Why I Climb

I signed up for an introduction to rock climbing class last winter, because it was something I had always wanted to try, didn’t know the first thing about it.. and had just gotten dumped, so I had some free time. I signed up alone for a Monday and the following Saturday. I wanted to leave plenty of time to recover, just in case I wasn’t able to walk from insane soreness.

My first class was incredibly small due to no-shows; this was the best luck I could have hoped for. Despite being super challenging – and yes, leaving me painfully sore – I was just a little bit hooked. Just enough to go back once or twice or five times.

As with any workout, climbing gives me a sense of physical independence. Obviously, I can walk and run (and skip and jump and dance!), but there’s something very freeing about maneuvering yourself out of tough corners, figuring out the puzzle ahead, and feeling your arms and fingers burn with effort. It’s not for everyone! And some results may vary. I don’t go as often as I should, especially since starting kickboxing in February. Doing both in one week would probably leave me aching in bed for days (for now).

I recommend climbing to most people I know. I don’t like heights; dangling from 8 feet up is not actually myweek typical idea of a good time. But being able to touch the top and successfully get yourself back down is immensely satisfying.

Climbing a real mountain may be a totally different story.

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Dispatches from abroad: Turkey I

Currently in Turkish countryside, on a bus heading to Cappadocia. Bus travel can be a little tiring, but it’s the most amazing way to see the landscape and small towns. Only a motorcycle would give you a better “on the ground” experience – and it would have to be warm!

Motorcycle comes to mind because this is definitely the land of two-wheel transport: motorcycles and scooters are everywhere! They aren’t flashy like we often see in the US, they are fairly stripped down and utilitarian. They look fun, though we’ve seen almost no helmets, even on the highway and on police!

Very tiny preview of the trip:

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Inside an old caravan living space outside of Konya (I think)

Posted on the go!

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Where I’ve Been (5 yrs)

I really love to travel, and always looked forward to growing up and finally being able to do it. My parents never wanted to go to Florida, theme parks, crowded beaches, or really anywhere remotely interesting to me as a kid. It’s been a mission of mine to travel as much as I can afford as an adult. In the last 5 years, I’ve been to:

  • Barcelona, Spain
  • San Diego, California
  • Disneyland
  • Richmond, Virginia
  • Boston, Massachusetts
  • New York, New York
  • Cape Hatteras, North Carolina
  • Miami, Florida
  • Virginia Beach, Virginia
  • Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

And on Thursday, I’m going the farthest yet – Turkey! I’m totally pumped (and more than a little apprehensive about the incredibly long flight). We’ll have a stop-over in Vienna on both legs, and I’ve never been there, so I’m hoping to see at least be able to see the city.

I think that being in transit for 24 hours to get anywhere is enough to make you want to buy one-way tickets for the future. I have trouble just sitting in the cabin all the way to California! There are literally not enough books to sustain me for that long. Any tips from seasoned travelers? We leave at 5 PM from Dulles and land in Vienna around 7 AM – the. next. day.

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Surviving kickboxing and celebrating with cake

Posts have been incredibly light lately (okay, that’s an understatement), as I haven’t been climbing any rocks or taking shooting lessons. I can’t say that I’ve been lazy; I’ve joined a few organizations as a volunteer, started attending weekly meetings, been trying to eat and sleep better, and actually reading a little in my spare time. I even wrote my first guest post over at Enter: Adulthood! Oh, and I’ve also been preparing for my massive 13-day trip to Turkey in March.

Blue Mosque in Turkey

Image from tripadvisor.com; soon I'll have some of my own pictures to show off!

But last week, I finally finally signed up for a 10-class kickboxing package with NOVA MMA in Courthouse and attended my first one on Thursday. I changed at work and forgot a shirt, so I just wore my pants and a cami. I also forgot to put in contacts before I left, so I was sweating with my glasses on – not a huge impediment, but noticeable. I went early to get help learning how to wrap my hands – and I felt like such a badass wearing them! Not so much with the gloves: they’re pretty clunky and tough to get used to. Not to mention how difficult it is to do push-ups while wearing them!

Try it sometime.

I’d describe the class as fun-ish; it’s definitely challenging (and so pretty rewarding to survive!) I hadn’t realized just how out of shape I was. I was tired and sweating after the first 20 minutes; by the end of it, my muscles were just failing. We had two short breaks during the fifty minutes to grab water, but the rest of the time we were moving: push-ups, situps, punches, kicks, cherry-pickers, mountain climbers, etc. I was so tired, I could barely walk to the metro at the end to rush home and get ready for dinner plans (a horrible mistake in planning because all I wanted to do was lay in bed).

Luckily, my friends and I were off to Texas de Brazil in Fair Oaks Mall for a belated birthday dinner.

happy birthday cake

There was also a candle in my chocolate mousse cake! What a great (and amazingly filling) dinner

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How many projects can I juggle?

Before I just collapse under the weight of my own ambition?

I ask because I recently decided to enlist (it’s too intense to just “sign up” for) in kickboxing with NOVA MMA, hit the GLN lottery for a weekly Mandarin class in DC, and asked someone at work about learning Spanish*. I may be moving to a new apartment this spring and am also trying to cook more, as a general goal. I also started the first book in the Game of Thrones series on a recent bus ride from NYC – and let me tell you, that is a time commitment.

I tend to do this: take on as much as physically possible and then crash at some point. I can never tell where the limit is until I’ve passed it. Luckily, all of my classes will be once a week, with nothing on the weekends so I can drink and sleep and maybe travel. I think I’ll be using the “sleep” option for the month of February.

Come March 1st, I’ll be flying to Istanbul!

*Spanish has never been on my list, but I was in a meeting recently and realized that over 50% of my workplace speaks Spanish. Not only does it seem like a waste not to learn when I have so many people to practice with, but I have downtime at work and like the challenge. I don’t need to be fluent but would like to gain a basic understanding (and occasionally know if people are talking about me).

Recovering from kickboxing

On Sunday, I tried an intro to kickboxing class at NOVA MMA in Courthouse. I’m recovering at the moment. Pretty sore all over, which means it was a great workout!

I’ll write more about it soon, but coupled with a fall on my back during bouldering on Thursday night, I’m doing some solid Netflixing and cleaning today. I’m thinking about buying a pack of classes, depending on how sore I am and for how long.

So far in 2012, I have:

  •  been bouldering/climbing at least 2x
  •  tried a kickboxing class
  •  joined meetup.com (but haven’t attended any yet!)
  •  tried fried pickles
  •  booked a trip to Turkey

A little over 2 weeks into the first month. Smells like success! (Probably also smells like sweat, since I’ve been up to a lot this week)

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Shooting and riding and pickles!

On Saturday, I got on a motorcycle with a backpack full of guns. Don’t worry – I was wearing a helmet!*

This weekend, I went to the shooting range for my unofficial second lesson. My ex and I had been texting about seeing a movie, and he invited me along to take his motorcycle out to shoot. Saturday was over 50 degrees, so I just needed a long-sleeved top and my (sexy) leather jacket. How could I say no?? (Ok, the word “ex” might have you leaning towards a no, but this blog is about being fearless, so!)

We rode out to Blue Ridge Arsenal in Fairfax. Its a bit of a ride, but is much more fun on the bike! Besides, Arlington County isn’t awash in guns (which I’m a fan of). I hadn’t been on the bike in months – two days later, my thighs are killing me from trying to hang onto my seat during sudden braking! But it was amazingly fun. If you’ve never been, and you have a chance to go with someone you trust to be super safe, it gets really good.

I tried the 22 and the 9 MM again. Shooting the 9 MM made me sweat all over, partly due to fear and partly due to concentrating so hard! Aiming is way more difficult than it looks, the gun is surprisingly heavy, and you need to re-align with each shot because of the recoil.

Luckily, my hearing came back the next day – even with ear protection, the range is crazy loud, and with up to 9 other shooters in lanes around you, your ears are ringing. I’m still not a huge fan of guns, but I enjoy learning and I like knowing that I could defend myself in an extreme situation. I won’t be keeping one under my pillow anytime soon!

I missed my climbing date with all of the excitement, so I’ll have to plan for it this week… if my aching thighs can stand it! But instead of climbing, I tried something wacky with dinner last night – fried pickles! They’re an appetizer at Mad Fox Brewing Company in Falls Church. They’re spicy and off-putting and hot and.. weirdly addictive! I won’t even pretend they’re a healthy decision.

Notables:

– A friend signed up for a language class this semester after work, saying that I inspired her!

– I just emailed about taking an intro kickboxing class this weekend in Courthouse

– I booked a trip to Turkey in March! I’ll be heading out in 52 days!

* I feel I have to add that everything was totally legal, although I said out loud that it felt like we were about to rob a bank. We didn’t.