Where have you been?

This is a hard one to start, only because I am unsure where to begin. I have struggled my whole life. Whether it was trying to fit in at school, or trying to figure out what I was supposed to do with my life (still waiting on that one). But the biggest challenge for me has been my fight with depression and my roller coaster emotional state. This has come to a head a couple times in my life but it finally came to a point in January where I felt I was over the edge. To this day, I don't even really know what it was that sent me over the edge. It was a mix of everything but nothing specific. My wife came home one night and the kids were being kids and I completely went off the rails and ended up leaving the house to have some "alone time". I ended up driving to the nearest mall and just sat on one of the couches in the mall for 2 hours. It was at that point I had decided that I had had enough and I was "done" and going to checkout. I decided to make a list of everything I needed to do before killing myself. Here it is:

  1. Ensure my life insurance was up to date and covered suicide.
  2. Clean up my receipts/accounts in my room/online. I figured my wife would need access to most of accounts eventually.
  3. Research the most effective and painless ways to accomplish my goal. 
  4. Document everything at work. 

Apparently this is a pretty common thing to do. At some point I decided I needed to talk to a psychiatrist or psychologist. I was still deep into my depression, however, I felt the need to reach out a few days later. I was able to get in to see a psychologist I have seen before and I was able to turn it around eventually. She was able to talk me into putting a stop on my plan and to this day, I don't know where our life insurance documents are kept. I asked Chantel to move them and not tell me where they are so I am unable to finish that task. Talking with her helped but what helped me even more were the anti-depressants I received from my family physician. Up until that point, I had  been fairly "against" being treated with pills. For no other reason than the stigma that is associated with it. Which I can now say is completely stupid. I REALLY wish I had done this a lot sooner. It has been a life changer. Up until this point, I have been very easy to go off the rails and was quite an angry person very quickly. The drugs have really helped with those really low lows. I still get mad and upset, however, I don't feel myself going nearly as deep as before. And I have a lot more patience on a day to day basis. I actually feel fairly stable at this point. And my wife has said she doesn't feel she has to walk around on egg shells anymore. 

I remember when I first went to see my family Dr. and I expressed how much I felt like a complete failure. I have a great job, great group of friends, a wonderful supportive wife and family and really don't have any hardships to speak of. But as anyone with depression or a mental illness will tell you, it isn't always what is on the outside that causes the issues. For me, it's an imbalance of chemicals on the inside which really affects my moods. Couple that with some compounded stress and it makes for a hard combination to deal with.

I wish I could say that all was perfect, however, the drugs do have some fairly significant side effects which do cause other problems, however, none of them have been a show stopper at this point. One thing it did do though was take me completely out of running which has really put my fundraising efforts on the back burner. I finally got up the nerve to go for a run last week. A 20 minute painful run. I also went for a 30 minute bike ride the next day which was much more enjoyable. 

So where does this bring me in my quest to follow Matt's footsteps into Ultra running races? I feel like I need to take things a lot more slowly and get back into running a little bit every day. But I think to remain on the healthy scale, I need to look much further into the future for completing this goal. I'll keep you posted. 

Mark

Week Ending November 26th 2017

This past week was an off week to recover from the previous 2 weeks of training. Coach Mike suggested I do the Musagetes 5K held at RIM park. Normally, I am not one to sign up for 5K races since:

A. They hurt...a lot.
B. I seem to have the ultra mindset that if a race doesn't go for at least a couple hours, it isn't worth the drive.

Needless to say this one did hurt quite a bit and what made it worse was that I was completely demoralized by a much younger runner. :)

I have NO problem losing to younger runners. Fact is they have that higher end speed I don't have anymore and well, they are younger. But what this girl did was simply outstanding/murderous. I caught up to her at about the 2K mark and every time I came up on her shoulder she would increase her pace and ease up again just enough to allow me to come up on her shoulder again and then boom, she was off again. It was a masterful display of how to demoralize an opponent and I think if she keeps going with her training, she will be a force some day. It really brought me back to my days running cross country in high school. Same sort of tactics, however, usually it was about who could hang on to the pace the most on a given day. 

To finish my week on Sunday I went for a 1 hour and 15 minute run after dark to test my new headlamp I purchased from wish.com. It was similar to this one, however, the one I purchased says it is 20000 lumens.  It was one of those purchases I wanted to get just to see what it was like. Back when I was at the Grindstone I was talking to Clark the race director about running in the dark and his suggestion was to get as much light as you can to see properly. So I have been testing out different lights to see what works. So the headlamp I purchased is fantastic. I had it on the brightest setting and it lasts for about 1.5 hours which isn't useful at all for an ultra race, however, it is great to use around home. And the light output is great as well. What is my point? Well, I really just wanted to say that I love running at night. The quietness of the road, the tranquility of the night and the opportunity to get out and turn off my mind is something I cherish. Running at night is something I love, I just want to be able to see. :)

Far harder than an Ultramarathon

This past Friday, October 20th, I drove back down to Virginia to attend Matt's funeral. I won't go into the details of the service itself only to say it was beautiful and heart-wrenching and I was thankful I could be there for the people that were closest and most important to Matt. The most touching and, in my opinion, perfectly articulated portion of the funeral was the poem read by Matt's sister Elizabeth to close out the service. Thank you to both families for allowing me to be a part of this day. It is something I will never forget, and it will fuel me through the long days to come. 

I'm Free (Author Unknown)

Don't grieve for me, for now I'm free
I'm following the path God laid for me.
I took His hand when I heard Him call,
I turned my back and left it all.

I could not stay another day,
To laugh, to love, to work or play.
Tasks left undone must stay that way,
I found that place at the close of day.

If my parting has left a void,
Then fill it with remembered joy.
A friendship shared, a laugh, a kiss,
Ah yes, these things, I too, will miss.

Be not burdened with times of sorrow,
I wish you the sunshine of tomorrow.
My life's been full, I savored much,
Good friends, good times, a loved one's touch.

Perhaps my time seemed all too brief,
Don't lengthen it now with undue grief.
Lift up your heart and share with me,
God wanted me now, He set me free.

Matt, Elizabeth and Chris

What have I gotten myself into!

Two weekends ago I was down in Swoope Virginia to launch my fundraising campaign for this site. While I was there I decided to take a little run on the beginning of the Grindstone course to see what it was like. I actually did two runs, one on Friday night just as it was getting dark and then the next day I went for a longer run. The Friday night one, I had my older headlamp that doesn't really pump out a lot of light and was low on batteries. Once the sun went down and it got dark the forest REALLY changes. I remember when I used to work at a fly in fishing lodge in Northern Ontario and we would wander around the camp at night, what was once familiar quickly became unfamiliar. I was pretty sure I was lost at one point and figured I shouldn't go too far since I didn't really know the area and where I was. The next day, I went longer in the daylight and was in for a big surprise. This is what the course profile looks like:

Grindstone_ElevationMap_2014.jpg

See that teeny tiny hill on the left hand side right before the number 5? That is how far I went. Needless to say I was knackered. It was constant rocks, skinny trail running and just lots of up. This is what my workout looks like in Trainingpeaks. The red line is my heart rate (see next image), and the green line is my pace. Goes way down on that hill. 

Grindstone Workout.jpg
Grindstone HR.jpg

In terms of my heart rate, the big red block on the right side is my Zone 5 heart rate (anaerobic capacity). Essentially, this image SHOULD be the complete opposite. The big block on the far right SHOULD be on the left (aerobic range). Here is a link to the full workout.
Lets just say I will be working on spending a lot of time in the vertical position on my treadmill this winter.