In these pictures I’m finishing the Raleigh City of Oaks Marathon in November 2009. It was cold, rainy, and windy that day. I ran with a man whose wife was pregnant and who was also named Amy for about 10 miles, we talked and talked until we naturally went our separate ways. I ate a magical life giving orange wedge at mile 22 that saved me, right after that a Shawn Colvin song that starts “I’m gonna die in these four walls” started playing on my iPod and I laughed and laughed because I knew then that I was going to finish and I wasn’t going to die. I came around the bend and my parents we there with the my little boys, my dad cried this sweet proud cry as I ran by and I felt so proud- that even though I was in one of the darkest times of my life I had done something amazing.

After that I sort of came out of it, I stopped drinking so much. My baby became a toddler.

This love I’d found for running stayed. It gave me hope, a reason. I discovered that trail running was a thing: I could run and be in the woods and it was like I’d invented peanut butter and jelly. I found actual trail running races which meant other people liked to run like me and I could set goals and get t-shirts and train in the woods where I couldn’t push a stroller or have a little kid riding their bike next to me and running became mine.

I ran off and on, I was ecstatic to get serious about my running again when I quit drinking- oh! To run and not be hungover! I ran for 4 months, did a 7.45 mile trail race in May 2013, got plantar fasciitis and couldn’t run for a year.

The injustice was maddening. Here I was, sober, and I couldn’t run. I did more yoga instead.

But, like it always has, running came back in little bitty bits. We moved close to a woodsy trail in February 2014. I ran intermittently until May 2017, then began running again in earnest.

It was the most dedicated I’ve ever been: sober, healthy, plenty of trails. I stopped timing myself and ran for the pure pleasure of running. I ran the 10 mile trail run that I love, Medoc, and signed up for Uwharrie. I went out to the Eno River State Park and ran the trails, up and down for hours in the cold. I was the best runner I’ve ever been.

Uwharrie came around and I had the flu and couldn’t race. I ran the Mountains-to-Sea run 12 miler in April. After that race I decided I was going to sign up for the Tough as Trails race series when registration opened in June. My running faltered in June too, the restaurant where I worked closed June 30, 2018 after being open 25 years. I was logging 7-9 miles a night at work and let running take a backseat.

I couldn’t get my mojo back. I tried, I knew I had Tough as Trails to train for, but I couldn’t get steadily motivated. I gained weight and running got harder. I gained more weight and the more I needed to run the more I didn’t. My hip, a long time source of pain, was killing me. In August I got my first cortisone shot in my hip. I ran an 11 mile race out at the Eno and struggled the whole way.