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!

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Still glowing

The experience of Sunday's marathon is still with me. I suppose I could be accused of hanging onto the glow a bit too long, but I don't care. I am still so pleased with how I ran. I'm pleased I stuck to my plan and ran conservatively early, which allowed me to run fast at the end. I'm pleased I felt good throughout the run. I'm pleased the entire race felt fairly easy. And I'm really pleased with the result! I hope I feel this good after Grandmas Marathon next month.

I am feeling more confident about the possibility of running well at Grandmas now. If I train smart between now and then, I hope to run a personal best. I think that's a realistic goal, so I'm going to go for it. That will mean less fun and more pain, but if I can do it, I may glow for a whole week afterward!

I just got in from my first run since the marathon. I went 9 miles, which was probably 3 miles too far based on how tired my legs were during the last few miles. They were probably a little tired already, as I went to my kettlebell class last night and got a heck of a workout!

It's actually nice to sit down. It's my day off, and I've had a very busy day full of appointments and cleaning and errands. But my laundry is done, my house is clean, my refrigerator is full, and my errands are run. It's nice to have a day off during the week to do all of these things. I like being productive. It's very satisfying.

Well, that's all I've got for now. My mood remains good. Things are going well. Life goes on. Keep moving forward, my friends.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

That was FUN!

I had a great run today at The Med-City Marathon! I bumped into my friend and co-worker, Maureen, at the starting line, and we quickly decided to help each other. She was attempting to re-qualify for Boston, for which I am already qualified, and was looking to run around 8:50 per mile. Perfect. As I stated in my post yesterday, my plan was to run just under 9 minutes per mile for at least the first 10 miles. So we started the race together.

Around mile 3, we began conversing with a third woman, Beth from Des Moines. She was also running our pace, so the three of us ran and talked together for the next 11 miles. Unfortunately, Maureen dropped off the pace just before mile 14, so Beth and I continued together. We ran stride for stride, chatted, and quickened our pace with each successive mile. Beth dropped back just before mile 20, so I went ahead alone.

It had begun to rain around mile 18, and by mile 20 it was raining steadily. With the temperature only in the mid-40's, a stiff wind, and the soaking rain, it got a bit chilly, but I didn't mind. I ran mile 21 in 8 minutes, 13 seconds. After slowing to 8:24 the next mile, I ran miles 23, 24, and 25 at 8:14 each. I felt great despite the rain. Mile 26 was my fastest mile of the day, 8:09, and I finished the final two tenths of a mile at a strong, but still comfortable, 7:40 pace. It was great.

There is nothing better than flying toward the finish of a marathon and feeling good all the while. I finished in a very respectable 3:46:02. I was the 25th of 143 women overall and 9th out of 42 women in my age group. That was all nice, but I was most pleased with running a huge negative split. I ran the second 13.1 miles of the race 7 minutes and 20 seconds faster than I ran the first 13.1 miles! That was pretty cool.

I am quite pleased that I stuck to my plan. I ran conservatively for the first 15 miles. I was easily able to drop my pace after that, and running as fast as I did over the last 10 kilometers was a bonus I did not expect. I enjoyed running with Maureen and Beth. We talked the entire way, and the miles quickly clicked by. I rarely run with other people, and almost never do I chat during a race, especially a marathon! But I was comfortable, relaxed and having fun. It was fun!

I'm now feeling more confident about my current level of fitness. I'm feeling more confident about the possibility of running well at Grandmas. If my training over the next four weeks goes well, I may just try to run a personal best. We'll see. That's more than I need to think about right now. I think I'll continue glowing about today for just a few more minutes first.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Pre-Marathon Prep

I know I said it was only going to be a training run, and I may not run beyond the 20-mile mark, but I am preparing today as if I will be competing in and finishing my 21st marathon tomorrow. I know myself pretty well, and unless my run is going very badly, I know I will have a difficult time walking off the course tomorrow. Nevertheless, that is still the plan. I will run the first 20 miles conservatively, as my final 20 mile training run for Grandmas Marathon in June, and only finish the final 6.2 miles if I am feeling well.

I do hope all goes well, and I am going to sincerely try to stick to my game plan. I'd like to run the first 8-10 miles just under 9 minutes per mile. If I can stick to that plan, I should have plenty of energy to complete miles 10-20 at a pace somewhere between 8:30 and 8:45. And if I can stick to that pace, I should be able to complete the entire race without hurting my chances of running well at Grandmas.

The weather for tomorrow looks a bit iffy. It may be perfect. It may rain. The temp is supposed to be around 50-60 degrees, which is great, but there is also the possibility of rain and wind. That would not be great. I'm having a difficult time figuring out what to wear. I think I'm going to go with shorts, tank top, and long sleeve shirt. If I get warm, I'll have to tie the shirt around my waist, but if I go without the long sleeve shirt and it rains, I'll likely get too cold. I'm sure my clothing dilemma is quite fascinating to you, but this is what one goes through the day before a marathon. It's not very exciting.

Besides my clothing options, which are laid out in my bedroom, I've got my number, gels, watch and sunglasses on the kitchen table ready to go. I'm sure I'll go through and reorganize everything at least once more before I go to bed. I've already eaten my main pre-marathon meal, so the rest of the day will be bananas, a little rice, and possibly some yogurt. I'm very worried about my recent battles with GI distress returning tomorrow, so I'm trying to eat bland food conservatively. Let's hope that helps.

Other than marathon preparation, I have little else to report today. My mood continues to be good. Jet continues to be hilarious. Work is going well. I am really enjoying my patients and co-workers these days. And hopefully tomorrow will leave me feeling excited and confident for my future running and racing. Life is good.

If you live in the USA, don't forget to thank a veteran this weekend. I work with many amazing, humble WWII veterans everyday. I think we sometimes take our freedom, and everything that goes along with it, for granted. Were if not for the sacrifices of our veterans, the freedom we enjoy today might not be guaranteed. Thank you vets! I appreciate your service.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

New Photos of Jet

I've taken lots of pictures of Jet over the past 4 months. He's 8 months old now, and he seems to be going through a bit of a growth spurt. He's also a nut! He's incredibly curious and playful. And he rarely tires. He can entertain himself for hours by tossing a toy, a stick, or even a leaf around the room or yard. After tossing it, he chases it, pounces on it, grabs it in his mouth, shakes it side-to-side, and then starts the process all over again. It is hilarious to watch. He's quite the clever comedian. He makes me laugh out loud multiple times each day. I am so grateful we found each other four months ago. Here are some recent pictures.

 Looking handsome in my kitchen.
 Stalking who-knows-what in D's backyard.
 "I'm not doin' nothing!" I interrupted Jet while he was burying his bone. Notice the dirt on his nose.
 Wrestling with Jet on the Milwaukee waterfront, as D tries to get a good picture of us.
I lost the wrestling match, but the kiss more than made up for it!

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Wonderful Weekend Away

I just returned home from a weekend in Milwaukee where Jet and I visited my boyfriend, D. As usual, it was really nice to see D, spend time with him, walk along the lake with him, run with him, talk with him, eat fabulous meals with him, and enjoy Jet with him. The four hour drive there and back, especially back, tires me out, but it is so worth it.

We were particularly close this weekend. There was no particular reason. I think it's just the natural growth of our relationship, which is so wonderful. I'm pleased with how comfortable we've gotten with each other, and I'm really pleased with how much he enjoys Jet. He even kissed Jet goodbye today. I don't think he ever pictured himself doing that to a dog!

Soon it will be time to go up to his lake home in Northern Wisconsin, which unfortunately is five and a half hours from here. He's going up there next weekend, Memorial Day Weekend, to open everything up. Meanwhile I will be here running a marathon.

The last 20-miler in my Grandmas Marathon training schedule is next weekend. It coincides with the local Med City Marathon, which is Sunday, so I plan on running the first 20 miles as a long run. If I'm feeling well at the 20 mile mark, I'll go ahead and finish my 21st marathon. If not, I'll just step off the course and walk the 10 blocks home. It's a win-win situation, and I'm looking forward to it.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013


After my 10-miler yesterday morning, I was relaxing in the shower when it occurred to me I may have made a terrible mistake. D's birthday is in early May, but for the life of me, I couldn't remember the date! I just knew his birthday was in early May, and I was fairly certain I had forgotten it! Oh my.

By the time I exited the shower, my heart was heavy. I couldn't believe I could do something so dumb. I knew that if he had forgotten my birthday, I would have been devastated. But I don't know how men tick, exactly, so I quizzed the guy working in my house. And I quizzed my male co-workers. I even quizzed some of my elderly patients. They all made me feel a little better. The consensus was it would be no big deal to a guy. But I still felt bad.

I mean it's bad enough I forgot his birthday, but I didn't even know exactly which date it was that I had forgotten! My co-workers and I, and even many of our patients, had a good laugh over the entire situation! It made for good humor throughout the day in the therapy room.

Nevertheless, after I left work, I called D to apologize. He didn't answer, so I left him a message apologizing profusely for missing his birthday. I was honest. I had no excuses. I told him so, and then I went home and Googled some manly flowers to be delivered the next day, today.

I was looking at various flower bouquets when I heard back from D. It was late last night, so he sent a text. It ended with, "Birthday is tomorrow." In other words, his birthday was today, May 15th! I laughed out loud! After all that worry and fret. After admitting to everyone, including D, that I was kind of an insensitive dope, at least on this day and issue, it was all for naught! I hadn't missed his birthday after all!

My boyfriend, D, received a lovely bouquet of manly flowers, wishing him a happy birthday, at his office today. He was touched by my thoughtfulness. He told me it was a very nice thing to do. Of course, I'm still a bit of an insensitive boob for forgetting his birth date, but I don't think it fazed him a bit. And the resolution of my dilemma made for another lively, laughter-filled day in the therapy department!

Sometimes, it's best just to laugh. When I see D this weekend, I have a feeling more laughter will ensue. And that will be just fine with me. I like to laugh, even if it is at myself.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Weekly re-cap

I've just got a short update tonight. I had a good, busy, and productive week. I worked 5 days this week. In fact, I just put my feet up after working all day today. After work I ran 10 miles and cooked a couple of meals for the upcoming week. I ran long this week, almost 50 miles total, including my 20-miler yesterday. On Monday and Wednesday evening I attended my kettlebell and suspension training classes, which I really enjoyed. I like getting stronger. I spent last night listening to a fellow alcoholic tell her amazing story of recovery. I feel so blessed to have found recovery when I did. I was spared some of the alcoholic destruction others, like the woman I heard last night, had to experience. And in my spare moments this week, I was continually entertained by my puppy, Jet. He makes me laugh out loud many, many times every day. I'm so glad we found each other. That's my week in a nutshell. Have a great week everyone. Take it one day at a time.

Thursday, May 9, 2013


I've got a few questions for you. I half-jokingly suggested in a previous post that perhaps my 12+ year ordeal with depression had ended. I don't really believe that, but it got me thinking. What would the end of depression look like? What would it mean to be healed? And how would I know it was over?

I've been feeling well for a few months now. I saw my psychiatrist today, and we had little to discuss. That's always nice. Life is moving forward. Work is fulfilling. I have energy to spare. Running is fun and satisfying. I have meaningful and enjoyable relationships with others. I'm connected to my community and to the world. Does a few months of things going so well mean it's over?

I have no idea if it's over, of course, and truthfully, I spend little to no time thinking about it. I live each day as it presents itself. Worrying about the past or fretting about the future are endeavors on which I cannot afford to waste valuable energy. I figure it would take a few years of feeling well before I'd be comfortable claiming I'm cured. But it is an intriguing question, isn't it?

What would it take for you to feel free of your illness? How would you know it was over? What would it mean to be healed? I'd be interested to hear your thoughts.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Beautiful day for a run

Although we ended up with 15.4 inches of snow a couple of days ago, as I look out into my backyard tonight, the grass is green and there is nary a white patch to be found. The snow turned to rain Friday, and it rained all day and into the night. The rain dispersed some of the snow, and the warm, bright sunshine we had today took care of the rest. I even got to run in shorts today!

I ran long yesterday, 15 miles, with my 7 x 800 meter repeats at 7 minute pace, which I never did do on Thursday, in the middle of my run. Combining my long run with speed work was an interesting challenge. I was pretty tired after my run and for the rest of the day. A nice Italian dinner last night with my parents helped perk me up. Good food and good company typically does that.

I slept late today. Wow, that was nice! Jet usually wakes me up just before 6:00 AM, but today he let me sleep until almost eight o'clock! The sun was already high in the sky by the time I made my coffee. I leisurely enjoyed my breakfast in the sun while watching Jet romp around outside. It was lovely.

By the time I hit the road this morning, it was past 10 o'clock. I had a relaxed, easy 7-mile recovery run. I kept a good pace with little effort, and my legs felt fairly fresh. Apparently, last night's Italian dinner helped me recover well from yesterday's effort. It was so great to run in warm sunshine. It was a beautiful day for a great run!

Tomorrow I start my level 2 kettlebell and suspension training class. I'm looking forward to getting back to it. I really sloughed off this past week without it. I know the level one class made me a lot stronger. This eight week class will take me through Grandma's Marathon, and I'm hopeful the added strength will help me run well there.

My mood continues to be good. Sorry, it's probably getting a little boring hearing that week after week, but I'll take boring over depression any day! The sun is setting on a beautiful day. I'm feeling well. Just for today, depression remains far far away.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Best laid plans

Okay, Mother Nature! I totally give up! Uncle! Uncle! What can we do to make it stop? This morning's workout called for seven half mile repeats on a beautiful, spongy, oval track. Afterward, I planned to linger on the luxuriously green infield grass stretching my tired muscles slowly while soaking in the sun. That was the plan. And it was a wonderfully appealing plan! And then I woke up.
This is a photo of Jet taken one week ago in my backyard. He was making me laugh, as usual. He discovered this large piece of lumbar under the fence and proceeded, with all his might, to drag it all over the yard.  
He dragged it, attacked it, tossed it, hurdled it, chewed it, barked at it, and generally romped around with it for the better part of an hour. He was in heaven! But then again, he's pretty easy. He finds tiny sticks, flying leaves, unearthed rocks, and even pieces of wayward trash to be heavenly toys as well.
The picture above is my little boy racing through our backyard this morning! Now you understand my first paragraph! Unlike his mom, Jet thinks this is just fabulous! He couldn't wait to get outside! He's been out for almost three hours now, and he's barely stopped moving. If he could speak, I'm sure I would hear him screaming, "Wheeeeeeee!"  
I wish I could share your enthusiasm, Buddy. But instead of a nice soft track on which to run fast and luxurious green grass on which to stretch, I now face stationary breathlessness on a revolving rubberized belt breathing stale, sweaty, shared air. My favorite.
And as you can see in the last photo, the snow is showing no signs of letting up. So what's the deal, Mother Nature? It appears you are currently catering to the canines. That's nice. My little canine certainly entertains me. But will it be our turn soon? I can't wait for my opportunity to squeal, "Wheeeeeeee," too!