So I went climbing on Sunday. I’m never really sure what to call it. Rock climbing? Wall climbing? Indoor Rock Climbing? Whatever – I went rock climbing indoors and I loved it! I went with my friend Carlotta, her 18 year old son Tony, and two of his friends. We went to RockQuest Climbing Center. rockquestIt was cheap, too! For $10 you get two climbs, harness rental, shoe rental, and a RQ employee as a belayer. When we got there, we had to take off our shoes and what not and he (Corey, our belayer) gave us our harnesses. We followed his instructions on how to put them on and tighten them up. Then we went in to climb. I’m guessing the wall we climbed first was only 18 feet high. I say “only” like it wasn’t high. It was high. And my almost 37 year old self was a little concerned about how far up I’d make it. So we let the kids go first.

I promise it seems like they went up in record time! I’m like, see, that’s what youth will do for you! But when they came down, they were afraid to just come down. That’s what I couldn’t WAIT to do, bounce off the walls like they do on TV and in my Active Life Explorer game. So Carlotta goes up after the three boys have gone. She gets about halfway up and says she cannot keep going because of her nails! See, the things that you grab onto are random. Some of them are like handles and then some are like knobs and still others are just indescribable. I can’t believe that’s a word, indescribable. It looks crazy. Anyway, she didn’t go all the way to the top.

So then it was my turn. getting tied up (Look at that gut!!! Temporary, only temporary!!!) I get tied to the rope and I’m ready to climb. I guess now would be a good time to tell you why I even wanted to do this in the first place. One day I was watching an episode of I Used to Be Fat and the girl on there went rock climbing. She was so determined to make it to the top and she couldn’t do it. She kept working out or whatever, and at the end of the episode, she goes back to the place and makes it to the top of the wall. Now, I have been sure for quite some time that my upper body strength is simply nonexistent. I wanted to go rock climbing to see just how weak my arms were. See, I thought this was an upper body workout. I wanted to see how far up I could get and then keep going back to improve on my last climb.

So here I was, tied up and ready to climb. I start to go up and I start to get apprehensive and think to myself, Why the fuck are we here? Why are you trying to do something you already know you can’t do? But I ignore that self-sabotaging bitch and I keep climbing. I am not afraid of heights; I’m somewhat of a thrill seeker. This is a good thing since there’s no such thing as ‘don’t look down’ when rock climbing. You have to look down to see where to place your feet next. And you have to keep looking up to see where you are going to grab next. I knew halfway to the top almost there(when I felt my strength begin to waiver) that this was as much mental as it was physical. I was going to get to the top, no matter what.

There is a girl climbing next to me on the next wall and her dad (I guess) was there to cheer her on (I guess) and he was cheering us on, too. Everyone is yelling to you where you can put your feet or your hands to help you figure out how to keep going. It’s a lot of problem solving, and I’m glad there were people who could see from a different angle to tell me which way to go. This is definitely not something I’d want to do alone, so I’m glad you always need someone to go with you to belay for you. Anyway, when I was about halfway up, I started to feel like I wasn’t going to be able to finish. It’s also when I realized that this was no upper body workout; this was a full body workout. I wasn’t just using my arms to pull me up, I was using my legs to push myself up as well. I just kept telling myself to take my time and keep going. No matter what, make it to the top. to the topAnd the next thing I knew, I was at the top! I slapped that rock and said I was ready to come down. I don’t know that I’ve ever been so happy to be finished with something.

When I got to the bottom (after bouncing off the wall all the way down, so fun), I was SO winded and exhausted, and well, near death. The first words out of my mouth? “I’m not going up a second time.” The second words out of my mouth? “I need to take my heart rate.” The problem with taking my heart rate? Pressing my index finger against the watch. I had NO strength left in my forearms and I thought my muscles had completely atrophied. I wish I could explain to you how my arms felt at that moment. I felt old until Carlotta said the boys had mentioned their arms feeling like that, too. Ok, good, it wasn’t because I was almost 40. It was because we pushed past whatever point trainers are always telling you push pass. We completely exhausted our muscles. That shit felt weird. And I knew, regardless if everyone’s arms felt like that, was not climbing up another wall that day. My heart rate was 161 which is about 85% of my max heart rate (according to the watch, but it can be a little off). The point is, my heart rate was high as hell and I was amazed by that. I wasn’t out of breath or sweating profusely until after I got down off the wall. But I guess my body was working overtime! Five minutes later I was still sweating buckets. I said I looked like I’d just run a marathon and Carlotta agreed! And I’m pretty sure it only took me ten minutes to get up the wall. Maybe. I wish I had timed it, but I will next time. That short amount of time had me feeling near death! All this exercising and I’m still out of shape. Isn’t that something? But it gives me something to work toward and that motivates me to keep going.

I did try to climb one more time, on what I call the Free Fall Wall (I forget what Corey said it was really called). ffwThis is in the middle of the room, surrounded by gym mats. You are not tied to a rope, you just climb. If you fall, you land on the mat. I was dubious of it, but I tried it after I regained feeling in my arms (way after). I didn’t try to climb the side that you see in the picture. The other side has a wall that’s more straight up and down; I tried that. I made it almost to the top before I got scared my arms would give out and I’d fall. I’m too old to be falling, mat or no mat. I climbed back down. As I type this now, I realize how ridiculous that was. No fear when I’m tied because if I fall, the belayer pulls the rope to keep me from falling. The mental exercise was making myself believe I could keep going. But on the Free Fall Wall, all I could think about was the possibility of falling. Not falling was my goal, not making it to the top (which is a little less than 1/2 of the height of the wall I climbed). It’s amazing how changing your perception can completely change your outcome. Looking back I realize that I would not have fallen and I would have made it to the top. Next time, I will.

All in all we had a really good time and decided to continue going back. There was only one drawback to the visit: the chalk. Serious climbers (like the girl next to us) had chalk bags to chalk their hands. I didn’t notice it until we’d moved on to the 2nd wall (the kids were climbing while we looked on and I recuperated). And it wasn’t until I started wondering why my nose was irritated that I started to pay attention. It wasn’t until after I noticed all the chalk in the air and on the surface of stuff that I started to sneeze. We’d been inside the climbing area for about an hour or so and I felt like I needed some fresh air. I started sneezing immediately. It was as though there was chalk on all the hairs in my nose and every time I took a breath in, I had to sneeze. It was horrible. And I was hungry (you know, fattygirl worked up an appetite)! So I got a large bottle of water and a Honey Roasted Peanut Mojo bar; it was way, way better than a regular Clif bar. I pretended it was a Payday candy bar, and it almost was. I sneezed all the way through Monday night. Today is the first day I haven’t sneezed constantly. It won’t keep me from going, I just have to remember to take my allergy medicine. It’s that time of year anyway. Ugh.

So when I woke up Monday, I wasn’t sore at all. I was a little shocked, but I figured it was because of the Epsom salt bath I took Sunday night. As the day went on, though, I started to feel the pain. It started in my forearms, of course. I was typing a different entry for the blog when the tops of my forearms started to hurt. I’m still shocked that you even use the muscles in your forearms; I thought this was going to be all about biceps/triceps. As the day drew on, the rest of my body started to hurt. ALL of it. My back especially. I can’t remember the last time my entire body hurt from a workout. It’s Tuesday now, and it still hurts. Even after a wonderful rubdown, and I mean WONDERFUL, I’m still in pain. It reminds me to keep it moving! It reminds me that I did something, and that I did something different. It reminds me that I am capable of more than I give myself credit for. It reminds me that I have muscles. It reminds me I need to tone those muscles to help me burn more fat. It reminds me that no matter what, I stay on this journey. No matter what, I will reach my goals. No. Matter. What.