Sunday, February 28, 2010

My Experience With The Firecracker 10K Race

So I just ran a 10k with some steep inclines, and a very injured ankle – was limping on it walking from the car to the starting line. I’m not sure about my official time yet, but according to my watch it looks like I was below 52 minutes. Considering my challenges I should be really excited. But hours after finishing strong I cannot stop sobbing. Why? On the car ride home I’m crying so hard that I almost have to pull over in order to be safe. What is going on inside of me that is causing this, I wonder. They are not tears of joy, totally opposite. There is something inside of my head telling me how worthless I am, and that no matter what I do, I will never compensate for this inadequacy. Childhood issues run deep; I’ll not explore mine in this blog entry, but for the reader, alcoholic father, swingers for parents, and abuse and histories of depression are multi-generational for me and my family. My pop was a massive mountain man, and a computer scientist – both brain and brawn. No matter what I did, I was never enough, and he never wasted an opportunity to tell me thus. Now I realize I have internalized that message far deeper than I could ever realize. At the end of a strong run I feel like I am the worst person in the world; like I should just give this up and never run again, or pursue any ultra-endurance athletics. This is what I genuinely feel! So the part of me, the part that knows how to self-care talk, can intellectualize and affirm, but the devastation is there; I am reduced to a near suicidal wreck.

I am not seeking outside validation from the reader. I know that there is nothing anyone can ever say that will compensate for my life-long race. But I recognize my opponent: a monster of depression, addiction, and self-loathing. And so a faith takes hold of me, something outside of myself and it reminds me that I am not running only for myself. I am running for every depressed, self-injurious person out there believing that they will never amount to anything; that the feelings they experience are so overwhelming that they don’t even give up, they don’t try. I have spent a lot of my life like that.

If you have a voice in your head that tells you that you too are worthless, know that I believe in you. I am running with my hurt, and I’m doing my best to synthesize the positive feelings that accomplishing races provide and slowly changing my inner emotional world. This will be my life long race. There are many worthy causes that ought to be championed, like cancer and HIV-AIDS. But those are not mine. Depression is the leading cause of disability in our country, and yet mental health remains a taboo subject. I race for you, the broken, the grief-stricken, the addict who believes that only death will relieve your suffering. I am running for us. This Firecracker 10K race/epiphany does not fix my hurt. But it does shine just that little more light into a very deep and dark place where hurt can take down lives. So while I still feel worthless, right now as I write this, I believe that by inspiring even one person, I live my life for something greater than me. That, I believe, is the healing salve for my soul – to live a life of service to others. So that what little God-given gifts I was blessed with, I may share them for the greater good. Be of good faith reader, and may you run well. Run, run with all of your heart, sweet gentle soul, and your legs will carry you forever…

Michael Salonius

February 28, 2010