After a thoroughly dodgy morning, the rain finally closes play and we admit defeat. We wait for the shower to end, and I run to the top to pack the ab rope away whilst Andy walks round. We meet at the top and I throw my sack over the fence, preparing to vault it onto the path. I don’t think twice. Landing, my ankle jars on a tussock of grass, split second reflexes making my leg bounce up to absorb the impact before weighting it fully. A sharp twang of pain sears up my leg. Shit. The first thought on my mind is the expedition. We leave in three weeks, have I just ruined the whole thing by spraining my ankle in the daftest way possible?
That very morning my house mate asked me if I was on guard, taking every caution not to hurt myself so close to leaving. I should have been. After a great season in Scotland, followed by a month of running, steep walks, and long sessions at the wall, the greatest form I’ve ever been in was jeopardised by the development of ITB tendonitis, or runners knee. The big runs were done for but I was feeling positive, somewhat managing to maintain fitness with smaller runs and walks.
But now this. Is this it? Is it over? Walking back to the car it doesn’t feel too bad, but that night it hurts, a lot. Quietly I seethe, angry at myself for being so stupid. Expeditions take so much more than the weeks spent on the glacier. The months of planning, finding objectives, chasing grants and sponsors. The thousands of hard earned pounds that I can barely afford to give up. The strain giving up that money puts on daily life, on my relationships with the people around me. The energy spent on gaining fitness, the sacrifices made, physically and emotionally. This year I realised that if our ambitions continue to grow as they are doing, our fitness will have to grow to match them, and so I really went for it, knowing that every mile meant a greater degree of safety. Did I really just end all that by jumping over a fence?
Thankfully, it isn’t too bad. A few days later there is some swelling but the pain is all but gone. I still can’t run due to my dodgy knee, but my dad is lending me his road bike, and I’m hoping that with some care (and a fair bit of KT tape) I’ll be able to get my heart beating. Long walks with bags full of water beckon – there is hope, still. These last few weeks before leaving are always a bit mad, a bit stressful, but also very exciting. Everything is falling in to place. The grants are being accepted, boxes of exciting things keep turning up at the door. The support from family and friends is overwhelming. Soon the only thing left will be to go, and then the easy bit can start. Then we can try to climb a mountain.