Some thoughts from Mike

Sorry it’s been a while everyone, Dave, Dwight and myself have all been in China over the past two weeks so life has been pretty busy however we have all still been training as some of us have an adventure race on the 20th May. I’ll post photos of the adventure race once we have competed in the 25km Run, Kayak and Mountain Bike challenge.

Over the past couple of weeks I have been doing some thinking regarding the Everest trip, I have been asked like many on the guys some pretty deep questions so I thought I would put my personal thoughts on paper and post them for you all to read. They are quite personal but as I have been reminded this whole trip has been quite personal and as you have shared in the trip from the start I thought it was only fair that i share this with you also.

Hi All, over the past few weeks I have been asked many times about my trip and have loved recounting my adventures, one of the main questions asked is “Do you think the trip has changed you” I have tried to answer this question but every time I start it doesn’t seem to come out right so I thought I would try put it down on paper for you……so here goes…..

You got me seriously thinking about my response to your question “do you think the trip changed you” I have been fumbling with the answer to this since I got back but I can see when you asked this question that you wanted more than me just saying……… yeh it changed me but I’m not sure how. I love the fact that you ask me that question because it has changed me and my mind-set and to be honest I do know how it’s changed me I just haven’t put it down on paper yet and voiced it to many people, I could see when asked this question the emotion and interest shown by you in my response so because of this I have inspired to put my thoughts down on paper and if its ok with you I would like to share my experience with you.

The short answer to the question is yes the trip certainly has changed me but it wasn’t the trip alone, the changes for me started when I put on paper the idea to do the trip, the goal I had been of course to do the trek to Everest, this was a personal goal that I set for myself just like many other people do in their lives…..for me what made it different is that I invited others to join me on my goal which made my quest known to others, I then compounded this by starting the blog which at the beginning was only to show everyone our photos but as you know grew into so much more, this made what I was doing very public and it put me in a position where I put myself out there so if I was to fail everyone would know it , not something I wanted to ever let happen.

When I said the changes started before the trip I wasn’t really aware of it at that stage but looking back I can see that I had already changed my mind-set and understand now how hard I was pushing not only myself but the others on the team, the drive and determination to not fail and complete our goal was evident in the way we were training and I see that now, because of that hard training we were able not only to complete the trek but to really enjoy it because our fitness level exceeded what was required for the trek.

I learned from that period of training that I do enjoy hard physical exercise and that I love the results that it gives you…..not so much in body but what it does to your mind, the confidence and self belief and motivation it provides cannot be underestimated or understated and I have learned to believe that when things aren’t going 100% in your day a run or workout can give you balance and give you time to think and sort out your head.

On the trip itself the energy that this experience brought to my life was incredible, what I mean by energy is not so much the energy it gave me but the energy it created around me, I couldn’t go a day without talking to someone about what we were doing and the reaction was amazing not only people wishing us well but people taking the time to express to me what the trip and blog has meant to them, I was so surprised to hear so many people tell me how the trip and our training had inspired them to do things that they had wanted to do, for some it was just to start training themselves for others it was just to get up from in front of the TV to get out of their comfort zone or get back to playing their favorite sport but the comment that excites me the most is “it inspired me to chase my own goals”. To hear this was incredibly motivating, to know that what we were doing was inspiring others in so many ways…..I found this very humbling and at first wasn’t sure how to handle it. After a while I decided to try to embrace it, I’m still trying to work out how to do this but meanwhile I just try to support and be open to anyone who wants to talk openly about their experiences or mine. The one thing that I found out about myself or should I say confirmed about myself is that I discovered that my ambitions didn’t out way my abilities, I hear so often from people statements like “I can’t do that because I’m not fit enough” or “that’s too hard for me” I myself would say similar things when asked by mates to join them on outings however I now realize it’s only a matter of setting goals to conquer that particular event and that’s a huge thing to learn as it opens so much more to you and allows you to open your mind to a whole world of adventure.

What did I learn from my time in Nepal and on Everest itself? Well to start with I think it’s safe to say that the main thing was self belief, there were many times early in the trek where we were faced with large amounts of up hill work and strenuous hours of hard slog, before you hit those areas you couldn’t help but question your ability to finish the day, but day after day of doing this and conquering the daily challenges you started to trust your fitness and ability.

There were a few times on the trek where I was surprised at my reaction to certain situations, for example on day 6 of the trek we walked off the beaten track and headed to a base camp at Ama Dablam another 7000 mtr peak in the Khumbu Valley this required us to climb from the valley floor across the river and a climb to the base camp at 4500 mtrs, we were completely by ourselves for the entire 3 days during this part of the trek, on the first of those 3 days when we done the major climb we started off slow and steady like every other day so far, on this day we were feeling great and walking strong, I was out front and was feeling in control, I had my headphones on listening to some great music when I turned around and found myself alone, I had gone ahead up the mountain and hadn’t noticed the guys stop for a rest. We were in sight of each other so I felt no need to stop so I kept on moving slowly but strongly up the mountain towards base camp, what happen next was unexpected but in hind sight a memorable experience, for some reason I was completely overcome with emotion, the music was perfect the day was glorious I was completely alone and I was standing in front of one the most impressive sights I had ever seen but all that wasn’t the reason for the emotion, It was the fact that I was doing something that for a while I thought I would never get the chance to do, I had been telling myself for years that I would do this trek someday but I had let myself down, I had been overweight and had got so consumed with work and the day-to-day family pressure’s that I had forgotten to look after myself, not just my health but my well-being. I had a dream to do this for some time but hadn’t followed it through and I had been very down on myself for allowing that to happen. But now I was back on track and on this day at this moment in think I realized this and that’s where the emotion came from, I’m glad I was 20 minutes ahead of the guys because it gave me time to take it all in and keep a mental photo of what was happening to me and around me, it was by far a very raw and emotional memory that I’m very glad I had.

The next standout event happened while I was walking to Everest Base Camp itself, I have written the account of that day already on my blog so I won’t go over it again however what I didn’t write on the blog was my reaction to reaching our final goal. It was in some ways similar to my experience at Ama Dablam but for different reasons. We were about 400 mtrs from the EBC marker and the guys very kindly let me go ahead by myself and gave me a few minutes head start on them, I’m sure they could sense that this was very personal to me and needed a few minutes just to take it all in, it was great that they gave me a bit of time to take it in alone. As I was approaching the camp I just lost it, I found the last 20 mtrs incredibly emotional but this time for other reasons, this time in reflection it was due to the relief of completing my goal, the pressure of getting everyone there in one piece and enormous pride in what I had achieved. At the time I of course didn’t process all that I just assumed I was just happy to complete my goal of getting there, I had a million times over the past year visualized this moment so I wanted it to be memorable and special. Now that I have had time to think and process the day I see completely why I was so emotional and can now explain my emotion in a clearer way.

I was at that time so pumped and full of energy that all the hard work and exhaustion was completely forgotten but as I was soon to find out the relief of making it due to the pressure that we put on ourselves was going to take its toll, the adrenalin that was keeping us going in the 100 knot wind and the -30 degree conditions just left me, the emotion came because of the pressure I had put on myself to not only get myself there but the whole team to the end goal.  We of course all celebrated and embraced when reaching Base Camp and we spent a good 30 mins taking photos and soaking it in but the trip back to our base camp ended up being one of the hardest physical days of my life but again in hindsight I loved that this day was so hard and pushed me to my physical and mental limits, this day will be forever etched in my memory and will be a day that I can look back on with pride, I know there will be times I will use that experience to help overcome obstacles that may arise in my life and I will always look upon that day as one of the most positive experiences that I have ever been a part of.

In conclusion, yes! This trip has changed me…..not in a “spiritual” way or in the old cliché of “I found myself” but simply I rediscovered the real Me, the Me that I knew was always there but now could physically keep up with my goals the Me that loves life and adventure, the Me that sets goals and finds the way to reach them, the Me who motivates others and who takes joy in helping others to reach their goals.

I have learned to like and trust myself again, this experience has inspired me to continue being motivated to help myself my family and others and I will endeavor help others to achieve their goals and dreams. I’m currently working on my new goals and i’m looking forward to the many years of completing and sharing them with the help from my family and friends.

I hope my thoughts on this have answered your question and gives you a clearer idea of what I have been trying to say for the past few week, thanks for allowing me to share part of my life with you over the past few months I have loved every minute of the journey and your company.

Cheers Mike

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