Sunday, December 21, 2008 by Daniel

Pushup Nicole and the Lead Clinic

Sunday dawned soggy and cold, but Max had clearly stated the WOD would go on rain or shine ("NO WHINING"), plus a running micro-clinic with Gita, so I couldn't resist.

The clinic was actually really useful. Gita is a ultramarathoner, and definitely knows his stuff when it comes to running. He taught us the very basics of POSE running, and had us try it out during the WOD, standing outside in the rain to coach us. I knew about POSE from the CF forums, and had tried it, but without any feedback I didn't know if I was doing it right or just setting myself up for injury, so I've just been running however my body tells me to. Gita placed the emphasis on posture for all of us, touching on the ball-strike but not focusing on it. At first, I found the ball strike excessively tiring, as I was kicking my feet into the ground and dissipating a lot of energy uselessly. As I worked with it, though, I started figuring out how to take longer strides to lessen the scuffing - Gita told me I could probably take even longer strides to really quiet it down. He also sketched out some cadence work for me on one of my runs - that I should take three strides for every time I throw my left elbow back, but at that point I was so tired that trying to focus on that just threw me totally off - I would focus entirely on my left arm, and find that I was flailing around with that one trying to get the rhythm right while my right arm stayed essentially still. Must've looked pretty dumb. However, I'm sure I'll have ample opportunity to work on it more in the coming months.

The WOD today was push-up Nicole, which we did back on Halloween - also in the rain. Unlike that day, however, Max had us do the pushups upstairs in the yoga room, and added two minutes to the time to account for going up and down the stairs.

Complete as many rounds in 22 minutes as you can of:
Run 400 meters
Max Rep Push-Ups

100 reps in 6 rounds (20-20-15-15-15-15)

This is the same score as last time, but with one more round. I found the pushups much trickier in the yoga room, as my wet hands and feet slid around on the polished bamboo, and downward dog wasn't nearly as much rest as it was on the concrete outside. So between the WOD and the warmup run, this was almost two miles of POSE running. My calves are killing me.

The Lead Clinic

Tonight I took another step in pursuit of the coveted orange belay card: a lead clinic. Touchstone is apparently much more stringent and demanding with their lead test than other gyms, and though I've heard rumors, I think it just amounts to caution. So the clinic had some important information, but the most valuable of it was just exactly what was expected of us for the test.

We practiced clipping on some quickdraws they set up for us, with either hand and the biner in either direction. This was useful. We learned about back-clipping (clipping so that the climber's end of the rope (the "sharp" end) faces the wall, which in the case of a fall could result in the rope pulling across the gate and opening the biner. This is bad.) and z-clipping (pulling up rope from below your last clip and clipping that, resulting in the rope going up, then down, then up, effectively preventing you from climbing further. I've done this. It's embarassing, but not particularly dangerous.)

Then we did a three-way mock lead climb on an easy 5.8. The climber's job was just to mock lead, and to intentionally back-clip two draws for the belay team on the ground to try and spot. Then there was a top-rope belayer, and a mock lead belayer. This was when I first learned to dislike my grigri, which heretofore has been a great belay device. It's a pain in the ass to feed slack through the grigri, particularly using Petzl's required method. It's back to the ATC for me for lead belaying.

Finally, we did an easy version of the actual lead test, with the instructors watching us and giving us feedback as we led up a relatively pumpy 5.9. The instructors were to climb up above the fourth quickdraw and then fall. The fall was really the only new thing, and it's pretty scary. Once I got up there, it quickly became clear to me that the less I thought about what I was about to do, the better, so I just took a breath and hopped off the wall. Yipes! I dropped about seven feet and pulled my belayer about a foot up off the ground. It wasn't all that bad, but I'm a bit sad that that's the only element of the lead test I'll never get to practice again until the actual test.

Other things I learned (I'm sorry this is so verbose - I'm trying to cram in as many details as I can remember, so I can come back to this post to study for the test):
  • Don't step behind the rope. The reasoning behind this is clear: if you fall, and some part of your body is behind the rope, it could spin you around or flip you over, making it harder to use your legs to catch you when you swing into the wall. However, it is a difficult fault to avoid on some routes, and something I need a better grasp of.
  • Touchstone wants the lead belayer to stay directly under the climber until they clip the fourth draw, at which point they can move out a little from the wall. Other climbers I know grouse about this, because it prevents you from managing slack by moving back and forth. However, when I think about it, that's not a very wise method of managing slack: if the climber's fall pulls you up off the ground, there's however much distance of rope between you and the wall in the system. Also, the climber's fall will pull you into the wall, rather than up, which could be painful.
  • Slack management as a belayer is tricky. I think I tend to feed too much, and need to work on keeping it a bit tighter.
  • Clipping the chains at the top is the hardest part. I need to practice this.
Ironworks loaned me a small length of old rope to bring home with me, so I can set up a quickdraw here and practice clipping while watching TV, which is great. I'm thinking I might make my first attempt at the lead test next month.

This video covers nearly everything in under six minutes:

1 comment:

Evelyn Rodas said...

Your synopsis of the clinic is very helpful. I am going to print it out and refer to it. My rendition was: we came, we climbed, we left. LOL. Thanks for this, Daniel!

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