“Smile, Connie… No? Really?”
My training this week has mainly consisted of juggling. Not the most standard activity one might undertake in order to train for climbing mountains but I feel it’s always good to stretch oneself, think outside the box, and make things a little bit more difficult than they need to be. Plus with my natural ability to fall over in the most basic of terrain I felt I needed to bring some multi-tasking into the equation just to ensure I over complicate the task in hand.
Of course, I refer not to juggling in the circus skills sense, but in the life sense. I began the week wondering how I could fit training in, and coming up with what I perceived to be quite sensible ideas, which necessarily involved including my children.
As I mentioned at the end of last week’s blog, I resolved that I was going to climb Glastonbury Tor with my littlest one. I decided Tuesday was the day. The weather was not brilliant; drizzling, cold and breezy, but my daughter is made of hardy stuff and usually laughs in the face of wind and rain… literally. From the bottom I looked up at the challenge and wondered if I would really be better off going into town for a hot chocolate as the sky was looking a little bit ominous. I then remembered how on the morning of my wedding, my uncle – who was in his early sixties at the time – ran up the Tor. I have never really been able to get my head around that, and having recalled it, hot chocolate was not an option.
We began the climb in high spirits, with Connie on my back in the kiddy-carrier, poking me every time I stopped singing The Grand Old Duke of York. I decided we would ascend the steep side and descend the gentler way to make sure I got the most from the climb. I could feel the burn and it was great cardio with the extra weight. All was well until we were nearly at the top. We turned a corner and I was suddenly reminded about the wind at the top of the Tor. At this point my daughter was still laughing – albeit a little nervously. I nearly fell over (standard) and even then she giggled as I managed to stop myself toppling forward and ending up like the opposite of a beetle stuck on its back. It wasn’t until we got to the top and I found myself really having to fight through the wind in order to move that we both started panicking. I was blown about around the tower at the top, trying to find a spot which was sheltered so we could at least get our breath. By this point she had started crying.
After I took a photo (see above) I realised I was going to have to bite the bullet and head into the wind as there was no other way down. If I went back the way I had come up, I was seriously worried about being buffeted around and slipping and falling. The drop next to the path is not quite sheer, but is very steep and the thought of tumbling down the hill like Jack and Jill wasn’t appealing. No one wants a broken crown. So I put my head down and walked into the wind, feeling very unsteady but resolving to get to the bottom as quickly as possible. By this point my daughter was really wailing and I was feeling like a dreadful mother. She sobbed the entire way to the bottom and clung onto my ears with her hands, fingers and fingernails, which was nice for me.
Luckily my lovely mummy is giving me a ‘treat a week’ while I am training, and I knew that I had four squares of chocolate in the car from a rather large bar she had given me that week to take on walks – part blood sugar levelling and part motivation. I had to emotionally blackmail Connie with 3 out of 4 of the squares of chocolate until I felt that I had absolved my guilt and she had forgiven me. I was left with 1 square and a banana.
Both her and I were so traumatised by this little jaunt that I couldn’t face putting her back in the kiddy-carrier for a couple of days. I trained everyday but stuck to my exercise DVD and step machine at home, which are both very useful but are not a direct substitute for a walk up a hill outside. It came to Saturday and I was home alone with the children as my husband was away for the weekend. I got up and decided that today was the day for the kiddy-carrier to be faced again and thought we would all go for a walk around the village which, being on the side of a hill, could be good training for me, even with the children in tow. In a nutshell it took me so much energy and effort to persude them both to leave the house that after an hour of asking them to get shoes, coats and hats on, I was over it. I got really frustrated and threw my toys out of the pram, sulked and gave up. I’m not sure if they or I were behaving more like teenagers. I even slammed the door, moaned ‘uhhhh… it’s so unfair’ and stomped off, while the two of them sat on the sofa watching cartoons, shrugging and grunting indecipherably ‘what’s her problem?’
So… what have I learnt this week? I realised that in amongst the juggling it was me looking like the clown rather than the Ringmaster. Hanging all my training hopes on activities which involve my beautiful but very headstrong children is not sensible. I need to re-think that. I have panicked at points that I can’t possibly achieve this challenge as I don’t have the time to train that I need in between children, work, wifedom, making time for family and friends, learning the drums, writing a book, finishing knitting the scarf for my 5 year old before winter is over, and the pile of laundry. This has spiralled into feeling that I am going to fail and let everybody down… negative thoughts are so clever at finding away in. However, my current donations stand at £1585. I have been supported by close friends, family members, acquaintances and complete strangers. I have been truly bowled over by this. People have been so genuinely supportive and interested in the trek, it has inspired me and given me a renewed faith in humanity. I received an encouraging and supportive email from a lady last week who is also undertaking the trek as a survivor of suicide. This made my week. For all those reasons, I will climb the mountains. Somehow, in amongst the rubber ducks and maths homework, mountains shall be climbed. Hurrah.
Training and trekking is childs-play. Sometimes it’s the juggling that’s the hard part.