Last year I did my very first 5k run on Thanksgiving morning- a Turkey Trot!
Over the years in recovery, I have done step work, participated in a 12-step fellowship, seen therapists, learned healthier eating habits, got in service, sponsored other women, went back to college and many amazing things that kept me vigilant in my recovery. I continue to try different things to find what works and what does not work for me. I was taught the journey keeps going and life always shows up.
My brother, in the picture with me, asked me to do the race with him and oddly enough, I agreed. I figured why not try something new! And, an activity with my brother that he enjoys, considering he has sat with me in many 12-step meetings. I was excited but also nervous. He reassured me and encouraged me to try it- actually similar to how he got me to go to Genesis House for treatment a decade ago! They say some things never change, right?
The race was very hard since I didn’t train enough, and I was so nervous. It was freezing outside! My brother had finished the race and actually came back and found me…very far in the back! I wanted to just walk the rest, I was so tired! I remember him saying, “I got good news and bad news. There is still about a mile left, but we will pass my car where I have water for you.” I kept going, and he ran alongside of me, which was realistically more him not letting me quit. I can’t say it didn’t annoy me but looking back that was a direct example of those in our life, that care enough to not let us give up and believe in us when we can’t or don’t.
What did I learn from the experience?? I learned that running on Thanksgiving morning in New Jersey is freezing! And, running is more of an independent activity, I wasn’t with my brother the entire time! I still had a great time and was very proud of myself for finishing AND not finishing last! Most importantly, I learned how that time to myself, in my thoughts and breathing the fresh (freezing) air felt amazing. I experienced reduced stress and high levels of positive feelings, some refer to it as the “runner’s high.”
I may be in recovery but I still have an addict’s mind. Whatever makes me feel good, I want more. Like most things in life, running should be done in moderation, which I did not do. I learned the hard way after a few minor injuries, bad running sneakers and many Epsom salt baths. I never gave up! The times I was unable to run, I missed it so much and how good it made me feel.
Running is good for my health but it works best for my mental health! My thoughts are always going but when I run, I focus on my breathing and body movement so much that my thoughts stop. For however long I run, I am free from worry, stress, over-thinking, fear, sadness or anything else I am going through. It does not take away my problems or cure them, it allows me to take a break from them.
This year, I am doing the Turkey Trot, and I am doing it for me! However, the weather is predicted to be 29 degrees! My tradition started with taking a chance to try something new and having someone (my brother Cainan) that believed in me…. Do you have a tradition??
I am grateful! Happy Thanksgiving!