Jenn's 3 Peak Challenge

Friday, 7 July 2017

Last weekend I took part in what I can only describe as one of my biggest physical challenges (after child birth of course!)

I took part in the 3 Peaks Challenge with six of my colleagues, and we had to climb the 3 highest peaks in England, Scotland and Wales in 24hrs.

Yes, you read that correctly. 3 mountains in 24 hours.

I can hear you screaming why!? 

Well, every year the company I work for invite all employees to nominate a charity at our annual strategy day & then we decide who we’re primarily going to support in the coming year. This allows us to build up relationships with our chosen charity and put a more concentrated effort into our fundraising.  Last year we had a few suggestions (including my own) to support the Neo-Natal Unit at Warwick Hospital.

There were a few reasons why we chose this charity.

Firstly, as a family run business, naturally children and families are at the heart of the business and in recent years we’ve had a bit of a baby boom in the office! Most of our children have been born at Warwick Hospital and we’ve all received amazing care whether everything went to plan or we (as mums) colleague’s wives or the babies themselves needed extra care and medical attention. The level of care has been great.

But they also face funding issues and we didn’t want to sit by and not give back to the staff who had been a huge support. Also, the hospital is under-going a major refurbishment and they hope to introduce a mid-wife led unit very soon. Our charity efforts will also help towards this.

When we initially decided to take part in the 3 Peaks Challenge a few months ago, I had offered to be a driver for the group and somehow managed to find myself as part of the climbing team! I’ve no idea how I let myself be talked into something like that!

However, aside from raising money for a great cause, it was also a great opportunity for me to prove to myself that I’m stronger than I thought.



I’ve had a fear since Luca was born about getting back into shape (weird I know) because I knew it was going to be painful and my muscles were going to sob in pain and so I kept putting it off, and I even began to build up a level of anxiety around exercise. The truth though was that I had gained weight post baby and I wasn’t loving my new look. But rather than face the reality of the situation I kept ignoring exercise and reached for the chocolate cake instead.

With the 3 Peaks looming, I did purchase a gym membership and began going 2-3 times a week about 2 months before doing the challenge. Now, most people will tell you that this is insane; that you need to train a lot harder and put in a lot more time and dedication. But I was just happy to be back at the gym and I thought that had to count for something! I started doing steep incline walking on the treadmill, squats, lunges and some weight training for my gluts. I didn’t push myself too hard, I still had the pain barrier in my head.

When we hit Ben Nevis last Friday, it really hit me much I was going to struggle. The beginning is super steep, and I had to abandon my team in favour of putting my head phones in and going at my own pace. I gave myself a serious pep talk, dug deep and kept walking. I reached the top and met my team – no one was more surprised than I was at reaching the top, given how bad I was at the beginning!



I decided to sit out the second mountain, Scafell. We arrived at 4am on Saturday morning and had had very little sleep. My body was aching and I knew deep down that if I pushed myself I would possibly injure myself or be so exhausted I wouldn’t complete Snowdonia, and that’s what I really wanted to do. I still believe it was the right decision for me. 

We arrived at Snowdonia by lunchtime on Saturday and started climbing straightaway. The guys went ahead (they were pushing for the 3 mountains in 24hrs! - amazing guys!) And I walked with another 2 colleagues. Everything was great and I wasn’t struggling as much as Ben Nevis, but by a quarter of the way up a cloud descended and the wind and rain picked up. As we moved higher the climb became harder, so steep in some parts, and we batted against gusts of winds and side sheets of rain. . . it was not fun. But again, the headphones went on and I dug deeper than ever before. Just when I about at breaking point another climber on his descent told us we were yards away from the summit. I wanted to cry!

But the top was the worst!! We were battered by the elements and while there’s a rest area and pit top restaurant at the top, you still have a bit of a climb to reach it. It was hell. By the time I arrived I was soaked through, my muscles were on fire and my legs were shaking. The guys had reached the top in 24hrs and were celebrating with beers and pasties (the nicest thing I could have drank or eaten at that point!) With a short rest, some selfies and a quick change of clothes, we began our decent but opted for the train side (yes, there’s a train and no they wouldn’t let me buy a ticket!!!) The path was more consistent and less steep but long, and that proved more difficult as our knees and legs started to give out. The walk down for everyone was so mentally and physically draining.


I’ve never been so happy to walk on flat ground or sit in a car! We arrived home around 1am and the first stretch in bed was painful and delicious all rolled together! Sleep since Friday had consisted on sitting in the back of a mini bus – not exactly roomy!

Back in the office on Monday, I dreaded climbing the flight of stairs to my desk. My calves burned so badly, my knee was painful and exhaustion was etched in my bones, but all that paled in comparison when we realised we had raised over £2,700 for the baby unit!!!!! We couldn’t believe it and the support we received on social media was incredible. It actually made it all so worth while. 

Would I do it again? Probably not! But in hindsight I am glad of the experience and when I wasn’t hating life, I did actually enjoy it... my ribs were also sore from laughing so much! 

Not only will the premature baby unit and the new midwife led unit benefit from my pain and tears, I also proved a lot to myself in 24hrs and it’s given me the motivation to get back in shape . . . watch this space!

(If you would like to support the Neo-Natal Unit at Warwick Hospital, you can do so here. Proceeds from our 'Mother of a Toddler' clothing line will also be going to the unit, and you can pick a t-shirt up here

   

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