In this picture it’s 2009, I’m in Charlottesville VA, I just finished running a half marathon. Look how proud I am! It’s so lovely, that grin on my face.

I was also very hungover, and could barely walk after, but I did it, and I loved it.

I started running as a way to relieve the boredom of walking in 2005. I would take long walks with my new baby boy, something to take up the endlessly long winter days when I was hungover sometimes and I had not a lot of an idea what a mom was actually supposed to be doing, and I was head over heels in love with my sweet babe.

Looking back, I was hungover more days than I want to admit. Walking made me feel like less of an asshole. I might have wanted a nap constantly because I was tired from being awake almost all the time and from being hungover, but I loved going for walks.

I got out, I got sunshine, people said nice things about my cute baby. Taking walks meant I got some much needed positive reinforcement. I decided to start running, pushing my little one ahead of me. The trail near the house we bought outside of Charleston, SC was 1.5 miles to where it crossed the street and continued. I could run to that place and back, push my wee babe and get 3 miles in. I was hooked.

I kept running, I signed up for 5K races. I got myself down to 8:30 minute miles. I ran on the treadmill at the Y, stayed dedicated to my beloved paved trail by our house. I got pregnant again in December 2007 and ran through most of my pregnancy.

I had my youngest in fall 2008, and got right back to it- pushing both boys in this giant double running stroller that was the one thing I asked for when my family wanted to buy us baby gifts. That thing was HUGE! By this time my husband had started running too, we would trade off pushing that ridiculous stroller. Sometimes I would even run with that stroller and both of our Australian Shepherds. Once the dogs and the stroller got away from me and I had to chase them into the tall grass. We ran the Cooper River Bridge Run pushing that thing.

We started training for a marathon, my husband and I. We planned a year of races- Hilton Head 10K, Charlottesville Half, ending with a The City of Oaks marathon Nov. 1 2009. As a training run we ran from the Harris Teeter on James Island, SC- over the connector, over the Ravenel Bridge- to the Old Village in Mt Pleasant, and then back. In the summer. I was extremely hungover- I’d also taken up smoking again, I was suffering from postpartum depression, and my drinking was out of control.

I wonder sometimes if it was running that saved me then- that brought me back to myself when I was on the verge of losing it just enough to not be able to get back. I would put on my shoes and my headphones, head out the door, and feel free. I would turn up the music and push myself, prove to myself over and over how tough and dedicated I was. Prove that even though I was drinking and smoking and dabbling in harder drugs that I was a good person. There was hope for me- I was a runner.