“How does it feel to be the most irritating person on the planet?” Tim asked as he lowered me off the first 5.10 of the morning, the one he couldn’t quite finish just a few minutes earlier.
I responded in what felt like the most appropriate way possible: a half-assed attempt at pretending it had been difficult and a shit-eating grin.
I mean, I guess I can understand why he was annoyed. He had climbed 3 or 4 days already that week and had recently finished a 6-week training plan geared toward climbing. I, on the other hand, hadn’t climbed since December and had spent the drive to the rock gym whining about how sore my arms were after the two-hour, inversion-based yoga class I went to the night before.
I continued to climb pretty well given the circumstances but was embarrassingly tired after just an hour. Our unspoken-yet-mutually-understood plan to work on endurance by running laps on easy routes (think 5.8) had been sabotaged by Tim picking what I’m pretty sure was every 5.10 in the gym, and my hands and arms were really starting to feel it. After another 20 or so minutes, I admitted defeat and convinced Tim to do 3 laps on a fun 5.7 before letting him boost his ego back up by being better than me at bouldering.
On the drive home, instead of trying to make Tim feel better about how badly I had just crushed him, I suckered him into making Chinese food for dinner that night (something he’s really good at, but doesn’t love to do) because I was racing the next day and, after one particularly good race a year or two ago where he’d made Chinese food the night before, I’ve become incredibly superstitious about the matter and now request the same thing for every race eve meal. I never said I was a good person.
In a surprising turn of events, I exceeded expectations again on Sunday morning. You see, with the exception of one run last week (to make sure I still knew how to do it), it had also been a while since I had run. Not as long as it had been since I’d climbed, but long enough (about a month) that I had no reason to expect a decent (for me) finish time. So imagine my surprise when I crossed the finish line and saw 25:something on the clock!
I knew that my existing PR was 24 minutes and some seconds (24:37 to be exact, although I thought it was a few seconds slower than that at the time), and I knew that there had been quite a bit of time between when the gun went off and when I actually crossed the starting line. The thought of potentially having just run a new best—or even coming anywhere remotely close to my current best—with literally no training blew my mind.
Not every climbing session can be so effortlessly “successful.” And not every race can go so well without training for it (trust me, I know.) And I could obviously perform a lot better—in both areas, plus plenty of others—if I actually put some effort into it. But in the meantime, I think I’ll just sit back and bask in the glory of two days of exceeding expectations without even trying, because who knows if that’ll ever happen again?