Monday, July 21, 2008

Pain Is Weakness Leaving the Body


Yvette booked way too much stuff into her weekend and is now paying for it.

And to make things worse, I'm staring at an 8x10 postcard of Half Dome as I'm typing this.

Friday I worked most of the work-day in Porterville at the cancer treatment center. My partner and I returned to the office early because the medical records people weren't able to pull all the charts we requested, so we finished up earlier than normal. This was cool for me since I had to work Friday night. I guess I pretty much worked all day Friday, plus the drive to Porterville and back. It's never a fun drive, nothing to look at. I just don't like driving south ;)

Believe it or not, I had Saturday-day off. I guess if you follow me on Twitter, you would believe it. I didn't have to be at work until 5:30. It was both good and bad. I usually open every Saturday, the open until 5:30 shift, so this was a real fluke. It was bad because my zesty friend Korey (hat-tip to the Hoover Jazz Junkies) was having a party that evening and I had to miss it. It was good because it gave me time to do stuff that I normally don't have time to do during the week like get an oil change and wash. I did that in the morning, then came home and watched Billy Elliot. I had wanted to go to the climbing gym and get some vertical time in, but I was -- well, quite honestly, scared-- so I was procrastinating. I eventually made it over, in spite of the fact that the whole way over I was praying for it to be busy, so I would have to come back home. Well, sometimes prayers don't get answered, and it ends up being even better.

I got there, and it wasn't busy. Damn. So I grabbed gear and headed to the wall. I decided to ask one of the guys that worked there which wall section was the easiest wall to work on. I'm pretty glad I did. His name is Chris and he's a climber dude. He spent around 15-20 minutes with me, and it was awesome. I explained to him why I was there, the whole heights and Half Dome thing, about not being able to get back down off the wall, not being able to get all the way up. He gave me some great mental pointers and we were working this whole Last Samurai-no mind approach. It was awesome. I went from climbing back down, to letting go screaming with my eyes closed back down, to letting go with my eyes closed, to letting go. Up to yesterday, I was never able to let go. I always climbed back down, which is so much harder because you're trying not to fall. I wanted to keep going higher, but I used up all my energy and eventually my arms failed me. There is a reason that most climbers are 110lbs.

After that awesome workout, both physically and mentally, I ran home showered and changed for work. Work was good, we were super busy, and I would have been able to fly right through it except that I was exhausted, my arms were spaghetti and my feet were hurting from climbing. Either it's because I was using muscles in my feet I didn't know I had, or they were just exhausted from holding my weight up on such tiny holds.

At the co-op we sell national park passes. I sold one, and I'm supposed to hole-punch the expiration date into the cards. I had absolutely no arm strength, so I had to have the customer help me. My arms hurt like my very first taiko workshop.

After work I came home and crashed. Went straight to bed and slept like a rock, no pun intended.

Sunday morning I woke up sore. I didn't have to work, so did I rest up and try to recover? No. I went to Yosemite. I wanted to get some hiking training in. Let me tell you, going for a hike on feet that already hurt, is not the brightest thing I've ever done. Driving a stick shift with sore arms isn't too bright either, but I was going, and I went.

It was warm, humid, and off-and-on sprinkling in the valley, but I didn't care. I wanted to do a small hike to check my current level of non-fitness (the word I really want to use is gauge, but I hate the way it looks when I spell it- it always looks wrong. I really think it should be spelled gage, but it looks wrong too, but only because I know it is wrong.) I started at the trailhead and made my way to the bridge that goes over the Merced River below my favorite waterfall- Vernal Falls. It was a smooth incline, paved, no steps. I forgot how steep it was. I had to stop 4 times to catch my breath and slow down my heart rate. Not a good sign. I made it to the bridge in 50 minutes. Ideal time for Half Dome is 30 minutes, if you want to do the total hike in 10 hrs. My time goal is 12hrs, not including the time spent at the top (and I'll spend some time there because I have a list of things to do at the top.)

I rested, snacked and refilled my Camelbak. Of course I took pictures, which will be posted next week. (I'm scheduled at REI every night this week except Tuesday.) I sneezed and a U.S. Marine said bless you, and I gave him a hearty thank you with my best smile :) (Don't tell my family, because we're Army, but I've always had a thing for Marines. Must be that damn uniform.)

I was very tempted to continue on upward to Vernal Falls, which was only another mile up the hill via the Mist Trail. But I didn't trust myself to have enough energy to make it to the top plus make it back all the way down. Going down is easier than going up, but it's still not easy. So I made it back down, in 20 minutes, stopping to rest my knees at flat sections. I need to pro-deal myself some trekking poles. I have my eye on a set of Black Diamonds. Along the way down, I saw a customer that I had seen the previous night at REI. We chatted briefly as he and his friends were on their way up.

Once I was back at Happy Isles, I decided to walk around a bit before taking the shuttle back to the village. I ran into an office colleague, Lesley, and we chatted for a bit. I then made my way to The Fen, which is a marsh I'd never been to before, and took pictures. While I was taking a picture, I heard the snapping of twigs behind me. I turned to look, and I saw a coyote walking by. I'm glad it didn't care for me, because he was close enough that he could have caused me some serious damage if he wanted to.

By this time I was hungry, so I shuttled into the Village for some lunch. After I ate, I walked around for a bit, bought a postcard at the Ansel Adams gallery, found a book I want to read, and then bought a pair of earrings for my mom.

I was tired from walking, my feet were killing me by now, but I had one more stop to make- Glacier Point.

The drive up wasn't complicated. I really wanted to check the handicapped routes for my mom. When I went up in April, the road was still closed. I stopped at Washburn Point, took lots of pictures. Man, you think Half Dome is huge when looking up at it from the valley floor. Looking straight across at it, it's MASSIVE. I then continued on to Glacier Point.

Now, I could have totally left this part out, because I'm embarrassed. But it's humbling, and humility will be my strength in this endeavor.

At Washburn Point, you get a direct side view of Half Dome; you don't see any part of the face. At Glacier Point, you are a little more in front of it, so you see front and side view of the rock.

I was standing there, near the amphitheatre, looking straight across at Half Dome. And it started sinking in. The reality of my situation. This was no longer theoretical. This was no longer a someday. This was no longer in the same category with when I lose weight, when I get married, when/if I get my Master's degree (still not decided).

This is real. This is happening. This is happening in 74 days (Sunday) whether I am prepared or not.

I was scared. No, you're not listening to me. I. was. scared.

I was less scared on the wall yesterday. I was scared- the kind that makes the world spin and you think you're going to throw up, then pass out.

The tears were welling up in my eyes. I had to turn around and walk away. I almost backed out on the spot and was on the verge of having my first panic attack since 1999.

The thoughts in my head: What am I doing? What did I get myself into? What have I agreed to do?

I had to talk myself down from the mental ledge in my head. It was pretty bad, and sad too, now that the crisis has passed.

I just don’t want to fail. I know it wouldn’t be the end of the world, and it’s not like if I don’t make it, I’ll never have another chance again. I just don’t want to fail.

Love, Yvette

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