I can’t say I’m the fastest or strongest runner in the world. Hell, I can’t even say I’m average. Regardless of my comparative running ability, though, I can say that besides writing, running is the one activity that literally cures even a potential for a depressive episode.
Life hasn’t been all that kind to me as of late. While I’ve been healthy, my dad’s cancer diagnosis and treatment continues to throw me for a loop. Some days are better than others, but on bad days, I can feel sadness and grief grab me a pull me into a darkness with which I’m all too familiar. I was having one of those bad days last Saturday. I knew that a run might help, but my shoes were worn to Hell and I needed a new pair. When I got to the Running Hub (the best spot for running gear in Santa Fe), I noticed a poster advertising the inaugural “Zozob-Run,” a run the featured several different runs, including a 5K and a 10K on the morning of the day of Zozobra’s burning (if you aren’t familiar with Santa Fe’s burning of Zozobra, check it out on Google). I immediately knew I’d sign up for the 10K, because I’ve never ran an official 10K and since it would be my first, why not the inaugural Zozobrun.
So, yesterday, I picked up my packet and a map and I rode the course. Turned out, the first 3 miles were uphill at a rather steep grade. On a bike, it was a tough outing. I figured that running it would be damn near impossible. The self-doubt monster crept into my soul and made me rethink the whole affair. But, what comes up must come down and the final 3.2 miles were all pretty much downhill. Hope returned.
I got my clothes ready last night and planned to soak to rejuvenate my legs. But, again, life doesn’t care about my plans sometimes. Last night was one of those dark times for me and I wanted, very much, to just not show up for the run. When I awoke, I dressed and left for the run, even though I had significant doubts about whether I’d even run. I arrived at the parking area and wrote in my journal: Scared. Nervous. Doubtful. Those 3 words summed up how I felt. But, I was resigned to running the 10K and so I headed for the starting line.
The run started and, as expected, the initial 3 mile hill was a bitch. What was worse, my shoes were way too tight; my feet got numb and I had to stop after 3 miles and loosen my shoelaces. But after that point, the run was relaxing, meditative, and fun. Not even rain spoiled my mood and when I ran through the finish line, the darkness was gone and I felt nothing short of elation at having ran and completed my first 10K.
I can’t recommend running as a means of warding off both Depression and Anxiety. If I hadn’t run this race, the darkness may have arrived and decided to stay. Having run, though, I’m ready to face life’s bullshit again and if the darkness tries to come again, I’ll lace up my shoes and train for the next event: The Santa Fe Triathlon. The inaugural Zozobrun was an organized event and I hope it comes back next year.