I recently participated in my first competition. I was anxious days before because I sat on that awkward line where I don’t belong in the beginner category, but intermediate went from 10b to 11a and there is no way in hell I could be competitive in that range. I figured it would be fine. I would climb the hardest beginner route, and if I flashed it I would compete in intermediate. It worked out fine. I did compete in intermediate and I actually flashed the easiest problem. The second easiest was all slopers so I decided to skip that one and try the third route. I actually did really well on it. It felt very reachy, but I made it all the way to the last move. Unfortunately, I fell on that last move and didn’t have it in me to get back up there. That climb was very much at my limit.
This is where the slight embarrassment starts. I actually shed a few tears after that climb. Not only was I upset that I failed on the last move, but also I was anxious as hell. I knew it would happen. The night before I was too anxious to sleep. Then at the competition there were a ton of people and I knew none of them. It seemed like everyone had brought a friend to trade belay’s with. It was a bit too much for me to handle. I wanted to go outside for a quick walk and some air, but it was snowing out. Looking back on it now, I should have gone into the bathroom to get a moment to myself. I find that taking a moment away from the chaos can be a big help. Taking a moment to breathe and slow my heart a bit would help. I ended up sitting and watching other climbers for a while until I started to feel better, then I went and did a little bouldering, and I actually ended up coming in 2nd place for women’s beginner bouldering! Not too bad.
Here are some things to remember at competitions:
- You are being asked to climb at or above your limit. It is supposed to be difficult and you are supposed to fall.
- Breathe. Let your heart rate drop back to normal after a climb and give yourself time to recover.
- Make new friends! If you need to ask someone for a catch, ask whoever is in line to climb after you. They have to wait anyways and will be glad to trade belay’s.
- My nervous breakdown went almost unnoticed. People just figure you need water or a snack. Its possible that you do, so go get water and a snack and watch others climb for a while. Everything is going to be fine.