Depression Marathon Blog

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Diagnosed with depression 19 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!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Last day of the month thoughts

Wow. It's the end of November already. Kind of a big month for me. Had that little marathon deal a few weeks ago. That turned out okay, I guess. Ha! Briefly had a plan to run another one next month, but now trying to cope with not running while I heal from injury. I think the rest and cross-training are helping my leg.

Yesterday I lifted weights and spent 66 minutes on the elliptical. God bless those of you who do those machines on a regular basis! I don't know how you do it! I thought swimming was boring! Even with a TV right in front of my face, I can't stand doing the same thing in the same place over and over again. But I did it. Like I said, I'm trying to cope with not running. I'll be back in the pool tomorrow.

Puck's trying to cope with me not running, too. He's not any happier with our 30 minute walks than I am. Plus he's got all sorts of excess energy. I can't sit still for one minute without him bringing me one of his toys. He's used to 20-40 miles a week, too. Half hour walks are a pretty significant drop in activity. Hopefully, he won't have to wait much longer to run with mom again.

On another totally unrelated note, I'm stressed about having to confront one of my assistants at work. She's been making some questionable treatment decisions lately. Unfortunately, she's also very defensive. So rather than allowing for a learning experience, which is what I'd prefer, she will likely defend her decisions to the bitter end and fail to hear any constructive feedback. I'm afraid it's going to be a totally useless and unpleasant interaction. It's too bad.

Here's hoping December brings healing, happiness, and joy for one and all.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Already anxious to run

I hope you all had a very pleasant, comfortable, and gratitude filled Thanksgiving. I worked part of the day, watched football and went for a walk with Puck. In the early evening, I had dinner with some sober friends. I said a prayer for those who spent the holiday alone. I was grateful to be sober and to be surrounded by people for whom I care and who care about me.

Puck and I just got in from another walk tonight. It was beautiful out. Many homes were lit up for Christmas. It was so nice and so serene, I had a very difficult time continuing to walk. I really wanted to run! Then I stepped off a curb and pain shot through my left lower leg. That was a good reminder of what I was trying to accomplish by resting--no more pain! But I really, really wanted to run!

Nothing but walking for me yesterday and today, as the pool was closed. I'll be back splashing around tomorrow. Get this! I actually swam 2 miles on Wednesday! Yup, 2 miles! I couldn't believe it! I set out to swim for an hour, but at an hour I was already over 1.5 miles (I swam the first half mile with flippers) so I decided to keep going. Surprisingly enough I finished fairly easily. Not sure what got into me, but that was quite a little achievement for me! Remember, when I started 1.5 years ago, I couldn't even swim one lap without stopping and gasping for breath. Swimming is slightly less annoying now that I can do it, but I'd still rather be running down the road!

Here's hoping my leg heals quickly...

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

More swimming for me

Well after my whining yesterday (see last post) I did get out the door and run. Rather than a speed workout of 10 miles, I set my sights on an easy 2 miles. I made it 4.5 miles. Then I went back to bed for an hour before my AA meeting, which I followed with 25 minutes of weight lifting. Thankfully, it wasn't a totally useless day.

This morning brings new revelations as a result of yesterday's short run. My left calf is not healed. I don't know why I expected it would be. With the exception of the week after the marathon, I never really let it rest. It hurt for the first couple of miles yesterday, but I was encouraged when the pain subsided. Unfortunately, this morning it is worse. I have pain in my calf and shin. Tendinitis. I need to take some time away from the running, I guess. That means I'll be back in the pool today.

It also means I will have to change my upcoming goals. I had hoped to run another marathon in each of the next two months. I think a December marathon is definitely out of the question now. I will plan to run in Clearwater, Florida in January instead. I will lose some running fitness between now and then, which is exactly what I didn't want to happen, but I suppose I should listen to my yelping leg. I'm looking forward to the day when I can cruise along pain free again.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

one of those days

I'm having one of those totally useless days. Although I'm sure my therapist could re-frame it into some sort of positive, to me this day has so far been totally useless. I have a short list of things to do, including running a speed workout, but I've yet to get out of my pajamas.

I'm tired, I guess, although I can't imagine why. When my alarm went off this morning, I was in a deep sleep. I barely remember shutting it off. Puck got me out of bed an hour later, and I had my usual breakfast and coffee. I don't think I actually woke up though. Within another hour I was back in bed sound asleep. Weird. I remember awakening a few times after that, but never longer than to just roll over and continue my slumber. I didn't get out of bed until 12:30! I can't remember the last time I slept an entire morning away! College maybe? Yikes!

Once up, I figured I'd certainly feel ready and useful. That hasn't happened either. Still in my pj's. Still tired. Still useless. I'm hoping to come around soon, as I'd really like to get something done. I'd really like to run, or swim, or bike, or even go for a walk! Of course, that will require getting my leaden butt out of this chair. Whew! Lead is really, really heavy.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Back on the road

I returned to running today, and boy am I paying for my time off! I ran 12.1 miles. I planned to run 15, but my calves wouldn't allow it. Puck seemed no worse for the layoff. It's so fun for me to watch him run. He appears to be smiling the whole time! Anyway, as I was saying, my calves tied up into knots and wouldn't let go. I'm still paying the price right now--12 hours later! Ouch.

I wish I could have gotten out the door earlier this week. Despite my physical discomfort, I already feel better mentally. My mood seems lighter, and I have more energy. There was certainly a sense of community out on the road this morning. It seemed everyone in town was out running. I like feeling part of the running community. When I'm sitting at home, that's another thing I lose--community. It was great being out there with the masses again.

I wanted to run long today because I'm contemplating another marathon in December. I think I really need that goal in front of me right now. Besides, I ran a marathon in October for fun, and I still ran well in Richmond 4 weeks later. Why not do it again? I'll see how my legs feel tomorrow. I may need to reconsider my plan if my calves don't cooperate. I'll let you know...

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Battling the post marathon blues

One of the most popular posts on this blog is about post marathon depression. I wrote it after I ran Grandma's this year. At that time, I sensed the beginning of a post marathon drop in my mood. I think I'm smack in the middle of that drop right now. Scary.

Like I said, post marathon depression is a hot topic here, so I guess I'm not alone in this. That helps. I am feeling absolutely spent. Boston's early field closure doesn't help, but it's more than that. I'm definitely feeling out of sorts, direction-less, and drained. I guess it makes sense. I worked very hard for 4 months with one, singular goal to keep me moving. Now...nothing.

I haven't run a step since the race. I haven't swam. I haven't biked. Nothing. I've been battling a migraine for the past two days, which hasn't helped. I guess I need a goal to get going again. I'm formulating one. It involves another marathon, but that's all I'm going to say for now. I'm planning to run Saturday, maybe even go long. Sometimes I have to jump all the way in to get going again. But I think a new goal is the answer. Now, if I could just get off the couch!

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

NO Boston for me...

The 2010 Boston Marathon is closed. The 2010 Boston Marathon has reached its field limit of 25,000 runners, and there is no way to sign up for the race anymore. There is no waiting list. There is no entry...period. So there will be no Boston Marathon in 2010 for me.

Talk about a major disappointment... I'm so glad I didn't know this before my race. That would have made it very difficult to keep going when I felt bad. My qualifying time is good for 18 months, so I will sign up for the 2011 Boston Marathon, but a lot can happen in 1.5 years. After working so hard for this one singular goal, I'm still dumbfounded that I won't be able to participate in the culminating event. Dumbfounded and sad...

Oh, and did I mention it officially closed on November 13th--one day before the Richmond Marathon?

Monday, November 16, 2009

The Stats

Time: 3:46:57

Pace: 8:37 per mile

Place: 30th out of 323 women in age group

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The recap


I'm really proud of myself. At mile 11, my legs were done. I had hustled back on pace from a pit stop at mile 8, and we had just finished 3 miles of rolling hills. I was in the midst of composing my blog post in my brain. The title was to be, "Missed again." I was grieving...thinking of everything that had gone wrong--too much walking the day before the race, the injured calf, forgetting to buy yogurt (my usual food) for breakfast, travel stresses... I had a lot of sadness and negative thinking going on.

Despite my faulty thoughts and failing legs, I decided I wouldn't walk until at least mile 13.1--the halfway point. I don't know why. It was just a little goal. I had already played other brain tricks earlier in the race. For instance, at mile six I remember thinking, "Only 10 more miles until there's 10 more miles left to go." Perhaps that thought of mile sixteen is what kept me going once I reached halfway. At mile 13.1 I thought, "Give yourself a chance. Just get to 16." And that became my theme.

"Give yourself a chance," I kept repeating. And by that I meant keep running on pace until mile __ before thinking about slowing, walking or quitting. It worked. I made it to mile 16, on pace, and felt a hell of a lot better than I had at mile 11 or mile 13. "Give yourself a chance, etta. Just make it to mile 18," and I did. And then the goals were miles 20, 22, and 23. By mile 22, I was pretty sure I was going to make it. Miles 23-26 were perhaps the toughest miles I had ever run, but I didn't slow. I was determined.

"If it was easy, anyone could do it." That was my thinking over the final 3.2 miles. Any time I thought it was too hard, I reminded myself it was supposed to be hard. That's what would make it special. And special it was. I exuberantly yelled, "I qualified," as I ran toward the finish line. As far as I was concerned, the spectators were all cheering for me. HA! It was my ten seconds of fame.

I was very emotional and held back tears after I crossed the finish line. Those first 11 miles were filled with physical discomfort and emotional negativity. I think I am more proud of battling back from that than I am of qualifying for Boston.

In many ways, the race was a microcosm of my last 4-5 months. Remember July? Gripped by depression, I could barely get out of bed. From my bed to a qualifying marathon... I don't know what else to say. I'm happy. I'm grateful. Life is good today.

Saturday, November 14, 2009



more later...
first a nap!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Waiting out the storm

After a very long day of travel yesterday, I finally arrived into a very wet, windy, and cold Richmond, Virginia, last night. The recent hurricane deposited days of rain right over the top of the East Coast. As I awaited the Holiday Inn shuttle, I began an inventory of my suitcase. Not nearly enough cold weather gear in there! After all, the last time I checked the weather, it said it was going to be up to 69 degrees on Saturday! Damn!

The Holiday Inn shuttle, which I had arranged literally hours earlier, did not show up. That should have been my first clue. I arrived at a hotel which looked nice on the surface, but the place was dirty and broken beneath. Besides the lack of promised amenities--like a refrigerator and microwave--there was a dirty rag hanging over my shower rod, my heater was busted, the card key worked only 50% of the time, and the place was woefully understaffed. I spent the night, but today I'm transferring to a Comfort Inn down the street. I will certainly think twice before staying at another Holiday Inn.

So it's been a rough start to my trip. They say the rain is going to stop today. God, I hope so! It looks like it may be just warm enough for my attire, but I will be looking for some clothing deals at today's expo. I'm hoping to get checked into my new digs early, get quickly through the expo, go for a short run, and then spend the rest of the day relaxing. I need to get back into the mental groove of marathon prep and put these recent stresses behind me. Hopefully, things will get smoother from here on out. The gun goes off at 8:00 AM eastern time tomorrow morning!

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Testing the leg

I know. I know. I said I wasn't going to run on my injured leg before the marathon this Saturday. But it was such a gorgeous, warm, sunny day again today, I couldn't stand the thought of swimming inside! So I tested my leg.

I had another reason to get out and test my leg. I was feeling really heavy. I needed some time on my feet to build confidence for the weekend. I ran 5.1 miles, including 4x400 at 5K pace. I had discomfort with every step, but it was a tightness in my calf rather than the sharp pain I had last week. The swimming, biking and rest did make a difference, I think.

As I hoped, running fast felt good. I worked out some cobwebs. I'm feeling lighter and more confident now. I'm also feeling a bit more nervous. Hard to believe the marathon is only a few days away. It's frustrating to be injured after excellent training for all but the last two of these past 18 weeks. But it is what it is. That's what makes the marathon special. If it was easy, everyone would run one! Hopefully, I'll find the comfort and speed I need on marathon day.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Cleaning and clearing

I don't know about you, but when I'm feeling a bit out of sorts my house usually shows it. Thoughts strewn about my brain are matched by clothes strewn about my house. A dingy, gray mood is paralleled by a dingy, gray kitchen and bath. Interestingly enough, I find the reverse is also true. That is, when my house is messy, cluttered, and dingy, my mind and mood soon follow.

Now I am not a neat freak. I appreciate clean, but my house is my base of activity. There are running clothes drying on various door knobs, work shoes resting wherever I removed them, and bills lying open next to my computer. This is the norm. The problem arises when the vacuum stays in the closet, the broom rests by the refrigerator, and the cleanser hides in the vanity. This, unfortunately, is the current state. And what do you know, my mind and mood are headed in the same messy direction!

So today is cleaning day. Even though I hate cleaning, I need to clean my house to clear my mind. There are so many things I would rather do. Unfortunately, ignoring the clutter is eventually dangerous for my mental well being. Wish me luck today as I confront my mess. I'll let you know how it turns out!

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Not to run...

Easily the nicest, warmest, sunniest day we've had since maybe August passed today without me stepping out on the road. Instead, I went inside to swim. Ugh! I swam and swam and swam. I had a 10-12 mile run scheduled, so I figured a 60 minute swim might be approximately equivalent. I swam for 60 minutes, the first time I've ever done that, and I covered 3000 yards, the greatest distance I've ever swam. I'm grateful I was able to swim that far and that long, but I still wish I had been outside! There is no substitute for running! Only 7 days until my marathon...

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Saddened by death.

I learned last night of two deaths which directly resulted from alcoholism. One young man and one middle-aged woman, both of whom previously worked a program of recovery, passed away this week. Relapse leading to makes me so frightened and so sad.

I've been struggling with drinking thoughts since my sponsor's relapse. They scare me. These two people who died were no different than I. They were accomplished, intelligent human beings who chose to act on their drinking thoughts. Why them and not me?

I wonder sometimes. Why am I getting it--recovery--when so many others are not? And what if I stop getting it? I have to assume that I, too, would die. If the drinking didn't kill me, the alcohol's depressant effect would surely spin me into suicide. Why haven't I picked up a drink while others, with far more sobriety than I, have picked up? I don't know. There but for the grace of god go I.

Alcoholism is a crazy, scary, deadly disease. I am so grateful to be sober today.


It's 4 AM, and I'm awake. Actually, I've been awake since 2:45 AM. It was (is) one of those nights. After awakening multiple times, and finally staying awake after 2:45, I decided to get up and go for my run. Yup, I went running at 3 AM. Crazy, huh?

Actually, it was worse than crazy. It turned out to be dumb. My right calf and shin hurt every step of the way. I'm a PT. I know if a painful area does not improve within the first few minutes of running, it means I should stop running. I didn't. I only made it 3.5 miles, but it was a long, painful, dumb 3.5 miles.

I'm really pissed that I'm injured after all this training! Of course, running through it like I did this morning was not helpful. I likely made things worse. If I had stopped running, like I planned a few days ago, and started swimming instead of running, like I planned a few days ago, I might already be on the mend. I just have to hope it's not too late.

I also have to battle like hell NOT to go back out on the road prior to my race. I have to trust I'm ready and in shape. I have to have the serenity to accept the things I cannot change. At this point in time, I should be able to maintain my fitness with swimming. If I can stay off the road, my leg just may heal enough that every step of my marathon will not be painful. God, I hope so!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Pissing off the devil

Be the kind of woman who when your feet hit the ground each morning, the devil says,

Thanks to my social worker who thought of me when she saw this!

Thank you

Today my therapist and I were marveling over the brevity of my recent dive into depression's darkness. That discussion got me thinking. I have you readers to thank for that brevity. You guys wrote some very supportive comments after I posted about my worsening mood last week. Thank you so much. Feeling alone is a big part of my depression, but your comments reminded me I'm among many. Thanks again for your support. I hope I have half the effect on you as you have on me.