Preparing for my next summit, Kilimanjaro

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Preparing for my next summit, Kilimanjaro

I’m lying limp on my couch, perspiration pouring. I feel like I’m internally combusting. I finished climbing the stairs two hours ago but the heat from within is still welling up in waves! I am so spent, I don’t even feel like eating.

This is the first time in months that I have managed to walk up eight times 22 storeys as part of endurance building for trekking Kilimanjaro. What’s more, I climbed all alone by myself, without anyone motivating me, or distracting me from the tedium and pain with conversation.

I had been despairing quietly and sometimes not so quietly. I’ve been feeling wretchedly unfit going up the stairs this year. After coming back from the European cruise and the trip to England, I was plagued by a strange swelling in the left knee, terrible stiffness, disturbing creaks in the knee area! This has never happened before! I was so perturbed. This was so unexpected especially since I didn’t do heavy duty trekking on that holiday. Apparently I had strained something in the leg.

As I was nursing this troubled leg, I was plagued by some negative self- talk regarding my goal to climb Kilimanjaro. Self-doubt crept in. I also compared myself with what I was like last year, at this time! And I looked at some of my super fit team members, and the despair deepened.

Thankfully, I knew better than to give voice to, or act based on, the negative feelings. I also chose to listen to the positive voices of encouraging people in my circle. There are many such people.

Just taking the next few steps and showing up for the planned activities helped greatly. For one thing, I sought professional help from my physiotherapist friend.

Last Wednesday, some of my Kili mates met for stairs training and I showed up even though I did not feel very much up to climbing 30 storeys multiple times. I did what I could slowly and steadily. I talked to myself to think 5 storeys at a time. It seemed to make things much easier!

I did feel a small sense of victory that night. Then I rested for the rest of that week until the National Vertical Marathon on Sunday. I also showed up for that. Ohhh, showing up was a major conquest already. On Saturday and early Sunday morning, I had really wondered if I should just call it off and sleep in.

But something in me felt so uneasy about quitting even without trying. I had registered, paid, committed to two other friends that I would go. Thus, I turned up.

My aim was to just complete the climb of 286 m, 63 storeys at One Raffles Place. I dared not think how long I would take.

As I pushed breathlessly upwards that day, it occurred to me if I hadn’t already committed to climb Kilimanjaro, I would have just given up training or exercising altogether at this point in my life. It occurred to me that having goals and being committed to them keeps me on my toes and motivates me to strive to be better, do more. When a goal is Big, Hairy and Audacious, it is likely to change me as I move towards it.

I finished the race. I had regressed quite badly from the last vertical marathon I took part in just half a year ago. But I actually felt a physical and emotional high from conquering the stairs at One Raffles Place. Why? Showing up and completing shows that I have the mind and attitude of a winner.

Tonight I tell myself that I have already conquered Kilimanjaro because there can be no conquests unless all these small battles of the mind and body are fought and won! And anyone who has ever done any sports, or MLM, would know what I am talking about.

Ang Hwee Suan

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