I don’t know how the seasonal depression hit me so hard and suddenly, but I can pinpoint when.
I was driving the back roads of Perry County from one of my last landscaping jobs of the season and could just feel a chill run through my body. The cold seems to sting more with each passing year, and this time, not even the last sip of my lukewarm coffee could thwart the shiver running up my spine.
The deadness of the outside, the dimming of the sunlight, the uncertain driving surface: All of it just made me feel sick to my stomach, which somehow felt even worse with the happy Christmas playing on the radio. When you’re down, it seems like the mind is all too willing to shut down operations and the willpower to do even the smallest tasks is sapped away.
I made it home soon enough, but I could still feel the walls closing in and my breaths becoming more anxious. Depression can be a tough realm to navigate because even when life is going just fine and even if you are lucky enough to have professional help, it still shows up, often when you least expect.
I’ve found rising from the couch and keeping my feet moving to be an effective method to clearing my mind and making peace from within, if not finding resolution altogether.
On this day, my strategy is to run fast right off the bat and slowly scale down the pace. The treadmill — and my stubborn legs — churned faster and faster as I settled for a starting point for my workout, and I thought to myself, “No time to be sad now!”
It made me crack a smile. And that made a difference for me.
In a weird way, I enjoined the physical misery that came with that workout. My body was starched, but my mind was momentarily cleared. Hazing about from the post-run “runner’s high,” my rapid gasps were gradually replaced with deep and grateful breaths. In that moment, I felt like George Bailey at the end of “It’s a Wonderful Life,” as in I just felt eager to stand back up and face my challenges.
The next day, I felt sad again, but much less so, and today as I write I feel terrific, even as I recount how terrible things felt.
Take my word for it, running isn’t a cure-all for all of life’s problems. Normalize taking care of your brain the same way you would the rest of your body.
With that said, I’m so thankful to have this gift of running. For me, running can be a great source of joy that is there when I want to make a good day feel great. But perhaps just as important, it is something that is available to me when I need to make a bad day feel bearable.
1 STEP BACK, 3 STEPS FORWARD
Nearly 6,500 runners gathered in Virginia to take on the Richmond Half Marathon, and it took them 1:12:41 to find out that there aren’t many runners in the northeast that can run faster than Kyle Phillips.
That’s how long it took Phillips, from Waynesboro, to complete the race to finish in the 12th position. Another Waynesboro runner, Jesse Whitney, took on the Richmond Marathon and finished in 4:33:28.
The Chesapeake Bay Bridge Run 10K has become one of Maryland’s most popular races and this year’s event drew more than 13,000 runners, including dozens from the Local.News area. No local runner was faster than Ron Taylor, who dominated the 60-64 AG with a time of 45:27. Taylor wasn’t the only fast runner, with other top times being posted by Greencastle’s Denver Eberly (46:29) and Holly Strait (55:25), Chambersburg’s Matthew Cooper (47:19), Matt Kuhns (47:53), Derek Briggs (50:16), John Briggs (50:22), Thomas Howell (50:59), and Kim Taylor (51:58), Fayetteville’s Monique Weaver (54:12), and Waynesboro’s Kara Pesanti (55:40).
Staying in Maryland, America’s longest-running ultramarathon — the JFK 50 Mile — just completed its 60th running. Waynesboro’s Luke Manning finished in 8:38:47 and was the first area runner to cross the finish line. Linden Showalter, 63, who first ran the JFK 50 at 16 years old, crossed the line in 10:37:07, at the same time as fellow Waynesboro runner Clark Kreitzer.
Chambersburg’s Laurie Dymond continued her remarkable 2022 season at the JFK 50 Mile with another rock-star finish. Dymond, a one-time podium finisher at the elite event, overwhelmed the 50-59 AG with a time of 8:59:49. Other top runners from the race include Chambersburg’s Trentin Overcash (9:32:10), Mike Hepner (9:44:30), and Kirk Clever (10:14:49), Smithsburg’s Aaron Little (10:03:17), and Greencastle’s Todd Kirkwood (11:58:35) and Jay Myers (11:58:35).
The Philadelphia Marathon saw Chambersburg’s Michael Day go sub-3 hours with a time of 2:59:33. He was chased by Greencastle’s Rachel Scheitrum (3:26:42) and Chambersburg’s Leanne Ludwick (3:58:25).
A number of other runners were active in races across the region, including Fayetteville’s Howard Seaton (44:34 at Outer Banks 8K; 2:29:00 at Outer Banks Half Marathon), Elania Richardson (31:01 at Storm Warriors Boardwalk 5K), and Alexx Purcell (4:08:31 at Harrisburg Marathon), Chambersburg’s Walter Kenosky (29:03 at Run Against Hunger 5K), Emily DeMent (42:34 at Friends of the National Arboretum Fall 5K), Lisa Smith (2:00:23 at Harrisburg Half Marathon), and Christine Metcalfe (2:11:46 at Philadelphia Half Marathon).
And finally, we’d like to wish congratulations to Fayetteville’s Abigail Zychal, who ran her first marathon. Zychal completed the Harrisburg Marathon in 4:15:52.
And now, a look ahead:
Christmas Cash Dash 5K/10K: Saturday, Dec. 3, 8:30 a.m., in Chambersburg. Looking to score a little cash? Pick your race bib before the start, and afterward use the scratchoff on the bib to see if you’ve won a prize between $100-$500. Learn more at runsignup.com.
The Frosty 5: Saturday, Dec. 3, 9:30 a.m., in Middletown. This race starts and ends in picturesque Hoffer Park in Middletown. Register for the race at runsignup.com.
Manheim Santa Run 5K: Saturday, Dec. 3, 8:30 a.m., in Manheim. Discover the neighborhoods of Manheim and celebrate the upcoming holiday with this festive race. Sign up for the race on runsignup.com.
Also: The Leftovers Run Half Marathon (Sunday, in Oaks); Forest & Hills Trail Run 20K (Tuesday, in Narvon); Christmas Cash Dash 5K/10K (Saturday, Dec. 3, in Chambersburg); Lancaster County Ugly Sweater XC 5K (Saturday, Dec. 3, in Lancaster); Manheim Santa Run (Saturday, Dec. 3, in Manheim); Medal Madness 5K/10K (Saturday, Dec. 3, in New Cumberland); The Frosty 5 (Saturday, Dec. 3, in Middletown); Dirty Bird Trail Run 30K (Sunday, Dec. 4, in Elverson); Nittany Valley Half Marathon (Sunday, Dec. 4, in State College); Reindeer Run 5K (Sunday, Dec. 4, in Lebanon); The Loop Race 8.4 Miler (Sunday, Dec. 4, in Philadelphia).
Foot Notes is a self-syndicated column by Central Pa. sportswriter Andy Sandrik that has been “running” since 2016. Andy always follows back on Strava and can be reached by email at [email protected].