In four months time, I will hopefully be half way to the summit of Mera Peak. I will be trekking at high altitude and in cold and harsh conditions. I will, no doubt, be tired and will still have the hardest part of the trek ahead of me – the three day summit climb itself. I am getting increasingly excited but the nerves are always there if I think too much about the mental and physical challenge I have taken on.
To help me with the mental challenge, I like to know that I am as well prepared as I can be, with the time I have available. A key part of this preparation is making sure that I have the right kit and that I am confident in using it. I have now purchased my mountaineering boots, crampons, ice axe, abseiling equipment and climbing harness.
I was nervous about the purchases – the boots and crampons in particular are fundamental to a successful trek and I have only used hired ones previously (when I went to Scotland for a mountaineering skills course which I discussed in The long trek to the summit of Mera Peak). I had done some research and talked to an inspirational colleague, Heather, who is a mountaineering expert and had kindly shared some of her experience with me. Nevertheless, I arrived at the shop feeling a bit of a fraud as I never thought I would be buying this type of equipment and don’t feel like a ‘proper mountaineer’. I came out of the shop having successfully made my purchases and having shared some great conversations with the other climbers I met there. It showed me that having a common goal and interest can bring people together and whilst I may have doubted whether I belonged there, no one else questioned it. A great lesson for life in general.
I have now spent time wandering around our garden in the boots, crampons and harness – I am sure anyone who has seen me is wondering what on earth I am doing!
To help me with the physical challenge, I am continuing to walk and run. Following the London marathon (which I talked about in The long trek to the summit of Mera Peak: via 26.2 miles in London), I have quietly been training for an ultra marathon which I will hopefully complete next weekend. The ultra marathon is 53.5 miles along the stunning but very hilly South Downs Way. I have kept this challenge relatively quiet, I think mainly because I wasn’t sure that I would be able to do it. Such a distance is very daunting but it is also incredibly exciting to be experiencing something new (even if it involves blisters, lots of nurofen and training runs in 27 degrees heat!). So how did I come to agree to this challenge?
Ten years ago, I arrived at a leadership course, slightly apprehensively. I had heard that the course would involve spending time working in a small group of people I didn’t know, sharing our life experiences and aspirations. As a shy and private person, this wasn’t something that I would choose to do but the course was a key moment in my career. It showed me that I didn’t need to be an extrovert to be able to lead and hopefully inspire others – I could instead do this in a way that was authentic to me. I have tried to put this in to action throughout my career since and to make a difference to people by doing so.
The course also gave me two fantastic friends who, over dinner about nine months ago, decided it would be a great idea for us to run an ultra marathon together. Sat in a small room ten years previously, we would never have foreseen this in our future! I will feel privileged next weekend to be standing on the start line of my first ultra marathon with Jonathon and Leo, people who inspire me and encourage me.
I’ll let you know how we get on in my next blog.
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.