On May 16th, 2013 at 2:37AM I was one-thousand vertical feet away from achieving my life-long goal. I could taste it. I had visualized this moment countless times over my two years of training and preparation. It was summit night on Mt. Everest, and I was in a zen-like state of focus. So focused in fact that I didn’t realize, or wouldn’t admit to myself, that the weather conditions around me had quickly shifted from unfavorable to flat-out dangerous.
The cry of an anguished prayer broke my summit-fever. It was the voice of Kancha, my Nepali climbing partner. Looking at him, I realized that we had entered a cloud of Rime Ice that was beginning to freeze our oxygen masks and corneas. With winds gusting to 85mph and the temperature hovering around -30F, it felt like we were strapped to the wing of a 747 aircraft. And just like that I knew our summit attempt was over. I was crushed.
Moments before my summit push at Camp 4.
In my four years of high-altitude climbing and guiding I had never once been turned around due to weather. And to be perfectly honest, the thought of not reaching the summit of Mt. Everest had never crossed my mind. It was a forgone conclusion, I had put in the work and nothing was going to stop me. Until it did.
Dealing with this defeat has been one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done; far more trying than any day on Mt. Everest. Now would be a good moment for me to string together a score of motivational cliches telling you to deny human emotion and push through the pain. Fortunately for you, thats not what I’m going to do because the fact remains that failure is inevitable and inevitably painful. If you are truly willing to chase after your dreams, to lay it all on the line, and give it everything you got, you have opened yourself up to the possibility of failure. And, when it comes, it’s going to hurt.
Here are five things I’ve found helpful in dealing with disappointment as a result of athletic endeavors or otherwise.
1. Allow yourself time.
Whether you dropped-out during your first trail race or injured yourself while training, you need to allow yourself time to digest the disappointment. Allow yourself to feel it. Sit with it. Acquaint yourself with disappointment; the evil step-sister of success.
2. Don’t make any major decisions.
Your not thinking clearly. You’re questioning everything. Decisions at this stage in the game will be made from a point of raw emotion and not rational thought.
3. Take care of your body.
This is the most important step along the way. Stay away from the extremes. Don’t try to jump back into a training routine and certainly don’t stop exercising and eating right. Listen to your body and give it what it needs.
4. Talk to people.
It can be a dark world listening to your own thoughts day-in and day-out. Seek out a training partner or climbing buddy and talk about your experience. You’ll be surprised what you’ll hear yourself say.
5. Answer the question.
The most beautiful thing about not achieving your goal is that despite everything else you’re always left with a choice; are you going to call it quits or are you going to use the failure as fuel?
It’s never a true failure until you stop trying.
Peter Hillary, son of Edmund Hillary, knows a thing or two about disappointment.
As part of the new Mconnect line Merrell introduced a minimalist hiking shoe. the Mix Master Tuff Mid.
“A little extra ankle support and durability does not equate extra bulk with our Mix Master Tough Mid. This super lightweight minimalist hiking shoe delivers an agile ride with its pared-down profile and 4mm drop for better ground feel. Its reinforced upper’s waterproof membrane keeps feet dry, and the sticky lugs propel you on pavement and packed trails.”
This shoe is a game-changer for me. For years I’ve hiked/trekked/approached in trail-runners simply because I could never justify the extra weight and bulk associated with a hiking boot. These shoes offer all of the benefits of a trail running shoe (lightweight, comfortable) while providing valuable ankle support. When on a long approach like the trek into Everest Base Camp or Aconcagua, one twisted ankle can ruin an entire expedition. This shoe will ensure that you arrive at base camp healthy and ready to climb. It has solved the difficult equation of comfort, functionality, and performance; it wears like a shoe and performs like a boot.
I’ll be wearing these on my trek into Everest Base Camp in a few weeks.
After three weeks in Kenya and Tanzania and a four-day road trip from R.I. to CO I was, strangely enough, dying to get back into a routine. After all Everest is less than two-months away and I’ve got a lot of work do!
(My set up at RallySport)
As part of his Everest 2013 coverage Alan Arnette has been conducting interviews with some of this seasons climbers. Dawes Eddy is a tough act to follow but here is my interview:
Last week I wrapped up the strength-focus phase of my Everest training program with 1RM testing. I couldn’t have been happier with the results.
- Deadlift: 415
- Back Squat: 405
- Front Squat: 290
- Power Clean: 275
- Snatch: 205
- Bench: 265
- 5k time: 19:49
Starting weight (8/15): 198lbs
Finishing weight (11/28): 210lbs
With less than four months to go it’s time to shift the focus to endurance and get my nutrition dialed-in. While lifting heavy is fun, I know it’s not going to get me up the mountain. For the next two months my training will be 70% aerobic and 30% anaerobic. This means I’ll be ramping-up the running, cycling and metabolic conditioning and backing off the heavy lifting. In early January I’ll have an opportunity to train at altitude while leading a group up Kilimanjaro and then head right to Colorado until I leave for Nepal.
The nerves have settled in nicely; there is no denying that they exist but I’ve developed an almost harmonious working relationship with them. They drive my training to new levels everyday and demand upon me unwavering focus. Every once in a while I need to remind myself to enjoy the process because even though I write this from the comforts of my home, my climb on Mt. Everest is very much so underway.
Ring dip 3
Chest to bar 6
Lumberjack squat 9
Sandbag 200M run (40/60)
Air-dyne Sprint (30 sec)
The repetitions increase by one after each air-dyne sprint. For time.
Everest is right around the corner; it’s starting to seem real. I can see myself on the upper reaches of the mountain. And it feels good. Really good, in fact.
Thanks to Jason Antin and The Alpine Training Center for this one!
Warmup: 3 rounds of 20x alternating groiners (think mountain climber mobility), 15x back extensions, 10x burpees, mtn mobiilty.
Training #1* 5 rounds for time of 8x Hang squat cleans @ 1/2 BW, 50x stepups M25#/W15#, 12x WTD situps M35#/W25#.
Training #2 4 rounds of 10x DB front squats, 10x jumping lunges, 15x hanging knee raises - 5x WTD, 10x unWTD.
Training #3 1 round of 6x star jumps, 45 sec wallsit, 60x situps, 20 sec core stability.
Training #4 4 rounds of 4x pushups, 8x pullups on rope, 8x BB push press @ 60% max, 100m run.
As of this week I’m going to start training and coaching out of CrossFit New Bedford a couple days a week. The home set-up is incredible but it’s sometimes difficult to replicate the intensity.
"Fight Gone Bad"
Box Jump (18”/24”)
Push Press (50/75)
In this workout you move from each of five stations after a minute. This is a five-minute round from which a one-minute break is allowed before repeating.
50 Reps each (Light weight)
Flat Bench “ceiling ball”
Med Ball Slams
***Plus: 2 hours bouldering
I’ve been sidelined for the past few days with a pretty bad back strain.
Note to self: Heavy deadlifts after a 13-mile run is a terrible idea.
Fortunately I’m starting to feel better and will resume training today with a light 2 hour trail run.
Trans Rhode Island is less than two months away!
Looking to find my 1RM (1 one rep max)
AMRAP (As many rounds as possible) 10 minutes
5 Deadlifts (225)
9 kettle bell snatches (alternating arms) 53lb KB
"Sparrows Dozen" + 30 minute airdyne
"The Rude Awakening"