The Absurd and Amazing Adventures of Cafe Girl: Running With It

May 25, 2009

Running With It

I completed the Los Angeles Marathon today. Six hours, one minute and fifty-two seconds. Yep, you heard me. Six hours. I was on my feet either walking or running for SIX HOURS.

The LA Marathon caps a nine-month journey that spans two failed romantic relationships.

It was the sheer asinine-ness of the first ex that prompted me to start training. I've never been an outdoorsy type of girl when I lived in Chicago. The First Ex, now known as The Asinine Ex, claimed he was. He loved camping, he said. Never once, in our 14 months together, did I ever see him go camping. When things were coming to an end with us, he said, "You should go camping with your friends before you come camping with me." Romantic and loving, isn't it?

Shortly after he broke up with me. But that little remark cut me to the core. I wanted to prove somehow to this man who no longer even cared about my existence that I could do whatever I wanted to without freaking out. It was very mature of me, I know.

Of course, to pick camping would have been too cliched, so instead, I picked a sport that we'd never even discussed -- running. No one, not even my closest and dearest friends knew that I had always been fascinated with long-distance running. Also, I have no sense of distance, so it never occurred to me that 26.2 miles would be very, very far.

Over the course of the training, however, it served to show me that there was indeed little I couldn't accomplish. The training was no longer fueled by a sheer sense of "I'll show you." I came to enjoy running long distance, especially what it taught me about pushing past what I thought my body was capable of.

The Second Ex, who shall now be known as The Nice Ex, didn't maliciously time his goodbye. The break up just sort of happened, as break ups sometimes do. Unfortunately, it coincided with the peak of my training. That's how I missed my 20 mile training run, and my 22 mile training run. The other unfortunate thing was that the break up was the final straw in a long line of Los Angeles stresses that plunged me into this current depression.

This is how I ended up standing at the start line at the LA Marathon, not quite putting together the fact that the furthest distance I had ever run was 18 miles, that it was six weeks ago, and that I probably should have been more concerned I was about to embark on a five to six hour run. Or, I should have at least been excited that I was about to do something I'd been training to accomplish for the last nine months. Or I should have felt a certain f-you to the Asinine Ex or something. But I didn't. I didn't have a feeling. I didn't have a single feeling other than absolute sadness. And abject loneliness. I was with over 10,000 people and I felt completely alone. Then I burst into tears.

I'm still wading through this thing called "depression." I guess the word in and of itself should clue me in to what it tends to do with emotions -- depress them, make them muted, or in my case, non-existent. Well, the good emotions anyway. Sadness, hopelessness, and loneliness seem to have no problem manifesting on a daily basis. If the anxiety is the most frightening part of depression for me, the inability to fully feel anything other than negative emotions comes in at a close second. If I can't feel real emotion, how am I supposed to relate to others? If I can't relate to others, how can I create art? I suppose I could create depressing art, but that's such a cop out. And I'm not so brilliant that my depression is all that interesting anyway.

I think what made me genuinely sorrowful was that when I crossed the finish line, I felt a sense of disbelief that I had finished, and then the abject loneliness again. My friends found me quickly, then proceeded to shower love and care on me. And I was so grateful for their presence.

But full excitement about finishing? That wonder that what you've been working so hard to accomplish has finally come to pass? Nothing. Not a drop, not a modicum, not a single emotion. Instead, all I felt was sad. I said to a girl friend tearfully, "It's like the happiest and saddest day of my life."

I have a medal, and a poster, and a t-shirt from the 2009 Los Angeles Marathon. I have a record of my finish time. I have friends that have celebrated this with me, and pictures of me running this race. It is my hope, that in time, the importance of the day will sink in and become a real emotion. It will serve as some kind of milestone in my emtional journey.

For now, it will just have to be The Day I Had Depression and Ran A Marathon With It. Yes, That's Right A Marathon.

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