The LAB Climbs Kilimanjaro

Member Post by Jo Anna Leuck

So this story starts on a sad day in February.  It was an early morning workout at the LAB where I broke the news.  “Lee, you know how I have been training for Portland, and all?  Well, I can’t go.  I have the chance to go teach at a hospital in Tanzania and climb Kilimanjaro.”  After clarifying that I was serious, and despite already training for two months, was in fact not going to run the marathon, I was quickly assured that my training could continue, just for a different goal.  And so began months and months of the poor Portland running group having to hear endless discussion about my upcoming trip and climb.  The LAB continued my endurance training through the marathon group, threw in some hill repeat runs, a hike or two, a lot of squats and lunges and trained me for the challenge of a lifetime.  

Kilimanjaro is the highest peak in Africa and the summit is at 19,341 feet.  All of the instruction that I received from my climbing company was that I should “train”, but that in no way was this a technical climb.  What neither myself, nor the brochure, accounted for, was three days of torrential rain and hail that turned the hike into a truly technical and brutal adventure.  I found myself clinging to slippery rocks high above the ground with muddy water pouring from above.  I forged rushing rivers that hadn’t existed the day before.  I arrived to the camp night after night, soaked to the bone, only to find my tent full of water.  

Despite an unexpectedly challenging experience, I found the refrain of “be comfortable with being uncomfortable” running through my head.  The LAB had provided me with truly functional training and I was ready for the rain, hail, floods, and the slippery climb.  Every run, squat, workout, and swing had prepared me with a strength to move onward and upwardwith a smile, despite the conditions.  

I cannot explain the exhilaration that I experienced at the summit.  There was never a point that I doubted that I was going to finish.  I credit that confidence and the accomplishment itself to the LAB and the training that I received.  Whether it is a monumental climb or just the strength the live life to the fullest, the LAB provides training for real life adventures!