How do we react when we are pulled in multiple directions at the same time?

Physically, we break. ‌Mentally, I‌ shut down.  I‌ go to a place that seems like a state of paralysis.  Sometimes unable to make even the most simple of decisions.  Believe me, I‌ did not choose to be here.  When these days come, its easy to think the time in this place will be never ending.  It does end.  It always does.  

Dealing with depressive episodes is something I’ve embraced lately.  Embraced as in: I’ve accepted the reality. The reality that these episodes will be a part of my life, forever.  I‌ must greet them as a friend because they are part of me.  A part of me that for many years of adult life, I avoided at all cost.  That time is up.  My decision to put time into dealing with these issues is my path forward.  I‌ know I’ll always have the issues and pains that have brought me here.  I‌ also know that I’m able to deal with them and keep them in a manageable form that won’t effect my entire life when it happens.  

I‌ like the darkness.  The darkness is a friend when it comes to the sport of long-distance running.  The longer the run, the more room for darkness, the more opportunity for growth.  The darkness greets us when we least expect it, and leaves like a whisper that might have barely been there. But it always leaves a mark. It’s always noticed and felt but rarely taken for what it really is.  Darkness is a place where I‌ learn about my true self.  The black orb that lies deep in my chest is something I’m working through and with.  To work against it only helps it grow.  To break down in tears mid-run is a powerful experience.  One that has been a part of my running journey from the beginning.  The emotions that run through me as I‌ experience a huge running event or feel lost on a trail, are a mixture of fear, joy, euphoria, and pain all at once.  Most importantly, it’s a mixture of life forces.   The forces that keep us moving forward, not backward. The pressure builds us up if we let it.

Life, for me, is no longer defined by the amount of happiness and joy I‌ experience.  I‌ really need and pursue of all the emotions.  The highs with the lows, mentally and physically.  It’s a wonderful thing to know what you need in life – and then to actually pursue it.  Some days I‌ need a trail all to myself.  A high-five from a little furry friend. A kiss and a few words of love from my wife.  Most days end with a bit of sad or melancholy music to ground me in my reality.  To tell me that life is real and painful.  But the pressure of it all is nothing compared to the lack of challenge, and ultimately a void, that a life unexamined might bring.  I’ll stick with the fulness of it all.  

RH 7.25.19

Broken Arrow Skyrace 52k – Squaw Valley Resort, CA. Two loops of insane vertical left me in a place where all I wanted was for it to be over and done with. The pain of not finishing is always worse than the pain of enduring the event.

Why do I run?

Why do I run?

Hmm..good question?

It begs the question:  “Why does anyone do anything?”  Well, anything outside of work or just everyday life obligations. 

I guess I could say that running is an everyday life obligation.  Some days it’s the daily dose of anti-depressant.  Other days it’s an injection of pure adrenaline and speed while bombing down steep trails.  Oh! Sometimes coach says to do a workout, and I trust its for the best, so I just go out there and tear it up.  Or get torn up. Same thing.

But there are so many other things in life to pursue!  Why running, Robby?

Alright, time to dig deeper. 

At 16, my BFF in P-town (thats Plainwell, MI – about as cornfield as you can get in the Mid-West) was sick of the JV tennis squad and I don’t blame him.  Playing doubles tennis with that fool was boring AF.  Time for a change.  Summer break was hitting so Graham asked if I would join the cross-country (XC for short) team with him next fall.  We did everything together, so without a real thought process, I said “sure!” And that was it. 

I remember my very first prescribed team run.  A five mile route in sweaty-ass August, in the humid summer heat of Michigan.  Our small town was mostly flat until you went out of the city limits and hit the hilly country roads.  We hit a hill and it felt like a mountain.  I really don’t know why I came back for the next workout, that shit was hard.  I guess I just loved the challenge.  I improved to a top-5 runner during my singular season of XC as a senior in HS.  The following spring, the track racing season sucked, but I loved the trails of XC from the previous fall, and knew there was something there.

Before my Frosh year of college, Graham was scheming up more running.  We both dove balls deep into distance running by signing up for the Detroit Marathon for the upcoming October (2007).   My longest training run for Detroit was an hour-30 in a zip-up hoodie.  Flash forward to race day.  We were scared and then scarred.  During the run, I definitely said I would never run another.  Looking back, I loved my amateur and cavalier attitude toward running.  Just go out and fucking do it.  It’s you and the road (or trails)   No one else to tell you what to do, to own you.  When you put on running clothes, we’re all the same.  Just sweaty peeps struggling through it all.  Sure, there’s miles of bliss, but when you’re really training and racing, the struggle is real.  So is the triumph.  Those two things always battling it out inside my body and brain.  Struggle v Triumph.   You get a little of each of those everyday.  Rarely does a hobby give you so much of both. 

I could train for 6-months and feel like I’m getting nowhere.  To then show up on race day and win… Shit, there is something there.  Might as well pursue it. 

There’s plenty more to come on this topic and its easy to write about in the context of other race/adventure recaps.  For now, I’ll keep getting my daily fix.  Win or lose, I still win. 

May the miles treat you,