Holy Moly I have two weeks left, and this time in two weeks I'll be on night one on the Kokoda Track! How has this come round so fast...
The emotions leading up to heading away are crazy, from so excited, terrified, uncertain, to questioning every decision and wondering if I have enough wet wipes (I have about 100 I should be fine), to have I done enough training, am I mentally and physically strong enough and then the questions you ask like, what happens if I need to go to the bathroom on the track... These are serious issues!
I feel like I've been through every stage of 'pre-goal achievement jitters' and if this was able to be diagnosed then that's what I've got and Google hasn't even helped me with that self-diagnosis;-)
It is a crazy feeling to look at each step taken, each PT session completed, doctors appointments, blood tests, prevention physio and chiropractic sessions, learning more about my body and what it can achieve, it's limits and abilities both mentally and physically. As this hasn't just been about a journey to complete the Kokoda Track, it has also been about working out what is happening within my body and how I can start to reverse the damage done (starting with no alcohol and supporting my thyroid).
Then upon reflection realising nothing has thrown me this time, sure I've had the doubts (and probably had chocolate each time they came along) but nothing has fully derailed me from the goal, keeping that focus, talking about the journey, sharing it with others and enjoying the training along the way has helped to ensure I've stayed on track.
I can safely look back now and know that my first hike with the Reconnekt crew to Ruined Castle in the Blue Mountains gave me a benchmark to start from, that first climb up The Golden Staircase that took an hour and near killed me, set a task for me to bet it next time and that I did by completing it in 25 minutes and then the time after I did it twice!
My first time up Govetts Leap with friends, and realising as I was climbing out in the cold, nearly sunset, that I hadn't fuelled myself well enough for the 2.5 hour climb from Junction Rock and as I lent over the edge my mind didn't go to 'what the heck do you think you're doing, you can't do this' (where it had been before) to 'you're the only one that can get you up this climb, no one is coming to get you' and then finishing to the elation of the girls finding a fellow kiwi to give us a lift back to the train station.
Repeating Govetts Leap was a goal and this time I enjoyed the view, the climb out and sure it was still hard - the last km takes about an hour - but my body felt strong, and I had moments of stopping to enjoy the view rather than just wanting to be magically up and out.
I remember walking my first weekend with two approx. 25km days, and the feeling of being able to complete them and then still come home and keep moving. To a mental challenge of climbing Sublime Point 3x, and to do the same thing over and over and over is tough, it's a grind and where I've found my training with Andy has really come in handy.
No matter what the goal I believe we have to do the training, break it down into small increments and then when it matters they will all knit together to give us the strength and moments to draw from that we need.
The closest I came to derailing was when I walked a nice 14km in 4 hours from Brooklyn to Cowan one weekend and my hips hurt, and I think did the same the following weekend and again my hips hurt only worse this time and this was the lesson I needed to learn - to rest! My body was telling me to chill out, it needed time to heal and after a couple of weeks of no stairs, only light PT and walking I've had no pain since. But this was an emotional time, as I knew that if that pain persisted then I'd have to be assessed as to if I could go or not.
In moments like these you really realise how important it is to have a team around you, your Chiro (Nick and team) who look at you and go 'it's going to be all ok, we will just do X and Y' and then rest. But not only the reassurance of going to see them but to be able to have a 'minor freakout' and chat on Instagram messaging and the next day to be in for an appointment.
As I look back over these last 21 months post setting the goal, I realise that I have had a massive crew around me on this journey and to them, I can't thank them enough! So, as I'm about to head off to Papa New Guinea, start the Kokoda Track and turn 40 all at the same time all I can say is OMG it's time!
And that I know there will be many people walking this walk with me and if you want to follow and see where I'll be, then just know I start on Sept 4th and finish on the 12th, you can see the map here to 'play along'. We have two nights in Naduri Village as we observe the Sabbath, as the villages along the track are Seventh Day Adventists, so from sundown Friday night to Saturday night we have a rest day.
There are so many more moments I can reflect on, and I'm sure that there will be so many more to come after. This is just the beginning of the next stage, next decade and who knows what next... but there will be a lot of new!