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This diary is a bit delayed. well actually it is a lot delayed! it is from late last year and was writen then but i forgot to put it on. hope you enjoy the read.

I woke up at 4.30am both excited and nervous about what was ahead of me. I got up easily with the amount of adrenaline pumping through my blood. The day was an opportunity not to be missed. We were all very lucky with the effort and organisation that had been made by the LTA to take us on a trip to the Marine Training Camp in Exeter. The three hour coach journey was made shorter by listening to music and soon we were there.

The guard standing outside in his smart uniform and complete with a gun, looked scary! A lot of excited and nervous laughs went around the coach – this was all going to become a reality!

We were taken to a room and were briefed by one of the top Marines on what they do and the different levels there are. I found this all really interesting and was taken in. We were shown a short DVD that looked really good with the kind of training they do and what skills they need and seeing that really inspired me and made me respect these people before I had even tried some of the things they have to do.

As we walked though the gym to the changing rooms, lots of Marines were training hard. It made me realise lots of people are working hard in the gym for their job. To be fitter and stronger than them, you have to work harder. Harder is taking a trip to hell and back.

The first thing we had to do was march. It was a lot tougher than I expected and even that discipline showed me how focussed they have to be. For everyone to be smart and all be in time is extremely difficult.

We then went onto wall climbing. We were paired, harnessed up and given a demo by some very muscular Marines. One of my main fears is heights, so my palms were sweating as soon as I saw the wall. My turn came and with my heart rate at about 200, I took my first grip and step. Claire showed teamwork by helping me, talking to me and telling me where to go. I put all my trust in her. I made it most of the way up and got to a ledge where my legs started shaking and I had to call it a day. It was even worse having to abseil down! It felt great to accomplish something that I was scared of and never thought I would do.

Straight to the pool for a spot of kayaking. I am a confident swimmer so really enjoyed this. We started with a relay race and then went on to rescuing people who upturned in their boat; again you had to trust your partner and again I faced my fear of heights when jumping off a high board.

Finally the assault course came. We felt the equipment the Marines have to carry round and let us just say I am very glad we didn’t have to! We did a fun warm-up with a few team bonding drills and just before we set off some Marines came through looking shattered, we could not wait to get started!!!! Off we went on two miles of torture! Up and down muddy hills and the crawl through a small tunnel which was pitch black (my second fear is of small spaces but I didn’t want to look like a wimp so I bit my tongue). The stones we crawled over killed our knees and hands. I had to hold onto the person in front of me to guide me through into freezing muddy lakes, crawling on the floor, pushing each other up banks. I loved it!!!!
Then came the hardest test of all, as I waited to go through a tunnel that reminded me of 'The Shawshank Redemption'. I thought I was going to cry. Laying on the ground, the rocks and water under our bodies and trying to drag ourselves through, was really hard work, it was like the ‘sheep dip’ where I thought “I can’t do this” but proved it was mind over matter, a thing that the Marines must live by.

The day was great fun and opened my eyes to how hard and unforgiving Marine training is. I faced two of my biggest fears so came out feeling successful. It made me realise when my automatic reaction is “I can’t” that I actually CAN!

What did I learn from the day? I can take into my training that a lot is mind over matter and that I just have to bite my lip and get on with it.

Mel xx

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