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Coolibar Athletes

Coolibar Athletes

Find the motivation you might be missing

Staying active can be a challenge when our busy schedules interfere with our free time. We all know how this feels! And so the challenge is to find that motivation and hold on to it so we can enjoy our summer activities.

For me, getting ready for summer is where it starts. I enjoy being outdoors and most of my summer activities involve me being in a swimsuit. This is my motivation! We all tend to work out a little less in the cold winter months. Not to mention eat more during the holidays! So after all of the fuss is over, and the New Year starts, it is time for me to begin.

I set little goals since I like instant results and want to ensure I don’t lose my motivation by getting discouraged. Another way I make sure I achieve my goals is by posting them on my Motivate webpage. I set up this page for myself, my family and friends so we can help keep each other on track. We post what workout we want to do that day and then we have to do it! We all help each other by checking in with each other and seeing how we all do.

My goal for this summer involves my new favorite sport — SUP Yoga. This is yoga on a stand up paddle board which is taught at Outdoor to the Core SUP LV at Lake Las Vegas. Their class introduced an entirely new element to yoga by adding constant balance which builds and strengthens core muscles.  I am working to be able to do a headstand on the paddle board! Of course means I will need to be outdoors on the water practicing as much as possible.

Coolibar Athlete Krista Kennedy practicing SUP yoga

Thanks to the great Coolibar products, I can be out in the sun practicing longer than I could before. The sun protective material keeps me cool, and when it gets wet, it does not get heavy. It dries fast! It is also very flexible which is necessary in order for me to complete many of the positions in yoga. I was happily surprised when I attempted the wheel yoga pose and did not feel any restrictions from the Coolibar clothing.

So this spring and summer as you are setting goals for yourself remember to start small. Gradually build to your long term goal so you don’t get burnt out and quit. And when you are out in the sun, don’t forget that staying sun protected is important!

Krista Kennedy

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Coolibar Athletes Sevve Stember

Key ingredients for fitness success

Motivation is one of a few key ingredients for success.  I stay motivated by having goals to train for and think about.  Additionally, I try to plan some short weekend trips as well as a couple larger road trips.  These are at the core of what motivates me to stay active because in order to be successful on the road, I must be prepare during the spring and summer.  I think of my trips as “final exams” where I put together months of hard work and enjoy some of the premier climbing destinations and routes in the world.  Once I’ve worked hard, I can truly savor each climb and know that I’ve prepared myself to the best of my ability. 

Thinking more locally, I always have a “project” that I am working on.  In non-climber terms, this means that there is a really hard route that I am figuring out the moves on and working towards climbing it with no falls-that could happen the next week or the next year.  Whatever your recreational outlet is, set a goal that is attainable but is beyond what you’ve ever accomplished before.  You must also believe in yourself and your ability to attain levels that you’ve never thought were possible.

My advice to anyone that is looking to stay active outdoors is to find an outdoor sport or hobby that brings you joy, satisfaction, and meaning.  Getting “burnt out” out happens all too often because people do not love what they are doing.  If you do not love running, don’t run.  Instead, walk, play soccer, bike,….the list goes on.  Try many different activities until you find the one or two that really seems to fit you, your family, and your lifestyle.  At the end of the day, you should feel like you spent your time doing exactly what you wanted to do. 

Find some people to be active with.  One of the most enjoyable parts of climbing or skiing for me is the fantastic company that I get to do those activities with.  Lastly, keep a journal where you write down the date, what you did, length of time, and any other short notes you want.  I’ve found the key to keeping a training log that you actually use is to keep entries really short.  That way, you are more likely to continue using your training journal if it does not require much time to maintain it.  This written record of activity is a good visual reminder of how many days you’ve been active in a week.  It can be a reminder that you are working hard and where you want to be or a reminder that you need to get outdoors more and get some physical activity.

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Coolibar Athletes

Rain On a Track Meet

It’s 4:30pm Monday night, and I’m standing under a bit of roof that juts out from the side of the local high school. My oldest daughter’s track team, the other coaches, a few of the more dedicated parents, and myself have taken shelter there from the pouring rain that has invaded our track meet.  We’re on a 30 minute lightning sighting delay.  Basically, we’re giving it a standard 30 minutes to get better or we’re going to call the meet off. 

Track season weather in Illinois has been harsh this year. We have completed just one meet so far, and cancelled two. The one we did complete, we saw the temperature drop from almost 70 to under 40 during the 3 hour meet. We almost all froze.

So, here I stand, and I’m thinking about “How can I blog about St. Louis Family Fitness Weekend now?” An event I ran the weekend prior.

A couple hours before the meet, I sat down to write a glorious post about what will be one of my family’s great memories.  We had had a fantastic time. My wife, Cortny, and my youngest daughter, Madeline, had run the 5K on Saturday (April 6th). I had run the Half-marathon the following day.  My mother, sister, brother-in-law, and three nieces had all come up from Tennessee for some much needed family time, and to see us all run.  We had all been to the zoo and had spent an entire evening climbing and playing at the amazing City Museum (highly recommend it). It was, quite frankly, an awesome weekend.

If I’d been less of a procrastinator, that would have been the blog. You’d be reading now of a family adventure. I did procrastinate though, and as I had sat down to write…literally as I sat down…texts started coming in. Facebook lit up on my phone. I quickly turned on my TV.

There, on my TV, had been the exact images from our weekend before. Oh, it was a different city, and different folks, but it was the same. The finish line and spectators were set as mine had been the weekend before. The signs were raised to cheer on Dad, Mom, Grandpa, Grandma, etc. My family had been standing right there, right by the finish line, to see me come in.

The runners had shown up by the thousands, some for the first time and others for the 50th.  Some were there for a cause and others to prove it to themselves – all smiling.

So, I’m standing there a little stunned, and in a daydream, waiting out the weather with the team, and one of the kids says to me “So, Coach, you still gonna run?”

At first I didn’t get it, “What?”

“Now that they bombed the marathon? You still going to do that kind of stuff?” he asked.

“Dang Right I am!” I said with as big a smile as I could. “If anything, I am going to run further, and faster than before.”

At first he didn’t get it, “What, Coach?”

“Look, runners are the toughest, bravest, most dedicated people I have ever known. We aren’t easily taken down, and should never be counted out. The people I’ve run with will all be running harder, longer, faster.  Some bad guys inadvertently made us runners a symbol for our country, and put it on our shoulders.  They made a huge mistake.  We can haul the load….and we will.”

And as kids do, he responded “Cool.”    

The rain eventually subsided, and the track meet went on.

Chad Hannon
Coolibar Athlete

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Coolibar Athletes

Ready, set, make goals

What motivates me to get active?  First and foremost, a tangible goal.  Whether it’s your first 5K, a half ironman or a marathon there is nothing like setting a goal, training for it and achieving success.  It provides a sense of accomplishment and pride.  No need for anyone else to pat you on the back. Crossing the finish line after months of training is proof enough of a job well done.  It doesn’t matter that I’ve never won a race or been on the podium.  What is important is that I’m out there doing it, which is a lot more than many others can say.

So what helps me get up before dawn to train for events?  Well, honestly, a lot of self talk while I’m lying in bed.  It usually goes something like this: “Sarah, get up.  You know you’ll feel better after you get your workout in.  Five more minutes of the snooze button isn’t going to make a difference. Get up.  Get UP!  GET-OUT-OF-BED!”  Once up, I really rely on music to get me going.  Loud music.  My work out music playlist is eclectic and some would say, I’m sure, dated.  But go ahead and tell me when you hear “Eye of the Tiger” by Survivor in the middle of a long run you wouldn’t smile.  Tell me you wouldn’t pick up that pace just a little bit more and pretend you are about to enter the ring with Mr. T or cross the finish line in Kona.  I’ve also been known to belt out Guns n Roses while running and have taught my daughter the chorus to Lady Gaga’s “Edge of Glory”. What can I say?  Cheesy music gets me going.

And that is exactly where I found myself this morning.  Yelling at myself to get out of bed and go run.  To continue with my training for this goal I set for myself back in October.  But this morning, it was a little bit more emotional for me than usual.  The explosions at the Boston Marathon on Monday, April 15th, shook me more than I expected. 

Yesterday, the day after the event, I got up and got in the pool no problem and then ran on the treadmill, numb to the non-stop media coverage in front of me of what happened in my hometown.  Everyone I knew who was running was safe.  I had the day off from work and wasn’t affected by the emergency protocol set into place at the hospital.  I was fine. My family was fine.  Except that I’m not fine.  I am sad.  I’m scared.  I’m worried about the future.  And I’m mad.  Much has been written in the past two days about the meaning of Patriot’s Day and the Boston Marathon to us Bostonians, and I won’t attempt to re-write what’s already in print.  Instead, I will say that when I finally got out to the end of my driveway this morning, put on my loud, cheesy music and went for a run, what motivated me more than anything was an overwhelming sense of community.  I am a native of the Common wealth of Massachusetts, work in the city of Boston, years ago experienced first hand the crowds lining Boylston St. encouraging even the back-of-the-pack bandit runners like me towards the finish line. To not get up and go for a run on such a beautiful New England spring morning would be to let the bad guys win; and I just can’t let that happen.  Cue up Survivor. Rocky.  “Risin’ up, back on the street…”  Cheesy? Cliché? Yes, but I ran.  And I may have been imagining it, but I swear all the other runners I saw this morning smiled a bit bigger, nodded with more intention and gave off a sense of solidarity I’ve never noticed before.

What I’ve always known, but tend to forget sometimes in the busyness of life, is that running, biking and swimming are also good for my mental health.  Clearly this morning’s run was a cathartic and healing experience for me.  Still saddened by the events of earlier in the week, I am now able to deal with that grief and get back to my daily life.  Score 1 more for the good guys.

Boston Strong,

Sarah Gay

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Coolibar Athletes

The Fight for Life 1,300+ Miler

Coolibar Athlete Ally Loisel-Murray is currently on her way from Minnesota to Galveston, TX, where she will begin her 1,300 mile run back to Minnesota on April 22nd. Ally’s mission is prevention — raising awareness for Carotid Artery Dissection, Traumatic Brain Injury and Stroke Prevention! Ally had a life threatening car accident just before her qualifying race for the Boston’s Marathon in 2008. She survived a stroke and three traumatic brain injuries. She also trisected her left carotid artery.

Before Ally left for Texas, we had to get her last minute thoughts. After all, not many can claim to have run 1,300 miles consecutively.

How have you prepared yourself for this run both mentally and physically?
I started running with the Minnetonka High School Boys Track team last January 2012. I was very impressed with the team. My concerns were with my health. I had no idea what I was capable of after such a long recovery. My vascular system had been through so much. Had no idea if I could raise my blood pressure to the max! However, I never thought about my health. I was focused on those kids and proving that a 35 year old woman could keep up! Nothing prepares you for this type of adventure. However, these young adults challenged and pushed me to take back the life I once had. They had no idea they were a part of helping me heal. I loved that job! At the beginning of September, I was on my own for training! Heart broken I wasn’t able to help them through the cross country season I had to go back to motivating myself. I was blessed to have the main portion of my training with a great team! I was over the worst! However, the next six months I would have physical therapy two to three days a week, spin classes three to four days a week, swimming three to four days a week, and an awful treadmill to avoid injury between 6-12 miles a day and 18 miles once a week at the most. Metabolic testing once a month and deep tissue massage started two to three days a week at the beginning of February, as I feared injury.

How much time training did you put in every week?
Generally, between three and four hours a day five times a week.

Do you have set goals along the way?
My goal is each day wakeup, run for an hour and a half to two hours, eat breakfast, stretch, ice, and nap. Then wake up, run for an hour and a half to two hours again, eat lunch, stretch, ice, and nap again. And finally wake up again and run for another one hour or so, eat dinner, stretch, ice and go to bed. This is in theory. I may or may not be able to do this. I have prepared for this. However, I may have a day where my body doesn’t want to run anymore. I have given myself one day a week for rest and chilling. I do not believe in setting goals for each point as I don’t want to disappoint myself if I take longer to get to a point than expected.

Once your start running, how do you plan to keep your energy up?
I have a wonderful and patient husband who is also a personal chef that will help me with my dietary needs. High fat and high protein foods while making sure I have at least three liters of water and keep hydrated.

What are your feelings as the start date draws near?
I am extremely nervous. However, I am trying to get everything taken care of before I leave that I never thought of. Examples: dry groceries, packing enough clothing for three runs a day, calling down to Texas to verify my police escort across the 45 bridge, trying to rent an ice machine for my legs last minute, packing my dogs up and finding time to drop them off at the kennel six hours away and return without losing a day, preparing for a lecture and PowerPoint I am presenting the day before I leave for Texas, and so much more.. like finding an RV.. I haven’t even secured this huge portion of my adventure.  I have learned to roll with it. Everything will come together eventually.

What do you hope to get out of the run in the end?
My goal is to thank my doctors for saving my life and give hope to others struggling like myself. I have no idea if I will inspire other. However, by running this, I will prove I can live 20 miles from Abbott hospital, to trust my body and myself, and that nothing can stand in the way of hope! We can’t give up!

How are your friends and family supporting you?
I think they are still in disbelief! I had less than a 5% chance of living and now four years later I am taking on the world! I have been pushing the envelope. They are very proud. However, My parents are still scared. They are still recovering from the initial diagnosis the neuro-surgeon had given. They will always be my parents first. My husband is my greatest motivator. He doesn’t allow me to find excuses and reminds me to push past my fear. It has been a very hard lesson. I still am learning.

Is there anything else you would like to share with us before you leave for Texas?
Don’t give up on yourself! Keep fighting. I do not know the outcome of my run from the Gulf of Mexico to Chanhassen, Minnesota. However, I am willing to take the chance. Please feel free to follow my run and blog http://allysmission.com/.

Ally Loisel-Murray

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Coolibar Athletes

Getting creative with fitness

Now that better weather is upon us, I am asked more and more, “I want to get in shape this summer, but I always give up. How do you stay motivated?” I have to admit, when I started getting in shape, what seemed like a good idea just never was enough, and I fell into many ruts myself. Articles would tell me to keep a calendar or schedule and make sure I had good music on my iPod. It didn’t take me long to realize that a piece of paper on the fridge that said “3 miles” on today’s date wasn’t enough, and “Crazy Train” coming up on my earbuds was only going to work once or twice.

Eventually, it became abundantly apparent I would need many ways to motivate myself and, really, a new way of thinking about training. So, here you go, some of the things I use to trick, fool, and force myself to get out and train.

Social Media: I am talking about is using it constructively. Join some local running, biking, hiking (whatever your passion) groups and talk about what you plan to do. You’ll find they are encouraging, and more times then not, you will find yourself invited to go out with them for some training. Amazingly, they will actually want to hear about your successes and failures, as you will soon find you will want to hear of theirs.

Strand Yourself: One of the best ways to get out and accomplish something is to leave yourself with no choice. Have your wife/husband/other drive you out to a distance and make your way back. When I started, I had my wife, Cortny, drive me to work. I would bring along a bag of workout clothes and tell her I would run home. Regardless of how I felt when it was time to head home, I had little choice. I either made the 7 mile run/walk home, or I had to make a phone call and verbally wuss-out to my wife. I never made that call. Not once! I always think of this as a good way to make your ego work for you.

Set Realistic and Fun Goals: When I am asked what I am doing for training today, I answer first with my true goal, then with my training goal. For instance, “I’m biking to Starved Rock today for a beer. It’ll be about 32 miles.” (By the way, Starved Rock is a state park about 32 miles round trip from my house, and it has a bar!) By doing this, you will quickly find out a couple things. First, that others give you a better reaction – “That sounds like fun!” – and second, that you will have a better feeling about it – “It will be fun!” I’m not focusing on the 32. I’m focusing on the destination, reward, and fun. This one is a big one for me. I never set out without a goal, even if the goal is minor like slapping the population sign of the next town over.

Set Numerous Goals: Let’s say you have the single goal of running a 5K. That’s not as helpful as setting up a string of goals (and make them fun like above). First you might have the goal of running to the local park (1 mile total), then have a goal of being able to run to the pizza place and meet your family for dinner (2 miles), and finally a goal of running to your friend’s house 3 miles way, just so you can walk in and say, “I ran here!”

Explore: I personally hate running the same course twice in a row or even twice in the same couple weeks. You are sabotaging yourself if you set out to do the same thing over and over. Seeing the same scenery over and over. Go a different way every time if you can. Drive to other towns to train. Look up routes on the internet. Ask about fun places to run, bike, hike, etc. Get excited about what you can and will see. It will make a big difference.

Take Advantage of All Weather (it’s fun!): When you were a kid you knew this. You just might have forgotten. Splashing in puddles is fun. Running in snow is fun. Hot days mean you can wear less clothes, and cold ones mean you get to wear that new coat you got. If you wait for the perfect day, it will come once a year. Once a year is not enough training time for anything. Enjoy every day for its challenges and excitement. Ironically, then when that one day does come, you will be ready to enjoy it even more.

Buy Some Stuff: I am a gear junky. I am addicted to the stuff. I love new shirts, new pants, new shoes, a new helmet, and so on. I admit it. It can have a huge effect on me. A new shirt can get me through many a run. Obviously, you can’t buy something every time you want to exercise, but you can buy something when you start to get sick of exercising. New shoes need to be broken in, new shirts tested for fit, etc.

ABOVE ALL, do not just settle on one way to motivate yourself. Find new ways to make your workouts fun. Find new reasons to get outside and move. On any given day you will need to be flexible, inventive, creative, and iron-willed. There will be days when you will fail, but each new day will offer you new chances to succeed. I like to mock Yoda (Star Wars reference) when he said, “Try not. Do or do not. There is no try.” As wise as he seemed to be, he was dead wrong. There is only try.

Chad Hannon

Coolibar Athlete Chad Hannon Biking
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Coolibar Athletes

Getting Active in Summer

I always look forward to the summer. After slogging through many training runs in the cold dark winter months, it is always a great feeling when I get out the door for that first run in just shorts and a t-shirt! Summer is a great time to get outside and be active. Summer can also present many distractions that can keep us from maintaining a good exercise program as well! Pool parties, barbeques, kids activities and long weekends away. These things can easily sneak up on you and get you out of your routine.

The thing we love so much about summer can also be our biggest adversary – HEAT!  High temps offer a great excuse not to get out and be active. Here are a few things I do to keep myself motivated and active during those summer months:

Start Early:  Last summer I started most of my runs at 5 a.m. to take advantage of the cooler temps. This also works for me because my workout is done and out of the way and not there looming over me the rest of the day. Another advantage is I am not running in strong, direct sunlight at this hour, therefore I am being sun aware and taking care of my skin!

Find a partner:  It is always more fun to have someone to train with. You have someone there to talk to and also most of us feel more secure having a buddy with us rather than being out there by ourselves. This is also good for accountability! Knowing you have someone you have to meet for your workout will give you motivation to get out there and do it!

Set Goals:  This is a great motivator for me! I always schedule races throughout the year to keep me in a good training cycle. Having something to work toward will keep you focused and inspired. Share your goals with friends so people will know about it! This will help prevent you from slacking off, knowing your buddies will give you a hard time about it. (Especially if you have friends like mine!)

Mix It Up:  Incorporate some cross training to keep things fresh. I usually mix in some mountain biking, hiking and weight training when I want a day off from running but still want to be active.

So take advantage of all summer has to offer! Stay active, motivated, hydrated and inspired. Most of all have fun out there and please be sun aware!

Gene Meade

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Coolibar Athletes

Motivation to stay healthy, fit and active

Living in a Northern climate means enduring several months of cold temps waiting for summer to return.  My motivation to get active during the summer starts in the winter, while reflecting on past year experiences and making plans for the coming year.  This reminds me that every time I go to the fitness center, I am there with a purpose in mind.  I know that every rep in the gym is going to help me power through surf in my kayak, climb that long hill on the mountain bike or make it easier to haul a 55-pound backpack up a mountain.

All that work in the gym makes the moments that will last a lifetime possible.  I experienced the thrill of launching from the shore through breaking surf, poring over the bow of my kayak.  I stood 6 feet from a herd of deer while riding my mountain bike, neither of us wanting to give up the trail. I watched the sunrise from 11,000 feet above sea level. I got caught in wicked thunderstorms and sleet storms. I witnessed the absolute silence of the winter woods after a big snowfall.  I watched coyotes, eagles, and hawks when they didn’t realize anyone was watching.  I waded through waist deep water fully clothed at one time and waist deep snow at another. I felt the pride of accomplishment in reaching my own goals.

As a trainer, I am frequently asked how to stay motivated.  Many of the people I train are looking for weight loss and they see the gym as the only way to achieve their goals.  However, spending all your time in the gym doing the same activities time and time again can lead to boredom.  Fortunately, Coolibar’s clothing can help you enjoy the outdoors while minimizing the impact of the sun.  I encourage people to experiment with different outdoor activities that light up their passion. Think outside the box and consider more than walking or running. Try canoeing, kayaking, geocaching, orienteering, frisbee, golf, road biking, mountain biking or bird watching. The list is endless.

John Chase

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Coolibar Athletes

Support for your active lifestyle

I love to run alone. However, my advice when starting a new workout is find a buddy or a group. For an outgoing person it can be a great way to meet new people while engaging in a new workout. Some people assume you have to give 100 percent when you are in a group fitness class or run club member. However, that is not the case. We are all out there to have fun.

As a Minnesotan, I would suggest outdoor summer workouts. Morning yoga on a beach can be breathe-taking! Kayaking is another group activity that can be thought of as more fun than work. Swimming in the lakes is another favorite of mine. Additionally, I love new hiking trails. They don’t say, “Explore Minnesota,” in TV commercials for nothing!

If you have trouble with crowds and people, or find it hard to get motivated to get out. My advice would be to start at your local animal shelter. Saving a life not only feels great! Dogs are natural stress relievers. They are always excited to see you and are the best buddy for a walk in the morning, afternoon, or in the evening when the end of a stressful work day has a tendency to direct you to the couch. Dogs redirect you! I love my two sled dogs.

Beyond needing my dogs to stay active and reduce my post-traumatic stress disorder, I joined Lifetime Fitness’s Masters Swim three days a week at a time even my dogs aren’t awake yet at. I was hesitant, as I love to workout alone. However, it was the best cross training decision I have made! My vascular system performance in master’s swim class has surpassed what I could have done solely on the road.   Having a swimming buddy in the pool helps keep me on track, motivated, safe, and focused on my greater goal to run across the country.

Additionally, I think some people may expect a great workout to be boring, awful or not something to look forward too. My advice is find things to help support your active lifestyle:

#1- Get a workout buddy

#2- Find a support group or club that is not intimidating

#3- Reward yourself with workout clothing that makes you feel great when working out

#4- Rescue a dog to get you outdoors every season of the year

#5- Think about your workout as “If I can do this today? What could I do tomorrow?”

#6- Take advantage of today! As we get older, we will miss out on things because life can become more limiting. Get out there and make today amazing however you see fit!

Get out there and enjoy the summer weather!

Ally Loisel Murray

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Partner Athletes Sevve Stember

Rock Climbing Season Opener: Granddad’s Bluff

By Sevve Stember, Rock Climbing Expert:

After a fantastic winter of skiing on fresh snow and training harder than past season, I was ready to focus on other things.  March saw me in my home climbing gym, Vertical Endeavors, logging a lot of time on the climbing wall to build endurance, which was definitely lacking.  Since I only climbed once/week this winter, I focused on building my power.  To do this, I primarily bouldered (climbing close to the ground with crash pads as protection instead of belay ropes) and I definitely saw gains from this focused training.  Spring was slow to come and each weekend in March I would get excited to go climbing outside, only to see temperatures below 30 or a wintery mix falling from the sky.  So when my partner in crime, Bobby, and I saw temperatures around 37 projected for Saturday, we couldn’t help but get super psyched.

Throughout the week we nervously checked the weather for La Crosse, WI where we hoped to go.  I shot another couple of friends texts to see if they wanted to join.  Most didn’t.  “You guys are crazy!   It’s going to be too cold.  What if it’s wet?” were some of the naysayer’s comments.  We knew better than to fear a little chill.

As Sean, Bobby, and I left Minneapolis around 7:30AM, Sean said, “I’ve finally found people that are as psyched as I am!”  Sean felt the energy in the car as it sprinted south.  Blue skies, red tail hawks, and open prairies greeted us along the way.

Once we arrived at Granddad’s Bluff, which sits above La Crosse, I kicked on my mukluks to navigate the snowy approach trail.  We walked up to the wall.  DRY!  Many comments about how smart and clever we were for getting outside followed.  After a short warm up, Sean and I talked about what to do next.

I had unfinished business from last season called Brown Reason to Live (5.12d).  Last season, on December 1st, I had figured out all the moves late in the day, but lacked the power to send (climb the route without falling or weighting the rope) the route.  Sean was going to try to flash (climb it first try, having never climbed the route before) the route so I had the task of hanging the quick draws from the protection bolts.  As I tied into the rope, Sean and I talked about the pros and cons of trying to send a route while hanging draws.  My past experiences lead me to never rule out sending while hanging draws.

Sevve Stember climbing Granddad's Bluff Sevve Stember climbing Granddad’s Bluff

Sean put me on belay and I climbed the opening moves, which I had virtually memorized.  The first part of the route does not tap into my power much and there’s a large rest after three bolts.  I shook out at “the shield” hold and gazed up at the first crux (hardest technical sequence of a route).  I moved quickly through the first crux, feeling strong and smooth.  Soon, I was staring the final protection bolt and final crux in the face.  I heard Sean give some encouragement below, which helped focus my efforts for the final moves.  My right hand made a long reach up to a thin pinch.  I hit the pinch, moved my left foot up, found the thin hold for my left hand, and hit the final jug (large hold) confidently with my right hand.  Clipping the anchors, I looked out over the beautiful spring landscape and took it all in.  Sending a route that you’ve put days of effort into is always a reminder to me that success takes hard work.  Good thing I didn’t rule out the send while hanging draws.

Sean made a valiant effort, nearly flashing the route.  Bobby worked super hard on his project Big Man on Campus (5.12a) and made some definite progress.  Next, Sean and I spent some time on The Man in Black Pajamas (5.13a).  We both did all the moves and felt like one more day on the route would be all we needed to send it.  Later in the day, some other friends of ours joined us, which made for some added fun and laughs.  A Midwest climbing icon, Dave Groth, even stopped by and told us some compelling tales about establishing first ascents in the 70’s.

As we drove home, we all felt tired, exerted, and satisfied.  We’d harnessed all of our pent-up energy and had a rewarding day.  The whole experience epitomized why I climb: meaningful interactions with friends, working to help each other succeed, spending time outside enjoying fresh air, and learning about myself through the lens of a challenging climbing objective.  The outdoor climbing season has opened and it couldn’t have been better.

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