Friday, 29 July 2011

A LIGHT

Sometimes I find myself wondering, à la Chatwin, "What am I doing here?". I mean, how can we find in ourselves the truth that our path is the right one? We can try to, but sometimes we just cannot be sure. Sometimes we realize that our path is not the right one, but obviously this is of little help: there is often only one way to do a thing right, and many ways to do it wrong.
"Notre vie est un voyage dans l'hiver et dans la nuit, nous cherchons notre passage dans le ciel où rien ne luit" is the epigraph at the beginning of the famous novel "Voyage au bout de la nuit", and it is something I deeply believe in.
Today the light in the sky, to help me find my way, and to help me know I'm on the right path, came under the form of a picture, shot by one of my students, a very bright one, a week ago. On the back, she thanked me for what I'd taught her: "something I'd have never learnt otherwise".
It's a light, and now I can put my head down and start walking again with renewed enthusiasm and energy.

Sunday, 24 July 2011

MORNINGS, WOOD AND IRON

We all know that sometimes what others think about us is not true: for instance, and that's strange and probably the only case in climbing history, I have discovered more than once that people say that I have climbed routes or problems that in fact I haven't done. How this happens is impossible to understand to me, but given that life imitates art, it does happen.
What I found out recently, on the other hand, is much more important: I found out that some other times what we think about ourselves is not true. And I found it from nowhere.
I am lazy. I like to sleep a lot, and to concentrate all my energies in just what I like. If I could get a taxi right to the boulders, I would. This is what I thought, and it's not true. I found out that I like the walk to the blocs. What I dislike is, in reality, having to do that walk after hours driving on my own, and carrying four pads. Anyway, I'm digressing.
I don't like mornings and early starts. I have had to get up early in the past to go to work, when I was living in Rome, or in the Notary firm in Grosseto, and I hated it. Wrong again. I didn't hate the early start, I hated all that came afer that, the traffic, the jobs, the people. I hated getting back home so late that I ended my training session at 10,45 PM and I hated never having the time for anything.
It's not when you get up, it's what you get up for, that really matters.
A month ago, my girlfriend started her 5 years residency at Siena hospital, and one day, all of a sudden, I found myself wondering "What am I doing here in Florence?".
The answer was simple, I am here for work, I work here therefore I live here. Hmm, that's right but maybe a little bit too rational. What do I have in my life, beside a job that I love? I have my best friends. Most of them are in Siena, and the ones that live in Florence, I seldom meet them. Then I have my climbing. Is it easy to get to climb in Florence? No. Do I like the gyms in Florence? No. Hmmm... Reflect. Then I obviously have my girlfriend. Do I like seeing here just in the weekends? No. Do I like having to fit love and rock all in the small time of a weekend? Not at all.
What do I do in Florence, so? I wake up. I have breakfast, and I go to school. I work, I get back home and I do some kind of training. Then I have dinner, I watch some TV or kill it on the Net, then it's bed time.
Wow, what a life. It's really unbelievable, I know, but right now that I only do weights and fingerboarding, if I don't go sport climbing with someone, I can spend an entire week without talking to anyone, except my students or collegues. My human relationships are at an all time low.
So probably until now I hadn't ever felt the need to give my life a change, but the other day it dawned to me: I have to move back to Siena and to start commuting to work every morning.
WHAT? An early start. Yes, an early start. But this time for a job I love, not hate. For spending more time with my girlfriend. For building my own board, and starting again teaching climbing classes. For being able to meet a friend in the afternoon if I like. For being closer to the boulders.
I feel this is the right thing to do, because it goes against every logic: it will make things more difficult and less comfy, but I know that I have to try.
So with this idea in my mind, I have started the early wake up in the past week, while still leaving in Florence, to get used to it. I didn't even think that 6,30 exist also in the AM, but I found out not only this hour does exist in the mornings also, it can actually be a nice moment.
There is definitely something strange in the air when you start your first dead hang set and the clock says 6,59. I had never done it before, but I thought that the best use of these freshly gained hours in the morning, before using them to commute, was to put in some Beastmaker sessions. It felt great to be honest, it's a shame my left elbow does not allow me to push as I'd like.
Going to bed very early has been crucial. I never had to take a nap in the afternoon in the whole week, despite packing in quite a lot of hours of hours of work too: I have trained at will, following the program with no problems and also managing a couple of double sessions, Beast in the morning, weights in the afternoon. On this matter, I am currently doing weights twice a week, short sessions of 15x4 to sort my elbow out and staying fit. Kilograms keep adding up and I am satisfied. It's not how long you are in the gym, it's what you do in the gym, and I want to do it right. I hope to recover from my elbow problems and to start moving big piles of iron plates soon.
On rock I feel as weak as a kitten. I can't lock off, I can't pull and my body tension is non existant.
I have taken many wrong decisions in my life. This one can be just another wrong one, and in this case it won't make any difference, or the right one, making all the difference. We will see.
Everything is very confused and very simple: keep the fucking faith up and the fucking head down.

Monday, 18 July 2011

INJURY IS HERE

I think, I almost sure that I am really injured. My left elbow had been on and off in the last weeks, but after Saturday night it's quite sore.
I am trying to understand what went wrong, not to repeat the error in the future (ahah, if only that could be possible!!!): I think that the first sign of serious fatigue was after an assisted one armers session on the Beastmaker. I simply did too much: two one armers for each arm on various types of holds. At that point everything was under control really, and the first bad hit came from a PE session: I felt it achey before even starting, nonetheless I went through the sets, one after the other. Is the mind stronger than the body? Yes and no...
Anyway, the Siena comp also played its role, the overhanging holdless dihedrals smashed my shoulders and for sure compressed again my elbows.
So up to this point I was still confident: pulling up on the Beast was out of question, but on the rock I felt at ease and the post session icing was doing its little miracle each time. I have woken up a couple of times thinking that it had passed really.
Then came Saturday night, and its fever. The program for the night was a party at the gym at the sea, then straight to Tartana Club, Marco Bresciani spinning and mixing for us.
The night involved a large amount of the following ingredients: pulling on plastic holds; alcohol consumpion; loud music; barely dressed girls in high heels.
As you can imagine, it's been absolutely fantastic, but my elbow was fried yesterday and is still sore. I will do weights today, let's see how it goes under the lat machine...
In case you don't believe that I had great fun the other night, these small videos from my phone could convince you.


video video

video video

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

SUMMER IS HERE


Summer is definitely here. As you can see in the pic, chances of big numbers are not high, when it's over 28° in your house at 9 AM.
With daytime temps reaching the magic 40° barrier, there was only one thing to do: pull out the tiniest tank top I have, and hit the weights!!!
Entering the gym has always that magical aura made of dirty lockers, filthy showers and smell of piss; but when you enter the weights room, you can't help but feel like a god. It's dark because electricity is expensive, you know, and the air conditioning has still to be invented. There are a few fans, and with no windows all they can do is move the sweat stink around. It really is bliss.
Doing weights is so easy compared to climbing: you just have to pick them up, move them in a simple way, then throw them down. Remember, even if you are using weights so light that the 40 kilos girl next to you uses them as the warmup, at the end of the set you HAVE to throw them down, you don't put them down, you throw them down because you are hard core and you know what super high intensity body building is.
Another thing you have to do is to make sure you take a couple of loud, deep breaths before starting the set, so that everyone around hears you: because you are hard core again, and this set will be so fucking hard that you are almost scared to start it. God only knows what could happen: the sky could split open, so tough is this set.
Anyway, doing weights is the only thing I can do know besides fingerboarding, so I do weights and I do them as hard as I can. I have done weights every summer in the last four years and they have fixed a couple of elbow problems, pumped my biceps and made me generally fit. It's a win-win situation.
Finally, a small video that will make the start of this video more clear: it's about myself doing "Powerstrips" in Chironico. I didn't flash it, and I didn't do it until I found the right beta: campusing. On the top out, though, my left hand pinky got stuck (or it gave me this impression) in the crack, it scared me and I jumped down in agony, pronouncing the famous phrase.
I hope you like it as much as I liked being there, at the boulders, with my friends, doing what I love.

video

Sunday, 3 July 2011

STALLING POWER

In the picture, one moment from a recent Palio, with my contrada crushing the race and going for victory.

The comp came and went, and I had great fun. After all, more than a comp it's been a nice chance to climb again with my friends in Siena, on the new wall we all fought hard to obtain, and about which we are very proud and happy.

I climbed relaxed and chilled, did a few of the 18 qualifiers, my hardest tick being something in the 6b range. The girls were competing too, and I spent a good amount of time showing (off) sequences on demand. It's a dirty job, but someone's got to do it.
Somehow I managed to find myself in the finals, so while everyone else was drinking iced beer (it was 35°), I and the other finalists were green with envy. I spent all the time trying to get some blood flow again in my bulging forearms, then it was time to go. I failed in trying to convince the route setter to do the finals on a fingerboard, therefore I marked a nice zero, with the second problem, a gently overhanging dihedral-chimney, smashing my shoulders and lower back. Anyway I finished 4th on a field of 22 competitors: the fifth had been climbing for six months at the moment of the comp, and the other ones even less. I am great. This brilliant performance pushed me in 296th place in the overall national ranking, over 339 competitors. I really am great.
The following day I was thrashed, my back was stiff, I had a tweaky finger and my right forearm was hurting because in a fall I hit it on a friend's knee. This sadly forced me to cancel the usual roof session at Chiesina. Not good.
I went back to Florence, and I had my recovery week.
I needed it at the end.
Despite my dodgy shoulders and back I put in a strong PE session on the Beast, with my 15x6 routine. Wow, it works. I found myself able to complete more series than before and no need to alternate them with easier ones. Sadly, this session woke my left elbow up, and it was pissed...
With this session I got to my long weekend, originally planned to go and try a certain route, that instead I spent with fellow Fabio between Sasso and Amiata.
In three days I managed to do a good volume, quickly repeating my old problems, up to 7c/+. I failed in doing a harder variation of "I Mulini", the problem I did last year courtesy of Mr. Thomas Mills himself. This variation links the first half of the traverse of "Fame di Stelle" into "I Mulini". I was a bit tired when I got there and being also hot I never got the crimp well enough to propel me to the jug. Got close but no cigar. One to go back to.
So this long weekend of pulling led me to the week that's just passed, in which I only tried to nurse my elbow. I started again doing rotators cuff exercises, because I am sure my shoulder problems after the comp have something to do with the elbow, and the boring forearms curls. I am tempted to subscribe to the gym to move some iron in July and August. The problem is that I am using some supplements as of late and I don't want to look in the mirror in September and find a linebacker instead of a Font 8c+ beast. We will see, IIRC last year the gym did well for my other elbow, so maybe it's an option to fight the urge to climb and train. This urge led me again under the Beast last thursday: with all the attention I am capable of (*cough*), I did a recruitment session with sub maximal hangs, 10 seconds for 6 sets, on good holds: 20°, big rungs, 30°, back2, mid2 (medium), front2 (small), back3 (small rung), front3 (small rung). After that some ice and it's not too bad. Still I am scared to do pull ups, and this is bad.
This weekend saw me chill out in Siena for the Palio, I spent friday drinking whiskey and soda and flirting with girls, and I spent saturday recovering. Today I wanted to climb but a late start and some friends coming home for a visit kept me quiet. Physically at least.
Tomorrow I want to go climbing, despite having no quickdraws I got back my old rope and so it will be fine for toproping in boiling heat.
I found out a crucial tufa broke three years ago on my route, so now it's even harder. This terryfied me, and made me feel guilty for not putting in double daily session every fucking day.
I really would like to do more, to train more, more wisely and more intensely. I really would like to give more.
KEEP THE FUCKING FAITH.