Many of us say that running is our therapy because it helps us dump the events of the day and gets rid of the stress from work or traffic or school or family life. Several people have shared that running helps them deal with depression, anxiety and PTSD. I believe running can help solve a world of ills. Is it because you process all those thoughts or because you put them out of your mind? Do you talk thru things and gain perspective, or savor the silence and gain peace? Do you feel better the second you step out the door like you’re with an old friend, or do you dread every second and then wait for the endorphins to wash over your brain like a warm blanket? Like traditional therapy, my guess is that it works differently for each of us. I probably should have been in an actual therapist’s office this year, but I opted to spend my therapy time on the road and my co-pay money on running shoes.
My therapy session last week was in Mesquite, Nevada over the Thanksgiving holiday. I was also in Mesquite last November when I ran my first marathon. On Thanksgiving morning, I ran a loop through town, and then looped in the girls for a walk in hopes of burning off some of the calories I knew I was going to consume.
But on Black Friday, I decided to run back to the home stretch of the Mesquite Marathon. I wanted to go back to that hill where Brice met me and run with him one more time. I’m not sure that a therapist would recommend the throwback therapy treatment I was planning, but it was something I wanted to do…that I felt like I needed to do.
Sometimes I get memories in my head, and those memories are harder or easier, better or worse than the reality. I have played that last 1/2 mile over and over again in my head so many times…so many times. I guess I wanted to create a new memory. Not that I ever want to forget that memory that I have with Brice. But I needed to go there again…I needed to run that road again. It was a 2 mile uphill run to get to the turn around point and I tossed a lot of thoughts around. My legs were heavy, the hill was long and the wind was chilly. I crossed the state line from Nevada into Arizona wondering if the time would change.
I got to the bottom of the hill and paused to take a picture and racked my brain trying to remember – I don’t remember that golf course being there. Where was the electrical box Brice was sitting on? Maybe it was that big rock? Being 2 miles into a run is a helluva lot different than being 25 miles into a run.
I crossed the road and started back up the homestretch hill. I was running this time and as I was making my way up the hill, I started to cry and said, “Maybe this wasn’t a good idea”…then I heard it again…”You can do it, Mom. You can do it.” I ran all the way up it this time and threw my hands into the air as I crested the top, tears streaming down my face…again. I can’t tell you what song was playing this time, but I can tell you that I ran up that hill and that Brice was with me again. God damn I love that kid.
Sometimes therapy is hard and dealing with all those emotions is exhausting. Sometimes running is hard and running all those miles are exhausting. But you keep going…you keep putting one foot in front of the other. Moving and breathing. One day at a time. One mile at a time. Never give up.