Ready for the Summit Push

After several acclimatization forays up and down the Khumbu icefall and Western Cwm, Everest climbers return to base camp to rest and fortify before their final push to the summit. The climbers are nervous, tense, and wondering if all the work they have put in over the past months and years will come to fruition. They wait. They watch the weather. When the time is right and the weather window opens, they plod up Everest’s flanks once more.

I met with the editor of my book on Friday. Like the Everest climber, I feel like I’m in base camp about to face some tough days ahead. Long hours, intense focus, and perseverance are called for…I know I am ready for the climb and I have been waiting for the weather window for weeks now. Technically, my deadline is in two weeks and I’ll have more of an idea if I can reach the summit in that time frame once I begin the climb to Camp One tomorrow.

No page of the manuscript is free from the editor’s mark. Lots of copyediting is needed-some nipping, tucking and generous suggestions to tighten the words. When I took up filmmaking, once we had the rough cut, our mentors would say, “Love nothing. Take your film and cut half of it out.” Fortunately, I don’t have to cut out half the book.

Nowadays, I generally take editing well. When I was a young writer in university, the process was painful so I’m grateful of the growth that has made it easier.

Before leaving base camp, climbers check and recheck their gear, their food, and their bodies. So many things can stop a summit bid and they want to prevent minor things from interfering. My desk is ready. The manuscript is propped up beside the keyboard, my highlighter to mark changes is handy, and I’ve purchased a new box of Tetley Tea to see me through the climb.

I’m not sure how I will fit everything in over the next while. I added up my training hours near the end of last week and realized they totaled nearly twenty per week. I suspect with the need to work with the manuscript intensively again, I’ll need to swap out some training hours for writing hours. It’s a good thing I met with Phil Alcock on Friday for a training session. Phil is a former student of mine and a gifted athlete and trainer. He owns the Core Health Spa ( and offers state of the art training that aims for functional strength and fitness. I’m hoping Phil can reshape my training so I train harder, not longer.

My first work-out with him definitely fell into the “harder” category. A mix of ladder-step work, fitness ball, and bounding had me sweating harder than I had in a long time. I’m also nursing the last of the lactic acid out of my system so I know the workout pushed me. I know with six months away from training, my core lost considerable strength and I’m excited to be building that back up now.

This morning, I awoke to a pounding rain. I knew it was one of those mornings where it didn’t make sense to hesitate too long before heading out on my long run. The temperature rose considerably overnight and the low-slung clouds whipped about my face. No one else seemed to be out running this morning. Perhaps, it was because many runners were out doing the first “Cape to Cabot” run from Cape Spear to Cabot Tower-a twenty kilometre half-marathon with some big hills. I knew as I headed up the Virginia River many of my friends would be making their way towards town. I had wanted to run the race but I didn’t think I would be ready for that distance yet. As it turns out, I ran 16 kilometres this morning and felt like I had many more in me to give. I might try running the race route before heading to Chile in thirty-five days! (eek-so much to do in the next month). After my run, I briefly watched runners go by-I tried my best to cheer for them but I was so choked with emotion, I could barely manage a whistle. Feats of physical endurance have always moved me to tears. Congrats to Gillian, Trevor, Phil, Sharon, Art, and the many others I know who were running this morning.

My own run was fabulous. One of those runs that’s a gift of all the training that came before it. I was surprised at how easily and quick the kilometres passed. I was almost disappointed when it was over. Soon into the run, my mind emptied and my attention was riveted on the colorful leaves framing the trail. I love autumn and I appreciate that today’s run invited me to overtake inertia and get out into it.

Thanks to all who wrote last week and let me know that my words made a difference to you last week. I always enjoy hearing that they do. My appreciation goes out to all of you who join me on this journey. Have a good week.


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