I think I have SAD …except I don’t have the more common kind where you get bummed out during the winter months. I think I have the kind where you get bummed out during the summer months. Weird, huh?
I had an epiphany today on my long run (It was just 6 miles, folks, but honestly that’s the longest distance I have run at one time since early May). I was plugging along at my lightening fast 9:30 pace and suddenly felt a surge of happiness. The sun was shining, the sky was blue, the air was dry, the temperature was about 62 degrees, and an acrid smell of smoke was faintly wafting along in the breeze, and I felt so happy that I was taken a bit by surprise. I was happy because summer is finally wrapping up and fall is just around the corner.
My epiphany? I don’t think I like summer. I don’t think I really ever have liked summer all that much. And now, I think each year I actually dread it.
I remember the summer between 1st and 2nd grade. My older brother and two older sisters went away to sleep-over camp. I wasn’t old enough to join them. In the car on the way to camp, my siblings were all excited, and I got caught up in their excitement. They laughed and joked and talked about all the crazy things they would do at camp. When we pulled through the gates of the camp, with its little cabins and fire circle and snack hut and lake with canoes and sail boats, they flew out of the car in a happy flurry of flip flops, sleeping bags, and camp trunks…and just like that, they were gone and it was just my mom and me standing there watching them leave. I felt crushed. My mom was probably sad too in a way only a mom knows, but I was too young to notice that. What I do remember noticing was that the vinyl seats of the station wagon were hot. The metal seatbelt buckle was hot. The air was thick with heat. And the impending sibling-free four weeks stretched out in my little 7-year-old mind as an eternity of bleak, hot, white loneliness.
I think that event ruined summer that year for me and started a pattern of many more lonely summers to come… all the way through my high school and college years. And darn it! These days, getting worked up and anxious about summer interferes with my running! (Yes I do think it probably interferes with lots of things, but we won’t go there.) Now, don’t get me wrong. I had a happy childhood. My parents were good parents, I love my brother and my sissies, and I also have some very pleasant memories of summer. But I am talking an overall theme here, so bare with me.
I did actually learn something valuable this summer from all my summer misery. I learned that after a fairly intense training schedule for many months, one week off from training makes me stronger, two weeks off makes me weaker, and three weeks off (or more) makes me incredibly useless as a runner. Go ahead… make that your quote on Facebook or pin it up on your fridge next time you feel like blowing off a run… it’s ok with me. It’s true. I trained fairly intensely for a marathon, a half marathon, and a 10 miler over the course of about 10 months, then I dropped back a bit in May and June and completely dropped out of running for almost the entire month of July. Then, in August, when my haze started to lift a bit, and I was itching to get back to a regular running schedule, I could barely run three miles…seriously, I couldn’t do it without walking breaks. Silly silly me. Maybe my haze wouldn’t have been so hazy if I had stayed on top of my running. But then again, maybe my running wouldn’t have suffered if I wasn’t in the throws of a mental self-diagnosis.
Well, today, after several weeks of running on a regular basis, I happy to say that I am feeling myself again–not only as a runner but as a functioning human. The kids are back in school, there is the comfort of structure and routine around the house, everyone is on a better sleep schedule, the weather is cooler, I can comfortably run 6 miles, and Mr. Elizathon actually commented that I seem happier and that my happiness makes him happy. Awwwww! Thanks! [but dang, was I really that bad?] He probably wouldn’t be so happy with the name Mr. Elizathon, but he doesn’t read my blog so that’s what he gets.
So hello Fall! Goodbye summer. I’m sure I will miss you in those endless dark days of February. But for now, good riddance.