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Share Your Impossible: My Promise to Me

Today’s post is brought to you by FrictionLabs blog reader Samuel Sale. He shares his "a-ha!" moment when he realized climbing wasn’t just an activity, but a passion.

It wasn't really an "a-ha!" moment for me, it was based on a promise I made. Back in January 2016, I was standing at 6', 241 lbs. On January 10, 90 days from my 33rd birthday, I decided that I needed to start making permanent changes. Changes like not coming home and drinking a six pack, not ripping a pack of butts a day, and actually doing something.

So, I started P90X3. About two weeks in, I was thinking about giving up again. I sat on the couch and turned on the TV and started watching American Ninja Warrior: USA vs the World. I had watched last year's special and was pretty into it. I sat there in awe watching Sean McColl performing a knee bar after completing the climb on stage 3. It was the coolest thing I had seen and realized I wanted to be in shape like that! So I got up and went downstairs and did the workout I was going to skip.

Sean McColl at the Bouldering World Cup 2012 (Photo via Wikipedia)
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The next day I reached out to Sean on Facebook and basically said watching him motivated me to keep going. Surprisingly, he replied and said thanks and that he was happy he inspired me and should keep going. After finishing stage 2 I decided that, as a sort of "thank you" I would give climbing a shot. April 9 was my birthday and on April 10, I walked into my very first climbing gym and did the tour, talked to the staff and got signed up. The next day I showed up and tried climbing, and the people there climbing were like nothing I had come across in any other sport. They were all helpful and encouraging. To finish my story, I went to a vertical V0, where I had seen a six-year-old moments before, and started my way up. I failed a couple of times, but on my third or fourth try, I made it up. A wave of emotion rushed over me, I don't know to this day if it was making it to the top, accomplishing something I could have not done three months prior or just realizing what I had changed into, but I left the gym about five minutes later because I wanted to yell with excitement.

Here I am now, two and a half months after starting, and people I talk to kind of look at me because I climb 5.7 to 5.9 on top rope, and still work pretty hard on some V2 and V3s. One person said it's amazing I'm doing that so soon after starting climbing. Which, I appreciate, but don't believe because I never limited myself based on my experience with anything. I don't work a traditional "forward" I started at 5.12 and worked back until I was comfortable, then went up a level, which i believe is the definition of progress. Here I stand now, 45 pounds lighter, as a guy that couldn't have completed a 5.5 six months ago, working on completing his first 5.10. I'm still very new and I'm still learning, but I thank a higher power that I reached out to Sean that day and that I tried it. As I stand now, I found that piece of the puzzle that has been missing for so long.

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To all the climbers that will read this and the ones that won't ever know about it, I say, "thank you for being you" to the coolest most helpful people walking around today, because if it weren't for your kindness and helpfulness, I wouldn't have continued climbing. And to Sean McColl, thank you for responding and your kind words that pushed me further than I thought I could have gone. I couldn't have done it without your help.

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