The Addiction: Part 1

The Addiction: I'm not addicted to running. I'm addicted to the way it makes me feel.

For those of you who knew me as Desiree “The Runner,” I started in 2006. I became addicted to running in a short span of time. It began with an easy 3 miles, but of course, like any good addiction, it spiraled out of control into 6 miles and then 9 miles within a month of starting. Not long after, I started running run twice a day, 6 miles in the am and 6 miles in the pm, for months on end. I pushed my limits until those limits broke me physically and mentally.

Yes, it is mind over matter, but only to a certain degree. I have run through the pain, but the numbing effect of the mind cannot fully anesthetize the physical pain I still experienced.

I have been plagued by foot pain on the bridge of my right foot ever since I ran my first marathon, and I have the occasional throbbing pain in my right knee from my first 50-mile race. Those injuries occurred over 10 years ago!

Leaving My Faith

This may come across as trite to my more devout Mormon friends, but I left the church because of my addiction. There are other reasons I left the Mormon church, but I’ll explain that in another post.

In late January 2014, I met with my bishop who told me I was running too much. He told me that my time was better with my children. Innocent statement, right? I didn’t feel that way at the time. I left his office with a deep anger I couldn’t shake and decided I wasn’t coming back.

I should have told him that I felt like running was the only thing holding me together. I was grappling from the fall out of my first husband going to Federal prison for the next six years. I was so angry at him and angry at God for allowing it to happen. My faith was rocked, and with it, I decided to end our 14-year marriage as soon as possible. If I didn’t run, I felt like I would cease to exist altogether.

I left the Mormon Faith in September of 2014. And my 14-year marriage was dissolved a couple of months afterward. After 22 years of living and breathing Mormonism, I was going through something called a faith crisis. I lost some of my Mormon “friends” along the way. It crushed my soul in a way I never could imagine.

A New Tribe

But I found another community that accepted me for who I was. My ultra-running tribe became my crazy running family. Thank you to those with who I remained friends and those I shared time on the trails. You may not have known it, but you helped me through one of the darkest hours of my life. But like any tribe, they can turn on you. They didn’t judge me, but that would come later.

I ran further. Add hip pain after The Keys 100 in 2015. I could run for 6 months solid, but then the depression would set in. I couldn’t understand why? I couldn’t accept that the addiction was diminishing my mental capacity to handle my emotional turmoil. The stuff I didn’t deal with in 2014.

But I kept running in a blind fury. I ran long and blasted the pain away with my favorite 90’s hits. Guess what? It doesn’t work long-term. Well, “Duh,” Desiree, of course, it doesn’t work long term. I was putting a band-aid on my problems. Little did I know, but that band-aid was going to be ripped off.

The End and a New Beginning

In 2018, the Universe hurled someone into my life. I was working at a dead-end job for a title company. I was married for the second time in my life, but the only thing in common between us was ultra running. Our love was centered around the sport of running and weightlifting, not on each other. You can’t build much off of that type of foundation. On top of that, when I wasn’t working, I was running, which meant I hardly saw my children. My husband and I were living a superficial marriage. Our photos gave the impression on FB and Instagram that we were doing effing awesome.

At the end of July of 2018 I ended things with my husband. I started a new life with the man I would eventually marry in January 2019. Yes, for someone like me 3x is a charm and  we would go on to have two babies within 11 mths of each other. I was met with some serious judgements from my FB friends. Sadly, I lost many of my running “friends” because of it. The backlash devastated me. I felt completely abandoned by my so called friends.

The Unrunning

What did I do with my tribe issues? I stopped running races and then I stopped running.

But then came the question, “Who was Desiree if she was no longer a runner? Runner Des was my identity. I deleted FB, I needed a hard reset. I needed to reassess who I would allow my FB friends to be.

I needed to readjust my priorities. Even though I’m no longer Mormon, I learned a lot from that religion, mainly the importance of family.

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This concludes The Addiction: Part 1. Tune in next week, I’ll be sharing Part 2. How my life after ultra running has changed and the lessons I learned along the way. I hope to see you back here soon!