Depression Marathon Blog

My photo
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, June 16, 2012

More frustration in the marathon

It was another long day of running and walking today. Despite feeling prepared and optimistic, despite starting out at a reasonable pace, despite sleeping and eating well, despite my familiarity with the course, despite knocking out knock-out training runs, and despite nearly perfect weather, I ran another 4+ hour marathon today. Remember, just one year ago, I ran 3:35 on this very course. Today, I struggled, and I mean struggled to a 4:09:32 official time. It was long, frustrating, and a bit demoralizing out there today.

Now I realize running and walking to a 4:09 marathon is not the end of the world. So don't fret. I'm not going to go jump in the big, beautiful lake I just ran alongside for 26.2 miles. I am, in fact, pleased (maybe too strong a term at this moment, but I'll go with it) for sticking it out. I almost walked off the course around mile 14, but again, I thought, what would I write in my blog? That I quit? What kind of example is that? I don't quit. But it was tempting.

The fun was removed quite early in the race when I began suffering stomach cramps around mile three. Despite my internal protestations, I was first slowed to a walk, and twice to a dead stop, somewhere between miles eight and nine. My official results tell the rest of the story. My pace between mile markers dropped from 8:51 at half-way (13.1 miles) to 10:51 at the finish. It was a long, slow progression down hill.

Similar to my last marathon, which granted was 88 degrees, my body just didn't want to go. The stomach cramps that began so early never went away. I didn't know what else to do to get rid of them. I tried stopping. I tried stretching, I tried eating and drinking as much as I could. I tried not eating and drinking. Nothing worked. Finally, I gave up and and just kept moving forward, sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly, and I ate and drank at will in an attempt to find even an ounce of extra energy. That also didn't work.

It was just a tough day. No need to beat a dead horse. It was what it was. Some time during those 4+ hours, I even questioned what I was doing out there, again, after so many recent slow, difficult marathons. And that tells me something. It tells me it's time to take a break from the marathon. I had thought I'd sign up for one more potential Boston-qualifier, if today didn't go well, prior to Boston registration in mid-September, but now I think not. There will be no Boston for me next year. And that's okay.

My next marathon is scheduled for October. Between now and then, I obviously need to tweak my training a bit. I need to get back in the weight room. That is the primary difference from last year to this. I have not really lifted weights since my knee surgery last October. I guess it's time. I think I'll also focus on some shorter races over the summer. They are fast and sometimes painful, but they are also over really quick! That prospect sounds particularly appealing at this moment. And I'll continue to be grateful for the opportunity and ability to run at all.

Running is a big part of my therapy. It keeps me balanced. It keeps my mood strong and outlook healthy. It gives me structure. Like a med no longer working its best, it's time to tweak it and change it up a bit. So that's what I'll do. Once again, running taught me something today. Once again, the lesson has been learned.


Tina Fariss Barbour said...

Once again you've written an inspiring post where you talk about what you've learned and the way you're going to keep moving forward. I understand being disappointed in not doing as well as last year, but you did the best you could and still did well. And you've already learned the lessons the race had to teach you. That is not easy to do.

Jean Grey said...

You are doing a great job of listening to your body and responding to it- by changing, being flexible rather than sticking with what isn't working or giving up. It is a wonderful example of insight and adaptation for the rest of us! I think too often I see the options as keep going or give up. But you have picked the third option, usually the wisest option.

The Blue Morpho said...

This is so tough, but marathons are so taxing - after that knee surgery it might take a long time to get back into 'form.' But I think you have the best approach - saying maybe marathons are not the race for you right now. Maybe in the future they will be, maybe not, but what is important is that you find the way to keep running in your life in a fashion that serves you. I think this is really insightful of you.
Adventures in Anxiety Land