Hold On Pain Ends

“HOPE – Hold On Pain Ends.”

Meg and I have adopted this statement for our 24-Hour Walk For Suicide Prevention. When you are in the midst of the darkness of depression it is easy to think it will last forever. It is so hard to imagine a time when the pain will end. But it does end. Light begins to seep in and you begin to hope again. Both of us, having struggled with our own depressions, understand just how hard it is to hold on through those dark times. But this weekend, this statement took on a whole new meaning. Suddenly, it was not about depression, instead it was about the difficulties we face as endurance athletes.

Our training walk this weekend was a 12 hour 35.4 mile walk along the Potomac River. We started as the sun was rising and finished as it was setting. And like most of these walks there were ups and downs. There were moments of silliness, moments of confidence and moments of doubt. But this weekend, I was suddenly hit by a doubt beyond any I have faced so far. Nine hours in I seriously doubted I could make it another 3 hours. I felt horrible. I had no energy, my feet were killing me and I wanted to punt the stroller with our gear in it straight into the river. Luckily this happened just as we entered a park with a rest area.

Remembering a piece of advice from Epic Bill Bradley, I decided to stop for ten minutes, lie down and close my eyes. I needed a reset. I laid there and because I had my beautiful daughter with me and did not want to let her down, ,I willed myself not to cry. I willed myself not to give up and I waited. But for what? Why? What will it accomplish? As I let go and let the reset begin I realized I was waiting for hope. I was applying the lessons we have learned through depression. I was holding on because I knew that the pain would end.

I would love to say that it passed as I lay there but it didn’t. The next several miles were a struggle. They took every bit of energy and positive thinking I had. But eventually I realized that the pain had indeed passed. I had the energy to push through. My feet were feeling better and the stroller became a much needed tool instead of a nuisance. Suddenly I understood just how important HOPE is not just for our depression but for the endurance sports that we love.

When we took up long distance running and walking we did it because it was a challenge. We did it because we understood it would take everything we have. But sometimes that challenge is more than I feel like I can handle. It tests me beyond what I expect. But now, thanks to HOPE, I know that no matter what it will pass. I will survive.

Hold on pain ends.