by: Cynda Marrero
A few months ago ERT members completed their pack test. Carrying 45lbs. on their backs for 3 miles in under 45 minutes. I was impressed and so proud of my team. The day of the pack test was exciting for everyone. We made plans to relax with breakfast and mimosas after. I began along with everyone else and quickly made my way to the end. After my first lap, I remember Sara telling me that I needed to move faster to stay on track. My music was not fast enough. I was not fast enough. I pushed and started to feel a very familiar pain. My shins became stiff. My teammates passed me as if I was the checkpoint. I couldn't continue. I had to remove my pack. I knew that I could try again but that fear haunted me for months. Whenever we hiked or went on a long walk, I was always behind. I feared that I was not qualified for this task. I didn't feel like a member of ERT. I didn't belong. It took me longer to not only hike up hills but down as well. I pushed myself to prove that I was qualified but in the back of my mind, I never thought that I was.
When Sara announced that we would be taking the pack test again, my heart dropped. I had no idea what to expect. I had been working so hard ever since the last test but I was still terrified. The thought of failing again left me petrified. I started working out and stretching again. I knew my shin splints wouldn't be so bad if I stretched my legs enough. Maybe. "You're doing great, you have only two laps left!" My jaw dropped and rose instantly into the greatest smile I could ever make. I felt amazing! I could have done another 8 laps. As much as I felt like dropping to the floor in the first two laps, I was so happy. I pushed and pushed. Scott stood by my side distracting me from any doubts that could possibly come. I crouched down and sped up around the curves. I focused on my breathing. I smiled every time I saw the rest of my team standing at the finish line smiling for me. They cheered and encouraged me more than I could have imagine. They all came just to support us.
Placing my pack on the ground meant letting go of more than just 45lbs. I dropped any negative thoughts that had festered since the last test. I walked an extra lap smiling so wide, my cheeks started to hurt.
At that moment, I realized something that I will never forget. Endurance can't be measured. We set out to achieve new goals because everything unfamiliar is a goal to achieve. Passing the pack test did not make mountains any flatter. It didn't make blowers more enjoyable to carry all day. It sure as hell never kept the rocks in place when scaling down a steep hill. So why did I think I could measure my strength the way others who do not know me would?
We hold more inside than what we could ever carry.