I began running in May 2009. I was a little more than two years sober and was starting to understand my life had to be more than just not drinking. I no longer was okay with being angry, impatient, and sad. I kept telling myself at least I was sober, but I also wanted a better life. I knew I had to take action for things to improve. I didn’t know what to do next, but like everything positive in my life, I attribute my discovery of running to being fully “aware”– opening my eyes to what was happening now and right in front of me.
A running store had opened a few blocks from me. I had entered a few 5k’s in my life at others urging, but never had I considered myself a runner or had I trained for anything. The running store had a social running group. I remember not being able to run but one mile, and then having to stop and bend over from a “stitch” in my side. The owner took me aside and taught me how to breathe and pace. I learned about running clothes, socks and gear. I didn’t give up. In early sobriety I was constantly afraid of relapsing and having to start over. My fear of failure became a character asset in running.
Texas Heat 2013
In three months I learned how to run up to five miles without stopping. I couldn’t believe it. I signed up for my first half marathon and completed it in 2:17. I remember being mad at myself for walking on the course and not running the entire way. After the half marathon, my ego drove me to try for a full marathon to “make up” for what I thought was a terrible performance. Three months later I ran the Austin Marathon in 4:28. All I remember is trying not to cry on the course as I saw my family at mile 23, and telling myself to not stop running because if I did, I would not be able to start again. That marathon may have started with my ego, but I was humbled on that course that day. I learned that a marathon was my body, my mind, my heart, and all the people around me. All of those things had to be present.
In sobriety, they say you begin to discover who you are, and what you can do and what you can’t do. Running seemed like something I could do, but I never knew it before. I hired a coach and began to surprise myself with every placing and win at local events. People began to call to me by name, or come up to me and tell me they admired my running. I have been overwhelmed by the words said to me about being an inspiration and a positive example.
|Austin Half – 2014|
I had gotten close to breaking four hours in subsequent marathons, and at Chicago 2012, that is all I wanted to do. Every time I step up to a start line, I question whether I should be there. I initially doubt my abilities. But then I tell myself, this is old thinking. I remind myself of how hard I have worked, and who all my supporters are. I tell myself to do the best I can each step of the way and in the end, just be happy. As I crossed the finish line in Chicago, I accomplished something I never ever expected to achieve in my lifetime. When I was in the midst of my alcoholism, I felt victimized constantly. I told everyone I had bad luck or I blamed all my misgivings on outside factors. When I got sober, I began changing myself and saw the world changing around me as a result. I began to receive the gifts of life. My BQ for sure is an unexpected gift of sobriety in my life.
|NYC Marathon – 2013|
|5k with the Spurs’ coyote|
Running for me has become my metaphor for sobriety. I can’t stay sober alone. I would never have made it to Boston on my own– I have running partners, a great coach, super sponsors, encouraging friends, and cheering family members who have carried my spirit along the way. Sobriety is not always easy, and not every run is easy either. I don’t pick up a drink after a bad day, and I don’t give up after a bad run. There are no guarantees in sobriety that every day will be good or every moment sunshine and butterflies, just like there are no guarantees every marathon or training run will be a good one. I have cramped on a marathon course, and cried on a marathon course, but I still put one step in front of the other. I have sober days filled with unhappiness and sadness, but I don’t drink. I keep moving forward in my sober life, because I know what is behind me and I don’t want to go backwards to what it was like then, or even worse.
I don’t think I would appreciate my sobriety as much as I do today were it not for running. I would never be on my journey to the Boston Marathon were I not on my journey of sobriety. I am trudging the road of happy destiny and for that I am grateful.
San Antonio, Texas
5k – 21:04
10 mile – 1:15:11
1/2 Marathon – 1:41:03
25k – 2:06:09
Marathon – 3:41:25
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