Now I didn't really know how to go about achieving this goal of running a marathon. I had never trained before or stuck to a regiment. Hell, I had barely even run before! I think the last time I had run any kind of distance was four years prior when a friend of mine bet me I couldn't run half a mile in a certain amount of time. The bet was if I ran it under that time frame, he would have to buy me a 32 oz of malt liquor. since I was a raging alcoholic at that time, I guess that was all the motivation I needed because I ended up winning that bet and chugging the hell out of that beer!
But like I said, that was about four years prior, and running for "fun" certainly hadn't been my friend since then. I didn't really have any running shoes either. All I had was a pair of my dad's hand-me-down New Balances... you know, those corny ass "dad shoes" that were designed to only be worn around Wal-Mart while you're shopping for Rogaine or some other product you need when you're pushing 60?It was all I had to work with though, so it was going to have to be enough.
Now for my experienced runners out there, you're about to be in for a good laugh because let me explain to you what my brilliant ''strategy" was for running this marathon. I literally thought that I would be able to run 10 miles the first weekend, then 15 miles the next weekend, and finish up with a whole 26.2 miles on the third weekend. Yeah, that's right, I was going to run a marathon in three weeks with no proper training whatsoever or any idea of how to properly diet. Did you get that good laugh yet? But hey, what can I say? I was fired up! I was ready to defy all odds and fly with the eagles! I walked outside to the 0.6 mile stretch of road and did a few quick jumping jacks to warm up. I put in my headphones and turned on my favorite motivational music. I felt like this particular occasion called for the song "Someday" by Flipsyde. The lyrics "someday we're gonna dance with those lions, someday we're gonna break free from these chains" spoke to my current ambitions and inner yearning for a greater life. I began to put one foot in front of the other with no real reference of how long it takes to run 10 miles. I didn't even have a way of measuring my distance. I just wanted to run until I couldn't anymore. I wanted to run until I collapsed.
As my pace quickened and my heart rate accelerated, I began to feel endorphins pumping through my body. A sense of excitement and optimism flowed through me and gave me a bulletproof sense of determination. I had forgotten what this kind of positivity even felt like. The feelings I got from playing guitar were great, but this was that on steroids. So needless to say, I was so emphatically excited and GRATEFUL for the rejuvenation!... It also didn't take long to start feeling the lactic acid build up in my thighs either! Admittedly, that wasn't quite as pleasant, but I kept running. The words of my favorite motivational speaker, Eric Thomas, began to ring out in my head: "Pain is temporary. It may last a week, a month, or even a year, but eventually, it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it will last a lifetime."
I wasn't keeping track of time or how many times I had run up and down the road. Instead, my mind wandered in any and every direction; thoughts from the past, worries of the future, and wanting to escape the present. In rehab, we were taught in meditation class to allow our thoughts to come and go freely. We were supposed to merely observe these thoughts rather than harshly judge them. I began to visualize all my friends and family back home who were cheering me on. I missed them so, so terribly. What I wouldn't give to just be able to hug each of them or even a high five or handshake! I wanted to make ALL of them proud... I started running harder.
My mind then drifted away from thoughts of home and flashbacks of me waking up on the floor of public bathrooms after a hard night of drinking flooded my brain. This was followed by anger and disappointment in myself. How had I allowed myself to reach such desperate bottoms in life? All the pain I had caused my mother...all the hurt of past relationships... the sting of past mistakes...all of these negative emotions began to creep into my spirit... I ran harder...
I had to remind myself that i had more than already redeemed myself from the squander that was my 20's. The unrelenting hell of withdrawal was enough punishment for seven lifetimes. I tried to narrow my focus on what I could control today...which wasn't much. But I could run. I couldn't go back and correct the wreckage of my alcoholism and drug addiction, but I could finish this run that I set out to do.
No doubt I was starting to fatigue and my thighs and calves were definitely hurting. As far as distance goes, I knew I had stumbled onto "new territory" a long time ago. I wanted to keep going. I thought about a motivational video I had watched earlier that week where an obese teenager was running very slowly down a long, desert road. You could tell he was in a great deal of discomfort from the pained expression on his face, but he kept on waddling forward. This mental image really struck a chord with me and gave me the motivation to keep waddling on myself. Eventually, I began to reach my limit and thought it might be wise to bring this run to an end. I felt proud. I felt like I had found another outlet; another weapon to help me battle against my depression.
Running would be my way of expressing my inner fight and desire to go the distance in my recovery. I wanted to train for and complete this marathon in the attempt that maybe, just maybe, I might be able to make someone feel the way my favorite motivational speakers made me feel with their powerful messages.
I severely lacked any kind of umph or persuasiveness in my voice because of a withdrawal symptom known as "air hunger'' deprived me of ever getting a full breath and being able to pronounce my words with a confident or commanding manner. I always felt like I was suffocating on my own words. I used to be a very loud, outgoing, and pretty bragadocious person, who was usually quick with a joke. Losing my ability to efficiently communicate with other humans was and still is some of the deepest pain I've ever known. Because of this, the isolation I was living in undoubtedly was lonely, but the only time I TRULY felt alone was when I was with other people. I refer to that feeling as the "the abyss."
It was for this reason, that I knew motivational speaking wasn't going to be in the cards for me any time soon. But... I could write and I could run.
And maybe, just maybe, that would be enough.