Lucia’s first blog post

I’ve never been a ‘sporty’ person. I’ve never been the type of person who relishes physical challenges. Growing up, at primary school I was more interested in devising dances to the newest Spice Girls single, which grew into performing in dance shows alongside my like-minded friends at the ‘Performing Arts College’ we attended. Alongside this, my love of singing grew and grew. At university, my buzzes came from serenading audiences with ‘Porgi, amor’ in our annual opera at The Leeds College of Music, rather than boozy netball tours. I have, until this point, had my ‘comfort zone’, and (unsurprisingly) been very comfortable in it! Until now.

After 5 years of marriage, it’s no shocker that some of my husband’s attributes and quirks have rubbed off on me. (And hopefully, some of mine on him!) Let’s go back 7 or so years to that unforgettable day Adam dragged (no hyperbole!) me up Scafell Pike. Naively, I began the ascent full of optimism and spirit.

“I’ll wait here for you… you go up to the top and I’ll meet you on your way back down…” I muttered defeatistly halfway up the mountain. Unused to the physicality of climbing such a height, I was enveloped in a grey cloud of pessimism. But Adam didn’t give up on me. He coached and coaxed me; encouraging me to keep going and breaking the clambering ascent up into manageable chunks. Five minutes of walking, two minutes rest (or something like that). Before I knew it, we were high fiving the clouds as we reached the summit. The euphoria of achieving something that, to me personally, was a huge achievement, was unrivalled. A contrasting elation compared to the buzz following an opera performance, but the sense of achievement and the satisfying muscle ache was so worth it. Knowing that I had pushed myself, both physically and mentally, was exhilarating.

Reaching the top of Scafell Pike in 2011. My first physical achievement.

Until more recently, those emotions have laid dormant. Actioning my ‘comfort-zone hobbies’, (such as singing, reading, walking and crocheting) I had almost forgotten how rewarding it is to push myself out of that comfort zone to achieve something I am proud of myself for. So, when I saw a rock climbing event on my Facebook news feed from the ‘Cyprus Girls Can’ initiative I thought, ‘let’s give that a go!’

As 2017 merged into 2018, my focus and mindset shifted. There is a lot of change in the air for us personally, and with the knowledge of our impending cycling challenge, I am keen to put myself into situations outside my ‘comfort zone’, as let’s face it, whose comfort zone is not showering for a week and sleeping with who-knows-what creepy crawlies after pedalling hundreds of kilometres for weeks on end! (OK, I guess some people get a buzz out of that kind of thing, but remember when I said I like to read, crochet and I forgot to mention – eat cake!) Without much convincing, my friend Kayleigh agreed to join me on the ‘Cyprus Girls Can’ rock climbing open day. I wasn’t sure what to expect; I certainly didn’t expect to feel the absolute terror and anxiety I experienced half way up another mountain (but this one on a much severer incline!!)

Satisfyingly reassured by our obviously well-trained and highly-experienced instructor, I raised my hand to volunteer to be the next amateur climber. I secured my climbing shoes (“Are these tight enough?” I nervously questioned in my head) and stepped up like a lamb to the slaughter, to the rock face. After what felt like only a few foot-holds and hand-holds up, I (metaphorically) hit a wall. Where do I put my foot next? Am I secure? If I let go will I fall to my death? (I knew I wouldn’t of course! But that didn’t stop me feeling overwhelmingly anxious and panicked!) If this wasn’t out of my comfort zone – I don’t know what is! Unluckily for me, the instructor decided to use me as an example/ a lesson for the other amateur climbers in waiting. He shouted up to me, (he looked a very long way down!), informing me calmly that there were no foot-holds, or hand-holds for this next section, I had to push myself up with my feet flat against the wall (apologies for any experienced climbers reading this, but that is what I sort of thought he meant!)

“Hug the wall!” he hollered. Much to the amusement of the crowd below, I flung my arms out and literally hugged that rock face. The adrenaline and nerves had exhausted me.  I was so ready to give up. Tears stung my eyes. This was so, bloody, hard! But I breathed. I gathered myself and pushed up. And up. I kept going until I reached the top of that bloody rock!

The point just before I hugged the wall!

Relieved, I now had the task of abseiling down. Letting go of the wall and leaning back was terrifying – especially at such a height. A loud f**k later, which turned to a flip as there were children present, and I had leaned back and could start my shaking descent. Exhausted (mentally), finally I felt solid ground beneath my feet, and that same sense of achievement made all the near-tears, anxiety, terror and expletives worth it. I had pushed myself, more mentally this time, 100% out of my comfort zone.

And that is what I will continue to do, because I feel so alive when I do so. Don’t get me wrong, I love curling up with a good book and a cuppa (and cake!), but nothing matches that feeling of achievement, triumph, victory and most aptly, accomplishment of mastering your fears and trepidations to succeed in something mentally or physically challenging.

I am still not a sporty person. I am still not the type of person who ‘relishes’ physical challenges. And after I have cycled 9,000km from Singapore to Japan I will STILL not be ‘sporty’. But I will feel proud and deliriously happy that I have pushed myself; feeling alive and living in the moment.

1 comment

Granny grunt

We are so very proud of the fact you are doing all you’ve written about here.We would never in a million years have thought of you doing anything of the sort,but you and Adam are off for a year doing what you are doing,and we wish you all the very best,good luck,fun,and you can sing as you ‘peddle along’the roads of these places you have never been to before.God bless you both.

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