Depression Marathon Blog

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Diagnosed with depression 17 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!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

A Happy 3:43

Yesterday dawned drizzly, cold and gray. It was a perfect day for a long run. Rather than worry about overheating, as was the case in my last two marathons, there was actually a risk of hypothermia at Grandmas Marathon yesterday. The fog was so heavy and thick, it was hard to see the mile markers (huge, tethered, yellow balloons) as we approached each of them. And I don't think the temperature ever rose beyond the mid-50's. Like I said, it was a perfect day for a long run.

I took advantage of the conditions. Wearing shorts, two shirts, a hat, and a pair of gloves, I raced my way to a 3:43:59 Boston-Qualifying time. I definitely run better in cooler weather!

I actually surprised myself yesterday. Despite the cool conditions, I didn't feel all that great for quite awhile. I ran the first three miles with my friend, Therese, but then I asked her to go ahead without me. I could tell I needed to slow down, or I was going to crash later, and I certainly didn't want that. She went ahead, and I slowed my pace just a bit. Still things were iffy. I wasn't at all confident. It wasn't until after a pit stop at mile eight, which cost me 40 seconds, that I began to improve mentally and physically.

Concerned about the lost 40 seconds, which I know is silly, I picked up the pace and surprisingly felt okay. I went from running 8:30's per mile to running 8:20's for most of the middle miles. Rather than thinking too far ahead, I focused on each successive mile. I thought only of making it to the next mile marker, literally running one mile at a time, rather than worrying about what was going to happen miles down the road. I also smiled a lot.

The smiling started, innocently, around mile 12 or 13 when I began to gain confidence. With each successful mile completed, I got more and more confident that I was going to finish, and perhaps even finish well. The smiling seemed to help my running, so then I began smiling on purpose, especially during rough patches. It worked. Each time I felt tired or worn out, I smiled, and each rough patch eventually passed. And that led to more smiling!

Before I knew it, I was at mile 22, then 23 and 24. I knew I was going to finish. I let it go. I couldn't wait to cross that line. Miles 24 and 25 were the two fastest miles I ran in the entire race. I slowed again during mile 26, as my legs tightened up, but I crossed the finish line tall and proud.

Unlike the recent Boston and Med-City Marathons, there was no walking yesterday. I ran the entire distance, and I was proud of that. I also ran a negative split, meaning I ran the second half of the race faster than the first, and I was proud of that. For the most part, I didn't even think about my overall time. I was at mile 25 before I noted I was likely going to finish well under the Boston Qualifying standard. And I did. I qualified by more than 10 minutes.

Qualifying was a bonus, however. I'm really happy to have run well and to have felt well while doing it. I'm really proud I didn't let myself down. I didn't let negativity creep in. Instead I felt almost giddy at times. I had fun. Even though I initially didn't feel great, I kept going until I felt better. The training, which hadn't had me feeling very confident lately, did pay off. I challenged myself, and I met the challenge. It was a good day.


Tina Fariss Barbour said...

Wonderful, Etta! Congrats on a great run and for not letting a slow start stop you. I love the image of you smiling your way through the miles. And I love the idea of taking one mile a time.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations!!! My big dream is to qualify one day...