Stuck in a Pit

This is Part 1, of a two post series about my latest adventure- the S.M.A.W. Please note that while I was in a bit of a funk last year when this was written, I’m in a much happier place! Thanks for reading, and I hope you’ll stick around for the entire story.

From the outside looking in, everything would seem to be flowing smoothly.

But if you were to scratch the surface of my life, you’d find that this outer shell– as is often the case– isn’t quite as happy as it seems.

IMG956347The truth is, this past year has been one of the toughest of my life. There’s a multitude of reasons for that. Most notably, the disaster of Cruel Jewel 100 in May. While it made for a great story and memory, it truly devastated me spiritually, emotionally, and physically. It wrecked my body in ways that I am still working to resolve. My heart, my kidneys, my blood… the list of damages goes on. It threw my brain for such an intense loop, that I’ve been scared to consider even attempting a race of that caliber again. I’ve frequently related the weekend to a bad meth overdose I experienced as a teen. It’s just been that hard to get over.

As a result, I’ve struggled not only to heal, but to maintain any interest in running or fitness at all. The reality of my passion seeming to slip from my hands hit pretty hard. I mean, I live and breathe trailrunning.

During all of this, someone in my life has battled something unspeakable for quite some time. My heart has been constantly shattered and torn as I’ve stood alongside this person — unable to truly help— while they’ve suffered at the hands of evil day in and day out. So, the feelings of hopelessness this year just seemed to keep piling on.

As my family and friends can vouch, I function in extremes. This has always been both my gift and my curse. The highs are really incredibly high, but the lows… they’re so very low.  My instinctive way to navigate through these “lows” is to seclude and isolate myself. Oftentimes this isolation includes running my body into the ground, immersed in the monotony and distraction of training. This year, however, with my body so broken, training extremely hard wasn’t an option.

So all things combined, I eventually allowed myself to sink into a really dark hole. One that has become increasingly familiar, as I’ve known the place since as young as 3rd grade. Though the reasons for falling into a depression have varied over the years, the hole itself remains the same: Pitch black, lonely, confusing, and hopeless.

While some days, it seems I’m able to climb my way right out and at least pretend to be a functioning member of society, I’d swear that other days some force unbeknownst to me shuts a heavy door over the top, and I might suffocate from the fear that I’ll never get out. If I’m honest with you, this year, I felt more of the “trapped in” days than easy days and I reached the point where I couldn’t sink any lower.

But at my core, I am no quitter.

Thanks to my stubborness, my family, and by having a death grip on my hope and faith in Jesus Christ, I’ve learned over the years how to fight back…how to climb and claw my way out of a dark pit, no matter how stuck I feel.

Though it’s downright the last thing I want to do, I have learned that I’ve got to force myself to be around other humans when I’m down like this. To talk, to share, to listen. To gain fresh perspective. To be real.

I’ve got to continue to pursue my passions for running and adventure somehow, even if that looks different than it ever did before, because those are the things that truly light my soul on fire.

And most importantly, I’ve got to pour myself into my community or a really good cause, because depression, for me, though not intentional, is a very selfish experience. I spend so much time focusing on my negative views and doubts, that I rob others around me of the joy and love I can bring to their lives.

Realizing this and forcing myself to be more selfless is the only way I can ever seem to get out of the darkness and break the cycle.

So this Fall, that’s exactly what I set out to do…

It was time to climb out of the pit.



9 Replies to “Stuck in a Pit”

  1. Good stuff Ashley. No matter what drives us down our rabbit holes, its nice to know we aren’t alone and together maybe we can help each other stumble through the darkness to get out. Even if we are on the opposite side of the country – your raw truth on the valleys and peaks in life is helpful. As always thanks for the inspiration.

  2. Besides the incredible athlete you are ( my role model I might say) so much of who you are , is me in a nutshell. There are days I too wish I could just run away from it all( again, more figurative for me) as running away would probably only get me 10 to 12 miles at most. I am suffocated daily with the “whys” and “what ifs”, and pray and struggle to just ” get a grip “.. I love you like a daughter, and have soany reasons to thank you for helpings. Keep going girl, you’ve got this. 💜

  3. Way to be REAL!! You just did something in itself is a VICTORY. You are a warrior chic! Hope to meet you sometime. Look me up on social media we have lots of mutual friends.
    This year has been HELL ON EARTH. I haven’t this open for my son’s sack. He is 27 and diagnosed with aspergers. I unfortunately understand what it’s like to fight back up. Will be looking forward to your future post. Karen McDonald

    1. Thanks for the sweet feedback, Karen!! I found you 🙂 Also, I have a fam member with aspergers, so I understand your need to be aware of the things you say and way you communicate. Thanks for chiming in!

  4. Hey Ash, really sorry to be reading things like this about anyone. I have had dark days, mainly relating to losing my father when I was 22. For me a big part of “recovery” (for want of a better word), was mindfulness. There’s plenty of apps, books and websites with info, none of which I’m affilliated with. Hope this helps.

    1. Hey thanks for your kind words, and sorry for the sad ones.😢 Thanks for this! Fortunately, I am in a much better place now, as I’ll share in part 2😄😄 have a great weekend!

  5. love your blog and instagram! as a fellow ultra/trailrunner, I can certainly appreciate both the highs and lows of the sport. Definitely welcome you to take a look at our page,, where we aim to use our sport to educate about conservation efforts. Happy trails!

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