Thursday, October 25, 2012

Something Dark

Photo: Kyle Adams - Prepping for a big move
Last Saturday was the DRG comp which always pulls a big crowd and many strong competitors in the open category.  This year was no different.  Fellow 5.10 team member Josh Larson came down from Boston to compete.  The field was stacked and as always, the problems were great.  Mid comp I got a phone call from a sir Mathew Bosley about heading to Tumbling Run the following day to check out some of the areas best..  The weather looked good for climbing and my decision to join him was easy!
I finished the comp in 4th after falling off the finish hold on the first problem but I was having a great time climbing and was psyched about going to Tumbling Run the following day.
Photo: Kyle Adams - Two crystal pinches
Years go by sometimes without revisiting local areas.  I say it often, PA has so many small bouldering areas separated by only a short 30min drive sometimes, that its hard to know exactly how much you have at your disposal.  Many years ago, I believe it was 2008 ish, Travis Gault (Central PA myth) put up a hard line on the bank robber boulder called Dark Crystal and it goes somewhere around v10ish.  Legends surround the area regarding the bank robber boulder.  The story goes, Long ago in a town not far from the Micheaux State forest a bank was robbed by an armed gunman.  The bandit escaped capture and made his way into the forest.  He buried the treasure somewhere in the forest.  He was later captured but the money was never found.  Many people have searched for the treasure but none have been successful, unless of course you consider finding a kick a$$ boulder with an awesome line successful.  In which case Travis was successful.

Photo Kyle Adams

Photo: Kyle Adams
I had gone to try Dark Crystal when Travis (aka Rabbi) first put it up and got my face kicked in on a few moves.  4 years have passed since, naturally I was anxious to get back on it and see how it felt.  I was sore from the comp the previous morning but very, very psyched that the weather was perfect and was able to hang with my friends Matt Bosley, Kyle Adams and Patrick Andrews.  Its hard to put into a blog post the kind of day that I had on Sunday.  It will be one of the days I remember for the rest of my life.  Not because my climbing was outstanding, in fact I progressively got more sore through the day but the way everything came together.  The weather was crisp but not cold, fall was in full swing the rock was dry and everyone was just having fun.  It was another day that reminded me why I climb and with temps getting better, I hope to have more adventures like that soon.

Photo: Kyle Adams - Matt finishing the cruxy last moves of Dark Crystal

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Grilt Trip

Photo: Pat Goodman
I just returned from a trip to Boone NC.  The journey started on Thursday morning at 5am when I decided to finally get out of bed after a restless night and head to Fayetteville WV to pick up Pat.  Pat and I were going to Boone for 4 or 5 days to take part in the first leg of the Triple Crown bouldering series and work on Pat's mixed gear project.  It took the better part of 12 hours of travel but we arrived safe and sound in Banner Elk where we would be staying for the duration of our stay.
Friday morning came quick after all the traveling and I was glad to have a rest day scheduled.  Pat on the other hand was ready to fire his project.  Unfortunately, no send on Friday but Pat was close and we decided that a return visit would yield the illusive "send".
Photo: Pat Goodman
5.10 and the AAC both made big presences at the comp.  5.10 was showcasing their new shoes along with a demo on Saturday for the bouldering comp.  The AAC had a crowd and pulled in some money with the support of donations on Friday.
Saturday was a little warm and damp but still good.  Houndears is sharp!  My indoor skin was thrashed in a few hours of climbing and ended up spending most of the day cruising around doing classics and having fun.  I never finished 10 climbs to fill out my score sheet tho.  I will  know to plan skin a little better next time.
Sunday and Monday both became a wash as what was going to be splitter weather turned into cold and rainy both days.  My trip came to a close with a long drive home in the snow and rain but I had a great trip.  I am always psyched to see new rock and visit with friends.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Cardiovascular Adaptations

In the ever changing and ever competitive field of sports, athletes are continuously looking for the competitive edge.  Recently, in the past few decades, blood doping, use of erythropoietin (epo for short) and high altitude training have all become more common practices by athletes to “get ahead” of their competition.

The first practice “Blood doping” refers to increasing the number of red blood cells(RBC) in ones circulatory system either through a blood transfusion or by taking a series of hormone therapeis such as epo.  Both of these practices, whether deemed by governing sports bodies as ethical or not, all employ some means of improving oxygen delivery to the muscles and in turn, can logically boost the muscles performance through an increased Vo2 max.  Double blind studies have shown that athletes who have been treated either with a blood transfusion or with hormone therapy have had increased Vo2 max while running tests on a treadmill in laboratories.  Blood doping is a controversial topic in the field of sports along with hormone therapies.  “EPO or erythropoiesis stimulating hormone, is a glycoprotein, formed by the kidneys and liver.  Epo appears in the plasma when peripheral tissues, especially the kidneys, are exposed to low oxygen concentrations.”  Increasing your RBC count through “unnatural” means such as epo therapy or blood transfusions is not the only way to increase cardiac output, some athletes have turned to altitude training.

Altitude training refers to training conducted at altitudes greater than sea level and typically falls for most athletes between seven to thirteen thousand feet above sea level.  Training in an environment with less oxygen can create a state of hypoxia (decreased oxygen) and in turn the body will respond in time by increasing the formed elements (hematocrit) or RBC’s in the blood stream to compensate for lower oxygen levels.  Many studies have been conducted around this mind set and to this day many varying results have left sports scientists in the dark about altitude training and its benefits.  One important aspect to note about training at altitude is that, at altitude athletes are more often than not unable to perform at the same intensity as they would be capable to attain at sea level, leaving them with a decline in fitness verses an increased RBC count and Vo2 max.  Medical doctors are now prescribing a solution to this called, train low and live high, in which athletes are able to train at lower altitudes in doing so, they maintain a level of fitness appropriate to the demands they will be placing on their bodies during peak performance and live at a higher altitude.  In doing so, creating the hypoxic state at which altitude fools the body into keeping RBC counts high.

Blood doping, hormone therapy and altitude training are all examples of forcing the body to make cardiovascular adaptations.  Cardiovascular adaption techniques come with a risk.  Anyone suffering from sickle cell anemia or any other form of blood disorder should beware.  These techniques can be dangerous to the individuals due to the shape, size, number and O2 carrying capacity of their RBC’s. This can cause serious health problems.  Blood doping and hormone therapy both incur risks such as myocardial infractions, hormone imbalance and can even result in death.  It is my opinion after conducting my research that ample training wether it be at altitude or not out ways the risks of performing blood transfusions to get ahead in a sport.  Hard work and dedication in a particular sport can pay off in physiological, anatomical and mental gains that would be non-attainable through other means.  Wether or not using your own blood to boost your athletic performance is considered cheating or not is up to sports authorities, I subscribe to the work hard play hard mentality.


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Crowther, Greg. "Living High and Training Low." Living High and Training Low. Northwest Runner, Sept. 2000. Web. 28 Sept. 2012. .

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