been alive.

It took a lot of work and traveling to a few locations but on that long day I did finally complete my birthday challenge.  Most people spent their birthdays indulging themselves, I tend to spend mine challenging myself. Doing things that are hard and making sure that the possibility of failure is there.  I really wanted to test myself.  In fact the next day we ran into my friend Clinton climbing and Summersville Lake and he said I just looked spent, which I kind of was after all the effort of the day prior. But it was worth it.

I first got turned on to the Idea of the birthday challenge by a series of youtube videos, the first was 35 , the other was a series done on Epic TV.  Both of them focus on climbing with a number relevant to your age, and I liked that.  These challenges are not easy when you are young and become even harder as you age, and require you to grow as a person.

However I don’t think your challenge needs to be solely focused on volume climbing.  Your birthday challenge is entirely up to you.  Find something that will test your skills, ability, endurance, courage.  Find out what make you who you are at the age you are coming to.  This is a good point to take a self assessment.

I also have a secondary birthday challenge I’d like to encourage everyone to take part in.  It stems around an article my friend shared with me that argued that time seems to go faster as we get older because less of life is memorable.  To me that was a bit disheartening, I want to live a life worth remembering.  So every year as my birthday approaches I make an effort to write out my top memories. Writing out as many as years that I have lived.  Furthermore if those memories involved someone letting them know that they were part of some of the best moments of the last year and so that they can hold on to those memories as well.

I encourage you all to build your own birthday challenges, and let me know what you end up doing.

 

The Problem of the Blank Canvas

A few weeks ago I was talking to a friend who was working on a project for a friend.  They were supposed help paint a design on a table our other friend had made out of a slab of hard wood he had come a cross.  My friend doing the painting though was stressed out, and did not know where to start, they wanted to make it the best they could so they were worried about how to start it, and not make any mistakes.  They cared so much about the project the only the best would be an acceptable outcome.  The desire for the perfect outcome was actually hindering them from starting, because they did not want to make any mistakes.

Through out life we come across a lot of blank canvasses. They could be open field holes in disc golf, they could be climbing routes with a lot of different holds as options, it could even be a blank page for a blog post that you just keep putting off til you have just the perfect topic to write.

Standing in front of a blank canvas is always intimidating. We all want to do great things, but we just do not know where to start.  We also do not want to screw up what we have or make mistakes.  This is why you will often see people fret over which routes to take or how to begin, because there are many options and we do not want to make mistakes. Blank canvases are hard to start.

Maybe that is why we like things that have one way to do them.  The disc golf hole that has one line to the basket, the climbing route that has just the one sequence through the crux, or the training plan that tells us exactly what to do when to do it and when to rest.  Having one way to something takes away our anxiety of choice and allows us to focus purely on execution.  However life does not always make the routes we take so clear.

To me there is nothing more daunting than a blank calendar, to me this is the ultimate blank canvas.  I know time is finite resource and I sure want to make the best of it, and I only get one shot.  So in times like this I think to the way I have to play those open field disc golf holes.  I think about the end target where I want to be.  Then I have to pick the method to get there, and it is not always a straight line. Next I typically look out to the horizon and pick the place I need to start towards, then I have to fully commit to it the execution.

I think this is a helpful outlook to the open fields, and the blank canvases in life.  We pick and end destination for that part, then we need to visualize the path we are taking to get there.  We look to the future and the horizon to find our point to aim at, and then execute on the follow through.

In the end like with making a painting, or climbing a route, you need to pick you point of attack and just start. Not every painting will be a masterpiece, not every throw is an ace and we don’t send every route.  The important thing is to start, and that is the hardest part.

 

*the table at the top is the table my friend made.

Why we’re out there

I was talking with my friend Dan, and in between him hassling me into moving up to play in the open division disc golfing he was telling me about his approach to the game.  He is just going out and putting in on himself to go out and try to beat the course, and that got me thinking about why I’m playing, what I’m there to attempt.  I’ve had similar conversations with other people about their perspective on climbing and on disc golf.  Some people are in it for time with friends, some are chasing ratings and grades, others are out for the competitions.  So with all of these conversations its really got me thinking about what motivates me to be out there.

There are a lot of people who are strongly extrinsically motivated in their play.  There are a lot of people who are trying to get their PDGA rating higher or climb the next higher grade, and at times I have been one of those people.  I personally have found this mindset can leave you frustrated and limiting.  You put a lot of pressure on yourself to perform at a very specific level, and while pushing your self is good, when you have an objective goal that you can see how you missed and can be a little bit demoralizing.  When you see how far you need to go it can be a disheartening, and can rob some of the joy of your time out with friends because you’re so focused on your performance.

Chasing ratings and climbing grades has limited my ability to perform to my potential, and that is why I like Dan’s perspective about trying to beat the course. It is a good place to start to look for my personal motivations.   For him its not about other people, it is about an interaction between him and the environment around him.  Going out trying to perform to the best of his ability. The area I start to break off in my view is I’m not sure you can actually beat the course.

Its a common saying in climbing that the rock always wins.  You never really beat the mountain, it’s still standing, its more the mountain has allowed you to get up it.  Climbing routes and disc golf courses give you the opportunity to test your skills.  At then end of the day the rock and course are inviting you to come test your self and to play within what they give you. I have started to bring this perspective and approach into both my climbing and disc golf lately.

If you take the mind set of you are playing with the course or the rock, it makes it much less of an adversarial relationship.  Too me this perspective has taken a lot of pressure off me trying to beat something but more see the fun in the sport and adapt to openings.  It also changes your mind to look for what openings the course is giving, not what obstacles its putting in the way, much as in climbing you focus on what holds you are given not the areas there are not holds.

So for me personally the perspective of you get to play with what the course or rock gives you, helps to make it more fun, and also helps to focus on positives and has helped me perform a lot better in recent months.

let me know some of your outlooks and perspectives on the sports.

Sports: The Ultimate Form of Self Control

Lately I have been thinking a lot about self control and how that plays into our lives, and into our life pursuits. Normally when we think of self control we think about diet, exercise and delayed gratification, but I’ve been thinking about it in also the ability to control your body and movements.  Ultimately isn’t that what most of our activities come down to is the ability to control our own body, and minds.

A good example of this thought in disc golf would be a simple 28ft putt.  This distance is within the range of most players where they have a reasonable chance to make the putt, most have done it before.  However while they can make it, what it ultimately comes down to is the in the moment ability to control yourself to get the body to perform the way you want it to.  Its harder than it sounds thought to get all of those moving parts to be coordinated and timed perfectly, but when you have that control it all works well.

So how do we work on building control with so many moving parts of the body.  One of the best avenues that has worked for me is slowing down.  When moving slower it is a lot easier to focus on form, control and timing.  When you are climbing and have small delicate holds that require precise placement its always much easier to exercise the needed control when moving slowly, maintaining balance.

This does not mean to slow down forever.  Simply Slow down to dial in for form, timing, balance and overall feel.  Then as you dial in your control you can increase your tempo, power, and maintain the feel and control you built up while slowing down.

Another good tip is just to work on your own personal body awareness.  Having a sense of your own balance, body positioning, and footing can help you execute greater control. I was recently listening to an episode of Trainingbeta where Mercedes Pollmeier talked about how she improved her climbing by taking a summer off from climbing, and training and simply did a series of exercises around body awareness.  Improve your awareness leads to a better understanding of your body and thus a better ability to control yourself.

These tips helped me build more control accuracy and consistency over the past few months.  I hope this helps you get a greater feel of control over your movement.