Thursday, December 31, 2015

What happens when...

...two type-A PhD overachievers quit their science jobs and move to Hueco Tanks to guide? Follow us and find out!

It's been a while since our last post...finishing up with work has been pretty busy and a lot has happened! We started Insanity. I told my boss I'm quitting (Beth has a one-year head start on me). We got to the recovery week of Insanity and both of us got sick. We quit Insanity again. We settled on a logo! We went to Hueco Tanksgiving with Kat, Sundev, Austin and Nicole, and had a blast, even with the rain! But I tweaked my pinky tendon. Both of us have been recovering and packing and prepping for this move.

Austin Sarles on Animal Acts, Hueco Tanksgiving 2015.

Sundev Lohr on Dry Heaves, Hueco Tanksgiving 2015.
One of the saddest parts of our move has been taking down our garage climbing wall. We haven't really used it in about a year, but it was still sad to take down!

Tomorrow is going to be a big day for us, we will be moving all of our cats to El Paso! Wish us luck! And hopefully you'll participate in some of our adventures soon!

Monday, September 14, 2015

The Beginning of Insanity

Today marked the beginning of our Insanity workout: the fitness test. My legs already hurt.
Beth stretching her hamstrings after Insanity Day 1
We bought Insanity several years ago and we tried it then. We got up to the week of yoga (halfway through) and just lost interest. I will say that it got me into much better shape, but I've clearly lost that cardio since then. Word of advice: don't do Insanity in a room with a ceiling fan...

I'll update this post with our fit test scores when I get home, and keep posting them as we go!

On another note, I have been getting much better at my handstand work. I've been practicing kicking up as well as holding a handstand against a wall. Last night I managed to kick up and hit the wall with my foot, but I'm not quite sticking the handstand yet. I am also able to hold a handstand for about 25 seconds, before either Beth makes me laugh or I forget my core and fall over. Progress!

Monday, September 7, 2015

Latest Hueco Tanks Trip!

It's been a while since our last post, so here's an update.

We went to Hueco Tanks for Labor Day Weekend. Beth was finally able to get her second observational tour in, and she passed with flying colors. She is now fully certified as a Hueco Tanks guide! She tried three times before, but each time the park had to cancel the tour because they were short-staffed that day.
Beth guiding us through the Hueco Tanks back country, East Mountain. She's now fully certified!
We went to East on Saturday morning, hitting Hobbit and Try Hard. It was a bit hot, and none of us (Austin and Nicole came too) really wanted to commit to the final move on either problem. After Beth passed her observation, we tried hard a bit longer and then left for North Mountain so Beth could climb too. FYI: Put your pads way further back from Try Hard than you expect. If you hit the lip but swing off, you fall really far back!

On North, we headed up to the New Meadow. Beth and Nicole worked Lobster Claw and both got further than last trip. Beth tried a knee bar pad and managed to reach the last left-hand sidepull below the face. I tried the knee bar pad too, just to show the unnecessary extra knee bars you can use super high up. Austin and I then went over to Beer Can Traverse and worked it for a while. Austin got really close, but didn't quite send, so maybe next time!
Me working the crux of Beer Can Traverse, North Mountain, Hueco Tanks. Thanks for the photo Nicole!
Sunday I took us all out to East and East Spur on a commercial tour. Unfortunately, it rained a little the night before, so we had to stick to roof climbs and severely overhung problems. We avoided any topouts just in case, since holds tend to peel off after a rain. We warmed up on a crack near Moonshine Roof, then played around on Moonshine for a bit too. We then went to Javalina, and Nicole and I got fairly far on it. Then Austin and I worked The Egg. I gave up and finally put the knee bar pad on, and then quickly worked out the first few moves. It looked like it was going to rain so we had to hurry up, so Austin and I traded off attempts. On my last attempt I got a lot further than I had anticipated, and had forgotten the beta and just did some really stupid stuff. Austin tweaked his pinky on his last go, so we decided it was a good time to leave. Luckily, it never did start to rain.
Nicole working Javalina, East Spur, Hueco Tanks.
No sends, but still a great trip! I've got a few new projects and Beth made progress on hers!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Handstand Challenge Day 11

Today is day 11, though I missed a day a few nights ago. :(

I feel like I'm coming a long way so far, and it hasn't even been two weeks!

My wall-assisted handstand!
My hamstrings are really tight, so it makes it hard for me to straighten my leg along the wall. I can't even sit up against a wall with my legs flat! But this photo is probably the best and straightest my upper leg has been. I keep getting more and more confident having my hips over my head, so it won't be long before they're directly over.

Another practice Beth has been having me do is controlled kicking up with one leg (not all the way to handstand), toward a wall, and then landing on just that leg. For example, supporting my weight with my left and then straight right leg kicking up. Then landing back down on my right leg.

We'll see what next week brings!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

King of Ging Climbing

Andrew was coming into town this weekend anyway, so he made it a climbing trip too. We heard there were some new climbs over at King of Ging/Gus Fruh, so we decided to check them out today. The wall is between King of Ging and Guide's Wall, and it is called the Rubber Wall (John Hogge's guidebook corrections). Starting from the right side, they go Jimmy Hat (5.8), Trojan (5.9), Lifestyles (5.10b-ish), Sheep Skin (5.10a-ish), and Magnum (5.11b/c). The two on the right were pretty easy. Lifestyles had an awkward and thin finish, and Sheep Skin had a tricky fake lie-back over a cave at the end. Magnum tripped me up pretty badly though, and I ended up having to pull on the draw to get over the crux. I'm hoping something peeled off, because there was what appeared to be a new rock scar. Either that or I'm losing my mental game on a rope!

We also played around a bit on the cave itself, Hank's Left. I tried some more photos with my optical slave units, and I think some of them came out pretty well. What do you think?

Beth Marek working Hank's Left on the greenbelt, Austin TX
Beth Marek working Hank's Left on the greenbelt, Austin TX.

Steve Marek doing the close hand-foot match on Hank's Left on the greenbelt, Austin TX
Steve Marek doing the close hand-foot match on Hank's Left on the greenbelt, Austin TX.

Andrew Dreher getting pretty close on the long move of Hank's Left, Austin TX
Andrew Dreher getting pretty close on the long move of Hank's Left, Austin TX. He got it a few times after the camera battery died.
I felt really good on Hank's Left and got to the final crux move...but forgot what I was supposed to do. Oh well, next time! It feels like I'm recovering from most of my minor injuries, so I should be good to go for our upcoming Hueco Tanks trip!

Monday, August 17, 2015

Monday Night Pull Ups

Just a quick note for now. Last week, I tried increasing my reps to six pull ups each minute. After three full sets (90) I was dead, and really struggling on those last few pull ups! I went back to five pull ups each minute and made it to four full sets. I also threw in some push ups and a few wall L-poses to work on my handstands. No pictures. :(

Bouldering at Bull Creek

Sunday we met up with Austin and Nicole for a bit of bouldering at Bull Creek. While it isn't quite the destination bouldering spot, it still has a few climbs that are really fun. And the pea gravel under the boulders is really great for laying down pads.

I also just got a couple Wein Peanut optical slaves for my flashes, so I tested them out as strobes with Beth's point-and-shoot camera. For the most part, they worked great, although sometimes my Canon Speedlite wouldn't fire. I crimped my adapter when I got home and made it tighter, so hopefully that will help. Here are a few shots.

Austin and Nicole trying to beat the heat in between climbs at Bull Creek
Austin and Nicole trying to beat the heat in between climbs at Bull Creek.
Austin on a ridiculously hard V1 crack climb at Bull Creek
Austin on a ridiculously hard V1 crack climb at Bull Creek.

After a few hours of climbing, we went on a short hike down the creek. We were looking for a couple newly developed boulders, though there was poison ivy everywhere and the one good route looked hard to protect. On our way back, we got some yoga action in.
Me doing Reverse Warrior pose
Me doing Reverse Warrior pose

Austin sitting quietly with a waterfall behind him
Austin sitting quietly with a waterfall behind him.

Overall it was a pretty fun day, though it's hard to feel like you got a great workout when you climb slab.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Handstand Challenge!

Saturday night I embarked on a handstand challenge with guidance from Beth. Hopefully it will be a 30 day challenge. Or maybe more, but where I'm doing real handstands by then...

Day one consisted of trying to do L-pose against the wall. Basically do what it sounds like. Make an inverted L between your upper body and your legs, where your hands are on the ground and your legs are parallel to the floor. I couldn't do this pose at all. I kept falling over and couldn't "lift my hips" properly. Oh, and since my forearms are super tight, I use the Perfect Pushups instead of just having my hands flat on the ground.

Next was to try just doing a handstand against the wall. These went a lot better than I expected. And with voice command on Beth's phone, we were able to get some good photos of it!

Me doing a handstand!

Today was day two, and I made a lot of progress on L-pose. I can now get my hips up. Since my hamstrings are really tight too, I can't straighten my legs fully yet, but I'm at least feeling more comfortable getting my hips over my head. We'll see what happens the rest of this week!

Thursday Night Hangboard Workout

I warmed up a bit on some easier climbs on Thursday night, and then Austin and Nicole convinced me to do some hangboard workout with them, training fr our Hueco trip. I'm not sure about the order, but it was something like:
  • 10 wide pullups on jugs
  • 10 knee raises on the worst slopers we could use
  • Lockoff on jug, then a one-arm negative (each arm, but it hurt my left shoulder so I didn't do it). These are really hard...
  • 5 second hang on each of the pockets. I used three fingers, Austin used two.
  • 30 second lockoff on jugs
  • Wall stands? Basically you do plank with feet against wall, then wheelbarrow backward while walking your feet up the wall. I did 3, Austin did 5. They hurt my wrists a bit.
  • 3 offset pullups on jugs for each arm
  • 15 second dead hang on the worst slopers we could use
  • 10 second dead hang on the worst 3-finger crimps we could use
  • 5 Sharmas (Nicole really wanted to do these). If you aren't familiar with them, you can probably Google them, but here's a really bad photo of me doing it. Austin has a great video, but he still hasn't sent it yet...
It was a pretty good workout and it definitely drained me! Here's to crushing in Hueco!

Friday, August 7, 2015

First Week of August Training Update

We are trying to give up alcohol this week. Not because we're alcoholics, but because we are trying to train... And we were drinking a lot of alcohol. So far, so good. Aside from finishing off the leftover cider on Saturday, we are successfully alcohol free this month!

We also did a bit of training this week. We took Saturday off to give my flapper a bit of time to heal, and then hit NARG on Sunday. I tried staying on crimps to keep off my flapper, and so at the end of the day, I got on the campus board for the first time! It was actually somewhat fun, and I really should start training on it more regularly. Monday and Wednesday night I hit NARG again and felt pretty good, but my tendons were a bit sore. It's probably a good thing that a student held me up on Thursday long enough that Beth and I couldn't make it to the gym during lunch.

We're excited to get outside this weekend to climb and keep training for our next Hueco trip! For motivation, here's a photo of Raanan from our second Hueco trip, 2010.

Raanan Robertson on DDD, North Mountain, Hueco Tanks.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Flapper Friday

We don't have a lot to post for now. Yesterday was our lunchtime climbing day. Unfortunately, I forgot my bag at home and we didn't realize it until we got to the gym. No shoes, no tape, no chalk. We decided to just go home and put off climbing until today.

So today we met up at NARG after lunch. It was a pretty good day of climbing, though we kept it fairly simple. Beth did all of the ones and a few twos. I jumped around on some fours that I couldn't do, so I got on a couple of sevens (good idea, eh?). Unfortunately, I was stupid and pushed a little too hard and got a flapper on a dynamic move on that last seven. In the gym. I haven't gotten a flapper in years, and it's not like it was really even worth it! Oh well, luckily flappers tend to heal pretty quickly, and it could have been worse: I could have tweaked a tendon too. Picture coming soon (when I change my band aid).

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Thursday-Lunch Climbing Sessions

I love Thursdays! At least right now, because I can meet up with Beth at NARG for a quick lunch climbing session. And the best part? Just look...

Almost no one climbs at NARG from 1:00 to 2:00! There are a surprising number of people that hit it for a lunch session as soon as they open, but it trickles off after one.

We both warmed up and then did a quick, basic 4x4 since it was so easy to jump on the climbs we needed. Plus, since I was planning to finish work at home today, I didn't have to worry about showering there afterward. Otherwise, I normally get in a lot of volume on some easier routes.

Can't wait till our next trip to Hueco Tanks!

Monday, July 20, 2015

Monday = Pull-Up Day

So Mondays are our pull-up days. We're trying to maintain three days "on" but without tearing up our fingers (yet). I'm pretty sure we got this from Rock and Ice, but I can't find the link right now. Basically, do a set of pull-ups in one minute. Any extra time is rest time. Repeat for five minutes. Rest five minutes. Then repeat this 10-minute workout 4-5 times.

Beth did three sets of two-pull-up rounds for a total of 30! And she did them in her awesome new Fractal.9 yoga pants!

Beth finishing up her pull-up workout. Check out those awesome Fractals!
I started off with several minutes in my rice bucket to warm up. I tried the rice bucket workout a while back but injured my finger (I must have ramped up too quickly) so I'm starting back in slowly. Right now I just play around in the rice a bit, squeezing and spreading my fingers, and deep fist rotations. Then I did five sets of five-pull-up rounds, ending with my last set on the Rock Rings. I haven't done them in a couple of weeks because of my shoulder, so hopefully it doesn't hurt too much tomorrow morning. Next week I'm hoping to increase it to six-pull-up rounds, we'll see.

Gotta get into shape for Hueco Tanks!

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Short climbing day at Reimer's Ranch

Today was the first time we got back on a rope since January or February, so we took it pretty easy. We went to Dead Cats at Reimer's Ranch and climbed several of the routes we're really comfortable with. It's been really hard to climb outside here in Austin with the weather this year, so we've mostly been training in the gym. Unfortunately, neither gym climbing nor limestone really prepare your fingers for the rock at Hueco Tanks!

It's hard to take sport climbing photos when there are just two of you, so we don't have anything to share in that regard. But Beth did find a nice place to do a little bit of yoga afterward, with quite an amazing view!

Beth doing Tree Pose while looking out at the Pedernales River.
Yesterday I got to go to Rogers Park with Austin and Nicole. We hit a few of the easier problems, and then Austin flew up Dugout like it was nothing. Rogers is full of awesome overhanging limestone walls, but it is a couple hours outside of the city.

Nicole working Abash.
Me flashing Abash. Thanks for snapping a shot Austin!

Austin flying up Reach, though his topout looked pretty awkward.