As some of you are aware from one of my previous blogs, Rob and I are off this February, to walk the Milford Sound Track in New Zealand. To train, I have been working with my friend and neighbour, Bev. I try to get out with her as many times as possible. A couple of weeks ago Rob decided it was time for him to come and join me on one of my walks, which, by the way, involves stairs. That particular morning we were heading out on one of the most challenging local tracks. I’m happy to report that Rob was very surprised to see how my speed had increased. I was going full steam ahead up the steep hills, down the steps and along the track with its many challenges. I don’t think Rob expected me to outstep him. To be completely honest, I surprised myself at my progress.
I have to share that Rob, like many men, is very competitive and throughout our life together, he has always been much faster and stronger than me in any real adventures we have attempted together. For the first time, to both of our surprise I was the one out front. You can only imagine my excitement as it’s only taken me forty-three years to accomplish this. I’m reminded of the story about ‘The Rabbit and The Tortoise’ and how slow and steady does, in the end, win the race.
My happy feeling of accomplishment lasted only so briefly because of Rob, with his strong tree stump legs and me with my tiny toothpick legs meant that ultimately his strength would carry him further and surpass me. His brute force propelled him up those stairs and VERY steep hills faster than me. Perhaps it was the brute strength and muscles seasoned with a bit of his competitive nature. Whatever the case I tasted victory for the two weeks it took him to catch up to me. It felt good. I am very proud of how quickly he has stepped up, and he is much faster than he was two weeks ago, this morning we cut the time down by five minutes, got to be pleased with that.
Training has taught me a few things:
- We are both in our second half of our sixties, and this has allowed us to see that we are doing pretty well
- We are both very determined
- We have perseverance
- We have a desire to do well on our adventure in February
- We love a challenge and love stepping outside our comfort zones
Actually, I think I always knew these things about us as individuals and as a couple. Being able to see this part of us, through our training, has been so fulfilling. It’s fascinating that even while walking the track at a good pace we meet challenges like stairs, soft sand in places, hills, tree roots at times popping up in our way, uneven rocky surfaces and more hills and stairs. At first, we tried to avoid the soft sand where possible and walk on a harder surface to make it easier for ourselves. Now, we deliberately choose the soft sand instead knowing that the muscles in our legs are being prepared much better for our four days and three-night trek in just a few short months time.
Another thing I’ve noticed that as my fitness level improves I’m able to enjoy the scenery along the track much more. In previous weeks I was focussed on my breathing and only making it to the end, the exhaustion certainly took it’s toll and demanded all of my concentration just to take the next steps. Now, I no longer feel like I’m going to die along the way and I’m able to absorb the beauty around me. I see, hear, smell and feel. The sound of the waves crashing on the shore line as we come around corners where there is an opening in the bush and we can see the ocean. Hearing them is like magic. It’s as if the waves are cheering us on and the breeze coming off the water is so appreciated as it cools us down for a few seconds, it’s just wonderful.
On our walks, we come across others like us who are out there enjoying and enduring the track at the same time. As we greet one another, there are many and varied expressions of pleasure and pain mixed in together, however, it’s obvious that we are all enjoying the benefits physically and emotionally as we soldier past each other. Creation is truly on display, I’ve seen wildflowers, a bush mouse giving birth (that’s right I saw that!) whales migrating, birds dancing and so much more. The sense of wonder and awe at the beginning of the day is breath-taking, and I’m reminded of how beautiful God is and how He created beauty all around us, we just need to stop and breath it all in.
Since I started training and through my development, there hasn’t been a morning (yet) that I have been excited about going on the walk. Honestly, it’s been challenging, but every time we are on our way down the long steep hill towards home, we are always exhilarated and so glad we did it once again. The longing for home and the lure of the much-needed swim in the pool at the end is the best part. The refreshing dip and the fact that our beautiful grandchildren love to see us walk in the front door all red-faced, puffing and panting and then watch us come back to life as we swim in the fresh water.
I’ve learned so many things through this training; it has been a beautiful experience, and I’ve seen how with every step that we are teaching our grandchildren how to step outside their comfort zones. How to face challenges and not to “settle” in life. How to go the extra mile and enjoy the benefits of the extra mile while pushing ourselves that bit more in life. They get very excited asking us lots of questions like; Why are you doing this? Where is the track? How far is it? How fast did you do it today? Can we go with you one day? As we answer, we show them by example how we’re going to achieve something we want to do and show them we will achieve it because we have put in the hard work of training for it.
By setting goals, having a plan, executing that plan for a purpose, cheering each other on and involving them in the journey, we are teaching them things they will take into their future. We’re sharing our experiences with them and the things we are learning as their grandparents. We talk about the things we are experiencing along the way and how although our walk in February is the adventure we want, we are adventuring as we move towards that date. Through this experience, I think the process is becoming real to them. It’s in the process that we learn so much there are benefits to be experienced at each stage of development.
I love the way the minds of little children are influenced by the adults in their lives. Let’s always make sure we are placing value into these very impressionable minds. Let’s be careful to deliberately speak life into them and show them by example that there is so much in life waiting for them to enjoy as they step outside their comfort zones and into adventures.
Rob and I have never done anything like walking the Milford Sound Track before. We are looking forward to it and including the grandchildren in the preparations is just the icing on the cake for us. Enjoy each other, be careful of what your examples are to your children and grandchildren and remember, actions speak so much louder than words at times.