I’ll never forget being curled up on our living room couch 7 years ago, watching the look on my best friend’s face as she came through our door. We had been through a lot together. It was a friendship built on the countless miles we ran on our high school cross country team. Now, we were in our mid-twenties, both married to our high school sweethearts, and facing different challenges as adults. Mine happened to be depression. I tried to smile at her but I was empty. It felt like a vacuum had sucked every warm memory and sensation of well-being out of my body. My friend sat next to me, trying not to succumb to her own tears. “Is there anything you’re looking forward to, you know, once you feel better?” she asked. I shook my head. Nothing. My only thoughts revolved around how ill I was and how I couldn’t possibly go on. Insomnia ensured that these thoughts were relentless. This was my first time battling severe major depression. “Hang in there,” she said, “I know that one day soon, you’ll be back and crossing the finish line of your first marathon.”
I couldn’t fathom it. If I couldn’t even bear life beyond the couch, the thought of running 26.2 miles was simply unimaginable. However, by the end of that month, medication, therapy, walking, and plenty of support helped me reach full remission. My walks started getting faster and my mind started dreaming again. What was I truly capable of? After experiencing incapacitation, I wanted to feel boldly alive. It started with clean eating and lacing up my running shoes often. One block around our apartment complex turned into three. Once I felt confident with three miles again, I added on a weight lifting class at the gym. I craved that burn in my muscles. For once, I was in control of the pain, and it was the kind of pain that made me stronger.
It took some time, but within a year, I was ready to realize my best friend’s vision. I set my alarm for midnight the day the application went live for the 2011 Chicago Marathon. Before I knew it, I was registered and hitting the road most days of the week. Those four months of training transformed me. Running was proof that my own two feet could carryme through anything. It was my solitude, comradery, processing time, and rebuilding time. My emotions ran raw as I crossed the finish line of the Chicago Marathon that year. I was back. As much as depression had changed my life, running equalized it.
So, why do I run? It fulfills me. It fuels my growth, frees my mind, accepts me for who I am. It anchors me in hope and reveals the beauty of life. It breaks me through to the other side. It’s what moves me. What moves you?