Give it a Year – The Battle to Beat Middle Aged Spread Part 2

Give it a Year – The Battle to Beat Middle Aged Spread Part 2

You know that beautiful feeling? The one where you wake up early in the morning and hear rain pounding on the roof. The wind is howling – but who cares? Curled up in bed, you are perfectly warm and snug. It’s Sunday and so, with a contented sigh, you roll over and pull the duvet over your ears. The noise of miserable weather fades as you drift back to sleep.

And then you remember.

You agreed to climb a big fucking hill today.

In two hours actually. Which means you have to get up right now and get ready.

We’ve all woken up with that sense of regret at having to follow through on a plan that we now can’t be bothered with. And that is exactly how I felt on the morning of the great LEGACY Criffel climb.

I’d known about it for long enough because the date had been set weeks ago. As with all event planning, there was plenty of enthusiasm in the beginning. Diaries were free, the weather was great and energy levels were high. Numbers had since dwindled but, at the last count on Friday, there was a hard-core group who were still up for the ascent of Dumfriesshire’s highest point. I was one of them.

Now, cuddled up in my bed, I had to resolve this mental dilemma. Climbing Criffel was the LAST thing I felt like doing on this pissing wet morning, but I knew that if I pulled out I would feel bad. I would torture myself for being such a lazy cow. I would chastise myself for being a pathetic lightweight, refusing to go out in the rain. I would hate myself for letting the team down. Yes – in my heart, I knew that if I didn’t climb Criffel, I would descend into a spiral of self-loathing and a ‘what’s the fucking point’ binge of comfort-eating. Nonetheless, I still could not bring myself to drag my sorry ass out of bed.

Cocooned in the quilt, self-loathing began to creep in – and then, thankfully, a fabulous moment of clarity. If I felt like this about the Criffel climb, then surely everyone else would too! All I needed to do was check my Facebook and see if anyone had had the decency to cancel it. Because if someone cancelled the whole event, I wouldn’t need to feel bad about not going.

Quickly, I brought up the Legacy Facebook page but, with dread, I noticed that some folks were still up for it. All was not lost though. Like me, others were hinting about how nice it would be to climb Criffel in good weather – or to re-arrange to a date when more people were able to attend. I felt hopeful until Kyle, our leader and master, blocked every negative comment and told us to ‘get our head in the game’. A final, bold attempt was made to point out the dangers of climbing in thigh high mud and bogs – but it was hopeless. The climb was ON and I had to go. With heavy heart I grabbed my Nakd bars, pulled on my coat and boots, and made my way to the shitty, waterlogged meeting point. In the gloom, we gathered. Eight brave souls ready to begin a mighty ascent.

As expected, it was muddy and steep with plenty of hidden rocks. It rained the entire time and, at no point did we see anything of the view. It was freezing one minute and then too hot the next. Having not climbed Criffel in 25 years, I had no idea where the summit was – or how long it would take to get there. I simply kept my head down and trudged on steadily. And then – somewhere along the way I started to enjoy myself! Even better was the fact that I did not need to stop every five minutes for a breather! My god – I was actually fit for this!!

To my amazement, the summit appeared far quicker than I thought it would. When a large pile of rocks loomed out of the mist I thought nothing of it until my climbing buddy announced that ‘this was it!’ I was astounded! The last time I climbed Criffel, I arrived at the summit on my hands and knees and spent the next few days in agony. Yes, at aged 23, I recall being crippled by the Criffel climb but here, at twice the age, I felt (and possibly looked) like a mountain goat. This served as further confirmation that hard work in your circuits class will definitely pay off.

Everyone was in the same upbeat mood and, despite being soaking and starving, we made for a cheery bunch. After whooping and lunching on the summit, we made our descent back to the car park. I trundled off home feeling mighty pleased with myself and cockily declared to everyone that it had been ‘a breeze’. The lesson of the day was not a difficult one – simply a reminder that we will always feel better if we just ‘get on with it’ (whatever ‘it’ may be).

If ‘climbing Criffel’ had been my Legacy goal for last month then I would have succeeded. Alas, my goal for last month was to crawl out of the ‘overweight’ section of the NHS ‘height/weight’ chart. This meant reaching a target weight of 11st 4. Having failed to achieve this during the previous month, I was certain that I would be victorious this time round. But I wasn’t! I was 11st 5 at my weigh in. A pound from victory. A ‘half point’ over the normal BMI range. Progress indeed but hugely fucking irritating all the same!

What can I do but declare that this 11st 4 goal be carried over – again – to next month.

I’ll see you then!

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