Sometimes It’s Better to Just Let Go

Muscles and Tendons of the Human Arm and Hand, vintage engraved illustration. Trousset encyclopedia (1886 - 1891).
Muscles and Tendons of the Human Arm and Hand, vintage engraved illustration. Trousset encyclopedia (1886 – 1891).

Last Saturday was sunny in Moe’s, the last splitter day before the storm. We had decided to break from our routine M-W-F schedule in anticipation of the forced rest days looming ahead. Friends were down from SLC from the weekend, and we were actual feeling a rare desire to be social. The Monkey Boy warm-ups were busy, so we worked our way in amongst a talkative group of psyched young women to get our blood flowing before moving to a boulder just around the corner to try a steep problem that has a long move that’s been stopping me. It’s a juggy roof with full-body movement, finishing in a huge throw to a lip. Fail. Again. Back to the busy warm-up area. On the same boulder, opposite the V1-V5’s, there’s a V7 we had both given a few tries. It starts with decent steep crimps to get to a jug rest, than tops on horrendous slopey crimps that aren’t easy to get to. It’s one of those problems that messes with you because the lower portion is accessible, kind of cool movement that allows you to feel like you’re getting close to success…even if you’re not.

I set up our pads. For me the first move is left hand to a half-pad crimp rail, then I match it with the right. I moved close to the base and set up my body for the powerful pull to the rail. Weight my feet, activate my right bicep, pick my ass up off the ground (yay!), and stab my left hand up to left side of the rail. Right toe in the start hold, tension, tension, tension, right hand releases…let go! LET GO!!!

It was like a jolt of electricity from the underside of my left ring finger all the way down through my forearm. Tears of fear welled up in my eyes. What had I done? I didn’t hear anything, no popping or tearing, so that was good, right? And my body had reacted instantly to the instinct to let go. But the twinge-ing sensation was turning into a throbbing pain, and after a few minutes I imagined I could see swelling on the right side of my wrist just below the bone.

I immediately wished that I could rewind my day. I knew exactly why it happened. I had allowed the change in routine and the weekend excitement to distract me. I hadn’t done finger rolls or traversed to warm up my crimps, the things I usually do that I didn’t. We were second day on, and we never boulder two days in a row. I felt tired and stupid.

Now, I’m rest and recovering. Injuries do funny things to your head. They burden you with time for honest assessment, not just of the injury itself, but of overall balance. They can pin the tail on areas of instability and point out blaring errors in process.

It’s not bad timing, really. The weather was less than stellar for a few days after, and my shoulders were telling me they need the break, too. I was also showing symptoms of the cold from hell that Charlie had for the 4 days prior. There’s still enough time before we plan to apply this training phase to our true objectives (routes) that it won’t all have been for naught. Sometimes your body makes decisions without you, and you really have no choice but to listen to them. The only decision you get to make is whether to learn from the experience or not. I hope I’m learning.



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