As a trail runner and recent ultra runner convert I am so fortunate to live in Bend, Oregon. Not just because of the plethora of running opportunities on the National Forest Trails, Three Sisters Wilderness trails, Smith Rock state park to name a few, but also because of the awesome running community. As I’ve learned about how to run starting from my first half marathon in 2009 to my first 100k last year I’ve been able to learn much from so many individuals. From long time local runners who showed me where to go run and inspired with their never waning passion even in their advanced years, free training group runs and just the great openness of more experienced runners willing to share their knowledge. Add to that the large number of elite runners here with the same openness and attitudes it all adds up to a wonderful place to be as a runner. Take the latest example. Two great local runners Denise Baroussa and Jeff Browning both ran a great race at the Hurt 100. Not only that but they both won in dominating fashion. It was a lot of fun to watch online as updates came in via Ultra SignUp throughout the race and updates and photos via Facebook. Being able to root for a couple of local runners who make themselves available to the average runner such as myself makes it all the more meaningful and fun.
A week later upon their return from the tropical paradise of Hawaii a couple of local running companies, Recharge and Footzone threw together an informal party to congratulate them. People mingled and talked of the race and running while sipping on great local brews. Denise and Jeff both graciously did a Q and A session with those in attendance. It was an opportunity for them to relive their well earned victories a bit longer and share their experiences. This was another opportunity for myself to learn a bit more on running and racing and get some more inspiration. I certainly am lucky to call Bend home.
I sit on my bed thinking about going out for a run. Nothing extremely challenging for myself. Just a 45-60 minute workout which I routinely do several times a week. But now I sit immobilized. A huge weight seemingly holds my body down. I imagine getting outside, but am unable to change into my running gear and get going. It’s not a lack of motivation or laziness. I don’t suffer from any physical illness that would prevent me from running. I suffer from depression and anxiety. The last few days it has reared its ugly head and now drains away at my motivation and passion for not just running but for life itself. Even though I know getting out there for a short bout of exercise would benefit me I just can’t will myself to do it. That’s the challenge with these type of illnesses. It can disable an individual to the point of being unable to help oneself. From the outside most people can not even tell an individual is waging an unseen war within. Even friends and loved ones who are aware of ones illness can often times not appreciate or understand just how hard the battle is. This is why I have begun to share my own personal stories and experiences. To help better educate others who are unaffected and to also give hope to those fighting the disease like me. For it is a disease which one needs to attack from different fronts and on this day I reach out to someone I love and who cares about me. I text a brief message and she offers me words of encouragement. I read the response but remain where I am. She writes some more. Then more. Finally it gives me the last push I need to start moving again. It’s not as easy as it may sound reading this, but sometimes that’s all one needs to get over that hump. Sometimes it’s a hug. Sometimes a shoulder to lean on or an attentive ear that will listen. Sometimes just being there so one doesn’t feel alone. Some days nothing seems to help. But today her words of encouragement are enough. Enough to get me out on the road to running and wellness again.