I took a friend up the 1000 Steps on Sunday. It was her first time up the steps and she said that she was noticeably nervous.
Rachael is about to start her 12wbt journey. With a lot going on in her life, she likes the structure that the plan gives her. She's also been told about the friendships you can cultivate, the people you can be inspired by and the spirit of kinship that you can find in the group if you're lucky.
"Come on, mush mush. We'll get you up there. We'll go at your speed." I told her.
"Yep, really. I'll be right behind you. Besides, I've done pump this morning - I don't feel like killing any records."
"And your best time?" she asked.
"24 minutes on a very good day. 27 is about the average at the moment. I've put on a bit of weight."
Rachael is somewhat bloody minded. I know there was no chance she wouldn't make it up to the top - I've been with people who've not made it to the half way mark. I've been up with people who don't make it to where the steps start.
"Be thankful you just have me - the whippets race up here like bunnies. We'll take this at wombat pace. There is no shame in that."
I was impressed with the pace she set. 11 minutes from the arch to where the steps start - that's about normal. Sure, she was panting a bit, but not hyperventilating. We rested for a bit.
"I have your back." I told her as we started on the 700 proper steps.
"You don't have to do this."
"Yes, I do. I'm here to show you that you're up for this - and so that you don't get injured. And so you don't stop. The first time I came up here I did this with a couple of now friends. It makes the whole process easier."
"Will I hurt tomorrow morning?"
"A little - we'll stretch at the end."
"Will you hurt tomorrow?"
"No, I'm tougher than that - and psycho. And I do this daft stuff regularly - my leg muscles are cool going up here. "
We started on the steps.
I was really impressed. Every 100 steps or so we'd stop for a break for a minute or so. Rachael did really, really well. I warned her when the horrible stairs were around the turn, made her walk the short straights and urged her on - not that she needed much help.
"Do you do this for many people?" she asked.
"A few. I'm paying a very generous friend's offering forward."
"What did they do?"
"An elite marathon runner walk/ran a half marathon with me - doing what I am doing for you - urging me on, picking me up when I it - making sure I got where I need to be."
"Yeah - and hopefully you will pay this forward too."
We got to the top in a very respectable 35 minutes. I couldn't be prouder of her. She did so well.
Making our way down, we talked of life, work - all sorts of things. I love that exercise gives you a change to talk about stuff. It's a very healing process.
I also saw a lot of my former self in Rachael on the weekend. A woman wanting so much, willing to take a few chances - starting on the journey.
To think that I was where she was two years ago. Standing at the bottom of the steps, wondering where the path would lead.
I really hope that she enjoys the journey as much as I do.