Every step I've ever taken... Every footfall on concrete, asphalt, sand, dirt, mud, grass and gravel led up to today's run.
I'll be honest, I haven't posted in a couple of weeks because I've been battling some of the worst depression I've ever experienced (and I've experienced a lot of depression). I couldn't break free of it day or night. And nights have been the worst, with panic attacks and dark thoughts. I tried to run my way through it, even adding miles to kick out more endorphins, but to no avail. Over the couple of days, however, my subconscious, coupled with as many natural remedies as I could think of (hibiscus, hawthorn, and possibly meditation), seem to have pushed back at the edges of the darkness. My dreaming mind seems to point to a type of PTSD caused by my previous work environment as being the root cause. I don't know if that is true, but over the past day or two I have felt more at ease, and more myself.
In the throes of the mental and physical agony that kick in when depression descends, I have been planning to knock out a 50K ultra. Most people who know my running habits know that I don't care if I'm in a race or running a distance by myself. I just like to do the distance. I kind of have my eye on the Lunar Trek in July, but haven't made up my mind whether or not to enter. I have done a few long runs on the roads, but not on the gravel/dirt that make up the racing surface. I had thought to do a night training run with the Trail Hawks last night, but was simply too tired to do it when evening descended.
All during the past week I had promised myself that if I didn't do the night run with the Hawks, I would get up early and knock out three hours on Clinton North Shore. And while I like trail running, I am not someone who kills himself to go monster distances on trails. I've done a couple of 2.5 ish hour runs on trails. But if I'm going to put in the time, I'd rather do it on gravel country roads.
But this morning at 7 a.m., with rain and lightning coming down, I said 'screw it' (or something that is sort of like 'screw it'), put on my water pack at the trail head and ran into the darkness. And it was really seriously dark and scary for about 45 minutes of the run. My mind played out weird wild hog and mountain lion scenarios (I may have seen one later in the run, but I'm not going to open that can of worms on this posting). Finally the clouds lightened. I could see the trail. I had settled into a rhythm that was comfortable. I alternated between the white and blue courses because I was only going for time, and not distance. It was really beautiful.
I only passed one runner in the three hours on the trails; a 30-something woman with a mid-sized black dog. The two were cruising along in the opposite direction. With the darkness and the rain, I didn't want to creep her out (because the encounter startled me, not having expected to run into anyone else)I smiled and said the most pleasant 'hello' that I could muster and cruised on.
The last hour of the run was slightly difficult. I tripped once and was really worried that my hamstrings would seize up (that happens to me sometimes on longer runs). I also felt a couple of smaller blisters forming on my right foot, but ran through that issue.
I finished the run in 3 hours to the minute (about an hour and a half ago). On the way home I had the thought that every step I've ever taken had led me to that run. And now that I'm done writing, it occurs to me that every step I take leads me to whatever run I do on any day. Today's run will lead to Monday's (I am taking tomorrow off), Monday's to Tuesday's, and so on. It is a continuum. Some components might seem more important, but they are all simply parts of a wonderful journey that I need to find a way to enjoy.
I'll post more soon.