I had always loved the idea of being a runner, but actually running was not a viable option… I wasn’t able to do the follow through.
Not until I got sober. I was sick.
Here’s my story.
I started running when I was in rehab for alcoholism in 2015. I had struggled with my disease for many, many years and I reached a point where my life was in shambles: I was in and out of the hospital with pancreatitis and other drinking related medical issues, I was suicidal, I was scared, I was ashamed. I was all the things. I was literally in the pit of despair – hopeless and broken. When enough was enough – I made a decision that was not solely my own, my family and loved ones encouraged me to get help and for the first time in my life, I wanted to get help – I wanted to be better and I wanted to LIVE.
Rehab was 31 days of intensive self-reflection and classes. No cell phones, no access to the real world. 31 days of me, letting go of the pain and the scars and the hurt. 31 days of surrendering of prayers, hope, tears, laughter, pain, more tears. It was intense, to say the least, but I needed it. Addiction is not something that cures itself – it takes a village and I had been given the opportunity to change my life.
During “personal/req time” I didn’t know what to do with myself – typically in my “down time” I drank – so I had to replace that drinking with a new habit. So I started jogging. After my treatment was over and I was reintroduced to my “normal life” except NOW – as a sober woman, trying to navigate who I was without the booze, without numbing my feelings, without running away, without a security blanket.
I also had a 1 year old Weimaraner at home, who (needless to say) was not well taken care of when I was in the throes of my addiction, so every day, I laced up my shoes and took Peeler for a jog/walk. That led to more jogging than walking and I finally decided to challenge myself to running a 5K. I ran that 5K and I sobbed at the finish – this race was not just a race, it was a testament to getting my life back – my health back – my sanity back. The more I ran, the better I felt. The more I ran the less I wanted to drink. The more I ran, the more I fell in love with it. Over time, I got stronger and stronger – I had a baby in 2017 and after my Jackie was born I signed up for a 10K challenge in 2018. 10, 10K races. I finished all 10 plus 2 half marathons.
Since then, the miles have added up. I run 50-60 miles a week and I ran my first marathon during the pandemic on 5/3/2020. Running today is not for my physical health but for my MENTAL health. It’s the one place where I am at peace, with Peeler by my side – where nothing can harm me, nothing can bother me. The place where it’s just me and the road. It’s become my sanctuary.
The benefits I have received from running and the running community have spilled over into my everyday life – it’s made me stronger mentally, physically, emotionally. It’s made me a better friend, mother, daughter, sister. It’s given me hope beyond measure and it’s filled my heart with joy. I can do hard things, and so can you.
TTC: What is one tip you wish you could tell every beginner runner?
Caroline: Keep going, don’t beat yourself up, set realistic goals and celebrate your achievements!
TTC: What keeps you going when you really want to stop?
Caroline: 1) I know how good I will feel when I finish and 2) Honestly, my dog. The days when I really don’t want to go, he sits at the door next to my shoes, and I can’t turn him down ☺
TTC: Tell us about one of your best runs ever.
Caroline: Finishing my first 5K and finishing my first marathon. The marathon I ran I did alone because the race I had signed up for was cancelled due to Covid. My girls in AA literally put on a marathon for me – they mapped the course, they had water stations – it was one of the most incredible days of my life. And Peeler ran it with me ☺