This is the thought that’s been niggling my mind a lot the past few weeks. The whole feelings and emotions that Everest brings to my life have somewhat changed; the last few weeks to the trip of a lifetime have arrived and passed, and gone. I can’t get that time back, and it’s quite a surreal feeling. In just 4 days, it’s on – and I’ve got this!
I entered what’s known as the ”grey zone”. The mind games kicked in. I wasn’t expecting them. ”Am I strong enough? Can I do this? Have I trained enough?”. I learnt that these are pretty common in Everest climbers, adventurers, and even soldiers heading out to war. It’s a natural process. Within a day or two I could go from thinking I’m in the best shape of my life to doubting myself. So I spoke to my mentors; the people who have guided me all along. Perhaps I was adopting a ‘glass half empty’ rather than ‘glass half full’ approach. And I was almost stepping on my foot as the title of my last blog was ”If you believe you can or you can’t, you’re probably right!”. I’ve had some great conversations in the past week alone that have really got me back on track, but more so, reminding me what I already knew deep down.
I just checked and after contacting over 750 people about sponsorship in a year (and hundreds more counting everything from PR, support and training advice!), it’s also poignant to say that if I have the determination to get to where I am now; it would make sense that it’s enough to get me to the top of the world.
As Alzheimers fundraiser and Everest chronicler Alan Arnette said ”On Everest, there are a thousand reasons to stop and only one to keep going”. One of my favourite quotes. I’ve began to realise that the summit is only the cherry on the cake; as many have said so. The real fun comes from being in such a great place; the ice sculptures in the Khumbu Icefall, the awe of the Western Cwm and the sunsets from Camp 3 on the Lhotse Face. But the recurring theme here, is that the training itself doesn’t count for much- it’s attitude. I’ve known that all along, but not to this extent. I had so much more planned with my training and preparation. Time has just flown by. Realistically there was only so much to be fitted in and it’s important for me to reminisce on what I HAVE done rather than what I haven’t. We can only do our best! Remembering the times I ached for 2 days and forced myself to keep going when crying out in pain and cycling for hours in the rain; rather than the swearing when my bike tyres punctured yet again…
So on that note I’ve tapered for my final week to avoid grinding myself down. I had a great day on Saturday in the Lake District. Out and about without breaking a leg. With my friend Chris, we bagged a big round of peaks- not particularly far, but in snow throughout which slows progress considerably. Yewbarrow, Red Pike, Steeple, Pillar and Kirk Fell- down in about 10 hours before it got dark. I was glad to enjoy the Winter weather (the first day of Spring!) and take my time, and proud to say that I was hardly feeling tired after nearly 2000m of ascent. Finished in style with a wildcamp… and freshly made chicken fajitas in the tent – you heard correctly! I certainly won’t get that luxury at Camp 3 on Everest…
Today I’ll be bidding farewell to my hill sprints on the bike which have prescribed me such short and unsweetened bursts of agony. Tomorrow my final 40 mile ride. I thought hard about what I wanted to do as my last session, to give me the final mental confidence of my improvement without crippling me. I remember how good I felt after that first 40 mile ride back in December, plus how hard it was and how slow I was. This is the best my body will get to cope with the demands of Everest – but as my friend Paul commented yesterday – I’ll lose a third of the muscle I’ve gained by the time I get to summit day anyway!
Some of my mountain training has been quite half-caste, from grey, murky days that battered and reddened my face, to sunny Alpine-like routes with perfect ice! I wanted more time in the hills but as the saying goes ”No plan ever remains the same shape after first contact with the enemy!’
So I’ve decided to relax, enjoy the home comforts and chat to friends; thanking the people who’ve helped me get here. Not gaining a great deal of weight and still eating healthy… ish. Even eating fresh, raw veg is proving to be something I might miss on the trip. Just wish I still had my dogs here.
Following up from last week, here’s my photos from meeting my hero Bear Grylls at the new Craghoppers/Regatta warehouse opening in Ellesmere Port. Very grateful for the invite – they were my first ever sponsors! I took my graphic designer Ste (who will be doing my Facebook updates whilst I’m away) and website designer Chris (who’s recently added new logos to my website!). Now another little story I want to mention before I go is that just last year, I was still injured and out of training with no idea why. It was only in May that I returned to training after the most comically frustrating case of growing pains I had ever experienced. But at the time, the experience put me into a dark place, and it was Bear’s book ‘Mud Sweat and Tears’ that really helped me through it. The true story of how Bear broke his back just 18 months before he climbed Everest himself, aged 23, was what kept me going and believing I would get through it. All my obstacles have been different; but they’re all resolved in the same way. So to meet Bear Grylls himself was a real honour.
And a video of me talking to him!
Thanks so much for following me to this point and hope you can share my successes and struggles for the remaining 2 months. I’ll try and squeeze in a blog or two before I go.
Until then – reach out for your dreams; you never know where it’ll take you!