Depression Marathon Blog

My photo
Diagnosed with depression 16 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!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Racing--Me vs. Brain

Surprise, surprise!
A couple days ago, I decided to run a half-marathon, which I did today. It's an annual, popular race in my community, but I hate it. It's almost always steamy hot, and the course is an out and back to nowhere. The turn-around is on a gravel road, which really hurts my feet after a couple miles, and it is almost always windy, too! I hate it.

So I ran it! The timing was right. I just completed my fifth week of marathon training, so a long mid-length race made sense. Besides, it's always easier to run faster in a race than when running alone around a track! I was also curious to see where my fitness was at, especially after my disappointing performance at Grandma's Half Marathon in June. So I ran the half marathon today.

I ran, and I ran it well! I was unsure what to expect. I knew I wasn't in shape to run as fast as I wanted, 1:45 or less, but I was hoping to go under 1:50. For reference, my best half-marathon time is 1:36. It really sucks getting old and chubby! But I digress... I ran well today. My slowest mile, at 8:33, was mile 1, which is always a good thing! Most significantly, I felt comfortable until around mile nine. Even after getting uncomfortable, I was able to maintain my pace. I did slow at the end, however, which I don't like to do. If the race had ended at mile 12 I would have been thrilled! I happily crossed the finish line at either 1:47:09 (race clock) or 1:48:09 (my watch).

Regardless of the official time, I exceeded my expectations today. It's always nice to look down at my watch and see my pace is faster than I feel I'm running. I ran several miles under 8:10, but I felt like I was running around 8:30. I love that! Furthermore, it was an absolutely gorgeous day! As usual, there was a head wind after the turnaround, but it was a cool, dry wind. Unbelievable. It was a good day. It was a challenging day.

One of my biggest challenges today was combating my brain's negative talk. Racing, for me, is often combative. It's me versus my brain in a no-holds-barred, knock 'em down, drag 'em out, gloves-off brawl. As soon as my brain learned I was feeling comfortable at a quicker than average pace, it's onslaught began. It went something like this:

Brain: (mile 2) What the hell are you doing? You can't sustain this pace!
etta: Shut-up!
Brain: (taunting) You can't. You can't. You're going too fast!
etta: Shut-up!
Brain: You shut-up!
etta: SHUT-UP!
Brain: (mile 3) Still too fast. You're going too fast! You're not going to feel good much longer!
etta: I'm not listening!
Brain: You better slow down. I'm telling you...slow down now or it's going to get ugly!
etta: Shut-up! I love this race. I love this pace.
Brain: No you don't! You're just saying that!
etta: (yelling) I love this race. I love this pace.
Brain: (miles 4,5,6) YOU ARE NOT IN SHAPE FOR THIS PACE! NO WAY! Not for 13 MILES!
etta: (fingers in ears) La-la-la-la-la-la-la-la-la... I can't hear you!
Brain: Yes, you can. I know you can. You're starting to get worried. You know I'm right. Ugly, ugly, ugly...going to get ugly! You better slow down!
etta: (repeatedly) I love this race. I love this pace. I love this race. I love this pace.
Brain: Shut-up, shut-up, shut-up!
etta: (miles 4,5,6,7,8,9, 10) I love this race. I love this pace. I love this race. I love this pace.
Brain:(mockingly) I love this race. I love this pace.
Brain: (miles 9, 10, 11) Oh, you're hurting now, aren't you? Serves you right! I told you...too fast.
etta: And yet, I'm still on the same pace!
Brain: (mockingly) And yet, I'm still on the same pace! Oooooooohhh....
etta: I love this race. I love this pace.
Brain: Wait 'till next time! I'll get and your stupid mantra!
etta: (mile 13) I think I'm going to have a heart attack...
etta: (mile 13.1) Thank God! I'm done!

This exchange is common when I race. Racing requires that I battle my overly negative brain. That brain...he's a tough one. But unlike with depression, where my brain has the upper hand, when I'm running a race I usually beat him. The physical and mental challenge of racing is exhausting. But beating my brain? That's a beautiful thing. It makes the exhausting battle totally worthwhile. Today was totally worthwhile.


Michelle (The Beartwinsmom) said...

WAY TO GO!!! That is fantastic that you beat your pace, and even better, that you won over your brain.

I'm very proud of you!

How's the training going?

Jennifer said...

Yay on doing well on the race and on winning your internal "argument"!