After a year of planning and training, in five weeks, I’ll be arriving in Kathmandu to start my trek which will hopefully lead me to the highest point I have reached on our beautiful earth – the summit of Mera Peak at 6,500m. Before that, in two weeks time, I hope to have successfully completed my eighth marathon in Berlin.
The last couple of weeks have been physically tiring, with the marathon training at its peak. I have also felt a range of emotions as the trek gets closer. People are often kind enough to ask me how I am feeling about the trek and it is a hard question to answer but I thought I would try to do so in this blog.
My emotions about the trek range from excitement and gratitude, through nerves and worries, to questioning whether I can succeed and even why I am putting myself through the physical pain and mental challenges.
I am getting increasingly excited about returning to Nepal. I found the Nepalese experience two years ago an inspirational one – the amazing scenery, the wonderful and generous people and the immense sense of happiness in overcoming physical and mental challenges to fundraise for a wonderful cause (which I wrote about in Reflections from Everest – lessons learnt from following a dream). I am incredibly grateful that I have an opportunity to return.
Alongside the excitement and gratitude, however, my nerves and worries are also growing. I made the mistake of looking up the trek on various internet sites, which inevitably show photos of the steepness, the exposed ridges and the crevasses. I have done as much preparation as I have been able to do – keeping my fitness levels high through my running, researching and buying the right equipment, trekking in the awe-inspiring Rocky Mountains in Canada and the, closer to home but equally stunning, South Downs Way and renting an altitude machine to help me start to become acclimatised. But will it be enough?
The trekking in the beautiful mountains in Canada showed me that there are situations that mentally I still find almost impossible. Standing on the edge of a steep slope, needing to walk across it with the slope falling sharply away for several hundred metres, with the ‘path’ across being slippery, unstable snow and only a foot wide, no amount of positive talking to myself could get me across. I knew logically that the likelihood of anything significant going wrong was low but my mind couldn’t communicate that to my legs. What if that happens in Nepal?
I don’t want to let people down. All of the generous people who have sponsored me. My family, friends and colleagues who have kindly listened to me talking about this challenge for a year and have been so encouraging. All of the people who have shared their expertise to get me prepared and to get me fit. And my wonderful husband who has been relentless in his support, despite probably wishing I wasn’t putting myself in even this low level of danger. I therefore worry about not succeeding.
I am often asked why I am doing this challenge and I have been reflecting on what has brought me to this point. How did the girl who hated PE lessons and hated it when her parents took her out for country walks end up running marathons and trekking in remote places?
I feel incredibly lucky to live the life that I lead and I want to be able to give something back to help others who are less fortunate than me. My way of doing this is to fundraise every year for an important charity – Cancer Research. Each year, I have set myself a harder challenge, so that I feel that I can, once again, ask people to sponsor me. I also love to put myself at the very edge of my comfort zone, and sometimes well outside it, as I believe it makes me a better person. As a great quote says: “Life begins at the end of your comfort zone”. Sometimes I succeed and sometimes I don’t but I learn something every time.
As I move in to the final few weeks of training and preparation, I will be continuing to run and weight train and will be spending an hour a day breathing through an altitude machine to help my body prepare for being at higher altitudes. I will also be getting the required injections, altitude tablets and final bits of equipment. I will also still be walking around my garden in my mountaineering boots and crampons!
Whilst I am nervous, I have promised myself that I will do all that I can to be successful. I will focus on the excitement and the fact that I am incredibly lucky to be doing this and not let the nerves get the better of me. I won’t give up. I will hopefully make everyone proud and fundraise for a fantastic charity whilst doing it. I’ll keep you all updated on my progress.
Thank you so much to everyone who has kindly sponsored me for my trek to Mera Peak. I am doing this to raise money for the wonderful charity, Cancer Research, to help those who are suffering from the cruel disease of Cancer now and to help to find a cure to avoid others having to suffer in the future.