A few weeks ago my friend Cola and I became junkies to the magical camping mega store known as REI. I cannot speak for Cola, but I was destined for addiction. It lives in my blood, courses through my veins. My father and my uncle are both life long members. They spoke of the store as if its entrance were through a secret door in the back of an old wardrobe. I had been there before, but I had never actually needed anything. I went to see if my father would spend any of his dividends on me. When Cola and I went the first time by ourselves, we were not prepared for what was to come. The staff’s onslaught of information was too much for our inexperienced minds to handle. It was overwhelming at first, but they were gracious enough to dumb it down and explain to us what we should be looking for. After several journeys to their Conshohocken location, we had all that we needed.
Testing the gear was our next project. As often as we can, the road trip crew and I go to the local park to muddy our boots and let the backpack straps find comfortable locations to hug our love handles. The first time Cola, my brother Adam, my father and I went together. My father tells me the best way to train are hills, and there are plenty of them around my neighborhood. We started on an incline, and my father said, “There were times when we (he and my uncle Pete) would only be going a mile an hour, and people look at me like I’m crazy when I tell them that. It does not matter how slow you go, just try and keep your heart rate low…”
My father’s voice trailed off as I concentrated on climbing the hill that loomed mostly ahead of me. The advice he had been spouting out then, I had already heard before. One needs to listen to his body. Sure it applies when climbing a hill, if you huff and puff your way to the top, you will burn yourself out. I had learned my lesson elsewhere though. Cancer had taught me that.
There are few things that I thank my lymphoma for, this was one of them though. I have never been as in tuned with my body as I am now. I learned to listen to my body while I was going through therapy because I had too. My body would not allow me to disregard its pleas for sleep or food. Today, I still try to oblige it. I tend to eat on the healthier side, I stay hydrated, workout regularly and make a valiant attempt to get eight hours of sleep a night. I feel better than I have my entire life. Now all that I have to do is apply my cancer lesson to summiting hills.