Well, the elephant is now officially in the room. In one month, we are climbing Mount Kilimanjaro.
Our next step, in the coming days, is circuit training at a surprisingly steep hillside in a downtown Toronto park. That's some gut-busting sprints at a 70-degree incline. (I plan on posting a hillside blog from the scene - so stay tuned for that gruelling update!)
As for our current state of fitness, we just paid a visit to a sports medicine doctor who did one last assessment on all of us. The good doc checked our hearts, our lungs, conducted rigorous tests on our joints and muscles and prescribed medication in anticipation of altitude sickness. He also recommended good shoes for David and Alex for much-needed ankle support.
My preventative measures for locomotive exertion took a slightly different look. Because your arms aren't meant to be walked on over time I've developed a small case of tennis elbow in both elbows. So I'm going to get elbow braces for the climb to ease some of the tension.
One mitigating factor here: when I was about 20 years old I had rotator cuff surgery on my left shoulder, as I had a partial tear. I went through some pretty intense post-op physiotherapy and couldn't walk for two and half months. Now, ahead of eight days of constant rigorous activity, there is concern for my shoulders, so the doctor gave me some anti-inflammatory meds to ease stress on all my joints.
As far as mental preparation goes? Well, we're all crazy, I know that much. But seriously, as my speaking engagements have me on the road quite a bit, I'm meeting quite a few people with climbing experience. They have told me the mental struggle can be just as hard as the physical one. They've impressed upon me that we'll be fighting inside our heads, and not just physically, to reach the summit.
So I've been watching some documentaries on others who have made the Kilimanjaro climb, to see what they had to endure. I've also been reading some super-intense blogs of others who have actually done this climb, like David's friends Ravi Jaipaul and Darren Weir - both of whom had incredible experiences.
We do know that although we have mapped out our route up the mountain (with our guide and team), we will need to adapt along the way. Some of the way up I will use my wheelchair, and other times I'll walk on my hands or with the assistance of my team. But mostly I'm just trying to tell myself it's going to happen, it's going to be hard and that's why I've got David and Alex there.
We've acknowledged the elephant in the room. Now we've got make friends with it and, if we're lucky, ride it to the top.