There have been a few contenders for this top spot, but the one I’m about to describe was the best for many different reasons.
It was a late summer Wednesday evening and I was in the midst of a thick depressive episode. I believe it had stormed earlier that afternoon so everything was cool and crisp. My boyfriend at the time (EC for sake of clarity) and I were in charge of a group run back then and usually had a turnout of 15-20 people. We got there early most weeks to run a few extra since it is the mid-week long run when training for a marathon.
At this point in my life, it was taxing to get out of bed, dressed, and out of my house. It took a lot of focus and energy to put myself together in a presentable arrangement for the outside world. By the time most social engagements were over, I was thoroughly exhausted. I slept a lot and ran little. The endorphin crash from evening runs helped settle me deep into slumber.
I was a hot mess on the inside and only my EC knew about it. Most Wednesday’s EC picked me up to take me to these group runs. I think he was worried if he didn’t I wouldn’t show up and he was probably right.
We got to our meeting spot, me wearing my Brooks PureDrift and he wearing his New Balance 860s. We ran a couple miles then got back to wait for the rest of the group. The routes were generally easy because of the varying abilities of the group joining us. We wanted to help challenge people but in a friendly way; we wanted our people to feel comfortable in that challenge.
Every once in a while my body gets into what has been dubbed by many as “rocket ass” mode. My body shifts into its 5th gear and wants to open up and fly. I love it when those moments happen, I feel so free and swift and the world around me fades away.
On this night rocket ass showed up about a mile into the group run and I could not hold it in. After, EC told me he saw my body shift into this gear and knew what it meant because he’s seen it before. My stride lengthens, my center of gravity drops, my torso tilts forward just a little and I run on the tip of my foot just a little bit more. He caught up to me further down the road when I stopped to wait for our group since EC and I do a game of leap frog where one of us runs ahead to a tricky corner while the other goes ahead to the next tricky corner and so on. I apologized for taking off and not being more considerate, explaining that I just needed to fly even if for a little bit. I was feeling the very meaning of exhilarating. He smiled at me, that very understanding and seeing smile only a true partner can give, and told me to go ahead, let my rocket ass loose.
And so I did.
I flew around those lakes, completing the figure eight. I soared up and over the pedestrian bridge. I safely floated across Main Street and pushed even harder when making that final turn. I was sad when I saw the finish in the near distance because I wanted to run like that forever. I looked down at my watch only once and that was when I was close to the end. I was going about 7:30min/mi. I felt better, I felt amazing, I felt like myself even if for just a brief moment.
Endorphins are a powerful ally in the battle against depression. Being outside and surrounded by people helps stamp the need to self-isolate. EC told me he could see the difference in my face and my body how much that run helped my mind. I almost cried because I had felt so broken before we started and now the darkness was a little less consuming. I could feel some cracks starting to appear in the darkness, as if someone had poked holes in the black felt clothe.
There were a few more runs after this that helped to chase away more of the dark, but nothing came close to what I felt on this day, the beginning of the lifting fog.
EC and I aren’t together anymore, but I’ll still always remember him fondly for these moments when I needed a true friend by my side.