Ok folks, there is now under 4 months until I undertake the Kokoda Trail - aka what was I thinking!
Like any goal, my brain is occupied 24/7 by this challenge and it isn't just the physical side. It is mental, financial, emotional and then physical, but, this is part of the preparation of challenging yourself and heading to achieve what once looked like the unachievable.
This seems now to almost be the easy part, the training I've been through with Andy over the last 18 months (heck I've been working with him that long... my longest PT relationship ever!) which has focused a lot on building my base fitness across sprint and endurance, and this was especially important for the first almost 12 months as I couldn't put any flection through my foot, so the skierg and I became best friends.
Now we are moving towards a lot of strength, with the aim to make sure I feel structurally solid when I hit the trail and that is really paying off as I go for long hikes now, my glutes are strong and therefore minimal knee pain, my arms are adjusting to walking with the poles - who knew that using them gave your arms/shoulders/upper back a good workout!
Another step I have taken is to see a physio once a month for injury prevention and Sam is just fantastic, other than telling me I need to ease back on how much walking I am doing... She has a great approach to helping me make sure I won't break down beforehand, as that would just be the worst!
Now, this is always a fun one! Reflecting back Andy has been working on the mental side along the way and I remember a comment one day where he left me to a skierg + wall ball workout (it wasn't fun) and as I was thinking 'where is he', he popped back and said 'hows the head mate?', to which I knew that was his way of saying no one else will get me through what's ahead.
Having been on a couple of big hikes recently and struggling to keep up the pace on the climbs it really challenged me and I remember saying to myself 'if I can't do this now, I'll never do Kokoda' and then reminded myself to slow down, go at my own pace and to set the climb as an interval challenge, break it down and the only person I am 'competing' against is myself.
I know I'm going to have a lot more of these ahead of me, but to be able to take that moment, breathe, relax, focus and keep going, I know will get me through.
So, it turns out doing a challenge like Kokoda when you don't have the gear is always going to ensure an investment. From my new Lowa Camino boots, which I love, to the Leki poles and now moving towards the - what the heck do you wear on a 9-day trek through the jungle - decision, and I know with only 4 months to go I had better start to do some shopping (sorry Chris). The biggest challenge I'm finding though is that at the start of the year I set a goal "not to buy unless it was for Kokoda", but now I'm so happily not purchasing that the thought of going shopping doesn't interest me - slight catch 22 here...
But, this aspect makes me want to research to make sure I get the right sleeping bag, clothes, backpack (I'm paying for a Porter so don't need a big pack, not that silly... yet) and now I'm even thinking do I get a GoPro to take, as surely that will be easier than my Olympus. All questions I need to answer and quickly!
This is an interesting one, a week isn't going by where I am not thinking to myself "what was I thinking" or "I'm so excited", so a slight split personality on this challenge, but the biggest part I've noticed is that it is keeping me focused. It is making me feel like I'm doing everything for a reason and a purpose, sure it is one right now for me but as I go along this journey and talk with different people I hear a lot of the same themes communicated back to me, and it seems a lot of people are caught in the daily grind (like I was), and suddenly another year is gone.
So, I can go through this emotional rollercoaster as I know that it is because I am being stretched, challenged, growing and that each day on the trail is going to be a massive rollercoaster of it's own and these days leading up are just preparing me for it.
Every good story needs a conclusion, but this one won't have one for a while yet. I have at least another 1700km to walk, 50 PT sessions, some physio, nutrition, and shopping left to go, and as I do this I'll be keeping a record for myself, asking others for recommendations (especially if you have completed Kokoda, any tips are welcome) and finding my way, step by step towards achieving what I thought was an impossible goal.