I finished the 2015 New York City Marathon in 4 hours, 34 minutes, and 57 seconds. But getting to that start line took much longer.
Just three years ago, I broke my foot after stumbling off a curb and right into a police car. That didn’t stop me from drinking. Three weeks later, I found myself in a strange bed with blood on my face and the cast torn off my broken foot. Thankfully, the strange bed ended up being that of my coworker’s mother; I was safe. I still don’t know what happened that night—and I really don’t want to. All I know is that at that moment, I knew I needed to change. I didn’t like who I saw in the mirror, and not just because my reflection included a lot of blood.
But I did see the addiction coming. Alcoholism runs deep in my family’s history. Even when I was growing up, I was very aware of where drinking could take me. It was like a dark shadow following me, lurking under the surface for as long as I could remember. Eventually, I was drinking every night—and every day—in the months leading up to my broken foot. Sometimes it was two beers. Other days it was two beers and five shots.
Thankfully, once I committed to sobriety, I stuck with it. Problem was, I was still unhappy a year later. Though I hadn’t touched a drink, I realized that taking care of yourself is about more than just not drinking. It’s about using your body to its full potential, through training and eating healthy food. It was time to raise the bar.
So I started running for the first time ever. I had to start with the basics. I literally Googled “how do I become a runner,” took a cheat sheet to the gym, and started by alternating one minute running with one minute walking. Between those workouts and my healthier eating habits, I started to see results. Slowly but surely, I felt better about myself.
Now, I’ve completed seven half-marathons and one marathon. I love setting goals—and reaching them. I feel unstoppable. And I know I wouldn’t feel like this if I weren’t sober. If I’m having a bad day or a fight with a friend, running fills the place drinking once did. I turn to lacing up my shoes in order to shake it off because I know taking a drink would jeopardize the goals I’ve worked so hard for. Running and staying sober go hand in hand for me. It’s a choice I make every day, and each day I choose to run.