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!

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Back on the road

Last Sunday, 6 days ago, I ran 26.2 miles under sunshine with temps in the mid seventies. Today, 6 days later, I ran 13.1 miles under gray skies with temps at or below zero! Yikes! As the sub-zero windchill froze my face this morning, I smiled at the divergent conditions. Hard to believe I was so warm only one week ago. But at least I was back on the road.

Earlier this week, I suffered a bit of let-down following The Austin Marathon. It wasn't too bad, just enough to make me nervous. I felt low. I was eating a lot of crap, and I took one more day off than I had planned before I was able to convince myself to get back to it. I'm back to training, but I'm still not happy with how I'm eating. I don't feel good about myself when I throw junk down my throat, yet I continue to do it. Baffling. Tomorrow I start a new Weight Watchers week, and I hope to get back to my sensible eating program then. That would be the final step in reversing this let-down.

I'm glad I'm back on the road because last night I realized Boston is only 7 weeks away. For some reason, I thought there was more time between the two marathons than that. It's not a big deal. It just means slightly more accelerated training than I had planned. That's why I ran 13, rather than 10, today. I just wish the road was a little warmer! And sunnier... Is that too much to ask?

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Austin photos

Look at the size of this medal! And that was just for finishing! I can't imagine what the winner's awards looked like! This was easily the nicest, and heaviest, medal I'd ever received.

My mom was right. This was at 18.5 miles, and I look a hell of a lot better than I felt! Remember, at this point, I was thinking I'd walk the rest of the way if I made it to 20 miles!

My friend, Kate (in white), also had a tough day. She said by this point, 18.5 miles, she was concentrating on just putting one foot in front of the other. I think you can see that in her downward gaze.

Grimacing as I approach the finish. I think that grimace came out around mile 3, and it never went away!

And here I am coming into the finish line. I'm running hard because I know it's almost over!!

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Another marathon in the books.

And thank God, it's over! Three hours, 41 minutes, and 36 seconds after the gun went off this morning, I finished the Austin Marathon. It was perhaps the most challenging and difficult marathon I have ever completed! First of all, it was warm. It was over 60 degrees at the start. I don't know how high the temperature climbed during the race, but I'm going to guess it was easily in the seventies. Secondly, the wind was brutal. Again, I'm only guessing, but it had to be consistently blowing at least 20 miles per hour, and for half of the race it blew directly in our faces. And finally, the course was the most challenging I have ever experienced. It was hilly! Hill after hill after hill... The elevation map below does not do it justice.

Oh, and lastly, I spent more than three minutes in the portable toilets! It was less than a perfect day.

Despite the less than perfect conditions and the challenging terrain, I'm quite encouraged by my results. Despite the hills and headwind, I ran sub 3:35 pace for much of the race. My pipe dream was a 3:35, and based on today's result on such a difficult day, I know it may no longer be a pipe dream. Put me on a flat, fast course, and I think I may be able to do it.

Overall, I managed 8:27 per mile, including the two pit stops. My actual running pace was 8:19 per mile. I finished 76th out of 1,938 women. Even more remarkable, I finished 5th(!!) out of 270 women in my age division! That, I have to say, is pretty cool! I certainly wasn't expecting that!

I'm really happy I persevered through a difficult day. My first pit stop came at 7 miles. I got a terrible side ache around mile 11.5, and I began walking up some very steep hills around mile 12. At mile 14, still struggling with the side ache, I contemplated quitting. I knew my mother was waiting around mile 19, so I kept going. When I saw my mother, I told her I'd be happy to reach mile 20. My legs were so trashed. I got to mile 20, and out of sheer stubborn-ness, I kept putting one foot in front of the other. I figured I'd get the hell off that course faster if I could keep running. I didn't want to be out there one extra minute! Those last five miles were, well, tough. But I did it. I walked when I needed to, but mostly I ran. I don't think I've ever been more thrilled to see a finish line!

Today's race reminds me, and so I'll remind you, that we can often do more than we think possible. Whether it's surviving mental illness, completing a lengthy project, getting sober, or finishing a marathon. There are so many things we can accomplish if we just keep putting one foot in front of the other. What can you accomplish today? Think about it. And thank you for your support during my latest journey to the finish line.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Packing and cleaning

I spent the day getting prepared to leave for Austin tomorrow. I have to leave my house bright and early to get to the airport on time, so I am all packed. I'll be totally ready as soon as my last load of laundry dries. I also cleaned all day in order to leave my home in decent shape for my new dog-sitter. It was a busy, but exciting day. I'm anxious to get going!

Puck didn't like all the packing and cleaning. He knew something was up, and he got quite nervous. At this point, he's not willing to let me out of his sight. I'm worried about leaving him with someone new, but I think everything will be fine. Of course I can't convince Puck of that. Thankfully, I can count on Bill and Cindy to help out if needed. It's good to have good friends.

Speaking of my good friends. I spent last night with them. Bill made a steak dinner. Cindy and I made Toll House chocolate chip cookies. And our mutual friend Tim brought morel mushrooms. It was quite a feast. Satisfied, we sat at the table munching cookies and laughing long after dinner was done. I left there much later than planned, but I left with a warm feeling of gratitude. I am so grateful to have such wonderful, comfortable friends.

Well, time to finish the laundry and get to bed. I've got to be up early. I'm so ready to run this marathon, I can't wait! Usually I feel a little trepidation this close to race day, but not so far this time. I hope the race turns out as good as I feel. We shall see...

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Counting down

I'm inching ever closer to The Austin Marathon this Sunday. Puck and I just came in from an easy run with 5 by 1 minute pick-ups. I felt great! My legs felt great. My mood is good. Things are looking good. The fatigue from last week seems to have passed. I'm quite pleased by that! I'm getting restless to get to Texas now.

The sun has been shining here for the last couple days. It's been a welcome relief from the gray of the past few months. It's been so nice to run with warm sun on my face even though I also end up with mud covering me below my knees. Puck is sound asleep in the sun on the living room floor right now. I think this warmth helps both of our moods.

If you're looking for an update on the dating scene, see the addendum at the end of the previous post. I figure someday, somewhere, a handsome, financially secure, no-drama man will walk into my life. Until then, I will continue to enjoy being single. After all, there are many advantages to walking this path alone. And someday I may also know the advantages of walking it with another.

It's a short post today. That's what happens when life moves smoothly along. I leave for Texas on Friday. I will be sure and keep you updated once there. And look for my marathon results on Sunday. Until next time, carry on, Friends.

Friday, February 11, 2011

No Regrets

Yesterday, at work, we had an inservice by a local company. An incredibly buff, quite handsome man was one of the presenters. My co-workers all noticed he wasn't wearing a ring, and they made sure I knew it. I guess I don't look for things like that, although I probably should. Apparently, they're all trying to get me a date. I appreciated their efforts. He was quite handsome.

Before I knew it, he left our office, but I couldn't get him out of my head. I was disappointed I didn't find more reason to talk to him. I had no idea if there was any potential there or not. He had given me his card, but it only contained his office number. And I didn't think to give him my card. No wonder I'm still single, huh? What to do, what to do...

I was on my way to my first patient--still thinking about the mystery man--when I decided to take a chance. I decided to ask him out for coffee. It took a few more minutes to work up the courage, but I finally called him. Unfortunately, he was out of the office. I left a message with a co-worker asking only that he call me back. He did, today. After exchanging brief pleasantries, I asked if he'd like to go out for coffee sometime. I think I surprised him, because he seemed to catch his breath, but then he said, "Absolutely!" And so I have a date with David.

I'm not sure what propelled me to take this chance, but I think it might have had to do with a Mark Twain quote I heard recently. "Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do..." I really identified with this quote when I first heard it. I knew I would regret it if I didn't take the chance to get to know this guy. I went through all the possible scenarios, and the worst result I could envision was David laughing at my suggestion. Well, that certainly wouldn't have killed me, so I went for it. I called. And now I have a date with David.

I'm so glad I called. Who knows what will happen. There is an age difference, he's younger, and that may or may not be an issue. We may have nothing in common. We may have everything in common. We may have similar or very different life goals. At this point, it's all unknown. But whatever happens, I'm so glad I took the opportunity to explore whatever this turns out to be. I'm not sure what came over me, but I'm pretty happy it did!

ADDENDUM: We had our date. It went great, but the age difference ended up being too great for both of us. (Apparently I look younger than I am, and he looks older than he is!) Too bad. We decided to be friends. I can never have too many friends. Still glad I took the risk.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Tired all of a sudden

Sometimes this fatigue-thing really sneaks up on me. On Tuesday, for example, I began what I thought would be a fairly easy (3 x 1 mile) workout on the treadmill. The warm up foretold nothing. It went fine. But I was only 1/4 mile into the first mile repeat when the grim reality hit hard. This was going to suck!

At 1/4 mile, I could barely catch my breath. Being the stubborn woman that I am, I refused to give up or slow down. Somehow, I sucked in enough oxygen to finish that first repeat. What the hell was going on? I convinced myself it was an aberration, and the second and third repeats would be much easier. Not so fast! Half way through the second repeat, I had to slow the pace. And despite extending my rest interval and slowing the pace of the third mile, I had to quit 3/4 of the way through. I was frustrated and worried.

What was going on? There were only 12 days until the marathon. Was this depression sneaking up on me? That was, of course, my first worry.  But I didn't think that was it. I decided to relax about the whole thing. After all, some workouts are just like that. They suck for no particular reason. I chalked it up to "no particular reason."

I took yesterday off, but the fatigue did not go away. Now I am worried. I have a tough 8 mile tempo run scheduled today. Is it going to suck, too? And if it does, what will that mean? I only have 10 days to The Austin Marathon. This is not how I wanted to feel just 10 days out. I'm not sure what's going on, but I'm trying to trust it will pass.

And therein lies the lesson, I guess. Faith. Do I have faith that "this too shall pass?" And if it doesn't pass, can I trust that things will work out as they should? Will I accept the final result, even if it is not the result I hoped to achieve? Maybe this is just a reminder to accept life as it is right now--to stay in the moment and not waste energy on what happened in the past nor what might happen in the future. I have trouble with that. Maybe this is my test. We'll see. I'm off to run.

Monday, February 7, 2011

I don't know what I said!

I had a wonderful time at my Cake Night Saturday night. My friend Cindy really spoke from her heart and introduced me with very kind words. I was quite humbled. When I took the podium, I had three pages of notes from which to choose appropriate comments. I told you I was fretting about this! In the end, I have no idea what I said. I know I thanked all of my guests for their roles in my recovery, but I'm not sure it was  eloquent nor even coherent!

I did have a great night. I was so humbled and honored by the presence of so many of those on my treatment team. It really was special. I hope it was nice for them to see me outside of an office, as the person I am today is a direct result of their efforts. Overall, it was a fun, funny, festive evening with lots of smiles, laughter, and hugs.

I ran my last long run before Austin on Saturday as well. I didn't feel very well throughout the run, but I finished the 15 miles anyway. My friend, Renee, joined me for 12 miles. That was nice. I have a couple of fast workouts this week and then it's all downhill until race day. I think I'm ready. I hope it's warm and sunny in Texas by then!

I interviewed and hired a dog sitter for Puck tonight. I'm such a nervous mom when it comes to leaving my boy. The young guy I hired is an experienced dog sitter, and Puck seemed very comfortable with him. I feel better about leaving Puck and my house knowing someone will be here taking care of both. But I still don't like leaving Puck. Like I said, I'm a bit of a Nervous-Nelly when it comes to my boy.

And now it's time for me to give my boy some attention, so I must go. Until we meet again, consider this quote. It certainly speaks to me.

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today, and creates a vision for tomorrow.--- Melody Beattie

Saturday, February 5, 2011

What will I say?

I've been awake nights worrying about saying the perfect thing. I invited all of my professional treatment team to my Cake Night tonight (see previous post), and almost all of them are going to be there. Now I'm worried about what to say. I want them to know how important they were, and still are, in my recovery. I feel so strongly--my gratitude is so great--I don't want to leave any words on the table. But I'm realizing there's no way to say exactly what I feel. I'll never be able to say enough. Webster doesn't contain words powerful enough to convey my feelings.

So there's about an hour to go before Cake Night, and I've now got three pages of various versions of things to say. Yet I think I may throw it all away once I hit the podium. None of it is good enough. I'll let you know what happens.

I had a busy day today. I began the day with a 7:30 AM breakfast with a bunch of runners at my friend Renee's house. Renee is a famous cook-extraordinaire, so of course everything was delicious! I attended my 9:00 AM AA meeting where I got to see my sponsee get her 6 month sobriety chip. That was cool. Then Renee joined me on my last long run, 15 miles, before The Austin Marathon. It was a warm day and a good run. After that I rushed to a nearby town to get my haircut. I didn't want to look shaggy for tonight's big event. After Cake Night tonight, we plan to go out for pie. I love pie! And that will be a great finish to a busy day. It started with food with one crowd, and it's going to end with food with another crowd.

I feel incredibly blessed. I am so lucky to be surrounded by so many wonderful people. Today I'm grateful for all of the people in my life. Hmmm...maybe that's all that needs to be said.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

It's about tapering and cake

In less than 3 weeks, I'll be running my next marathon. It's taper time. Tapering is when I gradually reduce my mileage and effort over the final 3 weeks prior to the marathon. Hopefully, that will leave my legs fresh for race day. I'm following the exact same plan I followed prior to the Dallas Marathon two months ago, so I'm feeling pretty confident that I'll be ready on race day. Tapering is a nice reward for all the hard work which goes into preparing for the marathon.

I'm really looking forward to Austin. I hope the current nasty weather passes by then, and there will be nothing but sun! I need some good, warm sunshine! It was really sunny here today, but in Minnesota in January, that usually means it's extra cold outside. And it was. So I'm looking forward to a tiny break from winter. I think it will help keep my mood stable, and I hope it will propel me through the rest of winter.

This weekend is a big weekend for me. Yes, it's Super Bowl Sunday, and I love that. But I've got an even bigger event occurring Saturday night. It will be Cake Night. Once a month, my home AA group has Cake Night to celebrate the previous month's yearly sobriety anniversaries. Technically, I should have attended in January, as my sobriety anniversary is in December, but I like to wait until February when my sponsor celebrates her anniversary, too. And we'll be celebrating together--me 5 years, her 21 years--on Saturday night.

This is an extra special Cake Night for me. I invited all of the professionals who've been on this depression, alcoholism and recovery journey with me. With the exception of my psychiatrist, who wanted to attend but will be out of town, they are all coming! My psychologist, my social worker, and staff from my outpatient treatment center are all going to be there. I invited my treatment team, as well as my friends, in order to recognize and thank them. Mental health professionals are not always looked upon favorably by some in the AA crowd. Having the professionals there with me to celebrate sobriety will allow me to give them the credit they deserve. Without my treatment providers I would not be here today. Period. They deserve to be thanked for that, and I can't wait.

Life is moving right along. Financially, I'm still stressed, but I've picked up some extra hours to help alleviate some of that stress. Alleviating the stress never occurs fast enough for me, but I'm trying to be patient. This too shall pass. After all, life is moving right along. And right now, it seems to be moving in a favorable direction.