"It's what you do," Daniel mused, "you sign up for something and then you spend 6 months worrying about your ability to do it."
He's right, it's what I do. I sign up for challenges and adventures that look exciting and fun in the moment, while I sit in my temperature controlled home on a soft sofa with a beer in one hand and a mountain of optimism in the other. "It's 6 months away." I tell myself, "I have plenty of time to train for XYZ event!".
That's what I told myself in January as I sent in my application to participate in a guided backpacking trip with Andrew Skurka, a well-known adventurer and author of "The Ultimate Hiker’s Gear Guide: Tools & Tips to Hit the Trail". In the application I had to specify my training regimen, my backpacking experience, and my fitness level. A few weeks of crossed fingers later I received an email from Andrew stating "I can offer you a spot on the Sept 24-28 5-day trip. It will be a Moderate session, 10-15 MPD effort." I enthusiastically responded "YES!"
Twenty days later I was at Duke Hospital, recovering from surgery to reattach my right hamstring, which had torn during a training run. The surgeon was vague about my chances at being able to hike 10-15 miles a day by September. I've been injured before (plenty of times!) but I had never been so completely sidelined for so long. It was 3 months before I could take my first tentative steps out the door for a run. The first time I walked a mile felt like a huge victory. But I had to be ready to carry a backpack full of gear and food for 5 days in the mountains of California. When I signed up for the trip in January it seemed so.... possible. As I waited to heal from my surgery it suddenly seemed... less possible.
The trip begins in 5 days. For the past 3 months I have been working with the coaches at Patty Shoaf Coaching to try to prepare. Every week they've sent me progressively harder workout plans. I had no idea there were so many versions of lunges and squats, such a variety of ways to torture my abs, or that you could do that many embarrassing things in a gym with a physio ball. I've spent hours on treadmills, climbed 100 flights of stairs to nowhere on a StairMaster, and bear crawled my way around the gym. I wake up each morning with the familiar worry - will I be ready? I go to bed after each workout thinking - maybe I am?
When I stand at the trail head on Monday I know it'll be with mixed emotions - excited and anxious for the adventure, nervous about meeting new people, eager to see new sights, and hopeful that I've done all I could to be ready. It's what I do - I sign up, I worry, I work hard, and hopefully, in the end, I conquer.
Photo courtesy of Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Park