I was out running last week and two miles in I sat down and cried my eyes out. I decided I have had a good life and didn’t care if I took another breath of air. I’ve accomplished enough, seen beautiful places and experienced wonderful friendships and adventures. I looked deep within my soul and knew that this isn’t who I am, I want to live to be 100, and not just be alive, still be living and loving life! I scooped up what pieces were left of my conflicting feelings of wanting it all to end peacefully at that moment as I take my last breath and the complete opposite of wanting my life to continue and be filled with love and adventure. Gasping and crying, I chose to do my scheduled workout. I ran down that hill and did my hill repeats at the best effort I could between tears and shallow breathing. Why I kept running, I do not know. It wasn’t fun but the thought of not running wasn’t fun either. So many moments in my life ran through my mind as I put each foot in front of the other and listened to my breathing as it went from fighting back tears and gasps to the gentle rhythm I am so used to hearing on my runs.
My life has been great, but also filled with stress over the last few months. I am struggling with trusting what people tell me, I am afraid that my entire life is a lie and worst of all I have been having debilitating panic attacks and not capable of sleeping more than a couple of hours without waking up covered in sweat with a racing heart. I have a lot going on right now, some things I feel okay sharing publicly and some that I do not. I saw my doctor for tons of blood work which all came back absolutely perfect and attempted to find a way to control my stress. My weight has plummeted which is normal when I am undergoing stress and have dropped to an unhealthy 110lbs. At 5’3″ I prefer to be over 115lb and feel better physically and emotionally being at that weight. My workplace seems to be the only place I find peace because my job makes me happy but I also focus on providing my patients with the best dental experience I can offer and it takes my mind off of my own problems. As soon as I walk out that door at work my mind goes back to all of the things that are creating stress in my life and I no longer feel at peace.
My doctor gave me anxiety medication to take and I am not interested in treating with medication but the quality of my life was crumbling away faster than I could handle. I took the medication and spent the next few weeks feeling like I was in a drunken stupor. It made me sick, affected my running, made working difficult and took away any happiness that I had left. I was able to sleep and for that I was happy but decided to stop taking the medication and try some Kava root instead at night and after a talk with my doctor came off of social media and the internet. Minimal visits to Facebook and other social media platforms seemed to be helping me sleep and feel happier but I felt like the medication took me back a few steps once I stopped and although I wasn’t dealing with feeling sick from the side effects I really believe it has been messing with my mind and giving me symptoms of depression. I am a rationale person and I know that taking my life or wishing my life to end is certainly not who I am or who I want to be. I have to ride this one out because a side effect of coming off of these medications is a feeling of sadness and hopelessness. It really makes dealing with some of the stress in my life difficult and certainly gives me more panic attacks and sadness but I am determined to find my happy again and know I will.
I’ve been through this before with my post concussion issues and maybe this is a part of old injury or maybe a side effect of stopping the medication. All I know is I feel like I am living outside of my body, watching my life fall apart as someone else living in my skin tears me apart and breaks me down. As I watch my soul shatter I gather up the pieces and know that I can put them together with a little help, so I will once again seek out therapy with the hope of getting back to who I once was. I’m not a quitter, I am strong and I will be okay. I am no stranger to seeing a therapist and honestly think that having a benign party hear my scattered thoughts and worries is the best way for me to pick up my shattered pieces and put them back together again. The beauty of seeing someone that does not know me is that they are able to look at what I am saying and see it without emotion and help me see it for what it is.
So enough of my pity party. Although I do feel I have not been able to fully experience the joy I am capable of feeling I have had some incredible runs and adventures with many more in my future! The trails here in the White Mountains are an icy death and I have gotten out on some adventures but even microspikes are not enough and we are swinging from trees like monkeys trying to navigate the icy trails! So much road running has been good for the leg speed but I miss my mountain running! I’ve shared some adventures this winter which included a winter presi traverse with wild winds, sunny blue skies and trails that glistened with ice, fun hikes with friends and the doggies, a trip to do some Caribbean trail running and started a small farming operation at our home.
I was planning on racing Breakneck again this year but with the new addition of some piglets, the puppy just being cleared for running and a need to get my head straight I decided to stay home next weekend and take care of the critters and go for a local adventure on some smaller snow free mountains! Ryan and I are going to have to take turns with most of our races this year so that one of us is home taking care of the pigs and chickens while the other ventures off to a race. Raising animals for meat is new to me and I am a very compassionate person so I may be vegetarian by the end of this journey but I a may not. I eat meat and feel that knowing how my meat was raised is important enough for me to want to raise my own animals for food. We are going to have meat and egg chickens and also pigs. We also will have a very large vegetable garden, fruit trees and berry bushes. We tapped some trees this winter and made some incredible maple syrup and plan to get some honey bees next year which would be amazing! Ryan is the farmer and I am simply learning and appreciating raising my own food and feelings about raising animals to eat.
So many people have told me not to name the animals, not to get attached and to treat them like food. I was ready to do that until the day we got the piglets. Ryan found a local farmer and liked his attitude toward farming. What surprised me was that he named his animals, he hugged the piglets and told them they would be okay as the squealed at the top of their lungs when he separated them from the litter. I was in shock, why would someone be so compassionate towards animals that were bred to die for us to eat. He explained he does not believe in castrating the piglets because of how traumatic it is for everyone involved and that he and his wife choose to give the animals a good life and treat them with respect and love. Something inside me changed at that moment.
When Ryan and I got home and introduced the pigs to their new home I watched them, I sat with them and the next morning they allowed me to pet them. They are fascinating to watch, the way they eat, sleep in a pile, interact with each other, dig in the ground, drink, scratch themselves on their shelter, bury themselves in the straw to sleep, the noises they make and how they like dogs. They are such peaceful animals and after only a few days with them we decided to give them names. I looked at them knowing that one day they would be sacrificed to be on my plate and vowed to love them and give them the best possible life I could provide for them. Why not, they are giving their lives for us humans to eat. The least I can do for them is give them a happy life full of love. We all die and we all want to have a happy and fulfilling life before it ends, why should these animals have anything less? It would be selfish of me to treat them poorly because I am afraid to love them only because I will be sad when they die. Take it one step further and I feel that I should be the one to take their lives because I will be the one who gives them a life. This is going to be an emotional adventure for me and when the day comes to sacrifice them I will be sad but I hope I am happy that they lived a beautiful life. I am not afraid to get attached to them and I will make sure that wherever they end up taking their last breath that it will be done with respect and as humane as possible.
As for my running, it has actually been great! I feel so strong and so healthy! La Sportiva came out with some incredible new clothes and shoes for this year! After taking the gear out on the trails I am so thrilled with how comfortable everything is! The Akasha shoes are amazing, they offer traction and cushion which really takes mountain running to a new level of comfort and the clothing is so comfortable I have to keep looking down to see if I have any clothes on! Zero chaffing, wicks better than anything I have ever run in and the sports bra is so comfortable that I don’t bounce and don’t feel like I am being squashed! Julbo makes the Aero glasses which are incredible and don’t fog! They are super comfortable and the Zebra lenses are very nice to have when running in varying conditions. Of course I love my choucas hats, headbands and bandits! My favorite neck gaiter is the polartec because it works in so many different weather conditions!
Bennett has been cleared to run and is really enjoying getting out on the trails with Jack puppy! He is working on his 4 thousand footers and has a handful of them already! They are such silly dogs and have so much energy! I love my trail pups, they make playing in the woods so much fun and seeing them romping around on the trails makes me smile.
I want to thank my sponsors for providing me with such amazing equipment! Your gear gives me the ability to go on wonderful adventures and perform the best I can while being comfortable! Thank you to my coach Jack for dealing with me through the ups and downs of training and the emotional and physical roller coaster that it takes me through. Thank you to my Ryan for joining me on so many adventures including the adventure through life. Thank you to my friends for always being there to set me straight, make me smile and share adventures with me on and off the trail. Thank you to my Jack puppy and Bennett for bringing me so much joy and joining me on so many adventures in the mountains! Thank you to everyone who has given me the opportunities that I have had in my life, although I am going through a rough patch I do know that I am a very lucky girl and I will come out on the other side smiling and happy! I have a lot of living left to do and only have 13 of my 50 US High Points so I can’t call it quits yet! Oh, and a few running races to explore!
Next up: A weekend adventure of running new trails, a quick trip to attempt to climb Mount Hood, then a fun training race with a friend which will include some more US High pointing and then my first key race of the year!
When life beats you down, be strong. Know that every mountain can be climbed, some with tools and some without. If your climb gets technical then pull out that ice axe, grab that rope and get ready for a hell of a climb. I’ve got out my crampons, axe, helmet, harness and axes for this one. And remember,
“You cannot stay on the summit forever; you have to come down again. So why bother in the first place? Just this: What is above knows what is below, but what is below does not know what is above. One climbs, one sees. One descends, one sees no longer, but one has seen. There is an art of conducting oneself in the lower regions by the memory of what one saw higher up. When one can no longer see, one can at least still know.”-Rene Daumal