|My climb includes 5 total climbs and 6 of the lower section.|
|Care of Maine Running Photos.|
The heat was incredible because the aluminum bleachers absorbed and reflected the sun's rays as if I was running in a sauna. It was one of the hottest couple of days in Maine this year and many people were hospitalized at races the day before. When I looked down at the all the younger football payers I was impressed with their vigor, youth and ability, but I was most captured by their impression of me. All of these athletes, in their prime, looked at me at me with respectful head nods, and were questioning why this crazy thirty year old asshole was climbing the stadium during the hottest hours of the hottest day of the summer. These were all stronger, and in most cases tougher athletes than me, but not that day. Again the reflection of the sun off of the aluminum, the salty sweat and sunscreen combined to blur my vision, but I was on cloud nine. I was the kid playing hockey again. I began to love every minute of that misery. I became even more confident when the football team, left and I was still climbing stairs. On my last lap, I was wiped out, tired, and what I like to call wobbly (ultra runners more commonly refer to this as bonking because when your body runs out of fuel you start feeling loopy and hypoglycemic, but I think wobbly better captures how I feel), but in that almost delirium haze I knew that I'd gone as hard and as long as I could: then a little bit farther.
Somewhere in all the diagnoses and medical treatment I'd lost some of the key aspects of who I was. Sure I have been running ultras to reconnect to who I am, and in many ways I am tougher than I ever was, but I'd lost my old mentality. I just remembered running ten milers at Bragg, full out the whole time at sub seven pace without recognizing what philosophy and training regimen brought that ability. I thought I was tougher after war, but I was tough because of who I was preceding war and my mentality is what brought me through. For some reason I'd come to believe that I was weak before war and that is why I was taken out by invisible wounds. Nothing could be further from the truth. I was tough and that is why I endured so much trauma and still sought to be on the line fighting the war. My resilience is helping now, but it also caused a much more severe syndrome. I realized that I have PTSD because I am tough, not because I am am weak. It stems from my character not my weakness.
|One handed summit pic with 2 liter hydration pack.|
I get better at managing my PTSD with every improved time, longer and harder run because it helps me face the panic attacks that I suffer on runs, and it has also been my mechanism for grief. Most importantly, it reminds me of how, who I was before and who I am now, are different, yet my mentality prior to war has had a lot of bearing on how I survived. After seeing all the death and loss I have in Iraq I'll never fully regain that child I once was, nor would I even want to be that naive again. However, because of PTSD I'd abandoned all of who I was because I felt like I'd done something wrong to have mental illness. In remembering that sweat in my eyes, the love of climbing everyday, and wearing as little as possible I've been able to reconnect to a mentality that will surely help me grow with PTSD. Probably the mentality that saved my life in Iraq and at home.
|Honeymoon Piton summit with Piton Lager. My wife has the same drive to climb mountains and run races together.|