Monday, May 21, 2012

Race Recap: Wisconsin HM

The Not So Little Mermaid & I on race day.
Race Day -1
The daughter and I had traveled since Thursday morning to get first to my cousin's house near Scott AFB, Illinois and then drove the final 5-6 hours to Kenosha today (Friday). While the drive was long, it was pretty...when it wasn't a downpour of rain. There were actually periods of the drive in south/central Illinois where the rain was coming down in sheets that caused me to slow to 20 miles slower than the speed limit on the highway and that actually caused some people to pull over to the side of the freeway to await the rain's passing. Once we got to Kenosha I found the Best Western Harborside easily and picked up my packet as well as $50 worth of Bondi Bands for myself, the daughter and my cousin. After stopping briefly to take some pictures of the two lighthouses on the harbor, we headed over to Great Lakes Naval Training Station to check into lodging there. It took awhile to finally get registered to go on base but we finally got checked into our room and since it was already so late (about 4:30pm) we decided to put off a trip to Chicago until after the race. After a quick trip to the commissary for groceries and getting my gear ready for the next day, we settled in for the night with a dinner of whole wheat linguine and sauteed shrimp.

Race Day - 5/5/12
After driving a total of 1,210 miles to get to this race, I woke up to pouring rain and wind in the morning. As I drove from Great Lakes Naval Training Station,  I had the window wipers going at max speed just to try to be able to see the road in front of me for most of the 30+ minute drive. The rain was so bad at points that I almost decided not to run the race. Thankfully enough, I continued on and by the time I arrived in the area of the start to park the rain had slowed to a steady, even rain enough so that I still needed an umbrella plus a cheap rain poncho to keep myself warm. After I purchased and dumped my stuff in a couple of lockers (my race bag and mini cooler wouldn't fit in a single one) the rain had slowed to a light drizzle.

Marathon Maniac/Half Fanatic group nod to Dave Mari!
Sister Half Fanatic Brenda,
she went to the wrong museum for the pic.

Half Fanatic/Tinkerbell/Bling Ho sister, Run Kat with the Capt'n.
I headed over to the Civil War Museum for the Marathon Maniac/Half Fanatic picture and then proceeded to walk around looking for my TinkerBell sister, Run Kat, who I had planned to meet and run the race with. Funnily enough about 20 minutes or so before the race started we suddenly turned around and found ourselves facing each other just out of the blue. After a few squeals of delight, we moved to the All Cheese Corral at the front of the starting line (you had to be wearing something cheese related) and waited for the start. The wind was still blowing and since we were right on the edge of Lake Michigan it was a cold wind with the temperature somewhere around 48°F. At this point I still had my rain poncho on to keep warm.

Yes, she ran with this the whole 13.1 miles!
In the All Cheese Corral, you had to wear
something related to cheese to get in.
Once the race started we found ourselves running in and amongst a well established neighborhood to the south of downtown Kenosha with grand houses and no resemblance to the cookie cutter, tract homes of the modern day. The course brought us back down into downtown and along the harbor eventually running in a park alongside Lake Michigan. Even though the day was overcast and windy as all git out (especially when we were closer to the water) it was a beautiful sight for this landlocked gal to have the scenery of one of the great the inland oceans, lighthouses and greenery around us. While most of the course was relatively flat, there were some small to moderate hills in the park. Oddly enough, or perhaps because I've actually gotten experience running on hills now, these particular hills didn't seem to bother me as much as they would have in the past. Kat had begun having some trouble with her knees and I was beginning to experience gastrointestinal issues so I ran ahead so that I could get to a "real" restroom rather than a port-o-pot and just planned to meet her at the finish line. When I had finished what I needed to do, I began to run again believing that I was still ahead of Kat. In a short time I found that I had crossed paths with Dave Mari, a well known individual in the Facebook running community, and spent some time walking and talking with him before again taking off to finish the race.

I met Dave Mari, a bit of a celebrity in Facebook running circles.
As I finished the race, feeling rather good considering that I still had quite a cold/cough and low grade fever, I got into my lockers for my post race chocolate milk and a banana and put on my jacket/Mylar blanket to go in search of Kat. I looked for a bit around the finish area and then began to walk the route in reverse. After about a mile or so without locating Kat I turned around and headed back to the finish line to see if I could find her in the area. Unfortunately it wasn't until quite a while later that I discovered that she had in fact passed me at some point (I guess I was in the restroom longer than I thought!) and finished the race about 5 minutes before I had!! lol! After a few short text messages I packed up my gear and headed back to the base to prepare for a trip into Chicago for the afternoon.

All in all, even with the weather and being sick this was a very nice course. I haven't actually run a race with someone since TinkerBell in January and it does indeed help the time pass faster. While I do like running solo, the change in running and talking with someone is a nice break to the routine.

What I liked about this race: Nice course, scenic, not too strenuous. Good company during the race...Thanks Run Kat and Dave Mari! :)

What I didn't like about this race: Only the weather...I know that can't be controlled but 2-3­° warmer and less wind would have been nice!

Would I do this race again? Yes, most likely if I was in the area already rather than making the trip specifically for it. I'd love to do it in better weather! ;)

Race Recap: FMB Southwest HM

Race Day - 5/6/12

Today was an early start with us having to check out at 4:30am to make the 1+ hour drive to the start of the FMB Southwest HM. Once we arrived after having to figure out how to get to the parking/starting area the daughter stayed in the car to sleep while I checking and got my packet and finished getting ready for the race.

Thankfully the weather was cooperating for the day. Although it was cool and a bit humid (something I'm not used to) I was fairly comfortable. I met another future (this was her qualifying race) Half Fanatic/Bling Whore sister, Susan, and her husband at the starting line...talked running for a while before I headed to the back of the starting pack (yes, I know where I belong...not at the front!) to await the gun.

The course is a beautiful run along Route 83 which is closed for race so the only traffic that is present is from race vehicles...mostly police cruisers. As the race started we left Memorial Park and ran through a mostly medically related business area before running through a slightly more residential portion. As the course left town, the route was a 2 lane, tree lined road. The area was green and plush although I did have a heck of a time having to occasionally swat at gnats or some other little insects throughout the run. I think this was mostly due to the humidity...something I don't deal with frequently or well. The road just seemed to go on and on with some low to very moderate hills...nothing I could really complain about. We crossed the overpass above Rte 45 during which someone on the highway below started blowing their horn and waving as they saw runners crossing above them. We continued on our way on the course which seemed like it was straight most of the way with only a few curves that were so extended in length that you didn't even know you were on a curve. At the halfway point on the out-and-back route we made the turn in the parking lot of Camp Sagawau before going back the way we came. At points in the run you could see the river or the nearby interstate but for the most part it was trees, trees and more trees although it wasn't necessarily a shaded run.

Yet again...going the wrong way!
I was so tired, worn out during this run that I think I began walking around mile 7 with only short jogs thereafter. Another female, fully geared out Half Fanatic ran up to me at around mile 8 or 9 and we talked awhile and maybe walked together for a mile before she took off running again. I can't remember her name, but I do remember that she was from Illinois and was surprised by the humidity as well. When I did run I started counting my steps as a way of doing intervals just to break the boredom...200 steps running then 100 steps walking. I did this for awhile then just started walking only at mile 11 or so. I didn't start running again until about a quarter mile from the finish line! Between just being tired and the family drama of the night before I was just glad to finish. After picking up my medal I just hung around the finish area for a bit and then headed back to the car to change and hit the road for the 5 hour drive back to my cousin's house in southern Illinois.

What I liked about this race: No pressure race, simple course, nice bling (finisher's medal).

What I didn't like about this race: Since it was out and back the scenery was repetitive...trees almost anywhere you looked, very little change in scenery. The little insects drove me crazy as well.

Would I do this race again? Probably, but I'm not in any hurry to do so just because of the limited scenery.

Race Recap: Hope & Healing Place Half Marathon

Race Day - 5/13/12

Race Day -1
The husband and I decided to head up to Amarillo the day prior to the race due to the  time change (we lose an hour crossing the border...8 miles away) and the early 7am start time. We spent the day having a late lunch at Red Robin then watching The Avengers (I was kinda disappointed...I expected more from the movie). We both turned in a bit early at around 9pm since I had to get up early for the race. I had planned to wake up at 5:30am so we could hit breakfast at 6am but somehow he didn't understand what I said (who am I kidding...he probably didn't have his hearing aids in) and set his alarm to 4:30am.

Race Day
An early Sunday meant barely any traffic on I-40 so we took that route then I-27 to get to downtown in less than 10 minutes. After parking I went to pick up my packet so that I could finish getting ready. As I walked through the parking lot, I noticed that there were only 3 New Mexico tags on cars...kinda odd since we're so close to the border. Anyway, the temperature was nice in the high 50s and no inkling of rain to be seen.

As we lined up for the start, I took my traditional towards the back position. When the horn went off so did the runners. It wasn't until about 2/10ths of a mile in that I realized that I had forgotten to set my MotoACTV GPS for a time/distance goal, so there I am slowing to a quick walk waiting for the GPS to hook up in and amongst the few tall building in Amarillo so that I could start running again.

A house in the one of the older Amarillo neighborhoods.
Blurry pic of route under I-40.
The course started downtown and moved into some of the older neighborhoods that are well maintained. These were areas of Amarillo that I had never been to. We also ran past Amarillo College and Memorial Park early in the race. The course then took us to Plains Blvd past an older shopping center and along one of the urban walking trails. Next came a move into what I'd call a more upscale neighborhood with the big homes and the country club which looked like it's golf course was undergoing renovation. Then just after we turned the corner from the country club, I see it. A hill, a big hill by my standards! At that point I'm thinking, "Why do the race directors feel the need to put a hill so close to the finish?" The finish was still 3 miles away, at least up until this area the course was mostly flat. I was at least happy to find that before tackling the hill we would turn and go around a strip park with tiny, rolling hills before attacking the big hill starting  closer to the middle of it.

"Oh crap...a hill!"
One of the few hills in Amarillo.
The next mile or so went through an older, less well maintained neighborhood then into the old Route 66 area of town. As I was running along, I noticed that the girl who was about a quarter mile ahead of me had crossed the street and was running on the opposite side. As I got closer to where she had crossed I noticed that there was a disheveled guy on my side of the street that was obviously having some active symptoms of schizophrenia going on. Unlike the girl before me, I simply moved from the sidewalk onto the side of the road just out of arms reach of this man and went about my merry way. He yelled a few garbled and nonsensical words at me but never posed a threat. People might perhaps say that was not a smart way of reacting to the situation, but after having been an inpatient in a psychiatric ward twice and teaching clinicals in a locked down psychiatric facility I've developed a tolerance and a healthy respect for active mental illness symptomology. The last 1½ miles or so had us running through an older business district south of old Route 66 and finally back into downtown and the finish line. As usual, for me, that last mile is always the'd think it would be the opposite. But I finished and quite a way from being last! Yay me!

Dammit! That finish line is still THAT far away??

We hung out at the finish line until the last finisher crossed. During this time I had several people come up to me and thank me for running the race...I have to wonder if they were saying that because I was bald (having just had my head shaved for Relay for Life two nights before) and thinking that I was/had been ill or if it was just a congratulatory thanks. Oh well. I got my free massage...the very last one in line...and we headed back to the hotel to check out. We spent the rest of the day trying to locate the Sear Service and Repair shop that I had passed during the run without any luck, then headed  Pei Wei for a late lunch before heading to the theater to watch Dark Shadows (actually enjoyed this more than The Avengers). A quick and nice weekend getaway with the old man with only slightly over a 1½ hour drive to the race instead of my recent multiple hour drives. Yay!

What I liked about this race: Extremely close to home (1½ hours...just slightly over) and I love coming up to Amarillo. The course is nice and not too flat or hilly.

What I didn't like about this race: Nothing really. It was well organized over all.

Would I do this race again? In a heartbeat! Especially since it's close to home!

Race Recap: Armed Force Day Half Marathon

Race Day - 5/19/12

Race Day -1
This race was kind of a last minute decision. It wasn't until the day before that I actually made the decision to participate in it even though I was tired (exhausted is more like it), and both knees and feet were still hurting from the Hope & Healing Place HM the previous Sunday. I packed all my gear up and a quick overnight bag and headed for Albuquerque at about 2pm. I started the nearly 4 hour drive with nearly a full tank of gas thinking that I had plenty because it usually takes less than half a tank for most trips. That turned out not to be such a good thing. Between the 80+° temperature I had to use the A/C, then on I-40 I was being buffeted around by the big rigs and drove the majority of the interstate into a strong headwind. When I was about 28 miles out my gas light came on and the needle was just barely above the bottom mark on the gauge. Of course, I had just passed the last big town and had thought to myself that I should stop to fill up, but convinced myself that I'd have just enough gas to make it to the very edge of Albuquerque. Well...nope, that didn't happen. Luckily within 5 miles of the light going on there was a single gas station. I ended up getting there pretty much on fumes. The gauge was below the bottom mark and since the gas was almost $4/gallon I decided only to put $10 worth in so that I could get to Albuquerque and some cheaper gas (usually about 20¢ cheaper than at home). After putting the gas in, the needle went just barely above the line on the gauge.

I returned to the interstate and finished the slightly over 20 miles to Albuquerque. I  had scouted a new restaurant, Johnny's Homemade Take Out, Delivery and Dine In, on the east edge of town and decided to try it based on the good reviews. I was not disappointed. I had the Mediterranean Alfredo which had mushrooms, fresh roasted garlic (a lot) and shrimp in an Alfredo sauce over fettuccine accompanied by 4 pieces of garlic toast. The bread served pre-meal was mini sopapillas with honey...kind of different because those are usually served as a dessert. Great food, I'll be going there again!

After dinner I had thought about hitting the mall, but decided to just go to the hotel and get my gear ready and hopefully get a decent night's sleep. So after lugging my bag and gear bag upstairs I was in bed by 9:30pm and fell asleep shortly afterwards awaiting a 3am alarm and a 3:30am wake up call.

Race Day
1st time running a race
 in shorts.
I was awakened by my alarm and promptly hit snooze...three times. It's a good thing that I arranged for the 3:30am wake up call as well. I finally got up, showered and dressed when I realized that I had left my toothbrush, toothpaste and deodorant at home. Luckily the hotel I stay at in town has a courtesy supply of these things at the front desk. I decided to just clean my teeth/mouth the best I could with the tip of a washcloth for now and then stop by the desk to pick up these supplies after breakfast.

I walked over to the opposite side of the hotel and across the parking lot to the Village Inn for breakfast. Typically I'd have the free breakfast at the hotel but it was still only 4:50am and too early for that, plus I had forgotten to bring my own bagel, peanut butter and banana with me so I ended up spending $10+ for OJ, hot tea, bagel with cream cheese and vanilla yogurt. Ooops. After I finished I headed to the front desk and got my supplies which included a men's Speed Stick Deodorant...I don't know if the guy thought I was a man or if he just didn't realize that there were women's and men's versions. I went with the flow because just as long as wouldn't stink I was good. After taking care of the last minute hygiene needs I was off to Kirtland AFB where the race was being hosted.

I arrived at packet pickup at around 5:40am. Now, packet pickup and race day registration was supposed to run from 5am to 6am but even when I arrived they were not accepting money (cash only) because they didn't have the receipt book. After 10 minutes of  waiting they finally got the book and I was able to purchase my registration. The other thing I noticed about packet pick up's poor organization was that they were missing a guy's bib number and bag and it took them over 15 minutes to rectify that situation. They built a bag for him and almost sent him away without a bib. They didn't seem to know where spare bags/bibs were a box just to the left of the table where I was able to see them. Also packet pick up was supposed to close at 6am but at 6:45am people were still showing up to pick up their packets. As I was waiting to get my packet I got a quick peek at the half marathon list and saw that it was going to be a small field...I wouldn't realize how small until after the event.

A really small field of starters (34 total) for the HM start.
The only organized team running for A1C Baker.
 Since it was so early still after I got my packet...almost an hour before the race start...I headed back to the hotel which was about 2 miles away, then it happened...that gas light came on again! Whoops! At least I knew that I'd be able to find a gas station easily since I was in town so I put off filling up until after the race. At 6:35am I headed back to the base and got ready to run. I was just in time for the instructions and a quick real bathroom break...I hate port-o-pots. After a few words and the national anthem it was start time. I made sure that I had my GPS set and then we were off. Since I started in the back as normal I was already nearly last from the get go. I trotted along trying to do a 5 min run/1 min walk interval which I was able to maintain for about the first 3 miles. After that I shortened the intervals to 3:1 or so.

On the way out...hills.
Damn, I'm going the wrong way again!
The first two finishers on the return trip.
By the end of the third mile I was already feeling like I had concrete legs and hips. I kept trudging along, knowing that in such a small field I'd likely be last or very close to it. The course was scenic in as much as it could be in the New Mexico desert. The actual busy part of the base was flat as a pancake and then we headed out towards the golf course. Since I had never been that far out on the base I didn't realize that there were hills...not big ones, but feeling the way I was it was not something that I was looking forward to.  I tried to let gravity take me on the downhills and I made sure to move towards the middle of the road or to the lower side on the cambered turns so as not to aggravate my already unhappy hips/knees. The view was nice with the dry, brown desert being prominent but with a view of the mountains in the distance. As I got past the 6 mile mark I had to pull off and do some stretching of my piriformis/ITB...the sag wagon drove up (they were following the girls in back of me who were the last runners) and asked if I was okay and after I told them that I just needed to stretch they went on their way.

View of the hills on the return trip.
As I made the turnaround it was nice to look out and see that, at least from my vantage point, things seemed to be more downhill than up. I picked up my pace a little trying out the  30sec sprint/walk technique that Jeff Galloway and Hal Higdon talk about. It kinda feels silly sprinting and walking that much, but I did feel a little more relaxed. By the time I hit the hills on the return trip I was walking quite a bit to get up them. I didn't even have the energy to run down the hills much. Since I looked back and saw that the girls were still a ways behind me I decided to walk the majority from about the 11.5 mile mark to about the 13 mile mark. I finished the run actually running and was just so glad to be finished. Also I was thankful that I had again avoided being last! lol!

The director had all the medals out and there were a lot of them with very few people hanging around so I think most people had already left. They handed out the last two awards for the older division male finishers (who both beat was 77 years old and beat me by 30 minutes) and then began closing up shop. I wasn't sure of how many finishers there were in my division so I asked to see the overall results. I found that they hadn't included my gender and when I counted up my division there were only 3 of us. That meant I got a medal! I quickly contested the results and got my bronze. Yeah, it was a gimme medal but I medaled all the same! When the timing company posted the results online they hadn't made the changes yet so I sent an email and things got fixed. All in all it was a decent a medal and wasn't last...the two things I want in my race.

I headed off to the base shoppette for some chocolate milk, teriyaki beef jerky and a 20# bag of ice for an ice bath. I probably should have filled up there but since I was on a limited budget I was forced to wait until I could get to a Shell station for gas. I headed back to the hotel and immediately got into my ice bath. Sooooooooo cold! But after 20 minutes the pain in my legs and hips was better. A warm shower followed with a liberal application of BioFreeze on my left hip. I was out of the room by noon and headed out to find a Shell station to gas up at. After gassing up I decided to have some sushi/sashimi for lunch so I headed over to Japanese Kitchen and got the sashimi lunch special (I prefer straight up sashimi over sushi) which included 8 pcs of sashimi, salad, vegetable tempura and rice. Yum!

I had originally planned to be on the road right after lunch but decided to check out what the running stores had...specifically looking for a bright (not neon) yellow running bra and bright yellow running shorts. I ended up buying red Saucony running shorts for $15 (normally $36) and some Anti-Monkey Butt Powder to help avoid chaffing in my fat upper thighs when wearing shorts. Yeah, I've been using Body Glide there but that just seems so sticky. As I was leaving the last store I decided that I wanted some gelato so I found a nearby place that made handmade chocolates and gelato, Chocolate Cartel, where I had a large Ultra Dark Chocolate gelato. Again, yum! This is another place I'll be coming to again. My last stop was at a nearby Sonic to get my Real Fruit Lemon Slush for the road. I'll never come back to this particular store again. After deciding to just park in a stall since the drive thru was 8-9 deep with cars I waited 5+ minutes for someone to take my order. I noticed that other people who had parked around the same time I did were leaving without getting their orders taken as well. I decided to just get out of the car and go to the walk up stand to order but there was someone there already also having problems getting her order taken. Finally I just got back in the car and 20 minutes later (after getting back in the drive thru) I finally left with my slush. I got back onto the interstate and had an uneventful drive home. There must've been a bit of a tailwind because I made it back in 3 hours and 18 minutes including a 10 minute rest break to stretch my legs. It usually take me about 3 hours and 40 minutes on the return trip. Yay?

What I liked about this race: Relatively close to home in Albuquerque.

What I didn't like about this race: Lack of organization at packet pick-up. They even announced that non-military folks who tried to come on base early on Friday to pick up packets couldn't because they didn't have the visitors list ready for the front gate. Seriously? This is at least the 4th or 5th time holding the think they would have known.

Would I do this race again? Probably not. Between the lack of organization and the extremely small field I'd be afraid that it wouldn't count against my Half Fanatics race requirement.

A Word on Tenacity & Bipolar II Disorder

"This is the nature of my particular affliction; without warning I can change from having the confidence of a world-conqueror to the diffidence (I just learned that word at this moment) of an abused dog. Of course, the underlying issue is the disorder itself, but even with that realization a dn comprehension of the falsity that fuels the feeling, it can seem like a massive undertaking to 'right the ship.'" ~ From Bipolar II and the Role of Tenacity by Steven Pace on To the Edge & Back blog
The blog post from which this quote comes from spoke loads to me considering my current frame of mind. People who know me from before I was diagnosed or when I am "well" know that I can be confident, driven, focused, grounded, etc. and can get things done.  But what many people don't see is what happens when the depression strikes. The severity of my loss of self-confidence, feelings of low self-worth and self-loathing, the lack of ability or the expectation of being unable to complete a task does waver to varying degrees but for the most part I can overcome and maintain at least some sort of tenacity. However, when the depression is overwhelming all that goes out the door. I go from that self-confident..maybe even sometimes cocky...individual to a whimpering idiot who cuts off almost all communication with the outside world and dives head first into a pool of self-pity, negative self-talk, thoughts of not being a life worth living.

I find that the older I get and the longer I have this disorder my ability to maintain my tenacity is growing harder and harder. For instance after two straight years of crying almost daily, being unable to hold it together enough to teach I tired of the fight. I had tried for those two years to hold things together but was unable to. I was ineffective as an instructor...felt ineffective as a human being. I finally came to the realization that I just couldn't do it anymore. I gave in and went into in-patient treatment for suicidal depression for the second time in my life. After about a week and a half in treatment I was discharged and realized that my life/career as a nurse was over. I gave in to applying for a disability rating increase review through the VA and now I'm 100% service connected disabled with an un-employability clause due my affliction being a mental illness. My tenacity for my livelihood of 22 years fell by the wayside. I finally let my nursing license go in January after it expired. For 15+ years I had fought going this route but in the matter of a month I jumped into that decision with no prodding.

I don't know if my drive or perseverance has just got up an left in almost every aspect of my life, but I am thankful that I started running last year and can find the strength to drive myself through some seriously stupid crap that I have done in the name of the run. Running seems to be the one thing that I do not lack tenacity with. Maybe it's because no one is counting on's just me, myself and I. But without the tenaciousness I have for the run I would literally curl up and wither away because at this point that's all my life has become. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? I don't know, all I know is that is what keeps me going...

Friday, May 18, 2012

What Goes Up Must Come Down...

You know, it really sucks at times to have a mental illness. I'm going to start off right now by saying that if you are sensitive to hearing other people's stories/issues, have a negative connotation of mental illness or are afraid of it you probably shouldn't read on. I'll try to keep the language at least PG, but I'm in a bit of a mood right now so no guarantees. And off I go...

If you follow me on Facebook, you know I've been sick for most of the last month. That was mostly a physical sickness...fever, cough, gastrointestinal issues, etc., but in the last two weeks my physical illness has been joined by an acute exacerbation of my bipolar disorder. After the initial week or two of what was a simple but horrible cold I could tell that my moods were starting to shift towards the depressive state. It's not that I was anywhere near a manic state prior, but I was at least somewhat stable/even as far as mood goes for about a month and a half prior. I did have a short 1-2 week depressive episode in March (or thereabouts) but that seemed to stabilize with standard medications and a short removal from almost all aspect of real and virtual life...except for running.

As the third week of my illness began I could tell that my thinking was moving to a much more negative place. What are "normal" fleeting thoughts of death for me...something that just happens without any trigger it seems...increasingly became more pronounced ideation of "how" I would die by my own hand. Now, don't get me wrong, I wasn't suicidal at all...I just had/have some serious suicidal thinking going on there is a difference. I can't say that I didn't have a plan because I always have a plan. Anyone who has attempted suicide always has one or more reserved plans tucked away in some dark corner of their mind IMHO. I mean really, I've attempted suicide at least 6-8 times in the first 5-7 years of my illness (I was diagnosed in 1997 and no attempts since about 2005) there's no way that I've expunged all those attempts from my brain. I had the train schedule memorized for when we lived in base housing...I could walk a quarter of a mile down the road at 5am in the morning and get hit by a train going by in the darkness by 5:20am. I could tell you how many Tylenol PMs I have taken and still survived without any injury to my liver. I don't accept any narcotic prescriptions anymore unless absolutely necessary because I've overdosed on Darvocet and Tylenol #3 before. I can't tell you how many times in my recent travels that I've driven by a ravine and thought to myself, "Well, if I drive over the side of that I should roll enough times that I'll be dead in the crash." Or how many times in the last 2-3 weeks that I've been driving alone and raised my right hand making that fake gun with the finger and thumb and then holding it under my chin and pretending to shoot myself (we don't own guns rid of them when I got pregnant in 1995). Now, tell me that's normal.

Why am I talking about this? Because someone has to. This is the reality. For me life right now sucks the big one. I can't dig fast enough to get away from the darkness. I've fought this illness knowingly for the past 16+ years. I know I had symptoms of at least depression since I was about 16 years old if not earlier. When I become this way, I withdraw from life. I don't leave the house unless there's a reason to and I'm lucky to take a shower or even just brush my teeth for days on end. Most of the time I hardly get out of bed! The longest I've been in self-imposed solitude was close to three weeks. Running has forced me to at least occasionally venture out without necessarily having to interact with anyone. Hell, if it hadn't been due to having to travel to run or go to doctor's appointments in these last weeks I probably wouldn't have gotten out of the house at all. I have close to 1,600 emails that I haven't looked at, messages on Facebook that I can't bear to open but at least I am interacting just a little bit on there now.

I'm sure people are hating on me right now due to my disappearance, but I know what I can handle and what I can't. Any additional pressure on me is sure to send me back into a spiral downward since I'm not stable yet. Right now it's a matter of me trying to regain my sanity (without having to be admitted voluntarily/involuntarily) or to do something in a less positive way. Hell, I've never thought of cutting before (not good with pain) but even that idea has crossed my mind several times.

The period between February and June/July tend to be my worst times, when I can expect these major mood swings to take place and just like it has for the past I-don't-know-how-many years it's struck with a vengeance. In 2009-2011 I spent all but 4 months (the fall 2010 semester) in a severe depression...crying daily, this-close to suicide, feeling the worthlessness of it all. At least I'm not could happen. So, as I wait for this to pass I continue to run...just to physically run away from my situation for around 3 hours, trying to run away from my depression. Truthfully, at this point, I think that if I were to stop running my life would be in real jeopardy. Geez, I never thought I'd think that way about running...I'll be back in due time, once this all starts to settle. Hopefully sooner than later (or never). It's bedtime now...for tomorrow I run.

Note: I've turned off comments for this post. If you're thinking well wishes for me, thanks. If you want to b!tch me out, bite me! (Told you I'm in a mood.) This was just a post more to think out loud and let people who might be wondering where/how I am.