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On your marks... Getting ready for the climb

IT’S taken many years, but I think I may have identified the elusive element missing from my exercise regime.

I don’t have any problems getting out of bed at 5.30 in the morning anymore, I just remember that in just three weeks I’m expected to climb 1,236 steps.

That’s 55 flights of stairs straight up into the air. Fear is a fantastic motivator.

When I committed to the KPMG Consulting Central Park Tower Stair Climb way back in February of this year, it seemed such long way off and something I would surely be able to wriggle out of at the last minute. Wrong.

Suddenly June 30 seems worryingly near. And after walking up the eight flights of stairs to my apartment one evening I realised I might need substantially more preparation than a leisurely shuffle around the block a couple of times a week.

Motivated more by pride, I realised I would have to do some training if I didn’t want to be humiliated by the other members of the team.

My first lesson in pain started on a drizzly, dark morning at the summit of Jacob’s Ladder on the edge of Kings Park.

I don’t think I’ve ever so grossly underestimated gravity in my life.

And as if running up (which only lasted about two flights) wasn’t hard enough, running down the dark, wet stairs was just as tough.

Just to rub a little salt in the wound, I was passed by two athletic looking women bounding up the stairs engrossed in conversation about their kids.

They had enough air to talk and breath – at the same time.

I’m ashamed to say I only managed to get up and down the Ladder three times last Tuesday morning, but afterwards I felt invigorated and alive. “This is the new me,” I reported to anyone who would listen.

Then came the pain.

The next morning I felt a little tight, but that was to be expected after my first attempt at the stairs, I was willing to accept a little discomfort.

The following morning and the three days after that I was almost unable to walk.

It was so swift and unexpected, just walking to get a cup of tea from the kitchen at work was testing.

I also learnt a little about compassion in the work place. How they laughed at my pain.

The pain’s almost gone now, there’s just a twinge in my calf muscles which I can now fully extend for the first time in almost a week.

But it’s only the first week of training and now I’m fitter and my muscles are stronger.

And for the moment the fear and the pain have abated.

p The KPMG Consulting Central Park Tower Stair Climb is on June 30. Entry forms are available on this page and registrations must be in by 8.30am on the morning of the climb.

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