As the spring temperatures climbed and the kilometers added up, the countdown to the Good Life Fitness Toronto Half Marathon was on. With only 12 weeks of alcohol abstinence under my belt, I was focused on two things…21.1km and beer. You don’t have to be an addict to have experienced the obsessive thoughts that plague your mind when you can’t have something. Dieters always want more food. A jilted lover wants the one who jilted them and I wanted beer.
I ran and daydreamed about filling my fuel belt with golden ale. I conjured up mirages of hydration stations passing out cups of lager. You wouldn’t catch me being picky about what was being served. In the end, I just ran and I didn’t weaken to the temptation.
Early morning runs became necessary to avoid the hottest parts of the day. Being out on the roads at 5 am was very relaxing. I appreciated the calm and quiet all around me, my footfalls and the birds singing being the only sounds to disturb the tranquility. I was reminded of a time in my life when I often saw 5 or 6 am, usually because I hadn’t passed out yet.
As I look back to last year, I don’t know how I did it, but I made it to race day, alcohol free. In fact the day of the race I was celebrating being on the starting line as well as being four months sober. I am certain one had everything to do with the other. The race was spectacular. At the 14th km, I was overwhelmed with emotions. The enormity of the past 16 weeks was profound. I wept with grief for letting go of an old life and its old habits. I wept with pride for being as strong as my Mama taught me to be and I wept with fear for my future.
Four months of sobriety was everything to me and nothing to me. With each fore footed landing, a new thought was being pounded into my soul…I had the rest of my life…every waking minute that I live is another minute that I could fall off the wagon! This sucker could de-rail and fly off the tracks at any time. In a moment of weakness or insanity, I could fail at sobriety.
The next few kilometers were blurred by despair. How was I going to live my life fearing failure? It was then that the phrase I had heard at the only AA meeting I had attended came to me…one day at a time. I couldn’t worry about forever. I could only worry about today. I won’t drink today, will be the goal. There was a lot of today left in that particular day, but in those moments, they weren’t serving lager at the hydration stations.
I completed my first half marathon with a chip time of 2:08, with a dear friend by my side. We were corralled to the photo area as we recounted parts of the course. We were tired, but energized. I heard the announcer on the PA system calling out congratulations. He encouraged runners to visit the nutrition tent for bagels and bananas to refuel. With excitement he also reminded finishers to visit the Molson tent where we could pick up our complimentary 6 pack of Molson 67! I am NOT making this up. This was almost my dream come true…beer at hydration stations, this being the largest fuelling station on the course. I prayed for strength and I recited over and over…I will NOT drink free beer to celebrate my sobriety!