Depression Marathon Blog

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Diagnosed with depression 17 years ago, I lost the life I once knew, but in the process re-created a better me. I am alive and functional today because of my dog, my treatment team, my sobriety, and my willingness to re-create myself within the confines of this illness. I hate the illness, but I'm grateful for the person I've become and the opportunities I've seized because of it. I hope writing a depression blog will reduce stigma and improve the understanding and treatment of people with mental illness. All original content copyright to me: etta. Enjoy your visit!

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Boston, Boston, Boston--Marathon, that is.

As I was attempting to cruise through my 5 mile tempo run last night, I had only thoughts of Boston in my head. Boston. A wonderful city in which I lived and ran. The city, really, where my running "career" began once my years as a team sport athlete ended after college. This morning, I watched online as 150+ of the fastest women in the United States ran 4 loops of the same roads and trails on which I used to daily hoof, as they attempted to qualify for the Olympics in Beijing. Ironic, as I look at the map of their course--the same exact paths along the Charles River, through Back Bay, and around The Commons. I wish I were there to share the energy of the day.
But it was the Boston Marathon, taking place tomorrow, which was especially on my mind last night. I will be cheering from afar as 10-15 friends, local runners, toe the historic Hopkington starting line with 20,000 others around 10AM tomorrow; Patriots Day. It is a Massachusetts holiday filled with reenactments of Paul Revere's ride and the first battles of the American Revolutionary War, but it is better known to us runners as Boston Marathon Day. During my years as a local, I wanted to participate in the historical events of the day, but watching the marathon always won out. Several times, I even ran sections of the course, as I helped pace friends in their efforts to re-qualify for the next year's race. Once I even accidentally crossed the finish line--a BIG no-no for an unregistered runner in Boston! I was lucky to get away without being shot! What fun!
Now I live far away again, and I realize I may have taken all of those opportunities for granted. I have never towed the line in Hopkington myself. And therein lies my sadness today. I planned (hoped) to be in Boston this weekend both to spectate and run. Over the past year, I was vocal in my encouragement of others within our community. "Let's make it a party in Boston," I said! "We'll all qualify and go together! It will be great!" Obviously, the rest of the story is by now quite clear. Of the many who did qualify and decided to go, I was not among them. Ironic, huh?
I am sad that I will not be there to celebrate with all of them, and experience a first Boston with so many of them. You see, Boston is the ultimate goal for those of us competitive-runner-types who will never have a shot-in-hell of qualifying for the Olympics. Why? Because of that one little word--QUALIFY. You must run a qualifying time to run Boston. They don't let any ol' shmo on their course! For us mere mortals, running Boston is often the ultimate, life-long goal. Boston is special.
Boston Marathon weekend has been tough for me since 2003, the first year I had the opportunity to officially run Boston and didn't. I qualified at the Twin Cities Marathon in September, 2002. But by Spring 2003, running was fighting a losing battle with my depression. No worries, I thought, I'll just run it next year. While my qualification was still valid for 2004, my body was even less inclined to travel 26.2 miles on foot. I have not run a qualifying marathon time since. I haven't run close to a qualifying marathon time since. So Boston Marathon weekend continues to be bittersweet.
As I remember it today, it was depression that kept me from training, and therefore kept me from meeting that life-long goal. But I wonder. Depression was ever present and grueling, yes. But, was I also taking for granted that I would be able to qualify again? If I had known then how significantly my running ability, motivation, and desire would drop off after 2003, would I have pushed myself just a bit harder? Would I have gone and run anyway, despite not being in "perfect" shape? I think I might have, but then hindsight is 20/20, isn't it?
Fortunately, hindsight and disappointment found a willing student in me. From them, I learned the concept of living in the moment. Given the same opportunity today, I might delegate my energy resources differently or make different decisions. Today, I know I need to strangle the moment I am in, for I will not have that moment again. Missing Boston, twice, likely hammered that lesson home. So today I will live in today, and I encourage you to do the same. Don't take your Boston for granted.
Live now. Grab now. Do it now. Tomorrow, especially when living with a chronic, debilitating illness, is never guaranteed.