I am afraid.
More like terrified.
A part of what all this riding has been about is happening this weekend.
Thinking about it rattles the inside of me. Just thinking about it has caused an anxiety attack WHILE RIDING MY BIKE (something I don't recommend).
Every two years I have to do a 'fitness hike' for my Search and Rescue team. It involves distance, time, cumulative elevation and a 20 lb pack. The time element determines what 'level' team you are. The principle behind it is to have some measuring tool to say yes this person is fit enough to be deployed on a search. I have done this hike many times. I have always been a level 2 team - meaning I have done the hike in under 3 hours - until 3 years ago.
I have never wanted to be a level 1 team. That encompasses this hike - but faster, plus additional proficiencies designed to ensure you can search at altitudes above 7000 feet. That has never been a need of mine.
A level 3 is the lowest of the low. The barest of the bare minimums. It means you'll be allowed to search on essentially flat grown, devoid of challenges. In other words, the likelihood of you getting deployed on a search dips near zero.
Three years ago I didn't make it in time. I made in enough time still be considered deployable, just not enough time to be deployable on the majority of searches out there.
I was crushed. I can make a zillion excuses, but it boiled down to ... me. My head telling me I couldn't do it. It was right. I was right.
I didn't do it.
Last year, it was time to do it again.
Missed it by 9 minutes.
I am not due this year. Not for the hike anyway. I am due to recertify with my dog however. And your level of fitness dictates what test you can take with your dog.
Since we have been certified together, my latest dog and I have been on 1 search together. One search. To be sure, some of that is because the region we live in doesn't have all that many searches. But it's also because of me.
So I set out to re do my hike in advance of when it is due so that we can become that 'better' team. So that we can have more opportunities to be out there, to help those that need us.
I had time line goals and to be completely honest, I was intending to do this hike before now. I had thought of November. November came and I couldn't make myself get past the fear and do it. Same with December. And really... January.
What is my fear? Of failing of course. Trying and failing, yet again. In the back of my head, if I fail, yet again, I will definitively prove that I am no good.
I am less.
I am not worthy of being deployed on any search.
Which is funny considering, in my 24 years in search and rescue, how many searches I have been on and where they have taken me.
I have sloshed through snow for hours on end throughout the night.
I have climbed up and down and up and down endlessly.
I have gone back day after day after day, crashing through brush and trees and foliage.
I have searched mile after mile after mile in conditions I would never choose to go on a hike in. And gone back the next day to do it again.
But this hike defines me.
If I make it, I am WORTHY.
If I don't.... I am not.
So, it terrifies me.
If I intend to become that 'better' team, I must do it now.
I must try.
I am still scared.
I am going to do it anyway.
2016 -175 miles
Overall - 730 miles.