My Greatest Success Was a Start

I forgot I signed up for this. A morning run along the waterfront, 5.5K of concrete and sand, sunshine and sweat, official race bib (although I prefer the Spanish dorsal). The cusp of spring had been unkind. Despite efforts and appearances, the depressive spiral continued its downward twirl. February came with memorabilia: anxiety attacks, a breakdown, lots of stupor. A psychosomatic verdict pronounced my lower back collateral damage. March brought a single gift: flu. Prior, I was focused on my embodiment as an antidote to my brain (at its not-best; otherwise, it’s a pretty delightful brain). I did yoga most mornings, I ran every other day, I began to swim twice a week. I was resisting gentle that good night. Now, time/space continuum was becoming increasingly immobilized and wrought into failure by fever.

Then came an email. Carrera II Volta a Peu Runners Ciutat de València in two weeks. Oh, the impossibility, the irony. I barely made it to the corner grocery store for essentials. It’s been weeks since my last known “physical activity.” I will not be running 5K on sand.

At night, something below the ice shield of depression stirred. But I wanted to run this one. I still want to run this one. This is the one.

Over next two weeks, I made several laborious massage appointments that force-fixed my lower back, I went out on the trail again for 0.5K, 1.5K, 2. oh shit should not have . K, back to 1K and so on. I kept reminding myself I identify as a functional depressive, not a dysfunctional one! I drank vitamins and ate veggies. I never wanted anything more in my life than to be on that starting line… This includes college, visa and job applications.

I showed up at 7:00am on Saturday, March 23 to the port docks. Water bottle, nasal spray, tissues and cough drops. Ready. I was early, horizon taut before my eyes. Event banners snapping at the wind. The wind playing tackle with loner traffic cones. It took a full hour for me to realize no one else was coming. I checked the email. Carrera II Volta a Peu Runners Ciutat de València. It’s on Sunday. I showed up a day early. A zealot, for myself.

On Sunday, I arrived on time, edited my playlist, and stretched somewhere towards the back of 5,400 other runners. I wanted to write about this moment before my depressive mind erases it. To me, standing in that crowd, felt like the greatest achievement of my adult life. I’ve survived “episodes” before. I’ve ran 5Ks. This was by no means a singular occasion. It was the process of wanting something and making the effort for it that felt different, even new. My dreams and desires were usurped by “necessities management” since a while. Also, not a singular circumstance, familiar to most adulting adults. 

An yet.

There is no “ain’t no stopping us now” climax here. Any time I’ve raised an ambitious fist at a lofty goal lately, brain or universe went: “Hold my Campari Spritz!” … I did finish the race at 39:07, which is 13 minutes slower than my first official 5K three years ago. There was no sand involved and I still gleefully described it as “dreadful”. I also positively could not have run a minute or a meter longer back then. I guess,

I got slower and I got better. Life is counter-intuitive that way.

And yes, the route was shaped like a butt-plug/strap-on hybrid. It takes all kinds.

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