Sunday, December 16, 2012

Happy holidays :)

Hello everyone!

The holidays are here and I'm reflecting on an amazing year. For the past few months I have been training with the Boulderz Junior/Open team in preparation for the competitions in the new year. It's been a really fun time so far and I can't wait to compete along side my teammates. School is almost done, just one more week of business until Christmas. The arrival of cold weather is bitter sweet. It means bundling up  with the people you love and celebrating another year past. It means saying goodbyes. It means almost every birthday in my family is fast approaching. So, I'm just going to take it with a cup of cocoa and enjoy the ride.

I am so fortunate to have travelled to new places and visited old ones. I've made new friends and old relationships have grown stronger. I've applied for university and I'm trying to fathom a life without my parents, my sisters and my friends around as much. I've worked hard, I've failed and I've worked harder. I've learned a lot and I've realised there is so much yet to learn. I suppose I have a lot to look forward to in 2013.

Happy holidays friends!
Sending you warmth and hugs :)


P.S. Check out my interview with Nathan Ng!
Part One:
Part Two:

And page 20 of the December/January issue of Gripped :D

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Lessons (re) Learned

Hi everyone,

I know it's been a while and many important things have taken place since my last post. I'm going to start with a couple of key events that I've recently witnessed. Though they aren't necessarily climbing related, I think they hold significance in the themes of my life at the moment. Curiously, they both took place on Sunday.

Sunday morning I had the amazing opportunity to join the Lululemon team at the 29.6 km mark of the Toronto Scotiabank Marathon, as well as watch Felix Baumgartner jump to Earth from the edge of space. Luckily, we arrived at the marathon early enough in the morning to cheer on the first, second and third little pods of runners. At almost 30 km through the race, these pods of three to six men (and one woman) were running, and running FAST through the drizzling rain. As they approached we yelled and screamed and danced and not one of them looked up. For a split second I thought of it as ignorance, and maybe other people did too, but I almost immediately changed my mind. They weren't being rude or arrogant, they just didn't need us. They were just there for their own reasons- to qualify for Boston, to win, to break a World Record. What I realized is that I could have cheered as loud as I wanted or sat there as if completely un-fazed by their power and prowess and they would have ran just as fast. Cheering or no cheering, rain or no rain, they weren't stopping until they reached their goals. Isn't that exactly what I've been trying to accomplish in my climbing at competitions?

Then, minutes after arriving home from the marathon, we were on the couch, watching a live stream of Felix Baumgartner. He was being hoisted up by balloon to the edge of space. Immediately I was back in cheering mode, but it was a little different. There was a definite, inescapable element of fear. Fear that the balloon would break, fear that something would go wrong, and fear that the dreams and hopes and even life of this man would be crushed. I was terrified. As he got ready to jump though, I realized that no matter the result, he had already accomplished more than many of us. He had conquered fear. He had made the decision to go ahead with his dream and he didn't let anything stop him, not even himself. Another aspect of my climbing I've been working on :)

So, with those two events in mind, I reflected on the past two competitions I participated in. The first one was the Summer Sweatfest Finale held at True North Climbing. This year, the organizers of the finale decided to add an element of surprise to the competition. The format for qualifiers and for finals were not to be announced until the day of the competition. The qualifiers went well, proving to be not as scary as anticipated, but the finals were another story. They consisted of four problems with 4+ minutes to complete each BUT after each problem the scores were tallied and the last person was eliminated. The last two people who remained entered a showdown on the final problem. It was a bit confusing and unfamiliar at first but after some help to understand it, I was comfortably warming up in isolation. At this point I had won all the Sweatfests I had competed in and I decided to go for the gold. Even with that little bit of added pressure, I went out feeling extremely calm. I went through the first three problems, remaining relaxed and composed. Being confident and sure of myself allowed me to have tons of fun. Like the runners, I felt like I was climbing for myself. By the fourth problem, Beth Vince and Marieta Akalski were eliminated so Alex Kuusela and I remained for the showdown. Our last problem was quite long with a few big moves on slopers to the crux where there were a couple of hard moves on small edges. With ten attempts to complete it, I was super psyched knowing that my endurance training would come in handy, in case it took me a while to figure out the problem. It turns out that ten attempts on any problem is a lot more than I thought. I had the sequence down by the third attempt and attempts three to six were spent doing the second last move. Then, attempts seven to ten were spent doing the last move. As psyched and motivated and confident as I was, I could not for the life of me manage to get that last move. I ended up beating Alex by only a couple of moves and we both finished the comp with bleeding tips (Alex's were cooler than mine). My boyfriend, Eric Sethna, also won which was great, and the competition was a huge success. Despite having a good result, I learned that the focus and confidence I had during finals was not only ideal for that comp but is necessary in all my comps to achieve my potential. Just like the runners, focus must be constant.

The second competition was the World Cup in Atlanta, for which I spent a lot of time preparing. I originally had a lot of nerves and anxiety in anticipation for the competition. I was nervous about the difficulty of the routes, not knowing what to expect and especially not knowing what to train for. It was my first Lead World Cup and I really didn't have much to go by. In general, I was fearful. Though I eventually became more confident in my training, I don't think my climbing at the competition reached my potential. I found I was still a little bit nervous and not as confident as I could have been. I wasn't plummeting towards the ground from 120, 000 feet but I was admittedly kind of freaked out. Despite a slip on the second qualifier, I managed to make it into semi-finals and subsequently attained my goal. I think I executed my semis route with a bit more confidence but I was still too anxious. I ended up falling lower than I expected on a move that I hesitated on. Nonetheless, I placed 22nd which I am very happy about. I think my main lesson there was that the fear I thought I had gotten over in the summer wasn't quite the same as the fear of the unknown that I experienced in Atlanta. It was intimidating and larger than life. Now, with that competition under my belt I plan to push forward, improve, and just like Baumgartner, embrace the fear of the unknown.

By definition, learning is the knowledge or skills aquired through experience or study or by being taught. So I've made this conclusion: We know lessons are learned everyday. However, as we grow and develop as people, surely some lessons need to be re-learned in various different ways. For example, maybe one year we learn to conquer fear best through experiencing it and then many days or months or years later we learn just as much or more from seeing someone else conquer fear. In fact, I believe it is essential that we learn through being taught, studying and experiencing, in order to master a skill.

So if there's one thing I've become familiar with, it's that a lesson may appear to be learned when in reality, becoming aware of the lesson is only the beginning.

Go learn something!
And then learn it again ;)


Next up, the Tour de Bloc makes its first stop of season 10 at Joe Rockheads, November 3rd... stay tuned!

Below are some photos (and hopefully video).

Me on the showdown problem at the Summer Sweatfest finale.

Getting inspired at the Olympic park in Atlanta :)

Me on the semi-final route at the World Cup in Atlanta (hopefully this link works...!!!) 

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Back to School!

Hello :)

After a busy summer, I am finally back home for a little while to get myself established in my last year of high school. My summer was filled mostly with climbing. After Chicago at the beginning of July, I started training for the two competitions that I had my sights set on for September. 

My goal going into the summer was to train harder than ever before and reach a new level of climbing.  I thought it would be a great idea to have a day of two training sessions. So, dragging Eric into it as well, we began training Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and twice Sunday. I think the first week was the worst. To be honest, it got really fun after that (at least for me). I began to see myself getting stronger in the exercises we were doing and my motivation increased. Unfortunately, with grade 12 fast approaching, the idea of me missing the first full week of school for the World Championships in Paris became less realistic. So, I decided not to go to Paris but rather focus my efforts on the World Cup in Atlanta instead, which takes place at the end of September. 

We trained for four weeks like that and then I went on a family climbing trip to Rumney, New Hampshire. Unfortunately it was mostly rainy and we often found ourselves at the arcade or hiding out in our apartment. Luckily we had been once already and knew the best areas to visit, which made the time we actually got to climb much more efficient. I got on a couple classic routes which were really fun and left with some projects to go back for. 

We had hardly arrived back in Toronto when Eric and I left for Lion's Head for the long weekend. Lion's Head was a brief but fantastic trip. I've always been a little bit intimidated by big, white, exposed rock faces. I'm not really sure why... maybe because I don't have a lot of outdoor experience or maybe because I don't like feeling vulnerable. Either way, I think I conquered that fear when I got on The Victim. It's a beautiful line that starts with a very technical traverse along a white rock face and then goes vertically into two very big moves and some more shoulder-y sequences to the top. The moves were so fun that I didn't even notice all the things that intimidated me before. By the time I was at the top, my perception of bigger walls had completely changed. I didn't send the route although I got all the moves down on my first try. I fell at the second throw twice which was frustrating. Either way, I was happy to even get to try such an amazing route. I will definitely have to get back up there to give it another burn and hopefully send it. Also- my insane boyfriend had his first 13c flash, which was so exciting to watch!!!

After Lion's Head my family, Eric and I went down to Georgia for a reconnaissance mission at Stone Summit :P. The gym is so big and SO cool. We trained there for three days and had a really great time. We were very tired afterwards, so our week long vacation on Tybee Island was much appreciated. It was our third time going down to that area for vacation at the end of the summer so it felt cozy and familiar. We went swimming and dolphin watching and ate some huge crab. It was really nice to relax after such an intense summer.  

Now I'm back in Toronto and about to start my first full week of grade 12 at Harbord C.I. It's nice to sleep in my own bed and be back training in my home gym. I'll be training with the Boulderz team this year, which I am very excited about since I trained mostly on my own last year. Though decisions about university are fast approaching, I'm trying to stay relaxed, focus on my school work and training and take everything in stride. 

Next up is the Atlanta Lead World Cup on September 29th and 30th. Stay tuned for results! 

Until next time :)


Me on The Predator in Rumney, taken by Mike Makischuk.

Me and Eric in Lion's Head

Training at Stone Summit in Atlanta

Our beach pyramid, photo credit to mum

Sunday, July 1, 2012

That's a Wrap!

Hello from Chicago!

Every year at the end of the school year my family and I go on a short weekend trip. This year we are spending the long weekend here in Chicago with some family friends. The purpose of this trip is just to get together with family and friends and be together after the end of the year rush. I'm trying to get my summer training going as soon as possible, so I decided to visit the gym here. Saturday morning I arrived at Vertical Endeavors to have a brief two-hour session. I was pleasantly surprised by the route setting and great vibe at the gym.  The people are great and I'll be sure to go back when I'm in the area next. We also got a chance to go eat some deep dish pizza (!!!...A Chicago classic :) ), as well as visit the beautiful Bah'ai temple, the bean, the Buckingham fountain, an art show...AND do some shopping. It's been a great time to reflect on my failures and successes during this past climbing season and school year. This year taught me a lot and I'm so excited to apply my learnings to my summer training.

Though I'm not dedicating a post to my experience in the Vail World Cup, I will write a little here. The competition definitely didn't go as well as I would have liked. There were a lot of factors that could have affected my performance at the comp like no altitude acclimatization and a lack of knowledge of the wall but really it boiled down to my lack of an open mind and clear head throughout the comp. It was clear afterwards that I had to make the decision to either dig deep and work at improving my climbing and (more importantly) my mindset in preparation for September OR to continue training as I was and not put in the effort this year to go to other World Cups but rather to make long-term goals for next year. The decision really wasn't very hard for me. The experience in Vail was useful and fun and it definitely made me want to do more World Cups. I know I have the tools, time and motivation to work hard this summer in preparation for (hopefully) two World Cups in September. Climbing is such an essential part of my life and the opportunity to go further with it is always welcome. I am super psyched to start my training program Tuesday and see where it takes me. The Summer Sweatfest series also happens during the summer which is held by gyms around Ontario. This series for me is a fun way to have the chance to practice flashing problems and work on my comp mentality. When I'm not away, I'll be competing in as many of these as possible. I can't wait to see what the summer holds!

I'll be sure to update the blog as I go along, so stay tuned :)

Alright folks, that's a wrap!


Below are some photos from my time here in the Windy City :D

Climbing at Vertical Endevors!

My contribution to the graffiti at Gino's East Pizza (Top right of the bench!...and my sister's on the left :) )

Family and friends at the Bah'ai temple!!!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Canadian Youth Nationals write up :)

Hello :)

I have just returned from Canadian Youth Nationals that took place in Montreal, Quebec.  My youth season was pretty minimal this year as I was mostly focusing on open bouldering. I did a few youth roped competitions and then competed at Eastern Youth Regionals, allowing me to qualify for my fourth Youth Nationals. I decided that I wouldn't be applying for the National team in March, so my plan was to go to Nationals and have fun.  I trained routes a little in advance but I didn't pressure myself with expectations. I was really happy to be seeing my friends from across Canada and to get back on such a nice wall.

We arrived in Montreal Friday night after a long car drive. The first two qualifying rounds were on Saturday, the semi-final Sunday and then the final Monday. On Saturday I was first in the running order for the first qualifier. The route looked balance-y and hard and a little out of my comfort zone. I had also never climbed first on a qualifying route before. My nerves were more intense and prominent than usual and I was a little shaky at the bottom of the route. I ended up topping the route which put my mind at ease. The next qualifier was much more suited to my style, on the large overhang with big moves. My bad nerves had subsided and I was super excited to try the route. Just as I expected, the route was fun and fit my style well and I topped more easily than the first. In isolation on Sunday I felt good and ready to go. The semi was another technical, balance-y route with bad slopers, tiny crimps and no rests. Unfortunately I got really pumped about two thirds of the way up and fell making a move that should have been more controlled. Regardless, I was moving on to finals the next day.

Monday morning I sat up in bed and immediately tweaked something in my back. Soon, my left arm started going a little numb. The rest of the morning was spent massaging and stretching and trying to make the pain go away (thank goodness for my awesome team of parents and siblings and friends who helped). If worse came to worse, I would sit finals out. I started warming up about 15 minutes before I was supposed to climb. The adrenaline started kicking in and minutes before I went out to climb my arm was feeling fine and I had almost no pain in my back. The final route looked AMAZING. I was so excited to try it. It was on the big overhang and had big moves on small holds up to the roof where there were a couple of big volumes. After the volumes were some powerful moves up a long, steep face to the chains. I got on and into my rhythm, and ended up falling on a big move on the last face. The route was pure fun and I climbed to the best of my abilities. I am so happy to have had the chance to climb that route. Climbing the highest earned me my first National title...!

In the four times I've competed at Youth Nationals, I've never felt less prepared than I did going into this one. Every other year I have felt capable of climbing my best and winning. Whether it's been sickness, injury, or misreading the route that has held me back in the past, I've tried to press on with the desire to win. Monday I learned that that desire doesn't even matter. No matter how much pain I'm in or how badly I screw up the sequence, there is nothing that gives me the will to continue and succeed more than the desire to experience the next hold, the next move, the next climb. In retrospect, even if my determination to win had lead to a gold medal in the past, I wouldn't have been any happier winning than coming in second or third or last. My true disappointment comes when I forget why I'm there - to climb. 

Thank you to all the amazing people who worked at organizing yet another extremely successful event. The people I got to climb with this weekend are inspiring, motivating and so much fun. Congratulations to everyone else who competed this weekend (especially my little sister Estella who won silver in speed and bronze in difficulty!). I will be posting photos and videos soon. Good luck to all my friends going to Singapore to represent Canada at Youth Worlds :) Next up, the World Cup in Vail... Wahooo!!!

Happy climbing,
       and press on... for the fun of it.


Monday, April 23, 2012

Eastern Youth Regionals 2012

Hello!! :)

This past weekend True North held the 2012 Eastern Youth Regionals. On Saturday, athletes aged 19 and under from across Ontario and Quebec competed in the two qualifying flash format rounds. On Sunday, isolation opened for the semi-final round. Our semi was a hard tech-y face climb with two large slopers proving to be the crux for our category. Unfortunately, my foot popped off as I was establishing myself on the first sloper and I fell. Luckily I made it through to the final round. Our final route was really fun. The route started in a more over-hanging section of the gym and ended in a vertical dihedral and had a nice mix of technical and powerful movements. After a bit of a funky section at the top, I clipped the chains and wound up as the only one to finish it. It looked as though the other categories had some really fun routes as well. All in all, the competition was great. Congratulations to everyone who competed and big props to my little sister Estella who brought home a gold medal in her category, topping her route as well :) (below are the results from finals, I will try and update with results from the entire competition). Also, big thank you to the coaches and the True North staff who helped organize such a successful event, as well as the great setting crew and Eric who fore-ran. Unfortunately this was the last competition for a while that I got the chance to climb a route set by my close friend Dustin Curtis as he is moving out West for at least a year :( Thanks buddy! See you all next year! :)

Next up are Youth Provincial Championships at Climber's Rock on May 5th and 6th and then Youth Nationals. Stay tuned!!!


Click here for photos by Aidas Odonelis.

Finals results (in blue are the Boulderz crew :)) :

Girls/Boys D

1. Estella Lamarche-Dykeman / Zach Richardson
2. Emily Belleau / Mitchel Haight
3. Poet Bernard / Laurent Bilodeau
4. Luca Gagnon / William McIlroy
5. Indiana Chapman

Girls/Boys C
1. Mika Mercey / Vincent Knesevitch
2. Justine McCarney / Ben Whattam
3. Courtney Belleau / Spencer Hebb
4. Katrina Whitacker-Lee / Joshua Maragoni
5. Catharine Carkaner / Jack Wyett

Girls/Boys B
1. Erica Meister (USA) / Nathan Smith
2. Audrey Larochelle / Samuel Tiukuvaara
3. Flavie Martin / Lucas Uchida
4. Beth Vince / Arnaud Roy
5. Olivia Wyett / Johannes Tiukuvaara
6. Charle Prosser

Girls/Boys A
1. Iyma Lamarche / Nathen Leblanc-Limoges
2. Pia Graham / Francis Bilodeau
3. Corinne Baril / Jean-Simon Damours-Cyr & Olivier Plante (tie)
4. Emilie Rouleau 
5. Marie-Eve Lebreux / Taylor Cameron
6. Esti Tweg / Philippe Thompson

Girls/Boys Junior 
1. Victoria Belanger-Trudel / William St-laurent
2. Brianne Kay / Timothe Beaudoim
3. / Will Goodwin
4. / Phillipe Noel
5. / Tyler Gilroy

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Tour de Bloc Nationals and season write up :)


For me, the Tour de Bloc season had a bit of a rough start. I spent all last summer climbing routes and training endurance for Youth Worlds and getting back into pulling on plastic was a struggle. I was super psyched but my power just wasn't there. The other problem was my mentality. I found at the end of last season that I was relying on those around me for encouragement so much that my self-motivation and self-reliance had become non-existent. So, in October I began training on a different path than ever before. I decided to train solo. This decision undoubtedly changed my mentality and climbing in a huge way. It's not to say that it made me some super-woman climber with a head of steel. In fact, it was the opposite. I spent more time reflecting on my experiences and I climbed less. I wasn't necessarily improving in my climbing but ultimately the sport was (and still is) making me happier and feel more fulfilled. To me, that's worth it. 

I entered my first TdB with a completely different head game than ever before. On top of it, my body was weak and I was very unsure of myself. The result wasn't pretty. In the end, I ended up getting so frustrated that I over-worked my body and hurt my wrist on the second problem. Not good Iyma! 

From then on I found that I got this sense of motivation from within myself that was pretty different. I started training hard because I wanted to. The hard work payed off. In January I won my first TdB. But it wasn't winning that made me feel the happiest or most fulfilled. It was the feeling  that I had exerted all my energy and climbed to the best of my abilities. That feeling after a comp that the tank is empty and I did my best is something I strive to feel. It could even be the reason I compete...hmmm... 

The next few comps went well. I got the opportunity to meet Thomasina Pidgeon, who has inspired me since I was a kid and she taught me some really valuable lessons, for which I am extremely grateful. My mindset seemed to solidify as I went along and I had tons of fun. 

Nationals was great. I love the facility and staff and some of my favourite route setters travelled to the comp to make the climbing possible. The first day went very well and I loved the blocs. The second day didn't go so hot for me. I went into the comp with what I thought was a stable mind-set. I was feeling good until my foot slipped on the first bloc. It all went downhill from there. Usually I'm okay at recovering from a slip or fall off the bat but this was different. I knew going into the final round that every fall would count, and it did. I tried to pull myself together but my head just wasn't in the ideal place. Thankfully I flashed the second bloc but then I completely misread the third. The fourth and fifth were easier and I managed to flash those. In the end it was the foot slip that got me. As frustrating as that is, my great friend Elise Sethna ended up on top with a great performance. The steadiness of her mind-set is enviable. Congratulations girl!!! It was great to climb with such a strong field of women. Congratulations to all the finalists and big congrats to Sean McColl for winning the men's field. The cup winners were Sebastien Lazure and Elise- CONGRATULATIONS!!!

This season has taught me a lot. First: going into any comp, your best is the best you can do. And your best changes from day to day. Second: anything can happen in a comp. Third: Have fun. It's something that coaches, my parents and my peers tell me, it's even something I tell myself, but I think it's the easiest thing to forget, and it's the most important thing to do. 

Though the season ended with Nationals, this season has kicked off a series of TdB seasons to come that will be just as awesome. For now, I have the rest of my youth season to look forward to, which will end with Youth Nationals in May. I also have some sweet potential climbing trips planned for this summer... PSYCHED!!! 

Thank you so much for the encouragement!
Happy climbing :)


Sunday, April 15, 2012

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Countdown to TdB Nationals

Hello :) and Happy Easter!

I woke up this morning to the pitter patter of my little cousins and my sister running around the house collecting eggs. This is my last weekend of mental and physical rest before the final rush of school and competitions. First up on the comp roster is Tour de Bloc Nationals. I competed in my first TdB Nationals last year at Climber's Rock in Burlington. The atmosphere was amazing and the problems were very fun to climb. The other thing I love about nationals is the isolation format qualification and final - it always gets me very psyched. This year, nationals is taking place in Montreal at Centre d'escalade Vertical. I love this facility and I can't wait to see what the route setters will have in store for us. For now, its time to eat some chocolate eggs and enjoy some family time in preparation for a busy school week.

I hope to give an update on results and the running order after qualifiers on Saturday. Stay tuned!


Saturday, April 7, 2012

A New Chapter!

Hello and welcome to my Blog!
I started thinking a while ago of ways to organize my thoughts and ideas of climbing and school and this crazy thing called life. I tried some journals and diaries but none of them seemed to last more than a couple of days. Finally I decided that blogging is the way to go. I am completely new to blogging as I’m sure is already evident but I’m going to try my best at keeping this thing running, if not for the public, for myself. I hope to give regular updates on competitions, outdoor trips and events. There are lots of cool things coming up so stay tuned!