Once upon a time I was a runner. Most days, I’d rise early in the morning for six or eight miles with friends before work. Races dotted my calendar, and while I never won I was always far from last. Content in my status as a mid-packer, I ran on.
The trials and tribulations of alcoholism took hold, though, and eventually my runs consisted of sprints to the alarm clock to turn it off, favoring sleep over miles. Swenny’s alcoholism left me tired. Late nights laying awake to track the sounds of his footsteps in order to follow them to his hiding place the next day defeated me. Unlike in running the races I loved, in this I was losing.
Now in a period of relative calm, I find myself with nothing but time. With a sober Swenny and our children away at college, I own most of the minutes of my day. So once again I run. Not as often as I’d like, but more often than I have recently. During the most difficult times, my running buddies never questioned my frequent absences, holding a spot for me each and every outing. Now I fill it, filing in alongside them and returning to the comforts of days gone by and the bridges and parkways we know so well.
Tomorrow, I will run in a race for the first time in more than a year. Without expectation for time or place, I hope to finish in a state that leaves me wanting more. More miles, more races, and more time to reclaim my position as a mid-packer.
For good luck, I am adding something new to my race day attire: one of Swenny’s recovery coins. When he extends his sober moments into sober days, weeks and (almost) months, he inspires me. For five miles tomorrow morning, I’ll carry some of that inspiration with me.
While once upon a time I was a runner, first I was Swenny’s other half. And he was mine. So from start to finish, in the midst of a crowd of runners striving to be better, I will think about the coin in my pocket and its message to take it one day, one step, at a time. Because I think that’s the way to running and living happily ever after.