The other day I send out some traffic on the Ultra List because I had my eyes opened of sorts. In all reality it was a “hey, check it out, this is what happened to me and I am on the path to get the old me back.” The outpouring of support I received was unreal, but even more unreal was that I wound up touching others that were suffering as from a shift in priorities as well. Without further adieu, here is the initial email”
” So yesterday we had a brief from an upper echelon leader…
Just what I needed to take me away from the task at hand...so much to do to make sure that things remain flowing for the unit.
But then his words hit me like a ton of bricks. I realized that I am not the same man that I was 10 years ago. The war has taken its toll and I am not talking PTSD, though my wife will argue that one because she does not understand why I get up every two hours at night and check the house with my weapon...
Back to the point, and how this relates to running. Experiences of today’s conflict have restructured my thinking. Everything to me is life and death, if it is beyond that, it is difficult, or impossible for me to understand. I don't understand how my family does not get how important it is. "Why are you so worried about going to the book fair?...Stop stressing about taking the cat to the vet...that's just stupid." What happened? I used to enjoy contact. I enjoyed having my wife lay on my lap at night, now I want my space, cuddling with my kids is hard too. The compassion for even the smallest of things is not there. At some point in the last 10 years of deployments I have suffered a re-prioritization of life. If it does not relate to life and death then it is menial. It is hard to not re-prioritize when you see dear friends die, when you watch a wife attempt to comprehend that her husband is not ever coming home, when you feel as if eight of your nine lives are used and gone and come to terms with death being ok.
I thought I had begun running as "therapy". In many ways it is. It is my new constant. However I never really connected the parallel until yesterday. Ultra-running is life and death. Granted, not to the extreme of which I am accustomed to at work, but you deal with talent tragically passing during Olympic Trials, the talented ultra-runner and mother that was lost in an automobile accident, the fellow runner that was struck down by a driver texting. Why running? Because it is familiar in too many ways. It is challenging, you have to work at it and FOR it. You have the camaraderie, the cohesion. You are family with all that you encounter on the trail, the road, the course...and then the is the familiar life and death scenario.
This is difficult for me to come to terms to. It breaks my heart that I have changed this much, my family deserves better from me. I desire to be that compassionate man again; the father that hangs on his kids every word and be the hopeless romantic that my dearest wife married not long ago. I want more than their lives to be important; every care, every worry, every tear...and the first steps on what may be the longest run of my life were taken yesterday...”