6 months ago I started preparation for this season’s World Cup competition tour.  Who’d a thought it would have come so fast.  I’m in an airport right now, Amsterdam, en route to the second round.  July was when the plan took effect and now, I’ve just left Korea after the first round of competitions for 2014.  Wild how time flies.

After going to Korea in November for a training trip, I learned good beta on food, where to train, where to stay, etc.  All the logistics of travel in a foreign country, I had sorted out before I was to return (now) for the first round of World Cups in Korea.  Whether accommodations, transportation, eating plan, training plan…it was all sorted…and I was fitted with readiness.

When you travel halfway ‘round the world, there’s certain things that make such a journey easier.  Traveling for long periods of time is never really “easy”, but there are little details you can better so that perhaps such travels aren’t as stressful.  And that’s important when you’ve invested so much time into something on the other end of your long trek (for me, world cup competitions).

Arriving in Korea (For my second time in two months), I got out of my “pod” (yup, got me a business class ticket so that I could have a bed for the 13hr flight-little details that make travels better), and felt good–real good in fact.  I was relaxed, rested, and prepared.  I knew where I was going, how to get there (from the airport I mean), and felt fully confident in my plans that lay ahead.

Heeyong Park.  This guy is the current world champ, and a huge inspiration to me.  He’s been such a massive help with my trips to Korea, as well as with training regimes, etc.  And upon my arrival to Korea for the first round, once again he was nothing short of accommodating with travel, training plans, accommodations, and anything else I needed help with.  He is a good friend and I respect him to the utmost.

1513266_10152125833671648_151851630_nRound 1.  The venue was as I remembered from previous years.  Spectacular.  As I walked towards the isolation tent (where athletes go before actual competition), the structure stood out, sky-rocketing above all the spectators.  Like a spaceship had just landed, this structure resembled something of a different world.  The architecture that towered above everyone got me super fired up…that I was going to climb on that thing in just a short period of time.  Hmm…then I looked at the start list…second last.  That short period of time had just turned into something like 4hrs later.

The athletes amongst the world cup competition world, for me…it’s like a huge family.  I’m always super excited to see everyone at the first comp venue as it’s like a big reunion.  Everyone has smiles, everyone’s fully psyched…and the energy is through the roof.  And of course, in kOrea, they pull out all the stops, making the first event of the year truly special in all regards.  From the opening ceremonies to the experience of the culture, such welcoming people; kind, thoughtful, and caring…for me…starting the season off, especially in korea…what an incredible feeling (of joy).

The isolation zone was emptying.  One by one, athletes would ready themselves and step out onto the world’s stage, displaying their best efforts on an architectural masterpiece.  One by one, my turn was coming closer.  And after 4hrs of being isolation, with a last minute “warm up”, I could hear my name being called…that it was now–now it was my time to climb.

Walking out of the iso tent, and towards the structure…I was focused, but interestingly enough…relaxed.  I’ve spent so much time sorting through mental battles with my competition climbing…and it seemed like things were changing, that my efforts towards such combats were raining victorious.  Of course there were still butterflies, but they weren’t fluttering from worry of failure…but more so jacked on adrenaline…like all the butterflies in my stomach had just all drank a can of redbull each.  I was psyched.

From the second I left the ground, there was no mind.  One move at a time, each being its own moment, I just went up.  And before I knew it…I was merely 2 or 3 moves from the finish.  Was it enough? Did I actually qualify in the first round of world cups?

Eating lunch I was exhausted, trying to replenish all the energy I had just spent.  I was psyched on my performance.  My fellow competitors were all congratulatory on my climb, saying that I had done well.  And then one of the Russians initiated a sequence of high fives, excited with smiles.  I had no idea why.  He speaks only Russian! But then he blurted out, “You are in my friend!”  I lit up, filled with a sense of accomplishment, excitement, and reassurance…that I did belong in the ring.

Back in isolation I went.  I think with isolation, the more you spend in there, the more you just accept being in there.  Whether 1hr or 6hrs, it is what it is, and there’s no changing it, only making the best of it.  I have my routines, my “distractions” (books, music, encouragement cards, etc.), and my sense of calmness for such endeavors.  Eat, drink, warm up, maybe chat with other competitors, warm up again, read, and then suit up.

The moves were big, bigger than usual.  Long reaches, technically powerful sequences, left right left right.  I needed to give everything I had.  I think I did, but in hindsight, there was more to give.  Perhaps first round jitters, I don’t know, but regardless I still climbed very well landing me in a three-way tie for 11th.  My best result yet.  Am I happy? Heck yah! It’s the first round and I’m already getting my best results to date.  Is there more to come? You bet your ass there is.  It’s only the first round.  I have a lot more left to put out there.  I can feel the excitement.

1512621_10152127782786648_1145924942_nTraveling around the world is no easy task.  Some may think it’s all fun and games, but it’s not.  It takes every bit of effort to keep going, to keep pushing, being away from family, constantly putting yourself out there, blood sweat and tears, airport madness, but in the end, it’s worth every moment…to give it all you’ve got.  Perfection is unattainable, but this journey allows me to still strive towards it, to be my best, being in the moment when a well-executed plan comes to fruition. Yeah, totally worth it.


Now, I head to Romania for the second round of world cup competitions (well, tomorrow I head to Romania).  But first, I’m heading into my favorite cave, Usine, France, where some of the raddest and hardest/most bad ass dry tooling routes in the world sit waiting to be climbed.  The first round went really well, and I’m definitely happy with that result…but there’s more to come.  A lot more.  The gap is closing.