I did my first pullup!

So Labor Day weekend happened, and I didn’t climb at all.

Friday through Monday, my Facebook feed filled up with photos of mountains, boulders, rocks and ropes while I…worked. I didn’t even have time to climb plastic! I know I was bound to go some weekend without climbing, and bills gotta get paid, but I was pretty disappointed to miss out on all the fun.

And going four days off made me nervous — would I reenter the gym a weakened ghost of my formerly burly (ha) self? Would I forget all my beta? Would I get lost in the cavernous S Wall???

Nope. I finally got to Active again last night, and it was fiiine. I knew as soon as I arrived that I didn’t feel like projecting anything; it’s already been an exhausting week. But I still wanted to use my few hours of gym time wisely. So I worked on stuff that was easy enough to attempt but hard enough that I wouldn’t feel bad about not sending. I was able to try hard without any pressure, and I felt like I got a good workout.

Then Lucy and I went into the kids’ gym and (sort of) campused the giant.

the giant
The giant. Imagine him covered in bucket jugs, brandishing that rock bouquet over a giant plush black bean.

And then guess what I did.

(You already know ’cause it’s in the title.)

My first pullup! And then my first set of two pullups! And then my first set of two and a half pullups!

❤ hangboard sloper jugs.

You don’t understand what a big deal this is.

My least favorite beta is, “It’s just a pullup!” (My second-least favorite is, “It’s just a lockoff!”) In my pullup attempts a few months ago, I couldn’t bend my arms past like, 20 degrees without feeling hella shoulder pain and dropping. And upper-body weakness has been a defining factor in my climbing. Sure, my footwork might be better than that of the brawny dudes who clumsily throw themselves up my projects, barrelling to the finish with cringeworthy foot placement. Sure, my climbing might be better balanced and (slightly) prettier. But historically, when a problem has contained a shameless pullup or lockoff to which there is no alternate pretty-foot beta, I’ve just been shut down completely. Which is why although I sent my first gym 5 last week, there are still plenty of 4s that I’ve long considered out of my league.


So I’m going to keep doing them, because the Internet says pullups are the second-best training for climbing (next to, you know, climbing). My goal is to be able to do five, you know, soon (let’s keep going with this no pressure thing). I really think this is a turning point. Who knows what my future holds? Today, two pullups. Tomorrow, eight pullups. Next week, sponsorship.


Anyway, that was probably the best thing about my gym session last night, but the SECOND-best thing was that Ted, keeper of waivers and bolter of holds, made me a vegan hand salve!


He’s been selling beeswax salves for a while, but I had whined for an insect-friendly one. So he actually made one! The vegan version is from candelilla wax, which I know nothing about except what I learned from Ted last night: that it is plant-derived and Mexican and softer than carnuba wax, which I also know nothing about.

I also don’t know much about balms, since I don’t buy things that aren’t gas and food. But the stuff Ted made definitely felt good on my skin, and it smelled like eucalyptus, mint, and something else that is fragrant. Mmmm.

He didn’t want to sell me a pot yet since he hasn’t perfected the recipe, but he let me take a chunk home to keep testing it out. And I really needed it after all that jug-surfing on the giant! What a great end to the day.

Now it’s time for a pre-gym nap — let’s see if I can do more pullups tonight. I’ll keep you posted!


What training challenges have you overcome? What are your thoughts on hand salves? Do you hate the word “salves” as much as I do? Share in the comments or through the Contact page!


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