Being a runner gives my life meaning. No, wait. Being a runner gave my life meaning. I know you think that sounds hyperbolic, melodramatic, and over-the-top…and you’re right. It is. But I was reading The Terrible and Wonderful Reasons Why I Run Long Distances for the upteenth time this weekend, and it made me realize that I have been letting the Blerch win. He’s dragged me down. He’s convinced me to give up. To eat the cake tacos. To live on the couch. To treat myself…like I’m the fat kid I used to be. That wretched, lazy beast finally caught me. I stopped trying to outpace him, and it worked for a while. But he had better stamina than I did. It sucks, too. That chubby, smelly, lumpy little cherub beat me. His whispers finally convinced me to slow down. It was enough.
Beej and The Blerch
Here’s the timeline of the race I lost to the nasty, winged creature:
- 2010: Beej can’t fit on roller coaster, changes diet and lifestyle
- 2011: 100 pounds lost
- 2012: Beej starts running for realsies
- 2013: 155 lbs lost (half body weight)
- 2014: Beej runs half marathon, maintains weight loss
- 2015: minor nervous breakdown in August, begins counseling and medication for anxiety and bipolar disorder II in September
- 2016: tears ligament in ankle, injured knee, quits job, goes through multiple medicines for anxiety, weight gain begins
- 2017: stops running (essentially) altogether, gains 40lbs and two shirt/pant sizes.
Aaaaaaaand thst brings us to where we are today. If you look back, you can see exactly where I lost the mental and physical capacity to keep the Blerch away.
The Past Two Years Have Been HARD
I’ll be honest with you. The past two years, from August 2015 to October 2017 have been two of the hardest years of my life. What I mention above are only the broad strokes, too. I can’t talk about some of the more personal issues that have been going on (because this is the internet, after all), but there’s a reason the Blerch caught me. I could only juggle so many balls while tend to outrun the creepazoid. But many of the issues that plagued me are finally beginning to get under control. The ligament I tore has healed. I’ve found the medicine and dosage that works for my anxiety. The ethereal other issues are slowly being worked on and moved beyond. I’ve found stable, full-time work as a WordPress blogger and live-streamer (that’s kind of livin’ the dream, ya know?). So maybe I’ll be able to exert some amount of control over the stuff I’ve allowed to spiral over the past couple of years. Like outrunning the damn Blerch. Because over the past two years, I’ve let myself go. Not out of apathy, but out of necessity. It was necessary for me to focus on my mental health. It was necessary for me to change careers. And it was necessary for me to focus on those other issues. I had enough of a base that it took two full years to gain two sizes and 40 pounds. That’s a godsend in a lot of ways. If I hadn’t taken such good care of myself for the previous five…well, the Blerch would have a much greater lead on me.
An Uphill Battle
With fall and winter ahead of me, I’m worried. The weather will get colder very quickly from here, which will limit my exercise options. Night will fall earlier and earlier, and the darkness will significantly affect my anxiety and mood. But Jennifer subscribed to Beachbody on Demand this weekend. (I loved P90X when I did it years ago.) I am looking at a couple variations of new running shoes that will help ease my knee and ankle pain—since Asics totally ruined the Nimbus line over the past few iterations. We are ordering a light box to help with the seasonal depression. We have options. I have options. It’s gonna be hard. But my head is there. I’ve finally caught sight of that sloppy cherub who keeps taunting me from just out of reach. And with autumn, his taunts are going to get worse. The Blerch will throw pumpkin spice goodness toward me at every turn. I’ll dodge pepperminty awesomeness for months. And he’ll tempt me with warm, cozy blankets and cups of marshmallowy cocoa to warm my insides and out. But I’ll be strong. It’ll be hard. But I’ll be strong. I mean, I’ve been strong for two years, dealt with things I never thought I’d have to deal with, and now I’m ready to take on my next challenge. To become me again.
I started this post by saying that being a runner gave my life meaning. And while that was an exaggeration in many ways, running has certainly made me happier than almost any experience I’ve ever had. I’ve been thinking lately, which was the whole impetus of this post, about the happiest times of my life. Pretty much each and every one of them involved running. That’s when I’ve been my happiest: running up and down a dormant volcano every day that I was in Portand, Oregon. Seeing the sun rise alongside me on a Sandias mountain trail in Albuquerque, New Mexico. My wife smiling and greeting me as I finished my first half-marathon here in Florence, Alabama. These moments are the ones I remember. Not because I was running. But because I was a runner. Because if I hadn’t been, that joy would never have been in my life. The Blerch can’t take that from me, no matter how hard he tries. That was my epiphany. The Blerch can tug at me and taunt me, even get the better of me for a while. But he can’t change the joy that I’ve gotten because I’ve been a runner. So I’m gonna beat the Blerch. I’m gonna be a runner again. Because you know…that’s who I am now. It’s just taken me a couple of years to understand that.