Dark Industry

Dark Industry, thanks to SoulRider.222 @ Flickr
The last few months have been very rough. I’ve been fighting the worst case of depression I’ve had in a number of years. It’s tempting to keep a journal of my outlook; hard to call it a “mood” when I just want to be left alone to sit and stare at a wall. But keeping a journal would get depressing in and of itself. Part of the problem is the weight of the current thing, so when I look back and see “day 23, still down” it might be difficult to find a brighter spot in the day.

It’s starting to cost me dearly though. How do I tell people “I didn’t do your stuff because I was too busy being depressed?” One way to climb out of the hole is to set small goals and then meet them. A small goal like “yup, I’ll do that for your website” — and I don’t meet it. And the weight of that failure gets added to world on my back.

Today feels about the best it has though, in really, the last three months. I don’t know if it’s the sunshine yesterday or what, but right now I’m feeling like I can accomplish something. So let’s start by putting some work down and getting it done. It would really help if I could go running again too, and get back on that habit.

Sucky Running

It’s funny to consider my run today of about 4 miles a failure.

On the one hand, I’ve been running for over a year- actually almost a year and a half now. I’m still slow and can’t run for longer than 40 minutes without stopping. By “slow” I mean, I run about 11:30-12:00 miles. Lately it’s been cold and dark and really hard to get out and do it. So today when I woke up I put on my tights (for the first time this season) and shorts and played Batman with Miss K for a little bit before finally going out for our run. First one this week. We (the dog and I) made it about 20 minutes before stopping for a break, and then about ten minutes, then five, then three, and finally I couldn’t see myself running any more and headed home. A far cry from the 7 miles I did a few weeks ago.

When I run, I almost always do intervals. Just because I can’t run that far.

However – it’s funny because I’m running. I mean, I’m really running it out. I’m not quite as active as I was in high school, when I biked everywhere and was on swim team. But since high school, this is probably the most active I’ve been. I live a pretty sedentary life. So, on that road, it’s a definite win. I was out there again today.

It’s Spring Soccer Time!

Miss K is delighted that it’s soccer time again! She says she prefers spring soccer because there’s less mud. I think she’ll be learning about spring mud :) On the plus side, there’s only games, no practices, and it’s a short season. So in a few months, we’ll have played about eight games, and we’ll be done. She really enjoys being out and active. Two twenty minute halves and a ten minute mid-game show, and I can go back inside where I feel safe again.

We took the dog to the last game and he wanted to know why all these kids were pelting around and he was stuck on the leash. And they got to play with a ball! I think he was slightly offended. But there were plenty of dogs who came by and visited for sniffing. So that wasn’t all bad.

She (Miss K, not the dog) is really getting great at riding her bike, too. I may have to do my running with her on her bike so she can go further than the two houses in front of us. We’ll have to see about that.

March into Depression

I think I hate March.

March is the tail end of winter, and it is usually cold and wet. It’s the end of the dark days and you’d think with the equinox, that we’d be happier about the days being longer than the nights. But it’s cold, wet and Eugene had six inches of snow. It having been so dark and gloomy, inspiration for creating new things and building up on old things is at a low point. It’s hard to go into work, hard to talk to clients, even hard to pay bills.

On the plus side, I saw daffodils in the side yard this weekend. The dog seems to be feeling better. The kids are definitely feeling better; they’ve had colds for a few days and Miss B even had a fever.

A few months ago, running in the rain was a badge of courage. Today, it’s a badge of insanity. It’s cold, wet, and the raindrops are little frozen needles banging you in the face.

Spring break is next week, and I hope they find something fun to do. Any suggestions?

Running Butt-Sniffing

I’ve recently decided that it’s ok to talk about myself as a “Runner.” I mean, really- I’m running three times most weeks, I have a goal of 500 miles in 2012 (which is totally doable if I can keep my average above 10 miles a week or 3.5 miles a run). And one of the guys in the office said that he’s a runner too.

There’s this thing we nerds do, establishing credentials, I call it “Technical Butt-Sniffing.” It usually sounds like “I develop web sites with PHP and MySQL” and then the other nerd says “Oh, really, have you heard of Rails?” and the first nerd says “Yeah, it’s ok but can be a pain to deploy for the first time to a shared host” and then they laugh together because they both have an idea of the other nerd’s aptitude. If you’re not following the analogy, it’s like dogs meeting at the park. You can see the process play out in every social group.

So, back to running. One of the guys in the office said “Oh, really? I’m a runner too!” and then … I’m at a loss. I read running blogs or websites and I don’t really know how to talk to another runner. And I had to stop myself. The first questions out of my mouth were “Oh, really, how far do you run? How fast do you go?” Because those are the questions I ask myself (for the record, about 3-5 miles per run, about 11 minutes per mile). But those are also judgement-laden questions. I don’t really care how far or fast he runs, I just want to have a conversation about running and our shared experience of, you know, putting our feet to the ground in some careful pattern of broken falling.

So I stopped him, and said that. I said “You know, I don’t really care how fast or far you run, but I do want to establish this rapport. What questions do I ask to make a conversation, so that we can talk about this?” And he responded with “Why do you run?” which is a great question. Also a great butt-sniffing question. So I asked him, why he runs. He runs because he can do it right after work and it works out great for him. Another guy in the office runs because he hates any other form of exercise. And we could all talk about that. (I run mostly because I’m cheap and running I can do with shoes and anywhere.)

What if other conversation-starters did that? “I build websites with PHP and MySQL?” “Oh really, why do you build websites?” It sounds much less like you’re passing judgement. Pretty nice, huh?

Grades are Coming

Miss B’s first high school quarter is coming to a close, and I can say – EdBox is great, but it’d be greater if the teachers would update it more regularly. It’s a whole lot better than just guessing as to whether her work is done or not, though. Overall, I’m pleased with her grades. She has a couple of weak spots that EdBox is helping us track down, and one of those is the reason I’m sitting in Starbucks far from my normal haunts while she spends her Saturday morning at the school doing biology labs.

I’m trying hard to be the “awesome uncle” but my sister in law upped the ante. I’m sending my nephews and niece holiday cards, and sent out Halloween cards. Imagine my surprise when the girls got cards from their new nephew Dylan. Imagine my further surprise when each girl found a five dollar bill inside their card. I was shocked! And soon, I’ll be broke. 😀 Thanksgiving is coming. I bet I could fit a whole turkey into the card this time.

Miss K had a good time at her school’s literacy fair. She went to the book fair, ate Round Table pizza, made some comic strips, met a librarian from Multnomah County Library, and won a (scary) book. She spent her “Halloween money” on a Pokemon black/white catalog book. She was unhappy that I wouldn’t let her pack a lunch on the way out the door to school on Friday. Apparently it’s hard to carry both her book and the lunch tray. But I didn’t want to be late to school; we’ll work that out next week. Miss K also won a “respectful” award at her school’s award ceremony. Sometimes the “word of the week” at her school smells slightly of brainwashing, in an Orwellian sense, but some of those kids could use some washing. Last week’s word was “Volunteer” and this week’s was “Character.” She and I trick-r-treated in our neighborhood. She dressed up as a vampire woman, but because she mislaid her teeth, it was just a pretty red and black dress. She got the traditional bucketful of candy.

Miss K has been remarkably clingy this week. I waver between enjoying it and wanting my own space. Usually when I come home, I need my own space. Miss B, not so clingy.

Ms B had a day of Jury Duty this week and was released about lunchtime. I met her for lunch before she went home. It was very nice to sit and eat with her, even if we ate in the mall’s food court. She is angling for me to clean the house today and move the Xbox and PS3 upstairs so they get played with more. The basement is so dark and cold. This is tempting, but the obvious spot for them (at least until after Christmas) is our bedroom, where everyone congregates. I made the tactical error of offering to move our bedroom stuff to the (smaller) living room and then we could use the bedroom as the living room and just come in / go out through the back door. And hey, why don’t we have the Christmas tree back there too. Unsurprisingly, she thought the first idea was silly. Surprisingly, she could get behind the second idea. Whoops.

I’ve run twice this week and plan to either run tonight or tomorrow morning. I’m running 4 ten minute intervals, and my route takes me around a loop on the sidewalk. I’m not running on the (dark) bike paths or down the middle of the street. But it’s cold and wet. Hopefully I’ll keep my motion going through the winter.

And the best news of the week was that Grampa R is out of the hospital and healing at home. So glad he’s ok. I like him a lot.

Couch to 5K

This weekend will be my last run for the Couch to 5K program.

In short, I’ll be done. It’s been nine weeks (ten weeks) of running. I can run about 2.5 miles in about 30 minutes. Next Sunday is my first ever 5K run, it’s the Komen “run for the cure.” And next month is the “Run Like Hell” zombie run. For the next few weeks I’ll be working on raising my pace to a 10 minute mile and increasing my distance to the 5K (3.4 miles). After that, well. I’m not sure; it’s pretty easy to get an hour three times a week to run but an hour and a half is kind of pushing it. We’ll see. Maybe I’ll do hour runs twice a week and then once on the weekend do a longer distance.

And two fingers up for my 7th grade gym teacher. He rode my case pretty hard- I couldn’t do a mile in an hour in 7th grade. I think I frustrated him. I know he frustrated me, between yelling at me for not being able to run and having to keep stopping to “tie my shoes” and telling me that swimming will be easier (it wasn’t, but at least I was less sweaty).

I really enjoy biking and swimming – I flirt sometimes with the idea of doing triathlons. But I’m not a serious kind of guy.

I was considering doing something nice for myself when I finished this program but I’m discouraged from that now. I thought about an iPod touch but really, my phone with Pandora is doing me pretty well. Maybe I’ll just buy a shirt or something. It hasn’t really done much for my weight loss; I’m still at 212, which is still down the 25 pounds I lost with Weight Watchers.

Ms B is also doing the C25K but had a setback with her bronchitis. She’s run a few times since then and we’ll get her to the 9 week mark too. I really enjoy spending that time with her.

Confidence and Competence

I was talking to Pat yesterday and we were talking about the C25K program (which he’s finished and is working on the B210K). I told him that sometimes at the end of a week’s set of workouts, it was difficult to decide whether to move on to the next week or do the week over and get more confident at it. He replied that he had been reading (the trainer for Steve PreFontaine) and that coach had said something about working at your competence, not necessarily at your confidence.

That’s true for running, for your career, pretty much for anything that you’re levelling up at. It was inspiring as I burned through today’s run, the last run for week 4, and I ran harder during it than I probably should have. Finished it, though. I can tell that I was running harder than usual because when the podcast lady (Laura) came on and said “if you’re exhausted, just slow down a bit and but keep running” – I actually could slow down. When I was running before I was reading John Bingham, “the penguin” who allegedly had a slower running speed than his walking speed, so usually “slow down a little” doesn’t mean anything.

Here’s another quote for you: http://quittingadderall.com/running-with-bruce-lee-quote/

Fighting Depression in the Rain

I generally say that I don’t have Seasonal Affective Disorder. I like rain, I like sun — I like the mixture of the two, about three days of one, then about three days of the other. I say “about” because I like the unpredictability. However, it’s been getting harder and harder to keep my sunny disposition the last few winters. Part of it is the cold. I think as I get older and more acclimatized to how Ms B likes to keep the house (80 degrees? Really?) that stepping outside into 40, 50 degree weather gets more difficult. Or maybe my fur’s just thinning.

So what do I do to keep my head up when it’s cold and wet outside? Well, I’ve been off my meds for a few months now; the Prozac and the welbutrin. And I’m reluctant to go running in the wet. I’ve never been very good at indoor mechanical exercise (the elliptical or the rower), it just seems pointless. At least with running I’m “going somewhere.” So what I am doing is trying to eat more vegetables and drink more (vitamin D fortified) milk, and I’m taking the stairs at work.

I’m breaking work projects down into four hour blocks and feeling “accomplished” when I get them done. Small goals, quickly iterated over.

And I’m planning to get my bike fixed, and I’m waiting until it’s a little drier to start running again. Small goals, small successes and hope. That’s how I’m fighting depression.

How are you doing it?