Run Journal Entry: #RunningIsMyTherapy

11:18 PM

Few people know me.  Even fewer people "know" me.  Even fewer I let to get to know me.  Even then, sometimes I'm simply fragments of what they want to see. 

I've been told I'm too positive and happy on social media in contrast to how difficult and dark things have been in my life.

I've been told folks were worried about me because of how dark and low I appeared to be sinking on social media in contrast to how they perceive me in person.

Two sides, same coin I guess.

#RunningIsMyTherapy through all that life has brought, brings, and will bring.

I've told a therapist and mentors, I started running to overcome my fear of dying too young from health complications.  Anger of allowing my health to sink so low.  Frustration with myself for lying to myself about myself.

I remember clearly running one day near the lake and the phone rung.  I was so annoyed that I brought it with me.  I was further annoyed that I answered.  I realized in that moment, there was nothing discussed of life threatening importance that it couldn't wait a few more moments.  Or to go to voicemail.

But it wasn't that person's fault.  I made the decision to bring the phone.  I made the decision to answer.  

That was a pivotal moment for me.  I still had much to learn about how to prioritize myself. 

I remember my first anxiety attack.  It was not long after my first marathon.  Despite accomplishing a huge goal, I still had yet to prioritize myself fully.  I put others before me.  I put others before my own health.

I jogged angry.  Mad.  Pissed off for the longest of time.  Unable to feel anything beyond frustration.  Even embarrassed.  

I even referred to myself during those early years as the anger pissed off 'bout to curse a mother***** out at any given moment jogger.  Running was NOT my therapy, but an escape. 

As much as I wanted to blame the world. Others.  The problem wasn't without, it was within.  I wasn't a priority to myself. 

I have struggled and still deal with in some cases with family crisis, family members with cancer and chemotherapy, financial hardship as a result of a crazed health care system, health care bureaucracy, dementia, Medicare and Medicaid bureaucracy, work stress, more work stress, will I have a job next year or next month for what seemed like every year for years.

It was enough to break me.  And it did.

But in the midst of my broken state, #RunningBecameMyTherapy.

There was a time I wasn't disciplined enough to run my own long runs, so I would sign up for half marathons to train.  The San Diego Marathon was soon approaching so I needed to get some races in.

I didn't know what trail running was, but it was a half marathon on a day I needed to get a long run in.  So I went.

Most challenging and scariest thing I had done up to that point, yet it was so rewarding and the people were so welcoming.

I fell in love with the physical pain, the natural beauty of the back country, the fear of being on a freaking side of a mountain on a skinny as single track trail,  the mental grit required to get da fuck out of there back to the finish, and the genuine care and concern of people that wanted to see me safely succeed.

That first trail run changed everything.  I began going places I was told never to go alone as a child.  Venture into areas where I knew if there was an issue, it would take some time for someone to find me, if they found me.  I began to push my boundaries.  Mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually.

I love to take photos.  Have since a child and here I was discovering the beauty of nature all over again.  In places I would have never ventured in my past life.  I began searching out trails, the farther out the better the views, the quieter the world.

Best of all, being in the back country I was cut off from the distractions of the world, no cell phone, no internet.   I could no longer hide from myself.  My inner voice.  Decisions that were pushed aside.  Challenges I didn't want to face.  I didn't tackle them all at once, but I was able to hear myself once again.

I can't tell you when I stopped being the anger pissed off 'bout to curse a mother***** out at any given moment jogger.  But I can tell you through the journey of the darkness of ultra running I found my inner peace.

There's a place you've heard me mention time and time again in an ultra, that is unlike the wall you hit in a marathon or shorter race.

The wall is bad.  Don't get me wrong.  Not trying to diminsh the anguish of hitting the infamous wall.  Hell, I've considered calling an Uber at mile 22 during a marathon once.  It's bad.

It's a physical bad with a mental element.

The dark death grip of an ultra will make you wish you hit a wall.  It's a mental depth that is indescribable.  It's a place of torment.  Sure your body hurts, your body been hurting since mile whatever.  But now you mind has passed a place of numb.

I remember thinking I want to get to a place in an ultra where I felt as bad as I felt about life.

Mile 42+ during my first 100K, I got to a point where hugging a cactus seemed ideal place to find peace and solace.  I remember thinking that rock over there is a nice place to die.

Yet voice of my pacer, Connie, was like an invisible tether gently pulling me forward.  So I trudged further.  Just one more step.  The pain was everywhere.  You can no longer escape it.  There's no hiding.  There's no faking.  There is no more gas in the tank.  There is no further to dig.

You come to a place so dark you clearly see yourself (think on that).  The next step is for you, Ed.  No one else.

No matter how much you wanna give up.  No matter how much you wanna quit.  No matter how much the pain.  As long as you have the physical capacity to keep moving forward without permanent injury, you keep moving forward!  This is life!

You do this because you can!  You train because you can.  You push through the ruts because you can.

My run streak further clarified life further.  The day comes.  A mile must be run.  Regardless.  You have to get that mile in.  You can't give up today.  You can't quit now.  Regardless of how bad you feel.  Regardless of how sad, upset, or difficult it is to get off your ass, you can't let yourself down today.

You've come too far to quit today!

If you can't take time out for 20 minutes out of your day to do the one thing you do for you to get a single mile or two in, something is wrong with your priorities Ed.  Get your priorities in order, alter something, try to do better tomorrow, but get this run in today!

I've learned my dreams are attainable only if I'm willing to make a sacrafice.  Something is going to have to give.  Television, the internet, a bad habit, person or persons, something!

In America we're told you can have it all, you can do it all.  Reality check:  You can't and you wont.

Decisions have to be made.  Prioritize what is most important and set your sights accordingly.

Take that dream, realize dreams are the results of meticulous calculations of self discovery through repeated failure, baked in the oven of suffering, covered in the icing of dedication, with a single candle shinning success.

You blow out the candle and eat the cake.  Yeah, deep ain't it.  What you see of me today is the candle, there's a lot of preparation, baking, and icing of the cake you don't see when I'm training. 

You will discover how bad you want it.  You're not going to like the answer from time to time, but you will love the result.

Yes, to some I do seem too cheery, too positive despite all life brings.   To others I am dark and too fond of my ride or die internal dark dog.  I get it.  I do.

See I lived once through the pretense of the faulty American pipe dream that if you are not happy all the time, something is wrong.  Something is afoul.  You're not in the lane the great deity above wants you to be in.

Running has taught me to be human.  I've seen with my eyes the beauty of nature in the geometry of a plant.  Because I didn't have the distractions of this hectic world not to notice.

I have been so far out in nature to be afraid, to look in the eyes of a protective Elk and wonder.  I've contemplated if I'm going to be lunch for a mountain lion.  Are those Coyotes over there on steroids?  They look like they been working out at Gold's gym.  Damned!  (another story another day)

I've learned I control so little and the trail brings so much if I just let it come to me.  Sure I prepare for the journey, but the adventure writes itself.

I have driven miles for what I thought would be an epic sun filled day, to be met with fog and rain.  But because I drove so far, I ran still only to find a different kind of beauty in the midst of what I earlier considered not ideal conditions.

I've taken these lessons and try to continually apply them daily to my life.  To be happy when I'm happy.  Share moments of inspiration when I find moments of inspiration.  Be sad when I'm sad.  Angry when I'm angry.  Be okay with it all.  But know why I feel the way I feel and not bullshit myself.

To be okay with unanswered questions.

I've been accused of running from something.  That may have been true at some point in my past as I've stated above.  But that is no longer the case.

Running still challenges me.  I keep pushing the envelop.

I'm constantly amazed at what my body is capable of and how far I've come physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually.

#RunningIsMyTherapy.  And I continue to learn so much about running, life, and myself as a result.  Life is too short to run from the hard things.  It's the hard things, the challenges gives life to those moments of solace; no matter how brief.

To quote Lil Wayne (I know):
Life is such a fucking roller coaster then it drops
But what should I scream for this is my theme park
My mind shine even when my thoughts seem dark
Remember if you don't take care of yourself, then how can you take care of those you say you love?  Small investments into yourself, pay huge dividends for your physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual health and that in turns benefits those around you. 

#RunningIsMyTherapy #WhatIsYourTherapy?

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