A Final Perspective
Well, I didn't get around to writing this the next day and I still don't have my connection set-up at home but waiting a week (or has it been two) gives me a different perspective. I still haven't totally recovered but it also seems like it all happened a long time ago. I'm very glad it's over but do kind of miss the constant pain and suffering I was going through. Like all great epics, its end has left a little void in my life.
I'd like to thank everyone that helped out, especially Bob, Reed, and DB for their continuing support throughout the last two months. Without you guys it never would have happened.
And to all the other participants: Dave Guttman, John Fieldhouse, Jen Hirsch, Dirk DeYoung, Darrin Khan, Casey Holland, Josh and Angie Fairchild, Normal Guy (Chris Leube), Binky Greene, Paige Prichard and Paul, Kathrin Blatter, Brian Swope, and the guys from Alaska, salut.
And to Wendy Overend, for her birthday present and cake for our celebration. By the way, the ending festivities were pretty subdued because, well, I was tired--fancy that. Wendy, whom I'd only met once, had read all of the diaries and news and thought that a bunch of guys would never get around to getting a cake (like any proper birthday celebration needs) so she showed up with a Boston Cream Pie (which looks like a cake) and we all agreed that it was fantastic. She also gave me a card with $40 inside "For drinks, or gas, or whatever". I used it for a massage--a special price from Mammoth Lakes masseuse extraordinaire, Lisa Mather.
And, of course, thanks to the sponsors: Five Ten, Up Time, Clif Bar, Fastrack Bicycles, Goleta Valley Athletic Club, and Precision Biomechanics.
So in the end I guess I didn't do everything that I'd set out to. Still, I judge the whole experience to be quite a success. I think that I suffered about as much as I ever have and pretty much have the feeling that after this, I can deal with just about anything that's likely to come my way. I think I ended up with 68 mulligans. If I had finished out the V4 day and re-run the quarters I would have been close to 40 but I choose not to since I plan to do all of the failed events anyway over the course of the next year.
People always ask me what the hardest event was and I'm not really sure. Perhaps it's the breath holding because I did the worst on it but I don't think that's what they mean. Surely, the failures: breath holding, V4's, and 400's must be the toughest because I failed. But I think people want to know what hurt the most.
I guess, in a way, the toughest thing was to just keep going day after day. Even easy days started to seem very hard and painful. If I had to choose though, here would be my choices:
If I had to choose JUST ONE it would be the bouldering. Doing 400 problems is hard. Really hard. During the middle of the day I hit a period where the end seemed impossibly far away and I couldn't even remember the beginning. This period lasted about 8 hours! All the skin was ripped off of my fingertips and palms (mantling) and my toes STILL hurt. I'm not looking forward to my next marathon bouldering day (okay, maybe I am a little).
Second place would go the the climbing on the bike. It didn't have the acute pain of some of the other events but it was so long (all four days, I mean) that it's the thing that I would least like to repeat.
Then the 40 peaks, even though I didn't do the proper peaks. The epic was quite hard, and all movement afterward hurt like crazy.
The peaks were also the most frustrating because of the mistake that ended up costing me my original goal. Second most frustrating was the free throws, but at least they didn't hurt.
The easiest and most fun day was a tie between the beach volleyball and writing The H.E.R.D.
The most miserable (and most boring) was the swimming. by far. It was even more boring than 7 hours of kayaking in the fog. Mark my words, I will not, ever, swim 4 miles again unless it's to shore from a sunken boat!
The most pain I was in during the entire challenge was when I stopped during the first quarter. It might be the most pain I've ever been in. It took all I had not to pass out. I'll also add honorable mention to the fritter day, which I'm happy to say are getting quite a reputation as a stout challenge. Check out reports from Hans, Louie, and Doniel.
The most surprised was when I finished second day of climbing (bike) and was feeling strong. It was one of those "hey, I'm pretty fit" moments.
The happiest I ever felt was on the final descent on the final day. I was happy that I was alone because it's one of those things that really can't be shared; a total personal accomplishment that can't really be explained to anyone else, because you were really only trying to prove something to yourself. It was one of those moments where I felt that I'd taken life full on and thought, "you know, I did okay."
In the end I failed at only three: 4-minute breath hold, 4 X 400 in 54, and 40 V4's. I also altered three because of one thing or another: the 40 peaks, 400 boulder problems, and 80-meter underwater swim.
I substituted two: the 40 home runs and 4 walls. The walls because of the weather and the home runs because they were hard to organize and only really fun for me. Plus, I didn't consider it a very hard challenge. The 4 walls were substituted with 40 pitches, which isn't the same, and you know what that means ...
So this year I already have a few things on the agenda. Here they are (along with my thoughts and predictions):
40 V4's - will make me get back into climbing shape. I don't think it will be too hard with some proper training and rest.
4 X 400 - will make me use my spikes. It will be pretty hard but I'm confident.
40 peaks - The original 23 plus 17 others. I have a new course picked out that is harder than any of my older plans. I figure I need to make it harder because during the longer, summer days it will be easier. My goal is to break whatever the altitude record for a day is. Will be hard, for sure.
4 walls in Yosemite - This will be fine. Arduous, but fine. I may change my walls but, for sure, one will be Half Dome and one El Cap.
80 - meter underwater swim - since I did 50 without fins I am confident this won't be too much of a problem once I get some fins and practice with them.
4-minute breath hold - this one will be hard and I have no reference point to try and be confident. It will make me learn a new discipline: apnea training. I am looking forward to it.
Well, that about does 'er. Wraps her all up. -- Jesus, there I go again.
The goal of these diaries was mainly to be entertaining and I hope I was successful. I am also glad I recorded the event because I can go back and read things wrote when I was tired, or loopy, or drunk, or whatever, and remember back to how I was feeling at that moment because I think that I spent so much time in a altered state that I could never remember it correctly.
So, once again, thank you all for reading--and putting up with all of my film references, which I'm pretty sure most of you have no clue of ever figuring out (especially since many come from Icarus Descending). Hope you enjoyed the show. Westward in the wagons. Across the sands of time until--listen to me. I'm rambling again.
Just remember, sometimes you eat the bear, and sometimes, well, he eats you.
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