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getting in touch with my inner colorado girl


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Remembering to have fun

It’s just not a holiday if I don’t spend three or more hours at the Dallas-Fort Worth airport. Over Thanksgiving, I got stuck at good old DFW for five hours when my flight from New Orleans back to Denver got delayed. This past Christmas, I spent a solid three hours at DFW on my way to Virginia for the holidays. Quality time at DFW is pretty typical for me these days.

What was I doing heading to Virginia in the first place? Well you see my family has slightly relocated to Virginia these days. My brother moved to Charlottesville four years ago, and my mom just moved to Lynchburg from Missouri this past summer. To make a long story short, my family moved from Colorado to Missouri for my dad’s job when I was 10, and I spent my formative high school and college years in the Show Me State. My parents then divorced when I was in college, and my dad moved to the Chicago area. When I left Missouri to go to graduate school at the University of Denver, it did not really make sense for my mom to stay in Missouri. Fast forward to this past summer when my mom moved to Virginia and we all lived happily ever after!

vahomeNew Virginia home base.

This Christmas marked the first time that I got to see my mom’s new house in Lynchburg, Virginia and I absolutely loved it. I was even more impressed with how much I liked Lynchburg.

harpertutuSide note: HOW CUTE IS MY NIECE HARPER’S CHRISTMAS TUTU?!

Yes Lynchburg is notoriously the home of Liberty University, the uber conservative school founded by Jerry Falwell. Yes Lynchburg was one of Mitt Romney’s bastions of support and final campaign stop this past campaign season. But Lynchburg is also home to several neighborhoods full of cool, old houses, including the one where my mom lives. Lynchburg is home to a viable historic area with a local shopping and dining scene. And Lynchburg is home to Rise Up, a good little climbing gym located downtown that I had to check out.

I was especially excited to climb with my brother, who was the one who first even got me thinking about climbing. If my brother had not gotten into climbing himself, I doubt I would have been as motivated to ever try it. I really wanted to make him proud of my improvement, since I was a total novice the last time he saw me climb this past May when I visited Virginia.

DSCN4365Starting a climb.

DSCN4373DSCN4374Unfortunately I had a super frustrating time at the climbing gym. Climbing can be such a mental sport, much like long distance running, and because I had been putting so much pressure on myself to do well for my brother, I forgot to have fun. Instead of having fun, I just got mad at myself when I could not get a smearing move on a 5.9 climb.

DSCN4377Finally having more fun.

I like to think that I did learn a lot from having such a frustrating climbing session though. I actually used to have a rule for myself when I was running in high school and college that I was allowed one bad practice per week. If I did not allow myself to have a bad day, I would never have been able to mentally get past being frustrated on an off day. It’s probably about time I apply this perspective to climbing. A bad climbing session at a different gym is not going to ruin my “climbing career.” You know what’s going to ruin climbing for me? Forgetting to have fun.

I semi-recovered from my frustration by the end of the climbing session. I now have more personal goals and areas that I want to work on when I get back to Colorado, which is not a bad development by any measure!

DSCN4385My brother climbing.

DSCN4390Last climb for me of the day. I had a better attitude. And better fun.

After the session at the climbing gym, I got to focus on my favorite side effect of climbing: eating whatever the heck I want. I’m running and doing less cardio than ever right now while also not making an effort to eat healthy. And I’m seeing no negative consequences. I think it’s the two hour climbing sessions twice a week. Seriously.

DSCN4394Bouldering at Rise Up.

Even though I had a slight meltdown on the rocks (it happens) at Rise Up during this Virginia trip, I have no doubt I’ll be back. I can’t wait to show my brother how much I have improved during my next visit! And in the meantime I’m going to try to not take myself too seriously. Life is too short to not have fun while climbing.

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Virginia rocks

Living in Colorado I am pretty spoiled with stunning natural beauty on a regular basis. It’s a hard state to beat. I mean my casual after work runs involve this view:

Mount Falcon sunset trail run. Or what I like to call Thursday night.

However, I am happy to report that Virginia now ranks highly on my good list. While visiting my brother, Derek, and baby niece this past week in Charlottesville, Virginia I had the opportunity to go climbing outdoors with Derek and his friend Liz. This was the perfect situation for me since I am a very novice climber and Derek and Liz both can belay. We settled on a destination outside of Wintergreen, a “ski resort” (how cute) in Virginia, and I was immediately blown away by how pretty the Virginia mountains are.

Hiking down to the climbs.

Pretty VA.

I love hiking but I am not a huge fan of hiking down to rock climbing sites. It’s a completely different entity. I remember when my brother used to complain about it I thought he was crazy. I now get it. You’re carrying rock climbing gear, plus the trails are often steep and not maintained very well. It’s not the best. Luckily our hike down was not too brutal, and we made it in no time.

We did a type of rock climbing called “trad” climbing, which just means we did traditional rock climbing where one person had to lead climb to the top to set the ropes. In sport climbing there are already hooks on the wall, but in trad climbing the first person has to use these fancy clamps that anchor into the rock. I don’t remember what these hooks were called.  Once the anchor was set at the top, we were ready to go!

Start of the climb.

 Made it!

Loving the rocks.

Derek estimated that the first climb was anywhere between a 5.4-5.7. So we’re going to call it a 5.5. Either way, it was really fun. After taking a sandwich break of roast beef and avocado deliciousness, I was ready for the next challenge: a different part of the cliff that was a 5.8 climb.

Between a rock and a hard place.

It had rained in lovely Virginia the night before we went climbing, and consequently the rocks were a little slippery at the beginning of the climb. I’m not going to lie, it took me about seven attempts to make it past the first 8 feet of the climb. Eventually, I made it, and the rest of the climb was a blast.

Like a boss. Or something like that.

I really enjoyed climbing, and my brother instructed me that I need to learn to belay to so that we can go climbing at the New during my next visit. The New is the New River Gorge in West Virginia for those of you not current with your Virginia climbing lingo. I told my brother that I wanted to save all my vacation time to go visit him and go rock climbing, and he told me that he wanted to save vacation time to visit me and play in Colorado mountains. We are so related sometimes.

Besides climbing, something else that rocks about Virginia is definitely my niece Harper Lexington. She may have stolen my heart a little bit.

Maggie Simpson’s got nothing on Harper. Homegirl loves her binky!

Harper snuggles are the best snuggles.

 Between the rock climbing and the cutest 8 week old on earth, I had a pretty amazing time in Virginia. Except for when I thought it would be a brilliant idea to get a haircut. You know, I had free time, my schedule is so crazy in Denver, nothing like getting an easy trim while on vacation right? False. Never ever cheat on your hair stylist back home.

Traumatized. There were maybe some tears.

 Okay so my hair is now the shortest it has been in at least three years. I decided to get over it and move on because the next part of my trip involved hanging out with my best friends from grad school in DC for the weekend. I was sure they would hang out with me even though I had no hair left.

Hair or no hair, ready for some DC chilling. Game time.

Virginia rocks. Just don’t get a haircut there.